Friday, September 14, 2007

Weekend Listomania (The Dreaded Second Album Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Actually, in this case, it means a temporary break from snarky stories about the various vaguely disturbing things I may be doing with my Oriental manservant. In reality, I'm getting ready to join the Eschaton contingent -- and that means some of you guys, hooray!! -- in the big End the War march in DC on Saturday. So posting will be sporadic for a while, but this time for legitimate (heck, really important) reasons.

Anyway -- in my absence, here's a little diversion for you all.

Sophomore Albums That Surpassed (Artistically) The Really Good Debut Albums That Preceded Them!!!

You know the cliche -- you have your entire life to write your first album, and then you have six months to write your second, which is why a lot of followup albums disappoint. Perhaps the most obvious example is Pretenders II; an estimable work with some terrific songs, but small beer compared to the epochal first one. (More recently, think of the second Hootie and the Blowfish album, or rather, please don't think of it, as Hootie kind of sucks. Although Fairweather Johnson was a really great title...)

In any event, what do you think are the albums that best avoided the sophomore slump?

Submitted for your approval, my Top Seven would be......

7. MC5 -- Back in the USA

6. The Beatles -- With the Beatles

5. Marah -- Kids in Philly

4. Buffalo Springfield -- Buffalo Springfield Again

3. The Who -- A Quick One

2. Bruce Springsteen -- The Wild, the Innocent and the
E-Street Shuffle

and last but definitely not least....

1. Elvis Costello -- This Year's Model

Go to it, kids.

[Kudos and huzzahs to constant commenter tmink, who guessed today's theme on the basis of just one fairly innocuous (I thought) clue. Your coveted No-Prize is in the mail, pal.]


Mister Pleasant said...

This Year's Model was my introduction to EC, and when I finally heard My Aim Is True, it was a mild letdown. Steve, you may be in the minority of critics who fine TYM superior, but I couldn't agree more.

Other sophmore slump avoiders:
Zombies - Odessey & Oracle
Posies - Dear 23
The Move - Shazam
Police - Regatta De Blanc
Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
.. and apologies if this raises the hackles of you Power Pop purists:
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique

Anonymous said...

Cream - Disraeli Gears

The Band - The Band

Little Feat - Sailin' Shoes

Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy

Paul Butterfield Blues Band - East/West

Anonymous said...

Either The Band's second album or TYM is likely the all-time winner in this contest.

1) Radio City - Big Star
2) The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
3) Forever Changes - Love
4) White Light/White Heat - Velvet Underground (well I think it's better than the first)
5) Utopia Parkway - Fountains Of Wayne
6) Temple Of Low Men - Crowded House
7) Candy-O - The Cars
8) Fun House - The Stooges

Anonymous said...

This Year's Model is perhaps my favorite of the entries. A few others I like would be:

1. Badfinger - No Dice

2. Big Star - Radio City

3. Allman Brothers Band - Idlewild South

4. Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays

5. Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

6. Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle

In the case of both ABB and Big Star one could argue whether the second albums actually surpassed the first but they're both damn good sophomore efforts.

I have to qualify the FC and JA lp's because both bands switched vocalists after their debut albums.


Anonymous said...

Fairport Convention: What We Did On Our Holidays
Richard Thompson: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Stooges: Fun House
Pixies: Doolittle
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Television: Adventure
Pet Shop Boys: Actually

Anonymous said... didn't say "pop albums," so it has to be "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."

NYMary said...

Definitely agree re: Big Star, the Cars, and FOW. (Is there a more perfect power pop song than "Red Dragon Tattoo"? I don't think so.)

I'd also toss in The New Pornographers' The Electric Version.

Heather said...

(Is there a more perfect power pop song than "Red Dragon Tattoo"? I don't think so.)

You had to mention that song, didn't you? It will be stuck in my head for the next week. And no, I don't think there is a more perfect power pop song.

Sophomore efforts...I have to agree with Big Star, the Who, Costello, and FOW. I like the Cars first effort better than Candy-O, but that might be the nostalgia talkin'.

What about acts that put out a mediocre first album, then unexpectedly put out something much better for the second? They don't get any power pop love, but I'd nominate Radiohead for that one.

Isaac said...

Prince, "Prince".

The fact that it opens with "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" seals the deal for me.

"Bambi" and "I Feel For You" are icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

(Rummages through collection after realizing that many worthy candidates have already been cited...)
Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is
Pil - 2nd Edition
Wilco - Being There
(And I'm one of those weirdos who STILL think Marshall Crenshaw's "Field Day" a masterpiece - not to take anything away from the fine debut. - Bill Buckner

Anonymous said...

Crowded House's Temple of Low Men was a more richly textured, better produced, better written and arranged album than their debut. And the first one was great.

Anonymous said...

aw crap..somebody beat me to it.

Well, "Beaucoups of Blues' was better than "Sentimental Journey"...

Anonymous said...

Ah, the Springfield's second: I was a freshman in college and was visiting some friends who had just gotten that album, which I hadn't heard yet. They were curious about what I thought of it. They got me high, and then made me lie on the floor with a speaker on either side of my head. I couldn't move until they played the whole thing. Fortunately for me and for them, I really liked it.

Anyway, from the same era: "Strange Days" rivals "The Doors" ...

And I think it's kind of tough to talk about the Beatles, since anything they put out surpassed what came before it, with perhaps one exception.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

How about Cheap Trick-In Color?

And I have incredibly good feelings for Weezer's "Pinkerton"

TMBG- Lincoln. Althoughmaybe it's more of the same.

Rush (okay, forget I said that)

I'm a bit surprised, to, that no one's mentioned Reckoning by REM.

Anonymous said...

Ram - Paul McCartney
Imagine - John Lennon
(yeah yeah, I know, Plastic Ono Band is so raw & real blah blah blah, but which one do you actually still LISTEN to?)
Anthem of the Sun - Grateful Dead
Transformer - Lou Reed

A lotta good choices above, too, though I disagree with a few (Velvet Underground, Television).

Slig said...

Love - The Cult
Steeltown - Big Country
As Far as Siam - Red Rider

Anonymous said...

The Church - The Blurred Crusade
Blue Oyster Cult - Tyranny and Mutation
The Records - Crashes
Jellyfish - Spilt Milk

steve simels said...

KC --

The Records Crashes?

Better than the first one?

steve simels said...

Mike said...

Either The Band's second album or TYM is likely the all-time winner in this contest.

I can't believe I didn't pick The Band.


Anonymous said...

And to venture into dweeb territory for a second:

Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkle

billy b said...

Aerosmith - Get Your Wings.

Ironically, that was the band's worst selling album in its heyday.

I just picked up a 2005 live set from the band where most of songs are from "Get Your Wings" and "Toys in the Attic".

Messrs. Whitford and Perry raise 9 kinds of hell on this one.

Anonymous said...

Many choice's I'm in total agreement with but
I'd like to wade in with a couple that I haven't seen so far.

Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex Girlfriend
OK, I honestly can't say how good her first album (CD - whatever) was. I've heard several songs from it and I thought they were decent but this is definitely superior. Currently the album I'm having a hard time getting off my player. Gunpowder & Lead is the angriest song I've heard since The Clash's I'm Not Down.

Ronnie Lane - Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance

Dave Alvin - Blue Blvd.
Romeo's Escape had some better moments but this is better as a whole

The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Probably not better that the US version of their first album but definitely better than the UK (and earlier released) version.

Avedon said...

That's a pretty good list, but I'm here to tell you that you screwed up your Homepage URL over at Eschaton.

Ausbury said...

01. Jason Falkner - Can You Still Feel?
02. All American Rejects - Move Along (I still think Move Along was the best new song in 2006)
03. Bleu - Redhead
04. Collective Soul - Collective Soul
05. Fountains Of Wayne - Utopia Parkway
06. Jellyfish - Spilt Milk
07. Lenny Kravitz - Mama Said
08. Longwave - The Strangest Things (Wake Me Up When It's Over gets 5 stars on the ipod)
09. Rooney - Calling The World (I'm not counting On The Closed Circuit as their debut)
10. Mae - The Everglow
11. Mew - Frengers
12. Elvis Costello - This Year's Model

Anonymous said...

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy)
Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

Anonymous said...

Velvet Crush -- Teenage Symphonies to God