THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP
You know the saying, a band takes a lifetime to write and record its first album and then six months to record the follow-up. Sometimes, this results in a poor second album and whether a band can overcome this setback or not is never a certainty. We look to the 80s for 4 examples of how bands coped with the second album syndrome.
THE KNACK – But The Little Girls Understand…
The band’s debut album, Get the Knack, was 1979’s best-selling albums, holding the number one spot on Billboard magazine’s album chart for five consecutive weeks and selling two million copies in the United States. It’s biggest hit – “My Sharona” was the song of ’79. The band rush-released But The Little Girls Understand… (in early 1980) which came across like an inferior version of the debut LP. Although, the album still went gold, the album left fans and critics unimpressed and the third LP – Round Trip – was a flop. But in hindsight, the album is really not as bad as it sounded back in 1980…
MEN AT WORK – Cargo
The story of The Knack was somewhat mirrored by Aussie band Men At Work. On the back of two massive hit singles – “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under”, debut album Business As Usual sold in excess of 15 million copies worldwide. The sophomore effort – Cargo – didn’t have the same impact due to lesser singles and the band never quite captured the imagination of an international audience again.
U2 – October
It’s hard to imagine but October was a troubled album for U2. After the promise and potential indicated on the well-received debut Boy, much was expected from its follow-up but due to various band issues, October disappointed. The album received mixed reviews and limited radio play. Low sales outside the UK put pressure on their contract with Island and focused the band on improvement. Which they did, overcoming the downturn in their fortunes to release War in 1983 to critical acclaim and commercial success. The rest as they say is history.
THE POLICE – Regatta De Blanc
Here’s an exception to the rule, as The Police simply went from strength to strength, improving with each subsequent album. No exaggeration to state that their discography is near perfect. In fact, Regatta De Blanc may even be The Police’s finest album – not a weak track in the number. In many ways, this album defined the band’s sound more than any other. A masterpiece!