Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Third Album Struggles for Famous Bands

Album Number three

Do bands really struggle when it comes to making their third album? Is there such a thing as the “third album syndrome?” I decided to take a few minutes to do a very non-scientific study of some of the biggest rock bands and their third albums. To make it a bit more unbiased I picked ten famous bands that I like and/or don’t like so much. I put the band names into a hat, and picked three of the ten, and then checked out their third album.

Rolling Stones-Now!

I don’t know if the Rolling Stones should count in this regard, but I’m going to give it a go. Their album titled Now! was their third studio effort. It came out in 1965, and the biggest hit on that album was titled Heart of Stone. The album was considered to be a solid piece of work, and Rolling Stone magazine rated it just above the middle of the pack in their “500 best albums of all time” article. The album hit number five on Billboard the year it came out. The single Heart of Stone made the top twenty, and the album went gold. It should be mentioned that the album was a hodge podge of songs that the label put together, and the band was still doing covers at the time.

Pearl Jam-Vitalogy

If an album sells over five million copies, does that mean it’s good? One thing worth noting about this album is that it was written while Pearl Jam was on tour. It’s not an easy thing to write music while promoting an album with a tour. Pearl Jam did just that, and recorded it during breaks. There were references on the disk where the band touches upon the rigors of fame. The disk is eclectic, and there is even one very solid pop tune on it. Reviewers didn’t pan it entirely, but they did say that there were some toss away songs on it.

Michael Jackson – Music & Me

I’m stretching it, but this is the album that I picked. Still a boy at the time, Michael Jackson recorded Music & Me. Although he was just a boy, he encountered issues that come up with any famous artist. He wanted to branch out, he wanted his own songs on the album, and Motown still held control. The only song to break the top twenty was “With a Child’s Heart” written by Stevie Wonder.

These three examples do have a common theme. All three albums contained a mix of styles. In the case of Jackson and the Stones, cover songs were vital. For Pearl Jam, strange tracks that were atypical to their style showed up on the disk. At least I didn’t find any of these artists looking to add lush horns and strings to their work. That is what we sometimes find on third albums.

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