I’ll start with XTC. From White Music to Apple Venus.
I’ll start with XTC. From White Music to Apple Venus.
I think you would be hard pushed to beat Talk Talk
Fiona Apple has probably released her best album in her 20 year plus career with ‘Fetch the bolt cutters’. Prior to this The Idler Wheel… was her best album and my favourite album of the 10’s.
For me XTC English Settlement (82) was the album that resonated with me will to have listen to Apple Venus again.
In general I have found that most bands reach a peak, and that is often quite early in their incarnation - perhaps not surprisingly, creative minds ‘gelling’ quickly and becoming more than the sum of their parts - but peak creativity might not be sustainable. Lineup changes of course can sometime be very significant, akin to creating a new band, so a rather different consideration and can cause a sharp decline, or uplift.
The Beatles to me improved with time, became interesting to me with Help! and continuing improving through to Abbey Road.
Genesis improved through to Lamb lies down on Broadway - then then declined - but there was a band change at that point.
Pink Floyd on the other hand had several peaks, changing rather than getting better or worse, their first for me being Atom heart mother.
The Who improved up to a peak with Tommy, then a different peak with Who’s next and then Quadraphenia, but to me declined somewhat after that.
On the other side of the slope, to me Led Zeppelin started high, being at their peak with LZ1 & 2, closely followed by 3 & 4 but then declined.
Black Sabbath similarly: Black Sabbath & Paranoid excellent, then declining, so a shorter peak.
King Crimson were another that started on a high, with Court of the Crimson King, then declined - but continual lineup changes may have been significant, gradually becoming more Fripp, while Sinfield had been a significant influence at the start.
Michael Kiwanuka- who as it happens I am listening to now- pure coincidence.
Changing is ( for me) more difficult to reach.
For me PF and Radiohead are one of the few that have \ had that capacity.
But it’s consensus that the beginnings of all are usually the more fertil in creativity.
( it’s were they define they’re identity)
Radiohead has been on an upward trajectory since the start. Not consistent, but In Rainbows is a modern masterpiece, and AMSP is not far behind. Pablo Honey and The Bends sound like early work, and would likely not be rated relative to the later suff by most listeners. It was obviously going to be hard to maintain the quality of the towering OK Computer, but for me most releases since have been more and more interesting, with HTTT and KOL being slightly disappointing.
I would say that The Bends along with Pulp’s Different Class was the peak of Britpop. Mind I did see them support James in 93 and thought they were a one hit band (Creep) as everything else they played was terrible that night and thought they needed to get rid off at least one guitarist. So I wouldn’t trust my judgement.
I put The Stone Roses on the group of the britpop peak
Keep it brief as I don’t want to derail the thread. I don’t really associate The Stone Roses with Britpop and more with shoe gazing scene. As Britpop in my opinion is associated with bands who came to prominence after the shoe gazing period. This is from my perspective of this time period.
Paul Weller from 18 years old with The Jam and from 23 with The Style Council and then from his early 30’s as a solo artist.
Now in his early 60’s and still writing new and relevant music that is not only successful in terms of sales but also still critically acclaimed.
1978 - All Mod Cons
1981 - Sound Affects
1983 - Cafe Blue
1985 - Our Favourite Shop
1992 - Paul Weller
1993 - Wild Wood
2008 - 22 Dreams
2020 - On Sunset
And many, many more great records in between.
If you look at David Bowie’s career from 87’s Never Let me Down then each album got better and ending with Black Star which competes with his output from 71-80.
American Icon Mr.Wille Nelson
I’m going to bat for The Go Betweens, their last album Oceans Apart was imo their best. It’s a pity Grant passed away not long after it’s release. Robbed us of a great 2nd period.
I’ll place The Boxer Rebellion here… I have loved every album, but to my ear they just grow and grow. Nathan’s voice often gives me goosebumps. They are very good live too…
The Boxer’s defining track to me will always be Diamonds on the 2013 Promises album, but their two subsequent albums Ocean by Ocean in 2016, then Ghost Alive a couple years ago get regular listens. Actually, I put the latter on whilst typing this.
However, I think for most bands (actually, Boxers maybe not inlcuded), studio albums are more often than not a bit hit and miss. For example, I simply adore ‘Lamb’ and Lou Rhodes’ voice can be so beautiful, so haunting. They’ve released seven studio albums since 1996, and they’ve all been played here at Château Piffle many tens of times. But each album has a couple of absolute corkers (e.g. Gabriel, Gorecki, Illumina), a couple that are pleasant, then the rest of the album is basically fillers. This seems typical of so many bands, and very rarely do you find something where every track knocks it out the park, as it were.
Eugh, just stumbled on a bunch of hipedy-hopedy-sweary nonsense that has appeared on Tidal from ‘Lamb’, dated 2020 - totally different people. Lamb’s latest is Secret of Letting Go from last year.
Nick Cave. His last trio of albums build on each other and Ghosteen is a career highlight for me at least
Leonard Cohen pretty much managed it, his last release when he was alive You Want It Darker is fantastic
Maybe these two albums, by artists contending with grief and impending death respectively are inspired by those realities rather than imagination, and are the better for it. Both I find very moving
I,m presuming you’ve not heard of Physical Graffiti ?
Not only heard of, but heard!
That’s more a reasonable answer expected from a guilty accomplice rather than an innocent bystander.