Pat Monahan, the singer from Train, just released a solo album, Last Of Seven--and while no one is making the claim that he can single-handedly save the music industry like Rick Rubin, the fact that no one is saying Monahan can't single-handedly save it speaks volumes as well. A big record company put money behind this idea. And they've done so in the past with middling results. Used CD and record bins are jammed with "sure things" that never panned out.
And then I also took note that none other than Edward Vedder, he of the Pearl Jam clan, has also taken to a solo album and his---get this--is the soundtrack for a movie written and directed by Sean Penn, who was once married to Madonna. This means something! And it isn't just a lack of royalties going into pockets of his band members either.
Here are five solo albums from guys (and gals) who should've just stuck with their bands.
Billy Squier--The Tale Of The Tape: Piper recorded two albums in the late '70s that suggested if the group kept recording for the next 30 years that eventually by the laws of general persistence they'd be a huge success. But little Billy Squier, their lead singer, didn't want to wait and left this promising group for a solo career that began with The Tale Of The Tape, an album so good the label let him make another one that had a hit with something called "The Stroke." However, in this mad dash for fame, Billy made a video that wasn't any worse or more stupid than anyone else's, where he danced around like a homoerotic epileptic that allegedly ended his career. Funny how sometimes one man's trash turns out to be another man's trash.
Grace Slick--Manhole: Any one of Grace Slick's four solo albums can be heard as a questionable foray into something or other. But we'll consider her first, 1974's Manhole, an album that contains a 15-minute theme song that features many members of her departing band the Jefferson Airplane and a 41-piece orchestra as well as other tunes that give you a temperature of the times: "It's Only Music" and "Better Lying Down," which is true, since this album is best experienced while asleep.
Whitford/St. Holmes--Whitford/St. Holmes: In 1981, Aerosmith looked to be a done deal, a band that partied right out of their prime. Joe Perry formed a "project" and their other guitarist Brad Whitford teamed up with Ted Nugent guitarist Derek St. Holmes for the imaginatively titled group: Whitford / St. Holmes. They released one album, the imaginatively titled: Whitford/St. Holmes, which included the song "Does It Really Matter?" Another one of those cases, boys, where if you have to ask...
Dee Dee King--Standing In The Spotlight: Was Dee Dee Ramone the genius behind the Ramones? Apparently not, you might say after checking out his long and laborious solo career, the worst of which was his decision in the late '80s to try his hand in the "rap" world. "Funky Man" was the single and it doesn't come close to describing what Dee Dee achieves on this unusual collection. He nails it though when he calls himself the "baddest rapper from Whitestone, Queens." He is truly awful.
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul--Men Without Women: I kinda like Little Steven. He's like me. He can't sing. And he proves this over and over on his four solo albums where he croaks and whispers and shouts and sounds like he's awaiting surgery on his throat. Musicians are supposed to be all about timing and Little Steven certainly showed his top notch abilities leaving Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band just in time for the completely non-lucrative 1984 Born In The USA tour. It's a good thing he bailed on that one. What a turkey!