Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Ten Worst Solo Musicians From Good Bands

 I've spent the last few of my blog posts talking about music I love, or at least reasonably like. So now it's time for the exact opposite.

 You all know the feeling-A band breaks up, or a singer leaves, or maybe someone just wants to try something differently. The possibility of a solo career coming out of one of your favorite bands is always going to be a nail-biting experience. Will it work? Without the rest of the band restraining their creativity (for either good or bad) you never know what could come out. Some artists do things better by themselves, but on the other hand, for every Peter Gabriel there's a Phil Collins. So without further ado, I present to you my Ten Worst Solo Careers Coming Out Of Good (Or At Least Decent) Bands: Smackdown Edition! And speaking of good ol' Phil...
10. Phil Collins

 These days, Phil Collins is most known for entertaining children on ritalin, ruining the snare drum, and magically tracking down people he saw from behind over a long distance away. But he was always bad, wasn't he? Didn't he sing for Genesis, that 80's pop band? Didn't he give me terrible, puppet-related nightmares? How did he get on this list?

 Well, provided that you made it through that video with your sanity intact, I'll tell you. Or maybe you already know. You probably already know, but I'll tell you anyways. See, Genesis wasn't always an 80s pop band. Before Phil Collins, they used to have a singer named Peter Gabriel. (More on him when I do a list of good solo careers, maybe?). They used to be a progressive rock band, in fact, they were one of the defining acts of the genre. And Phil Collins used to stay behind the drums, doing the one thing he was legitimately good at.
 Yeah, it's takes a bit to get going. But it's an 8-minute prog track from the 70s-you should be glad the intro is *only* about a minute. But tracks like this show that Phil Collins was once a pretty cool dude. But once Peter Gabriel left the band, Genesis became essentially a Phil Collins solo project. And once Steve Hackett left the band, no one really stood up to him as Collins went more in a pop direction. For a while he juggled his solo albums as well as Genesis (of course no one could really tell the difference) but as his solo career got more attention, Genesis started to fall to the wayside. And soon, as far as the general public went, Phil Collins was just that guy who sang Sussudio.
And even though that one where He Feels It Coming In The Air Tonight, Oh Lord is okay, songs like this are absolutely unforgivable coming from someone who used to be the drummer in one of the best and most influential prog bands of all time.

9. Edwin
 Do you listen to Canadian Alternative Rock Radio (Tm, probably)? If not, you're probably wondering who this Edwin fellow is and what happened to his last name. Edwin was the original lead singer of the confusingly named Canadian grunge-ish band I Mother Earth.
 Maybe it was the lengthy instrumental jam in the middle of their biggest radio single, but for some reason Edwin left the band after their second album. And like most bored, bandless singers, Edwin eventually decided to record his own music. What resulted was... well...
 It's kind of like I Mother Earth, only with more boring. And Edwin kept going in a more commercial direction, while I Mother Earth, continuing with new vocalist Bryan Byrne, just got more experimental prior to breaking up. And when IME recently reunited, it was Byrne who rejoined as the singer, not Edwin, who nobody has heard from since his last record in 2006. Maybe he should have picked a stage name that was easier to look up on the internet.

8. Gwen Stefani
 It's really sad that these days, more people know Gwen for her solo career than her work with seminal punk/ska/new wave/pop band No Doubt. And No Doubt about it, (har har) her band work is definitely better. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a song is worth a pretty good bunch too, so here is some hard evidence for my claims.
No Doubt - Just A Girl by No Doubt - Just A Girl on Grooveshark         VS.         Hollaback Girl (album version) by Gwen Stefani on Grooveshark

 Yeah... no one really knows what happened there.

7. Roger Waters
 It could be argued that, much like in Genesis, Pink Floyd was a Roger Waters solo project in his later years in the band, but the big difference is that no matter how much control Roger seized, David Gilmour always did his best to at least put something besides Roger into the music, succeeding  at least somewhat until 1983's The Final Cut. And unlike the latter years of Genesis, Gilmour's guitar solos are one of the most popular aspects of Pink Floyd and certainly the reason every 13-year old who's just starting to learn guitar thinks they're awesome (at least until he discovers Dream Theater).
Best. Guitarist. Ever.
 And when Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, his solo material didn't produce any huge hits, and it certainly never overshadowed his work with Pink Floyd. But there is one similarity between Phil Collins and Roger Waters: Their solo music is boring as hell.

 I guess that horrifyingly gated snare drum is another similarity. At least Roger Waters didn't bow to mainstream demand as blatantly as Phil Collins did, but he's definitely taking any risks here, certainly not the kind of risks he took with Pink Floyd, unless you count writing a six minute song with very little variation throughout to be a risk.

6. Marty Friedman

 Marty Friedman was once the lead guitar player of Dave Mustaine's ego, known commercially as Megadeth. And he was known as quite the fine guitar player. Here's an example of his legendary heavy metal soloing:
 In the year 2000, he left Megadeth because he was tired of playing heavy metal music. So what would he do instead? What music could entice him so much that he was tired of heavy metal? Was it jazz? Folk? Hip hop? J-pop?
 J-pop, of course, stands for Japanese Pop, an extremely upbeat and, well, Japanese form of pop music. I can respect and appreciate J-pop for what it is. But an entire album of instrumental j-pop covers? Gets old very quickly.

5. Chris Cornell
 Similar to Edwin and I Mother Earth, legendary singer Chris Cornell was dissatisfied with the heaviness and jamming that was present in Soundgarden, one of the biggest bands of the 90's grunge scene. Predictably enough, the rest of the band wasn't, and eventually they went their separate ways. Cornell's vision for what he wanted to do with music was a little bit less heavy, a bit less rocking, and lot less exciting.

  And things just got worse. We all remember his recent disastrous pop collaboration with Timbaland...

It's definitely for the better that Soungarden got back together.

4. Neal Morse
 I've previously written about modern progressive rock, and it's bizarre similarity to old progressive rock. One of the worst offenders of this lack of progression is Spock's Beard, but despite having a very unoriginal sound, their music is still pretty good.
 And a big part of that sound was vocalist Neal Morse. So when he announced he was leaving the band  to write his own, different music, things weren't too great for Spock's Beard. But things were definitely worse for Neal. I've already gone through the rounds of the "what genre could he possibly have switched to?" game, so I'll be straight up here. Neal Morse found enlightement
with christian rock.

3. Keith Moon
 Keith Moon released one solo album, 1975's Two Sides Of The Moon. Now, with Keith being the drummer of The Who, and one of the most popular drummers of the day, one would expect Two Sides to be a drum-heavy record, right? Well, one would be wrong. This is a pop cover record, with Keith singing lead vocals and only drumming on a few tracks. Well, how bad can his singing be?

2. David Johansen
 I'm not going to spoil this one early-David Johansen's solo material was recorded under a different name. But first, who is David? His name doesn't instantly jump out at you, but Johansen was the singer of one of the earliest punk bands, The New York Dolls. They were known for dressing up like girls before the 80s and playing simplified music before The Ramones, as seen here: 

 Of course, the band broke up as the 70s turned to the 80s, and the members pursued their solo careers. Only one of them became hugely successful, and you know who it is, since his name is at the top of this entry. But as I already stated, he didn't record his 80s pop smash hits under his real name. He took on a new image and a new stage name, with which he annoyed us across generations as Buster Poindexter.

1. Michael Bolton
 Of course it would be no surprise to see Michael Bolton at the top of a worst anything list, but it may be a bit of a surprise that he was once in a band. An actually rock band. Yes, Michael Bolton used to be the singer of an 80's hard rock band called Blackjack. And while they weren't all that great, they certainly weren't anywhere near the level of awful that Bolton became known for.

 I don't need to preface the utter lack of anything even remotely resembling listenability in Michael Bolton's solo output. I'm going to post a video of one of his songs, just for the sake of format, but I strongly urge you not to watch it, if you want to watch your daily cheese intake.

And there you have it, my SUPER DUPER TOP TEN WORST SOLO CAREERS THAT SPAWNED FROM GOOD BANDS ULTRA TURBO EDITION!!!!! See you soon*, same blog time, same blog channel!

*Soon may or may not actually refer to soon.

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