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The Set List

Music: Top 5 Bands That Never Topped Their Debuts


Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

Admit it: you love this album just as much as everyone else. And with good reason; GNR's debut Appetite for Destruction is a pretty fucking awesome album. It's the classic 80s heavy metal album, filled from end-to-end with nothing but sweet riffs, amazing solos, and Axl Rose's distinctive vocals. So how did they follow up this explosive debut? Well, let's go over what they released afterwards:

  • G N' R Lies: A bland, confusing pseudo-studio album with nothing of interest.
  • Use Your Illusion: A mediocre double-album consisting almost entirely of fluff.
  • "The Spaghetti Incident?": Generally considered to be the worst cover album in existence.
  • Chinese Democracy: Has the major flaw of being Chinese Democracy.

Though arguably Use Your Illusion I had a few good songs on it, literally every album they released after their debut was a critical flop, and, as time went on, the more it became clear that the band was motivated by nothing but a deadly combination of sheer gall, unadulterated pretentiousness, and a dangerously one-dimensional knowledge of songwriting. It's hard to imagine, but a band that was really respected for their debut quickly became the butt-end a joke that didn't even need to be said; Guns N' Roses is a punchline in of itself now.

- Sarah


Boston - Boston

They may have been "just another band out of Boston", but there's no denying that Boston's eponymous debut made quite a splash. It was met with great critical reception, spawned three top 40 singles, and became the fastest selling debut album for an American group at the time. In fact, to this day, every single track on the album remains a staple of classic rock radio, and many of the pieces remain readily recognizable in popular culture. Heck, when Mike Huckabee tried to drum up support for his 2008 Presidential campaign, he whipped out his bass and started playing "More Than a Feeling", to name just one example. So how did Boston follow up such a stunning release? By doing the exact same thing over again. The band's next two albums, though still commercially successful, were merely pale imitations of their first album, and met with critical disdain as a result. Don't underestimate my meaning here; it wasn't just a band doing something similar. Boston went so far beyond déjà vu territory that it sounded like they were so distrustful of their own talent that, instead of writing new material, they blatantly ripped themselves off in hopes of cashing in on their own popularity. And that shouldn't even make sense.

- Sarah


Arcade Fire - Funeral

Who cares to object? There's no doubt Arcade Fire have developed into something that gradually produces something different and fresh. From a writing standpoint, They've progressively made new strides from album to album. However, they have yet to match the charm and appeal of Funeral. While "Wake Up" may not be the best song on the album (up for debate), it's undeniably a timeless song with a finesse that still lures in everyone and surrounds them in youthfulness. Neon Bible was a great album, however its dark tone was enough to have fans taken aback. The Suburbs seemed like it tried to bring back the same style as Funeral, but wasn't as carefree and lacked the grace of the bands' debut LP. It was a mature Arcade Fire writing a mature take on Funeral. Their latest release, Reflektor, is another great output but still doesn't compare to that first record. Who knows if they'll ever be able to top it? It was written at a time and in an atmosphere that most likely can't be found today.

- Aaron


The Cars - The Cars

You say Heartbreak City? I say Heartbreak Shitty. Candy-O? Candy-No. I kid. Sure, the rest of The Cars' career was nothing to shrug at, but when looked at, start-to-finish, The Cars' eponymously titled debut was not only their best album ever, it could very well be on the short list of the best debut albums ever. From the first strains of "Let The Good Times Roll" to the last notes of that saxophone on "All Mixed Up" - everything in between was platinum, baby. Beautifully crafted songs with ahead-of-it's-time production from Roy Thomas Baker. Even the way the songs segued was something to behold. For you new-schoolers looking for a history lesson on how to do everything right, look no further.

- Kevin


The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium

Fresh off the heels of At the Drive-In's break-up, fans were eager to see what Cedric and Omar were cooking up. They gave the audience a little taste of the level of experimentation they were looking to achieve with their Tremulant EP. Then, De-Loused in the Comatorium was released and everyone was floored. Not only was it a phenomenal debut album, but in some eyes, it was a worthy follow up to the late At the Drive-In's swan song. In part, that might be what makes it unmatched against the rest of the band's discography. It's the perfect cohesive blend of post-hardcore and prog-rock without being too esoteric. While they still manage to churn out quality albums, they've yet to recapture the charm of De-loused in the Comatorium.

- Kevin


Words by the SPB team on Nov. 25, 2014, 5:23 p.m.

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Top 5 Bands That Never Topped Their Debuts

Posted on Nov. 25, 2014, 5:23 p.m.

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