27. Steve Wynn, Kerosene Man (Rhino, 1990)

Often, the first album you hear by a musician remains your favorite of theirs, even in the unlikely event that something else surpasses it. Take this ex-Dream Syndicate leader--his double album from 2001 is arguably his masterpiece; years later, I continue to find new things that I adore about it. But I have a soft spot for his solo debut, which a friend first lent me a decade ago. I can't think of better introduction to this criminally underrated, largely unknown songwriter than this record's first three tracks: "Tears Won't Help" (a college radio hit), "Carolyn" (jangle-pop with strings that surpasses R.E.M.'s Out of Time), and "The Blue Drifter" (contains a neat sax solo that makes up for all the hackneyed ones you've ever heard). While slicker than subsequent efforts, the rest coheres well enough, finding room for country-rock twang, noir-tango, guitar grunge, and a gorgeous duet with Johnette Napolitano that makes you wish they'd do an entire album together.