Monday, October 19, 2009

The one Great Record from ...

What's up with those bands that produce that one great record, never to be repeated again? I suppose there are many reasons for this. Sometimes it's the debut that took six years to write the songs before the recording contract happened. After that, the pressure to write as many good songs is just too much for most bands. Sometimes, it's that the band gets the perfect match with the right producer, and it never happens again. Sometimes, it's just that this record hits me just right, and you might choose another one as the "best". But it seems to happen far too often, especially if you're a collector like me, who hears that great record and goes looking for the repeat performance, only to be let down by every other record that band ever made. I've actually tried to swear off the practice of chasing the next great record. Now, when I discover a perfect record, I often don't keep buying music from the artist. I just stop there and listen to the one I love. After 40 years of buying music, I still buy the next record, or the one before the one I love, but I'm trying to rein myself in, and sometimes I'm even successful. Here's some examples:

The Faces A Nod Is As Good As A Wink...To A Blind Horse 1971 A near perfect collection, with Glyn Johns producing, the next record he did after Who's Next. Every song is good, and the best of them are just great- Miss Judy's Farm, Stay With Me, That's All You Need, Debris, Too Bad, You're So Rude. It's better than a "best of" collection. They did lots of other good songs, but never another great album.

Del Amitri Some Other Sucker's Parade 1997 Again, a classic. Twisted 1995 was very good, and so was Can You Do Me Good? 2002. But Some Other Sucker's Parade really captures this band at peak performance. As usual, it's a combination of great songs and production. Not Where It's At, the title cut, Medicine, High Times, Through All That Nothing, Lucky Guy- there isn't a loser on the entire album.

The Connels Still Life 1998 I stumbled across this one after reading a rave review. It's wonderful modern rock, with a Stones-y sound, but more varied textures and excellent singing and, of course, songwriting. Dull, Brown And Gray, The Leper, Curly's Train, Soul Reactor, Still Life, Circlin', Gonna Take A Lie, are all classics. Like all the albums on this list, I can just put it on and listen all the way through. I've bought two or three of their others, and it's never been quite the same.

Gomez How We Operate 2006 I like all of their records, and Split The Difference 2004 comes close to being as good as How We Operate. Some fans could argue that their earlier works are better, and they are definately different. But this one just has it all. Great songs, production, and performance. Notice, See the World, How We Operate, Girlshapedlovedrug, Tear Your Love Apart, Woman! Man!, Cry on Demand, Don't Make Me Laugh, they're all excellent. The most potential radio hits of any of their records. Remarkably consistent.

Guy Clark Boats To Build 1992 Thirty-three minutes of perfection. Every song is beautifully written and sung, and the acoustic instrumentation is recorded very well. Again, I like a lot of Clark's albums- Cold Dog Soup 1999 and The Dark 2002 are almost as good- but this one is a complete knock-out. Every song is a winner. Emmylou Harris guests on I Don't Love You Much Do I, but all the songs are special. Clark is a magnificent songwriter, and here his voice is still intact. The title track is one of those songs to live your life by.

Here's a few more that fit the criteria for me:
Matthew Sweet Girlfriend 1991
Neville Brothers Neville-ization Live At Tipitinas 1984
New York Rock Ensemble Roll Over 1971
5 Chinese Brothers Let's Kill Saturday Night 1997
Badfinger No Dice 1970
Aimee Mann I'm With Stupid 1995
Ryan Adams Gold 2001

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