100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

From the Beatles to Nas and beyond

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'My Aim Is True'
Courtesy Columbia Records21/100

21. 'My Aim Is True'

Elvis Costello
Columbia 1977

Costello on the fuel for his debut: "I spent a lot of time with just a big jar of instant coffee and the first Clash album, listening to it over and over." The music doesn't have the savage attack of the Clash – it's more pub rock than punk rock – but the songs are full of punk's verbal bite, particularly "Waiting for the End of the World" ("Dear Lord, I sincerely hope you're coming/'Cause you really started something"). The album's opening lines – "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired" – and the poisoned-valentine ballad "Alison" established Costello as one of the sharpest, and nastiest, lyricists of his generation. He pretty much reinvented the Dylan-esque singer-songwriter in his own nerd-avenger image.

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