100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

From the Beatles to Nas and beyond

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'Unknown Pleasures'
Courtesy Factory Records20/100

20. 'Unknown Pleasures'

Joy Division
Factory, 1979

This breathtaking 1979 set was to punk what The Velvet Underground & Nico was to psychedelia – a reveal of the seething dark underbelly of a cultural movement. Produced by Martin Hannett, who makes the band sound like they're performing in a meat cooler, it introduces Ian Curtis, who wails the Manchester existential blues with a despair so powerful, it somehow transcends hopelessness (when he sings "I've got the spirit," on the amazing Arctic-chunnel of an album-opener "Disorder," it's as thrilling as it is blood-chilling). A model for countless brooding rock bands to come.

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