There are many reasons why an iconic artist’s first album might fly under the radar — or why it could have been scrubbed from history.
Maybe the debut in question was a regional release or commercial flop, never earning a wide audience. Perhaps it was overshadowed by a later masterpiece. Maybe it explored a style uncharacteristic for a songwriter’s catalog. Perhaps it just plain sucked.
For the below list of Forgotten First Albums: Rock’s Most Overshadowed Debuts, we surveyed discographies of rock’s biggest acts (compilations excluded) and gathered some of the most interesting entries. But don’t be thrown off if you don’t recognize the band name — part of this process involved digging into artists’ pasts, examining the music they made before joining other, more famous groups (like Gregg and Duane Allman in Hour Glass) or venturing out for solo careers (like Billy Joel in his pre-fame act the Hassles).
On the other hand, depending on your level of fandom, some of these titles may not feel “forgotten” at all. Prog nuts may consider Yes‘ debut LP a legitimate classic, even if others didn’t hear the band until a few years later; meanwhile, punk die-hards may know every second of No More Censorship, the recorded debut of a pre-Nirvana Dave Grohl, though most readers probably don’t realize it exists.
In a way, it’s the ultimate list for classic-rock hipsters. If you want to understand the greats “before they were famous,” start here.