Top 10 Debut Country Albums
This past Sunday on the Retro show we had some fun counting down the top 10 debut country albums of all time. A good debut single can certainly make you a star but a good debut album can take you right from obscurity and make you a Super Star. It’s not to say that you have to knock it out of the ball park with a good first album but it certainly helps to set the table for a great career. With that in mind here’s our top 10 and a few other great albums you might recognize to.
10. Charlie Major The Other Side
Released in 1993 Charlie Major released 6 singles from this album and each and every one of them went to #1 here in Canada.
* I’m gonna drive you out of my mind
* I’m Somebody
* I’m Here
* It Can’t Happen To Me
* Nobody Gets Too Much Love
* The Other Side
9. Dwight Yoakam Guitars, Cadillac's, Etc., Etc.
Released in 1986 Guitars, Cadillac’s, Etc., Etc. was a mixture of original songs written by Dwight and also a number of covers. The title track would go on to become his signature hit and it along with the debut single Honky Tonk Man set the stage for the album and his incredible career. Dig deep into this album and you’ll find a number of songs both cover and originals that reflect Dwight’s youth in Kentucky.
8. George Strait Strait Country
Released in 1981 country music didn’t know what had hit it when George Strait arrived on the national stage. The album was a mixture of Traditional Country, Texas Swing, The Bakersfield Sound and Honky Tonk music. If it seems strange to you that the Debut album from the man
who holds the record for the most number one hits of all time didn’t include any number one hits you’re not alone. It seems only on reflection does one realize just how fantastic the album really is. Consider as well that Strait was also only given a trial single before MCA signed him to a deal for a complete album. Thankfully unwound rose to #6 on the American Billboard Country Chart and he could get on with a great career worldwide and not just in Texas where he was already well known.
7. Highway 101 - Highway 101
Highway 101 could never repeat the success they had with their debut album in 1987. Their self-titled debut album included 2 number one hits and 2 more top 5 singles. The Bed You Made For Me was the first single released and it peaked at #4. Whiskey If You Were a Woman was next and peaked at #2. Their next two singles, Somewhere Tonight and Cry, Cry, Cry would both reach number one with Somewhere Tonight spending 2 weeks at the top. The band continued to see fair success on the charts including 2 more number one hits until lead singer Paulette Carlson departed the band in 1990.
6. Garth Brooks - Garth Brooks
When Garth Brooks released his self-titled debut album in 1989 it didn’t immediately stand out from anything else that was happening in country music at the time. However, by the time the final single The Dance reached #1 the country music audience was hearing a genuine voice and a unique sound. His debut single was Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) and after the next few singles including Friends in Low Places on his second album was released many country fans had to go back and listen to the original release, and they liked what they heard. The song also helped many country music fans discover Chris Ledoux. If tomorrow never comes was part of that genuine voice and emotion and it became his first number one. It was followed by Not Counting You which climbed to #2 and then The Dance which reached #1 and stayed on top for 3 weeks. The video for the song which featured a number of deceased celebrities and their spouses and Garth’s explanation at the begging of the video helped fans realise how sincere the music and the artist were.
5. The Judds Why Not Me
When the Judds released their debut album in late 1984 it was a matter of Quantity and Quality. The album was full of great music and two singles would go on to win Grammy awards in 1985 and 1986 for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group. Mama’s He’s crazy wasn’t their debut single but it was the first single released from the album and it quickly climbed to number one winning a Grammy in 1985. The title track went to #1 for 2 weeks and won them their second Grammy in 1986. Two more singles also went to #1 in 1985. Girls Night Out and Love is Alive which both stayed at #1 for a week each.
4. Johnny Cash With His Hot And Blue Guitar
Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar was released in October of 1957 and included 2 signature hits. Folsom Prison Blues was released in 1956 and peaked at #4. It would be released again in 1968 (Live at Folsom Prison) and reach #1 and stay at the top for 4 weeks. I walk the line would make Cash a Super Star when it reached number one in 1956 and stay on top for 6 weeks. The album also included The singles Cry! Cry! Cry! and So Doggone Lonesome. Two more songs, The Rock Island Line and The Wreck Of The Old ’97 would also become Cash Standards in concerts for years to come. Imagine if Hey Porter had been included which was officially Cash’s first single.
3. Brooks N' Dunn Band New Man
When Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn released their debut album in August of 1991 the duo couldn’t have imagined their first 4 singles would all reach #1 on the American Country Billboard chart. Both men were solo artist before teaming up to form one of the greatest country music acts of all time and what a start it was. Brand New Man, My Next Broken Heart
and Neon Moon all reached #1 for two weeks while Boot Scootin Boogie went to #1 for four weeks and made them immediate superstars. A fifth single called Lost and Found would also do well peaking at #6. The Album has gone on to sell over 6 Million copies worldwide.
2. Randy Travis Storms of Life
We’re cutting Randy Travis some slack here and overlooking his Randy Traywick album in 1978. Storms Of Life was released by Randy Travis in 1986 and is full of great music including 4 singles and a number of other quality recordings. The debut single was 1982 and it peaked at #6 in early ‘86. That was followed by two number one hits. On the Other Hand and Diggin’ Up Bones. The final single No Place Like Home came close to a number one hit but stopped just short reaching #2. The rest of the songs on the album are also great songs that fit the mold of traditional country and helped make Randy Travis a leader in bringing the traditional sounds of country back to the forefront. The Storms Of Life, Reasons I Cheat and My Heart Cracked could easily have been released as singles as well. It was probably the next album, Always and Forever that made Randy a Superstar but Storms of Life set the stage nicely.
1. Clint Black Killin' Time
Released in May of 1989 Clint Black’s Killin’ Time album is not only one of the greatest debut albums of all time but one of the greatest albums of all time… period. My only complaint is that it only had 9 songs on it when I first bought the Cassette back in high school. Note that I’ll Be Gone was not included in the original release on Cassette. But those 9 songs are enough to earn it first place. The five singles are all fantastic and the first 4 all reached the top of the American Country Billboard Chart. Really back in 1989 this album made everyone overlook Garth Brooks. A Better Man was the debut single and reached #1 before the ablum was even released. That was followed by the title track which also went to #1. Nobody’s Home Then became the biggest hit chart wise on the album when it went to #1 for 3 weeks in 1990 and that was followed by Walkin’ Away a chart topper for two weeks and Nothing’s News which
also became a top ten hit and peaked at #3. The album has a great sound from start to finish and flows as nice as any album I’ve ever heard.
Here are a few other great Debut albums
The Zac Brown Band The Foundation
Taylor Swift Taylor Swift
Eric Church Sinners Like Me
Alan Jackson Here In The Real World
Toby Keith Toby Keith
John Conlee Rose Coloured Glasses
Brad Paisley Who Needs Pictures
Ricky Van Shelton Wild Eyed Dream
Sammy Kershaw Don’t Go Near The Water