February 22, 2024

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I Fall For Art

Artists Whose Solo Albums Top Anything By Their Original Band

As if further proof were needed of the superiority of The Beatles, it is the only band whose members each went on to have very successful solo careers. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the main songwriters, were obviously destined to continue to make hits after the breakup of the band, and George Harrison had already hinted at his penchant for penning a pop hit. Even drummer Ringo Starr, who had written just two of the band’s songs, saw consistent chart success in the 70s.

While the band’s overall discography trumps that of the collective solo efforts, occasionally other artists have released individual album that outshine any work of their original group. For example, as good as Buffalo Springfield was in the late 60s, their stuff is not nearly as enduring as the solo work of Neil Young.

Here are ten other artists whose solo albums are better than any of the records their group made.

Ben Gibbard

His Former Lives from 2013, featuring songs like “Bigger than Love” and “Teardrop Windows,” was somehow even better than any of the great releases he did with Death Cab for Cutie.

Rhett Miller

The Old 97’s are the best alt-country band around, but Miller’s poppier approach seems to be more appealing, especially on LPs such as The Instigator and The Dreamer.

Pete Townsend

His first three solo albums, especially Empty Glass and All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, top all of the incredible stuff he did with his rock Hall of Fame band, The Who.

Christopher Owens

The former front man of the indie group Girls turned solo last year with A New Testament, a sharp but extremely pleasurable change in musical direction.

Gerry Rafferty

Although he hit the Top Ten with “Stuck in the Middle,” the front man of Stealer’s Wheel went all the way to number one with City to City after the band broke up.

Scott Miller

After establishing a loyal following with The V-Roy’s, the alt-country Appalachianist created excellent records like Thus Always to Tyrants, Citation and Big Big World.

Jenny Lewis

The leader of the folk-country tandem Rilo Kelly ventured forth alone, and since then she has made great discs like her latest one called The Voyager.

Frank Black

As a member of the rock group Pixies he was known as Black Francis, but as a solo artist his approach has been more toward country-rock or folk.

Conor Oberst

He was the heart and soul of Bright Eyes, but last year’s Upside Down Mountain proved that he could be even better without the guise of a band.

Paul Westerberg

He made more hits with The Replacements, but subsequent solo material like Mono/Stereo show his maturity as a songwriter without the raucousness of a band.