In the process of discussing our teen favorites, Tom pointed to the incredible run of brilliant albums Steveland Wonder released and I commented, noting that I felt Talking Book, Fulfillingness First Finale, and Innervisions were on my list of artists who produced three just brilliant albums in a row.
Also added in were:
- Blue/Ladies of the Canyon/Court and Spark (Joni Mitchell)
- Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers (Stones)
- Revolver/Rubber Soul/Sgt. Pepper (Beatles)
- Bringing it all Back Home/Highway 61/Blonde on Blonde
Elvis Costello (first three) and Neil Young (Goldrush through Harvest) also made it once the list was initiated, and Prince just missed. But Steve made suggestions of Alice Cooper, the Ramones, and AC/DC which I quickly dismissed
This does not mean I don’t love Road to Ruin and Love it to Death but if we look at Cooper and Steve’s example, maybe I can explain the difference, at least as I mean it.
Love it to Death triggered three wonderful albums from the Alice Cooper band, but the third, School’s Out was a little thin in my view, and Love it to Death included the throwaway Black Juju, an immediate disqualifier.
Why, you ask?
Because in looking at the records produced by the Beatles for example, in Rubber Soul the band clearly kicked their songwriting to a deeper level with the focus of their lyrics moving to a new level, not just for the band, but for pop music. The Fab Four continued this growth, both lyrically and sonic-ally with Revolver, and then even further with Sgt. Pepper. The same can be said about Wonder, Dylan, Mitchell, the Stones, Costello, and Young, all of whom have challenged themselves and their sound, pushing into new directions, and delivering breathing works that pushed the groups collaborative art to a new level.
Not that Love it to Death isn’t art, or a fantastic album, but as good as the record is, by Killer, the band was still spot on musically and lyrically, but while 18 might really fit what I defined above, nothing else on any of the three suggested Cooper albums suggests or provides any kind of growth of the group’s art and sound any further than where it was.
Not that this means Cooper or AC/DC or any performer(s) should be dismissed, but, there is a major difference between releasing three very strong discs that contain great songs, but all basically of the same ilk, as opposed to the other artists who truly moved their skills and experience to a different level.
But, well, hard to argue? I don’t know.
Have at it, and just to show I understand my roots, let’s leave with Alice, and as good a garage tune as you will ever hear. It is just the individual tune does not the album or artistic value of the relative catalog make.