Whether you’re a one-hit wonder trying to replicate the success of your first release or a living legend experimenting with a new sound, a great sophomore album means one thing: staying power. Quality sophomore albums are what separate the Bob Dylans from the Lou Begas, and without further ado, here are four follow-ups worth checking out.
The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat
Hipsters still have the famous banana cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico plastered to their walls, but this album helped Lou Reed and company prove they could do fine without Andy Warhol. The experimental sound of White Light/White Heat laid the groundwork for punk acts to follow, and Reed’s songwriting is darkly humorous as he tells tales of everything from doing speed with his bandmates (the title track) to a transsexual’s botched surgery, “Lady Godiva’s Operation.”
After Uncle Tupelo disbanded in 1994 and Wilco’s debut A.M. failed to match the buzz generated by Jay Farrar’s new band Son Volt, things were looking bleak for Jeff Tweedy. Instead of throwing in the towel, the Chicago songwriter put together this double album and put Wilco on the map. Much of the CD stays close to Uncle Tupelo’s alt-country roots with tracks like “Far Far Away” and “Someone Else’s Song,” while songs like “Monday” feature heavier rock influences.
Unfortunately, the second album by The Libertines is also their last. Before giving Pete Doherty the boot as a result of his cracked-out antics, the band recorded this self-reflexive album. Songs like “Can’t Stand Me Now” and “What Became of the Likely Lads” describe the growing tensions between Doherty and Carl Barat, and “Music When The Lights Go Out” proves that sad songs can rock too. This album, produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, helped the band go out with a bang and left fans praying for a reunion.
Nirvana showed the world that sequined gloves were out and flannel shirts were in when they dethroned the King of Pop with this classic album, knocking Dangerous off the top of the charts. Hailed by many as one of the greatest albums of all time, it brought the Seattle grunge sound to the mainstream and delivered some of the most iconic hits of the nineties with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium.”