Mar 082016

And what was Peter Case thinking, going from power pop at its most powerful:

to Delta bluesman:

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like “Frowning Atahuallpa” and”Icewater”; it’s just that I love “The Groover” and “A Million Miles Away”.

We’re all agreed on those, right?

What other stylistic changes in rock & roll were for the better and for the worse for you?


  19 Responses to “For Better & For Worse”

  1. This isn’t as extreme as your examples, but the Animals were pretty great when they started out as a tough little rock ‘n roll band. The became even more enjoyable, for me, if way less consistent (and frequently terrible – even in triumph), when they became Eric Burdon & the New Animals and got psychedelicized. The Yardbirds followed a similar path with similar results.

  2. Welcome back, Mr. Mod! You have expanded the thread to one of those quadrant things. Another better & better shift would be Talking Heads who went from quirky pop new wavers to funkateers and were great at both.

    I’ll try to think of a stylistic shift putting a band in the worse & worse quadrant.

  3. Here’s one that, unfortunately, did not have enough material in its first incarnation: Pink Floyd, as raggedy ’60s psych band under Syd Barrett’s direction vs Pink Floyd as monolithic psych-blues band under Waters and Gilmour. Although I prefer the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, there are many ways in which I could argue they were “better” in their fully formed version from Meddle forward, despite my not liking that stuff as much.

    Ah, now here’s one I fully stand behind: Jefferson Starship’s classic mid-’70s soft-rock period topping Jefferson Aiplane’s “Geo-centric” hippie caterwauling.

  4. Regarding paragraph 2, you’re insane.

  5. That’s the easy answer, Geo, but think about it…”Run, run, run, runaway!”

  6. tonyola

    That so-called “hippie caterwauling” you accuse the Jefferson Airplane of making is what made that band great. Sure, not everything they did was immortal but when they were on, they were spectacular. The Starship set aside the anger, the vision, and the willingness to take chances in the quest for commercial success. Next thing you know you’ll be claiming “greatness” for “We Built This City”.

  7. tonyola

    Genesis used to be one of the top-tier prog bands in the early and mid-1970s, When Peter Gabriel left in 1974, the band began its slow turn towards a more pop commercial sound. By 1980, the journey to the dark side was complete and all the cute mugging that Phil Collins could muster couldn’t hide the fact that Genesis had irretrievably sold out.

  8. misterioso

    J. Airplane in their heyday had two or three songs that don’t make me want to run screaming from the room. J. Starship in their prime had two or three songs that don’t make me want to run screaming from the room. Showing, as always, Solomon-like wisdom, I declare it a tie.

  9. misterioso

    Not sure where this fits in, but Bob Seger’s evolution from ramblin’, gamblin’ rock ‘n’ roll madman to master of the middle of the road calls for mention.

  10. What about Ministry morphing from dancey new wave and opening for The Police to industrial metal on Filth Pig and beyond?

  11. BigSteve

    Pete Shelley brief career as a synth-popper was certainly seen as a fall from grace by Buzzcocks fans.

    I think I’m one of the few who really liked Bob Mould’s detour into a more electronic sound. His recent return to loud guitar rock was a bit disappointing to me, though I like those albums fine. I just think that trio format is kind of played out. I’m willing to go along with it, because I know he’s going to age out of it eventually. Maybe he’ll return to a more eclectic sound.

  12. Don’t go there with Starship. “We Built This City” doesn’t have an ounce of the artistry and longing if “Miracles” and those other JA singles from the mid-’70s.

  13. This is clearly an indication of how much I don’t like Gabriel-era Genesis, save the song “The Lamb Lies Down…”, but I prefer the Collins-era hits. That said, they don’t begin to match the artistry of the 3 great Jefferson Airplane numbers.

  14. I need to set aside time to try to get a grasp on any of Bib Mould’s guitar music. It has enough elements that I should like, but it strikes me as some of the most one-dimensional music on the planet.

  15. I really liked those Sugar albums — Husker lite!

  16. I’ll give you Miracles, but I don’t know any other remotely successful Jefferson Starship singles from the mid-seventies.

  17. I stand with Misterioso.

  18. The sweet spot for Genesis was after Peter Gabriel left but before they started cranking out the MTV hits. Seconds Out and such.

  19. How are you measuring success?

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