Examples of Unexpected Pivots in a Musicians/Bands Career that Result in Greatness

redhouse_ca

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'77 was great for sure - I saw them on their first US tour, and wasn't quite sure what to make of them, but I loved it.

Fear of Music was right out of left field, tho. Then Remain in Light. Nothing like it, before or since. I still rank them as one of the most progressive bands of all time.
Wow, that's awesome. What year was that? I agree with you completely. Thinking about it, every record they made was great.

If you haven't heard that outtake record you gotta. The version of Drugs on that is amazing. Also, check out Mavis Staples version of Slippery People (with just ripping guitar by Rick Holstrom (his new instrumental album is also amazing, some of the best tele tones I've heard.
 

redhouse_ca

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I bought OK Computer when it came out and it was pivotal for me, my life at that time. This was before the hype set in—it just clicked. Kid A was nearly the same, though my gf and I already heard some good things in advance of hearing. But without Pablo and The Bends, I’d never really bother. I already ‘bonded’ with those two albums early on, though I kinda understood what a ‘sophomore slump’ was with The Bends. I actually appreciated it more after ‘OK’.

I had Radiohead burnout after around Hail to the Thief. I just leave bands alone when that happens. I played catchup in the last 6 six years, and I have not been disappointed.

I’m a casual Wilco fan. I got into them with some YHF songs, but that was also at the release of Ghost during Bear Share days. Nels Cline’s backing band, yes awesome!

I don’t know about this ‘greatness’ thing. I feel theres a lot of timing and luck involved. Audience/bystanders have the armchair ability to dismiss “so-so” albums/songs. The other side of that, well it’s like well driven and inspired bands/artists have to push out their art/songsmith/music when it comes. That’s the process as I see it anyway, strike while iron hot, something will come out of it (as opposed to nothing at all). OK Computer was a rejection of altrock progressions at that time, which had to run its course.
I hear you on the burnout. I've seen them live maybe 5 times and the last time was just not my thing. I dunno if you remember the memes about Morrissey from the Smiths ("give the man a milkshake or something", etc). It felt like that. But maybe that was just me, they set tue bar really high the other times I saw them.
 

NeverTooLate

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I don't know about unexpected pivots, but Ronnie James Dio had quite the scenic drive through popular music styles before landing on Dio.

I guess the move from Elf to Rainbow qualifies as the giant step to fame but I did not include him with DP and WS because it was not really his pivot but rather an opportunity that he took.

But yeah sure a massive move from obscurity to fame.
 

redhouse_ca

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I totally agree. She wrote this when she was 23 years old. It was a radio hit, but I find this stripped down version way more powerful. The song fits the more mature Roseanne Cash just as well or better than the 23 year old Roseanne Cash.


God that's great. I didn't really know her music, I admit. Thanks for the recommendation.
I was going to start a new thread about which bands went the other way, from great to horrid, but I didn't want to start yet another internet pile-on. I'm sure there are just about as many examples the run in the other direction.
aw man, do it. That would be a really fun one to pile on.
 

stilwel

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1991: U2's Achtung Baby

They were the biggest band in the world during The Joshua Tree era...then they got even bigger. They took a chance and completely, utterly changed their sound and image. It worked.

This album completely changed my perspective on what a guitar could sound like. In many ways...it changed my life.

attachment-atchung-baby.jpeg
 

NeverTooLate

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1991: U2's Achtung Baby

They were the biggest band in the world during The Joshua Tree era...then they got even bigger. They took a chance and completely, utterly changed their sound and image. It worked.

This album completely changed my perspective on what a guitar could sound like. In many ways...it changed my life.

Hey, greetings from the other side of the valley (Peoria).

That's a good point. It never occurred to me to think of that as a pivot, but what you say makes sense. Those two are my most favorite U2 albums.
 

markxus25

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Roseann Cash has had an interesting career arc, from (good) Nashville country artist to incredible singer-songwriter. Where she’s been for several decades now. Imo, her last couple records are the best stuff she’s ever done.

Cheers,
Geoff
Roseann Cash is touring right now. I don't go to many shows due to bad hearing and putting up with idiots in the audience, but may go see her. Always room in my record collection for someone in the Cash family!
 

loudboy

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Wow, that's awesome. What year was that? I agree with you completely. Thinking about it, every record they made was great.
It was Fall of '78, and they were playing at my college's cafeteria. Cold night, but I'd heard a lot about this Downtown NYC scene, and had heard "Psycho Killer" on the college radio station.

Put on my jacket and trudged across to the show, which was $2. They were truly something I'd never seen before - totally unique, but tight as heck, and very, very entertaining. Afterwards they were just sort of hanging out, so I talked with Jerry Harrison for a few minutes. David wasn't mingling.

That same fall I also saw Pretenders on their first tour, in a tiny venue, Joe Jackson at the same place and the Neil Young "Rust Never Sleeps" show. Good few months for concerts!
 

ClashCityTele

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Nirvana.
Just another 'Grunge' band from the North-West. More drummers than Spinal Tap.
1st album - ok. Toured Europe 3rd on the bill to Tad & Mudhoney.

Then Kurt wrote 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' - BANG!!!
 

ClashCityTele

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Pantera.
A Texas Glam Metal band. Just played local.
After 3 albums, 5 years and as many singers they recruit an 18 year old Phil Anselmo as their new vocalist.
After one more album they drop the Glam Metal look.

Then they release 'Cowboys From Hell'. - BANG!!!
 

zencat

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You have all probably heard the expression "jump the shark" where an artist (or show/company/whatever) makes a "creative" decision after which their output is generally regarded as pretty lame. I don't know if there is a word or expression that means the opposite, where, in this case a band or musician is generally considered ok/pretty decent, but then almost out of the blue comes something next level that defines their greatness, even if only in your opinion?

For instance, I liked "Creep" by Radiohead but after a couple of decent but kinda forgettable records, I totally didn't see Ok Computer or Kid coming, which was next-level and henceforth they were "great". It wasn't a linear progression, IMHO, it was a giant leap to new heights.

I get turned on to a lot of great music on this forum and I'd love to hear your examples if you got any. How about this one? Pre and post "Dark Side" Pink Floyd? Now there's a hot topic!
Robin Trower post Procol Harum.
 

redhouse_ca

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It was Fall of '78, and they were playing at my college's cafeteria. Cold night, but I'd heard a lot about this Downtown NYC scene, and had heard "Psycho Killer" on the college radio station.

Put on my jacket and trudged across to the show, which was $2. They were truly something I'd never seen before - totally unique, but tight as heck, and very, very entertaining. Afterwards they were just sort of hanging out, so I talked with Jerry Harrison for a few minutes. David wasn't mingling.

That same fall I also saw Pretenders on their first tour, in a tiny venue, Joe Jackson at the same place and the Neil Young "Rust Never Sleeps" show. Good few months for concerts!
It was Fall of '78, and they were playing at my college's cafeteria. Cold night, but I'd heard a lot about this Downtown NYC scene, and had heard "Psycho Killer" on the college radio station.

Put on my jacket and trudged across to the show, which was $2. They were truly something I'd never seen before - totally unique, but tight as heck, and very, very entertaining. Afterwards they were just sort of hanging out, so I talked with Jerry Harrison for a few minutes. David wasn't mingling.

That same fall I also saw Pretenders on their first tour, in a tiny venue, Joe Jackson at the same place and the Neil Young "Rust Never Sleeps" show. Good few months for concerts!
Great stories, cool to hear. That was a great time for music, bands and musicians going in all sorts of new directions. Thinking about it, it may have been the most eclectic and broadly innovative period in music, but it doesn't seem to be recognized as such. I can't think of another time that compares to diversity of totally original stuff that came out in just a few years. Detroit punk, NY punk and whatever you wanna label that scene, disco, all the British stuff, prog, everything that was happening in county, funk, heavy metal, etc. crazy innovation all across the board.
 

thunderbyrd

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i haven't read the whole thread, so excuse me if it's already been mentioned, but...

the greatest pivot point i know about is Mott the Hoople. they had made a great fun record in Brain Capers, but it didn't sell much and they decided to give up. Then Bowie brought "all the young dudes" to them and offered to help them with their next album. and the song and album were a big hit in England. but the best part of the story is that the next album they made "Mott" is absolutely one of the best records of all time, IMO. The whole glam rock thing worked well for them.
 

loudboy

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Thought of another - Emmylou Harris, with Wrecking Ball.

She went from the Queen of Trad Country to who knows what with that one. It's one of those definitive, singular artistic statements that sounds like nothing before, and nothing after it.

The previous record:



Wrecking Ball:

 

Jimclarke100

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I think Peter Gabriel post Genesis was next level for me.
Arguably, the same applies to Genesis.

Personally I prefer the full on prog Genesis of Foxtrot, Trespass and Nursery Cryme, but they were far more commercially successful in the post Gabriel, Phil Collins era.
 




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