Author Topic: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"  (Read 9918 times)

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
purlieu and I on the XTC thread were discussing how some fans are divided by which period they dig the most with their favourite bands/ acts. A band like XTC transformed beyond recognition over their thirty year long career: From long haired Glam muppets (when they were Star Park/ Helium Kidz) to New Wave mods to skewiff pastoral folkies to nu-psychedelicists and ending up as Baroque journeymen. (for want of better,  less wanky descriptions).

purlieu is drawn to the later lush palette of Partridge & Co.  I love all that caper too but my heart will always be with their 1979 to 1982 power pop pomp.

In muso circles (or the Rock Snob Almanac), it seems certain bands fall into preferred eras. Some never recapture their original vim, (Play some old!!) while others eclipse their former days with the later stuff. The Beard Years.

Then, of course with long term acts a rare thing sometimes happens when they have a purple patch much much later on (i.e. Paul Weller) or possibly do one of their best albums of their entire career in their final years (The Monkees)

Obvious divisive examples: Some say early Syd's Pink Floyd pisses over anything they did next . Or... it's all mid to late sixties The Beatles and The Beach Boys "studio experimental" stuff championed these days in the press/ 6Music.

If we take a load of well known artistes, what is the generally received (or muso) opinion on which era is the best?
Who improved? Who went off the boil?  And why?

Michael Jackson? Prince? Dylan? Tom Waits? Bowie? Sinatra? Kate Bush? Aphex Twin? Morrissey? Blur? Oasis? Pulp? Suede? MSP? Pet Shop Boys? PJ Harvey? ELO? Cardiacs? Ween? Duke Ellington? The Special AKA feat Rhoda Dakar? The rappers? That band you like?  A naff one hit wonder band for comedic effect?







Pepotamo1985

  • British people in hot weather
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2016, 09:49:14 PM »
Interesting you mention The Beatles, I'm not sure I've ever encountered someone who doesn't prefer their latter output to their early work. In fact, I've come across very few ardent fans of their pre-For Sale oeuvre if any.

Genesis is an obvious one. I genuinely struggle with which era I prefer most - SEBTP is their best album, quite obviously, but I'm much more likely to listen to material from Duke or Abacab than Nursery Cryme.

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2016, 10:24:29 PM »
Interesting you mention The Beatles, I'm not sure I've ever encountered someone who doesn't prefer their latter output to their early work.

I think Ted Chippington was more of a fan of their stuff before "they went a bit weird" [1]
 1. . . . one weird, roughly speaking

buzby

  • Member
  • **
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2016, 10:44:12 PM »
With New Order, the breakpoint usually relates to Joy Division fans who disregard everything after 'Movement - specifically the point between 'Everything's Gone Green' and 'Temptation'', when Bernard stopped trying to write and sing in Ian's style. I'm a miserable bastard and 'Movement' is probably my most-listened to album of theirs, but then''Technique' runs it a close second.

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2016, 10:45:19 PM »
Interesting you mention The Beatles, I'm not sure I've ever encountered someone who doesn't prefer their latter output to their early work. In fact, I've come across very few ardent fans of their pre-For Sale oeuvre if any.


Daft really, when we talk about early and late period Beatles when they only lasted eight years. I like the mid period best 65-68 to really split hairs.

23 Daves

  • Break a leg!
    • Left and to the Back
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2016, 10:47:08 PM »
Interesting you mention The Beatles, I'm not sure I've ever encountered someone who doesn't prefer their latter output to their early work. In fact, I've come across very few ardent fans of their pre-For Sale oeuvre if any.


Doesn't Billy Childish argue that their only good albums are their "Live In Hamburg" ones? Thereby confirming my suspicion that he's just a contrary bastard.


Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2016, 10:52:28 PM »
Wham! Good.
George Michael. Shit.

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2016, 10:58:36 PM »
I'm not a The Rolling Stones aficionado, what's the view on them? Isn't it every thing after Exile... that is regarded unnecessary? Emotional Rescue is one of favourite efforts by them though.

I like a lot of his solo stuff but the goalposts move all over the place with Macca in the rock mags. I suppose to justify having him on the cover three times a year, MOJO have to write about something else other than just the bloody Beatles.

Angrew Lloyg Wegger

  • can we lose the part
  • Golden Member
  • *****
  • about the slow crushing of his skull?
    • instagram ponce
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2016, 11:07:44 PM »
Scott Walker is the ultimate strange case in this regard isn't he? Pretty good (sun ain't gonna shine, early stuff) to really good (Scott 2 3 and 4) to shite (70s stuff) to good (climate of hunter, the good bits of nite flights) to really really good if you're a bit mad (tilt drift bisch bosch and the sunn one)

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2016, 11:22:39 PM »
Apart from a couple of dodgy ballads, the first three Beatles' albums are wonderful, with the third being the overall best (and maybe my fave altogether by them).

The next two albums are their weakest - Help! being (in my opinion) the only one with more than one real rubbish track.


Absorb the anus burn

  • I'll serve raw potatoes at my summer party
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2016, 11:25:52 PM »
Talking Heads: 77 to Speaking In Tongues (essential)

Talking Heads: Little Creatures to Naked (not essential)

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2016, 11:47:03 PM »
Happy Mondays. The early stuff, man. Squirrel, Bummed, Hallelujah 12"...

That seems to be the train of thought;  the band went to shit with Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches.

They just discovered decent melodies now to my mind but I concede they weren't as edgy and left field.

I never had a problem with Yes Please either.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2016, 01:33:02 AM »
I'm not a The Rolling Stones aficionado, what's the view on them? Isn't it every thing after Exile... that is regarded unnecessary? Emotional Rescue is one of favourite efforts by them though.

As in all cases, depends on the type of fan. Majority of people go for the period of 1968-1972 as the absolute peak period for albums with 1963-1969 being their period of incredible standalone singles. Although their Kinksy pop/psychedelia albums in the mid-sixties have many supporters. A generous fan would say that almost everything from 1963-1981 is worthwhile, beginning with the barnstorming self-titled first album and ending at 'Tattoo You'. I suspect only the hardcore fan would argue that they did anything truly exciting in the studio after that point.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2016, 01:59:49 AM »
When it comes to discussing which is the best period of the stones, the mick taylor period is where they become the band we know, as opposed to a bunch of chancers.

When it comes to old stuff vs new stuff, I hear people say that the Stones haven't done anything good recently. Then I say, "Well Steel Wheels is a new album and that fucking great."

I say this because it's the first time I was aware of The Rolling Stones releasing a new record.

Fuck me, it's 27 years old.

So even when I try to make a case for what I think is new stuff, it's still old.

Or at least it is in their case.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2016, 03:00:35 AM »
Radiohead. Basically no one likes their first album, Pablo Honey. A lot of people consider their second album, The Bends, a masterpiece, maybe even their best, but I think it's dated, bland, cheesy brit-rock. Then everything after that is gold, especially after they "went weird" (not that weird really).

I reckon the middle period Michael Jackson is the best, particularly Thriller and Bad, and a bit of Dangerous. I liked him as a fusion act, mixing RnB, pop, rock, and (at the time) cutting edge studio techniques. I also like how his vocals became increasingly staccato and percussive over time. I'm less interested in the disco stuff, though it's undeniably classic, and everything after Dangerous was embarrassing dross.

newbridge

  • Endless Summer of George
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2016, 03:24:20 AM »
I much prefer 70s crooner Tom Waits to 80-90s character-from-a-Tim-Burton-movie Tom Waits, though the critical consensus actually seems to be the opposite.

Shaky

  • I drink your thread
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2016, 04:44:01 AM »
Foo Fighters.
Queens of the Stone Age.

Utter, utter turnip nowadays, when once they cranked out some very good tunes.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2016, 07:43:39 AM »
Happy Mondays. The early stuff, man. Squirrel, Bummed, Hallelujah 12"...

That seems to be the train of thought;  the band went to shit with Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches.

They just discovered decent melodies now to my mind but I concede they weren't as edgy and left field.

I never had a problem with Yes Please either.

I quite liked their early stuff but much preferred it when they started having hits. And actually writing tunes. So I'm with you on that one. Haven't played Yes Please for years but I do remember being quite impressed with it at the time. Still occasionally play the singles from it.

Other acts: I never liked Baby Bird much (which was quite embarrassing, as although I've only ever met Stephen Jones once, I'd known his band members for years) apart from There's Something Going On, released after their commercial peak. I still think it's one of the most underrated albums ever.

Japan: Never got them at all. Apart from Tin Drum, which was a great album. Suppose it was as big as they got but mates at school used to go on about Sylvian like he was some sort of god long before that.

Primal Scream: Maybe because I bought their first singles on Creation Records and saw them live around that time too, but I still have a great fondness for their first two albums. I like lots of their other stuff too but they're still probably my favourites.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2016, 09:18:15 AM »
Talking Heads: 77 to Speaking In Tongues (essential)

Talking Heads: Little Creatures to Naked (not essential)

Little Creatures is a fantastic album.

Pepotamo1985

  • British people in hot weather
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2016, 11:23:09 AM »
Foo Fighters.

I've said it before on here, but that first album is really fantastic - youthful, exuberant, fuzzy, full of great choruses and hooks. Everything they've done since (save for a few tracks on the three albums subsequent to the debut) has been virtually the worst kind of music imaginable.

As an aside, I think a few posters have missed the point of the thread - this is not about bands who got better, or worse, over time - it's about splits in fan opinion on a band's best period[1].

Pink Floyd are quite an interesting example - DSOTM seems to be the fulcrum, with a sizeable constituency thinking they only got good with that album and onward, and another sect believing that's where it all started going downhill. I used to post on a PF forum and the divergence between these groups was palpable - quite aggressive and very impassioned. I myself have little time for much of their music these days, although Animals stands out as their best album to my mind.

 1. ewww

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2016, 11:42:47 AM »
I much prefer 70s crooner Tom Waits to 80-90s character-from-a-Tim-Burton-movie Tom Waits, though the critical consensus actually seems to be the opposite.

Where is the fulcrum when he went all growly Beefheartian? I used to think it was Swordfishtrombones (1983) but you can hear this burgeoning discordant sound as early as Blue Valentine (1978)

Yet it's his wife Kathleen Brennan who he met and married in 1980 that is credited for his new direction into the Captain's waters.

great_badir

  • Shitload of ballbags
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2016, 12:23:41 PM »
Pink Floyd are quite an interesting example - DSOTM seems to be the fulcrum, with a sizeable constituency thinking they only got good with that album and onward, and another sect believing that's where it all started going downhill. I used to post on a PF forum and the divergence between these groups was palpable - quite aggressive and very impassioned. I myself have little time for much of their music these days, although Animals stands out as their best album to my mind.

Animals and, honest, Atom Heart Mother have always been my favourite Floyd albums.  Unlike most, I really struggle with most Syd era stuff - far too twee for my liking.  Things start to pick up with Saucerful of Secrets, but really everything post-Syd up to and including Animals is pretty great.  Then it goes right downhill with the Waters solo records The Wall (never understood the high praise) and Final Cut.  I'd take everything they released after that over either of those.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2016, 12:28:59 PM »
Baby Bird are a great example, the lo-fi albums are incredible and these days are never championed anywhere due to what happened with Your Gorgeous.  The studio albums are a mixed bag at best, but in my opinion nothing special.  It's genuinely quite sad how the early albums were critically acclaimed but have been consigned to the cultural dustbin.

great_badir

  • Shitload of ballbags
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2016, 12:35:05 PM »
Baby Bird are a great example, the lo-fi albums are incredible and these days are never championed anywhere due to what happened with Your Gorgeous.  The studio albums are a mixed bag at best, but in my opinion nothing special.  It's genuinely quite sad how the early albums were critically acclaimed but have been consigned to the cultural dustbin.

That's kind of similar to what's happened with Fleetwood Mac.  I've long preferred and been a champion of the Peter Green era, and that was historically what all the musos thought.  These days, though, the Buckingham-Nicks "classic" lineup is generally the most revered.  They have indeed done some good songs, and I suppose the latter-day critical preference over the Green stuff may be a positive indication of there being less critical snobbery, but it's still all-male, all-Brit lineup for me.[1]
 1. Sings - I found out, long ago [ohhhh ohhhhh ohhhhhh oh-oh]

grassbath

  • I suppose I'm glad I'm on this train
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2016, 12:42:36 PM »
Aphex Twin?

The poor reception to Drukqs made people think he'd lost his mojo and precipitated long period of (relative) silence, but many now seem to think it's one of his best, if not his best overall.

Brundle-Fly

  • *Jooolie Andreeeews!! Thhhrrrrp!!!!*
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2016, 02:04:58 PM »
Does Pulp comes in three segments?

The early stuff
1983   It
1987   Freaks
1992   Separations
   
The crossover into mainstream years
1994   His 'n' Hers
1995 Different Class

The come down
1998   This Is Hardcore
2001   We Love Life

Naturally, you'd think the middle section is everybody's fave but I often read the glum This Is Hardcore is where the fans always return with a reappraisal of their swan song.  Or have I categorised this all wrong?


daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2016, 02:14:31 PM »
Doesn't Billy Childish argue that their only good albums are their "Live In Hamburg" ones?

I can see that - If you're specifically a fan of the 'Beatlemania Era' Beatles.

I don't think they ever bettered this first performance in terms of sheer exuberance  -
Some Other Guy :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nisU8XDl-dM

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2016, 02:38:17 PM »
Of Montreal.

Early era is lovely, moving, bit twee at times and just glorious.

Later stuff does nothing for me whatsoever.

Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2016, 03:11:50 PM »
Does Pulp comes in three segments?

The early stuff
1983   It
1987   Freaks
1992   Separations
   
The crossover into mainstream years
1994   His 'n' Hers
1995 Different Class

The come down
1998   This Is Hardcore
2001   We Love Life

Naturally, you'd think the middle section is everybody's fave but I often read the glum This Is Hardcore is where the fans always return with a reappraisal of their swan song.  Or have I categorised this all wrong?

Personally, I would say that’s a decent way for breaking them down. However…

If you were breaking it down by album, I see it more as:

It
Freaks – This Is Hardcore
We Love Life

Post-It, I found Pulp to be working in the same ballpark, or at least mostly to a large degree. With certain tracks like Little Girl (with Blue Eyes), I found quite reminiscent of the band that produced that second segment. His 'n' Hers and Different Class is where they nailed it to the mast, but they had been sailing in those waters and it wasn’t a complete shift in course. Pulp in some ways is hard to break down this way because how recordings were done (e.g. delays in releases, single work not part of albums)

Another reason is: Russell Senior. There’s a quote by Cocker along the lines of ‘Russell Senior is Pulp’; I’m a great believer in that. His departure heralds a new segment – I tend to see the band divided into three periods, all relating to him or his absence.

Including This is Hardcore, the way I would, is debatable. I’m a little hesitant to put it with the Different Class (and before) period but wouldn’t put it with This is Life. It’s a transitional album and in some ways a bridge to the later album but some stuff like I'm a Man is unmistakably post-Fire Pulp.

For a fair few, I think it would be more His ‘n’ Hers/Different Class to This Is Hardcore being a period and We Love Life being a second. My gut feeling is that there were a lot of people who got into them that a lot of people who got into them didn’t bother with their earlier work – FWIW, I knew a heck of a lot of people, who loved Different Class but were (and remained) unfamiliar with His ‘n’ Hers.

…Naturally, you'd think the middle section is everybody's fave but I often read the glum This Is Hardcore is where the fans always return with a reappraisal of their swan song.  Or have I categorised this all wrong?

Personally, I’ve always rated This Is Hardcore very highly and thought it was a great follow-up to Different Class. Rather be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: "I prefer the early stuff" Vs "Oh, they got so much better"
« Reply #29 on: June 28, 2016, 04:11:03 PM »
The only Stones stuff I like is Aftermath / Between the Buttons / Satanic Majesties, but that - as with my XTC stance as quoted in the opening post - is due to my personal taste rather than any signifier of quality. Bluesy rock stuff has never interested me, but jangly 60s psych-pop is right up my street.

Other than It, Pulp are difficult to categorise as they never made massive leaps, instead evolving gradually from one record to the next. Myself, I actually find Freaks very dull, but love Masters of the Universe - that aside, I generally like them from It through to His'n'Hers and then not very much afterwards. I like the cheap sounding production and slightly smaller line-up. The big punchy later stuff just sounds wrong to me, and I find a lot of the songs seem too stretched out. I'd enjoy Different Class and This is Hardcore a lot more if most of the songs had a minute or two trimmed off them.

Hmm, Tangerine Dream are a band who evolved gradually from release to release, but there are some blurred cutoff points.
Some people only like their first four, krautrock albums
The 'classic' sound has probably the most fans, although interestingly this only seems to span three albums (Phaedra, Rubycon and Ricochet), plus Stratosfear and the Sorcerer soundtrack at an absolute push
Force Majeure is a bit of a one-off
The '80s era with Johannes Schmoelling, 1980-1985, is the other really popular era with fans, although even the last of these, Le Parc, is considered the start of the band's decline by some; others count the first album with Paul Haslinger, 1986's Underwater Sunlight, as their last great album
The first post-Chris Franke album, Optical Race, is another album commonly considered to be a cutoff point in quality (certainly around / shortly after this point they started churning out a worrying amount of anonymous muzak-sounding stuff)
The run of early/mid '90s albums Rockoon, Turn of the Tides, Tyranny of Beauty and Goblin's Club has its fans, but I think by almost all parts of the fanbase is considered the group's low point.
1999's Mars Polaris is usually considered, if not a return to form, the first album in a long time to capture something of what made TD popular for such a long time.
2005's Jeanne D'Arc and 2007's Springtime in Nagasaki seem to mark what is considered a bit of a renaissance in the band's creativity - a lot of fans consider this to have continued through to the present day.

Myself, I like the majority of their studio albums from the start through to 1990's Melrose. After that I only really like Goblin's Club (1996), Mars Polaris (1999), Jeanne D'Arc (2005), Springtime & Summer in Nagasaki (2007), Purple Diluvial (2008), Mala Kunia (2013) and Quantum Key (2015). With the departure of Paul Haslinger in 1990, there was definitely a change from a co-operative group format to effectively members contributing solo or largely solo tracks, and I think that's reflected in the popularity of those later albums. 2005 - 2008 seemed promising but the number of Edgar solo releases after that just watered it down to him putting out three or four interchangeable albums every year until Ulrich Schnauss joined.