My oldest son, who recently got his first turntable for his 19th birthday and who has proceeded on a heart-warming (mine), wallet-emptying (his) vinyl binge, sent me the following text while I was at the gym this morning:
When I go to record stores I see lots of solo albums by different artists but I never want to buy them cause I’m not familiar with the music and I know lots of artists suck when they go solo. For example, Ive seen lots of Fogerty solo work and McCartney solo work but I don’t know if it’s good. Can you think of the best artists who went solo so I know what to buy and what to avoid?
Good question, right? One of those questions I sometimes get from people young enough to be my kid that makes me think we need to follow Rock Town Hall with a next-generation spinoff. I’m not sure, myself, whether Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass is actually good. I can advise him on solo John Fogerty (“Eh…”). His question reminds me that I need to warn him to tread lightly with any other solo (or in any way post-Move) album by Roy Wood beside Boulders, which he borrowed from me last week and liked a lot. I’ve had mixed feelings about Pete Townshend, the Occasional Solo Artist, for years. Should I finally buy a used copy of Empty Glass? I’ll have a talk with him about McCartney and let him know that there’s really no difference between McCartney solo and Wings and that there’s nothing McCartney has done post-Beatles that is worth anything but a greatest hits collection beside the nearly amazing Band on the Run. (I know some of you stand behind Ram, as well. I’ll be fair and represent your thoughts on that album.)
What solo albums by musicians primarily associated with being members of a long-running band would you recommend my boy check out? Don’t suggest Van Morrison, because he spent his first couple of years in Them. Likewise, as I remember perceiving things at his age, my son still thinks of and likes Lou Reed as a solo artist before thinking of him as the guy from the Velvet Underground.