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Good enough for a single album only?
April 25, 2012 7:20 AM   Subscribe

What bands only released one album?

I was reading Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time issue and saw that the Sex Pistols only released one album. I think that's really interesting since so many people I know really like them. But it got me thinking.

What other bands only released one album? I'd think that if a band was good enough to get signed to a label they'd get a chance to make a second album. And that if they weren't that good anyway they wouldn't have been signed.

For the purpose of this question live albums, compolations, and generally stuff like that which isn't a regular studio album don't count.

I also already know about Temple of the Dog. I think that's cheating a little bit since they only got together to make a tribute song. But they did end up making an entire album.
posted by theichibun to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
i think you're going to need to focus a bit more, because there have been roughly a zillion bands in the world that have only released one album.

one album, but it's gotten critical acclaim? or popular attention? or sold well?
posted by entropone at 7:25 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It also might be worthwhile to narrow your definition of 'album'--do compilations and live albums and posthumous releases and bootlegs count?

(If they do, the Sex Pistols might be more prolific than you realize.)
posted by box at 7:29 AM on April 25, 2012


Operation Ivy only put out a single full-length studio album.
posted by theodolite at 7:32 AM on April 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


4 Non Blondes
Talk Show
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:35 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It also might be worthwhile to narrow your definition of 'album'--do compilations and live albums ... count?

It also might be worthwhile to read the whole question. "For the purpose of this question live albums, compolations, and generally stuff like that which isn't a regular studio album don't count."

Ambulance LTD. Their only album, LP, is excellent.
posted by John Cohen at 7:37 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Postal Service
posted by TurkishGolds at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The La's.
posted by daveje at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can download all of freedb and probably write a short program that will find all the bands in it with only one album. I am sure you will find thousands.
posted by grouse at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The La's. One studio album, one hit single, seven complations.
The Shaggs.

There are various reasons why some bands/artist relase one album: lack of commercial and/or critical recognition, personal problems, early death, "creative conflicts", cancellation...
posted by iviken at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Exploding Hearts
posted by Chenko at 7:39 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lift To Experience. Getting wider attention now due to the success of Josh T. Pearson.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:40 AM on April 25, 2012


A lot of supergroups exist only long enough to record one album and then break up -- if you'd count that, the list on this Wikipedia page is pretty good.
posted by theodolite at 7:44 AM on April 25, 2012


Rockpile
posted by readery at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


For Squirrels
posted by plastic_animals at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2012


Toy Matinee.
posted by emelenjr at 7:56 AM on April 25, 2012


Toy Love
posted by Chenko at 7:59 AM on April 25, 2012


The Avalanches

(though a second is planned... and has been 'planned' since about 2004)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 8:07 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hindu Love Gods.
posted by timsteil at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2012


I also think your premise is a bit flawed here, since most bands probably release one album if they release any. And do EPs count, after you've ruled out all those other things? Lots of punk bands (Op Ivy was cited above) release a handful of 7"s, then an album and that's it.

Anyway, single albums:
Parrellograms--Linda Perhacs
Genesis--Wendy and Bonnie
Embrace--Embrace
Out of Step--Minor Threat
Rites of Spring--Rites of Spring

etc.
posted by OmieWise at 8:16 AM on April 25, 2012


From Paste Magazine's List, Lauryn Hill and Jeff Buckley. But are those two really bands?
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The United States of America
posted by DarkForest at 8:30 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Peruse these search results, which includes both single references and compilations of one-album artists (along with some spurious results like "release only one album since")
posted by beagle at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2012


Blind Faith
posted by ejazen at 9:12 AM on April 25, 2012


Echoing OmniWise and entropone - a bazillion bands you've never heard of have released only one album; they didn't sell well enough, and there goes their chance at a second.

And it's not only punkers who've done more singles than albums - an awful lot of the early history of recorded pop or rock was singles-based, and albums were an afterthought, a way to re-sell the singles in a different format. That's (arguably) one of the ways the Beatles changed pop music - even their earlier albums were albums rather than "two hit singles plus a bunch of junk." Or at least their "junk" was an order of magnitude better than other bands' junk.

a band was good enough to get signed to a label they'd get a chance to make a second album. And that if they weren't that good anyway they wouldn't have been signed.

That's pretty much the flaw in your premise. It's not about "good enough for a major label," it's about "we (the label) think we can sell this record to a bunch of people." The fact that "good music" and "major label" have sometimes intersected is some combination of happy accident, luck, and hard work.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:05 AM on April 25, 2012


Josef K only released one proper album, 1981's Only Fun In Town on Postcard Records. Jittery post-punk that notably influenced a lot of the revival bands ca. mid-2000s, particularly Franz Ferdinand. Excellent record.

There's loads more bands in this vein with only one LP under their belt: The Beakers, Essential Logic and the astonishing Life Without Buildings being a few of my favourites.
posted by tealsocks at 10:53 AM on April 25, 2012


Living Spoon
posted by TinWhistle at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2012


Oh! I forgot what is maybe my very favourite example, a singer-songwriter named Spencer Kingman who has, as of right now, only released a single album which is actually half of a split-double-album set (?) with the Viking Moses. It's sadly out of print but worth tracking down. 18 minutes of perfect folk pop.
posted by tealsocks at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2012


The Rezillos, not counting the live album or the albums under the name Revillos with a different lineup.
posted by look busy at 11:27 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about Arcadia, one of the Duran Duran spin-off groups? "So Red the Rose" was their only album.
posted by dotgirl at 11:41 AM on April 25, 2012


What about side projects or supergroups? Lots of significant one-album (or single performance) bands on that list.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 11:55 AM on April 25, 2012


The Germs only had one studio album, with a live album released after Darby Crash committed suicide.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:39 PM on April 25, 2012


Teenage Jesus and the Jerks were a pretty big deal and they only released 18 minutes of music.
posted by Chenko at 1:11 PM on April 25, 2012


Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
posted by yellowbinder at 1:52 PM on April 25, 2012


The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic
posted by spanishbombs at 4:32 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heavens to Betsy - Calculated
posted by box at 7:02 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joy Division comes pretty close, with a huge legacy despite only 2 studio albums.

Temple of the Dog was another one of those "team-up" groups formed by members of other successful bands. They only had one album.

Tones on Tail had only one proper album, as did Dali's Car and The Glove. But again, those bands included well known members from established acts.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:42 PM on April 25, 2012


Black Star
posted by chrchr at 10:56 PM on April 25, 2012


Young Marble Giants - one album, and a few Peel Sessions collaborations.

That's pretty much the flaw in your premise. It's not about "good enough for a major label," it's about "we (the label) think we can sell this record to a bunch of people." The fact that "good music" and "major label" have sometimes intersected is some combination of happy accident, luck, and hard work.

This might be interesting. Bands split up, or get dropped, or lose members through quitting or addiction. The Sex Pistols were essentially a manufactured band, which didn't survive the press attention or various drug habits. Plus labels are quick to drop bands that underperform - if Radiohead or Blur had been signed twenty years later, they'd never have made The Bends or Modern Life is Rubbish.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on April 26, 2012


Margo Guryan.
posted by John Cohen at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2012


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