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Quantity vs Quality


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Showing 1-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 27, 2012 1:47:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2012 1:49:30 PM PST
BigBadAzz says:
There are some artists who over the years have released 20+ albums (as per a previous thread). A few of these albums are usually classics, however the rest of them are generally considered to be of average quality with some even being downright disappointments.

On the other hand, there are other artists who release maybe 6 or 7 albums throughout their career and either pass away or break up leaving behind them a legacy of mostly high quality material.

Which artists do you believe belong to the former category, and which do you think are associated with the latter?

What type of back catalogues do you prefer to own? The 20+ albums of average ranging quality, or the limited number of albums of exemplary material?

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 2:03:02 PM PST
Savage Lucy says:
I'm sure most of us would prefer a small number of really good albums over 20 passable albums. For me if I can lost interest in a band pretty quickly.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 2:05:29 PM PST
I prefer to own everything I can get my hands on ;o)

The Fall is the classic example of quantity over quality. They've put out about an album a year for over 30 years. I kept up for a while, but now I just can't. But for the first 10 years or so, they were unstoppable and could do no wrong. I'm all for musicians making music and putting out albums for as long as they feel like it, but after a while fans like me can't help but get diminishing returns. They have enough hardcore fans that buy everything they put out, to make it worthwhile for them to keep doing so. More power to them.

Quality over quantity, I have to think of The Police. Five great albums, then break up. The Jam, too.

While my tone here seems to favor the quality over quantity argument, you've got to give the quantity guys credit for sticking it out. If the Police were still together making albums today, I could almost guarantee that some of them would suck. But because they never tried... does that make them better? Not necessarily.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 2:08:47 PM PST
T. Boyle says:
It depends how great and how many albums we are talking about. If one artist releases 5 great albums and 15 mediocre ones, that would probably outweigh 6 great and 1 mediocre. Especially if the longer-tenured artist has some great songs sprinkled among those mediocre albums. However, if was 2 great and 18 mediocre, the other artist would win out.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 2:09:30 PM PST
Jersey Joker says:
I can say this: Kevin Gilbert checked out WAYYY too soon. Ever hear any of his stuff, BigBad?
The guy is good; He fronted his band Giraffe back in 1994, and they performed almost the entire "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".

He started the concert by coming out front with a boombox, hit the cassette PLAY button, and "Invisible Touch" started to play ..... he then SMASHES the boom box ... and then you hear the beginning piano part to the title track ... it was stunning ...!!

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 2:10:23 PM PST
Although these things can make a BIG difference if I'm judging an artist's overall output, in terms of just *listening*, it doesn't make much difference to me. If it's between an artist who released six great albums then broke up, and an artist that released six great albums followed by fifteen mediocre/poor ones, I end up ignoring the mediocre/poor ones anyways and just listen to the six good ones, the same number as the first kind of artist!

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 2:12:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2012 2:13:05 PM PST
@T.Boyle: with the artists who tend to have a few good cuts sprinkled over a large number of mediocre albums, those are the ones best suited to Greatest Hits and Anthology collections (now tying it back to yet another thread!). :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 2:26:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2012 2:39:19 PM PST
BigBadAzz says:
@T. Boyle,
For me, according to your scenario, I'd say The Rolling Stones have 6 or 7 classic albums with the other 15 or so being of average or poor quality. In comparison, Led Zeppelin have 6 or 7 fantastic records, with 2 or 3 of them being relative disappointments. Despite this, and even though I own the entire back catalogues of both groups (being the obsessive completist that I am), I still greatly prefer the output of Zep over the Stones.

I think it's the law of averages that drags down the overall quality of one group over the other for me.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 6:30:51 PM PST
Working Man says:
I own both, bands that have been excellent over a short period of time and those that have had a sustained career with various degrees of quality.

I used to be a 70's snob and I thought nothing could compare to those albums from the 'Golden Age or Rock' but no more. I still love those classics and they are untouchable, but how many times can I listen to "Machine Head", "Aqualung", "2112", Led Zeppelin's fourth album or "Close to the Edge" before really needing something fresh? Well, I own music by Deep Purple, Rush, Jethro Tull, The Allman Brothers, Yes etc. from the 60's or 70's right through their current albums and I really enjoy some of the new music. In fact in some cases I enjoy the newer music more. First, the bands have aged like I have and their music is more mature, next I have not heard them one million times and new music by my favorite artists is like hearing from an old friend. There is something about hearing Jon or Ian Anderson, Paul Rodgers and Ian Gillan that takes me back and makes me glad they are still putting out good music.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 6:33:28 PM PST
I agree with Michael Topper here in that I tend to forego an artist's weaker material and concentrate on the (usually earlier) good releases, finding quality within the quantity, so to speak. That said, here are a few examples of each:

QUALITY:
The Velvet Underground - only 4 proper album releases (I do not count "Squeeze"), but these are all great.

Nick Drake - only 3 proper albums plus a set of outtakes; all compelling listens

QUANTITY:
Elton John - up to some 30 odd albums by now, but I mostly only listen to his remarkably solid early 70s releases for which no comp really suffices, and tying back to the other thread Topper mentioned: EJ's later material, when he did indeed become more of a singles artist, would be best suited to a well-chosen comp.

Moody Blues - almost an even split with 7 classic albums ("Days of Future Passed" up to "Seventh Sojourn") followed by 7 not-so-classic albums ("Octave" up to "Strange Times" have their moments but are much spottier overall), bookended by "The Magnificent Moodies" which is essentially a different band, and "December" which is holiday themed.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 7:46:19 PM PST
T. Boyle says:
I'm not usually one to average out the rankings of all of an artist's albums - to me, the albums are cumulative. If a band has released 6-7 amazing albums, the rest are just gravy. Like Working Man said, I usually follow my favorites through their more recent releases and often can pick out several favorites from them. Even if that artist releases a clunker (like VH3, for example), I don't believe that diminishes their overall value. Even though AC/DC will never release another Let There Be Rock or Back In Black, I still enjoy their newer material and am glad they are still releasing albums, however infrequent.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 9:52:31 PM PST
B-Jak says:
I will go for quality over quantity on the face of it, but someone like Tom Waits or Neil Young have both (Neil has a higher % of turkeys, IMO). Robyn Hitchcock is another that has a huge catalog with very few misses. Now, someone like Clapton, since Derek and the Dominoes, probably should just have hits packages, but, frankly, it's not the hits I like. It's the more obscure material that piques my interest. Chances are if someone I like releases an album, I'll get it, and if there's stuff I'm not fully satisfied, I'll download to iTunes what I like and sell the disc.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 10:21:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2012 10:54:52 PM PST
tokolosi says:
But who is to say which of a group's albums are truly "great" vs mediocre? Or that some truly great songs might be on otherwise mediocre albums. I don't see that it matters at all one way or the other. Pick and choose what moves your soul.

Examples:
Already stated, the Moody Blues first seven stand alone. (OK, technically albums 2-8). I have them all. I could possibly come up with a CD's worth of songs from everything released since.

Ditto Ozzy's solo -- the "Rhodes" albums are worthwhile. If I really tried I might be able to fill a CD with everything released since *if* I was willing to throw in a few fillers.

Sabbath -- I can fill a couple CDs with selections from what is generally looked upon as the less-than-stellar "Martin" era, which I really enjoy when I'm in the mood, yet wouldn't be available if "quality" was the deciding factor.

Zappa -- I've only heard maybe a couple-dozen of his albums. Some are so-so (and some of the ones that I consider so-so have been given rave reviews by others), most are delightful fun. What's *really* cool is that there's still more to explore.

Priest -- die-hard fan of the early stuff; not impressed with the 80s-90s "pop-metal" that made them the superstars of metal they became. I couldn't fill a CD with anything during that time frame. Yet, I really like Nostradamus. Obviously there are many fans who'd beg to differ on both accounts. Does popularity influence quality vs quantity?

Journey -- I think everything through Infinity is amazing. I did like the initial "Perry-transition", but would argue that they've done nothing worthwhile since. Yet, most of what came after far outsold those first four.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 6:07:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2012 6:08:42 AM PST
vivazappa says:
I'll take the overall body of work...warts and all (NEIL)...over a short career of solid ones (Police).
I'd just buy their box set!
Of course in the case of The Doors and CCR their box sets include all the records!

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 1:35:25 AM PST
Hip O Critic says:
I would take quality over quantity overall. All The Beatles albums were quality IMO vs Stones who IMO were patchy with only good moments after "Its Only Rock and Roll". I have all the Stones LPs (UK) up to "Undercover of the Night" and to be honest I wish I had of kept buying them for collectibility but at the time I just couldn't buy any more Stones because I didn't like their latest efforts.
vivazappa - I do however agree with your comment regarding Neil "I'll take the overall body of work...warts and all". Sometimes the warts end up being gems. "Tonights The Night" IMO a good example, as it had very ordinary reviews in the 70's but has aged wonderfully and is now a "genuine" classic.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 4:58:55 AM PST
zlh67 says:
Yeah, there's something to be said about an artist that can pump out consistently good albums like, say, The Police, but with only 5 to listen to, well, there's only so many times you can listen without getting burnt out. The ideal situation is quality AND quantity and for my taste, the band that delivered that more than anyone was QUEEN. From 1973-1991, we got 13 "proper" studio albums, a great live album and a film soundtrack. Some are stone-cold classics and truly classic albums, 1 or 2 are kind of off the mark in places but for the most part, I can listen to and enjoy all of it. That output doesn't match that of someone like Neil Young or Frank Zappa or the Stones, but it's a pretty rich catalog for a run that was not quite 20 years.

Hard to believe that in 2012, it's now *21* years since Mercury's death and we've been without Queen for a couple of years longer than we had them. Sucks.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 5:13:41 AM PST
BigBadAzz says:
@zlh67,
Re: Queen

Amen to that! I'd say the same about Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden. Both of them IMO also had a long run of consistently great albums (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 for each as well).

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 6:26:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 6:26:58 AM PST
re: Quantity AND Quality

Pink Floyd - Not a huge fan of the last two albums (sans Waters), but I still like them. The rest are godlike.
Frank Zappa - They're not all fantastic, but I don't think I'd rank any of them below "quite good".

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 7:12:20 AM PST
Working Man says:
Quality and quantity is different the ultimate. Sometimes artists change styles or evolve and lose and gain fans. As for some mentioned about pumping out quality albums it comes down to how much you like them or if you are on board with their change in direction. As for Queen, they started to lose me in the 70's and I still really only enjoy their first four albums but do like some material from the later albums. As for Pink Floyd, I kind of like their last two and prefer them over the last one with Waters which is more a Waters solo effort and as for The Wall, as much as many think it's a classic I never cared it for it as a whole, again liking some tracks.

Bands/artists that I enjoy just about their entire catalogue (granted there are some miss-steps along the way) include: Paul Rodgers, Deep Purple, Rush, ZZ Top, Yes and Jethro Tull. Robin Trower also continues to put out good stuff, especially lately.

I know many will saw Queen+Paul Rodgers was a mistake and I don't disagree, Deep Purple has had a couple of not so great albums, Rush went a little too techno for me in the 80's and Tull kind of sounded like Dire Straits for a couple of albums. Yes had a couple of less than spectacular albums and Trower had a couple albums in the 80's that were more power pop sounding than hard rock blues.
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Discussion in:  Classic Rock forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  19
Initial post:  Feb 27, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 1, 2012

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