Sunday, 14 April 2013

10 Songs By Artists Who Went Solo

Ever be hanging out with a group a friends and get an urge to do or say something that you know wouldn't go over well with the selected company? Then when you get home and you're on your own it feels completely natural to act on those urges. Not that you prefer being alone over hanging with a group, but there is a difference. That's how I feel some musicians must be in a band. They get an urge or inkling to write a certain type of song but know it won't work with the group, so they go rogue. Here are 10 Songs by artists who stepped out on their own.

1. John Frusciante - "A Firm Kick"

Frusciante replace Hillel Slovak as the guitar player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988 and performed on some of their more famous albums. In 1992 he left the group due to an intense addiction to marijuana and heroin. He entered a deep depression and was afraid he would never play music again. Eventually John got clean and rejoined the group in time for 1999's Californication, but his new addiction was writing and recording music. John Frusciante maintained a respectable library of solo albums including 2004's Inside Of Emptiness where "A Firm Kick" can be found.

2. City and Colour - "Comin' Home"

City and Colour is the stage name of Canada's Dallas Green. Also known for his guitar and vocal duties of the hardcore group Alexisonfire Green's first solo album was released in 2005. Maybe because of the drastic differences in the style and tone of the 2 groups City and Colour was able to coexist with Alexisonfire and for a while many casual listeners didn't even make the connection.

3. Mick Jagger - "God Gave Me Everything"

Jagger's actually gone on his own 4 separate times with the first being in 1985 and the last being in 2001. Sometimes when a band member breaks off from the group and does their own thing the result a completely new and fresh sound. A song that fits into a different genre or niche and sometimes, such as Mick's case, it sounds almost identical to what they were doing before. "God Gave Me Everything", a great song don't get me wrong, could fit seamlessly into a best of weekend of Rolling Stone songs.

Interesting....the video appears to be unavailable in Canada from's the Vimeo link...fascists

4. Rob Thomas - "This Is How A Heart Breaks"

Matchbox Twenty's front man Rob Thomas took a hiatus in 2005 to explore his creative side when he released the solo album ...Something To Be. Though the sound was not torn out of the pages of Matchbox's tomes the album was met with a lukewarm reception. His 2009 solo album Cradlesong seemed to be  a more critical success, but by then the mass audiences had forgotten all about Mr. Thomas. Too bad.

5. Dee Dee King - "Funky Man"

Remember how I said when some musicians branch off their final product ends up sounding just like the band they came from. That is not the case here. Dee Dee King probably better recognized as Dee Dee Ramone from the legendary punk group The Ramones left the group in 1989 to embark on an ill advised solo career as a rap artist. You read that right. I don't think I need to tell you had catastrophic of a failure this ended up being and though he begged to get back with the Ramones it would not happen until 1996 when they played their final show ever.

6. Puscifer - "The Humbling River"

I know I mentioned this one before, it's worth including here because of how synonymous Maynard James Keenan is with Tool. Puscifer is his musical alias under which to experiment and release songs that wouldn't fit under Tool's umbrella...or A Perfect Circle for that matter.

7. Cass Elliot - "Make Your Own Kind Of Music"

The Mamas & The Papas were one of the biggest groups in the US in the late 60's. It's undeniable that Cass Elliot's voice was a driving force of their success, however many felt that she didn't fit in with the group's image because of her weight. After quitting the group she had an equally successful solo career and her talent is obvious on songs like "Make Your Own Kind Of Music". Sadly her journey to the top was cut short in 1974 when she died of a heart attack and not choking on a sandwich.

8. Alan Frew - "Healing Hands"

1993 was a year of turmoil in Canada. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney steps down and his successor Kim Campbell becomes this country's first female Prime Minister only to be defeated later that year. by Jean Chretien. Amidst all this chaos iconic Canadian rock group Glass Tiger calls it quits. It's a wonder we survived. All was not lost however as the following year Alan Frew, Glass Tiger's singer would release a solo album with the inspirational title Hold On as if to reassure us Canadians that the light at the end of the tunnel was within reach.  The album was, however a far cry from "Don't Forget Me" in fact the lead off single "Healing Hands" featured many trends from the early 90's such as racial themes, spoken lyrics and Frew even steps into the Hip Hop arena with a rap during the breakdown. Timeless...indeed.

9. Tom Gabel - "Anna Is A Stool Pigeon"

I had no idea that Against Me!'s Tom Gabel had released a solo album until I saw in the record store on sale for $9. Bargain. Gabel, to me, always seemed to be the type of guy that was constantly playing music so it was no surprise to me that he released an album on his own between Against Me! CDs. In fact at it's earliest incarnation Against Me! was merely Tom and a guitar, he would add the band later. Heart Burns features some songs that could have easily been included on New Wave or White Crosses but it stands well on it's own and with only 7 tracks, he didn't over do it.

10. Tricky - "Black Steel"

Going to end the list on a little bit of an obscure note. Tricky (Adrian Thaws) got his feet wet in the British electronica scene with the group Massive Attack but left shortly after having visions of a more focused career. Maxinquaye was his debut album and "Black Steel" is the song's shining diamond in a sky of stars. He has since released over a dozen solo studio albums, had hands in producing dozens more and has collaborated with a wide variety of artists from Nelly Furtado to Garbage to Mos Def and the list goes on.

Thanks as always

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