So I watched this great documentary on Showtime about The Go-Go’s and it reminded me that Belinda Carlisle was not the only Go-Go to go solo or to put out a charting single. Jane Wiedlin had a few solo albums of her own. So many singers from groups have gone solo, some while with a band or some maybe after. As this was an interesting topic, why not talk about some of our favorites? I threw it out to Mike and here we are, as always we love to hear your favorites.
I love this kind of stuff and as always I am all over the place, some of my favorite songs and a few guilty pleasures. It’s hard to break out on your own and these performers were all able to some more successful than others.
- Jane Wiedlin, “Rush Hour” (1988) – My favorite Go-Go branched out with a few solo albums, “Rush Hour” being the best single of the bunch although “Tangled” from Pretty Woman was pretty good too.
- Keith Richards, “Take it So Hard” (1988) – The Rolling Stones had a more successful solo artist in Mick Jagger but Richards put out some bluesy albums by himself and “Take it So Hard” is an unmitigated secret classic single.
- Ringo Starr, “No No Song” (1975) – I say Yes Yes to this classic and maybe first anti-drug song? Starr shows he can compete with his fellow mop tops.
- Susanna Hoffs, “All I Want”, (1996) – Yes this is a cover song but Hoffs had a couple albums without The Bangles. She does this more justice than the original.
- Daryl Hall, “Dreamtime”, (1986) – My go-to song in the 80s I absolutely love this song and it would make my 100 songs list every time. Who needs Oates?
- Peter Murphy, “Cuts You Up” (1990) – Bauhaus was such a depressingly Goth band that I couldn’t imagine that Murphy could actually make pop sounding songs, but this is a New Wave gem.
- Harry Styles, “Watermelon Sugar” (2020) – Ok, guilty pleasure of this miserable 2020 is former One Direction Harry Styles singing about Watermelon. It beats out “Jealous” by Nick Jonas for Boy Band solo artists.
- Glen Phillips, “Thankful” (2005) – Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips has done some fine solo work and “Thankful” from 2005 is great and probably incredibly unheard.
- Aimee Mann, “Save Me” (2000) – I loved Til’ Tuesday, their third album is brilliant. Aimee Mann’s work has been spotty for me but the stuff off the Magnolia soundtrack is divine, including “Save Me”.
- Diana Ross, “Upside Down” (1980) – Ross had a ton of hits with The Supremes, a great group, but she became a megastar on her own and her disco classic is top-notch. BY this is for you!
Bonus: Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “Say, Say, Say” (1983) – For a bonus why not a 2 for 1, great duet by two huge stars at the height of their powers, better than “The Girl is Mine” and the video comes with a great snake oil salesman theme.
MG: I recently rediscovered “Rush Hour” and it is one of my new favorite 80s tunes, and have always liked Hall’s “Dreamtime”. We did have a lot of fun hitting the dance floor to “Upside Down” with the mutual friend you referenced, back in our club days. I did not know you liked anything by Peter Murphy. “Cuts You Up” is a good track but I think “Shy” is even better. I will also admit to the guilty pleasure of liking “Watermelon Sugar”. Sometimes you just need a straight-up happy pop song.
Music was a huge part of my childhood into adulthood – really a constant companion during good times and bad. We didn’t have as many ways to connect to artists or dig up every bit of info on them on Wikipedia, but maybe it was better not to know everything and leave some mystery. When artists, usually lead singers, split from bands and went solo, it could be both traumatic that your favorite band was ending, but also exciting to see what material they would create on their own. Here are some of my favorite solo breakout artists/tunes:
- Steve Perry, “Strung Out” (1984) – Journey was one of my top bands in the mid-80s, but lead singer Perry made his solo album without breaking up with Journey, so there was no drama. “Oh Sherrie” was the big hit from this album, but I prefer this more upbeat track.
- Andy Taylor, “Take It Easy (1987) – A guitarist going solo can be a dubious proposition, but this was a great track by Duran Duran’s lead guitarist. It was written for a long forgotten movie American Anthem and is very hard to find now on streaming services.
- Chris Cornell, “Sunshower” (1998) – Another soundtrack song (from Great Expectations), this was Cornell’s first foray into solo material. The breakup of Soundgarden was a bummer to me, but Cornell made some great solo material and contributed his amazing voice to Audioslave. His suicide still bothers me to think about it.
- Annie Lennox, “Walking On Broken Glass” (1992) – I’m not sure why Lennox broke from Eurythmics and Dave Stewart (they later reunited) but she had several solid solo albums. She is on my list to hopefully see in concert someday.
- Lindsey Buckingham, “Go Insane” (1984) – Buckingham was always on the cusp of breaking from Fleetwood Mac, then would be drawn back in, and they would use his potential solo stuff for their albums. This is my favorite of his actual solo material.
- Deon Estus, “Heaven Help Me” (1989) – George Michael broke free from Wham, then Michael’s bassist went and made his own solo album. Michael lent his background vocals to this lost late-80s gem.
- Sting, “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (1985) – Sting breaking up with The Police was big news, mostly because the band was at their peak of success with Synchronicity. Sting went on to be as successful, if not more, as a solo artist with a string of great albums.
- Robbie Robertson, “Showdown At Big Sky” (1987) I am aware that The Band was big in the 70s, but I’d be lying if I said I knew much of their stuff. But I am a big fan of Robertson’s first solo effort – solid from start to finish. The bigger single from this album was “Somewhere Down The Crazy River”.
- Natalie Merchant, “Carnival” (1995) – Merchant broke from her band just when I was really getting into 10,000 Maniacs. Her solo album Tigerlily could be a little too mellow for me, but Carnival was a standout.
- Neil Finn, “She Will Have Her Way (1998) – If you are a regular reader you know we are partial to Split Enz and Crowded House. This track was part of a solid album representing Neil’s solo breakout.
DJ: I have to admit you stumped me on the first three, although obviously I know “Oh, Sherrie” which I loved. Annie Lennox was a great pick I never thought of. I left you Buckingham and Sting, Buckingham is underrated all around. I may have to check out Robertson, I kno wThe Band but not really anything by him solo. Natalie Merchant another great pick I never thought of. I love that Deon Estus song very “Lost 45ish” as they would say.