Win GeekGold! First and Best - Debut Albums that Were Never Matched
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Most acts' first albums aren't their best. Sometimes they are hits, but subsequent albums see the music improve. Sometimes they are released and languish in obscurity, heard by very few until they hit it big later.

But the first effort from some bands, even if outsold by later albums, are generally judged by fans & critics as their best.

And that's what this list is for - first albums that were the BEST album for the musical act in question. I started by listing a few below - please add your ideas.

Best item other than mine (as judged by me) will get 1 gg plus whatever tips if any come in. Currently the pot is 2 3.56 3.82 3.90 4.90 5

Edit: I'll let this run about a week before deciding. A thumb to try to keep this on page 1 would be appreciated but is not necessary to win.

EDIT: We have a winner - Admiral Fisher for item 175, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. More details at this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2613677#2613677

And thanks to everybody for participating! There were a LOT of very good suggestions; my list of albums I must buy has grown fairly significantly!
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1. Board Game: Cars Champion Checkers [Average Rating:4.60 Unranked]
Wendell
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The Cars - The Cars

This is the album that inspired this list.

The Cars' self-titled debut was a brilliant collection of New Wave tunes, New England style. "Just What I Needed," "My Best Friend's Girlfriend," "Doncha Stop", "Moving in Stereo", "All Mixed Up", "You're All I've Got Tonight." Brilliance. Even the members of the Cars joked that this was their greatest hits album. They released a half-dozen other albums, including some big hits like "Let's Go," "Shake It Up," and the overplayed "Drive", but none came close to comparing to this.
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2. Board Game: Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:762]
Wendell
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Van Halen - Van Halen
Van Halen's first album (self-titled) I believe is still their best. "Running with the Devil" remains their signature tune (no, not "Jump" or "Panama"), their smoking cover of "You Really Got Me" was brilliant preceded by Eddie's guitar solo on the instrumental track "Eruption." "Jamie's Crying" was great, not a weak track on the album.

All of Van Halen's albums before David Lee Roth's departure were excellent, so I don't talk of "decline" here. But VH-1 is the peak.
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3. Board Game: Sea Power [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Wendell
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British Sea Power - The Rise and Decline of British Sea Power

The Rise and Decline of British Sea Power is a fantastic album by this iconoclastic Brighton group. Open Season and especially Do You Like Rock Music? are very good albums, but they don't match the epic sweep of the first album. British Sea Power are very much a going concern - I hope they make an album that eclipses the first because that would be a very fine album indeed.
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4. Board Game: Addiction [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
Wendell
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The Libertines - Up the Bracket

The Libertines only released two albums before Pete Doherty's antics broke up the band - apparently Carl Barat didn't like it that Pete broke into his apartment and stole stuff to pay for drugs. Shame, because Up the Bracket was a great bit of British rock. The second (and presumably last) album, The Libertines, was also very good but not quite as good as the first.
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5. Board Game: Jacksonville: the Beaches of DOOM [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Wendell
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Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd

The first album from southern rock's top practitioners (sorry Allmans), Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd was the band's finest album. "Tuesday's Gone" and "Simple Man" were instant classics. "Gimme Three Steps" remains the best song EVER about cowardice in the face of a jealous guy that is bigger than you.

And that's not to mention "Free Bird," the jammingest of southern rock jams, the song that launched ten thousand cigarette lighters, the song whose name was carved into practically every desk at my suburban Ohio junior high school, a song on many short lists as the finest rock song of all time.

Before the tragic death of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and two other band members in that 1977 plane crash, Skynyrd released many fine albums and some great songs (I'm particularly partial to "Ooh that Smell" and "What's Your Name?"). But no one album quite met the hall-of-fame level of the first.
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6. Board Game: Cheeky Monkey [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1576]
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Lily Allen - Alright, Still

Okay, I'm being a bit cheeky here, but I predict that Lily Allen's fun, infectious, bouncy and cheeky first album will be her best album. I really, really like it - but I don't know that she can top it. And I'm guessing she won't.
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7. Board Game: Asia Engulfed [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:1263]
Paul
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Asia, Asia

A great 80s album not matched by their next album....a great listen the entire way through.
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8. Board Game: Boston Scene [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Tim Parker
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Boston by Boston

These guys were like arena rock royalty. Their first album was quite a tour de force and did generate a lot of hits most notable More Than A Feeling.

The other two albumns, Don't Look Back and Third Stage paled by comparision, although, IMO, Amanda, their best song was actually on Third Stage.

Edit for Spelling.
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9. Board Game: King of Pearls [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Brandon Pennington
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Pearl Jam - Ten

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10. Board Game: Hard Line [Average Rating:5.62 Unranked]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Terence Trent D'Arby: Introducing the Hardline according to Terence Trent D'Arby

Great, great, great debut album; but probably damned himself when he declared himself the "greatest black singer ever."

And, of course, now he's known as "Sananda Maitreya" - so, really, no chance to ever top his debut album....
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11. Board Game: Trick Tock [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
David Heldt
United States
Harper Woods
Michigan
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Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick

These guys sure had the look. On this album they also had guts and hard-edged sound, which elements unfortunately faded over time.

Guts: They weren't afraid to pen songs about serial killers (The Ballad Of TV Violence), pedophilia (Daddy Should Have Stayed In High School), or "paid companionship" (He's A Whore). Ten tracks and not a clinker among them.

Sound: In 1977 these guys could compete with any punk band. He's A Whore is my favorite song from the album; YouTube is fortunate enough to have the band's promotional video for this song--crank and enjoy--

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12. Board Game: Weapons of Mass Destruction [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:3465]
Jacob Russell
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
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Appetitie for Destruciton - Guns and Roses

Not my favorite band by a long shot but that first album is pretty damn good. Defintely better then anything they ever did since then. Slash, although not a master technician, was indeed a breath of fresh air in rock of that time... great, great tone.

- J
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13. Board Game: 1000 Blank White Cards [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2019]
Erik D
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Elmhurst
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Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of Bewilderbeast

One of my favorite records in my collection. It's a terrific mix of Elliott Smith, the un-annoying parts of Paul McCartney, and sheer post-production mess.

I couldn't wait for his follow-up. It was the soundtrack to About a Boy and was, for the most part, too cheesy to handle but there were at least a few good tunes.

Then Have You Fed the Fish came out. It was a mix of 3 or 4 really good songs and 10 or so unlistenable REO Speedwagon wannabes.

Then 1+1=1, the single most boring album in the history of mankind, was released and I finally accepted the fact that his first album was nothing more than a magnificent fluke.
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14. Board Game: From the Casebook of Nick Velvet [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
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The Velvet Underground and Nico, hands down.
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15. Board Game: The Black Experience [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
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If you are not a Lou Reed kind of person, my Seattle colleague asks "Are You Experienced?"
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16. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:50]
Bill Johnston
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses.

I thought this was a brilliant album when I first heard it (and still think that). Unfortunately, the band got tied up with some legal troubles trying to get out of its deal with Silvertone Records, and didn't put out a follow-up (Second Coming) until several years later. That album wasn't nearly as good.
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17. Board Game: Clash [Average Rating:3.82 Unranked]
Davido
United States
California
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The Clash eponymous debut-really a singles collection, but each cut hits home. the cover of Police and Thieves (before everyone and their uncle started doing reggae), White Man in Hammersmith Palais, Jenny Jones remain my favorites. Their double and triple albums London Calling and Sandinista had great songs, but some filler. The first remains the best.
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18. Board Game: Rosenkönig [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:816]
 
Kevin Larkin
United States
Woodside
New York
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Stone Roses by The Stone Roses

With a kind of Byrds-like softness, they produced great pop music
which often masked vicious lyrics.

It is my all-time favorite album, and for years it was their only album. A combination of legal difficulties, general boredom and miscommunication kept them from producing another album for about 5 years. And I listened to that 2nd album maybe twice before deciding I didn't need to hear it again.

After the Smiths, they were the 1st big thing to come out of Manchester, but by the time they got around to doing anything more than re-releases of B-sides and the like, grunge had come and the Manchester style of music was already out. In short, they missed the 2 movements they had themselves started (Madchester in the early 90s, and Britpop of the mid-90s), mostly because they couldn't be bothered to get back to work.

BTW, click on my profile to see them perform the very-awesome "I Am the Resurrection" live.
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19. Board Game: Seal Race [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
@spielfriek
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Virginia Beach
Virginia
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Seal (1991)

The Beginning
Deep Water
Crazy
Killer
Whirlpool
Future Love Paradise
Wild
Show Me
Violet
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20. Board Game: Power, Plots and Pistols [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
David Heldt
United States
Harper Woods
Michigan
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Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols

I really don't know how this fits the definition given the fact that it's technically the only album this band ever put out. But for innovative sound, long-term influence, and threatening to bring down a major government, this album has few peers.

I posted God Save The Queen to another GeekList, so I'll put Anarchy In The UK here, again from the film The Filth And The Fury(Warning: Graphic language and images)--



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21. Board Game: Summertime [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:7960]
George Kinney
United States
Bellefontaine
Ohio
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Going back a ways... Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum.

Their cover of 'Summertime Blues' was a hit, but the album as a whole is a big crossover from stoner psychedelia and blues into the realm of metal.
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22. Board Game: Church On The Way [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Hank Panethiere
United States
Festus
Missouri
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Metal Church - "Metal Church"

The songs "Metal Church" and "Gods of Wrath" are two of the best metal songs ever written IMNSHO.

The whole album was inspired and sounded new and I've never heard another metal album with the same "vibe". Their second one "The Dark" is also close in quality, but just doesn't have the emotion this one had.

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23. Board Game: A Lamb Between Two Lions [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Captain Ordinary
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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UK duo Lamb's debut album was brilliant and turned me on to a musical genre I hadn't experienced before. Subsequent albums were all listenable and engaging, but they never recaptured the consistent quality of their first release.
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24. Board Game: Two out of Three [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Captain Ordinary
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Meat Loaf's and Jim Steinman's classic rock epic Bat Out of Hell came out in 1977. It's so awesome we still like him today, forgiving and forgetting the numerous disposable efforts since.
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25. Board Game: Don't Wake Daddy [Average Rating:4.26 Overall Rank:11066]
Captain Ordinary
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Durham
North Carolina
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Rage Against the Machine's debut album is a desert island record. Each song on the album is a rock solid anthem, with Wake Up and Know Your Enemy being some of my favorite rock songs of all time.

Later albums had moments of brilliance, like their cover of Devo's Beautiful World on Renegades. No album had the cohesion of their debut, and Tom Morello's guitar antics sounded more and more self-indulgent and silly.
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