4 best opening songs on debut albums from the 1950s

This list of the four best first songs on first albums from the 1950s shows that some bands and artists get it right on the first track of their debut album.
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Debut albums are difficult. For every classic one that perfectly dovetails with a band or artist’s ethos and style, there’s another that delivers half-baked song ideas and uncharacteristic musical decisions. Other debut albums are patchy and, while they might have a handful of good songs, don’t consistently deliver the goods like other, later albums in a group’s discography.

However, some debut albums are terrific, and the first tracks on those albums are stone-cold classics that represent the group or artist perfectly – or foreshadow future triumphs that they will be capable of achieving after a few years of seasoning.

The 1950s was an exciting time for music as rock 'n' roll began to take over the airwaves and charismatic stars of the era such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and others started releasing not just terrific singles, but also strong albums from start to finish. Read on to explore the four best first songs on first albums from the 1950s.

Pop music in the 1950s was focused on singles, not albums

Note: This list does not include EPs or first singles, as it is strictly limited to the first song featured on the track list of the group or artist’s debut album – simple as that. As such, this list also doesn’t count first tracks on a group or artist’s first “major label” album, discounting their “independent” releases.

"Blue Suede Shoes" - Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (1956)

“Well, it's one for the money two for the show; Three to get ready now go, cat, go!” Elvis Presley begins his debut album with a classic couplet that has stood the test of time and kicks off his career with a sound that’s fresh and exciting nearly 70 years later. With incredible vocals and a rollicking backing track featuring the supreme guitar talents of Scotty Moore, this Carl Perkins cover set the stage for one of the most legendary careers in music history.

"Oh, Boy!" - The Crickets - The “Chirping” Crickets (1957)

The mid-to-late 1950s was when rock ‘n’ roll really took off. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were one of the most important groups in the development of the genre, and the group’s debut album, The “Chirping” Crickets, delivered a bevy of notable rock ‘n’ roll classics that set the table for all groups to follow. The first track, the romping “Oh, Boy!” has been covered myriad times, and serves as the perfect showcase for Holly’s ample songwriting and vocal talents.

“Tutti Frutti” – Little Richard - Here’s Little Richard (1957)

Easily one of the best opening tracks from a debut album ever, Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” proved that rock ‘n’ roll was a feeling and a true “movement” – as well as one that didn’t require coherent lyrics to create legendary songs. With an indelible voice and a highly energetic performance style, Little Richard etched his name in the history books with this song, and its iconic gobbledygook repeated refrain and its variants: “A wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!”

"Bo Diddley" - Bo Diddley Bo Diddley (1958)

Rock ‘n’ roll icon Bo Diddley pulled off the rare “treble” on his debut album by having all three of a homonymic song, album, and artist with the same name – something that very few artists have done in their career (Iron Maiden, Bad Company and Black Sabbath spring to mind).

Diddley’s first album must have felt like a “how-to” for aspiring rockers in the late 1950s, especially considering Diddley’s creation of the soon-to-be omnipresent “Bo Diddley beat,” which was a variation of the “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythmic pattern. One thing is certain: Diddley sure did love his own name!

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