Who else is from Bowie land?
September 8, 2008 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for artists (mainly musicians) that a friend should check out.

A friend of mine is interested in tracing artists changes and styles throughout their careers and needs some new suggestions for whose music catalgue to delve into.

He is looking for artists of fairly high notoriety who have had long careers featuring high levels of change from album to album, he just got finished with Bowie and Iggy.
posted by Cosine to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mattbucher at 10:41 AM on September 8, 2008

posted by LiveToEat at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2008

Miles Davis covered just about every form of Jazz, over a five-decade career.
posted by Benjy at 10:55 AM on September 8, 2008

And listening to the Beatles albums in a chronological manner is a great way of appreciating more sophisticated recording techniques (pretty much as they were invented), plus you can trace the development of certain stylistic quirks that each member developed. Such as Lennon's swings back and forth between straightforward rock and avant-gard experimentations, McCartney's tendencies towards pop being tempered by darker bits by Lennon, Harrison's dramatic improvements in lead and solo lines, and Starr's application of what is basically one basic style across a bunch of different types of sounds.
posted by Benjy at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2008

posted by pised at 11:03 AM on September 8, 2008

Ditto on Miles Davis; in fact it's hard to think of anyone who drove as much drastic change over such a long period of time. Suggested Listens for the various different styles:

Birth of the Cool - 'Cool' Jazz in a more traditional style
Sketches of Spain - Impressionistic, big band arrangements with Gil Evans
Kind of Blue - the invention, and perfection, of modal jazz
Miles Smiles - his late 60's quintet that pushed the boundaries of acoustic jazz - not really 'free' jazz, but definitely not traditional.
B*tches Brew - the birth of jazz-rock fusion
Aghartha - Long, dense, arrangements thick with funk elements and polyrhythms

Sorry if I nerded out there, I'm a huge Miles fan.
posted by mattholomew at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2008

Bob Dylan
The Flaming Lips
posted by carsonb at 11:14 AM on September 8, 2008

posted by lovermont at 11:22 AM on September 8, 2008

Upon re-reading your question, not sure if you just mean solo artists, as opposed to bands, so here are a couple of solo artists:

Peter Gabriel (starting with Genesis years, even)
Kate Bush
posted by lovermont at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2008

Not sure if concert music is your friend's cup of tea, but Igor Stravinsky definitely falls into this category. In early ballets like Firebird and Petroushka, he sounds very Russian-late-Romantic, sort of like a more adventurous Rimsky-Korsakov. Then came the Rite of Spring, which freaked everyone out with its "primitivism" and innovations in harmony and rhythm. After that he experimented with neoclassicism (Symphony of Psalms, Dunbarton Oaks) and serialism (Agon, Variations for Aldous Huxley). What's interesting is that, like the artists mentioned above, he remains unmistakably Stravinsky throughout all these changes -- he never sounds like anyone else.
posted by speicus at 11:30 AM on September 8, 2008

Early Talking Heads albums through the later David Byrne solo stuff.
posted by steinwald at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

I never undersand why these questions have burried in there...'High Profile'

If your friend wanted to see much more ambitious changes, he may want to hear bands that changed because they could.
Bands like U2 never really changed. I can tell a U2 song always, but I wouldnt be able to tell what CD.

One of my favorites (as far as band progression) is easily, The Dilinger Escape Plan
Calculating Infinity -> Irony is a Dead Scene (Mike Patton!) -> Miss Machine -> Ire Works
Stunning change from Calculating Infinity to Ire Works and you can even see through out how and where things changed

Another great band with maybe even more change throughout is a band called Coheed and Cambria

There are just too many to list here, but again, the more prominent, the less real drastic change.

But I def agree with steinwald.....
posted by TeachTheDead at 11:44 AM on September 8, 2008

Tell your friend to rush out and start buying albums by Sparks, perhaps aided by the fantastic listening guide written by Ned Raggett for the magazine Arthur a couple months ago. They've gone from operatic glam (Queen ripped them off) to art rock to hard rock to disco to new wave to indie rock, all while sounding resolutely like Sparks.

Other folks to check out:
Brian Eno (from Roxy Music to the new Coldplay)
Robert Palmer (blue-eyed soul to hard rock to new wave)
Ken Vandermark (certified genius sax man who's done nigh everything)
Sun Ra (weird jazz forever)
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on September 8, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah Sparks!
posted by Cosine at 11:53 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sounds like Beck to me.
posted by danwalker at 12:00 PM on September 8, 2008

Ween, for sure.
Flaming Lips.
Primal Scream- you can usually tell it's them but each album is like a little time capsule of the year it was made.
posted by fshgrl at 12:05 PM on September 8, 2008

Frank Sinatra
posted by euphorb at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2008

Tom Waits. From lite-beatnik crooner to apeshit bone-gnawer.
posted by Beardman at 12:21 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wilco is another good one. It's especially interesting if you start with Uncle Tupelo then listen to both Wilco and Son Volt, which grew out of UT's split.
posted by fshgrl at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2008

Perfect example would be PJ Harvey. She's changed radically across the years and always sounded fresh in the context of whatever genre she's into at the moment.
posted by kalapierson at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2008

XTC. From post-punk new wave to, intelligent AAA pop (including Andy Partridge solo/side projects).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Björk. Start with the Sugarcubes and work forward. Worth exploring the artists who remixed her work along the way too.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:12 PM on September 8, 2008

Radiohead is another case, although they might fall into the camp of artists who underwent a single dramatic shift, as opposed to Bowie-like chameleonics. There are, obivously, a lot of bands who departed from, or in Radiohead's case disowned, their earliest work. Just as there a lot of artists who stayed more or less steady, with the exception of some experiment (Lou Reed's Metal Music Machine, Neil Young's Trans.)

I take it you're looking for something that comes closer to perpetual wandering, rather than 'growth' in the sense that Radiohead has grown.
posted by Beardman at 2:31 PM on September 8, 2008

Nick Cave - start with The Birthday Party
Einsturzende Neubauten
Peter Gabriel - start w/ Genesis

...and I know I got stuck in the '80s there, but it's because this idea hit me and won't leave my head:
Grab Bauhaus and then take all of the twisting turns from there, heading out into solo efforts, some reunion action, then more solo stuff.
posted by batmonkey at 4:52 PM on September 8, 2008

Leonard Cohen.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:56 PM on September 8, 2008

Talk Talk changed throughout their career pretty drastically. From Roxy Music romantic-era new wavey stuff to perhaps becoming one of the progenitors of post-rock. I would start with Colour of Spring, maybe, and work outward.
posted by nimmpau at 3:15 PM on September 9, 2008

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