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"Back to Basics" Albums


Vincent Vega

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I've noticed that for quite a few bands, a ''back to basics'' album usually marks a turning point in a band's career--either toward an upswing, decline, or breakup. It's kind of weird actually. Some famous examples include:

Get Back/Let It Be--Intended to bring the Beatles close together again and ''get back'' to their roots (as the original title suggested) and get back to having a more tight knit band, the album ended up actually breaking them up completely and being their last released. Paul figured recording the album almost live, and not using overdubs and all sorts of special effects as the band had done with the White Album, would recreate the sort of family-gang like atmosphere of the band's early days. Paul even considered having the band do a club tour to try to revive the lost spirit of friendship and relive the old days, which Lennon said absolutely not to.

Beggar's Banquet--After experimenting with psychedelic sounds for the past 3 years, the Stones decided in 1968 to ''get back'' to their bluesy roots with Beggar's Banquet, a more raw stripped down album; It marked a turning point in their career from being a big band to becoming the biggest band in the world and started off a string of classic albums and a ''High Era'' which lasted until 1974 with It's Only Rock N' Roll.

Presence--Led Zeppelin decided to try to get back to the rawer, less experimental, bluesier based sound of Led Zeppelin I, while also bringing a maturity to it. While it was a good album, it marked a commercial and critical turning point in the band's career and happened around the same time as the band's ''empire'' began to fall apart and took a steep decline in cohesiveness and popularity after the album's release from 1977-1980, compared to their massive popularity from 1970-1975. While they were able to release one more album after Presence, the enthusiam had faded after Presence with Robert Plant even considering quitting the band just prior to the In Through the Out Door sessions, though he was convinced to stay by Peter Grant.

The Unreleased 94-96 Guns album--This album was intended by Axl (at various points) and Slash to be a rawer album similar in sound, production and spirit to AFD, in order for the band to relive the closeness of the early days and 'get back' to the basics of what made GN'R what it was and a more stripped down sound and arguments over the exact direction it should go in lead to the break up of the band. The track Sympathy for the Devil can also be seen as a "Back to Basics" single, as though it was a cover, Slash intended it's recording as way for GN'R to get back in the studio together as a whole band rather than recording separately and figured it might recreate the family like atmosphere of the early days, leading to a renewed bond and creativity. Slash even considered having the band do a club tour to try to revive the lost spirit of friendship and relive the old days, which Axl said absolutely not to.

Edited by MetalForever
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St Anger by Metallica.

I'd say that's their new album, Death Magnetic...

that's where they go back to their roots even though 'St.Anger' is one of the "basic albums" but they were never going back to it

The point of St. Anger was to go back to their roots, to a more garagy sound like the early early days after the experimentation on Load and Reload. Whether you're successful or unsuccessful at actually achieving it doesn't matter, what matters is the attempt--as I think when a band makes a conscious attempt to get back to their roots it represents a turning point, maybe a mid point, in the band's career, for better or worse. I guess Death Magnetic reminds me more of ''...And Justice for All" rather than "Kill 'Em All"

Edited by MetalForever
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St Anger by Metallica.

I'd say that's their new album, Death Magnetic...

that's where they go back to their roots even though 'St.Anger' is one of the "basic albums" but they were never going back to it

I think DM would have been much better if they'd incorporated some of the modern touches of SA with the traditional songwriting approach of their past. SA really suffered from bad lyrics, sound issues and unfocussed songs\compositions. All things that were in not really part of their past albums. SA represents a great band in personal turmoil and it's reflected in the end result, a record with a lot of promise but not finished, ie a demo.

I definitely like DM but it just feels really retro. I think if they wanted to go full retro they should have re-mastered or re-recordered Justice... actually now that I think about it I reckon the St. anger sessions should have focussed on re-recording their past material that had sound\production issues like Kill 'em All and Justice . The songwriting was clearly a heavy burden during the SA sessions... again due to the personal issues that was going on.

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St Anger by Metallica.

I'd say that's their new album, Death Magnetic...

that's where they go back to their roots even though 'St.Anger' is one of the "basic albums" but they were never going back to it

I think DM would have been much better if they'd incorporated some of the modern touches of SA with the traditional songwriting approach of their past. SA really suffered from bad lyrics, sound issues and unfocussed songs\compositions. All things that were in not really part of their past albums. SA represents a great band in personal turmoil and it's reflected in the end result, a record with a lot of promise but not finished, ie a demo.

I definitely like DM but it just feels really retro. I think if they wanted to go full retro they should have re-mastered or re-recordered Justice... actually now that I think about it I reckon the St. anger sessions should have focussed on re-recording their past material that had sound\production issues like Kill 'em All and Justice . The songwriting was clearly a heavy burden during the SA sessions... again due to the personal issues that was going on.

Much like Presence for Zeppelin--according to the band members, not only was it recorded and written very quickly, like within less than a month, but it was very inspired by the band's inner turmoil, most of the band members except for Page dislike it and it's their lowest selling and rated album, much like St Anger and while Presence is produced well by most records standards, when compared to the sound of most of the previous Zeppelin records, Presence sounds like a demo.

Edited by MetalForever
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Paul even considered having the band do a club tour to try to revive the lost spirit of friendship and relive the old days, which Lennon said absolutely not to.

Which is really too bad.Because in a few short years,John would record his back to basics album in the form of Rock n Roll.

Eventually he came to be less resistant,if not somewhat amused at the thought of potential gigs again and in fact, was one of the willing participants of the proposed SNL offer.

The week he was killed he had actually gone out and gotten a DA haircut similar to the style he grew up with and was photographed in a leather jacket with the collar turned up.He was starting to wax nostalgic and there was a sense that the bug was biting him.

I think we would have seen an emergence of John as a performer,and...if George had seen the light,I think we could have very well seen a Beatles reunion and perhaps new music.

God...if only.

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Presence--Led Zeppelin decided to try to get back to the rawer, less experimental, bluesier based sound of Led Zeppelin I, while also bringing a maturity to it. While it was a good album, it marked a commercial and critical turning point in the band's career and happened around the same time as the band's ''empire'' began to fall apart and took a steep decline in cohesiveness and popularity after the album's release from 1977-1980, compared to their massive popularity from 1970-1975. While they were able to release one more album after Presence, the enthusiam had faded after Presence with Robert Plant even considering quitting the band just prior to the In Through the Out Door sessions, though he was convinced to stay by Peter Grant.

If Presence was a back to basics approach, with the guitar driven raw sound, then ITTOD was a reaction to that by being very pre-80s synth driven and really nothing like any of its predecessors. Bordering on cheesy, but still good. Had they entered the 80s in that kind of mindset (keyboards, synths, etc.) I shudder to think what they'd have been like. One look at Plants 80s stuff offers horrifying glimpse...

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ITTOD was a reaction to that by being very pre-80s synth driven and really nothing like any of its predecessors. Bordering on cheesy, but still good. Had they entered the 80s in that kind of mindset (keyboards, synths, etc.) I shudder to think what they'd have been like. One look at Plants 80s stuff offers horrifying glimpse...

I remember people walking around with sullen faces when ITTOD came out.

"Heard the new Zep??...kinda sucks".

People seemed underwhelmed.

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All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2

Most definitely not.

When u2 says back to basics rock, I think War - not Joshua Tree.

I misread the title.. I was more thinking playing it safe. It's a good album but it's definitly playing it safe.

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What about Painkiller by Judas Priest? it was an updated sound, but it made them "metal" again. So in a sense it was back to basics in attitude, not necessarily the music.

In a way it kinda made them finally a real metal band, all their previous stuff was so lightweight compared to Painkiller

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Paul even considered having the band do a club tour to try to revive the lost spirit of friendship and relive the old days, which Lennon said absolutely not to.

Which is really too bad.Because in a few short years,John would record his back to basics album in the form of Rock n Roll.

Eventually he came to be less resistant,if not somewhat amused at the thought of potential gigs again and in fact, was one of the willing participants of the proposed SNL offer.

The week he was killed he had actually gone out and gotten a DA haircut similar to the style he grew up with and was photographed in a leather jacket with the collar turned up.He was starting to wax nostalgic and there was a sense that the bug was biting him.

I think we would have seen an emergence of John as a performer,and...if George had seen the light,I think we could have very well seen a Beatles reunion and perhaps new music.

God...if only.

Yeah but in the last Rolling Stone interview--done only a few weeks before he was killed--he repeatedly strongly and angrily denounces and even mocks the idea of a Beatles reunion, comparing it as going to a high school reunion and that he has no place for nostalgia essentially. He also says that while when he was in the Beatles he thought their records were the best in the world, he now wishes he would re-record them because most of them sound flawed to him.

Presence--Led Zeppelin decided to try to get back to the rawer, less experimental, bluesier based sound of Led Zeppelin I, while also bringing a maturity to it. While it was a good album, it marked a commercial and critical turning point in the band's career and happened around the same time as the band's ''empire'' began to fall apart and took a steep decline in cohesiveness and popularity after the album's release from 1977-1980, compared to their massive popularity from 1970-1975. While they were able to release one more album after Presence, the enthusiam had faded after Presence with Robert Plant even considering quitting the band just prior to the In Through the Out Door sessions, though he was convinced to stay by Peter Grant.

If Presence was a back to basics approach, with the guitar driven raw sound, then ITTOD was a reaction to that by being very pre-80s synth driven and really nothing like any of its predecessors. Bordering on cheesy, but still good. Had they entered the 80s in that kind of mindset (keyboards, synths, etc.) I shudder to think what they'd have been like. One look at Plants 80s stuff offers horrifying glimpse...

I honestly don't think they would've stayed together post the 1980 tour even if Bonham hadn't died. Like I said, Plant was convinced to stay before ITTOD--he was emotionally done with Zeppelin when his son died I think. Around the time of ITTOD, Page's heroin addiction deepened and that's partly why it's much less guitar driven--Page was strung out on Heroin which led to Page and JPJ writing a lot of the songs whrereas before it was a Page/Plant team who did most of the songs. John Paul Jones is really leading the sound and atmosphere on IITOD. I think a lot of the songs are cheesy, I agree, with the sole exception of Carousaelambra--that is the last Zeppelin epic. In The Evening comes close but lacks any of the intensity of their bombastic epics. All of My Love just sounds really dated today.

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I know very little about the Beatles, but from some of the stuff I occasionally read here (My World) he comes across like kind of an asshole and not very far from Axl's view on things. How off am I?

Despite his peace and love image John could be fiery. He hit his first wife and his son from that marriage (Julian) didn't think very highly of him... not sure if he was ignored or mistreated. He also hit a guy in the head with a shovel. He also commonly referred to as someone who was bi-polar by the media. So more like Axl than most would think at first glance... I don't think Paul is\was the super nice guy he makes out to be. John didn't really hide his darker side. I'm no Beatles expert though...

Edited by rainman_1985
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I honestly don't think they would've stayed together post the 1980 tour even if Bonham hadn't died.

but if they had, their 80s stuff would probably have been terrible. Much like any 60s or 70s artist I suppose. Nobody got thru the 80s unscathed...

Edited by moreblack
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I honestly don't think they would've stayed together post the 1980 tour even if Bonham hadn't died.

but if they had, their 80s stuff would probably have been terrible. Much like any 60s or 70s artist I suppose. Nobody got thru the 80s unscathed...

What about Rush, there's a few 80s stuff that isn't bad.

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I honestly don't think they would've stayed together post the 1980 tour even if Bonham hadn't died.

but if they had, their 80s stuff would probably have been terrible. Much like any 60s or 70s artist I suppose. Nobody got thru the 80s unscathed...

What about Rush, there's a few 80s stuff that isn't bad.

GAH! Rush is one of the best examples of what the 80s did to once great bands. They went from prog gods, to repetitive mid-tempo droning Police soundalikes...

Edited by moreblack
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I honestly don't think they would've stayed together post the 1980 tour even if Bonham hadn't died.

but if they had, their 80s stuff would probably have been terrible. Much like any 60s or 70s artist I suppose. Nobody got thru the 80s unscathed...

Cheap Trick?

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Heart Did

no, I mean, I don't really think so, they fell prey to the keyboards and the power ballads, Roger Fischer was long gone so they pretty much turned into a pop band with some guitar and relied quite a bit on outside writers etc.. by the time they did What About Love, the band resembled nothing of the group that made Dreamboat Annie or Magazine.

Edited by moreblack
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