No, this is not a review of the classic Bon Jovi album from the 90’s. I’m saving that for a rainy day. Perhaps for next month’s Sunday Supplement on Songbytoad??!! This is the story of artists who never know when to give up. Who keep believing and dreaming and who have had their hard work and dreams rewarded and deservedly so. Artists who I admire for the very reason that they keep me filled with hope and belief that anything is possible.
Music is kind of like that though. Sometimes, bands come from nowhere. Success comes really easily to them. Their first album instantly makes them household names or takes them to a level most artists can only dream of. This gives them the platform to go on to bigger and better things. The flip side to this instant success, of course, is the pressure to maintain a standard. To raise the levels of performance, to maintain record sales and build a successful career from the initial flurry of media and public attention. Of course, many, many fail. Others build successful careers off just a couple of albums, milking this success forever more. I’m not naming any names but we all know who I’m talking about.
Anyways, this post is about bands that didn’t have instant success. Who released 2 or 3 albums before they actually had any sort of real success. Who worked and worked and worked and worked and worked and just kept working, believing and, I guess, hoping. And who ultimately were rewarded for their hard work.
Elbow. When Asleep in the Back was released I was absolutely certain that this band were going to be massive. I just didn’t realise it would take them until their 4th album to achieve the success that they deserved. I still don’t think that it should have taken this long. My love of ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ has grown considerably since I was on holiday earlier this year in Melrose and it was the soundtrack of the week. That said, I would still rate Asleep in the Back as their best album and my favourite of their records for sure. And I do think that if there was an album that should have won them the Mercury Music Prize then it should have been that. But let’s take Elbow as the perfect example of working hard, focusing solely on the music and growing as a band to the point that they could no longer be ignored. Building a fanbase. A dedicated fanbase, bordering on the fanatical, that forced them into the thoughts of others.
Biffy Clyro. If there is one band who define hard work then it’s these guys. I just bought their new album and have listened to it on repeat all day. Let me tell you. It’s brilliant. I love it. There will be an album review to follow later in the week once I digest it a little more. But lets think about this. When I first heard Biffy on Radio Scotland Simon Neil worked behind the bar in some pub in Glasgow. He was in the same position as some of my friends now, and me. In a band, longing for success, hoping for a career just performing his songs and writing music. They built a fanbase through hard work and effort. They had the support of a wicked independent label of course who obviously allowed them freedom to write and create and release their music. Then all of a sudden, album number 4 ‘Puzzles’ arrived and took them to a whole new level of success. Since then they have gone from strength to strength. I was worried that they were going to be 1 major album wonders but the new album has dispelled my fears for sure. And out of all the bands who have had to work to get to where they are now, I am most pleased for them simply because they produce the kind of music that I never thought could cross over from alternative to mainstream with such success.
Idlewild. I guess this is a strange one because most people would argue that Idlewild are on the way down. I guess that could be seen as being true. But then I would look at it this way. It took until their 3rd album for any sort of real attention and until their 4th release before they became real mainstream hits with ‘The Remote Part’. Sure, since then their demise has been noticeable, but with the release of’ ‘Post Electric Blues’ I would argue that Idlewild have raised their profile again and produced something that deserves a lot of praise and respect. It’s a wonderful never say die attitude. Recording the album themselves and then finding a label to release it was a brave move and one that I think they should be praised for. Especailly as it was released to real fans prior to any label involvement. With Roddy Woomble’s amazingly successful forays into the world of Scottish folk music I would argue that Idlewild are still one of Scotland’s most important bands. They took a long time to get noticed on a large scale and despite all the knockers and doubters they are still producing quality music in 2009. Much respect.
Broken Records. Why on earth have I chosen these guys I hear you say? Well, it’s simple really. These guys have had so much attention from the media, so much hype from the Edinburgh music press, so much weight placed on their very inexperienced shoulders. Their debut album was good. I liked it. But it didn’t live up to my or many other peoples expectations. It hasn’t, so far, brought them the instant success which people thought and claimed that it would. However, I have absolutely no doubt that they are going to get there. That in 1 or 2 albums time they are going to become houesehold names. Going to be a band playing headline sets at big festivals. Going to be a band that when I write about I have only positive things to say about them. I certainly hope this prophecy comes true. I know they are hard working, and I hope that their hard work and determination pays off and they find themselves making a living from playing the music they love.
There are others of course, Snow Patrol being a prime example. Though I don’t like their music anymore, Final Straw was apparently their last attempt to make it as a band. It just shows you how fine the line between breaking up and making it big is. Anyways, not sure what the point of this post was other than I love the new Biffy record and it made me think about the Kays, about why we do this crazy thing called being in a band and about hope. Ultimately it’s all about hope. I just wanted to highlight some of my favourite bands who give me that hope and keep me believing that anything is possible.