Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted by Spinner
When an act names an album after itself, it's often introducing itself to the world, signaling a rebirth or telling fans that this record is its magnum opus. Either that, or they're just not very good at titles. Some ('The Byrds') have failed to live up to their creator's name, while others ('Christina Aguilera') have accurately signaled the birth of a star. (By the way, R.E.M.'s 'Eponymous' doesn't count -- that's a title.) And acts with multiple self-titled discs (Weezer, Peter Gabriel) are just trying to confuse us. That said, here are our favorites:
Not only did these indie rockers give us a self-titled album -- which they jokingly called 'Wilco (The Album)' -- they also gave us the single 'Wilco (The Song),' which kicks off this collection of catchy, feel-good tunes. After 15 years and seven studio albums, it was a gutsy move to finally go self-referring on us. But, like its predecessor, 'Sky Blue Sky,' 'Wilco' prove that rock is not entirely dead -- and that we don't have to keep dusting off old '60s acts to keep it hobbling along.
'Van Halen' (1978)
This album set a standard for what an eponymous album should be: As a debut, it introduced the band to the world, and it featured several great songs that would lay the groundwork for the band's signature sound -- at least during the David Lee Roth years. Songs like 'Eruption,' 'Jamie's Cryin'' and 'Running With the Devil' embraced rock 'n' roll excess with Roth's confident, sex-charged vocals, reminding us that it's all in the name of fun. They even added muscle to what was already a great song -- 'You Really Got Me.'
While 'Like a Virgin' better defines Madonna's music, this record kicked off the influential pop maven's career while setting the standard for dance pop. Not long after the death of disco, Madonna proved you could still do dance tunes by adding an '80s twist. Synth-led hits like 'Borderline' and 'Lucky Star' distanced themselves from disco just enough to make us think it wasn't disco. Meanwhile, this record and its follow-up helped MTV become the arbiter of pop culture for more than a decade.
Though groups like the Byrds and Poco had blended country with rock before, the Eagles would take it further, starting with this debut disc. Sure, there were some duds -- 'Tryin'' and 'Earlybird' -- but it also spawned tunes ('Take It Easy,' 'Witchy Woman,' 'Peaceful Easy Feeling') that would forever be identified with the band's early success. Featuring a collection of lead singers, this album gave us a sampling of those great "ooooh" and "aaaaah" harmonies that would typify Eagles music through the '70s.
'Buddy Holly' (1958)
Songs like 'Peggy Sue' and 'Rave On' created a huge impression on the Beatles, which should be enough to consider this a masterpiece. Also, timeless songs like 'Everyday' set Holly apart from his '50s contemporaries, making us think he might have actually survived the transition to the psychedelic '60s -- if he grew his hair long and ditched the nerd glasses in favor of funky shades. This was the last studio album of Holly songs released during the pioneering rocker's life.
This debut record is considered by most to be the first punk album. Yet, unlike many to follow, it featured pop sensibilities, making it accessible to to both the guy with the attitude and the guy with the Beemer. The group's loose, garage-band sound defied the slick production of the supergroups that dominated the era, proving a song ('Blitzkrieg Bop') didn't have to be complicated to be sublime. And while punk would give mainstream a studded finger, this record gave nods to girl groups, early rock and surf music. Now that's punk.
This debut album was also the band's best, featuring an arena rock sound with layered melodies, seemingly inhuman harmonies and spacey guitar riffs. The first side of the album ('More Than a Feeling,' 'Peace of Mind,' 'Foreplay/Long Time') represented an all-star lineup, but the second side was no slouch. Tom Scholz, a successful mechanical engineer before he became a rocker, created a signature sound, recording much of this album in his basement.
The band's official rebirth occurred when its drummer, Phil Collins, took over lead singing duties from the departed Peter Gabriel in the late '70s. But this album appropriately marked the apex of the band's commercial career -- one that saw a transformation from weird prog rock to mainstream pop. This album was at times dark ('Mama'), at times silly ('Illegal Alien') and at times rocking ('Just a Job to Do'). But Gabriel beat his former mates in the eponymous category -- he had four self-titled records before Genesis had its first.
'Fleetwood Mac' (1975)
The band already had one eponymous LP. But seven years later, the group had changed so drastically, it made sense to have a second. The original 'Fleetwood Mac' was a psychedelic blues album. The second, featuring new bandmates Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, was a masterpiece of polished pop, showcasing three diverse songwriters who all contributed lead vocals. Great from start to finish, this album not only paved the way for the mega-hit 'Rumours,' it's as good if not better.
'The Beatles' (1968)
Universally referred to as the White Album, many don't even think of this as eponymous. Released a year after 'Sgt. Pepper,' it was problematic for some critics who had difficulty with an album of solo tracks disguised as Beatles tunes. Still, even if you hate 10 of the songs, that leaves 20 you could love. Sure, the band members were heading their own ways. But that's why this album was so diverse, with songs giving nods to the avant-garde ('Revolution 9'), vaudeville ('Honey Pie') and hard rock ('Helter Skelter'), just to cite a few examples.