Beginnings, it is often held, are delicate times. I don’t necessarily find this to be true in popular music. Unlike first novels and first movies, first albums have a large tendency to be the best (or the only) thing said artist ever does. Even when it’s not exactly their Best, it tends to be the moment of Young, Loud, Snotty and generally Unfuckwithable. They haven’t learned to be afraid yet, maybe. In any case, it tends to be when they make their largest statements, since they all suspect somewhere in the back of their minds that they might not ever get this chance again.
Consider Van Halen (1978) by Van Halen.
It’s about as Debut Album as a debut album’s gonna get. It does indeed feature what was probably the greatest rock guitarist at the time, and they made sure to just go right ahead and shovel that at you. Indeed, right after the somewhat typical Opening Statement Song, it’s right to the Guitar Solo Song.
Y’know? The sheer cheek of it! Like he’s Jimi, or maybe just Jimmy Page! A song that just has a preamble of drums, and we’re off! Hammer-ons! Weird harmonics! A suggestion that the dude has actually studied classical guitar -and even more weirdly; non-rock n’ roll guitarists! A Statement of Purpose from the President of Rocking Your Ass at the time.