Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
In an era of Michael Jackson and Prince, many funk-soul singers would attempt the ascent to the mountaintop of their level of performance and musical artistry, but the path was overwhelmingly littered with failed attempts. Occasionally though, an artist would break through to such rarefied air and plant their flag as a worthy compatriot. Such an event occurred in July of 1987 with the debut release of Terence Trent D’Arby’s Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby.
As if born out of the grooves of classic Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder and Jackson albums, Introducing the Hardline According to… gave the late ‘80s, with its overly heavy reliance on electronic sounds and commercial production, a moment of pure soul artistry. This multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter delivered an album of beautifully crafted songs that ranged from the confessional soul of “If You Let Me Stay” to the sexual funk of “Wishing Well” through to the romantic seduction of “Sign Your Name.” The album is filled with skillful musicality, quick-as-a-whip lyrics, and a voice that excites as it seduces. And whilst the hit singles from the album give a taste of the artistry held within, the true richness is in experiencing it in its entirety as tracks such as “If You All Get To Heaven,” “Seven More Days,” and the blissful A Capella of “As Yet Untitled” show an artist willing to push beyond commercial success and explore where pure talent can take him.
Preceded, and perhaps spurred on, by a quote-ready ego that would taunt and tease the musical press with claims of peerless genius, Terence Trent D’Arby (he was never just Terence) thankfully had the talent to back up his audacious proclamations. And whilst he would not equal the commercial success of his debut, the album acts a jumping-off point for perhaps our generation’s most underrated artist who would continue to push and experiment with his sound and eventually his own commercial identity.