Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space Episode Three. The Solo Album.

Your fellow bandmates think your songs suck – possibly because you’re the drummer. You can’t get them on the album, and you’re feeling unappreciated. Perhaps you need to get our of your recording contract, so it seems expedient. Maybe – just maybe – you are better than them and this will be the proof.

So is it going to be a Primitive Cool or a Nightfly? Your thoughts, please, on the solo album. Particularly the “while I’m still in the band” solo effort.

Now you may hold views on the solo album which might be too blistering in their honesty for publication over on RR. Here, however, you may choose to pay homage to your favourite or delight in cruelly exposing ambition (or writer’s block) interlaced with a bewildering lack of talent, and yes, even a considered meh is fully acceptable.  Any stance should be supported with some form of evidence or justification.

Off you go then.

58 thoughts on “Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space Episode Three. The Solo Album.

    • ha, i just noticed you mentioned Primitive Cool. Sadly, i never made it there after She’s The Boss (which i’m proud to say i didn’t own).

      • I have it on vinyl, but have yet to pluck up the courage to listen to it. Are you hiding in your bunker Amy, awaiting Frankenstorm?

      • Worked this morning, closed early. very heavy winds, power went out so took a nap. Seems to have calmed down by now, unless we’re just in the eye.

      • I quite liked Keef’s Talk is Cheap album; significantly better than anything Mick produced on his own, and less embarrassing than the Stones albums of the same era, but nevertheless at best a reminder of past glories…

      • That actually was pretty good. Sounds like something that didn’t quite make the cut for Exile.

        Listening to Fuel’s latter day Stones playlist made me a big Keef fan, i thought his songs were head and shoulders over most of the other later Stones tunes.

  1. My counter-example is Rockpile, who (with a bit of licence of when Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams actually formed as the band rather than helping each other out) between 1976 – 1979, released Get It, Tracks On Wax and Repeat When Necessary as Dave Edmunds solo albums, and Jesus Of Cool and Labour of Lust as Nick Lowe solo albums. In 1980, Seconds Of Pleasure was released under the band’s name – a decent album, but not quite up to the standard of the previous five – and then they split up !

  2. One of my favourite albums ever is Roddy Woomble’s “My Secret is my Silence”. Which I suppose is a solo album by the lead singer of Idlewild. Although I don’t think he’s been back to Idlewild since. So maybe it doesn’t count. Here’s “If I Could Name Any Name” anyway:

    Lovely, no?

    Ian McCulloch’s latest solo album is, quite predictably, drivel, but then I’m not sure much recent Bunnymen material has been that great. And I rather loved his debut solo album, “Candleland”. That said, it was perhaps less nuanced/more straightforwardly poppy a work than the Bunnymen’s finest.

    So yeah, I quite like solo albums, I think.

  3. The Brilliant Green are well respected and successful indie band in Japan and the mian singer is Tomoko Kawase. She must have a lot of energy as not only is she the singer of Brilliant Green she is also a model, songwriter, and record producer and she has a great solo career, first as Tommy February 6 and now as Tommy Heavenly 6.

    Her solo work is quite eccentric and varies a lot in styles from pure pop to gothic rock. And I suppose she just makes the music she likes when she is solo. She has made four solo albums and 8 singles as Tommy Feburary 6 and four albums and 10 singles as Tommy Heavenly 6.

    I think now it is really in the place where her career is really solo and the band is the side project and not the other way. I think the band have definitely not improved since her solo work became so important, which in some ways is a pity as they are a really good band and their early records were great ! ! !

    Maybe that is always the problem when the main talent starts to develop a solo career.

    Just so you can see here are The Brilliant Green.

    Rainy Days Never Stays

    And this Tommy Heavenly 6

    Sad End To A Fairy Tale

  4. Dave Gilmour – “About Face” – was a good album, as I recall. Also “Pipe Dream”, by Alan Hull; “Diva”, by Annie Lennox – all of their time but I enjoyed them. Can’t think of anything up to date, I am more of a magpie now, collecting individual tracks rather than albums.

    • Ah, Diva. The Eurythmics had run out of steam, and it seemed – for a moment – as if Ms. Lennox might power on ahead. I liked Diva, too. I was distinctly underwhelmed by Dave Stewart’s Spiritual Cowboys, though.

  5. Is there any difference between issuing a solo album whilst stil in a band and doing one after a band has split up (possibly contributing to the split-up).

    Although, it seems, Barnstorm was a band, and The James GAng were by then ‘deFunk(49)t’, I always took the album to be a solo effort by Joe Walsh, in between the James Gang and the Eagles. It is by far my favourite outing by Joe.

    I’m sure Chris will put me right about this, but when is a solo album not a solo album – when the band who backs you is practically the band you normally play with? Bob Weir of made Ace as a ‘solo’ album but was more or less backed by the rest of the Dead. Add to that that the songlist:

    Side one
    1.”Greatest Story Ever Told” (Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter, and Bob Weir) – 3:43
    2.”Black-Throated Wind” (John Perry Barlow and Weir) – 5:42
    3.”Walk in the Sunshine” (Barlow and Weir) – 3:05
    4.”Playing in the Band” (Hart, Hunter, and Weir) – 7:38
    Side two
    5.”Looks Like Rain” (Barlow and Weir) – 6:12
    6.”Mexicali Blues” (Barlow and Weir) – 3:28
    7.”One More Saturday Night” (Weir) – 4:31
    8.”Cassidy” (Barlow and Weir) – 3:41

    all (but Walk in the Sunshine) figured strongly in the Dead’s live repertoire. I heard the album was made because these songs were not considered strong enough for a Dead album. Could that be true? Garcia was more of a solo effort in the ‘true’ (?) sense of the word in that Jerry played almost everything himself. The marvellous “Sugaree” came to us from that album.

    The Tom Tom Club issued their eponymous (I always wanted to use
    this word) album whilst still members of Talking Heads, as did David Byrne (along with Eno) with My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Both of these are classics.

    • By a strange coincidence I’ve just recently listened to Jerry Harrison’s The Red And The Black (don’t ask why – I’m not even a Talking Heads fan) and I quite liked it. Although I suppose most of it could have been done quite easily by Talking Heads.

      • Ah, now I have a Jerry album whose title I can’t remember from a 200-mile distance from my CD shelves. It’s the one that starts with Rev It Up. I admit I like that more than I do any regular Heads album.

    • I’m pretty sure that Jerry and Bob both intended to do solo albums: neither had all their songs written before recording started. All but the weird stuff from ‘Garcia’ made it onto the stage and that’s why I can’t really consider either that or ‘Ace’ great solo efforts. The band played better live versions of all the songs. Many times.

  6. And I forgot to say that what makes Tom Tom Club and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts special, and maybe one yardstick to guage a successful solo effort by, is that these albums couldn’t have been made as Talking Heads albums. They were something different and needed a new context for their expression. They were not comprised of just a bunch of songs the individuals thought were good but the rest of the band didn’t rate highly enough to go on their next collective album.

    Opinionated, what??

  7. I’m fairly ashamed to admit that not only did I buy all four of the coloured-vinyl-with-free-facemask Kiss solo singles on day of release, followed by all four solo albums, but I repeated the offence by rebuying three of them on CD only a couple of years ago. For the easiest Spill point you’ll ever earn, guess which one I decided was so poor it wasn’t worth replacing the long-since-sold vinyl?


  8. Immediate thought: Susanna Hoffs’ When You’re A Boy. Heartbroken as I was by the demise of the Bangles, this actually did a much better job of capturing the essence of their brilliance than the last Bangles album – maybe poppier than All Over the Place, but great songs and lots of Rickenbacker jangle…

  9. The Heartbeakers were mightily pissed off when their frontman made his first solo album. Then they were even crosser when they found they were supposed to play songs from Full Moon Fever the next time they went on tour together…and the time after that, and in fact pretty much every time, since Runnin’ Down A Dream, I Won’t Back Down and Free Fallin’ were all in the setlist for this year’s tour.

    Crossest of all was drummer Stan Lynch, who complained that he felt as if he were playing in a covers band and he didn’t like the songs anyway. And me? Well, I’m not a fan of Jeff Lynne, who co-produced; and I do prefer TP’s other two solo albums, Wildflowers and Highway Companion. But some of the songs on Full Moon Fever are in my Top 50, for instance

    Love Is A Long Road by Tom Petty

    What? Who did you think I was going to pick? I’ve even got the T shirt.

  10. I know The Jam were long deceased, and life with The Style Council produced 2 great albums – Cafe Bleu & Our Favourite Shop (can’t comment on others cos not heard em) but Paul Weller’s imaginatively entitled debut ‘Paul Weller’ album should perhaps be considered. I’ve been giving it another spin this week, and it still sounds good. Kicks off very nicely with Uh Huh, Oh Yeah. He’s not done too badly as a solo artist has he?

    • Judge’s ruling, please: I know we’re allowed to be much ruder about music here than would be acceptable over on RR, but does that include music that someone else has already been positive about? ‘Cos my views on Paul Weller’s solo career are less than enthusiastic…

      • To each his own my friend. Say what you see/hear and all that. It’s not me you’re dissing anyway, just some fella with a bad hairdo and even worse fake (or maybe not) tan these days…

      • Okay… I loved The Jam – they were ruling the charts when I began to listen to them every Sunday, and for some reason my father hated them – and then I thought The Style Council were pretty good. Thing was, both those bands already seemed like Paul Weller solo projects, as he was clearly the driving force and song-writing genius, so I had high hopes for his musical return – and, frankly, it sounded more or less exactly like what I would have expected from a Bruce Foxton solo album, if not slightly stodgier: no trace of the influence of soul and Motown that had given his songs an extra dimension in earlier years, no trace of imagination, just clod-hopping revivalist rock that gave its blessing to the whole dad-rock scene. Yuck. One of the things that drove me off towards dance music and jazz in the 90s.

      • That’s quite strange, because this was the album that I used to listen to to ‘come down’ after a night/morning dancing my chemical fuelled backside off (this and acid jazz peoples Galliano’s 2 ’90’s albums) and was just before I went off on a massive soul/jazz/funk spree myself. I do reckon it draws on his 70’s soul-love tho’, Bull Rush and nRound & Rounda a couple of examples. Then there’s ‘Above The Clouds’ (posted by myself incidently, on main thread this week) which wouldn’t look out of place in a 70’s soul vinyl collection – maybe on a B side somewhere perhaps. It’s not an album that I’d play over and over again now – far better stuff to be heard out there, but I did have a very soft spot for it at the time. And like I said, each to his own – it’s what makes life, and music, more interesting. Thanks for sharing your views. x

        p.s. I’m not a mad major ‘Solo Weller’ fan btw. This is actually the only solo album of his I own. and I’ve only heard snippets of the others. Loved The Jam tho’. Don’t think they’ll ever be topped, no matter what he does.

      • Thanks for being a good sport about it. Maybe I would be less prejudiced if I didn’t hold Stanley Road responsible for the whole Ocean Colour Scene thing…

      • Hey, no sweat. I do always try to be a good sport these days. And I agree re the whole pseudo-mod thing that occurred around the latter end of the 90’s. I liked The Verve’s Urban Hymns album, but then that Richard Ashcroft went a bit daft when he went off on his own. He started to believe the hype and maybe thought that he ruled the (musical) world. As someone once wrote in a song: ”Fame, fame, fatal fame, can play hideous tricks on the brain” and in his case, it really went to his Kangol bucket-hatted head! His solo stuff was/is dire (imho). He’d have been much better had he kept his Hush Puppy Desert-booted feet firmly on the ground!

  11. And then there’s always Cee Lo Green. After leaving Goodie Mob, he came up with the spectacular Cee Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections. I really love Closet Freak. He’s gone a bit poppy now, but he’s still one of the gems in that particular world at the present time.

  12. Lou Reed’s first solo effort ( entitled, after great thought no doubt, “Lou Reed” was a tremendously vacuous affair. It’s not a “bad” album per se , it’s just that it should have been a whole lot better.
    He plundered the Velvet Underground “leftovers” box and took some really great songs and , basically, messed them up by employing some of the top session musicians of the day ( just what Velvet’s songs needed !)

    Then to compound matters he released a single from it, which some of us bought,of “Walk and talk it” and “Wild child” , two of the worst songs from the album (IMHO).

    Luckily he followed it up with Transformer or some of us might have waved goodbye to Uncle Lou then and there.

  13. Jarvis Cocker? Morrissey? David Byrne? Ian Brown (some)? Gruff Rhys? Norman Cook? Lionel Ritchie (ha ha)?
    I can’t think of any solo efforts from an artist while still in a band, which for me spells out that those attempts are probably very shite.

  14. I thought Scott Weiland’s solo album ’12 Bar Blues’ was a wonderful, demented record. It didn’t seem to be a case of being frustrated within the band, more that
    The ‘Pilots were loathed by music critics, and he wanted to make an album that would placate them – not sure why. The cover is a heavy nod to John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’ record; and similarly Scott was in the throes of addiction delirium and misery at the time. It does show in some songs (‘Divider’ for instance – a strangely languid song about addicted lovers losing their way) but others are really tender, surprisingly sweet songs (‘Son’). My favourite track on the album is ‘Desperation # 5’ – which has a kind of dreamy quality, until the Godzilla guitars kick in. ‘Lady, Your Roof Brings me Down’ is fantastic as well – it sounds like a cabaret song from 1920’s Paris:

    Such a wonderful artist. Always.

  15. Oddly, I am listening – right now – to a new-to-me copy of Skin’s Fleshwounds, in which the earstwhile frontwoman of Skunk Anansie failed to capitalise upon her former band’s successes. Probably by emphasising the balladeering capabilities of her voice. She’s rather less angry on this album. And I find myself missing the blistering guitar bits.

    And another recent arrival is also a solo record: Tracey Thorn has a Christmas album. Which seems a little odd, somehow – she doesn’t engender a very Christmassy association – but, then, it also seems to be something that artists of a certain vintage gravitate towards. Or at least the ones I like seem to be doing it. All About Eve, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, St Etienne, Kate Rusby… (no obvious solo-goers in that list).

    Of course, exactly how solo Tracey is is in question. Her long term partner from Everything But the Girl, Ben Watt, owns the record company and plays on many of these songs.

    Another solo artist that springs to mind is Alison Moyet. Yazoo were great, but she pretty much transcended her brief, shining, collaboration with Vince Clarke with a long and interesting solo career.

  16. When Six Wives hit number one album stateside, Rick Wakeman said he’d have to quit the band, Yes, to tour and promote a solo career. They talked him in to staying on the basis that they would do one more group effort then a year off to each do a solo effort .. but the next group effort turned out to be Topographic, which Rick detested and he quit anyway. But wheels had been set in motion and in 75 they did all have to take time off to do a solo. They took the chance to spend time with the family and all seem to have been written and recorded in their sheds ( or homebuilt studio ). Squire’s Fish Out of Water .. Anderson’s Olias are two of my fave albums of ever .. even drummer, Alan White’s was funky and rather good

    forgot how to do a link on the spill

  17. I don’t have many solo albums in my collection. I followed Joe Strummer’s post-Clash career for a while, the odd great moment but overall not too much to get excited about. As for Kevin Rowland’s The Wanderer the only good thing about it was that in the long term it lowered my expectations for for recent Dexys comeback. I have avoided Jaz Coleman’s non-Joke efforts like the plague – one word: orchestral.

    As for the “solo album while still in the band” I suppose it was mainly a 70s indulgence. I think most members of most big bands did one or two. I can only think of one or two puk examples. Charlie Harper did a terrible fanboy covers album at the peak of the Subs success, although it did have a surprisingly nice version of I’m Waiting For The Man. We won’t mention Captain Sensible.

    I guess the general impression is that these projects are indulgences or leftovers, but I did read that when Pete Townshend recorded Empty Glass he deliberately chose the best of his new songs for that instead of the next Who album – which must have helped speed up the demise of The Who. I’ve not heard the album but the single Rough Boys is better than anything the Who did around the same time.

  18. After Richard Thompson left Fairport he made a solo album called Henry The Human Fly – the cover, rather charmingly, features RT dressed in a fly suit. He often mentions it during shows, saying it was Warner Brothers’ worst-selling record of all time. I once shouted out “I bought it!” when he said that, and he said “Ah, I think I’ve met all of you now”.

    The album is now, of course, a cult classic. He followed it with several albums made with his wife Linda; once he became single again, he went back to making solo albums but I’m not going to tell you about those. My very favourite song from Human Fly is The Angels Took My Racehorse Away but there’s only a ropily-recorded live version on You Tube so here’s The Old Changing Way

  19. If we were talking about solo records in general, then I’d have little hesitation in putting forward Robert Plant‘s Big Log, one of my absolute favourites, and far dearer to me than anything Led Zep ever did. But the album was absolute crap – I mean, Messing with the Mekon???

    • I thought of that too. Better than anything Page ever did solo, but don’t like it better than Led Zep. I have a big soft spot for In The Mood, and also Other Arms, although granted that sounds a bit like Zep lite.

  20. Ooh, I’ve thought of one, the kind that llamalpaca’s really wanting. And I own it! All of the Who made solo albums and they’re all pretty good…except Keith Moon’s Two Sides Of The Moon. He did hardly any drumming on it (which he could do; and he sang all the songs on it (which he couldn’t).

    Here’s In My Life

  21. The Faces formed from members of The Small Faces with Rod and Ronnie W from Jeff Beck’s band, when Rod already had a solo deal. For a few years they were pretty busy getting albums out by the band, Rod solo, followed by solo efforts from both Ronnies (Lane and Wood). Rod’s solo efforts featured his bandmates to varying degrees. 1971 – 73 gave us seven albums including Every Picture Tells a Story and Never A Dull Moment (Rod) and A Nod’s As Good As A Wink and Ooh La La (The Faces). Apparently Ronnie Lane in particular got tired of being Rod’s backing band. But some great stuff on those albums, talented people at their peak.

  22. Perry Farrell did a solo album, in between one of Jane’s Addiction’s break up, reform moments I think. I did listen to it once, but never bought it. Love Jane’s Addiction, quite like Porno for Pyros and Satellite Party, but his solo effort didn’t grab me.

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