One of our biggest pet peeves at LxL is the mid-career self-titled reinvention album: the one last gasp at pretending to start over. Many times it is when a band joins a major label and hopes to start anew or when the band has been falling apart and hopes for a fresh start, but either way, the mid-career self-titled album usually spells trouble. MGMT this week joins the ranks of mid-career self-titled albums, and from early returns, it sounds like this album won’t necessarily be a return to form. So in order to get our minds off the ugly self-titled trend, we have decided to give you the 10 best self-titled (or eponymous) albums of all time.
10. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
On top of its iconic Andy Warhol cover, The Velvet Underground & Nico is perhaps the most iconic album in experimental rock ‘n’ roll.
9. The Clash – The Clash
The London punk-rockers absolutely burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut, filled with brash, unrelenting 2-3 minute punk rock songs.
8. The Band – The Band
We have never hidden our love for the Band, and this list is no exception. Their self-titled album is surprisingly their second, actually living up to their debut, Music from Big Pink.
7. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I
Robert Plant and co. must have really loved their band name, self-titling their first four albums. This debut was one of the first “heavy metal” albums and pure blues heaven.
6. Weezer – Weezer (the “Blue Album”)
One of the best debuts ever proved to be the high point for a band that topped our Band Breaking Bad list. Every single song on what is known as the “Blue Album” is pop gold.
5. Paul Simon – Paul Simon
Paul Simon must have thought it extra important to name his solo debut after himself just to prove he didn’t need his goofy folk sidekick Art Garfunkel, and I would argue this album stacks up to any Simon & Garfunkel album.
4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II
Our second of three Zeppelin albums that made the list, Led Zeppelin II took the band to an even higher plain, with rock monsters like “Whole Lotta Love” and Lord of The Rings tales like “Ramble On”.
3. The Beatles – The Beatles (the “White Album”)
What is widely known as the “White Album”, The Beatles has to be the most varied and diversified album of all-time, where each song comes completely out of left-field compared to the prior song. Folk, metal, ska, and Eastern music: the Beatles did it all on the Beatles.
2. The Stooges – The Stooges
Talk about exploding out of the gate. With the perfect name, the Stooges felt no need to give a special name to their album but introduced their take-no-prisoners garage rock with an album of the same name.
1. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Entering four albums into the ring definitely helped Zeppelin’s chances on landing the top spot of the self-titled list, but one look at the tracklist of Led Zeppelin IV and you understand immediately why this is #1. “Black Dog”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Stairway to Heaven”, “Going to California”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “When the Levee Breaks”: it’s a murderer’s row of rock ‘n’ roll classics.
Todd – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III
Todd thought it wrong not to mention every Zeppelin self-titled album, so he gave Zeppelin III his miss, which I would agree is probably the most underrated of them all.
Austin – The White Stripes – The White Stripes
On their eponymous debut, the White Stripes were just a couple punks from Detroit, but the jet-fueled blues revival was infectious and hard not to love.
Wes – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
The Fleet Foxes have landed themselves on just about every one of our seasonal lists, with their pastoral folk being able to rile up any type of scenery. Their self-titled debut was sprawling and vivid.