Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Question of the Week: What’s the best album by a band that’s released multiple albums, but you only own the one?

I don’t know about you people, but occasionally I buy albums by performers that have released many albums, and for one reason or another, I haven’t bought any other albums by that performer. It could be, of course, that the album I bought sucked, but it’s not always the case. Occasionally, of course, the albums got out of print, and that’s a thing, as I tend not to search too much on digital platforms because like I have that kind of time. Occasionally, of course, the albums I get are really good, and I often wonder why I don’t get more by the performers. Usually, this happens because I get the album long after it came out, even after the band has broken up, so there’s nothing reminding me that, hey, yeah, they released other things, too. Such is life.

I have several of these kinds of albums, but a few stand out to me as the best ones. People in Planes released Beyond the Horizon in 2008, and I got it a few years later. They had released two albums prior to that one, and it turned out to be their last one. The other two appear difficult to find, so maybe I’ll get them, maybe I won’t. Beyond the Horizon is an excellent album, though, so I’m glad that I bought it, at least. It begins with the pounding “Last Man Standing,” which feels like Simonson’s use of “Doom!” on his Thor run, it’s that throbbing. “Pretty Buildings,” Flesh and Blood,” and “Know by Now” are highlights, and the album’s penultimate track, “Vampire,” is probably the best song on it. It’s just a superb album.

If we go a bit old-school, Who’s Next would make my list. Yes, it’s the only album by The Who that I own (fun fact: I own zero (0) Rolling Stones albums!), and it’s pretty great, isn’t it? The worst song on it – “Going Mobile” – is still pretty good, and it has a bunch of stone-cold classics: “Baba O’Riley,” “Bargain,” and “Love Ain’t For Keeping” are the first three songs, and it ends with “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and that’s not bad at all. Why don’t I own more albums by the band? I can’t say. Oh well.

The next one might be a bit surprising, not because of the artist, but because of which album I own. Neil Diamond has released dozens of albums, but when I was growing up, I didn’t think he was someone whose albums I needed to own because his songs were so ubiquitous, right? Plus, while I didn’t mind his music, I didn’t love it, either (I like it more now that I’m an oldster). However, I read some good reviews of 12 Songs, his 2005 album, and how it was produced by Rick Rubin and was a bit of a departure from his usual stuff, so I bought. It’s excellent. Neil was 65 at the time of its release, and his wonderful voice is tempered nicely by both a world-weariness and the hope that comes from surviving through the shit. “Hell Yeah,” for instance, is a hopeful song that could only be sung meaningfully by someone with many years behind them. “I’m on to You” is a nasty little break-up song that doesn’t let Neil off the hook, “What’s it Gonna Be” is a call for trusting someone other than yourself, “Man of God” is a nice spiritual, and “We” is a charming love song. The best song on the album is the sad “Evermore,” another song that only a person looking back on a long life can imbue with such feeling. It’s just a wonderful album, and I always think I should probably get more Neil Diamond albums. But I haven’t.

My favorite album by someone who has released multiple albums but I only own one is, however, O.G. Original Gangster by Ice-T. Ice is doing laundry detergent commercials and cereal commercials these days, but man, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s he was hard, and O.G. is excellent. This album came out a few days before I turned 20, so I was kind of the perfect age for it, and while I’ve never been into rap as much as some of my friends, I still like it perfectly well, and a few of my college friends listened to this a lot, and I just loved it. It’s probably most famous for “New Jack Hustler,” as that was used in the film New Jack City, but it has a bunch of great songs: “Mic Contract,” “Mind Over Matter” (“I can drop rhymes in twos and threes and fours / And still have much shit left for encores”), “Escape from the Killing Fields,” and my favorite, “Pulse of the Rhyme”: “I break ill in extra-large portions / Where’s your parents, I’ll make you an orphan.” I don’t know why I never got any other Ice-T albums – I hear he’s much more about sex on his other albums, while this is more political and violent, so maybe that’s it. But either way, it’s a terrific album. (Remember: there’s some bad language in the videos below!)

So those are some of mine. Am I the only one who does this? What are some of your favorite albums of a band from which you only bought one album? Don’t be shy!


  1. I own 12 Songs by Neil Diamond. I was REALLY annoyed that the label (Columbia) put some sort of anti-theft software on it that could mess up one’s computer! I used to play music at work on my computer, but not that one. Neil was unaware of this stupid stuff. ihttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Songs_(Neil_Diamond_album)

  2. To the question, I assume you’re not talking Greatest Hits albums because I have a TON of those that are the only album I own.

    Reflections – Gil Scott-Heron
    the first Boston album
    Time Out – Dave Brubeck
    OK Computer – Radiohead

    I’m sure there are tons of them

  3. Eric van Schaik

    Morning greetings from Holland (07.10 houres when I started my reaction).

    I got a few and mostly hardrock.

    The Scorpions – Tokyo Tapes. When they made good music and this live recording is still great. English with a wonderful german accent.

    Angel Witch – Angelwitch. Later albums sucked unfortunately.

    Arcade Fire – Reflektor. There other albums just don’t click with me. Too bad.

    B 52’s – Whammy. The albums has a lot of great songs. Others don’t so only this one.

    Balance – In for the count. Only this AOR album of the 3 they made.

    Black Sabbath – Live Evil. I really liked this incarnation with Dio on vocals. I never got the studio albums. When possible I mostly get just the live onces.

    The Dears – No cities left. Nice music, but I can’t tell you why I have only 1 because the music aint bad.

    Focus – Moving waves. Because it has the best songs on 1 record. I saw them at Prognosis 2 weeks ago. The celebrated being 50 years together. Hocus Pocus still a great song.

    New Order – Movement. After that they got too poppy for me.

    The Prodigy – Fat of the Land. The only good album. YMMV.

    Savatage – Power of the Night. I still haven’t got the first album so I can mention it here. 😉

    UFO – Strangers in the Night. It’s when of the best live rock albums. Period. When Michael Schenker was the greatest guitar player (we will see him play tonight. Yeah!!!).

    Yes – Yessongs. Prove that live versions of songs are the best. Period. Never felt the need to buy the studio albums.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I don’t count live albums for the same reason I don’t count Greatest Hits ones. They’re tailored to appeal to the widest possible fan base, so they generally include all the “best” songs a band has to offer. I know you like them, and that’s fine, but I don’t count them!!!!! 🙂

      1. Eric van Schaik

        That’s ok mr. Burgas. I’m not mad at you. 🙂
        The Michael Schenker concert yesterday was fantastic.
        The last part of the set was a lot of Strangers in the Night stuff from UFO. We had a wonderful evening ,and I bought a t-shirt to celebrate it. 😉

  4. conrad1970

    I got Supernatural by Carlos Santana, it was ok I guess but didn’t really spur me on to buy anymore of his albums.
    Also Neon Bible from Arcade Fire, this remains one of my favourite albums, although I’m not so keen on the rest of their work.

  5. John King

    For me, the Four main contenders are

    Woodface by Crowded House – which seems to have most of their better known songs on

    Ingenue by K D Lang – possibly the peak of her career

    Lives in the Balance by Jackson Browne – he seemed more noticeable in the UK about the time this came out with For America and the Shape of a Heart

    By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Why wasn’t Can’t Stop on their best of album?)

  6. Le Messor

    I can’t think of many; I have several one Greatest Hits / one album combo, but that’s because they design greatest hitses in such a way that there’s one song you want that’s missing so you have to buy an album. Most of those are good, but not great. (Also, in my head I don’t count GHs or live albums; just original studio albums.)

    From The Who, I only have Tommy; from Crowded House, Woodface. Both good, but neither so great as to inspire me to get more.

    There are a couple of obscure 90s Christian bands: Imagine This and Rachel Rachel where I’ve got one album (Imagine This and You Oughta Know respectively. In both cases, those are great albums – the Imagine This one especially – but I’ve heard another album by them and hated it.

    1. John King

      “they design greatest hitses in such a way that there’s one song you want that’s missing”
      Yes, I’ve noticed that. I sometimes don’t buy “best of” albums as they never seem to have all the best tracks (other times I buy it and am irritated when I notice the omission)…. it’s very annoying

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