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Björk Debut album cover
3.60 | 182 ratings | 9 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Human Behaviour (4:11)
2. Crying (4:52)
3. Venus as a Boy (4:43)
4. There's More to Life Than This (recorded live at The Milk Bar toilets) (3:21)
5. Like Someone in Love (4:33)
6. Big Time Sensuality (3:58)
7. One Day (5:24)
8. Aeroplane (3:55)
9. Come to Me (4:56)
10. Violently Happy (4:59)
11. The Anchor Song (3:32)

Total Time 48:24

Bonus track only absent from original LP/CD editions:
12. Play Dead (3:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Björk Guðmundsdóttir / vocals, keyboards, brass arrangements, co-producer

- Jhelisa Anderson / backing vocals
- Jon Mallison / guitar
- Garry Hughes / Hammond organ, keyboards programming
- Marius de Vries / keyboards programming
- Martin Virgo / keyboards programming
- Paul Waller / keyboards programming
- Corky Hale / harp
- Gary Barnacle / brass
- Mike Mower / brass
- Oliver Lake / brass, brass arrangements
- Talvin Singh / strings director, tabla
- Sureh Sathe / string arrangements
- Luis Jardim / bass, drums & percussion
- Bruce Smith / drums & percussion
- Nellee Hooper / drums & percussion, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Me Company with Jean Baptiste Mondino (photo)

LP One Little Indian ‎- TPLP31 (1993, UK)

CD One Little Indian ‎- TPLP31 CD (1993, UK)
CD One Little Indian ‎- tplp 31 cdx (1993, Europe) With a bonus track taken from the soundtrack album for the film "The Young Americans".

Thanks to chris s for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BJÖRK Debut ratings distribution

(182 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BJÖRK Debut reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is not a prog album, maybe one or two hints of eccentricity and the odd curveball song as " The Aeroplane" and " The Anchorman" but essentially this album is all about energy, dance, great vocals and at the time, such a novelty of sounds that it boded very well for the rest of the 90's as far as Bjork was concerned. " Human Behaviour " kicks the album off with a trippy beat and in your face lyrics, self explanatory really, but very engaging and Bjork's voice is solid. Some nice keyboards introduced during an offbeat chorus. " Crying" is an absolute gem, with a quirky out of tune beghinning, interesting base and beats before a brilliant chorus and Bjork gets to grips with testing her vocal upper limits. " Venus As A Boy" is a pleasant laid back song with great strings and some sensitive lyrics. " There's More To Life Than This" has the artist really getting into dance groove mode reminiscent of the 90's band Soul To Soul, as she parades around a harbour at the crack of dawn with her ghettoblaster ( Remember them?)

The second half of the album introduces a cabaret like number, largely throwaway piece called " Like Someone In Love" with some overplayed harp hanging over it. " Big Time Sensuality" brings you down to earth with some more dance orientated beats but the next song is definitely the highlight, " One Day" which encompasses all that is good about Bjork even to this present day. It sits nicely on any prog album, with some great percussion, layered musical builds all beautifully wrapped by Bjork's unique voice. She is really enjoying herself here and her passion shows through the song. The last two songs not mentioned yet are the laid back " Come To Me" and the incredible " Violently Happy". If you have not seen this video on YT, go to it. Bjork's message is clear cut maxmizing the moment with great trippy grooves, a few remixes have been done of this song as it became a famous club number. Anyone heard of New Order:-)? Anyhow contrary as the title suggests this is not her first album released, perhaps her most serious album to date hence a new beginning as a solo artist. This is by far a highly commercial album, with some wonderful pieces of music and just in case your music collection defies true prog territory, this comes highly recommended but more as an album to explore after her more progressive works.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Rounded up to the upper 4th star, despite a few stinkers, really!!!

Well in the first part of the 90's, some people knew about this Icelandic elf, but the larger public (and for once I will include yours truly into that generally pitiful category) had no clue of her when this strange but groundbreaking album came to global attention. Indeed her music was then rather totally new and mixed some Trip Hop, Techno/New Beat (remember that fad?), rock instrumentations and other unusual influences.

Indeed there are some tremendous tracks that approach some of Portishead's best moments on their debut album called Dummy, like the immense opening Human Behaviour, the awesome Venus As A Boy (with superb string section), the excellent Aeroplane with its Wyatt-esque horns and great vibraphones and the incredible finale Play Dead. Some more titles are also interesting like the very-danceable Crying and its couple of inventive breaks or the rather-enjoyable One Day, the calm Come To Me (also with some good string arrangements)

However there are also some very weak tracks, like the weak Techno-esque and New-Beaty More To Life or the awful ultra-beat-esque of Big Time Sensuality, but Violently Happy is the exception that confirms that Techno can indeed be almost-correct. And even stranger yet, you'll also find some atrocious lullabies for crooners (and she doesn't have the voice to be one) like Someone In Love or the best-forgotten Anchor Song.

A very bizarre mixed bag of stuff, sometimes almost-groundbreaking (the Trip Hop parts), but also some rather dismaying tunes (the techno songs), but it's the two bizarre and very-flawed UFOs (the last two mentioned above) that stops this album from being "Essential", despite giving it a good shot with some seven memorable songs that give it an indisputable aura of being one of the better releases of the early 90's, outside the Seattle/Grunge club.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yet another debut for Bjork

The Crossover Team's recent additions of Tori Amos and Bjork encouraged me to go back and re-immerse myself in music that was a big part of my life in the 1990s, prior to catching the RPI bug in a big way. I'd heard all of this stuff a million times back then but had not played it much in years. Back then I was a much bigger Bjork/Sugarcubes fan than a Tori Amos one. To my surprise, in my revisit it is Amos who has appealed much more. Tori sounds better to me now and feels more emotionally meaningful, whereas Bjork in general sounds more dated, more trivial, more like the quirky art-pop some consider her to be. Tori resonates with me in a more important way, Bjork is more fluff, though fluff can be satisfying in its own way.

That said, "Debut" is a wonderful album and one of my favorites from the Icelandic pop princess, if a bit inconsistent. Bjork was finally free from the constraints of the Sugarcubes, a great band in their own right, but one which I'm sure felt stifling to her by this point. "Debut" is a collection of some songs written as far back as her teenage years as well as some then-current ones written with her new producer. Under her newfound control and personality they come to life in amazing fashion. She would craft her own diverse sound with elements of punk, electronic pop, rock, dance music, and ambient sound. Fresh, vibrant, sensual, and free are words that Debut springs to the mind.

Some of the more lightweight pop is pretty hard for me to sit through these days, things like "Human Behaviour," "Violently Happy," and "Big Time Sensuality." Snoozers. But there are some real gems here. "Crying" has a great funky bass line, catchy as hell. "Venus as a Boy" is one of Bjork's signature songs where she becomes the music. She brings sweet musings of love into an entirely new plane, the unique sounds and flirty vocal delivery is instantly endearing, she has you right in the palm of her hand here. Amazing work. "There's more to life than this" is mischief with the party pixie persona of Bjork doing the dance club stuff. "One Day" is another showcase track with elements of jazz, one which shows the depths of her vocal prowess, as well as her ability to move into more complex and interesting songwriting. "Come to me" sounds like a playful trip-hop track with a sweet chorus. The closing "The Anchor Song" is another highlight, Bjork's amazing voice is stark naked and vulnerable and she just draws you in, the song conjuring such imagery in your head. The lyrics are so beautifully simple and yet have dual meaning, she is singing of a place she loves, but she is also telling us we should all share it...

"I live by the ocean.... and during the night.... I dive into it..."

It's ironic that Bjork's debut was among her most commercially successful albums, a fan favorite certainly, and yet it is one that she's not all that pleased with. That's something she shares with contemporaries like Bush and Amos, who also look back not so fondly at early work. But those albums are very special to me, as they capture these formidable artists before they tasted real success and power. Therein lies humility, surprises, intimacy, and the freshness of youth, coupled with the experience of watching an artist discover herself in real time. And I love that all three albums contain material written when the artists were children, or about experiences of their childhood.

"Debut" is not as strong as "The Kick Inside" or "Little Earthquakes." Half of the album is pretty forgettable, but the good half is truly amazing and solidified her place as an artist worthy of the attention that would soon be awarded her.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Bjork's "Debut" is her third album, and is my second Bjork album heard and, to be honest, I was preparing for another awful vocal performance like "Medulla" and got a shock. From the outset Bjork shows she really has an amazing vocal range. The way she lets her voice warble and lose tone during 'Human Behaviour' is a ferociously original approach. I really liked this song reminding me at times like Alanis Morissette's style, who is one of the best female artists in my opinion, and at times she even sounds like Tori Amos. I was impressed by the pounding drums on this, quite industrial in places.

'Crying' is not as good but I admire the way Bjork really belts out the vocals not holding back. The melody is quite infectious and sounds nice with the harmonies. The drone in the background is appropriately ominous, and the track ends with a multi layered Bjork vocal acappela style.

The Japanese clanging begins 'Venus as a Boy' and the vocals are intimately sensual and sweeter. It is always obvious it is a Bjork song as she has such a unique style. It does not appeal to everyone, I am not the biggest fan of this style but I still have to admire the way she is just?? well, Bjork?.. not trying to emulate anyone else or answer to anybody, trying to justify her style. The violins on this are pretty and it is more accessible for a Bjork song.

'There's More to Life than this, recorded live at the milk bar toilets', is a fun thing, with a lot of background noise and talking as Bjork does her thing. This is more the experimental sound that she works on in later albums I noticed. Eventually she locks herself in a cubicle and you just hear her, which made me smile, who does this type of thing? She could have gone further and actually flushed the toilets, washed her hands, why not? I mean the fans would love that. Pink Floyd got away with stuff like this in their early years. At the end the sound is muffles as she leaves, apparently and a bus drives up, and we hear busses throughout, and a beautiful harp is heard with estranged raspy vocals that are a bit off key and melancholy. 'Like Someone In Love' is the song. I hated it's sentimentality and it reminded me of her film clips where she grins like a chesire cat and bends and sways.

Moving on, the next song is 'Big Time Sensuality', which I remember seeing on TV. The music is ultra cool staccato organ blasts and some interesting beats, very commercial, though Bjork sings in similar style, monotone to overdone vocal gymnastics. It is not too bad, kind of grows on you, but this one was a bit too repetitive for me.

'One Day' has a weird intro like a deranged baby but it was a compelling sound. She sings "One day it will happen, it will all come true, one day when you're ready, when you are up to it, the atmosss--- fear will get lighter and two suns ready to shine just for you, I can feel it, I can feel it," Hey that's great song writing. This is another highlight on the album, the way she gets into this and with all its emotive music, it makes sense. It even has spacey effects and her voice sounds nice with the echo. Great stuff.

'Aeroplane' continues the theme of planes. The picture in the booklet though has Bjork struggling to hold a model of an oversized Clipper ship. Her boot laces are untied and she looks pensive sitting in the corner. The song is back to the weird vocal style that turns me off. It is monotone and sounds off and it is hard to latch onto the melody. The jazz sax on this is a revelation though, and the music is kind of jungle like.

The album continues with 'Come To me' sung with emotion, as Bjork promises to "take care of you, protect you, calm down you're exhausted, you don't have to explain I understand. I love that sentiment in her voice and every man can understand this womanly touch. This is sheer beauty. She gets into the weirder lyrics when she beckons the man to "jump off, your buildings on fire and I'll catch you, destroy all that is keeping you down, then I'll nurse you?" This really captures a dark atmosphere in its simplistic feel and the music is ethereal.

Violently Happy is bad, dark and moody. The Anchor Song features disastrous improv accordion and is minimalist with Bjork singing something strange. It really is the worst on the album.

It ends with the finale, Play Dead, with its swirling electronica, it has a wonderful beat, musically excellent. The lyrics are downbeat "it's sometimes just like sleeping, curling up inside my private tortures, I nestle into pain, hug suffering, caress every ache." Powerful stuff.

Overall the album has 4 excellent songs and the rest are either mediocre or just plain awful. It sneaks in with 3 stars for all these reasons.

Review by russellk
4 stars Um. This is a surprise. BJORK in ProgArchives! Look what happened while I was away! I've argued that much of electronica ought to be in ProgArchives and it appears it is being added by stealth: BJORK in crossover, SQUAREPUSHER in Jazz/Rock Fusion and so on. All good as far as I'm concerned!

Nevertheless, BJORK has added quite a bit to the progressive music movement. Not so much with this debut album, however, which relies on her beautifully simple melodies arranged by electronic wizards like TRICKY, NELLEE HOOPER and GRAHAM MASSEY. This is a beautiful, endearing pop record that was rightly popular, much more so than many of her more progressive and difficult later works such as 'Vespertine' and 'Medulla'. It contains some pleasant pop such as 'Human Behaviour' and 'Big Time Sensuality', a stab at a female diva song ('Like Someone In Love', my candidate for worst song on the record), and a handful of outstanding songs bordering on genius.

Let me take a moment to talk about them. 'Venus As A Boy' was released as a single and is possibly the most erotic song ever to chart, a homage to a boy actually able to pleasure a girl ('He's exploring the taste of her arousal'). It is simply beautiful, and the chorus nails the meaning of the song with its repetitive short vocal stabs (forgive the metaphor, but I believe that's what she intended). Songs like this are her unique gift. 'There's More To Life Than This' is as happy-go-lucky a song as you could imagine, full of whimsy and humour and fx tricks to make her point. And then there's 'One Day', a song filled with longing, drilling through our facades to the place where we wish were were more significant than we are. One day... The music is spectacular but as always it's about BJORK's voice and the way her lyrics get under your skin and make you take another look at yourself. The closer, 'Play Dead', is as near to familiar prog territory she comes, and it's not very close... Just a majestic, over-the-top song with a superb arrangement and astonishing vocals. I wish she'd done more of these!

So. This is not a prog masterpiece, but it was a game-changer in the pop world, making artists re-evaluate what they did and how they went about it. That's not a bad definition of 'progressive', is it?

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars A couple of weeks ago I dropped in on my wife at her office as she was working on a Saturday and needed my help with something. While I was there she said there was a box of 20 or so cds they were getting rid of if I wanted to look through them. Well to my surprise there was one in there that caught my eye and of course it was Bjork's "Debut". I didn't think I had ever heard a Bjork song before but of course I was well aware of who she was and what she looked like etc. I wasn't listening to the first song very long though when I realized I had heard her alot back in the nineties on this radio station I used to listen to. She has such a great voice. Obviously a very talented lady.

There are many albums on this site that aren't Prog including this one because we list an artist's whole discography even though they may just have a couple of prog flavoured albums. I get that. It was strange for me though listening to this recording because it's not My music. I did like the first track somewhat called "Human Behaviiour" but I tired of it quickly. The last track "The Anchor Song" is by far the best in my opinion. It sounds like it was inspired by Rio / Avant although i'm sure it wasn't. For the most part though I have no desire to listen to this again. Fans only.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars Like her or not, you gotta admit Bjork Gudmundsdottir has bucked some gargantuan odds to even get noticed. She hails from Iceland, a country containing a population comparable to that of the city of Wichita, Kansas and a mysterious realm that is completely isolated from the rest of the planet. They don't have neighbors to fight with and they don't necessarily cotton to having visitors show up unannounced. Their only indigenous music is of the primitive Nordic folk variety and, though they've composed a boatload of droning spiritual hymns over the centuries, they've never had a homegrown Elvis to shake things up. All other styles, whether they be derivatives of rock & roll, R&B, jazz, or classical, are considered foreign invasions to its more conservative inhabitants and that forced the younger generations to import all things radical in from somewhere else. Next think about the fact that out of a third of a million people perhaps ten percent can play an instrument. If one percent of the members of that group are good enough to be considered proficient then you've got barely over 300 individuals that are worth tipping. If you're a female that's going to be another serious drawback and if you aren't trying to be a Madonna copycat then your chances of achieving notoriety are reduced the level of winning the lottery twice in a row. What I'm asking of everyone who might scoff at her inclusion in the crossover prog category is to give the girl a great deal of slack. She's overcome a lot of huge obstacles in her career and managed to stay true to herself and her aural art at the same time so she deserves a certain amount of respect, at least. When she first started to garner attention back in the 90s I didn't know what to think of her (and didn't bother to investigate) but I could definitely tell she had some spunk in her attitude. She was her own person in a world full of pretenders and that caused me to withhold judgment until I could get a bead on what she was all about. I didn't realize it'd be over two decades later before I got around to sampling her wares but earlier this year I finally acquired a few of her albums and dutifully donned the headphones, starting with her 'Debut.'

I expected something strange and the first song, 'Human Behavior,' delivers. It features a shuffling snare, booming tympani and an indecipherable bass riff that roils beneath Bjork's vocal melody lines that seem to float without being tethered to a particular key. While I can't say I enjoy the piece all that much I will hand it to her for bolting from the gate in a uniquely weird manner. 'Crying' follows and it's a somewhat dated Trip Hop vibe riding atop a disco throb from start to finish. Say what you will about this cute little frosted mini-wheat but she has some serious RANGE in her arsenal and the tune itself has elements of Nine Inch Nails and Peter Gabriel woven into its fabric. She coyly skips back and forth from a minimalist setting into a full-on orchestral soundscape with relative ease and it's cool to witness. 'Venus as a Boy' is next and if there's a genre known as eclectic adult contemporary this is an example. Imagine Peggy Lee on mescaline. What sticks out most is Bjork's undeniable vocal acumen and her impeccable accuracy. All in all it's a delightful, slightly askew modern jazz number. The intro for 'There's More to Life Than This' gives the impression that one has stumbled upon a party-in-progress (the crowd noise was taped at a London nightclub) where a solid R&B groove is shaking the room. The inventive aspect is that she's willing to take risks aka making it sound like she's stepped away from the soiree into a closet right in the middle of the song. One thing I can say is that if you don't like one of these cuts then hang in there because variety seems to be her calling card as exemplified with 'Like Someone in Love.' On this one you're treated to some splendid, angelic harp work from Corky Hale and Bjork's unadorned singing of a sugary ballad as waves break peacefully upon a nearby shore. Not exactly my cup of tea but her preferences know no boundaries and that earns her a tip of my sombrero regardless. 'Big Time Sensuality' sports another Techno dance track foundation and it wears out its welcome quickly. It's one of the weakest tunes on the record in that it doesn't offer much in the way of surprises except for Bjork's remarkably aggressive mien. She has quite a raspy growl for such a tiny lady.

The soundtrack for 'One Day' reminds me of what Porcupine Tree was producing in their 'Up the Downstair' era and I find it engaging. She relies on her emotional, exaggerated vocal attack to provide the dynamics here but there are times when she's less than successful in that endeavor. Think Sade goes alternative rock or emo. 'Aeroplane' is a highlight. A Be-bop horn section opens and then a Martin Denny-ish tropical rhythm glides in to give it a strong, irresistible current. (FYI, Denny was a popular bandleader in the 50s and is considered the 'Father of Exotica.' His hit instrumental 'Quiet Village' still exudes a hypnotic aura to this day. Check it out.) This track is an intriguing mix of textures that's hard to describe yet difficult to dismiss out of hand. On 'Come to Me' I detect a palpable Annie Lennox air hovering behind Bjork's vocal performance but it's not a rip-off because nobody's voice sounds anything like this woman's. Something went disastrously wrong with my download of the next tune, 'Violently Happy,' so I can't offer an assessment. I assume it's another Pop Rock discoth'que ditty because I read where it climbed to #4 on the Billboard Dance Club chart so I'm not going to fret over missing it. 'The Anchor Song' is unusual in that it once again employs the brassy-but-subdued horn section as the number alternates measures of Bjork's sung melody line with a complex jazz score. It's an unconventional approach that I find very interesting and rather bold. As if to make up for the earlier botched download I received a bonus track called 'Play Dead.' It possesses a large-scale symphonic score that'll pin your ears back and, while it does border on being Broadway in a 'Days of Future Passed' sorta way, one cannot ignore her ability to spur her voice to wherever she wills it to go. You have to hear it to believe it.

I'll admit that I went into 'Debut' tentatively because I feared an onslaught of Yoko Ono-like wails and screeches but it turns out my anxiety was unwarranted. This ain't bad at all. What I found most appealing was Bjork's obvious ambitious nature and the character of her singing style. There are a few songs that I could go the rest of my life without hearing again but then some are unorthodox enough to make me curious about what she's done since July of '93 when this album was released. I plan to find out. In the final analysis 'Debut' is a sassy casserole of musical flavors and seasonings that unquestionably leans in a progressive direction. If you're in the mood for something a little off the beaten trail this might tickle your fancy. 3.1 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I find this album very difficult to both rate and write about. There's such a diversity of sounds throughout. It's mostly a feel good listen as the main theme is love and love of life itself! "Human Behaviour" marks an unusual, trippy start in which Bjork's voice really shows great distinction. F ... (read more)

Report this review (#357047) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, December 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've been a fan of Bjork for a while now, and I was quite surprised to find her on this website, but glad cause I have a few of her albums. This was the third time I had listened to this album. First time, didnt really get it, second time...loved it...third time...though it was one of the gre ... (read more)

Report this review (#344070) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, December 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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