It’s Making Me Wonder if the Previous One Was Actually Good in the First Place

Jeff IMed me with an interesting question.

What band, in your opinion, took the sharpest nosedive between albums?

That is, Album A is fantastic. You listen to it over and over, and can’t wait for the follow-up. When that follow-up comes, you have to check and double-check the cover to make sure it’s the same band, because it’s so awful.

For me, I would have to say the largest disparity is between Ultra Vivid Scene’s Joy: 1969-1990 album, one of the few albums I consider “perfect”, to Rev, which is just dull and plodding.

Jeff says he doesn’t count The Stone Roses first album and second albums because he likes The Second Coming. Me, I don’t. I count it.

Other notorious cases:

  • Uncle Green: You -> What an Experiment His Head Was
  • Sugar: Copper Blue -> File Under Easy Listening
  • The Sugarcubes: Life’s Too Good -> Whatever the second album was called.
  • Voice of the Beehive: Let it Bee -> Honey Lingers
  • There are a few good tracks on Go Bang! by Shriekback, but it’s still a long way down from Big Night Music
  • Whatever you think of the Bolshoi’s first album, Friends, it’s still miles above Lindy’s Party
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: Love Junk was not junk. The next one was.

Some of those are “sophomore slump”s. Some are a band just running out of steam. Some are maybe bands that barley had one album in them, much less two. The middle category, where the band has been going very well and then suddenly hits a brick wall are, I think, the most interesting.

What say you, readers? What albums are the musical equivalents of Alien3 to you?

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13 Responses to It’s Making Me Wonder if the Previous One Was Actually Good in the First Place

  1. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours -> Tusk

    As a youngster, shelling out whatever I paid for that double-album crapfest known as Tusk (1 good song on 4 sides of LP vinyl) made me depressed. I grew up on Styx, later on Gabriel and REM, and man that sucked. Had to save babysitting money for that and man, I was pissed.

    The Bears: The Bears -> Rise and Shine

    I assume most people reading this never heard of The Bears (not the football team, led by Adrian Belew). That 1st album was overly simple, but a lot of fun. The 2nd, well, not so much. Saw them a crapload of times live – always fun.

    Those are my two top picks. I’ll think of more later.

  2. Kurt Schwind says:

    XClan’s first “To the east blackwards” was incredible. The 2nd one was . . . not.

  3. Jeff says:

    The Smithereens — they put out three good, fun albums: Especially for You, Green Thoughts, and 11. Then there was Blow Up. One of the worst albums I’ve ever subjected my ears to.

  4. Blasterhappy says:

    I really liked Queensryche. Their best albumns were Operation Mindcrime and Empire then came Promised Land which was terrible. They tried to fool fans with Mindcrime II and a lot were disappointed including me. Actually saw them in concert in the 80s when they opened for Def Leppard.

  5. Blasterhappy says:

    By the way, what is this a picture of in this post? Is it a crashed airplane?

  6. Dave says:

    Yep. Google Image Search on “nosedive”.

  7. Greg says:

    Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: going from ‘Shake the Sheets’ to ‘Living with the Living’ was my biggest disappointment in recent memory.

    Also, it’s been 8 years between releases, but Del’s (the rapping one, not the Amitri one) new album is total crap compared to how brilliant he was back in 2000.

  8. Dave says:

    Hey Greg, I heard the new Del track and yeah, it’s not great, but I totally love his voice. Which album is the one to get?

  9. Greg says:

    I *think* that conventional wisdom would say that Both Sides of the Brain is his best effort, but my favorite Del album has always been No Need for Alarm.

    That said, I’d recommend starting with Deltron 3030, a collaborative concept album he did with a couple of other guys.

  10. Frisco says:

    Dude! Worst Nosedive ever:

    G n’ R Appetite for Destruction –> Use Your Illusion

    But really you have to admit a sophomore slump should be expected. Most bands take years and years to land a record deal and of course all they’ve got to do is write 10 or 15 good songs in that time to have a great 1st album. Then, while touring, they’ve got to write another 15 good songs in less then a year to have a good 2nd album. That’s not easy and I’ll give most bands a shot at 3rd album before I write em off.

  11. pronoblem says:

    hmmm… Del’s first album I Wish My Brother George Was Here was my favorite.

    Tough question on the nosedive… I’ll have to go with the first thing that came to mind. Possum Dixon – Star Maps was a phenomenal album and the subsequent and awaited New Sheets was a major letdown.

  12. Isaac says:

    Holy shit, someone outside of Georgia knows who Uncle Green is. Or, are you, like me, a Georgian ex-pat? ‘Cause that would explain a lot. Regardless, I should try to track down that rekkid.

    For me, there was a huge nosedive between Tyrannosaurus Hives and Black and White Album by the Hives. That was the last rekkid I bought without listening to it some first.

  13. Dave says:

    Isaac, when I was in college (in Louisiana) I worked at the radio station and we got a promo for Uncle Green in, which we liked (it contained the song “Chemical Way”). Later when I saw the CD “You” I bought it and spread its good news to all my friends.