Third time’s a charm for many recording artists
“How come so many bands put out great first albums and then have trouble duplicating that again?”
This is a question a customer asked the other day.
I told him that the music business is a strange and cruel animal at times.
But seriously, part of the reason this happens is most artist spend years putting together that first record and, if it is successful, the record label wants another one “just like it” in one year. It puts a lot of pressure on the artist.
Sometimes the first album can be so amazing there is no way the artist can reproduce that. It has happened so many times in the history of rock ‘n’ roll that it would be impossible to list them all.
Three examples that stand out to me are Firefall, Christopher Cross and more recently Hootie and the Blowfish.
Firefall used almost all of its best material on its first record and had a hard time following it up.
In the case of Cross, his first album was a five-time Grammy Award winner and his subsequent recordings were pretty good, but there was no way they could match his first effort.
Hootie and the Blowfish’s first recording was so popular so fast that the band became the victims of retail backlash — it became cool to not like them because so many others did.
For second album releases, Carole King’s “Tapestry” and Santana’s “Abraxas” come to mind.
King was a masterful songwriter before she released “Tapestry,” co-writing hits such as “The Locomotion,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” “One Fine Day,” “Up On the Roof” and many others.
“Tapestry” from 1971 is such a classic recording that we still sell it on a regular basis at Triple Play, and it is one of my all-time favorite records.
Santana’s first three recordings were all phenomenal, but it was “Abraxas” with its covers of Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” that really set rock music on its ear in 1969.
However, it’s usually the third recording where an artist really hit their stride professionally, especially if they are going to experience longevity with their career.
The following are some major artists and their third recordings:
Beatles, “Hard Days Night” — This was the first and only Beatles album with every track written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and the only time in history a band was No. 1 in the album and singles chart in the United Kingdom and United States with the same titled single and L.P.
Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
Jimi Hendrix, “Electric Ladyland.”
Van Morrison, “Moondance.”
Neil Young, “After the Gold Rush.”
Jackson Browne, “Late For the Sky.”
Jimmy Buffett, “A1A.”
Dire Straits, “Love Over Gold.”
Dan Fogelberg, “Captured Angel.”
Wilco, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Damn the Torpedoes.”
Grateful Dead, “Aoxomoxoa.”
Bruce Springsteen, “Born To Run.”
With Springsteen and the Grateful Dead, their careers were dependent on the success of their third release because their first two albums didn’t sell.
As we can see, it worked out well for both of them.
Unfortunately, today most bands don’t get a chance for a third release if their first one doesn’t sell well.
This music business is a strange and cruel animal at times.