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Old 08-19-2013, 12:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Solo/Side Projects That Are Better Than the Bands They Diverged From

It seems to me when I look through my artist library at the solo works/side-projects which have branched off of various bands that they are never as good as the whole band collaborating together--even when the artist is the main driving force behind the band anyways.


Thom Yorke on the side has never come close to Radiohead. The dozens of Broken Social Scene projects can't compete with the eclectic combination of tens of artists combined. The New Pornographers trump the work of Neko Case, Dan Bejar, and AC Newman combined. Justin Vernon has put his hands on so many projects that they've all become boring, but it doesn't detract from the magic of Bon Iver, and don't even start me on the Beatles. Every example off the top of my head makes the point, but it's surely not a universal law.

Which solo/side projects have eclipsed the original bands in quality? Is it as rare a phenomena as it appears to be? Why do you think this is the case--the absence of collaborative ideas? An artist's free-reign and inability to self-edit? SHARE.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age is much better than the Foo Fighters.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's a very good point and something I've looked at in some depth in my "Gone solo in the game" slot in my journal. Why do some band members feel the need to go solo, either completely leaving the band --- Fish from Marillion --- or just doing a side project while remaning a part of the band --- Phil Lynott, Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury etc? Sometimes it seems it's down to the fact that within the band structure they're constrained to play a certain type of music, either because all the other members like it and don't want to step outside the dreaded comfort zone, or because the band's fans expect a certain uniformity or even predictability from them.

It's certainly evident in the case of Freddie. You can see "Hot space" was an attempt for Queen to branch into disco music, a bit of electronica, and the end result was that the fans didn't really like the album. But Freddie does the same thing on his own solo albums and they like, or accept it. It's almost as if an artiste is allowed to try new things if they're solo --- all bets are off --- while within the band structure they have to conform to certain guidelines and not step too far outside those. Also, within the band they have the worry of impacting upon the other members (and sales) if they try "something new" whereas if they're doing it solo there's really only themselves to consider.

Solo better than group though? Nothing really springs to mind at this particular moment, though I will think more on it.

Good thread, Ped!
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, if you count Wu-Tang then quite a few solo albums are better than anything the group did collectively.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have several projects come to mind, although there isn't one that is actually *better* than the parent band, but all as good, IMO, brilliant in their own right, typically in a different way...

In 1976 each of the 5 members of Yes released solo albums, and I consider 2 of those albums to be essential to anyone that is interested in discovering the best of their catalog.

Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow





...and Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water





Robbie Robertson's 1987 eponymous solo album is about as different from The Band as one could possibly imagine, but it's wonderful and I would put it on my "Best of the '80's" list




I really like Jerry Cantrell's Boggy Depot, although TBH it does sound s lot like a Layneless Alice In Chains album





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...I'll think of more. Great topic idea
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Two words: Billy Idol. I like Generation X a lot, but they never released any albums half as good as Rebel Yell or Whiplash Smile.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, if you count Wu-Tang then quite a few solo albums are better than anything the group did collectively.
good call. liquid swords by gza is one of my top 3 albums ever and definitely better than anything wu did collectively. rae's ob4cl is good too albeit overrated in my opinion. still better than 96% of what wu did collectively.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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@Paul - I think popular consensus at the time of Boggy Depot was those were songs AIC had in the vault or had intended to release. I loved that album, saw him tour with metallica that year, but I think theres a reason we didn't see anything else from him.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I prefer any solo Neko Case album to those of the New Pornographers. The NP albums are hit-and-miss for me.

Also like the two Eleanor Friedberger solo albums better than anything the Fiery Furnaces released.
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