Genre change - Bands changing their sound

Not bad, for a band that was formed as Christian Rock!

Many mainstream rock bands began as Blues purists (Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago).

Didn’t the Grateful Dead start out as a jug band?

The Moody Blues went from a blues-inspired band in their early days (such as their early hit “Go Now”) to psychedelic progressive rock.

The Moody Blues started out as a British Invasion type group before finding their signature orchestral-pop sound. They did get one hit in the US (“Go Now”) with their original sound.

T. Rex started out as Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a fey folk-psych sound vaguely reminiscent of the Incredible String Band.

And then there’s Jonathan Richman. He started out as the leader of the Modern Lovers, a dark proto-punk group with songs like “She Cracked”, before devoting his life to making music that makes people happy. OK, he hasn’t achieved great fame with his new sound, but he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

In the jazz world you’ve got people like Gato Barbieri who started out in a very progressive, avant-garde style before achieving fame with a much more MOR sound.

I don’t think that anyone fits the bill more than Paul Simon. He didn’t just progress(?) to a more pop sound, he’s constantly reinventing himself.

Eric Clapton went through some major changes as well.

Two of my faves: The Clash circa 1977 - shouty, punk three-chord anthems. In two years they’ve got London Calling, with rockabilly, reggae, gospel, ska - Sandinista! was even more experimental. They were dabbling in electronica and dance music by 1983, and there’s even sequenced drums on 1985’s Cut the Crap (I know, some folks don’t consider that a real Clash album).

XTC were also punk-arthouse in 1977 but over the years changed to power pop, then alt-college-rock, pretty much dabbling in world music, dub, you name it.

The Boss Martians from Seattle started out as a surf band, evolving into an Untamed Youth style garage band, and most recently as one of the best Power Pop bands playing today.

…and ended up doing jazz and funk in the early '70s.

Rush started out as a ledzeppelinesque hard rock trio with distorted proto-metal guitars, a grindy, gritty bass tone and banshee vocals. Over the years they moved to smooth pop rock with synth walls, wispy 80’s guitar jabs, a clean bass tone and much more mellow vocals. A wise choice, as their old style had been beaten to death and beyond.

I suppose Brian Adams always had ballads but his earlier stuff seemed to be a lot more rock than the limp-wristed movie theme songs he later became identified with.

Spinal Tap went through a jazz stage…

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Speaking of Spinal Tap, I found it amusing when a few weeks ago everybody made a big deal out of Lady GaGa hatching from the egg. As soon as I heard about the egg I immediately thought of Spinal Tap coming out of their pods.
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I’m having a harder time thinking of relatively long-lived, vital bands that kept the same sound throughout their career than I am thinking of those who changed or varied their sound.

I find it interesting how differently these back-to-back posts described the Moody Blues’s sound(s), though I don’t fundamentally disagree with either of them.

Anyone who did it the other way? (soft-hard) I can’t think of anybody, but they must be out there (Ministry might fit).

Well, Alanis Morissette went from cheesy pop to profanity-laced, guitar-heavy Jagged Little Pill in just a few years (and then swung back).

David Bowie?

The immediate one that jumped to mind, Ministry has alread been mentioned.

Radiohead went from fairly standard Brit Pop on Pablo Honey, perfecting the craft on The Bends, and then moved into more expansive Floyd-influenced progressive/art rock with OK Computer before ditching a lot of the harder rock sounds in favor of ambient synth textures and beats in Kid A and Amnesiac.

Then again, there’s probably a gazillion bands that have followed a similar arc. The Ministry example is the clearest one of outright genre change that I could immediate think of.

Oh, and how could I forget The Beastie Boys, who started out punk, before going hip-hop.

Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green on guitar) started out of as a British blues band with 24 minute jams of “Rattlesnake Shake” before evolving to a pop-rock band as different members came in.

Not a band but Bob Dylan had folk/ electric folk rock/country/gospel stages.

George Clinton and Parliement/Funkadelic

Michelle Branch went from lilting pop like Breathe to country.

Well, there was this guy :smack:

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