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What are some great "one-man band" albums?
June 15, 2013 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Strolling along, enjoying Prince's first album and marveling that he wrote, recorded, and produced the album himself...oh, and played all the instruments. Ditto much of Mike Oldfield's works. It's not hard to find one-person singer-songwriter albums (Neil Young, Tori Amos, etc.), but they rarely go into the complexity or variety of instrumentation that Prince and Oldfield go into. Like if you didn't know any better, you'd think it was at least for or five people in the band. And damn, it's not like this person is a guitarist who can also play bass... he/she is adept at any instrument they touch. What are some other albums/artists like this? (Credit will also be given for example like Dave Grohl, or other notable multi-instrumentalists)
posted by holterbarbour to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Andrew Bird, definitely.
posted by chloe.gelsomino at 11:34 PM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Karl Wallinger (World Party)
posted by scody at 11:35 PM on June 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jon Brion
posted by 2ghouls at 11:42 PM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Brendan Benson.
posted by eugenen at 11:43 PM on June 15, 2013


Kurt Ralske played everything on the first Ultra Vivid Scene album.
posted by xil at 11:45 PM on June 15, 2013


Basically, every single electronica album is a one man show. Trent Reznor does almost everything on at least the early NIN albums.
posted by empath at 11:48 PM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Roy Wood, a successful English musician who isn't much known in the US, released two solo albums Boulders and Mustard in the 1970s on which he did absolutely everything. (He's one of those annoyingly talented people who can play tons of instruments with no training.) Both discs present a "wall of sound" that seem like they were recorded by a twenty-man band.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:51 PM on June 15, 2013


I would advise you to look into the works of Jhameel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:52 AM on June 16, 2013


McCartney
Something/ Anything?
Music of My Mind

are classics.

More here.
posted by saul wright at 1:05 AM on June 16, 2013


One-woman band? Try Ms Merrill Garbus, who performs as tUnE-yArDs
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:28 AM on June 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


And from another era, Jessie Fuller, the one-man instrumentalist behind San Francisco Bay Blues
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:34 AM on June 16, 2013


It's a song to song thing, and he obviously worked with a lot of other musicians... but Stevie Wonder would fall in to this category.

Dave Grohl also did 100% of the work on the first foo fighters album, and then realized he needed a band to tour.
posted by emptythought at 2:33 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know Sparks are two brothers, but Ron Mael plays *everything* when recording the album (except for Russell's singing) and they then get a live band to tour (except for the current and very awesome two hands one mouth tour).
posted by ozgirlabroad at 2:50 AM on June 16, 2013


J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr plays all the instruments on Green Mind, save for drums on a few tracks.
posted by jonathanbell at 2:58 AM on June 16, 2013


The Headphone Masterpiece by Cody Chesnutt

neo-soul/R&B/lo-fi/pop/rock, and darn awesome

a highlight: Look Good in Leather
posted by maya at 3:31 AM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was a music video by Paul McCartney which shows him doing every part. He even played the drums.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:55 AM on June 16, 2013


I believe Quantic was a solo person for quite some time.
posted by floweredfish at 4:03 AM on June 16, 2013


Self.
posted by Betafae at 4:07 AM on June 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The first Boston album was basically Tom Scholz in his basement.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:15 AM on June 16, 2013


The Primitive Radio Gods is a one-man band, and the rest of his stuff is quite good, not just the one hit. There are other band members now who sit in and do stuff, especially for live shows, but for a long time, it was really just Chris O'Connor.

St. Vincent
would probably be referred to as a one-woman band.

Never Shout Never is a one-man affair, except when touring.

As mentioned above, Nine Inch Nails was a one-man (Trent Reznor) affair for many years before he started taking on members.

Eels is pretty much just Mark Everett ("E") with a rotating cast of occasional musicians joining in for projects.
posted by juniperesque at 5:22 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Elliott Smith- Either/Or
posted by quiet coyote at 5:37 AM on June 16, 2013


Remy Shand
posted by Benjy at 5:58 AM on June 16, 2013


Ben Folds did almost all of Rockin the Suburbs.
posted by Silvertree at 6:09 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
Steve Winwood - Arc of a Diver
posted by fuse theorem at 6:13 AM on June 16, 2013


Matt Johnson did it all for The The at various points.
posted by gimli at 6:14 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


On his first album Mayer Hawthorne did about half of the tracks by himself, then showed his friends those tracks and they came on board to record the rest of the album.
posted by cmoj at 6:15 AM on June 16, 2013


Tame Impala has band members now for shows and future recordings, but the current albums are just Kevin Parker doing all of the instruments, plus recording and mixing.
posted by dayintoday at 6:30 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The wonderfully sonically-dense Lonely People of the World, Unite! from Devin Davis is like this - recorded in spare studio time late at night, bit by bit over two years.
posted by harkin banks at 7:02 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lindsey Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac) released a couple of solo records (Law and Order and Go Insane) where he played or performed almost every single part. Trouble off of Law and Order is one of my favorite tracks.
posted by fikri at 7:05 AM on June 16, 2013


saul wright already mentioned Something/Anything, but lots of other Rundgren qualifies (and he was supposedly a pretty fair influence on the Purple One to boot). Go directly to The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, Healing and Hermit of Mink Hollow. They are all 100% amazing.
posted by mintcake! at 7:26 AM on June 16, 2013


Also: Emitt Rhodes.
posted by mintcake! at 7:28 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


R. Stevie Moore
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2013


There was a classical album done by Wynton Marsalis which featured a trumpet chorus, taped in a cathedral, where he did all the parts.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:55 AM on June 16, 2013


Xavier Rudd.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 8:07 AM on June 16, 2013


Keller Williams. I have seen him in concert play all the parts by getting his drum track going, then the keyboards then he plays guitar and harmonica. Sounds great.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:16 AM on June 16, 2013


Tame Impala (here's Solitude is Bliss). Kevin Parker played nearly everything on both albums.
posted by O9scar at 8:34 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If being notable or well-known is not a criterion, I recommend checking out Arman Bohn. His album Bits (all the songs are inspired by Atari 2600 games) is all him. It's one of those albums I can listen to over and over and over again.

In the 90's he was in a band (Shed, later called Eureka Farm) with Ben Gibbard and Nick Harmer before they split off and formed Death Cab for Cutie.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:14 AM on June 16, 2013


The early (pre-1990, I think?) basement-psychedelia albums from The Bevis Frond were almost entirely the product of one man, Nick Saloman.

It's all pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but every-so-often it's fucking amazing.
posted by dersins at 9:44 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of Robert Wyatt's mid-period stuff (No One Can Stop Us, Old Rottenhat, Dondestan) is Robert and various instruments in a studio with some exceptions (Shipbuilding, for example is an all-star cast).
posted by Grangousier at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2013


There was a music video by Paul McCartney which shows him doing every part. He even played the drums.
Can be seen here.
posted by fings at 10:12 AM on June 16, 2013


Ariel Pink in the pre-Haunted Graffiti days.
posted by item at 11:32 AM on June 16, 2013


Alexander "Skip" Spence - Oar
posted by porn in the woods at 3:55 PM on June 16, 2013


TODD RUNDGREN

JASON FALKNER
posted by markjamesmurphy at 7:21 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fats Kaplin plays every instrument on The Fatman Cometh and World of Wonder. (Full disclosure: he happens to be my uncle, but he's been touring with Jack White recently, so it's not just me who thinks he's good.)
posted by ocherdraco at 7:30 PM on June 16, 2013


The Blue Ridge Rangers are (is) John Fogerty, and at least a couple of his solo albums, including "Centerfield," are truly solo.
posted by sageleaf at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2013


Atom and his package.
posted by Burgatron at 3:21 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thomas Dolby's Sole inhabitant
posted by monkey closet at 6:18 AM on June 17, 2013


Jay Reatard would describe his records as home-made apple pies. Blood Visions has the full-on fury of a hungry punk band, but it's just Jay's nervous energy, multi-tracked.
posted by bendybendy at 8:04 AM on June 17, 2013


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