All of our favourite acts have an arc, their popularity comes and goes, no matter how talented they might be. Sometimes it’s got nothing to do with the quality of their music, rather the scene just changes. The fans will let them come back once. Our devotion and the pull of nostalgia are the reasons. After that, they need to stand or fall based on the quality of their work.
Machine Head had a brilliant debut with “Burn My Eyes”, then stumbled a bit with “The More Things Change”, “The Burning Eyes” and “Supercharger” only to return bigger and better than ever with “Through The Ashes Of Empires”. After that they have stood tall based on their quality of their work. Just look at the releases that came after in “The Blackening”, “Unto The Locust” and “Bloodstone And Diamonds”. For me, being a fan since day dot, those stumbles that other people see are all part of a bands evolution.
A favourite band of mine from the Eighties was Ratt. I really liked the DeMartini/Crosby guitar team. So they came onto the scene running out of the blocks with “Out Of The Cellar”. They kept the momentum going with “Invasion Of Your Privacy”, “Dancing Undercover” and “Reach For The Sky”. They then started working with Desmond Child on the “Detonator” album and even though it moved units, it was seen as a stumble. Then the band imploded and they never really came back as a recording force. A 1999, self-titled album came out that did nothing and “Infestation” came out in 2010 which to be honest, based on the calibre of players involved, it was a dead set let down. It looks like “King” Crosby (RIP) was the X-Factor behind Ratt’s success.
Motley Crue had notched up a lot of wins and then in 1992 they dropped a bombshell and Vince was out. They dug in deep and delivered a stellar album in 1994, with John Corabi on vocals, however the market didn’t reciprocate. Blame the times, blame the change of vocalist, blame the lack of record label support. Then Vince was back in and “Generation Swine” followed that further alienated the majority of the fan base with its industrial leanings. Then Tommy was out and “New Tattoo” followed which led to a club tour and talks that the band was washed up.
No one saw the comeback that would come on the backs of “The Dirt”. The “Carnival of Souls” tour with the original band captured that new-found fame and a whole new generation of fans along with the old generation came out to see the Crue. This was followed up by the excellent “Saints Of Los Angeles” album in 2008 and their arc was complete. And now instead of standing or falling based on their new musical output, Motley Crue decided to not participate in making an albums worth of music. We got a single in 2012 and maybe another single will follow next year.
And in 2014, new music is a common theme of contention with artists. Musicians are digging down deep and delivering what they believe is their best work and without the usual old sales metrics not truly capturing the impact of the new music, they believe that the reaction to their new music is…nothing.
In some cases that might be the truth. And in this confusion and fragmented music industry they find it hard to keep soldiering on. But the truth is if they are good, they will have fans that will believe in them. It may not be the platinum armies that the MTV generation grew up with, but just because a musician doesn’t break through to the masses that does not mean they should change direction. A lot of the times it takes a while for the marketplace to catch up with what a musician is doing.