Oct 072011

For someone who was sooo in love with everything Elvis Costello & The Attractions, it’s amazing I never picked up the solo effort (can it be “solo” with three guys?) by the greatest backup band in the world. A high school buddy of mine had it and we derided it—probably without really listening to it with an open mind.

So, besides The Band, is there a backup outfit that has had any success on their own. Would you buy The Rumour without Graham Parker? The News without Huey? The Heartbreakers without Tom Petty?

And should I give The Attractions’ “solo” album another chance?


  34 Responses to “Oh, the backup band…”

  1. For Cool Points alone I wish i’d bought that Attractions album. It had its moments and some cool ideas, if memory of andyr’s copy serves.

  2. It had 2 good songs and a lot of rubbish. You can only make shite shine so much! Isn’t the Rumor album OK?

  3. Plus, isn’t The News, Elvis’ backup band on “My Aim is True”?

  4. Wasn’t Toto someones backing band? Maybe Boz Scaggs?

  5. tonyola

    The members of Toto were session guys who backed Scaggs along with Steely Dan, Sonny & Cher, and others. But do you actually want to listen to Toto?

  6. 2000 Man

    Th eSensational Alex harvey Band released an album without Alex. It was called Fourplay and the Samurai cd releases had those songs as extra bonus tracks. It didn’t go anywhere, but it happened.

    Toto was completely fabricated in the studio. I think original members even quit because they got so popular that they’d have to do things like tour and promote the band, instead of going home and raising babies.

  7. I never heard any of the Neil-free Crazy Horse albums, but don’t they at least deserve some credit for originating something of a standard, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”?

  8. Tony Sherridan’s back up band went on to modest success.

    Also, Rod Stewart’s back up band, the Faces, retroactively made a decent name for themselves.

  9. Not really so much anymore. They did have nice melodies.

  10. tonyola

    But the Faces were smaller then.

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Don’t ask Shawnkilroy that!

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    Some people swear by the Jordanaires solo efforts. Fans of white southern gospel, that is. Not my scene.

  13. Happiness Stan

    Haven’t heard it in a while, but I remember the first album being really very good.

  14. bostonhistorian

    Mar-Keys/Bar-Kays/Booker T. and the MGs

  15. Happiness Stan

    The Pirates had a couple of minor hits over here in the late 70s. The Mindbenders had hits without Wayne Fontana.

    When The Move broke up, ELO were generally touted as Roy Wood’s new project, as he was the famous one back then, although that may be twisting the question into whether the band needs to have been billed as “So-and-So and The Somethings”, with the Somethings being effectively a bunch of hired session musicians, or if a singularly monikered band have gone on to bigger/better/averagely successful things after losing a charismatic and obvious leader, the loss of whom would have at once appeared to have been terminal – for which I would cite Peter Gabriel and the Genesises, Roger Waters and the Pink Floyd, Hugh Cornwell and the Stranglers (which might be pushing it a bit). And the flipside to this is bands who have continued successfully without ANY founding members…

    The Glitter Band had hits without Gary, while the great stoned behemoth some of us hid under rocks to avoid in the late 70s were originally billed as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, weren’t they?

    The big question for me is how will Metallica fare without Lou Reed at the helm?

  16. BigSteve

    The Rumour made three of four albums. The first one is very pub rock, and enjoyable if you like that style. Then they made a eurocentric Bowiesque album with synthesizers etc (Frogs Sprouts Clogs and Krauts) which I lovelovelove but not everyone will get. The Bob Andrews left, and the stuff after that kind of runs out of steam.

  17. BigSteve

    They still had Danny Whitten then. That album also has a good version of that crazed song Gone Dad Train that Randy Newman sings on the performance soundtrack.

  18. BigSteve

    Gone Dead Train that is.

  19. The Crickets made a few respectable if not terrific records after Buddy Holly died. They wrote and were the first to record “I Fought the Law” in 1960, long before the Bobby Fuller Four and the Clash.

  20. One singular-monikered band that tried to carry on was the Doors after Jim Morrison died. They made two mediocre albums (Other Voices and Full Circle) in 1971-1972 before Ray Manzerak left. The two remaining Doors, Densmore and Krieger, then created the Butts Band (great name, huh?) which sank without a trace by 1975.

  21. I never heard it, but I think it came it in 1996: No Talking, Just Head. The title says it all. I think they used guest vocalists to replace the missing David Byrne.


  22. I love a lot of the Johnny Kidd-less Pirates albums. The late Mick Green’s guitar style really does it for me.

  23. BigSteve

    Yeah I’ve written about them here before. I noticed the other day that a new compilation of their late 70s material has just been issued:


    For those who want to catch up.

  24. On a smaller scale of somewhat local level, I think I just thought of the next-best (to The Band) example of a full-time backing band stepping forward and making something of themselves: remember that Bethlehem, PA’s The Original Sins were originally the backing band for a lead singer, as part of the less-creative garage band The Creatures.

  25. BigSteve


  26. machinery

    Genesis doesn’t count Big Steve. Either do aforeto mentioned bands such as The Faces or ELO … or (sorry Mod) the Creatures.

    These are bands that were bands. Not X and Ys.

    Crazy Horse counts. But was it any good?

  27. bostonhistorian

    I love the Original Sins.

  28. jeangray

    Toto come back!

  29. jeangray

    Technically Genesis doesn’t count, but c’mon it basically is a case of the back-up band that carried on once Gabriel ditched them.

    Missing Persons were all former member of Zappa’s band.

  30. If it needs to be an “& the…”-type band, didn’t the Rascals form out of Joey Dee’s Starlighters?

  31. H. Munster

    Crazy Horse did a version of “Downtown” on that album, released in 1970. Neil Young did a version on a later album of his.

  32. shawnkilroy

    I think Beachwood Sparks are some version of Lilys without Kurt Heasley. I think several versions of Lilys have done this, just gone and been their own band when Kurt’s not around.

    Love and Rockets are just as good as Bauhaus.

  33. cherguevara

    I like Tony Sheridan’s backup band though I’m not sure they did anything better than “My Bonny.”

  34. pudman13

    I’ve heard several of these, and most of them are so-so, but the first one is absolutely ace, as good as anything in its genre from the time. Frankly…I’ve listened to it more times than any Neil album. For one thing, the singing is better.

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