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CaledonianGonzo
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9 minutes ago, Mardy said:

There’s fucking loads of no-mark acts who never became big, who either disappeared after one album or settled into plodding mediocrity but who have an absolutely belting first album. Not big headliner type acts more 2pm other stage, never really made it despite a cracker of a debut. It’s enough, of course it is, it’s more than I could ever achieve, and it’s those sort of bands I want to salute, really. 

 

It's worth remembering that unless an act is brand new to music when they record their first proper album, it's often a compilation of all their best tunes written as an unsigned band, rather than a collection of songs written in the period directly before going into the studio. Thus, the "difficult second album syndrome".

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I'm trying to think of a band that had just one brilliant album that wasn't their debut and the best I could come up with was Chris Rea, who released music for donkey's years before having success. But that doesn't really count because:

* I'm not sure The Lady In Red was actually good, even if it was successful.

* It was a single song, not a classic album.

 

So, the pattern seems to be, if they only have one great album, it's the first.  Although the pattern doesn't work the only way round, bands can start with their strongest work and go on to make better music in the future, even if they never quite sustain it for a full album - Arcade Fire in particular, but you might also want to chuck in Oasis or Bjork in there. 

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3 minutes ago, stuartbert two hats said:

I'm trying to think of a band that had just one brilliant album that wasn't their debut and the best I could come up with was Chris Rea, who released music for donkey's years before having success. But that doesn't really count because:

* I'm not sure The Lady In Red was actually good, even if it was successful.

* It was a single song, not a classic album.

 

So, the pattern seems to be, if they only have one great album, it's the first.  Although the pattern doesn't work the only way round, bands can start with their strongest work and go on to make better music in the future, even if they never quite sustain it for a full album - Arcade Fire in particular, but you might also want to chuck in Oasis or Bjork in there. 

You're getting your Reas and de Burghs mixed up again.

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5 minutes ago, stuartbert two hats said:

I'm trying to think of a band that had just one brilliant album that wasn't their debut and the best

Personally I think Red Hot Chili Peppers fit this to a T.

First four albums are kinda crap and well below the radar. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is brilliant and very successful. Everything since has been a significant step down in quality, although I do like One Hot Minute myself. But there's no question that Californication was successful, even if to these ears, it is horrid, much like everything they've released since.

A case could be made for INXS, although quite a few of the non-Kick albums are very good too, but sales certainly don't reflect this.

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1 hour ago, Mardy said:

Nice. You got me thinking there, @stuartbert two hats

Off the top of my head, truly great debut albums. I'm off to bed now, but will no doubt wake up with a load of others

 

The Clash

Dizzee Rascal - Boy in the Corner

The Streets  - OPM

Never ind the bollocks, here's the sex pistols

Kanye - College dropout

Patti Smith - Horses

Velvet Underground and Nico

The Sttrokes

The Mary Chain - Psychocandy

Bjork - Debut (as I mentioned above)

 

 

Dunno about truly great, but when I think of a band that never recaptured a first album my mind always goes to Stereophonics (yeah I know).

Word Gets Around had a wonderfully raw sound to it, and the songs themselves were great pictures of small town life.

Performance & Cocktails was decent enough, but as it got more polished it lost that urgency. And downwards from there.

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8 minutes ago, Matt42 said:

As a spin off of @stuartbert two hats, what bands took ages to release a solid album? Like who released their best album after a fair few years of being around?

Obviously it's all arguable. But I'd say the Flaming Lips - Formed 1983, first Album in 1986 - The Soft Bulletin released as their 9th Album in 1999.

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Just now, Matt42 said:

As a spin off of @stuartbert two hats, what bands took ages to release a solid album? Like who released their best album after a fair few years of being around?

Radiohead are one - they were together for years before they were signed, not releasing a really good album until The Bends. A fair few were mentioned earlier who released their best album later on, but did some really good stuff beforehand, with the obvious one being The Beatles.

Blur took a while to ramp up, I know Modern Life Is Rubbish had its fans, but for me it wasn't until Parklife that they had something really good. Something of a pattern for Albarn, Gorillaz and TGTBATQ's second albums were huge improvements on their debut.

John Grant's second album is the only one I ever go back to, although his debut definitely has its fans. Maybe he counts?

ABBA had a couple of very weak albums at the start of their career, with a much longer gestation period if you count their pre-ABBA careers (I've listened, it's mainly pretty unremarkable).

There's a fair few in the 60s, but they almost don't count, because pop/rock LPs weren't really that much of a thing, at least not those were the artists actually wrote most of the music.

Primal Scream are a good one, they took several albums to get good. 

But the thing is, all the bands that took a while to get good, didn't tend to have the same drop off in quality. The bright stars that started with a massive debut seemed to struggle to do great albums again.

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On the what bands took ages to release a solid album question, The Flaming Lips are the first band that came to me. I remember when I first started listening to them I had to get to their 5th(?) album before I started getting to the songs I actually knew.

Edited by jump
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40 minutes ago, Matt42 said:

As a spin off of @stuartbert two hats, what bands took ages to release a solid album? Like who released their best album after a fair few years of being around?

The Cure released their first album in 1979, but it was their 8th - 10 years later - that is considered their magnum opus. 

(Although my personal favourite is their 3rd)

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Oh Sees, Low, Sufjan Stevens and King Gizzard are a few more examples of bands who made their best albums quite a while after starting.

What about someone like Marvin Gaye? What's Going On was 10 years into his career and it took Beach Boys a good while before they made Pet Sounds. Both of these are 2 of the all time top albums in history.

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A band that comes to mind that took a few albums to get much attention is Pulp. His 'n' Hers was their fourth. They'd been around for over a decade before they broke through and got into the general public's knowledge and then got big, very quickly.

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3 hours ago, stuartbert two hats said:

I'm trying to think of a band that had just one brilliant album that wasn't their debut and the best I could come up with was Chris Rea, who released music for donkey's years before having success. But that doesn't really count because:

* I'm not sure The Lady In Red was actually good, even if it was successful.

* It was a single song, not a classic album.

 

So, the pattern seems to be, if they only have one great album, it's the first.  Although the pattern doesn't work the only way round, bands can start with their strongest work and go on to make better music in the future, even if they never quite sustain it for a full album - Arcade Fire in particular, but you might also want to chuck in Oasis or Bjork in there. 

While I enjoy a lot of their work, The Antlers comes to mind for me. Hospice (their third album) is streets above the rest of their discography.

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10 hours ago, Matt42 said:

Is Appetite for Destruction (their debut) the only good Guns and Roses album?

No. Both Use Your Illusions are full of brilliance, in an overblown, mountains of cocaine, everything but the kitchen sink kind of way.

and this is a controversial music opinion: Chinese Democracy is a great album.

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16 hours ago, stuartbert two hats said:

It's worth remembering that unless an act is brand new to music when they record their first proper album, it's often a compilation of all their best tunes written as an unsigned band, rather than a collection of songs written in the period directly before going into the studio. Thus, the "difficult second album syndrome".

It's a quote I read in NME / MM somewhere years back:

 

"you have your whole life to make your first album, but only six months to make the next one"

Edited by paulshane
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