25 Essential Eponymous Albums

Eponymous: (of a literary work, film, etc) named after its central character or creator: The Stooges' eponymous debut album.

On this day in 1983, a young woman from Michigan who had recently given up on a career as a hard-rock singer released her first album of electronic dance-pop, an album that also happened to bear her first name as its title. Although the first two singles, "Everybody" and "Burning Up," failed to ignite much beyond the dance floors of New York discotheques, subsequent singles you may have heard once or twice in the intervening years - "Holiday," "Borderline" - fared considerably better. By 2000, the RIAA had certified Madonna triple platinum.

Pop music is awash in "eponymous" albums, so named either as an introductory calling card or because the artist is just too lazy to think of an actual title. As you can see from this Wiki page, they are legion. Not all of them are debuts; some jokers like Peter Gabriel, Weezer and Brazilian heartthrob Roberto Carlos have given their names to several albums (Carlos a good two dozen or so).

Not surprisingly, many eponymous LPs also rank among the best albums ever made. We picked out a small sampling of our favorites.

Elvis Presley (1956)

Genre: Country + bluegrass + blues = The big bang of rock and roll.

"Blue Suede Shoes," "I Got a Woman," "Trying to Get to You," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Money Honey," "I Was the One," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy"

The Doors (1967)

Genre: Shaman/bluesman and jazz-schooled mates pioneer "album-oriented rock."

"Break On Through (To the Other Side)," "Soul Kitchen," "The Crystal Ship," "Light My Fire," "Back Door Man," "The End"

Townes Van Zandt (1969)

Genre: Existentialist folkie genius suffers for his art.

"Colorado Girl," "Waitin' Around to Die," "Lungs," "For the Sake of the Song"

Blondie (1976)

Genre: Le punk? C'est chic.

"X Offender," "Rip Her to Shreds," "Little Girl Lies," "Kung Fu Girls," "In the Flesh"

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

Genre: Southern rockers go L.A., pierce Boston-bloated FM playlists with punchy tunes... eventually.

"Breakdown," "Anything That's Rock 'N' Roll," "Hometown Blues," "Strangered In the Night," "American Girl"

Joe Ely (1977)

Genre: West Texas tales from a true honky-tonk hero.

"I Had My Hopes Up High," "She Never Spoke Spanish to Me," "If You Were a Bluebird," "Treat Me Like a Saturday Night," "Suckin' a Big Bottle of Gin"

The Clash (1977)

Genre: Musical firebomb that proved punk was built to last and here to stay.

"Janie Jones," "White Riot," "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A.," "London's Burning," "Career Opportunities," "Police & Thieves," "Garageland"

The Cars (1978)

Genre: FM rock as terse and tuneful as the best New Wave.

"Good Times Roll," "My Best Friend's Girl," "Just What I Needed," "Moving In Stereo," "You're All I've Got Tonight"

Van Halen (1978)

Genre: Happy hard rock both jocks and guitar geeks could love.

"Runnin' With the Devil," "Eruption," "Ice Cream Man," "Atomic Punk," "You Really Got Me," "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love"

The Fabulous Thunderbirds (1979)

Genre: New Wave swamp pop with splinters of juke-joint blues.

"Wait On Time," "Scratch My Back," "She's Tuff," "Walkin' To My Baby"

Pretenders (1980)

Genre: Tough-talking Yankee chick strikes UK post-punk gold.

"Up the Neck," "Tattooed Love Boys," "Stop Your Sobbing," "Kid," "Mystery Achievement"

Billy Idol (1983)

Genre: Ex-punk becomes rock star with a little sister, Steve Stevens and a sneer.

"White Wedding," "Hot In the City," "Dancing With Myself," "Dead on Arrival"

Violent Femmes (1983)

Genre: Busking folk-rock with a spiteful punk POV.

"Blister In the Sun," "Kiss Off," "Add It Up," "Gone Daddy Gone," "Gimme the Car"

Weird Al Yankovic (1983)

Genre: Accordion-squeezing parody king goes from Dr. Demento to pop star.

"Ricky," "Another One Rides the Bus," "My Bologna," "Stop Draggin' My Car Around"

Lyle Lovett (1986)

Genre: Larry McMurtry short stories set to music - way too deep for Nashville.

"Cowboy Man," "Farther Down the Line," "This Old Porch," "If I Were the Man You Wanted," "An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy (The Wedding Song)"

Lucinda Williams (1988)

Genre: Gulf Coast gems from a girl who knows the heartbreak of too much laissez les bon temps roulez.

"I Just Wanted to See You So Bad," "The Night's Too Long," "Changed the Locks," "Passionate Kisses," "Crescent City"

The Stone Roses (1989)

Genre: Mesmerizing guitar rock showcasing the melancholy side effects of Ecstasy.

"I Wanna Be Adored," "She Bangs the Drums," "Waterfall," "Elephant Stone," "I Am the Resurrection"

Social Distortion (1990)

Genre: SoCal punks fall on hard times, nearly invent alt-country.

"So Far Away," "Let It Be Me," "Story of My Life," "She's a Knockout," "Sick Boys," "Ring of Fire," "Ball and Chain," "Drug Train"

Cypress Hill (1991)

Genre: Blunted, menacing Left Coast Latino hip-hop.

"How I Could Just Kill a Man," "Hand on the Pump," "Stoned Is the Way of the Walk," "Latin Lingo," "The Funky Cypress Hill Shit"

Metallica (1991)

Genre: Thoughtful, large-scale metal that almost single-handedly beat back the tide of grunge.

"Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," "Nothing Else Matters," "Of Wolf and Man," "The Unforgiven," "Wherever I May Roam"

Elastica (1995)

Genre: Britpop flash in the pan flares up with hooks that burn like phosphorous.

"Connection," "Stutter," "Line Up," "Car Song," "2:1"

Garbage (1995)

Genre: Alt-rock/dance mash-ups sung by slinky Scottish siren.

"Vow," "Not My Idea," "Queer," "Only Happy When It Rains," "Fix Me Now," "Milk"

Gorillaz (2001)

Genre: Cartoon hip-hop courtesy of Britpop's best songwriter.

"Clint Eastwood," "5/4," "Punk," "19-2000," "Tomorrow Comes Today"

Wolfmother (2006)

Genre: Fanciful, fantasy-driven riff-rock.

"Woman," "White Unicorn," "Colossal," "Witchcraft," "Vagabond"

Fleet Foxes (2008)

Genre: Woeful, wistful folk-rock that builds a cathedral of sound.

"White Winter Hymnal," "Ragged Wood," "Quiet Houses," "He Doesn't Know Why"


R.E.M., Eponymous (1987)

Genre: Contractual close-out with I.R.S. gathers the best of the pre-Green years.

"Radio Free Europe," "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)," "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville," "Fall On Me," "The One I Love"

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