Thursday’s Top 5: Top Solo Artists

Thursday, as I am sure you know, has become a day of lists. Top 5’s realimages1ly. Scott Mullins and I get together on an idea and we come up with a list of artists who exemplify the idea and then present it to you as the shifts change at 2pm. Whether it be about artists that need to get back to their sonic roots or our top five protest songs, we have your Top 5. Granted, it’s just the opinion of  two self described “music heads,” but it’s always interesting…

This week we have culled up a list of artists who have had successful solo careers despite the shadow of doubt lingering over their early efforts to make it alone. Essentially, we’re looking at bands that broke up and asking who survived– which one the fittest. Indeed, we may even have to talk about what “fitness” means in this context. If you like either of our lists, check out the iMix for Scott and myself . Here is what we came up with …


Ryan Adams “Nuclear”(Scott) : Dr. Dre “Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang”

Ryan Adams…easily makes this list, though his early days in Whiskeytown were critically acclaimed, his solo career and subsequent band The Cardinals have shown that the cat can sell some records, The success that eluded him in his time with Whiskeytown, has found him and he’s now doing quite well for himself.

This is a tough Top 5 for hip hop I think, mainly because the genre is pretty young at a time when it’s getting rare to find groups that you don’t half expect to put out solo material even if they do happen to stay together. So many rappers are solo artists to begin with. N.W.A. however was a famous exception. I put ’em at  #5 because they all walked away with better careers after going solo, Dr. Dre perhaps the most successful though Ice Cube has done fine and Easy E’s career was easy to be optimistic about though it was cut short by complications of his life choices.


Keith Richards “Will But You Won’t”(Scott) : Tony Allen “The Same Blood”

Not that anyone thought that Keith didn’t have it in him, it’s just that it took nearly 30 years for him to prove it. Proving that sometimes being able to take your sweet time, is itself a sign of success.

For me, this is a pick I should explain a bit because many aren’t familiar with Tony Allen who, along with Fela Kuti practically created their own genre–Afrobeat. The thing is I didn’t even know about Allen until after Fela passed away. Tony Allen sort of emerged from the ashes, and well into his seventies, is proving like the title of his first post-Fela release, Afrobeat No Go Die. I mean, to go from virtual anonymity to acknowledged Afrobeat founder and master, not bad for an old dude whose skills are comparable to having two drummers in one.


Jimmie Vaughn “Out There”(Scott) : Bjork “I Miss You(Sunshine Mix)”

Jimmie Vaughn, formerly of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, was heavily influenced by the Three Kings of blues guiter: Freddie, BB and Albert King; left the Thunderbirds after growing weary of label pressures and expectations as well as some of his bandmates, struck out on his own and done well on his own.

When Bjork started doing solo projects apart from the Sugarcubes, I don’t think anyone would have predicted anything for little miss Gudmundsdottir. But all she did was golden the moment she went solo, with a list of accollades too long for me to mention here.


Robert Ward “Your Love Is Amazing”(Scott) : Q-Tip “Gettin’ Up”

Originally a part of the Ohio Untouchables who later went on to be the Ohio Players, and while this would seem to a let down considering the success of the Players, he’s done okay, which is a success all things considered.

After A Tribe Called Quest split in ’99, Q-Tip(as well as the rest of the gang) went solo after the lukewarm reception of their final release The Love Movement. Initially, none of the members did terribly well apart from each other and Q-Tip’s rebirth as Kamaal The Abstract was generally panned and things looked grim enough for the crew to attempt to regroup. Though the group is “together,” I will believe it when they put out a good album. The irony is that after they re-grouped and Kamaal became Q-Tip again, he released an excellent solo album and with it’s appropriate title The Rennaissance and a host of rave reviews, I am a believer too.


Rod Stewart “Hot Legs”(Scott) : George Harrison “A Girl Like You”

Stewart was already making hits with The Faces, after he left he simply became one of the most iconic

For me, easily the best example of big, successful  solo careers would have to be The Beatles. But who do you choose? John and Paul are the easy choices. But many people, like me, always dug the sort of undercover, in-the-shadow-of-success, success that George Harrison had. Who even thought about him when they broke up? It seems too obvious that the others(excl. Ringo) would be huge, but Harrison? Plus, I always did love this song.


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