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.