We all have those bands that we saw in a 150-capacity back room of a Working Man’s club 5 years before they had their first hit, so it is understandable to feel some sort of ownership over a band and when they finally break to feel a level of resentment at their new found popularity. Because of this there are a number of bands who’s superfans will vehemently argue that the ‘big’ album is not their best and that the old songs were better, or that the band have sold out because they did that twee little acoustic number on the new album and it’s not like the old stuff. Despite this there are actually quite a few cases where bands have had a hit album but they actually have much better content in their catalogues on other albums. Today I’m going to look at some artists that fit into this category, obviously this is just my opinion and not based on any critical analysis.
1. My Chemical Romance. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is better than The Black Parade.
Everyone remembers My Chemical Romance, wether you loved them or you hated them there was a point back in late 2006 where you could not avoid them. The slow opening piano chimes of ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ were everywhere, even solidifying a place on Radio 1’s A-List. Accompanied by other catchy tunes like Mama and Teenagers the album sold like wildfire and had teens fawning over Gerard and Mikey. But 2 years previously to this MCR had released the less polished but much more spiteful ‘Three Cheers..’ album which had some of their biggest hits on it but did not do as well commercially at first. Although it had long time fans favourite songs on it (and probably still does, despite their significant output since) there wasn’t as much mainstream buzz about the album as it’s follow up. The album tracks that fill out Three Cheers are all incredible, the album as a whole musically is better than the Black Parade, and it represents the best era for the band, before all the mainstream accusations of the band being a suicide cult for teenagers and before Danger Days, an album I could write a whole other article on...
2. Saves The Day. Sound The Alarm is better than Stay What You Are.
Not going to dwell too long on this one. Stay What You Are was an absolute masterpiece at the time and rightly propelled STD (I’m not gonna use that acronym much) into the hearts and minds of anybody who wasn’t already on the bandwagon after their 2 first Albums. At Your Funeral was an emo club night last 10 minutes banger and the rest of the album just followed suit. However 2006’s Sound The Alarm sold awfully, went under the critical radar and a lot of long term fans of the band still probably wouldn’t have played it that much. Despite all of this I think it’s the band’s best top to bottom album with them at their violent, vicious prime. Listen to ‘Say You’ll Never Leave’ on all the usual streaming services and let me know what you think.
3. Jimmy Eat World. Futures is better than Bleed American.
I know. A strong call. Hear me out. Futures by JEW (these acronyms aren’t working out at all today) came along four whole years after the album that made them stars, but the progression in production and complexity of the songs in those years is remarkable. Bleed American felt raw, unpolished and visceral and that was part of its success, the album’s title song plus The Middle got the bands music onto so many iPods in the early 2000s but in my opinion Futures is a better record. The upfront bombast of Just Tonight and Pain are the perfect foil for the slower heartfelt songs like Kill and Night Drive. A flawless album from an incredible band that I’ve got a lot of thanks for.
4. Biffy Clyro. Puzzle is better than Only Revolutions.
Full disclosure. I’ve got a monumental problem with that Matt Cardle abortion of Many Of Horror. I struggle to listen to the Biffy version of it now. But I’m not going to let that colour my judgement. When Biffy released Only Revolutions they were already firmly established in the ‘opening act for every touring arena act’ role and consistently testing themselves on the large stages, but it wasn’t until ‘Mountains’ hit the mainstream radio that everyone started to legitimately believe that they could be at the top of the bill for those stadiums. Only Revolutions is an incredible album with some monumental tunes BUT PUZZLE IS BETTER AND HERE’S WHY. When Biffy wrote Puzzle they were a much smaller band, it would have been easy for them to drop their integrity and smash a bit of synth in or sterilise the fuck out of the album to take a cheap jump into the mainstream. Instead they did the opposite, they took risks, they did some of their most angular, risky and alternative songs of their career. Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies starts with a pulse hastening staccato drum beat which takes you out of your comfort zone before Simon’s beautiful Scottish accent quickly lets you know that he met god and he had nothing to say to him. ‘Get Fucked Stud’ is a jarring experience with plenty of clean guitar and Simon almost whispering before yet again grabbing you and shaking you towards the end. Right at the end Machines, the ‘pop’ song of the album puts its arm around your shoulder while you cry your eyes out. Puzzle wins.
5. Twin Atlantic. Free is better than Great Divide.
Another one I won’t dwell too long on. Great Divide and later GLA had some of the most well known Twin Atlantic songs on, both records have made Twin Atlantic very rich and very successful, however the records just don’t have as much meat as the debut full-length Free does. Edit Me and We Want Better, Man are the absolute standouts from this awesome record by a band who are finally getting the success they have long deserved.
So that’s the first 5 from a series that I’d like to keep running. I’d love to hear suggestions of what ‘other’ records are better than the hit records in your opinion. Cheers for taking the time to read this, I’m just dipping my toe in the water so don’t be too harsh on me! Hopefully see you back here for my next piece.
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