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  1. #1

    Artists Whose First Album May Have Been Their Best

    Here is a topic to open up for weekend discussion. I have several artists in mind (some being more "soul" than others) who in my opinion released a sensational debut album but never matched it in any subsequent release. Just interested to see who will agree on one or more of these. Here they are in alphabetical order:

    Whitney Houston: That first album was such a blockbuster that she probably could not have topped it if she had tried. At least the second one came close but in my opinion, nothing else measured up. From those first two, she released so many hit singles that she still left other potential hits as mere album cuts......Examples All at Once from the first album and You're Still My Man from the second one.

    The Jones Girls: In my opinion, their first album did not have a weak cut on it, and You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else was soooo hot and radio-friendly but nothing else matched it for me. Great harmonies on every song as we have discussed in other threads.

    Odyssey: They too started off with a classic hit in Native New Yorker but never matched it. But the first album had lots of other great songs...Golden Hands being the first that comes to mind. If I am not mistaken, they had personnel changes very early in their career and that may have impacted their longevity or hit potential.

    Freda Payne: For the purposes of this discussion I am referring to the Band of Gold album, although I know it was technically not her first. Yet it was her first that attracted major attention and had hit singles. Again not a weak cut to be found and there were some other great ones, such as The Easiest Way to Fall, Unhooked Generation, and I Left Some Dreams Back There.

    Curtis Stigers: Not everyone's cup of tea I realize but that debut album on Arista in the early 90s was amazing! I could listen to You're All That Matters to Me all day long. But he almost immediately changed his style to stripped down more acoustic jazz and to this day, he still releases that kind of music. He has in fact put out a new CD here in 2020. So congrats on his longevity but his personal choice of style change sure ruined things for me!

  2. #2
    I must disagree with Freda - I think 'Contact' is her best. But ... your concept has, sadly, lots of legitimacy. I may add the Stylistics first LP. Several that followed were also excellent, but that first ... LEGENDARY!

  3. #3
    Oh boy, I can respect your opinion about Whitney's first album being her best ...but for me, that is definitely not the case Personally, if I had to choose one, it would be beteeen her second LP, "Whitney" and The Bodyguard soundtrack. I'm sure most of the general public would also say The Bodyguard, if you are willing to count that as 'her album'.

    Interesting subject for discussion though! I'm having a tough time thinking of some examples, but I know that they exist!

  4. #4
    Alicia Keys ”Songs In A Minor” and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s ”Doggystyle” are the only ones I can think of. I'm trying to limit it to artists who have more than three albums, not counting greatest hits comps.

  5. #5
    My favorite Whitney album is her first one. Don’t know if it is her best, but it’s tops for me. Also, I believe “All at once” was released as a single.

    Edit:

    You are correct. Wasn’t released in the USA.

    From Wikipedia:

    "All at Once" is a song by American singer Whitney Houston, written by Michael Masser and Jeffrey Osborne. The song is from her eponymous debut album and was released as a single in Japan and several European countries in 1985–1986. While it did not receive an official single release in the United States, the song did receive steady radio airplay on Pop and R&B/soul formats there. The song is a heartbreak ballad about a lover who leaves without warning and the damage it does.
    Last edited by khansperac; 10-09-2020 at 11:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Keith Sweat's debut album might as well be his greatest hits anthology. I'd argue that Sade's debut was one of the best records of the '80s and definitely her best album even though I like some of her later songs better than anything on Diamond Life. If you like hip hop, De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising is one of the greatest thing's I've ever heard and they've never come close.

    And if you want a hot take, I'll submit that Michael Jackson's Off The Wall was as good as or better than Thriller. IMO, those are the first two albums of his that I'm grabbing before I climb into my bomb shelter.

  7. #7
    I pick the first album by The Jimmy Castor Bunch from 1972, It's Just Begun. This album set the tone for their work during the '70s and while they never matched the consistency of that LP, the band did have a good run of hits in the '70s with "The Bertha Butt Boogie", "Space Age", "Maximum Stimulation" and others.

  8. #8
    Jill Scott never again reached the artistic heights of Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, IMO.

  9. #9
    The Originals 'Green Grow The Lilacs' retitled 'Baby I'm For Real' album. This first album of several by The Originals is still the special one to me. The songwriter credits: Holland Dozier Holland, Marvin Gaye, Anna Gaye, Ivy Hunter, Vernon Bullock, Dean,Weatherspoon, Marilyn McLeod, Richard Morris, Morris Broadnax, Jack Goga, Elgie Stover, Ron Miller, and The Originals members themselves. What a treasure trove of talent and they all without exeption went to create many more Motown masterpieces.

    Whilst 'Baby I'm For Real' is the most air-played Originals track ever, for me 'We've Got A Way Out Love' from the same album is the peerless track. Those harmonies amazed me at the time and still do to this day.

    All in glorious stereo.


  10. #10
    The alternative mix. Really brings the bottom to the forefront...makes my desk shudder when that bass kicks in.


  11. #11
    Not quite soul music, but here goes:

    As a solo artist - meatloaf
    ABC
    Arctic monkeys
    And arguably they only produce one album - sex pistols

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Jill Scott never again reached the artistic heights of Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, IMO.
    I would agree, but each of her subsequent albums have contained some killers, but not to the consistency of that debut.

  13. #13
    Didn't Terence Trent D'arby have a nice first album?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by mr_june View Post
    Didn't Terence Trent D'arby have a nice first album?
    Yes, a terrific lp, as was the follow-up. I think we should also consider Chaka's first solo lp.

  15. #15
    Just remembered this one: Dr. Buzzard's Original Savanna Band's debut! Featuring "I'll Play The Fool" & "Cherchez La Femme", their 1976 self-titled LP fused Disco with Big Band Swing. The group would make 3 more albums but (IMHO) they never recaptured the magic of that first album.

  16. #16
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    Maxwell's "Urban Hang Suite" was a killer. He's released some great music since but nothing like that one.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by glencro View Post
    Maxwell's "Urban Hang Suite" was a killer. He's released some great music since but nothing like that one.
    I would agree with you Glencro. I couldn't stop playing this cd, and i also bought a couple of cd singles which contained several great mixes of the singles. In my opinion none of his subsequent albums have quite matched the consistency of that great debut.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Jill Scott never again reached the artistic heights of Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, IMO.
    I'm with you on this one too. When i first heard this album i hoped it was the start of a stellar career packed with classic albums, but i have been generally disappointed with her albums since then. There have been a few gems here and there but no great consistency sadly.

  19. #19
    FEEL MY SOUL by Jennifer Holliday.

    I find most of Jennifer's albums, including this one, to be rather spotty. But I think her debut was probably the best of the bunch.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    I think we should also consider Chaka's first solo lp.
    You know, as a devoted Chakacologist, I have to respectfully but strenuously disagree here. Chaka’s first four solo albums were all artistic (if not always commercial) triumphs. With Arif Mardin as the Jerry Wexler to her Aretha, Chaka went from strength to strength here, putting in some seriously critically acclaimed work. For me, her solo high-water-mark will always be her third LP, WHAT ‘CHA GONNA DO FOR ME...her finest hour. Ironically, it was her fifth and most commercially successful album, I FEEL FOR YOU, that suffered from trend-conscious choices and over-production and signaled a decline, IMO (although I ate it up as a kid). Maybe it was a function of Arif spreading out the production duties.
    Last edited by sansradio; 11-16-2020 at 11:45 AM.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    FEEL MY SOUL by Jennifer Holliday.

    I find most of Jennifer's albums, including this one, to be rather spotty. But I think her debut was probably the best of the bunch.
    Excellent choice.I do have a soft spot for her first full gospel LP (ON AND ON...) as well, though.
    Last edited by sansradio; 11-16-2020 at 12:11 PM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Jill Scott never again reached the artistic heights of Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, IMO.
    Completely agree about Jill Scott. She has had great tracks over the years but no album as cohesive and thrilling as her debut.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    You know, as a devoted Chakacologist, I have to respectfully but strenuously disagree here. Chaka’s first four solo albums were all artistic (if not always commercial) triumphs. With Arif Mardin as the Jerry Wexler to her Aretha, Chaka went from strength to strength here, putting in some seriously critically acclaimed work. For me, her solo high-water-mark will always be her third LP, WHAT ‘CHA GONNA DO FOR ME...her finest hour. Ironically, it was her fifth and most commercially successful album, I FEEL FOR YOU, that suffered from trend-conscious choices and over-production and signaled a decline, IMO (although I ate it up as a kid). Maybe it was a function of Arif spreading out the production duties.
    Over the years, I FEEL FOR YOU has become my favorite Chaka solo lp. I like them all but I mostly listen to this one.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy View Post
    Over the years, I FEEL FOR YOU has become my favorite Chaka solo lp. I like them all but I mostly listen to this one.
    I used to go gaga over it, but time has cooled things for me, I guess. Definitely some good stuff on it, but now I find the computer effects on the uptempo tracks a little dated and busy.
    Last edited by sansradio; 11-16-2020 at 02:40 PM.

  25. #25
    I have to respectfully disagree with OP about the Jones Girls' debut album being their best. Their debut was really a solid one, containing two of their signature showstoppers, "Who Can I Run To" and "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else." But, their crown jewel for me is their second album, 1980's At Peace with Woman.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Just remembered this one: Dr. Buzzard's Original Savanna Band's debut! Featuring "I'll Play The Fool" & "Cherchez La Femme", their 1976 self-titled LP fused Disco with Big Band Swing. The group would make 3 more albums but (IMHO) they never recaptured the magic of that first album.
    I'm glad you mentioned this one. Stellar event that album.

  27. #27
    Outside of our usual wheelhouse, but since the thread is up for a few weeks now I'll add Rickie Lee Jones' debut lp.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by glencro View Post
    Maxwell's "Urban Hang Suite" was a killer. He's released some great music since but nothing like that one.
    I disagree. ‘Urban’ is good, but i find ‘Now’ to be his best album so far.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I disagree. ‘Urban’ is good, but i find ‘Now’ to be his best album so far.
    Interesting Ollie. I shall have to give Now another spin.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Interesting Ollie. I shall have to give Now another spin.
    I think it probably he’s most commercial work. “This Woman’s Work” is of course now a classic.

  31. #31

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