39 years ago today Stevie Nicks released "Bella Donna", which got us to thinking...

(Courtesy of Modern Records)
(Courtesy of Modern Records)

...after "quitting" the band, who else made their first shot a 4-star classic? Here are a few of the essentials you ought to have by now...

John Lennon, "Plastic Ono Band" (1970) - He didn't even try to pretend he'd been in The Biggest Band That Ever Was. While Paul went wonky-DIY for his first post-Beatles release, George and Ringo fooled around with movie soundtracks and Mom's favorite covers for theirs. You can't really say John's pre-"Plastic Ono" weirdo experiments with Yoko mattered much; this was his true solo debut. Hearing him sing (acapella, no less) "I don't believe in Beatles" was totally shocking at the time.

Peter Gabriel, "Peter Gabriel" (1977) - The first of his four solo albums (all of which are titled "Peter Gabriel") was not very Genesis-like at all, although by 1977 standards, it was still a pretty strange but exciting album. Much like the rain-soaked car windshield photo on the cover, it was a little hard to grasp at where he was going, but it was so insanely hypnotic/exotic-sounding you couldn't help but go along for the ride. "Solsbury Hill" pretty much lays out where he was going and we couldn't wait for the follow-ups.

Ozzy Osbourne, "Blizzard Of Ozz" (1980) - Black Sabbath's downward slide with The Oz was ugly at best, so when he released this debut, the general feeling was that there wouldn't be much on here to get worked up about. Especially when one considers the epic influence of those first three Sabbath albums. Enter guitarist Randy Rhodes, a more refined production style combined with a 'wink-of-the-eye' attitude, and you've got what's still Ozzy at his best. Just turn on a classic rock station anywhere in the world for proof.

Runners-Up: Paul Simon's self-titled debut (1972; check out "Peace Like A River") and Sting's "The Dream Of The Blue Turtles" (1985), where he actually proves he doesn't miss his old band in any way, shape or form. Both of these hold up quite well especially when you think about the pedigrees involved. Now, who else do you think makes the cut...?

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