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Can you make too much music?

Was thinking about Kim Deal and Frank Black after the Breeders gig (see reviews) and was comparing their respective solo outputs. The Breeders have made four albums in 20 years. In all his guises, FB is well into double figures. In terms of who has the stronger cannon, I’d plump for Deal. It’s not that there aren’t great moments in the Black back catalogue, but you do have to panhandle to find a lot of it. Is it talent or is it quality control?

Ryan Adams springs to mind. Including Whiskeytown work, he has released a dozen albums, one a double, in 10 years. That’s a hell of a lot of recorded music and you would need to be his Mum to love all of it. Now, I’m all for artists working, but you can’t help but feel that given the amount of great music he HAS recorded – and it really is a lot – he could have one of the track records of any artist out there now. But most new releases of his are greeted with a shrug. he’s an artist you would love more if you heard from him less.

Is it fear of being left behind? Of having worked your way into the spotlight, you aren’t going to let people forget you are there? I’d argue that, perversely, it just makes people take you for granted. Look at the Fall; I’m not even going to hazard how many albums he has released – I saw an estimate in a music monthly saying well over FIFTY! – and, if you go by critical reaction, they are usually decent. But who rushes out and buys one the day it comes out? Why bother?

I’m not saying every act should be the Blue Nile and release every 8 years, but surely a sensible rule of thumb is that if you haven’t got the songs, don’t try and force one out? Look at Metallica and the hideous destruction of what they had achieved in a 25 year career that was ‘St.Anger’. They had no juice. They had no direction. They had no tunes. Yet out it came spilling, and it lost them a good few fans.

I suppose in the end it’s whether you believe music is inspiration or perspiration. Count me in the first camp.

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6 Responses

  1. Yuo could say Kim Deal has a stronger cannon BALL. Geddit?!!

  2. Your name matches my exact thought when I read that pun. Lordy!

  3. Most bands have no ‘career’ outwith rock, and therefore they need to make music to pay their bills, often long after the Muse has flown. This dilemma will never be solved: what if artists create only one work of art? Do they become tax collecters, or plod on and make another three albums without any real ‘stardust’ attached to them?

  4. It’s an interesting point.

    Inspiration is a strange thing. I don’t think a lot of music ever comes to anyone out of the ether, and I think there’s probably a lot more hard work involved in writing any great piece of pop/rock music than most people like to admit.

    The infamous story about Paul McCartney and ‘yesterday’ is often cited, but it’s frequently forgotten that the dream only gave him the melody. He still had to turn that into a song, and then write the lyrics.

  5. Metallica are fukin awesome and st anger is the best album. you have no idea what ur talkin about. i hope they never stop makin album.

  6. Firstly, thanks RockR for that contribution, however if you think Metallica’s best album is St. Anger then I can only surmise you haven’t listened to any others. Christ, even METALLICA say St. Anger is a bit ropey. You REALLY think it’s better than ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘Metallica’? I’m also always saddened when I see someone who interprets any criticism of their heroes as proof they don’t like them. I love Metallica, have done since I was a kid, but it doesn’t blind me to their flaws. If it does in your case, that doesn’t make you a fan, it makes you a fanatic, and I think we can all agree the world needs less of them.

    AppleEater, you speak sense there. Look at, say, Fountains of Wayne. Professional songwriters, definitely 80% graft and 20% craft, but still good albums. As I say, I think it’s personal choice.

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