Early vs Late Career Music

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by drmilktruck, May 13, 2020.

  1. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    I was listening to REM the other day and thought about how much more I enjoy their earlier music compared to later stuff. Maybe it has to do with discovering a new group, watching them develop before hitting it big. Not that later REM is bad, of course not, but there's a big difference between being a band on the rise and a more mature group. Maybe it's the old Avis syndrome, "We Try Harder." Or maybe when you've hit it big there's more pressure to repeat your success, or you get a bit of an ego, thinking you're hot stuff. U2 is another example. Even the Beatles. I enjoy the early Beatles more than the later.

    What do you think?

    (On a snarky note, I might add that REM had three phases to their career - Early - Big Stars - Post Bill Berry, when we had nothing left to say.)
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  2. ramjac

    ramjac Synchromatic

    Aug 14, 2011
    I prefer “mid” REM and “mid” U2. Both bands marked a transition with a pair of different-sounding albums. Automatic For The People and Joshua Tree were fantastic albums that featured somewhat leaner sounds by bands at their seeming peaks at the time, but were followed by Monster and Achtung Baby, heavier, more guitar oriented albums with a more aggressive sound that took some of the focus off Bono and Micheal Stipe. Peter Buck and the Edge as (gulp, say it isn’t so) guitar heroes? From The Sky Down is a great documentary about U2’s transition.

    I also prefer the Mick Taylor stones period, the blue Beatles compilation to the red one, and the Joe Walsh Eagles. I definitely do not loathe all of the Sammy Hagar Van Halen material, nor do I claim to prefer all of the DLR stuff. I like early to mid Replacements stuff, but don’t hate all of the stuff without Bob Stinson. Dylan hit bottom in the 80s/90s, but came back with good stuff after Time Out Of Mind, and Neil Young is the master of alternately stinking and not stinking. So I’m not sure that it always comes down to early vs late for me.
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  3. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I think it starts with originality and slowly moves into commercialism, not so much what do I want to say but more what can I write that they want to hear.
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  4. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I prefer most "early" career to late. Doobies, Beatles, Stones, even Buddy Holly. They all were fresh, breaking ground, making a point. Afterwards, most got complacent.
  5. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    I look at it in five year phases. Any phase that lasts longer than that gets boring. There are exceptions but that tends to fit most of the time. Not everyone gets more than one phase.
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  6. Jeff67

    Jeff67 Synchromatic

    Nov 3, 2019
    Crockett, Texas
    Me, too. I love their later stuff, too, but there's just some thing about the energy and the innocence in their early work, before the drugs, Eastern mysticism, and Yoko Ono.
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  7. 5120mantis

    5120mantis Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2011
    Aerosmith early, even up to get a grip, after that, its not so good
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  8. rake_ether

    rake_ether Gretschie

    Aug 24, 2019
    Athens, GA USA
    Jim, your post is right in my wheelhouse. I've been a huge R.E.M. fan (of course, I live in Athens) and think the band had 4 phases. First (1980 to 1983) they were punk influenced and learning their craft (loud and fast, good songs, sloppy performances). Their second phase (1983 to 1988) was R.E.M. at their most influential and greatest, college radio darlings that sounded nothing like what was popular in the early to mid '80s (listen to Fables of the Reconstruction). Then they made it big (1989 to 1995) and while the music was still great the band's best live performances were always at intimate settings and they lost something playing arenas. And, as you stated, 1997 and later R.E.M. suffered from Bill Berry's departure.
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  9. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    For most bands I prefer their early stuff. As a generalisation, say up to the 3rd album. They’re still young, energetic, hungry, eager to prove, and rough around the edges. Later work is getting more sophisticated but also a bit formulaic and starts to sound same-ish to me.
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  10. sgarnett

    sgarnett Gretschie

    Apr 14, 2020
    It’s all fun and games until someone jumps a shark.
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  11. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Gretschie

    Feb 17, 2020
    I remember documentaries addressing this and it's easy to understand.

    At first it's all about the music and getting your message out and creating an original sound. Lots of hard work but emotionally satisfying.
    You get discovered and then come managers and agents and labels and the expenses go sky-high because they all want a piece.
    Then the women and the drugs appear from nowhere.
    Then they demand a worldwide tour to support the latest album and you have to leave the kids and wife at home. And the touring sucks after a while. And you're too tired to write together or even jam anymore.
    And some demand the same "formula" that made you popular so you keep selling records and the gravy train rolling.

    Sorry this seems so cynical, it's not always like that.
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  12. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Gretschie

    Feb 17, 2020
    Something I've noticed is that some artists spent years writing before their first album was cut and every song is fantastic.
    Then the second has fewer memorable pieces. And now they're on a schedule for releases and have to write X songs per year and they can't all be the best.
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  13. Scott

    Scott Country Gent

    Jun 27, 2008
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Early Chet over later? Yep.

    Early Elvis over later? Definitely.

    Early Chuck Berry over later? Yep.

    Early Beatles over later? Yeah (yeah yeah)

    You get the point...
  14. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Synchromatic

    Mar 20, 2010
    Randy, I agree with your comments on the phases.
    At first you have a lot of pent up songs that need to be discovered, and the fans like the unique sound. Once you go on touring, you don't have the time to work on material, and pressure from a recording contracts are more interested in making the deadlines, than the quality of the material, it can take its toll in many forms. But some bands if they survive through all of it, can go back to what they do best. Two Bands that come to mind are Heart, and OAR. We were lucky to seem both of them live last year, and they were as incredible as ever covering their old, and newer material.
    The way I look at it, it can be a brutal life. Not many survive the tough years, those they do learn from their mistakes.
  15. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Gretschie

    Feb 17, 2020
    Thanks for mentioning Heart! One of my all-time favorites and I saw them in '78 and again in the mid-'80s (with their big hair) and they are still around.
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  16. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    I feel the same. My favourite R.E.M. period is 1991 to 2001. (They made one truly great record after Bill Berry left: 2001's "Reveal" is a perfect album, and I'll defend that statement to my grave.) And for me, U2's golden era stretched from the Joshua Tree in 1987 to the Elevation tour in 2001.
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  17. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I think Clapton stayed fairly consistent from his early bands to solo work.
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  18. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    They say you have 20 years to write your first album, and two months to write your second.

    Then again, I can name so many bands whose second album was better than the first. The Band, Smashing Pumpkins, The Watchmen, Sloan, Cream, Santana, Rush... the list goes on.
  19. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    I typically like a band's earlier work. That is especially true with the Beatles. Although they had some great stuff later on, I have to confess if they had stopped recording at the end of 1964, I don't feel I'd be missing out on anything that is essential Beatles.
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  20. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    Well, that was about as odd a double post experience as I ever expect to have.
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