National Album Day organisers and supporters on their top debut LPs

National Album Day organisers and supporters on their top debut LPs

The fifth edition of National Album Day this weekend (October 15) is a celebration of debut LPs. Ambassadors supporting the 2022 edition include Sam Ryder, who releases his first album next month, The Staves, Franz Ferdinand and The Mysterines.

Here, National Album Day organisers and supporters of the initiative reveal their personal pick for a favourite introductory long-player…

Kim Bayley, CEO, ERA
Tracy Chapman by Tracy Chapman (1988)

"Great albums live with you forever and so it is for me when I think of Tracy Chapman’s debut album Tracy Chapman. I was in my second year of university and about to leave the UK to go and live in Germany. I must have listened to the album hundreds of times that year. It was emotional and seemed to speak to deeper truths at a time when the world really was changing. Every song seemed to offer something completely different. Of course there were the big radio hits like Fast Car and Talking ‘Bout A Revolution, but the real gems on the album for me are Across The Lines and the haunting a capella Behind The Wall. More than 20 million people around the world agreed with me and bought the album. When I left for Germany, it was among the few precious possessions I packed and took with me. "

Iain McNay, chairman, Cherry Red Records
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by Dead Kennedys (1980)
“I first heard the Dead Kennedys’ debut single California Uber Alles on the John Peel show. I thought it was stunning, musically and lyrically. A few months later I was approached by the band’s management to see if I was interested in releasing their debut album and was given a track called Holiday In Cambodia. I had no doubt that the album would be successful and, after raising the $10,000 advance, I was in San Francisco in the kitchen of one of the band member’s homes listening to a rough mix of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables on a tinny portable tape recorder. It wasn’t the best place to listen, but when I actually heard the finished album on proper speakers it blew me away. And 40 years later, it still does. It’s a record I never get tired of hearing.”

Jonathan Green, MD, EarMusic
Yo! Bum Rush The Show by Public Enemy (1987)
“Hearing the opening track of Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show, You’re Gonna Get Yours with Chuck D’s incredible flow, set my hip-hop controls - which had begun with Run DMC and It’s Like That in ’84 - for the heart of a new hip hop sun. Incendiary lyrics in songs like Miuzi Weighs A Ton took hip-hop to a new level. Seeing them perform live at an unforgettable Hammersmith Odeon later in 1987, accompanied by members seemingly armed with real Uzis, cemented the album in my psyche and it has never let go. The album also established Def Jam as the unparalleled home of hip-hop. Ten years later, I told Lyor Cohen the story of that night and persuaded him to move Def Jam to Mercury Records [Green was GM of Mercury in the UK], and began a new era for the label with Jay-Z, DMX, Redman, Ja Rule, LL Cool J and Method Man - all gold albums, but it all began with Yo! Bum Rush The Show.”

Phoebe Scott, PR & digital manager, ERA
Jaime by Brittany Howard (2019)
“I’m going to have to cop out of choosing a favourite debut album of all time, but one worth mentioning is Brittany Howard’s Jaime. The Alabama Shakes lead singer made her debut in 2019, and it stuck with me through the highs and lows of that year. Brittany’s voice is so powerfully identifiable, and she knows how to utilise it. She hits blues-rock, neo-soul, electronica, jazz, funk and way too many genres to fit in this word count. It was written and dedicated to her sister Jaime, who sadly passed away as a teenager, so Brittany dives into her feelings ranging from anger to tenderness. Standout tracks have got to be 13th Century Metal, Short & Sweet and Goat Head, but it also features her big single Stay High, among other gems. Pretty cool embossed record sleeve as well.”

Great albums live with you forever

Kim Bayley

Jack Howells, brand communications & partnerships manager, Bowers & Wilkins
Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes (2012)
“Alabama Shakes Boys & Girls started my love affair with the band. Frontwoman Brittany Howard is a force of nature with her gospel-inspired vocals blending beautifully with the band’s truly authentic blues and soul-infused sound that transports you back in time to the late ’60s and early ’70s when rock and blues coalesced.”

YolanDa Brown, chair, BPI
Just To Let You Know by Bitty McLean (1993)
“The artist who I just cannot turn off is the lovely Bitty McLean. I first came across him through his beautiful 1994 debut Just To Let You Know. Thank me later! Bitty’s vocals are simply sweet and sultry, he makes the music paint colours in my heart. I believe every lyric when he sings it! The album by Bitty I really love, though, if I am allowed to say, is On Bond Street. From the first track Walk Away From Love to the song which was the first dance at my wedding, Baby Tonight, the production on this album is absolutely delicious. My dream is to book a theatre with Bitty McLean on stage, accompanied by his band and an orchestra as they perform the album start to end. In the audience? Just me of course, in an armchair, with a beverage for company.” 

Gary Davies, presenter Sounds Of The ’80s, Saturdays on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds
Raintown by Deacon Blue (1987)
“For me, Raintown by Deacon Blue is one of the best debut albums of the ’80s, if not of all time. An album that beautifully pays homage to lead singer Ricky Ross’ adopted home of Glasgow, capturing the struggles of urban city life and of work, love and hope. It features songs that have since become Deacon Blue classics - Chocolate Girl, When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) and Dignity: all released as singles, none reached even the Top 30, and yet the album spent 77 weeks in the UK chart. I love this album because it’s NOT just about the singles - it’s a beautiful body of work, there are no throwaway tracks, every song is special. My personal favourites include the haunting opening track Born In A Storm - which sets the mood, leading seamlessly into the title track - He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now and Dignity, an inspiring song of hope that has become a Deacon Blue anthem. Raintown has more than stood the test of time and sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did when released in 1987.”

Jasleen Dhindsa, senior PR executive, DawBell
Don’t Say That by Superfood (2014)
“Superfood’s debut album stands out as a favourite debut for me for so many reasons. Not only does it remind me fondly of my first year of university, but as a Britpop stan, the fact that they were able to so uniquely capture the genre for the 21st Century blew my mind. No one else was doing, or is doing, what they did on that album (which is very bittersweet in hindsight as they are now no longer a band). It’s incredibly layered, kaleidoscopic and catchy, and is one of those records that is as impactful when listened to in order as it is shuffled - there are even interludes, which is always a signifier of a true album artist for me. I remember seeing them at Kentish Town Forum supporting Temples the year this came out, and nabbining myself a poster of their album artwork that I still have framed and displayed to this day. NME’s review said the record has ‘enough hooks to hang your entire wardrobe on’ and I think that sums it up for me.”


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