Classic Discs Versus Teen Faves Versus Artistic Growth

In the process of discussing our teen favorites, Tom pointed to the incredible run of brilliant albums Steveland Wonder released and I commented, noting that I felt Talking Book, Fulfillingness First Finale, and Innervisions were on my list of artists who produced three just brilliant albums in a row.

Also added in were:

  • Blue/Ladies of the Canyon/Court and Spark (Joni Mitchell)
  •  Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers (Stones)
  • Revolver/Rubber Soul/Sgt. Pepper (Beatles)
  • Bringing it all Back Home/Highway 61/Blonde on Blonde

Elvis Costello (first three) and Neil Young (Goldrush through Harvest) also made it once the list was initiated, and Prince just missed. But Steve made suggestions of Alice Cooper, the Ramones, and AC/DC which I quickly dismissed

This does not mean I don’t love Road to Ruin and Love it to Death but if we look at Cooper and Steve’s example, maybe I can explain the difference, at least as I mean it.

Love it to Death triggered three wonderful albums from the Alice Cooper band, but the third, School’s Out was a little thin in my view, and Love it to Death included the throwaway Black Juju, an immediate disqualifier.

Why, you ask?

Because in looking at the records produced by the Beatles for example, in Rubber Soul the band clearly kicked their songwriting to a deeper level with the focus of their lyrics moving to a new level, not just for the band, but for pop music. The Fab Four continued this growth, both lyrically and sonic-ally with Revolver, and then even further with Sgt. Pepper. The same can be said about Wonder, Dylan, Mitchell, the Stones, Costello, and Young, all of whom have challenged themselves and their sound, pushing into new directions, and delivering breathing works that pushed the groups collaborative art to a new level.

Not that Love it to Death isn’t art, or a fantastic album, but as good as the record is, by Killer, the band was still spot on musically and lyrically, but while 18 might really fit what I defined above, nothing else on any of the three suggested Cooper albums suggests or provides any kind of growth of the group’s art and sound any further than where it was.

Not that this means Cooper or AC/DC or any performer(s) should be dismissed, but, there is a major difference between releasing three very strong discs that contain great songs, but all basically of the same ilk, as opposed to the other artists who truly moved their skills and experience to a different level.

Snotty? Maybe.

Elistist? Maybe.

But, well, hard to argue? I don’t know.

Have at it, and just to show I understand my roots, let’s leave with Alice, and as good a garage tune as you will ever hear. It is just the individual tune does not the album or artistic value of the relative catalog make.



7 thoughts on “Classic Discs Versus Teen Faves Versus Artistic Growth

  1. I thought of one more outstanding, if not perfect, trilogy;
    Swordfistrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank’s Wild Years.

  2. Pingback: Obituary: Walter Becker (February 20, 1950-September 3, 2017) | Rock 'n' Roll Remnants

  3. I just don’t see it with the Beatles. To me their peak was (Brit albums) Beatles for Sale, Help and Rubber Soul. Revolver has some great songs but it’s clearly the beginning of the end. Sgt. Pepper is not a great album.

    I’ll put the first five Roxy Music albums up against anybody’s. You can’t pick just three, or I can’t anyway. I won’t argue for the Stooges because their first album has some weak songs. The Dolls would have done it but they never made a third album, which was a crying shame because they had the songs and they were fantastic. Not the best sound quality but so what. Note also that Syl is playing the white Les Paul that would belong to Steve Jones a few months later.

  4. Great clip I haven’t seen before. A lot like those blues clips from the 30s and 40s. All the evidence is there, but not all the pleasure. But this is a great document about Johanson’s ambition. And maybe a comment about how far that can go when you don’t compromise. Great stuff.

  5. Great stuff indeed. “All the evidence is there, but not all the pleasure”? What does that even mean?

    And I see this as a testament to the band’s greatness as a whole, certainly not just all about Johanson.

  6. I agree, the band is at their best. Peter, I don’t know what you mean by “ambition” either. I assume that by “all the pleasure” you mean we can’t be there to experience them in all their glorious volume. I was at one of these shows at the Little Hippodrome, not this one. I was pissed because we missed Television (with Richard Hell) opening. They were just starting to make noise, early 1975. The way Dolls shows always were, the opening bands would play and then hours would elapse until the Dolls showed up. And they always walked through the audience to get to the stage, even at the Academy.

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