Landing a record deal is often the first step to success.

But it's also one of the first doses of reality artists receive as they enter an industry that moves fast and takes no prisoners. When the Rolling Stones secured their first record deal, it was at once a step forward and a wake-up call. "The band itself were like, 'We're making a record, can you believe this shit?'" Keith Richards recalled in his 2010 autobiography, Life. "There was also a sense of doom. Oh, my God, if the single makes it, we've got two years and that's it. Then what are we doing to do? Because nobody lasted. Your shelf life in those days, and a lot even now, was basically two and a half years. And apart from Elvis [Presley], nobody has proved that wrong."

Not to mention that working in a recording studio for the first time is a new challenge, as the musicians are placed in a foreign environment. "Nobody really knew each other," Robert Plant later said of his experience working on Led Zeppelin's first album. "I had a long way to go with my voice then, but the enthusiasm and sparking of working with Jimmy’s guitar ... it was so raunchy."

Some debut albums strike gold immediately, thanks to good promotion, name recognition or just good luck. Others take time to build credibility. From big breaks to underappreciated offerings, the below list of Top 40 Debut Rock Albums outlines the best first impressions.

Top 40 Debut Rock Albums

You get only one shot at a first impression.

More From