There are some bands whose discographies are just perfect. Audiences know the ones, the groups that never could release a bad song in the eyes of a fan or average listener. The kind of band that has a Wikipedia page for every song on every record. There are even bands whose limited discography makes a new release feel like an event.
Then there’s bands who were smart to get out when they did. To capture the chemistry of working in those sweaty, beer and pizza filled sessions, these artists sweated and slaved over one record. Whether intentionally their only record or not, the albums recorded would go on to define the groups who made them. The records would even manage to secure their place in the annals of music history as some of the all-time influential records.
This week’s blog focuses on bands who have only recorded one record and the legacy those records left behind.
Derek & The Dominos
Eric Clapton and George Harrison have shared a lot in common during their lifetime. They shared guest spots on each other’s songs, they shared musical ideas, and even George Harrison’s wife. The record that ultimately became Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs started as a love letter to Harrison’s wife, Patti Boyd.
In earnest, Clapton began to jam with the guys in Delany Bonnie and Friends following the split up of Clapton’s second supergroup, Blind Faith. To avoid the limelight, Clapton named the band Derek and The Dominos. The group rehearsed a bunch of songs that would eventually make up a bulk of Layla. His love for Patti eventually bled into the lyrics of what would become their biggest hit, “Layla”.
As for Duane Allman, he attended one of the Dominos shows where he met his idol in Clapton. Clapton encouraged Duane to eventually jam with him, and he became an official member of the group following the jam.
Audiences today can’t escape the legacy of the record. Every mob movie or TV show features “Layla” in some capacity. Classic rock and Oldies stations play it all the time. It is one of the all-time great records recorded by a band who just wanted to make one for the love of the craft, and Patti Boyd.
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bullocks
In 1977, while the Ramones were tearing up CBGB’s in New York City, punk was ready to explode across the pond. The London based band, Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock and Steve Jones arrived on the scene with a fury of anger and humor the likes of which the music world had never seen before. Like many punks before them, they were not without their fair share of controversy. The BBC took issue with their song “God Save The Queen”, written about the late matriarch. Their sole record, Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, was a game changer. “Holiday In the Sun”, “Anarchy in the UK” “Pretty Vacant”, influenced bands both in their home country and abroad decades after release.
Motley Crue even recorded a cover of “Anarchy in the UK” and the track was featured in a recent episode of the Showtime series Billions. The album proved that punk was still relevant as even some record shops refused to play the album due to its offensive name.
The La’s (Self-Titled)
The La’s front man, Lee Mavers, like many of the decade, was notorious for his perfectionism. Having taken three years to make, the record company released their self-titled record against his will. The album went through three producers trying to hone in the sound Mavers wanted for his vision. The album upon release was disowned by the band as it was not up to the standards placed upon it. The group disbanded shortly after for their dissatisfaction with the record.
What would rom coms be without advertisements featuring the music of The La’s? 90’s kids remember their biggest hit “There She Goes” being prominently featured in Mike Myers So I Married an Axe Murderer.
Thunderclap Newman: Hollywood Dream
Formed by John “Speedy” Keen, jazz pianist postal service employee Andy “Thunderclap” Newman and Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullough formed in the late 60’s. The group is best known for “Something in The Air”, a song about an unspecified revolution brewing. The rest of the songs are written about Keens Hollywood fantasies and odes to early country music of the time. Pete Townshend of the who produced the record ad Keen was his flatmate at time. He even played bass on the record under the pseudonym Bijou Drains.
Despite great songwriting, these men were not fit for the stage. They floundered as though they had never performed live a day in their life. They broke up six months after the records release citing creative and artistic differences. The song is still played regularly on classic rock stations today.
Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers: L.A.M.F.
Originally meant as a faster paced tribute to the rock and roll music of the 50’s, Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers L.A. M.F. was a record for working class men just getting by. Drummer Jerry Nolan, formerly of the New York Dolls quite The Heartbreakers after hearing the end result of the record. The record was tinny beyond saving. Though over the years, the record would come back again and again in various remastered forms. Trying to recapture the magic that was recorded in the studio.
The records legacy lies in its songs such as “You Can’t Put a Rose on a Memory” and “Chinese Rocks”, co-written by Dee Dee Ramone. The group had influenced the likes of Guns N Roses Duff McKagen, and “Rose” had prominent placement in an episode of The Sopranos. The group itself dissolved unfortunately due to heroin addiction that consumed most of its members.
Temple Of the Dog (Self-Titled)
While not yet a popular genre, one of grunge music’s earliest influences, Andrew Wood, died of a heroin overdose. In a fitting final gesture, Chris Cornell wrote several songs and recorded them with several members of Woods previous band, Mother Love Bone. The records line up included guitarist Stone Gossard, bass player Jeff Ament, guitarist Mike McCready and drummer Matt Cameron. For the song “Hunger Strike”, Cornell needed help singing the low notes. So, he contacted a friend of McCready’s, Eddie Vedder. Vedder provided the killer vocals and the group helped bring grunge to the forefront with Temple of The Dogs Self-Titled record.
As for the legacy, Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready and Jeff Ament would go on to form Pearl Jam. Matt Cameron would stick around Cornell for the formation of Soundgarden. Grunge would go on to dominate the cultural landscape of music for nearly a decade and the rest they say, is history.
Them Crooked Vultures (Self-Titled)
The connection this modern record has to oldies music is the presence of John Paul Jones. Alongside Queens of The Stone Ages Josh Homme on vocals, Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters on drums, this power trio only released one record. Recorded after an extensive world tour in which Paul Jones and Jimmy Paige were brought out onstage with the Foo Fighters, Grohl needed a new direction. Recorded in Rancho Del Luna in Las Vegas, the group brought 13 hard hitting rock tracks together to form a self-titled record. Getting them together was no easy feat, so Grohl decided to have them bond at a Medieval Times. Just imagine Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones bonding over fake jousting and mutton. Truly a site to behold.
Having listed several oldies records of bands who had just one album, what artist can you think of that has just one record? How have they changed the sound of music for you?