Like the great musician Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, I believe in starts. Once you have the start the rest is inevitable.
The first song on a debut album is critical. It is the opening gambit that should sum up your dreams and aspirations and place your contemporaries on notice: This world is mine and I dare you to stop me.
Now there are some mighty fine debut albums that feature great opening tracks but the best ones are those that personify the ambitions of the artist.
Here are a few of my favourites:
Bruce Springsteen – Blinded By The Light (from the album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J)
Certainly not the biggest song in his career (throw a blanket over a dozen classics) or the most well known version (that goes to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), ‘Blinded By The Light’ is Springsteen kicking off Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. with a Dylanesque stream of rhyme. The key line is right at the end:
“Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh but mama that’s where the fun is”
Any teenager wanting to be a musician can relate to that.
U2 – I Will Follow (from the album Boy)
29 years after its debut, ‘I Will Follow’ still sounds fresh, thanks primarily to The Edge’s guitar work. The song itself is pure youth bursting out of the speakers. The best statements of intent need a little earnestness and who better to deliver that than the most earnest band of the 1980s?
R.E.M – Radio Free Europe (from the album Murmur)
Released as a single two years prior, ‘Radio Free Europe’ was re-recorded for their debut album in 1983. Much like ‘I Will Follow’ it is more about the raw sound than the lyrical prowess. The driving beat is a strong reminder that when drummer Bill Berry left, R.E.M. would never be the same.
Hoodoo Gurus – I Want You Back (from the album Stoneage Romeos)
I have always seen the Gurus as a great singles band but upon reflection their albums are just as strong, none more so than their debut. ‘I Want You Back’ is vintage garage rock that saw the Aussie quartet break through to college radio in America.
Oasis – Rock ‘n’ Roll Star (from the album Definitely Maybe)
Opening salvos don’t get any more direct than ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’. The song is as much about the band’s wish to get out of their own shit hole of an existence as it was Britain’s. Love them or loathe them, the Gallagher brothers have embodied the words of this tune ever since.
What is your favourite statement of intent? Let us know.