Top Ten One Album Wonders

By Brent Chittenden

In popular music, a lot of people recognise one hit wonders, bands that have a hit with one song. Now in reality, “one hit” wonders are actually fairly rare. Most of the time the bands in question have another hit, maybe not in North America but somewhere else. An almost equally rare musical beast is the one album wonder; a band or artist who has one spectacular album and then nothing else (under that moniker).  Now there’s usually something else to it, they’re a member of a band that has done a solo album or they dropped the name for whatever reasons or they did do a second album but it was never picked up on, but still, there’s a fascinating number of talented bands and performers on this list. Let’s take a look shall we?

10) Mother Love Bone


A Bit of a technicality but it had to be included. Mother Love Bone had the potential to be big. At least they seemed to think so as did their label. Their one and only album, Apple has some rather good tunes on it and kind of makes you think that second album would have broken them for everyone. Alas, their lead singer died from complications of a heroin overdose but two of the other guys went on to form Pearl Jam.

 

9) Pailhead


Made up of members of Fugazi and Ministry, Pailhead sounded exactly like you would think they would sound; they were a bit punk and a bit industrial. They managed to put out one good album before calling it a day.

8) Lauryn Hill


Now here’s a little bit of a grey area but let me explain. Lauryn Hill did very well both creatively and in sales as a member of The Fugees. And then she released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and she he star just rose to huge heights. The album was a creative and commercial success; it spawned a number of singles, awards, sales and it’s an album that throws a lot of my friends when they look through my cd collection but honestly, it’s just that good. And that was all she wrote. Hill has released one other album but it’s a live album but made up of new material (hence why she’s listed near the bottom of the list) but it’s such a mess that it’s really hard to classify it as an album. Since then, there’s been a few songs here and there but no album.

7) The La’s


Often confused as a one hit wonder, The La’s are best known for the hit “There She Goes” which was used in a crap ton of teen movies during the 90’s but there was a number of solid singles from the album in their native UK. And then they were done. Nothing special about this one, band issues and their debut album took a number of years to record in the first place. They’ve reunited every once and a while but as for new material, wouldn’t bet on it.

6) Death From Above 1979


Another slight technicality but despite have a number of eps, a remix album and a very dedicated fan following, Death from Above 1079 only had one true album… to date. Since the band reunited 2012, there are indications a new album might be on the horizon; new material at concerts, but until they have another album, on this list, they will stay.

5) Them Crooked Vultures


Their first album has done incredibly well and it is a solid rock record but let’s face facts here. The fact that these guys managed to be in the same place for the recording of an album was a minor miracle. Then the band was able to get together again for a tour is a miracle worthy of a saint. But again? Look at Dave Grohl alone. The man is incredibly busy with Foo Fighters and guest appearing on every rock album that comes out. Josh Homme has Queens of the Stone Age and possibly more Desert Sessions and Eagles of Death Metal and John Paul Jones produces a bit, getting these three guys on the same time line again… it might be a while before Them Crooked Vultures can be left off this list.

4) Prick


In 1992, Trent Reznor set up Nothing Records as a label for some of his favorite artists and other acts that were like minded. On a whole, it was kind of hit and miss in terms of commercial appeal, Marilyn Manson being one of the biggest success. But among the bands on the label was a band called Prick. Prick was actually the brainchild of Kevin McMahon (who had played with Reznor in a band called Lucky Pierre) and much like Reznor, Kevin did most of the work on the album himself. And it’s a very solid album that straddles the lines between pop and industrial very, very well. But we didn’t see a proper second release. There is another album called The Wreakard which is also very good but no one knows of it’s existence as it was released via the internet in a time before that sort of thing was really done.

3) Derek and The Dominos


The album that spawned the gigantic hit Layla. The album didn’t produce any other hits but the album is a good solid rock record. In fact, it’s one of the better albums in Eric Clapton’s entire repertoire.There was a second LP in the works but the band dissolved before it could be finished.

2) Jeff Buckley


It’s hard to believe but it’s true, despite his cult status and the fantastic reception and legacy of his album Grace and all of the live stuff floating around out there, Jeff Buckley only released one proper album. But it’s album that still stands up to this day.

1) The Sex Pistols


One of the most influential bands in punk and one of the most influential bands in rock, period. All of that was brought on by a magnificent public persona and one album.

Is there any bands I missed? Please leave your ideas below!

Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a freelance writer with a gift for the geek. Currently a writer with A Journal Of Musical Things and a podcaster with True North Nerds, he's also written for Comic Book Daily, Explore Music and a dozen other places. Currently, he is the co-host of the True North Nerds podcast. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/bcchittenden

10 thoughts on “Top Ten One Album Wonders

  • September 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm
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    New Radicals – Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
    We all may still be sick of hearing "You Get What You Give" but this was a really solid album, though it didn't really make a huge impact as some of the ones listed above. I believe that this album was just a way for frontman Gregg Alexander to fund starting a production company…I think.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm
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    I had that Prick album back in the day, when I thought I would try goth for my grade 10 year. I loved that album, and watching the video makes me realize it really is a solid record. The video has all the now cliche 90s goth imagery – crows, bird cage, striped pants, leather, and more, but despite the slight embarrassment I feel watching it (y' know, cause it reminds me how stupid I looked) Animal is still a good song!

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  • September 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm
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    Death! …For the Whole World to See. There were singles and demos but the Hackney brothers with Dannis only recorded the one!

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  • September 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm
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    And somethinng from the world of Hip Hop. The 1988 release of We're in This Together by Low Profile. DJ Aladdin and WC debut appeard at #66 on the Billboard charts and had two videos for "Funky Song" and "Pay Ya Dues". DJ Alladdin went on to produce Ice T, King tee, and W.C. as a solo artist.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm
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    A pick for a One Album Wonders would be an oldie from the 60s by a band called THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1967 / 68 ( not very Google friendly ). This self titled album is America's Sgt. Pepper – popular only among the small circle of fans who know it for its ahead of its time sound. From its roots in Yoko Ono's N.Y. loft concerts in the early 60s it mixed avant – garde, Jefferson Airplane, Beatles, psychedelic and calliope music. With its dull band name, cover art and with such song titles as "Love Song For The Dead Che", all of America wasn't ready to open its arms to this music.

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  • September 28, 2013 at 2:29 am
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    Whitesnake's self-titled from 1987! David Coverdale had been kicking around for awhile. After a stint as Sabbaths frontman, he formed Whitesnake. Nothing great. Mediocre blues rock. Then in 1987 everything exploded when the marketing machine went into overdrive, recruiting musicians from established metal acts, reworking their image to be more magazine friendly, and the rest is history.

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  • September 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm
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    Hindu Love Gods. They were Warren Zevon backed by R.E.M.

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  • September 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm
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    Mansun- Six. Criminally underrated.

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  • April 12, 2014 at 5:30 am
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    Alexander “Skip” Spence – Oar
    Rapeman – Two Nuns and a Pack Mule
    Temple of the Dog – s/t
    4 Non Blondes – Bigger, Better, Faster, More!
    Nailbomb – Point Blank
    Mad Season – Above
    Splendora – In the Grass
    Neurotic Outsiders – s/t
    Lincoln – s/t
    Choking Victim – No Gods, No Managers
    Life without Buildings – Any Other City
    The Avalanches – Since I Left You
    Lenny Valentino – Uwaga, Jedzie Tramwaj
    ZWAN – Mary Star of the Sea
    The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic

    Reply
  • April 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm
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    What about ‘Jagged Little Pill’?. Alanis has not had another album like that in over 20 years.

    Reply

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