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Bands That Defeat the Sophomore Slump

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterBrian Carvell | Comments25 Comments

A few weeks ago, I was driving along in my car, and I was scrolling through my MP3 player (not an iPod, but rather a Creative Zen X-fi2, as I did not want to buy into the iPod marketing campaign), and I decided upon Hellacious Acres by Dangerous Toys...which was an awesome choice. Listening to this album got me thinking about how, in my opinion, Dangerous Toys totally overcame the "sophomore slump" that many bands suffer when they put out their second album. The theory is that most bands have years to craft the 10 - 14 songs that make up their first album, so they put forth their best possible effort on that album, and then the follow-up album (the "sophomore" album) is lackluster compared to the first, as it is rushed and the band just does not have the material. Hellacious Acres is just an amazing rock album, and I think is actually a better effort than the self-titled debut.

Unfortunately, Dangerous Toys never reached the level of popularity with any of their follow-up albums than they did with their debut, so the tragedy is that many fans of the first album are probably not aware of how great the second album was. So this got me thinking of how many great sophomore albums are out there that I am not aware of. Two more that I can think of, off the top of my head, are Sixes, Sevens & Nines by Junkyard and Freakshow by the BulletBoys.

So what else is out there that I may be missing? What overlooked sophomore albums are out there that actually blow away the debut album, but never got the recognition they deserve? I have a long drive back and forth to work, so any new suggestions are definitely appreciated!

Reader Comments (25)

Cinderella, Extreme, Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, Motley, Poison, Skid Row, Tesla, and Warrant all had more successful sophomore albums than their debuts. (Well, maybe not Skid Row but it was still better)

The Bulletboys, The Four Horsemen, Little Caesar, The Quireboys, RATT, Tora Tora, Ugly Kid Joe, WASP, and White Lion however did not.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike
I always thought that Winger's "In The Heart of The Young" beat the first one by a mile. Then they blew that out of the water with "Pull" (since that was their third, can we say it was their junior effort?).

Queensryche? I'm not sure. Do we go from the EP or The Warning? Either way, eventually we wind up with "Operation: Mindcrime"... ;)
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChessie >^..^<
I agree with Mike on most of these. Pornograffiti was an absolute killer record, as was Slave to the Grind. I'm not sure if The Great Radio Controversy was better than Mechanical Resonance, but it was a great record nonetheless. Cocked and Loaded was strong as was Cherry Pie. I liked the first Poison record better, and of course the second Crue record is legendary.

For the record, I thought that Wild America from Tora Tora was a very strong record, as was Invasion of Your Privacy. And Chessie is right, Pull was Winger's best effort.

My own suggestions - Aerosmith clearly improved with Get Your Wings. As far as GNR goes, Use your Illusion was no Appetite, but I'd hardly say they had a "sophomore slump" with it. Night Ranger's second, Midnight Madness, was huge. Dokken's second album, Tooth and Nail, was much bigger than the first. Dio was also huge with Last in Line. I could go on and on. Frankly I don't believe in the sophomore slump. If you have talent, you'll keep making good records.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRich
ICON - Night Of The Crime
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Danger Danger, "Screw It"
Bang Tango, "Dancin' On Coals"
The Damned, "Music For Pleasure" (Produced by Nick Msson)
Vain, "All Those Strangers"
Tora Tora, "Wild America"
Dirty Looks, "Turn Of The Screw"
Steelheart, "Tangled In Reigns"

To me, the 80's/90's Glam Metal Genre is strewn with quickly forgotten second albums. I hate to always blame Grunge. In most cases, the sophomore efforts weren't quite as good as most band's first albums and I'm sure there are many more examples to come. Bri, as Al will tell you, I love Junkyard, but their second record simply isn't quite as good, as much as I wanted it to be. The first was closer to like a Redneck Crue/ZZ Top/Ramones hybrid.

The second, unfortunately, is closer to a Redneck London Quireboys/Skynyrd outing. It just does not rock as hard. Most Hair Metal bands second shots were simply victims of the record companies stiffing them in favor of allocating dollars to the almighty grunge, which upon reflection, was one big gigantic borefest, with the exception of Nirvana (I don't think of Alice and Chains as grunge, but rather, Hard Rock and Nirvana transcends classification, in my mind... It's simply Rock'n'Roll).

I threw a "Punk" album in my quick drive-by list of what immediately came to mind, The Damned's sophomore effort, "Music For Pleasure" which was produced by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (now Pink Floyd could be called Prog Rock but it is also transcendant of classification. That's Rock'n'Roll, Rich!)"Music For Pleasure" was a total and absolute magnificent failure, but ambitious, nevertheless. The Damned were Jimmy Page's favorite punk band, btw. He was constantly spotted at their shows in London when Punk hit the scene and changed Rock'n'Roll forever...

p.s. Excellent subject, Brian. A lot of great responses, here. I look forward to other's picks, as well. I would have attempted more 70's Classic Rock, but so much of it had bands with equally successful second follow-ups. Not quite on point, but, perhaps interesting to note is the little blip in sales Led Zeppelin experienced with Led Zeppelin III, wedged in between juggernauts "II" and "IV". People wondered where Page's aggressive barnstormer leads were and it didn't sell nearly as well as their other reoords. Of course, in hindsight, it's an undisputed classic. But at the time, it wasn't all that well received. I suppose if I had my morning coffee, I might jar some 70's examples, but I don't really drink the stuff, believe it or not, hahaha!!! And in this case, definitely not, since I prefer to stubbornly and happily stuck in the late 80's/early 90's L.A. Strip Scene.

p.s.s.t. Icon! Yes, Ace! Glad to see someone talking about a Glam Metal band other than the usual fare on here! Extreme sucks, guys, but I actually mostly agree with your other opinions, astonishingly, Rich!
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I guess it depends on how you define "blow away". If you're talking sales, then virtually all of the bigger glam bands had sophomore albums that blew away their first ones -- they wouldn't have been successful otherwise. If you're talking sheer music quality, that's a totally different animal and can be debated endlessly.

The best example for me is Screw It by Danger Danger. I thought their first album was just ok. Way overproduced and simply felt like another of the million bands trying to make some quick bucks on the glam bandwagon. Screw It, though, was amazing and I still listen to it. Too bad they screwed themselves by making a first video that no station would actually play. It got banned from primetime in Canada after a single showing on Much Music, and I assume that the same thing happened on MTV as well.

Mixing it up a bit, which bands became really successful despite a crap sophomore release? I can't think of any offhand, but I would think that they are few and far between. A band's second album is critical to build on any momentum from their first release, so flopping usually spells the end of the band.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
Metalboy - Is the second Vain album really that good? I've been thinking of picking that one up lately.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
I'm not talking sales.

I was mostly thinking of bands who put out an album that contains songs that probably overshawdowed the debut, but the sales weren't there for the follow-up....kind of the undiscovered jewels out there.

Like the Dangerous Toys album I mention. The first one I think went gold, but the second one barely sold...but the second album (in my opinion) is much better than the first.

And MB - in regards to the Junkyard album, I agree the first is great (Hollywood, Simple Man, and especially Hands Off), but there are too many filler songs on that album...but overall, the second one just seemd to be a more solid album. "Back on the Streets" in particular is a great, great song. Plus, I think the band was far more clever and well thought out with the lyrics on the second album, which is a big selling point for me.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Huh? c'mon Mike! LAst command and The Crimson Idol are both way better than W.A.S.P.'s debut!

Quiet Riot is a band that i feel publicity didn't make it with album #2 but material wise i feel condition critical is equal to Metal health about 80% of the way.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
Oh and by the way i just saw the Icon reference!! I found there first LP on vinyl at a store nad my god is it good!! Any idea if its one cd anywhere?
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
Dirty looks had 2 e.p.'s and a full album all self titled in 84 and 85.They had the album in your face and I want more 86 and 87.Cool from the wire was in 88 followed by Turn of the screw in 89.I nevrr thought turn of the screw was better than cool from the wire, it was too polished, but the next full album FIVE EASY PIECES IN 92 THAT WAS PERFECT!!!!!!
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKEVON
Just thought of another...."Dirty Weapons" is way better than the self-titled debut from the Killer Dwarfs.
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Junkyard is/was a great band with a true hard rock sound. Cinderella is still kicking butt. I saw them a few weeks ago and I thought it was 1988 again.

C'ya
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike C
High n Dry anyone ? But then again their first album (on through the night) wasn't huge...

Steelheart's album definitely wasn't better...

Kix's albums progressively got better...
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGNR
Now you boyz are talkin'!

A Counsel of The Cauldron Supreme! And one where I'm not in the pot and stirrin' it at the same time, at least not yet...

Here we go:

Bryon! Danger Danger, "Screw It", I think is the perfect example of what Brian C. is trying to point out and you have so adroitly captured. A superior second album that tanks, sales wise. With the exception of "Naughty Naughty", Danger Danger first effort was a pure AOR yawner. I mean those ballads coulda been done by Air Supply as far as I'm concerned. "Screw It" on the other hand, has got it all and the guitarists just burn on it! Kenny Ozz is the one who woke me up to this band past the first album, and I gotta say, the third one that never got out the door 'til after the new millenium (it lay in storage all that time!) is even better, the ballad "Afraid of Love" is just stellar and "Still Kickin'" totally does just that, "Kick's Ass!" And what's even better, is the fact that you get two singers for the price of one. That's right! The album recorded twice. Or rather the vocals done twice. The first disc is with Ted Poley, the original and founding singer, who had to part ways (read the liner notes on that one) and the replacement singer, Paul Laine, who's voice is b*llsier. Thing is, I actually can't make up my mind, which one is better! It may have been a marketing misstep to put out a video that would get banned but I think they were calculating on generating news which would have provoked the DJs to pick it up on the radio. They should have immediately figured out how to reshoot and/or recut. The revised vid would have gotten back on and made the original the point of discussion generating interest from all of the news outlets. The record company blinked, clearly. They could have capitalized on it so easily with free publicity. Maybe the problem was, the controversy wasn't geo-political the way The Pistols got banned and generated huge sales from it.

So, my premise is off...

Brian C: Nah, Bri, Vains second album ain't as good just cuz "Beat The Bullet" is so hard to beat, no pun intended. Still, you may wanna check it out. Personally, I think there's better stuff to buy, like the aforementioned "Cockroach", if you don't already have it. Kudos to Kenny O! He knows and probably knew when he recommended it that I would never get over how killer it is.

And, Bri, though I like your premise of "sales have nothing to do with the validity of a band or album". Like I've said before, I have demos of bands that blow our faves away, trust me. I will divulge them eventually.

And to that premise, I say "Look What The Cat Dragged In" is vastly superior to "Open Up and Say Ahhhh...", which is total sell out and has one of the most singularly simultaneously annoying, unforgettable and successful ballads of all time on it. Yet, c'mon, it pales by comparison. "Cry Tough" alone blows anything away on that one, seriously, and let the counter criticism come in on it. I welcome it. This is a discussion worth debating and I seem to recall Al's position on it during the Metal Sucks Adventure.

I don't agree with you on Junkyard, also having seen 'em twice back in the day, both times in support of each respective album. "Blooze" is my fave Junkyard song, so that answers that for me. Don't get me wrong, I love Junkyard, Bro. Hung out with 'em after both shows. Cool Cats. But "Blooze" blows away "Back On The Street". I'll tell you one thing, if I can scrape it together, I want these guys to play a party I wanna throw soon. It would be killeracious! "Just good people having a good time" -- David Gates.

Totally with ya on Killer Dwarfs. That song "Dirty Weapons" is so beyond killer, too!

Not with ya on Dangerous Toys. The first album was/is better.

Shadow!: OTSK! Except when it comes to finding CDs. Dude! Huh-uh-lo-oh! Amazon, Bro! And fairly cheap. Tho I think you should stick with the vinyl if you play it. Way cooler! Love W.A.S.P. but they never topped "Blind In Texas"...

Kevon!: Good points on Dirty Looks! but I mistakenly thought "Cool From The Wire" was the first album. It still doesn't change the fact that "Cool From The Wire" is vastly superior to anything they've ever done, no matter how hard they try. Haven't they put out like 2 albums a year plus Rumbledog ever since, yet still unable to recapture the perfection of that disc! One of my all time faves! Saw 'em off "Cool From The Wire" at the Cat Club, NYC. Beyond killer!

That's where I got hung up on Quiet Riot. "Metal Health" isn't the first album, obviously, but people always get confused about that. But it was the first album post-Randy and if you thought of it as a first album in that sense it's vastly superior to QR's follow up.

Mike C.: Your premise is backed by the fact that Cinderella just got better and better, though it was "Long Cold Winter" for me that could never be topped though they came close. Here's a band I actually believe could put out a record now on the level of their old stuff. Kiefer just always struck me as somebody with ideas to burn (unlike Harris, hahaha... Just had to keep the fire stoked for ya there, Rich! Ouch!).

GNR. You're so right about Kix. Though I love, love, love "Blow My Fuse" one could argue "Hotwire" was/is better. As far as Brian C's premise though, it's a tough call on Kix. I can't decide which of their first two records I like better. Def Leppard... They're great but I wouldn't really wake up on them until Pyromania hit.

Let the Counsel continue!
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Man, where'd everybody go?! I'm gettin' wrinkly in here!
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Er...I meant, Rusty!
September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Junkyard...ummm...Both albums pretty damn even I'd say. As for the idea that Tesla's second album was better. Dunno. But I think Forever More is their best. What about great bands who've released excellent material in the last two/three years?
Danger Danger's Revolve was a fucking awesome album, as was Motley's Saints of Los Angeles and Winger's Karma. These are bands that avoided a misstep on their second album and still nearly got buried under the absolute gash that is grunge, but kept going and have recently produced some of their best work.
September 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterahappypunk
Yes! Punks are always the coolest as demonstrated by A Happy Punk, like the one we have here. With ya on Junkyard but I still say the first one eeks out the second because of "Blooze", IMHO. Hey, Hap, by the way, you do know the history of Junkyard don't you? A lot of Punk blood in that band!

Tesla never did too much for me, but I do really, really like some of their songs.

Haven't really kept up with too many band's new stuff, with the exception of Motley Crue. That's a good album, but could have been so much better. The title track is right there, tho, in my book.

Though, I don't have Winger's new album, or any of their albums, for that matter, I gotta say, I was impressed with them at M3, no matter how hung up Kippy is on his own profile, which has always been a problem. That said, he's undeniably a killer singer, and Beech just tore his guitar to pieces.

p.s. Speaking of M3, I sure am glad I procrastinated with my M3, Part III Review (well, I did write it once and then it disappeared when my computer crashed) as I might be on Shiprocked and I want to be able to look Vince Neil in the eye! Right after that Cruise, I will spill my guts on it...

p.s.s.t. God Bless All, 9/11/01. Rock'n'Roll will never forget!
September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
duh!! How could I do that?? And I love those firt too QR albums!!! senior moment!! not good I'm barely past 19!!

Metalboy i'm not so savy on the internet stuff since my internet at home sucks. However I do think the vinyl is vastly superior to a cd release of the same album since its probably just a rerecording on digital tech. Always prefered Wild Child to BLind in Texas but I digress.

Hey how was somewhere in time??
September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow

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