Monday, 17 November 2008

Sloppy seconds and filthy thirds

A quick scan through the albums featured so far shows a pretty high number of debuts. In some cases these have been sole-releases. There is of course the well-known concept of second album syndrome. Bear in mind that a newly-signed band will have a well-established set of songs that will usually become their debut album, with a few b-sides thrown in for good measure. They are then sent out on tour - at the end of which the record label will demand a follow-up (unless the first album completely bombed or the band imploded). Only they haven't had time to write any new songs. There might be a few old tunes knocking around, but if they weren't used on the first album they're likely to be - at best - second-rate.

The Black Crowes were famously derisive of the Quireboys after the US rockers turned around The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in eight days, while Spike at al spent a year on Bitter Sweet and Twisted. It must be noted however that neither album was as good as its predecessor.

But not every band has fallen after the first hurdle. Here's a wholly personal and non-exhaustive selection of superior non-debuts:

The Stooges: Fun House
Taking its title from the nickname given to their living quarters (essentially a shooting gallery), 'Loose', 'T,V. Eye' and '1970' form the backbone of an album that manages to be dirtier even than their 1969 debut.

The Only Ones: Even Serpents Shine
The debut may have had 'Another Girl, Another Planet' but its follow-up is the more consistent.

Jacobites: Robespierre's Velvet Basement
The self-titled debut is largely unlistenable. The ambitious follow-up (originally planned as a double-album but trimmed down on initial release) sees ex-Dogs D'Amour guitarist Dave Kusworth take his place as equal alongside Nikki Sudden to better effect.

Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City
The debut was great, but Oriental Beat was patchy. By their third album Razzle had replaced Gyp Casino and Back to Mystery City gave them their big - and ultimately ill-feted - break.

Redd Kross: Third Eye
Previously discussed here, this was the Macdonald brothers fourth album. Although that's perhaps being a bit generous towards 1982's Born Innocent.

Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
Perhaps the best exception to the rule. This was their 10th album, and was the fourth in a series of excellent releases going back to Beggars Banquet.

See also:
Albums I still listen to 15/20 years on ....


Michael said...

I would argue that Redd Kross's Neurotica, which came out immediately prior is superior to Third Eye, but that's not to disparage TE. They were such a good band. I'm glad they've reunited.

I don't find the first Jacobites record unlistenable at all! That said, I agree that Robespierre is their masterpiece. Kusworth in particular really came into his own on that album.

DGW said...

My wife put on 'The Jacobites' recently and was confused when Big Store wasn't what she was expecting! I am fairly biased towards Kusworth, and that first album was very much Sudden-orientated.

I have 'Neurotica' on the way and am looking forward to giving it another listen after all these years. It maybe didn't help that when I tracked it down on LP I was away at college with no access to a record player and so I would have ended up taking it back to my parents one Xmas, and added it to my collection without giving it a fair chance.