Monday, 31 October 2011

The follow up itch

Following up a successful album is considered one of the most difficult obstacles in music, there are many artists over the years who have fallen at the hurdle never to emerge again. The MC5 released the classic Kick Out The Jams in 1968 a brawling live set of loud aggressive garage rock that showed the band in their most comfortable situation, live! Their follow up album Back in the USA failed miserably in comparison peaking at #137 on the billboard chart whereas Kick Out The Jams had reached #30. Rolling Stone editor Jon Landau was on board as producer and he took a fairly authoritarian approach during the sessions. He envisaged a more rock and roll based sound rather than the psychedelic blues based explorations the band had built their reputation on, suffice to say the album was not critically or commercially well received

In 1971 Free released the follow up to their breakthrough third album Fire and Water, the album Highway was a huge commercial flop peaking at a disappointing #41 in the U.K and #190 in the U.S. The single Stealer was released against the wishes of their record label, Island Records boss Chris Blackwell wanted to release Ride A Pony instead but was vetoed by the band. Also working against the group was the record cover which didn't feature the bands name and showed their faces somewhat obscured. Free were also under pressure to match the success of their smash hit All Right Now which lead to increased turbulence within the group. Following its release the band finished up its touring comittments and disbanded only to regroup a few months later.

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