87 DR FEELGOOD
Down By The Jetty (1974)
The Canvey Island wideboys stripped vintage R’n’B down to its metronomic, monaural roots. The pub-rock scene they helped generate was the first kick at the door that punk would cave in.
Best track: “She Does It Right”
86 THE UNDERTONES
The Undertones (1979)
Stiff, Radar and Chiswick had already passed on their demos by the time John Peel began touting “Teenage Kicks”. Their debut eschewed politics and fashion
for raging hormones and chunky rib sweaters. Only the Buzzcocks rivalled them for punk-pop thrills.
Best track: “Billy’s Third”
85 ELVIS PRESLEY
Elvis Presley (1956)
Considered by many to be rock’n’roll’s equivalent of ‘The Book Of Genesis’, Elvis’ debut was actually a compilation (of sorts), mixing previously unheard Sun recordings with new tracks cut in the wake of “Heartbreak Hotel”. Of the former, his tender, spectral take on “Blue Moon” was a spine-tingling high that he’d seldom eclipse. Of the latter, his unbridled assaults through Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman” and Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” set the bar for hi-adrenaline white R’n’B, which his countless imitators could never quite raise. When it hit the top, Elvis was playing at country showcase the Louisiana Hayride. Freeing a generation by the year’s end, he rarely returned to earth. The Clash made the sleeve more iconic still by apeing it on London Calling.
Best track: “Blue Moon”
Having quit Massive Attack, Tricky (Adrian Thaws) delivered a skunk-fuelled elegy for his late mother that bridged the uncharted hinterland between indie, hip hop and transvestism. Whatever it was, it wasn’t trip hop.
Best track: “Black Steel”
83 LITTLE FEAT
Little Feat (1971)
Having cut his teeth with The Mothers Of Invention, Lowell George’s outfit was on the verge of signing with Zappa before being snaffled by Warners. Like a bluesier Band, Little Feat chased southern-swamp boogie to its Dixie-fried roots, marked by hyperactive rhythms and a sound that collaborator Van Dyke Parks once equated to “white boys got the woo-woos”.
Best track: “Willin’”
82 THE POP GROUP
Self-consciously audacious debut from the Bristol firebrands that attempted a radical post-punk brew of free jazz, dub, contorted avant-funk and rasta-beatnik theology. Maddening and brilliant.
Best track: “She Is Beyond Good And Evil”
81 PEARL JAM
More even than Nirvana, Pearl Jam forged the popular template for grunge here: thundering hard rock, complicated by punk ideals. “Alive” provided the keynote, and the operative word.
Best track: “Jeremy”
80 CHEAP TRICK
Cheap Trick (1977)
An odd mix of cartoon dweebs and hirsute hunks, this Illinois quartet straddled the boundaries of trash pop and brash metal. Stadium-sized hooks and meticulous melodies concealed disturbing songs about playground paedophiles, mass murderers… and yuppies. Power pop never rocked harder.
Best track: “He’s A Whore”
79 JACKSON BROWNE
Jackson Browne (1972)
The template for early-’70s West- Coast soft rock. Browne’s songs were exquisitely crafted, touching on deep, difficult subjects, marrying world-weary reflection with the youthful optimism of the times.
Best track: “Looking Into You”
78 THE LIBERTINES
Up The Bracket (2002)
The Libertines’ debut is a ragged racket, but it has a sarcastic swagger all of its own. Combining the wistful elegance of The Kinks, the zip of The Jam and druggy swagger of The La’s, Up The Bracket offered a poetic snapshot of life on the margins.
Best track: “Time For Heroes”