Happy 40th: Debut Albums Turning 40 in 2023

Happy 40th: Debut Albums Turning 40 in 2023

Oh, the '80s. By 1983, we were seeing culture begin to truly shift from the days of bell bottoms and pastels, as people began loading up on hair spray and spandex. And of course, like every cultural shift, music followed suit. New genres were on the rise, with new wave and a whole lot of heavy metal subgenres gaining in popularity. So tease that hair, get your leg warmers on, and dive into some essential debut records of 1983. 

40 years on, there's still nothing better than the feeling of listening to your favorites on vinyl. Fortunately, Victrola has made it easier than ever. Listen to vinyl throughout your entire Sonos system with the Stream series of wireless turntables, or drop the needle on our Hi-Res series featuring aptX™ Adaptive Bluetooth Connectivity. Go your own way with our Revolution GO, whether you're moving the party around your home or chilling on the patio. However you want to listen, Victrola's got you covered. 

She's So Unusual — Cyndi Lauper

Well known in the New York club scene, Cyndi Lauper got her big break with She's So Unusual, a perfect encapsulation of '80s new wave. The album cover has become iconic, with Lauper showcasing her signature New York attitude, dancing up a Coney Island street wearing a vintage formal dress. She's So Unusual contains some of Lauper's biggest hits, including "Time After Time" and her cover of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Kill 'Em All — Metallica

And then there's the other end of the spectrum, Los Angeles' very own Metallica. While the heavy metal genre originated in the late 1960s with bands like Black Sabbath and even Led Zeppelin dabbling, it had undergone little change in the ensuing decade, but Kill 'Em All helped to change that. Metallica's debut record introduced the public to thrash metal, featuring a far more aggressive tone, blistering guitar solos and rapid fire beats. Kill 'Em All helped set the tone for a major metal subgenre and laid the foundation for Metallica's still-successful career. 

Violent Femmes — Violent Femmes

Listening to it now, it's hard to believe why Violent Femmes aren't mentioned more as a tremendous influence on modern alternative rock. Their self-titled debut came at a time when hardcore punk dominated the landscape, but despite their name, Violent Femmes took a decidedly lighter approach. Vocalist and principal songwriter Gordon Gano's vocal style was largely in step with other punk vocalists, but combined with it with a more minimalist, acoustic production, creating a folksier sound and etching "Blister in the Sun" in our brains forever. 

Texas Flood — Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

While blues had a huge influence on most rock bands of the '60s and '70s, it had begun to wane as the '80s hit, with genres like new wave, punk, and metal on the rise. Enter Stevie Ray Vaughan, a Texas guitarist who sought to inject some life back into blues. Texas Flood is an electrified Texas blues album that showcases Vaughan's virtuoso guitar ability, as well as his deep love and reverence for the genre. Vaughan would help to reintroduce blues into the mainstream, but his career would be cut tragically short, dying in a helicopter crash in 1990. 

The Hurting — Tears for Fears

Tears for Fears is probably the band you picture when you think "new wave," and oh boy did they fit the bill. Funky hairstyles, melancholy lyrics, and abundant synth, all there in spades. Still, the band stood out in the genre, mostly due to their storytelling power and songwriting ability. The Hurting contained hits like "Mad World" and "Change," laying the groundwork for the rest of Tears for Fears' career that featured a critically acclaimed reunion in 2022. 

Holy Diver — Dio

Fresh off successful stints with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio struck it solo in 1983 with Holy Diver, a hugely influential album that helped to define the nature of heavy metal. Dio had a signature vocal style, combining sheer power with a multi-octave range, mixing that with shredding neoclassical guitars and synthesizers. Fantastical elements like demons and mythological creatures made their way into the art style, and Dio himself is widely known to have popularized the "devil horn" hand gesture that has become synonymous with metalheads. By embracing the campier side of heavy metal, Dio became a beloved figure in the genre, even beyond his passing in 2010. 

Confusion is Sex — Sonic Youth

As punk rock was moving out of its early stages, subgenres began to develop. Sonic Youth took a lot of influence from the early days of punk, employing a no frills, minimalist production style that established them as an early entry in the lo-fi subgenre. Recorded mostly in a basement studio, Confusion is Sex features distorted, scratchy guitars and vocals that border on indiscriminate yelling, demonstrating a certain authenticity that set them apart from their contemporaries.

Madonna — Madonna

Though not as well known as her subsequent release, Madonna's self-titled debut would help to change the face of popular music. Madonna was effectively the first dance-pop record, taking elements of disco and combining them with synthesizer and her iconic vocal tone. Its innovative sound helped to create what we now know as pop music, with major hits like "Holiday" and "Borderline." The album's success helped set Madonna up as the face of pop and one of the most influential artists of all time.