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Barking Spiders

Bands you think were better before they got big

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A recent re-run of a christmas edition of TOTP on BBC4  featured the Human League miming Don't You Want Me Baby. I've never really cared for the mark 2 line-up, mainly because of the [email protected] vocals of the 2 girls. Definitely prefer the more experimental line-up of the original band. So, who here thinks the Fleetwood Mac of Peter Green is way superior to the Buckingham-Nicks years. Would you give the nod to Syd Barrett PF over the megaselling incarnation.  Were Deep Purple better as a psychedelic crew than a metal band?And any others . Bring 'em on. I'm only talking about comparing mk1 with mk2, mk3 etc line-ups not bands where they mostly kept the same members but which changed styles

Edited by Barking Spiders
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this could be a long list...

Def Leppard (downhill after Pete Willis was sacked)

Metallica (Cliff Burton's stuff is far superior to anything that followed)

Faith No More (bit torn here -  I like the later stuff, but I love what they released when Chuck Moseley was the singer, and they may as well have been a different band)

Tank - can't really argue that there was any change in direction, but the first two albums are really the only ones worth bothering with for my money...also difficult to argue that they "got big" on any later releases

 

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I saw Genesis at Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, playing mostly acoustic guitars, with (I think...) Phil Collins on drums. Well before it all 'took off'; they were excellent. I saw them several times, later, with the Gabriel theatrics 'n all, too; stunning stuff. Can't say for the post-Gabriel shows, but no regrets for having missed 'em.

And 'Yes, the early Floyd shows were ace, with their oil-wheel light shows..!'.

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Agreed re Metallica - the three Cliff Burton albums are great.

Bon Scott-era AC/DC pre-1980 were way better than anything since, and Guns N Roses original line-up topped anything they've done since.

From personal experience I'd say Stereophonics too. Having seen them live in their early years as a trio and thinking they were great. But have had progressively less interest in them since Stuart Cable went and they got bigger and glossier and added more members.

 

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I don't think Big Country ever got near the masterpiece of their first album The Crossing. I think they struggled to try and be mainstream

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The Clash, first two albums were top notch, London Calling was liked by people who weren't really into punk, then it went even further downhill with Sandinista 

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U2. Saw them on the "Boy" tour and they were amazing. Went out and bought the album the next day and played it to death. The next time I saw them promoting the "October" album they were as boring as the record was.

Vice-Versa were a brilliant combination of early Human League and Cabaret Voltaire. The band they turned into - ABC - were blander than a bland thing.

Karl Hyde and Rick Smith of Underworld have yet to make an album better than Doot-Doot by Freur. 

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6 minutes ago, bonzodog said:

I don't think Big Country ever got near the masterpiece of their first album The Crossing. I think they struggled to try and be mainstream

 

2 minutes ago, PaulWarning said:

The Clash, first two albums were top notch, London Calling was liked by people who weren't really into punk, then it went even further downhill with Sandinista 

I think the OP meant only in terms of band line-up changes?   In which case if the The Skids were the mark 1 Big Country, I'd include them

main ones that occur to me are;  mark 1 Ultravox with John Foxx on vocals / songwriting, and mark 1 Magazine with John McGeogh on guitar (they didn't last too long after he left anyway)

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The original Fleetwood Mac were astoundingly good. Cream before they discovered America were brilliant. John Mayall was equally good until Mick Taylor arrived.

While John Mayall's records were required ownership for a musician in the 60's not many of the bands of this era translated well on to record. Cream and FM in particular never recorded half as well as they played on a gig.

IMO both Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck never sounded better than they did in the Jeff Beck Group.

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4 minutes ago, Shaggy said:

 

I think the OP meant only in terms of band line-up changes?   In which case if the The Skids were the mark 1 Big Country, I'd include them

main ones that occur to me are;  mark 1 Ultravox with John Foxx on vocals / songwriting, and mark 1 Magazine with John McGeogh on guitar (they didn't last too long after he left anyway)

well if that's the case Status Quo, when John Coughlan and Alan Lancaster left they went craper than crap, they trashed their reputation completely

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It's all about diminishing returns.  I've always had these girlish crushes on bands and tended to lose interest when Teresa from the typing pool mentioned in passing that they liked <insert band here>.

The one that really irks me? Japan.  Man alive, they were incredible until they did the change of direction around the time Quiet Life came out and Sylvian commenced crooning in a lower register.

There's dozens more that were better early on.  Dozens.  Difficult second album syndrome.  Van Halen, Living Colour, Fishbone, Jane's Addiction, Live, Butch Walker, Queen, Cheap Trick.  Nine Inch Nails.  The first two Stereophonics albums were very strong, now the band are a joke.  I could keep going.

Interestingly, it would be easier to list bands that have been horribly consistent. 

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59 minutes ago, Shaggy said:

 

I think the OP meant only in terms of band line-up changes?   In which case if the The Skids were the mark 1 Big Country, I'd include them

main ones that occur to me are;  mark 1 Ultravox with John Foxx on vocals / songwriting, and mark 1 Magazine with John McGeogh on guitar (they didn't last too long after he left anyway)

Thats what I read too. 

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Red Hot Chilli Peppers were excellent back in the day; from the first time I saw them, at the Clarendon in Hammersmith, they completely blew me away - I'd never seen anything like it. They stayed just as hard-hitting, funky and rockin' until the success of BloodSugar, then there was a rapid demise into stadium-tedium and little pop songs.

Don't begrudge them - they'd done the ground-work and deserved some money! But it seems that it's rare for creativity and big bucks to go hand-in-hand...

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2 hours ago, Barking Spiders said:

A recent re-run of a christmas edition of TOTP on BBC4  featured the Human League miming Don't You Want Me Baby. I've never really cared for the mark 2 line-up, mainly because of the [email protected] vocals of the 2 girls. Definitely prefer the more experimental line-up of the original band. So, who here thinks the Fleetwood Mac of Peter Green is way superior to the Buckingham-Nicks years. Would you give the nod to Syd Barrett PF over the megaselling incarnation.  Were Deep Purple better as a psychedelic crew than a metal band?And any others . Bring 'em on. I'm only talking about comparing mk1 with mk2, mk3 etc line-ups not bands where they mostly kept the same members but which changed styles

Thank god SB left Pink Floyd, otherwise we would never have had Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, two brilliant pieces of work.

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Simple Minds from 1979 to 1983 were phenomenally creative. Less so when they got big. Their early years were mighty in so many ways.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, gareth said:

Police

Definately the mk 1 version before Sting's ego joined the band......;)

also I think original lineup of Dr Feelgood with Wilko fits the criteria, as they had more commercial success just after he left but most of what had made the band great had gone 

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I don't know this for certain but I'm going to say Steps.

Simply because I can't imagine they were any worse! ¬¬

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Fleetwood Mac. Their later work, with Buckingham & Nicks, was sad compared to the early work.

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Can't think of anything by YES I've listened to more than once since Trevor Rabin left.  😉

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Funny you mention Pink Floyd - a few years ago, when I was more regular on a similar bass players' forum (which shall remain anonymous) a similar question came up. I forget whether it was about Floyd specifically, or more in the vein of this thread, but - my god - what I'll never forget is how heated it quickly became. A few of us - myself included if memory serves - tried to throw in a few humorous asides to distract the main protagonists, but to no avail, for the same four or five people insisted on digging two opposing trenches, proudly flying the banners of "You Just Don't Understand Syd Barrett's Genius" versus "Syd Barrett Was An Idiot."

Part of me regrets not upping the ante further, by mischievously asking the warring factions whether Roger Waters was right to transition to Fender basses over Rickenbackers...but then, life's too short.

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I can't think of any band that hasn't declined once they've become well known. I should qualify this by saying that I know very little recent music (post 70s).

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