Nothing Beyond That One Perfect Record
In rock n’ roll, life is fleeting and uncertain, and the same goes with rockstar albums. Though there are bands that have one hit record after another, we have to acknowledge that there are bands and musicians out there who only has one album that made it to the charts and nothing else after. It’s that one shot they got but didn’t get to follow up well. There also artists who have only made one, and only one, album during their career and didn’t record anything else after it.
1. Temple Of The Dog – “Temple Of The Dog” (1991)
This iconic grunge group is a one-off tribute to Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood who died at only 24 years old due to a heroin overdose. It was a collaboration between the surviving members of Mother Love Bone and Chris Cornell from Soundgarden, who was also Andrew Wood’s dear friend. It turned out to be one of the greatest and most successful albums in the early 90s, with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder also doing a guest spot on the track Hunger Strike. “Temple of the Dog” is still considered as one of grunge’s best records. The album has been certified platinum by the RIAA in the United States. However, no follow up album was ever created by the supergroup after that, and with Cornell’s recent death, it looks like there wouldn’t ever be one again.
2. Jeff Buckley – “Grace” (1994)
One of the most well-known tortured souls in music history, Jeff Buckley’s music was beautiful and tragic as was his short life. The music legend had a voice that brings listeners to tears, reaching the deepest parts of their hearts. Jeff Buckley truly was one of the most ethereal and beloved artists of the late 80s- early 90s, and it’s a shame that he was only able to release one album Grace before he tragically drowned in the Mississippi River in 1997. He leaves his legacy through his one single perfect album that contains his version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ that has become a mainstream classic even to this day.
3. The Modern Lovers – “The Modern Lovers” (1976)
The Modern Lovers’ self-titled 1976 is the only studio album by this iconic Massachusetts proto-punk group’. The record is everything you would want in an avant-punk album and more. The music exudes self-examination with a touch of humor. Members include vocalist Jonathan Richman who sang with such angst just as their producer John Cale wanted. Keys were played by soon-to-be Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison and beats by soon-to-be-Cars drummer David Robinson. “The Modern” lovers became one of the most influential records in the early 70s, ranking number 381 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
4. Blind Faith – “Blind Faith” (1969)
The supergroup made of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Steve Winwood was bound to make an iconic record from the get go. Of all the supergroups Clapton has been a part of, “Blind Faith” holds together pretty good, having a signature sound that is more soulful than Cream and is heavier than Traffic. Clapton certainly played some well-crafted melodies in the standout tracks Had To Cry Today, Sea Of Joy and Presence Of The Lord that have now become rock classics. None of the members were expected to maintain interest in the one-off supergroup for more than one released record.
5. The Monks – “Black Monk Time” (1966)
Put together five American soldiers stationed in Germany who wanted to be “anti-Beatles” and make an avante-garde garage rock band and you have The Monks. Their sound was a little bizarre as the band combined abrasive sounds and hypnotic rhythms with minimal melodies but filled with sound manipulation. Their lyrics talk about the dehumanized state of society, alluding to their opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as their commentary on the punk rock movement. Their look mimicked that of Catholic monks wearing black robes and partially shaved tonsures but with a controversial rope tied around their necks. Their music was definitely highly experimental that they themselves couldn’t pull off long term and after their first record, they never made another one.
6. Derek And The Dominos – “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs” (1970)
Another side project of Eric Clapton’s, Derek and the Dominos gifted the world with one of the most iconic classic rock songs ever “Layla”, from their one and only released record “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs”. The masterpiece of an album that is “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs” was initially poorly received by critics. The entire catalogue was recorded by Clapton along with Duane Allman, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, and Bobby Whitlock under the influence (or abuse) of booze and drugs and reportedly, undiagnosed schizophrenia. Though the supergroup did attempt to do a follow-up record, it didn’t fall through, likely because of the drugs that led to paranoia amongst the band members.
7. Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers – ‘L.A.M.F.’ (1977)
In 1975, after guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan quit the New York Dolls, they formed punk rock band Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers along with Walter Lure and Billy Rath. Their sole album L.A.M.F (Like a Mother F****r) was a New York punk document of men street fighting, looking for love, and anything they could sell to buy themselves drugs. In their single, “Chinese Rocks,” written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell, the story of “everything down the drain of heroin addiction” is told. The group didn’t get to record a follow up.
8. GTOs – “Permanent Damage” (1969)
GTO’s was a group of Hollywood rock groupies led by Pamela Ann Miller (later Pamela Des Barres) and Linda Sue Parker. Four young women from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles formed a group known as the Laurel Canyon Ballet Company before changing their name to GTOs. The girls were approached by Frank Zappa and offered them a deal under his Straight and Bizarre label. Unfortunately the girls’ debut album “Permanent Damage”, is a foreshadowing of their future with Zappa as it was released as an unfinished social document. It is said that Zappa lost interest in the band or ran out of budget for them during the recording, thus releasing a half-baked record. The band was active from 1968-1970 and reunited once in 1974. They never made another record after their careers suffered a permanent damage.
9. Young Marble Giants – “Colossal Youth” (1980)
This Welsh post-punk trio influenced grunge icon Kurt Cobain as well as many punk artists of that era. The musicians were undeniably talented, with Philip Moxham’s bass lines and Stuart Moxham’s guitar and organ making solid sounds that beautifully compliments singer Alison Statton’s voice. Their album “Colossal Youth” was described as “one of the most highly regarded indie cult post-punk recordings, with a unique hushed and minimal atmosphere.” Sadly it is Young Marble Giants’ sole record ever released.
10. Sex Pistols – “Never Mind The Bollocks” (1977)
It’s the ultimate seminal punk album of the 70s, and the notorious band Sex Pistols can also be called the ultimate ‘one album wonder’ band, with their record being such a cultural turning point, containing angry lyrics that are aimed at the British government. The record itself inspiring not just the youth of that era but also other artists such as Axl Rose and even Neil Young! The band obviously had a hunger for chaos and controversy which then led to their split in 1978, with Johnny Rotten even quitting on stage just two months after releasing “Never Mind the Bollocks”. The band didn’t reunite nor attempt to record another album again.