– By Camille Banzon, Music Editor –
It’s a common story in the music industry where members of highly successful groups venture out in their own and release solo albums. There’s just too much creativity to contain or bounce off band members, and this is a time for these musicians to express their ingenuity on their own. After much thought and deliberation, we’ve compiled 15 of the best solo albums made throughout the decades.
1. Thom Yorke (Radiohead) – The Eraser
Leading the trailblazing band, Radiohead, has always put Thom Yorke in an artistic pedestal higher among others in the rock and roll industry. In 2006, Yorke released “The Eraser,” his solo album, 3 years after the release of Radiohead’s “Hail To The Thief.” As if taking electronic cues and beat textures from the said album, Yorke proved that his musical brilliance goes way beyond.
2. Jónsi (Sigur Rós) – Go
The frontman of the Icelandic atmospheric post rock wonder, Sigur Rós, released his solo album in 2010 called “Go,” and it’s filled with tracks that nod to upbeat, lively emotions, unlike the usual downtrodden ambiance of Sigur Rós songs. The first track, “Go Do,” is a perfect example, with intricate string arrangements that dictate the climate of the rest of the album.
3. George Harrison (The Beatles) – All Things Must Pass
Regarded by many as “the best post-The Beatles” record, George Harrison’s solo venture was released in 1970, and it became an instant blues rock classic. All Beatles fans know that George Harrison’s bluesy guitar style has always stood out through all their records. The third track, “Wah Wah” is definitely a stand out, with a lively arrangement that stands the test of time.
4. Morissey (The Smiths) – Viva Hate
In 1988, Morissey released “Viva Hate,” his first solo record post The Smiths, and it ignited his solo career that will go on and inspire many sad, angry souls for years. The opening track, “Alsatian Cousins” features jagged drumming, and the rest of the album sums up Morissey’s musical direction without his band. This album also features the iconic “Suedehead,” which is arguably Morissey’s most famous track.
5. Lauryn Hill (The Fugees) – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
The undeniable talent of Lauryn Hill as a female emcee has always stood out ever since her days in The Fugees, but her character as an all around musician shone all throughout this critically acclaimed record released in 1998. Lauryn Hill fuses Motown, jazz, funk, r&b in her emotionally charged tracks, with the most famous ones being “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Ex-Factor,” which both became female anthems for romantic awareness and self-respect.
6. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) – Into The Wild
Released as the official soundtrack for the film, Into The Wild in 2007, the record features the famous front man’s compositions that will truly take the listener in a van in the middle of nowhere, with a bonfire and many kumbaya moments. While the whole album is endearing to listen to, “Rise” gives off real camping vibes, with Vedder’s signature vocals and only the accompaniment of ukulele strings.
7. Dr. Dre (NWA) – The Chronic
After a successful multiple-hit production role with N.W.A., Dr. Dre released his solo record, “The Chronic” in late 1992, with the help of Snoop Dogg and other heavy hitters. Filled with tracks that dictate and define hip-hop virtuosity, “The Chronic” remains to be one of the most important albums in the genre.
8. Björk (The Sugarcubes) – Debut
Not a lot of people know that before her successful solo career, Icelandic musician, Björk, was a member of The Sugarcubes, a jazz-rock band from Reykjavik with a new wave, electro flair. “Debut” was released in 1993, and it led Bjork to her vibrant, dance-y, electronic path, with the help of producer, Nellee Hooper. “Big Time Sensuality” is possibly the album’s most famous track, with a music video that immediately portrays Björk’s playfulness and peculiarity.
9. Beyoncé (Destiny’s Child) – Dangerously In Love
Behold, this was when the “BeyHive” started to take shape. Even while still in r&b group, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has always proved her standout star power and dominance, and it was just a matter of time until she broke away from the group. In 2003, she released “Dangerously In Love,” and it quickly became a host for hits such as “Crazy In Love,” “Naughty Girl,” and “Baby Boy.” The album went on to win awards, including a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B album.
10. Pharrell (The Neptunes, N.E.R.D.) – In My Mind
One half of The Neptunes, Pharrell has always established himself as a tastemaker and a superstar producer. His long-awaited 2006 debut, “In My Mind” showcases his elevated skill in production, beatmaking, and rhyming. With appearances from Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, the album is a collection of catchy tracks that can either set the mood or turn up a crowd in a club.
11. Sting (The Police) – The Dream of the Blue Turtles
After a successful run with The Police, Sting went on to prove his all around talent by releasing his solo album, “The Dream of the Blue Turtles” in 1985, and anyone who listens to it will instantly notice Sting’s unwavering talent in composition and arrangement. “Love Is The Seventh Wave” gives off a Carribbean summer vibe, and it’s a timeless track that even the younger generation will appreciate.
12. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) – Euphoria Morning
The recent death of grunge icon, Chris Cornell shook the rock and roll community, because he was regarded as one of the most important musicians of his time. True enough, his 1999 solo record, “Euphoria Morning” carries the legacy of his iconic voice, with heart-tugging songs that focus on Cornell’s own resonance. “Preaching At The End of the World” and “Cant Change Me” are the albums more popular tracks, but each one is considered bits of rock music eminence.
13. Jack White (The White Stripes) – Blunderbuss
In 2012, Jack White released his 13-track solo record, “Blunderbuss,” much to the excitement of those who follow his career with Meg White. The album pretty much gave life and summed up Jack White’s outrageous musical ideas, with an array of angry guitar sounds and treatments that were probably sleeping in the dark, mysterious corners of his brain until this move.
14. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) – The Empyrean
Frusciante made his name as the guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and all throughout the band’s discography, he has proven how much of a virtuoso he is. One of his solo ventures, “The Empyrean,” was released in 2009, and it is a sonic peek inside the brain of a musical genius. All of Frusciante’s solo albums have always been conceived as concept albums and the mellowed out and thoughtful vocal treatments in “The Empyrean” proved that he can have a successful and well-rounded rock career (if he wanted to) without his band.
15. Michael Jackson (Jackson 5) – Thriller
No solo artist can ever come close to the legacy left by Michael Jackson. The King of Pop was a member of Jackson 5 when he was younger, and all his albums that came after the group became classics that will live on. “Off The Wall” was his first solo album, but in 1982, “Thriller” became a sophomore release for the books. Classics such as “Billie Jean,” “Human Nature,” “The Girl Is Mine,” “Beat It,” and “P.Y.T.” and “Thriller” all have become favorites among all generations since its release and even up to this day.