11 best opening songs from debut albums

Some bands and artists get it right on the first track of their first album.
Manic Street Preachers London 1991
Manic Street Preachers London 1991 / Martyn Goodacre/GettyImages
2 of 4

“I Only Want To Be With You” – Dusty Springfield – Stay Awhile - I Only Want to Be With You (1964)

Despite not having the most engaging title of all time, English chanteuse Dusty Springfield’s international debut album featured a bevy of highlight tracks, perhaps none more impressive than “I Only Want To Be With You,” a stone-cold classic love song delivered with Springfield’s signature sultry, yearning vocals. The gifted Springfield would cover deeper material later on, but this album serves as a terrific example of the “Wall of Sound” production style – likely the best example of that production method that the U.K. ever produced.

“Time Will Show The Wiser” – Fairport Convention – Fairport Convention (1968)

While legendary folk singer Sandy Denny didn’t join the group until its next album What We Did On Our Holidays, British folk-rock group Fairport Convention’s first album delivers all of the sparkling vocal harmonies and folky covers, plus Richard Thompson’s terrific guitar work, on its first album that the group would continue to produce over the course of a multi-decade career. The group’s first track from their debut album is a ripper and certainly showcases the group in more of a straight-up “rock” mood than a “folk-rock” one.

“Father Cannot Yell” – Can – Monster Movie (1969)

While Krautrock pioneers Can would produce more exciting material once lead singer Damo Suzuki took over vocal duties, the group’s debut album still provides a thrilling excursion into the rhythmic experiments and freeform improvisation that the group would take in striking new directions over the course of their early 1970s albums.

“Father Cannot Yell,” their first track from debut album Monster Movie sets the table for a number of trademark elements of the group’s sound: inscrutable lyrics, steady and intriguing bass lines from founder Holger Czukay, as well as singular jazzy and improvisational style that no other band has ever approached since.

“It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)” – AC/DC – T.N.T. (1975) or High Voltage (1976)

You’ll notice that two albums are listed here, but that is mostly for the sake of semantics – AC/DC’s opening track from their debut album was the same for both their international release and their local Australian debut: the iconic “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll).”

Brought back to the limelight by the students at the School of Rock with help from Jack Black in the same film, this opener delivers all of the bravado, rugged guitar riffing, and inimitable vocal stylings that the Bon Scott era of AC/DC is known for. Legendary.