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Old 05-12-2018, 15:25   #1
LeftHandedGuitarist
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Bands who produced their best work long after they became famous

Most popular bands gain most critical acclaim/big sales with their early work. I was trying to think, are their any bands who made their most famous music long after they became well known?

I know that if we're just talking about what you consider to be their "best" music then it is subjective (for example: I'd say that Nine Inch Nails have made far better music over the past decade than their early output, but it doesn't sell anywhere near as well), but what about bands who's most popular work came in their later years?

I think I'd include, perhaps quite obviously, The Beatles. The songs from 'Abbey Road' and 'Let It Be' are arguably more well known (and better) than their earlier hits.

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Old 05-12-2018, 15:41   #2
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Certainly acts can produce late-career highs after maybe falling away but it's often only the hardcore fans who will appreciate it - NIN as you say, or Suede's recent acclaim.

I'm going to throw in Johnny Cash who - with the help of Rick Rubin - created a new spin on his legacy and found a completely new audience as a result. Quite different from acts like Fleetwood Mac who are rediscovered but have little fresh to say creatively.
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Old 05-12-2018, 15:45   #3
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I guess Take That could be included with their 2000 albums.
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Old 05-12-2018, 17:36   #4
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I guess Bob Dylan hit a commercial high well into his career when he went electric. Primal Scream were a slow burn in terms of public acclaim. Metallica peaked on albums 3 and 4 then tanked in terms of quality whilst popularity soared. The Smiths built to a crescendo with the Queen is Dead then imploded. Pink Floyd are an interesting case study - radically changing many times but increasingly popular in terms of sales. Also have to mention the Manics who went from cult to mainstream overnight after 5 years.
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Old 05-12-2018, 20:57   #5
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If you look at Pink Floyd you wonder how the got from Piper to Dark Side in half a dozen moves?

Johnny Cash - with the American recordings?

Nick Cave from Birthday party to The Bad Seeds.
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Old 05-12-2018, 21:24   #6
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Johnny Cash - Whilst him recording some decent covers in his later years got him about of the horrible naffness that he had become, he recorded his best work early in his career.

The whole thing is hard, lots of bands recorded many albums before coming famous, you generally become famous for making a decent record (although not always).

Lots of bands produced a load of crap before making it big with a properly produced and marketed record, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, etc.
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Old 06-12-2018, 14:01   #7
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I think James are a great example of this. They are still remembered by most as the band who did Sit Down, but their last three albums are among the best they've ever done - well received critically and by fans.
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Old 06-12-2018, 14:04   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jockosjungle View Post
Johnny Cash - Whilst him recording some decent covers in his later years got him about of the horrible naffness that he had become, he recorded his best work early in his career.

The whole thing is hard, lots of bands recorded many albums before coming famous, you generally become famous for making a decent record (although not always).

Lots of bands produced a load of crap before making it big with a properly produced and marketed record, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, etc.
Johnny Cash had a remarkable career resurgence off the back of the American Recordings series of albums.

Artists like him seem to come in and out of fashion (for wont of a better word) so many times in their careers.
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Old 06-12-2018, 15:05   #9
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I think there's a reasonable consistency in the initial fame / wilderness years / back in the spotlight regime.

People like Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, Fleetwood Mac. They might not necessarily achieve the same critical success but people recognise their place in things. Someone like Paul McCartney can still fill arenas but most people wouldn't be able to whistle anything he's done since about 1983.
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Old 06-12-2018, 15:20   #10
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Especially when for most people when they're considering an earlier era artist, they're often considering a "greatest hits" selection. Can you really name many albums by Elvis?

I'm a big fan of Blues Traveler, couple of catchy singles of one album made them vaguely famous in the US, never troubled the charts before or since. Still producing a decent output though.
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Old 09-12-2018, 14:40   #11
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The answer to any question about who did it best in music is always... David Bowie.
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Old 12-12-2018, 14:14   #12
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I'm going to throw this out there, but Aerosmith

I'm sure fans are going to shout me down, but they seemed to have a number of massive 70s albums - released a pile of greatest hits in the 80s and then released chart topping albums in the 90s like Get a Grip, with the cryin' crazy, amazing trio.

Going purely off "number of plays" on spotify, it seems to be mostly 70s and 90s stuff that's very popular, whether that is their best stuff is of course open to interpretation

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Old 12-12-2018, 14:34   #13
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I think Michael Jackson fits in here too. He became super famous as a little kid singing with his brothers and then began a solo career, but he was later elevated to super stardom in the '80s-mid '90s.
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Old 12-12-2018, 14:39   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Majestik View Post
The answer to any question about who did it best in music is always... David Bowie.
That's an interesting one. He certainly reached his peak of popularity with the Let's Dance album in the early 80s, but his '90s material is generally unknown to the average listener and doesn't get much radio play.

Things changed a bit with the release of The Next Day and Blackstar which sold very well (and were excellent) but I wonder how many people can name/recognise songs off those albums?
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Old 12-12-2018, 22:56   #15
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There is a pretty good argument for REM around the Out of Time \ Automatic era (and New Adventures)

I would also argue that U2s best music was Achtung Baby \ Zooropa long after they were a massive stadium band.

The National maybe, they've never made a bad album.
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Old 15-12-2018, 10:42   #16
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I was going to say U2 as well - Achtung Baby for me is their best work, but even the Joshua Tree which is widely regarded by critics as one of those all time classic albums came 6 albums and nearly 8 years in to their career.

REM followed a similar path too with Out of Time.

How were Bowies’s 90s albums received? I really like Earthling and Outside but never really got in to Black Tie White Noise although I liked some of the singles. He was obviously coming off the back of Tin Machine. Blackstar was obviously loved by critics and fans, maybe his most acclaimed album in 30 years?
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