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10 Great Bands Who Overcame Questionable Debut Albums

Apart from the really important news of the day — the important breaking story about Ke$ha’s new necklace — Rolling Stone also reminded us yesterday that it was 32 years ago this week that U2’s debut EP, U2-3, was released. The three-song 12″ has become something of a Holy Grail for fans — it’s been reissued several times, but the original releases change hand for shitloads of money. All this despite the fact that like most of U2’s pre-Boy material, it’s not really all that good — two of the three songs (“Out of Control” and “Stories for Boys”) contained on U2-3 would end up in markedly superior forms on the band’s debut, while the last (“Boy/Girl”) slowly slipped out of their setlist and into obscurity. Anyway, the fact that it’s the band’s first release got us thinking about other bands who overcame relatively unpromising debuts — not necessarily terrible albums, mind, just comparatively unimpressive — and went on to bigger and better things. Here are 10 of our favorites. (And no, Radiohead’s Pablo Honey isn’t one of them — we really quite like that album.)

Lou Reed — Lou Reed (1972)

We could actually include Reed twice here, but picking on “The Ostrich” probably isn’t entirely fair. There’s no denying that his self-titled solo debut, however, was a bit of a damp squib — it was a hodge-podge of unrecorded out-takes from the tail end of the Velvet Underground’s career, recorded with a bunch of session musicians and, um, Yes’s Rick Wakeman. Shortly afterward, Reed hooked up with David Bowie and Mick Ronson to make the immeasurably better Transformer.