It’s rare for a band to put out a truly classic album on their first try. Most bands take years to hone their sound, so expecting them to nail it on the first try is asking a lot.
Sometimes though, bands come out of the gate with a seminal work that stands the test of time. To be fair, you could easily compile a list of the 100 best debut rock albums and still miss some important ones, so narrowing it down to only 20 is a difficult task. However, one thing that’s hard to deny about the following 20 albums is that they all arrived fully formed; these bands struck gold the first time out and never looked back.
20. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)
Van Halen quickly wore out their welcome, becoming almost a parody of themselves by the early 80s, but you have to give credit where credit’s due: their 1978 self-titled debut was an absolute monster of a rock record. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen rewrote the rules of guitar playing with his heavily-distorted shredding style, best exemplified in the standout instrumental track “Eruption”. To be fair, the album is front-loaded, as the back half doesn’t hold up very well, but Van Halen is an undeniable rock classic thanks to the strength of the first 4 tracks alone, which perfectly encapsulate why Van Halen was such an influential hard rock outfit.