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Barking Spiders

Bands you think were better before they got big

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A long way from 'big' but there was a Christian speed-folk band in the 90's called Why? which my sister was into. Turned out they were really good, funny, and not heavy on the religion in the lyrics. Guitar, bass, drums, fiddle and mandolin, they had a crazed kind of energy which I enjoyed. Members were replaced and by the time we went to see them at a gig it had changed to cheesy digital piano and a bass player with a raft of effects doing incongruous things. Completely different sound, and lacking the wild silliness which made them appealing.

I'm also only interested in Wishbone Ash with Martin Turner, but that may just be a Thunderbird thing!

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18 hours ago, matski said:

Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Admittedly the first 2 albums were a little iffy, but the 3rd album "The Uplift Mofo Party Plan" album with the 'original' lineup of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak & Jack Irons was quintessential RHCPs - funky, psychedelic mayhem. Then of course Hillel croaked and Jack left and in came John Frusciante. The next album "Mothers Milk" was IMO a bit of a stop-gap and then along came "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" which made them megastars.

And then they were crap.

One Hot Minute is better than anything before BSSM! 

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On ‎18‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 12:30, BigRedX said:

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

Wow I'd completely forgotten about them.  Still have that on vinyl somewhere.  Saw them at Birmingham Uni 'High Hall' in 1982(?) - with Annie Nightingale as MC/DJ.  Pretty sure they mimed most of the gig though......

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27 minutes ago, martthebass said:

Wow I'd completely forgotten about them.  Still have that on vinyl somewhere.  Saw them at Birmingham Uni 'High Hall' in 1982(?) - with Annie Nightingale as MC/DJ.  Pretty sure they mimed most of the gig though......

I've seen all there versions - Freur in 1985, Underworld Mk1 in 1989 and Underworld Mk 2 in 1993. I haven't been to see them since Daren Emerson left and they got massive.

For the Freur gig there was a lot of the music on the backing tape and they made no secret of the fact, but given the complexity of the album (and its follow up Get Us Out Of Here) and the state of music technology at the time it was a wonder that they were able to perform any of it live. The PPG Wave synth required constant rebooting during the gig I saw, and it was very obvious when it dropped out of the mix.

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Depends how big we're talking. Tears For Fears for example...The Big Chair is an outstanding pop record IMO, they were already fairly big by then and of course BC was what broke them into the bigger picture. Seeds of Love however is totally jumping the shark if you ask me.

Some people have mentioned U2. Funny thing is, for me U2 only started sucking once they stopped taking themselves too seriously (so around Achtung! Baby). My favourite one is The Unforgettable Fire. That and the albums before just have this strident earnestness and energy to it all which I find irresistible. 

Sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in. I'm a massive Sisters of Mercy fan and love basically everything in the discography. Sometimes I prefer to listen only to the more metallic, punky stuff from before the first album. Other times only the overblown bombast of Floodland is enough to satisfy me. 

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52 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

I've seen all there versions - Freur in 1985, Underworld Mk1 in 1989 and Underworld Mk 2 in 1993. I haven't been to see them since Daren Emerson left and they got massive.

For the Freur gig there was a lot of the music on the backing tape and they made no secret of the fact, but given the complexity of the album (and its follow up Get Us Out Of Here) and the state of music technology at the time it was a wonder that they were able to perform any of it live. The PPG Wave synth required constant rebooting during the gig I saw, and it was very obvious when it dropped out of the mix.

Agree with you there BRX, the sound was excellent, I bought the album the day after the gig (HMV New Street - now that brings back memories) and was amazed how close they got to the record.

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4 hours ago, The59Sound said:

One Hot Minute is better than anything before BSSM!

Amazing how different people's tastes are... I know folks who love Californication as well.

Each to their own!

But then I'm a fan of Urban Dance Squad, 24-7 Spyz and Infectious Grooves.

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On 18/12/2018 at 12:33, Shaggy said:

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)

+1 for Ultravox. I love their first three albums and still listen to them a lot. But when John Foxx left, he took the hard edge with him and the band became a shadow of its former self. 

I quite like the idea of an Ultravox tribute band, except that we'd be stuck with playing bloody Vienna at every single gig.

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23 hours ago, matski said:

Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Admittedly the first 2 albums were a little iffy, but the 3rd album "The Uplift Mofo Party Plan" album with the 'original' lineup of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak & Jack Irons was quintessential RHCPs - funky, psychedelic mayhem. Then of course Hillel croaked and Jack left and in came John Frusciante. The next album "Mothers Milk" was IMO a bit of a stop-gap and then along came "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" which made them megastars.

And then they were crap.

To be honest, I think the Chilis are a candidate for the 'best bands with crap first albums' thread.The first one's pretty dire.

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hmm as some peeps have already correctly pointed out the thread is about comparing the most commercially successful incarnations of a band with others that you may think are better. It's not about bands with the same line-ups who've had great and lean periods. So yes to Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC and The Human League but no to U2, Ramones etc

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11 hours ago, Barking Spiders said:

hmm as some peeps have already correctly pointed out the thread is about comparing the most commercially successful incarnations of a band with others that you may think are better. It's not about bands with the same line-ups who've had great and lean periods. So yes to Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC and The Human League but no to U2, Ramones etc

RHCP can stay then, having only 2 remaining original members. 

I like Frusciante’s playing but much prefer Hillel’s. Yes, the early albums were a bit stinky poo, but at least it sounded like they meant what they were found. 

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On 18/12/2018 at 21:46, Graham said:

I do like the last three Opeth albums, but much prefer the old sound, basically, I wish Akerfeldt would go back to listening to Morbid Angel as much as he listens to Camel

Opeth is the first band that sprang to mind, they seemed to lose their was after Ghost Reveries. Watershed has its moments, but Heritage was just dull. They've slowly been coming back up but, as you imply, with a different sound. 

Mastodon peaked with Crack the Skye. Since then they've written bland songs to appeal to a wider audience. 

I saw both the bands several times but the last time I saw each the gigs are right at the top of dullest gigs I've ever been to. 

 

 

Ooh, Pearl Jam. After the first 2 albums they were like a totally different band.

Edited by bartelby

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13 minutes ago, bartelby said:

Opeth is the first band that sprang to mind, they seemed to lose their was after Ghost Reveries. Watershed has its moments, but Heritage was just dull. They've slowly been coming back up but, as you imply, with a different sound. 

Mastodon peaked with Crack the Skye. Since then they've written bland songs to appeal to a wider audience. 

I saw both the bands several times but the last time I saw each the gigs are right at the top of dullest gigs I've ever been to. 

 

 

Ooh, Pearl Jam. After the first 2 albums they were like a totally different band.

Yeah, I was thinking Mastodon as well; the modern stuff is okay, but when listening to it I can't help but remember this band wrote Leviathan and Remission and then feel disappointed

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18 hours ago, ForestPoetry said:

 

Sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in. I'm a massive Sisters of Mercy fan and love basically everything in the discography. Sometimes I prefer to listen only to the more metallic, punky stuff from before the first album. Other times only the overblown bombast of Floodland is enough to satisfy me. 

Totally agree.  

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1 hour ago, Graham said:

Yeah, I was thinking Mastodon as well; the modern stuff is okay, but when listening to it I can't help but remember this band wrote Leviathan and Remission and then feel disappointed

I have always felt that I should like Mastodon, but despite desparately trying to find something in the last four albums, I've given up.  Blood Mountain and before is where I am with them.

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On 19/12/2018 at 17:21, matski said:

Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Admittedly the first 2 albums were a little iffy, but the 3rd album "The Uplift Mofo Party Plan" album with the 'original' lineup of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak & Jack Irons was quintessential RHCPs - funky, psychedelic mayhem. Then of course Hillel croaked and Jack left and in came John Frusciante. The next album "Mothers Milk" was IMO a bit of a stop-gap and then along came "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" which made them megastars.

And then they were crap.

Didn’t really matter who left and joined RHCP, the one consistent thing is that Kiedis vocals have always been crap👎

Edited by steantval

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My Mrs. has always been a big Pink Floyd fan. She'll happily tell anyone who will listen how she used to sit on the stage or wander around half empty pubs listening to them back in the 60s. She'll also happily tell you that the sound was always crap, they would shuffle on and play meandering pshycedelic nonsense for ages and then wander off again with no audience interaction whatsoever and that they would spend the whole time staring at their feet. It would often be 20 minutes in that it would dawn on you that this was actually the gig and they weren't still tuning up.

Edited by Japhet
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3 hours ago, bartelby said:

Opeth is the first band that sprang to mind, they seemed to lose their was after Ghost Reveries. Watershed has its moments, but Heritage was just dull. They've slowly been coming back up but, as you imply, with a different sound. 

Mastodon peaked with Crack the Skye. Since then they've written bland songs to appeal to a wider audience. 

I saw both the bands several times but the last time I saw each the gigs are right at the top of dullest gigs I've ever been to. 

 

 

Ooh, Pearl Jam. After the first 2 albums they were like a totally different band.

I agree with 100% your points about all three bands - except IMO Opeth are always a delight live. I do like their last two albums (I'm progger at heart) but they'd benefit from a bit less restraint!

Mastodon are the only band where I'd bought tickets to a gig, but felt so let down by the album they subsequently released (The Hunter, follow-up to Crack The Skye) that I didn't bother to go. The fact that I'd seen them twice before & got the impression they were lousy live didn't really help.

Edited by Bassassin

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22 hours ago, keeponehandloose said:

Christian speed-folk is conjuring up all sorts of images in my mind..

They were kind-of crusty 90's hippies really, the religion side of it seemed a bit incongruous. The humour was all good clean family fun, but there was something acid and amphetamines-y about them too.! 😃 I haven't heard them since I was a teenager, they could well not have been anything like as good as I remember. I'll perhaps have a hunt around for videos.

 

4 hours ago, bartelby said:

Ooh, Pearl Jam. After the first 2 albums they were like a totally different band.

Possibly an unusual example because I believe it was a deliberate attempt to move away from that radio-friendly sound and have more organic approach- in fact almost inverse to many, in that they had the big polished sound and hit albums to start with, then got into a more ramshackle sound once they were massive.

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Two from me... Firstly the Manic Street Preachers. I loved the first 3 albums but when everyone was raving about Everything Must Go, I couldn't help feel that it wasn't as good. I simply haven't kept up with the band since.

Manix.jpg.40fe4b811ac07b8b52f5c26bb4cfc261.jpg

And secondly The Black Crowes. I loved the debut and was really into the follow up but they then started doing jams that lasted a week and a half, appearing on the cover of High Times and I remember thinking "the drugs DON'T work!"

black-crowes1.jpg.adbfda7b309c8af029c3d5fb7a83cbb0.jpg

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9 hours ago, Graham said:

Yeah, I was thinking Mastodon as well; the modern stuff is okay, but when listening to it I can't help but remember this band wrote Leviathan and Remission and then feel disappointed

Tell me Crack The Skye isn't a great album. 

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1 minute ago, The59Sound said:

Tell me Crack The Skye isn't a great album. 

Oh yeah, Crack The Skye is great; the first four albums are belters, it was when they completed the fire/water/earth/aether cycle that it all started to go downhill.

Leviathan is where they peaked IMO, one of top five albums of all time

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On 20/12/2018 at 10:52, Paul S said:

Black Sabbath.  For me the first 4 albums created and defined the genre of 'Heavy Metal' but, for me, they went a bit off the boil apart from the odd song here and there.  Then Ozzy left and it wasn't BS any more, despite the name.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was good.

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