Do most bands suffer a gradual decline or take a nose dive?

I’m playing Heavy Horses right now, arguably the last great album of Jethro Tull’s. Their next studio album was Stormwatch, which is dreck by comparison. Exception or the norm?

I’m thinking, too, that the fall from Exile On Main Street to Goat’s Head Soup was pretty steep for the Stones…

Its a toss-up. Some die slow (Rush, Black Crows), some tank it hard (Oasis, remember them? or Guns N’ Roses). Never can tell who’s who. I’ll have to resurrect an old sig line for this post.

Actual quote heard at a club recently: “Axl Rose? Who is hell is that puffy, old queen?”

Nose dive. My theory would be that they put there best material on their breakout/first album. That music was probably created over many years. Then they get about 6/9 months to make another, better album. It’s more than most bands can deal with. This of course applys only to bands that actually write there on stuff. Not pop stars that have music selected for them.

Of course you have to consider where they fell from. Not including their misbegotten foray into psychedelia (i.e., Their Satanic Majestries Request), the Stones consistently put out some of the greatest rock-and-roll albums ever in the six or so years before Goat’s Head Soup. At that point, even an above-average album would’ve been a precipitous drop.

As for the OP, I think it varies. Despite some good songs that came afterward, I think The Who started gradually declining after Quadrophenia until now when they’re just a revival act. Likewise, I think REM has slowly gotten less interesting since around 1995. As for sudden drops, Stevie Wonder’s music noticeably fell off with Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants and he has since never returned to this artistic peak of the 70’s. And, of course, I’m not including those acts whose quality yo-yos.

John Denver was more of a gradual decline while Lynyrd Skynyrd was definately a nosedive.

err, definitely.

Actually, you have this backwards. John hit the water pretty much nose first, but Skynyrd gradually fell into the trees after losing power.

Stevie Ray was kinda going along level and the ground rose up to get him! :frowning:

But it was still a good joke!

She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!

*Originally posted by gatopescado *
**Actually, you have this backwards. John hit the water pretty much nose first, but Skynyrd gradually fell into the trees after losing power.

Stevie Ray was kinda going along level and the ground rose up to get him! :frowning:

But it was still a good joke!

Damn, can’t even make a joke without being corrected on a fact.


You fucked up the coding, too! :smiley: (hee hee)

Buddy Holley did a John Denver, and Patsy Cline did more of a Skynyrd. Bill Grahm did the Stevie Ray, but it was the power lines that got him.

(There is a moral to this, by the way. Sit back down and wait for it.)

Moral: If you ever make it big as a Rock Star (or Rock Impressario), ALWAYS FLY COMMERCIAL!! And STAY THE HELL OUT OF HELICOPTORS!!

Delta-32 Skee-do!

John Denver is a prime example of what happens when you stop experimenting with drugs and start experimenting with aircraft.

Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

I don’t know where, but I once read:

You have your whole life to write your first album and 6 months to write your second.

Gradual decline most often, but a sudden drop in quality after the first one or two records.

WTF? gatopescado keeps tripping me up with this gag vB coding.

Most people will say nosedive, acknowledging the ‘sophomore slump’ which might have tinges of truth, but the fact is, a band doesn’t really write its whole first album from its entire prior life. It’s generally composed of fairly recent material, not songs from when they were 12 or some B.S.

The actuality of the dreaded slump is the idea that a band must have a durable, lasting, evolving sound. Each album is meant to be a step forward, not stagnation. And a lot of acts aren’t capable of taking that step.

Indeed, MOST bands take the nosedive, but most GOOD bands either head for the gradual decline or make some goddamn progress (you bloody pessimists). Actually, scratch that. The gradual decline business is BS. Very few acts have an outstanding first album (though it is not a rarity per se). It’s usually, ‘oh, that’s nice’ and they develop into something better, something like, ‘damn that’s good.’ The gradual decline or nosedive generally takes place sometime after that.

Let’s get out terminology right. Is it better to burn out or to fade away (or rust, depending on whether it’s acoustic or electric)?

I’m inclined to think that the vast majority of bands nosedive (or burn out). People don’t hang around much after their 15 minutes. The gradual decline is a luxury afforded to the best bands, such as the R.E.M.s or The Rolling Stones.

I think that, in general, MOO has it right on the nose. Few bands get the luxury of a slow dive. Most just get tossed to the wastebin before they have a chance to get better.

That said, let us look at some GOOD bands (obviously - highly subjective). The exceptions who have had a long career

Beatles - Probably got Better with years
Rolling Stones - Got better and then a long, long decline. They are still pretty good, but not as amazing as they were at their height.
U2 - Chamelon-like. Started as protesters, moved to rock gods, shifted to electronica and pop, and then back to rock. Probably a long decline, like the Stones.
Radiohead - Climbed to the very top and now in a steep decline
REM - Really, a long climb to greatness and then a pretty steep deline to mediocrity

I would say that most GOOD (once again, subjective) bands tend to decline gradually.

I would attribute this to losing connection with the youth as they age. Popular music must resonate with the young if it is to be relevant.

Also, as bands age, their success leads them to a wealthy lifestyle, they stop having the same problems as teens, and they have to work a lot harder to write relevant stuff. They have a built in audience that will buy their stuff pretty much no matter what, so the effort to stay current has less pull.

That is my opinion, anyway.

I can’t let this thread go without mentioning Metallica, whom I think have the distinction of first being in a gradual but accelerating decline, and then nosediving. The Black album was the beginning of the decline, but i still loved and respected the band. Load and Re-Load were mostly forgettable, disappointing pieces of dreck. By this point I didn’t care enough about the band to buy Garage Days Revisited or S&M since they weren’t even putting out any original material. I thought St. Anger might save them, but after hearing four tracks off of this heaping pile of crap-- by far their worst material ever-- I’ve given up any and all hope for them.

phreesh, are you taking the Beatles’ solo careers into account?

And why is relevance to the young a necessary condition for greatness? Isn’t it at least theoretically possible to write great songs about mid-life crises, menopause, and prostrate trouble?

Neil Young has been consistently erratic throughout his long career. :slight_smile:

KidCharlemagne, do you want me to tell you about the demise of Flight 901A? No Rock Stars involved, so this might be the wrong thread, but it was very “Stevie Ray-like”.

Never kiss an animal that can lick its own butt.