Brightest but shortest artistic bursts in the sky


The new thread topic today regarding Artists who maintained the quality of their work for their entire careers brought me back to my realization that many of my favorite albums were made by exactly the opposite type of Artist---the one whose initial burst was the bright, but, alas, short. Here are the ones that spring to mind immediately:

- The Dwight Twilley Band. Their---and I say their because drummer/singer Phil Seymore was atleast as important to the group as was Dwight himself---debut album is unbelievably great. If you haven't hear the Sincerely album, you want to. Phil stayed only for the debut and second album---Twilley Don't Mind, then leaving for a solo career. Twilley needed Seymore as much as Lennon and McCartney needed each other. Dwight had some success as a solo Artist, but his stuff just isn't as good.

- Jellyfish. Only two albums, but oh man are they great. Power Pop of the highest order. Complex harmonies---part Brian Wilson, part Queen, and great musicianship.

- Rockpile. Only one official album, but it contains the playing and singing of pure American Rock 'n' Roll as good as has ever been made. All killer, no filler!

- Moby Grape. Great, incredibly great S/T debut, poor follow-up. Even worse third and fourth albums, then a return to form with the fifth---20 Granite Creek. Then it was over; Skip Spence was sent to the looney bin (acid casualty), bad management and lack of success bringing the band to it's end. By far the best of the San Francisco bands.

- Emitt Rhodes. Emitt spent a year recording what became his S/T debut album, playing every instrument and singing every part in his home studio. One of the greatest Pop albums ever released (it was better than McCartneys solo debut in many peoples---including mine, opinion), it was his only good one. He signed a terrible deal, in which he agreed to provide the label with a second and third album in six month intervals. When he didn't deliver the second on time, the label sued him for breach of contract. He finally gave them a second and third, but the experience soured Emitt on the music business, and he wasn't seen on stage again for a quarter of a century. I was privileged to be part of his band when he finally took the stage again in 1998. Emitt has a recent album which I haven't yet heard.

- Gram Parsons. Gram is just one example of Artists who were done in by their success at a young age. After being brought into The Byrds by bassist Chris Hillman, he lead them into their groundbreaking Sweethearts of the Rodeo album, which pretty much created the Country-Rock genre. He and Chris left to start The Flying Burrito Brothers, playing hardcore Country music. Gram then went solo, making two commercially modest-selling but artistically-influential albums that hold up to this day. Keith Richards liked his stuff a lot, and invited Gram to come over to France where The Stones were living and recording. You can hear Grams influence in Keiths writing and playing of the early 70's. What Gram got from Keith was a taste for heroin, which an overdose of did him in.

These are just a few of the hundred examples available. I'm sure ya'll have your own. 


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I gotta disagree with the 2nd Grape album. Maybe not as consistent or hard-edged as the first, but a wonderful record. It's got some great blues, the Miller numbers "Can't Be So Bad" and "Miller's Blues", and Mosley's great "Bitter Wind". I also like "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" and even Spence's "Motorcycle Irene". 

On top of that, it came with the extra record filled with Bloomfeld jams. One of my favorites. 

A lot of great bands slipped up after a few releases, including the Doors (1st two were phenomenal), Jefferson Airplane (2nd & 3rd were great). I don't know if it was success, drugs, or just getting tired, but it's hard to keep up the pace when you're making great art at that level. This is probably true, not only in music, but art, literature, everything. 

Some of the "one-hit wonders" only had one great song, and then crashed. Question Mark & the Mysterians, for instance, or even Del Shannon. It doesn't mean their subsequent work sucked, but truly great art is hard to follow up on.

Just my opinion. 

Your critique of the second Moby Grape album is, upon reconsideration, better than mine! I'm going by recollection, feeling disappointed with it at the time of it's release in comparison to the first. If their debut hadn't been SO great---not a single bad track, perhaps I wouldn't be so harsh. "Can't Be So Bad" IS a killer track. Jerry Miller is a favorite guitarist of mine, and still plays around the Bay Area and Santa Cruz.

Some bands/groups/artists put out not a good album, but a single song I like so much I have the album it is on just for the one song. "Lies" by The Knickerbockers, "Shakin' All Over" by The Guess Who---a great song done by a lot of people, most famously The Who. The Guess Who's version remains my favorite, by far. That was the first Guess Who line-up, which did not include Burton Cummings.

bdp24,

Totally agree on Jellyfish.

I was listening to Shocking Blue and thought they were really very good.

Big Star, Badfinger, Mott the Hoople.
Big Brother & Janis Joplin


the original line-up of It's A Beautiful Day.
Shuggie Otis
Oops, Phil's last name is spelled Seymour, not Seymore. I knew it looked wrong!
Al Stewart, Gary Wright...

Didn't mean to overtake...I knew this one would be bands that came to me over time and not in one complete thought.
donny hathaway.

get the live recording. 

pure genius
rhyno,

Got it! Nice!

post Zombies.. Rod Argent.
New Emitt Rhodes disc is pretty spectacular.  He has returned, finally.
Willis Alan Ramsey

Totally agree about Jellyfish...amazing band, great writing and playing, very entertaining.

I must add Tasmin Archer. Great Expectations is an amazing record beginning to end.

For the Jellyfish fans, do check out The Grays’ "Ro Sham Bo"; the Grays being something of a successor band to JellyFish; Ro Sham Bo being their "once and done" album. Thanks to Pokey77 for introducing me to it.

Also a Pokey intro: "Self Help Serenade" by Marjorie Fair - regrettably, another one off album.

In either case, dunno if the bands qualify as "brightest" but their output was certainly short-lived while both referenced albums are very good, if not excellent (in my opinion, the latter).


George Gobel and the Naught so Knotty Boys.

DeKay
Of all the humans who have ever lived that title is held by Franz Schubert. Period .
The Stone Roses

The Soft Boys


Band of Skulls
As a doors fan every Album is classic and many out there would agree.
Their 1sr Album and Super classic light my fire long version . The Cornerstone of greatness.   Traffic another great band with several classics.
Not often mentioned The Guess Who fantastic songwriting. 
Nazareth remember the album Hair of the  dog ? Another guitar great 
Robin Trower, not evrn in the R&R hall of fame ,give me a break,his classic 
Bridge of sighs considered one of the top 100 albums of all time.
Steve Miller Band  70s greatness,  Marshall Tucker band great country rock band that gets  not much 
Respect ,as well as Charley Daniel's, and the Outlaws Green grass and high tides
One of the greatest  Blue grass guitar Picken songs Ever . I will be up all night just 
Catching up on  classics. That is why we are Audiophiles . Music to calm 
The Savage beast in all of us . the Doobee Brothers Classic album and one of the greatest album titles. What were once vices are now HABITS. 
ENJOY your music !!
"Waiting for the Sun" was one of the most disappointing LPs I ever bought. Even more disappointing than "Satanic Majesties Request" by the Stones. And while I would agree that both groups redeemed themselves by their later releases, particularly L.A. Woman, those two remain the two biggest letdowns of my youth. 

Every time I hear "Hello, I Love You", I still cringe. 
My vote goes for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a prodigy composer who died at the age of 35.

Who knows what other masterpieces he might have composed had he lived longer.

Michael
Art Pepper, Charlie Parker, Tommy Bolin, Kurt Cobain, Skunk Baxter, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Pig Pen, Eddie Brickell.....more but that's it for now.

Rodan-Rusty
i was worried it hadnt aged well but I am as awed now as I was in my early twenties. Thanks Bdp24 for the thread down memory lane. 
Schubert 4-1-2017
Of all the humans who have ever lived that title is held by Franz Schubert. Period .
I agree.

BTW, Schubert, good to see you posting again!

Best regards,
-- Al
 

Thanks so much Al, always good to hear from a gentleman of your caliber !

God Bless,
Len

I just remembered another one-album band whose record was pretty special. In the wake of the Knacks success, Los Angeles was flooded with groups and bands playing showcase gigs in an attempt to get a record deal. One such group was Great Buildings, whose single album flopped. But two of it's members went on to success in The Rembrandts, known for doing the Friends TV show theme song. Rembrandts and Great Buildings member Danny Wilde also had success as a solo artist, with quite a few good albums.

By the way, ghosthouse mentioned The Grays because band member Jason Faulkner was in Jellyfish at the time of their first album. Also in The Grays was Jon Brion, who went on to success as a producer of Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, and many others. He has also done a lot of film scoring and soundtrack work. Talented bunch of guys!   

I have to remind all of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Fuller, and Patsy Cline, all dying at a young age.
Eric Quincy Tate Group
"Even more disappointing than "Satanic Majesties Request" by the Stones."

A psychedelic classic. "Like a Rainbow" "Sing This All Together" and "2000 Light Years From Home" being the best songs.

I have to disagree about "Waiting for the Sun."  "Hello, I Love You" was a serious lapse in judgement, but the rest of the album is strong.

Rather than make The Doors III, the band used their creativity to come up with something different and succeeded.  I love the ballads and Morrison shows that he can sing them with the best.

"Five to One" is a good closer and Morrison's spoken section is as spooky as "The End."


Robert Johnson.  Very talented and extremely influential.  Died at 27.
Also disagree on Waiting fir the Sun. The ballads are great, particularly "Love Street".  While not quite on a level with Strange Days, still some great Doors music. The only Morrison era LP I'm not big on is The Soft Parade. More on subject, dare I say anything CSN did after their S/T (the boat) album. Let's face it, De Ja Vu is CSNY.  So great, yet so Wasted on the Way. (-:
Ricky Lee Jones...Great debut album, fell apart after that.

All the 'one hit wonders', too many to name, too many things to blame as to why....

...and all this reverie just shows our age....;) *L*
Damn, how could I have forgotten about Robert Johnson? Real good one onhwy61, extremely influential is right.
tpreaves;  Great call on Eric Quincy Tate. I just pulled out a couple of their lps last week. Used to see them play back in th 70's.
After her debut, Ricky Lee Jones came up with, among many other things, "Pop Pop," an astonishing album with Robben Ford on classical guitar and Charlie Haden on bass, "Flying Cowboys," "Traffic From Paradise," "Pirates,"…and having seen her live recently I can say she's still amazing and sings like an angel. She only "fell apart" to somebody who maybe wasn't paying attention as she's a prolific artist who we're lucky to have around.
moby grape's third album, '69, is arguably as good as the debut; the only skip spence song on the album, seeing, is amazing. 
i would also submit that twilley's solo debut, twilley, cuts the (unquestionably great) two albums w/phil seymour.
as for bands that dazzled then burned, i'd throw out the las, the records and jeff buckley; also the sex pistols if that's your thing
A Grape note…I saw them in 1967 as the headliner over Hendrix and Tim Buckley…man…Moby Grape were (at that show anyway) one of the most powerful, kick ass and take no prisoners bands I've ever seen…friggin' fabulous as a kind of Eagles on Steroids act…just an astonishing live band.
Ricky Lee Jones had many other albums that were great after her first. Even her latest CD is good. She is certainly not one to put on this list. 
Damn, this talk of The Grape has me jazzed. I'm gonna pull our the '69 album and give it a relisten.
Hey Grandma.
Any band that attempts to do one of the songs on that first album finds out it's harder than it sounds, or that they anticipated. I speak from experience!
A favorite topic of mine....and IMO.........

In the rock n roll division, there's only one right answer to this question:

Creedence Clearwater Revival.

They released 5 classic albums in the 24 month period between Spring 1968 and 1970.  

They also released two more (lesser IMO) records over the next two years, but that first run was RIDICULOUS.
I also love the Rockpile answer - you can make a good case that they are the mother of all one and dones.  Still, "CCR", "Bayou Country", "Green River" , "Willie and the Poorboys", and "Cosmo's Factory" all within two years......

Nothin' like it in the world of rock n roll (before or since) IMO.
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For the collectors of EM (TD, KS, or DerSpyra as the younger follower of Berlin Skool of the genre) here is a tip: "As I Hide" by  Witchcraft. Masterpiece not noticed and the band just disappeared... 

And once I get over my pains re Soft Boys / Robyn Hitchcock I mourn the demise of "Miranda Sex Garden" (don't get me started on Girl's Groups, all my ladies friends say that I'm a chauvinistic Pig!) But these ladies should have been noticed! Now that Joanne Newsom and Lykke Li are in vogue, maybe they have a chance???!!! They sound like acapella singers with Bjork mentality: ultimate test for my hi-end stereo and my sanity!!!

last but not least, Schubert, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky must have gotten a "smile" and extra few decades from The Allah!!! Not so sure about Mozart, he did break the spell of Baroque but I am not so sure he would be able to push it!... Miles could and did, but he also proved that it it is only so far one single genius can push the envelope...
Hit me!!!!!
Steve Miller (Band)

Imho everything after 1970 was execrable....

War
Drivin' N' Cryin'
Mazzy Star
The Black Crowes

The Knack - Seriously, have you seen any other supernova burn out any faster than that? 
And if you want to go with "one and out", Buzzing’ Cousins gets the nod for "Sweet Suzanne". John Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakum, John Prine, Joe Ely and James Mcmurtry recorded "Sweet Suzanne" as the band - Buzzin’ Cousins for the 1992 movie Falling From Grace. They received a CMA Nomination for the song, but never recorded again as Buzzin’ Cousins. This is obviously an Alt-Country/Americana Super Group beyond compare. Good stuff...... for 3 minutes and 35 seconds........

One (song) and out.

Just having a bit of fun guys. I’m not comparing Buzzing’ Cousins to Schubert or even CCR.