By Elford Alley
It’s as much a part of a successful band’s story as the substance abuse and rehab stints. I'm talking about the solo album.
At some point, someone is going solo. Now, sometimes the first solo album isn't very good (Mick Jagger’s She’s The Boss) and sometimes it's downright abysmal (Peter Criss’ Peter Criss), but every now and then, someone manages to release a truly great first solo record - Sting, Stevie Nicks, Donald Fagen and Eric Clapton- that rivals the work of the artist’s own band.
Here are five great first solo albums:
Paul Westerberg's 14 Songs
With a title referencing the J.D. Salinger collection Nine Stories, former Replacements' frontman Paul Westerberg released his first solo album in 1993. 14 Songs led to his work being featured on such early '90s TV staples as Friends and Melrose Place, catapulting his solo career that followed The Replacements’ 1990 break-up.
Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever
Following his stint in the Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty started work on his first solo album, which contains some of his biggest hits, including “Free Fallin,” “I Won’t Back Down” and "Runnin' Down a Dream." It’s hard to consider 1989’s Full Moon Fever a solo album - every member of The Heartbreakers (except for drummer Stan Lynch) contributed to it - but despite that T.P. and producer Jeff Lynne wrote, produced and recorded what some consider to be Petty's masterpiece.
Jack White's Blunderbuss
Neko Case's The Virginian
Neko Case got her start as a drummer for various bands around Vancouver but soon found fame as the singer of the indie rock group The New Pornographers. Trading in her power pop sound for country, she released her first solo album The Virginian in 1997, featuring covers of Loretta Lynn and The Everly Brothers' songs. The Virginian was the first in a series of very successful solo albums for Case.
George Harrison's All Things Must Pass
Not only is All Things Must Pass George Harrison's first solo album, but it is also the first solo album by a former Beatle. The triple album was a massive success and considered by most to be Harrison’s best work. Featuring songs like “Isn’t It A Pity,” "What is Life," and “My Sweet Lord," it rivals his songs with The Beatles and just might be the finest of all the Fab Four solo albums.