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This is actually a great question,it's got me racking my brains which shouldn't take long.
Of course I think we can all think of songs or groups of songs we heard live by famous bands that when we heard the official recorded versions seemed lacking,likewise albums or arrangements of great songs that failed to deliver their potential when recorded but all the artists I can think of who did this (Dylan is infamous for not delivering in the studio and leaving great songs off of albums),did release great albums at earlier stages in their career.....................good question
Rosstaman, all on your list (w/the exception of BBA, whom I don't care about anyway - sorry!) released quite great ablums, IMHO ("great" not meaning flawless, which doesn't apply in artistic endeavors). Just what don't you like about "Seconds of Pleasure" or "I Just Can't Stop It" or even the "Blind Faith" LP, if you do indeed think that these are great groups?
I think that most bands deserving to be called great during the age of album rock had to make at least one or two great ablums, almost by definition. But I'll list some bands that I think, for various reasons, seemed stymied from making the album(s) they *really* could have made (although the shortcomings of their recorded work are probably a part of what endears them to their fans):
The Velvet Underground
The New York Dolls
The Flamin' Groovies
The Pretty Things
I hesitate to list actual punk groups like The Damned and The Dead Boys, although the criteria might apply, because the punk aesthetic was really antithetical to the crafting of great albums, and money was also lacking practically by design. And if you get into all the groups who lacked money because of how far underground they were (no major labels), you could list deserving bands all day long.
Then there are also the interesting cases of artists who only got one chance to make a big album in their prime, and basically delivered the goods, but bad timing or lack of a hit single doomed them to go nowhere - The Remains and Gene Clark come to mind.
And how about the groups that did achieve renown, got to record a few big records that generally fell short of the mark (and would have qualified them for this thread), lost their audience, but then went out with a genuine masterpiece of a swan song that didn't get noticed at all - like The MC5 ("High Time"), or The Zombies ("Odessey and Oracle").
I guess I misunderstood this thread to mean what great groups never produced a commercially great album. The English Beat (and General Public) were one of my favorite bands and I own all their excellent albums. Blind Faith had two incredible songs on their album: Had To Cry Today, and I Can't Find My Way Home. Presence of the Lord was good and the rest was mediocre. Considering the talent of each member (Clapton, Winwood, Baker, and Grech) of Blind Faith, I was expecting one of the best albums ever. I saw Beck, Bogert and Appice and was "blown-away," but their album never got the play it deserved. Rockpile just never took off in the US and they should have.
This thread provides solid proof that there's no accounting for taste. That said, I'd nominate the Yardbirds. And I'm surpised nobody's mentioned the Dead, who are always described by the committed as "much better in concert."
As for quibbles with the preceding, anybody who thinks the Velvets' White Light (or even Nico) doesn't consitute a great album is setting a very high standard. I'd agree on Bloomfield's solo work (though I think Super Session is overrated, but then I'm not a Kooper fan), but I credit him for much of what shines on the first two Butterfield albums.
After reviewing the responses, I'm somewhat confused. I think we need some definitions. What defines a "truly great album"? Commerical success; i.e., a gold or platinum album? Artistic success, rather reconized by the "critics" or not? For example, Jethro Tull, Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Moby Grape were all listed as "best band never to release a truly great album" I don't know -- in my book "Aqualung", "Dixie Chicken", "Street Survivors" and "Moby Grape" (first album) were all great albums within their musical categories; i.e., Tull's melding of riff-rock, folk, and progressive style, Little Feat's groove-pop and rock stew, Skynyrd's southern rock and Moby Grape's melding of pyschedelia, rock,county-funk and folk. Having said all the above, my nomination (based on the criteria of artistic achievement, reconized or not) is David Lindley's "El Rayo X".
I certainly have to agree with Bomarc's pick of the Yardbirds. How could that much talent never produce a truley killer album???? First you've got Clapton, then later Jeff Beck, and finally Jimmy Page, along with Keith Relf throughout. Every album has it's gems, but not one solid from beginning to end. Don't get me wrong, I have all of their albums, but there is no Revolver in the bunch. Zaikesman had a great call with Pretty Things, but I think Parachute and S.F. Sorrow are great albums start to finish. They were just overshadowed by The Beatles. Jond nailed the Dead with three great studio albums. BBA was a good call, but they did release the double Live in Japan lp which is good start to finish. Roy B? I love all his stuff. I really can't think of a better pick than the Yardbirds. Tom
Bomarc, I thought of The Yardbirds, but they actually did release what I consider to be a great album in Britain, "The Yardbirds" (aka "Roger the Engineer"), but like a lot of British invasion acts, their original releases got chopped up and re-glued to make different LP's for the US market.
As far as the MG and VU thing goes, if you and Fish reread my post, you'll see that I stipulate that all the great groups released great albums, and I consider these to be among them. What I listed instead, was bands who I didn't think actually got to make the record they *could've* made under different circumstances. In other words, what we've got is worth treasuring, but we don't know what we're missing. Fate (and record labels) didn't smile on all bands the way The Beatles had it. But as I said, fans (like me) find the flaws endearing. I was taking the topic off on a tangent a bit, though.
"Roger the Engineer" might make the greatness cut, although I think the band's best work came earlier, in the first year with Beck and those great singles that made up Side 1 of the U.S. album "Having a Rave Up." Fill that period out ("Shapes of Things") rather than the random picks from "Five Live Yardbirds," and you would have a truly great Yardbirds album.
As for the Dead, it should be obvious that I am not among the "committed," but I'll take your word for it, Jond.
Vegasears, with the exception of Dixie Chicken (which I think is one of the best made by anyone) you're right about Little Feat -- they came reasonably close with Time Loves a Hero. Absolutely agree with Roy Buchanan. Government Mule never had a great one (that I heard) but had/have lots of talent. John Mayall too -- great talent, compiled great talent, but never had a killer album. I'd love to hear everyone's opinion on whether Clapton really had a killer album post-Layla. He had a bunch of great songs and gives a great concert, but I can't recall a great album on his own. If you want to get really, really picky, Sound Garden had a couple of great albums but they each had some pretty weak tracks (IMO). Excellent question.
Since this is a VERY SUBJECTIVE topic, it all boils down to taste. I happen to think that the Rolling Stones have some good songs but I have never thought they had a great album, where ALL of the songs were good. Off the top of my head, I think the Stones have made somewhere around 20 Lp's or more. IMO, they have about 25 good songs. True, a few Lp's sported a few good songs but MOST of their others had maybe one or two. A prolific band with longevity to be sure, but they are one of those groups (for me) where I'd rather own their "Greatest Hits". Just one man's opinion! But hey, my wife hates the Beatles and I still can't figure that one out.
Yes, subjective to be sure. But someone who only thinks The Stones were responsible for 25 good tunes in their career is isn't much of a Stones fan to begin with. Maybe it's time to go and check out something beyond "Hot Rocks"! :-)
P.S. - My girlfriend is the same way about The Beatles. I sometimes can't understand how we could possibly have become a couple!
Zaikesman, your point is taken! FWIW, I have seen the Stones live and ultimately I'd be hard pressed to think of any other group that DOES have 25 good songs over their careers - a record to be proud of. I have owned many Stones albums and CD's over the years but now I only have Goats Head Soup and (you guessed it) Hot Rocks.
For some reason, The Doors come to mind. I really DO like the band but i just don't think that any of their albums are real cohesive or flow quite as well as they should. To me, they are one of those bands that work better in small doses rather than album length. Know what i mean ?
Zaikesman, how can you NOT consider "Young, Loud & Snotty" by The Dead Boys a "messterpiece" ??? The production was as raw and energetic as the performance. I don't think that Stiv would have had it any other way. Their second album ( We Have Come For Your Children ) was WAY over-produced, losing the rough edge that we all know they had.
For the "record" though, i think that you've got great taste in what i like to call "gutter rock" : ) From one "gutter dweller" to another, be on the look-out for a disc entitled "I Only Wrote This Song For You" / A Tribute To Johnny Thunders. It's on a label out of England called ESS and the catalogue number is ESS CD 223. Believe me, you'll like it. The line-up includes, but is not limited to, David Johansen, Arthur "Killer" Kane, Sylvain Sylvain, Wayne Kramer, Michael Monroe, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Willy Deville and even Los Lobos !!! Wayne / Jayne County even makes a guest appearance on one tune. Well worth a listen if you like "dirt bag rock & roll" : ) Sean
Broke down and spent a couple hundred to see them play the local arena on the "No Security" tour a few years ago. We sat in the nosebleed-seats, snickered at the satin tour jackets selling for the same amount as both our tickets, endured The Corrs as an opening act, and tried not to take Mick's schtick too seriously. The band seemed to play fine, but the sound was predictably atrocious by the time it reached our ears. The whole proceeding seemed very cold and businesslike. In the end my reaction to finally having seen one of my favorite bands ever, a touchstone for my own musical leanings as a player - and a group that I see as really the progenitors of a hell of a lot about the rock & roll era that has defined the style and substance of what I and my generation find motivating about the form itself - was one of having had my wallet very professionally lightened. Talk about no satisfaction... This was my first and last arena show since the mid-80's, and from now on it's strictly the clubs for me, where I've always gone to find succor. When I need Keith and Brian and Charlie and Bill, and yeah, even Mick, well, that's what my system and collection are for. (For Ronnie, better listen to Rod and The Faces, though...)
Although my previous lack of enthusiasm for the Doors as "The Greatest American Band" was met by disagreement, I would include them in this list. And I still think the Yardbirds are an equal contender. The UK "Yardbirds" lp aka "Roger The Engineer" is basically a compilation of stuff, not an example of a thought out album by the band. Most of the other nominees on this thread have had great albums in my opinion; Tull - Aqualung, Stones - Sticky Fingers or Exile, etc...
Roy Buchanan, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, and many others have some great albums front to back, but I don't think they ever expected 100% public approval, or hit after hit. Hell, I love every thing Tom Waits has released, Beefheart, or King Crimson, but I don't think they are sitting around waiting for the awards to flow in. Still, I think the Yardbirds win this one. Tom
Well, "Roger The Engineer" may not have been totally thought out beforehand, but it certainly wasn't a random compiling of odd tracks, either. A lot of it was basically written as it was being recorded, and together with the previously written tracks, was totally recorded within about the space of a week. This makes it pretty unified, IMHO, even if charmingly (or amazingly) off-handed in its spontaneity, not to mention more than a little dirty behind the ears. And I liiiikes it that-a way!
Beck, Bogert & Appice - both the studio and live album really suffer from those two stupid and sooo mediocre soul tunes. I never couldn´t stand them. Soul thing does not fit them at all. Sorry Tim Bogert, you are not a good singer really. But you are a hell of a bassist :) Otherwise great band. Actually BBA Live in Japan 1973 is one of the most powerful live recording and probably the best rock bass sound captured on vinyl. Alongside MOUNTAIN Twin Peaks from the same year.
Under their own name, it has to be Little Village. Though they are on record in VERY fine form (first heard on John Hiatt's Bring The Family album), they recorded and released only one album under their own name, and it's not good. The rule going in was that no member (John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, and Jim Keltner---is that a Super Group, or what?!) could bring any already-written material---all songs had to be written on scene. Not a recipe for making good music.
Not surprisingly, BDP nails this one,
Little Village, Possibly the most promising supergroup of them all, released that? It's not bad at all, but it is an absolutely pedestrian album. I like it a fair bit, but great it ain't.
I'm not sure that any of The Replacements' albums are great. Several are really good, but all have some dead weight. I think Westerberg's solo albums were probably more consistent and overall better records.
The Pentangle, with two spectacular guitarists in Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, had lots of great music spread over a bunch of very good, but IMO not great albums, too.
This is a very old thread that I noticed in the archives. I just wanted to see the opinions of others on the topic, but then I read the original posting. I don't want to be judgmental, but anyone who thinks Jethro Tull hasn't made a "truly great album" needs a hearing test. "Aqualung", "Benefit", "Stand Up" and "Thick As A Brick" are all time-tested classics. No truly great albums... are you serious??