The 1970s was truly a wild decade for rock and roll which saw some of the biggest rock artists ever emerge.
From arena-ready bands to punk icons to New Wave legends, here are 15 debut albums of the ’70s everyone should own.
The late Ric Ocasek showed from the jump what a great songwriter he was. When you look at the tracklisting for ‘The Cars,’ it practically reads like a greatest hits album from “Good Times Roll” to “Just What I Needed” to “Moving in Stereo.”
Out the gate, Foreigner just wasn’t messing around. With classics like “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice,” it helped set the stage for a stellar four-album run that included 1978’s ‘Double Vision’,1979’s ‘Head Games’ and 1981’s ‘4.’ Frankly, the greatness of those albums and the hits they contained truly don’t get talked about enough.
Of course, this supergroup’s debut should be in your collection! Just the greatness of “Can’t Get Enough” makes this LP worthy of inclusion on this list. Oh, and this seems like an appropriate time to mention how Bad Company remains one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s biggest snubs.
When The Police arrived with their debut LP ‘Outlandos D’Amour,’ no one else sounded quite like them, and no one really has since. Their blend of New Wave, reggae and punk is truly one of kind, especially on standout tracks “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You.”
Sure, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks…’ doubles as the debut and lone album from the Sex Pistols, but it remains one of the most influential albums of all time. It’s hard to imagine the musical landscape without this LP.
The Ramones were basically if the Beach Boys grew up in New York’s Bowery neighborhood. They were fiercely punk, but they had some killer pop sensibilities running through them as evident in their self-titled debut, which features 14 tracks and clocks in just over 29 minutes.
The words “epic” and “grand” were created to help describe works like Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell.’ It’s all the proof you need to realize how perfect a match rock and theater truly are. While both Meat Loaf and ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ composer Jim Steinman are no longer with us, their wonderful recorded partnership with live forever.
If you somehow don’t own ‘Boston,’ how is that even possible? This monster debut is one of the biggest selling albums of all time moving 17 million copies in the United States alone. With a stacked tracklisting that includes “More Than A Feeling,” “Peace of Mind” and “Foreplay/Long Time,” it’s no wonder it’s such a massive hit.
Similar to other LPs on this list, ‘Van Halen’ truly does read like a greatest hits album. There’s not a weak track to be found. Plus, when your album goes on to influence generations of bands – not to mention just guitar players – you’ve definitely earned a spot in nearly every record collection.
Without Black Sabbath and their self-titled debut album, who knows where heavy metal would be today. It’s frightening to even think of a world without Sabbath.
Equal parts punk and poetry, ‘Horses’ introduced the world to Patti Smith, an artist truly ahead of her time. From her iconic take on “Gloria” to beat-influenced, avant-garde tracks like “Birdland,” Smith was a one-in-a-generation voice and remains an American treasure.
Tom Petty is one of rock’s most unique songwriters with the ability to be both profound, yet often minimalist and accessible in his lyrics. That was on full display on the self-titled debut with The Heartbreakers. The only thing heartbreaking when looking back on this debut is the fact that Petty is no longer with us, taken away all too soon at the age of 66.
The Clash was a completely different animal from the U.K.’s punk scene. Leaning into early rock and reggae influences, The Clash exhibited a rage and anger that was both righteous and justified considering the economic and political landscape of their native England at the time of the LP’s release. They would famously go on to call themselves “The Only Band That Matters,” and when looking at their output and what they stood for, you can’t really fault the band for feeling that way.
Lynyrd Skynyrd came out the gate with a debut LP featuring “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man” and “Tuesday’s Gone.” If you really need any further explanation why ‘Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd’ made this list…like, seriously? Those four tracks are stone-cold classics! What more explanation do you *really* need?
New York Dolls may not have made the millions that the countless bands they influenced made, but make no mistake the musical landscape – from punk to hair metal to glam – would look very different without this debut thanks to killer tracks like “Personality Crisis,” “Looking for a Kiss” and “Trash.”