The best solo albums ever recorded

14 March 2019, 10:00 | Updated: 19 March 2019, 16:03

Classic solo albums
Classic solo albums. Picture: Press

Whether the band have split, or this is just a "side project", the solo album is a wonderful thing. Here are the best examples of going it alone.

  1. Morrissey - Viva Hate, 1988

    The world held its breath when The Smiths split - would they be rubbish apart? Moz hooked up with Mancunian guitar hero Vini Reilly and some doubters claimed he would be no match for Johnny Marr… but the resulting album had some great moments, including the savage opener, Alsatian Cousin and the hits Suedehead and Every Day Is Like Sunday.

    Morrissey - Viva Hate album cover
    Morrissey - Viva Hate album cover. Picture: Press
  2. Paul Weller - Stanley Road, 1995

    After The Jam and The Style Council, The Modfather finally went properly solo in 1990, but it's '95's Stanley Road that is a stone-cold classic, coming at the time of Brit Pop and featuring such hits as The Changingman, You Do Something To Me and Out Of The Sinking. Hey, it even has a cover painted by Peter "Sgt Pepper" Blake.

    Paul Weller - Stanley Road album cover
    Paul Weller - Stanley Road album cover. Picture: Press
  3. Iggy Pop - Lust For Life, 1977

    Once free of the drug-fuelled craziness of The Stooges, Iggy hooked up with his New Best Friend David Bowie, headed to Berlin, cleaned up and made two ace records in one year. This is one of them - best known for the title track's memorable use in the film Trainspotting, but it also sports another fine tune, The Passenger.

    Iggy Pop - Lust For Life album cover
    Iggy Pop - Lust For Life album cover. Picture: Press
  4. John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band, 1970

    Following the official split of The Beatles, John Lennon tussled with heroin addiction, drug busts, miscarriages and the public's general hatred for his new wife Yoko Ono. Chancing across a book, The Primal Scream, by US psychologist Dr Arthur Janov, the Beatle embarked on a lengthy course of therapy which involved confronting his childhood traumas and, mainly, crying and screaming for his parents. The harrowing treatment found its way into his debut solo album proper, which saw the musician bare his soul like no other "pop star" had done before.

    John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band album cover
    John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band album cover. Picture: Press
  5. Bjork - Debut, 1993

    Hard to believe now, but at one time Bjork was a member of a band - The Sugarcubes. She'd had a couple of solo albums out as a child star, but Debut marked her first adult outing and saw the beginning of her collaboration with producer Nellee Hooper. The LP featured such classics as Human Behaviour, Violently Happy and Big Time Sensuality.

    Bjork - Debut album cover
    Bjork - Debut album cover. Picture: Press
  6. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, 2011

    The High Flying Birds may be a band, but Mr Gallagher is in the driving seat, singing all the songs himself without relying on his little brother's interpretation. His debut outing from October 2011 is chock-full of great tunes: AKA What A Life!, If I Had A Gun, The Death Of You And Me, Everybody's On The Run...

    Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds album cover
    Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds album cover. Picture: Press
  7. Jack White - Blunderbuss, 2012

    The guitarist and singer had been flitting between projects (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) for some time as The White Stripes wound down, but his first proper solo offering was a stormer, with great tracks like Sixteen Saltines, Freedom At 21 and Love Interruption.

    Jack White - Blunderbuss album cover
    Jack White - Blunderbuss album cover. Picture: Press
  8. Thom Yorke - The Eraser, 2000

    The latter day Radiohead albums may be hard work for non-believers, but Thommy Yorke continued his romance with low-key electronica with his debut solo album. The track Harrowdown Hill was about David Kelly, the Ministry Of Defence man who died in suspicious circumstances following revelations over "Weapons of Mass Destruction".

    Thom Yorke - The Eraser album artwork
    Thom Yorke - The Eraser album artwork. Picture: Press
  9. Ian Brown - Music Of The Spheres, 2001

    The Stone Roses frontman has made a few stonking albums, but we like his third from 2001, mainly because of the very wonderful F.E.A.R. Whispers is also a bit of a tune, too.

    Ian Brown - Music Of The Spheres cover artwork
    Ian Brown - Music Of The Spheres cover artwork. Picture: Press
  10. Richard Ashcroft - Alone With Everybody, 2000

    When The Verve wound down for the first time in 1999, Ashcroft took the huge amount of fame and goodwill he'd gained from the band's heyday and produced a stunner of an album. Leading off with the No 3 hit, A Song For The Lovers, the record also contains the great tunes Money To Burn and C'Mon People (We're Making It Now).

    Richard Ashcroft - Alone With Everybody album cover art
    Richard Ashcroft - Alone With Everybody album cover art. Picture: Press
  11. Johnny Marr - The Messenger

    His Smiths bandmate Morrissey had been solo for years, but it wasn't until 2013 that Marr finally stepped out and became a solo artist in his own right after being a guitar-for-hire since the end of the 1980s. His debut solo LP The Messenger was an instant classic, with songs like Upstarts, New Velocity and the ponderous title track.

    Johnny Marr - The Messenger album cover
    Johnny Marr - The Messenger album cover. Picture: Press
  12. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass, 1970

    Being in a band with John Lennon and Paul McCartney must have been tough for an aspiring young songwriter. So when The Beatles split, George Harrison found himself with a huge backlog of songs that found themselves getting bumped from Fabs albums. So much material, in fact, that his debut outing was a three disc set, full of gems. My Sweet Lord was a huge No 1 hit, while Isn't It A Pity pretty much invented Oasis.

    George Harrison - All Things Must Pass album cover artwork
    George Harrison - All Things Must Pass album cover artwork. Picture: Press
  13. St Vincent - St Vincent

    Annie Clark was a member of the sunshine pop collective The Polyphonic Spree between 2004 and 2006, before embarking on a solo career. Her 2014 solo album, St Vincent has seen her career go stellar, including a guest slot with the surviving members of Nirvana at the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame.

    St Vincent - St Vincent album cover
    St Vincent - St Vincent album cover. Picture: Press
  14. Brandon Flowers - Flamingo, 2011

    The frontman scored a respectable hit with his debut solo album, recorded during some Killers downtime. There was also a hit single - Crossfire. He's back with a second solo outing in 2015.

    Brandon Flowers - Flamingo album artwork
    Brandon Flowers - Flamingo album artwork. Picture: Press
  15. Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

    After working on such Blur side-projects as Gorillaz, Africa Express, and The Good The Bad And The Queen, Damon finally went solo in 2014 with this delightful album. Top tune: Mr Tembo, a song about an elephant.

    Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots album cover
    Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots album cover. Picture: Press
  16. Jimi Goodwin - Odludek

    The Doves frontman issued this gentle acoustic folk album in March 2014, and was preceded by the excellent single Oh! Whiskey.

    Jimi Goodwin - Odludek album cover
    Jimi Goodwin - Odludek album cover. Picture: Press
  17. Lou Reed - Transformer

    Originally with The Velvet Underground, of course. He quit the band in 1970 and went solo, His most successful solo album was 1972's Transformer, which included the hits Walk On The Wild Side and Satellite Of Love.

    Lou Reed - Transformer album artwork
    Lou Reed - Transformer album artwork. Picture: Press
  18. James Dean Bradfield - The Great Western

    After years of singing lyrics by Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers frontman Bradfield released a solo album in July 2006. The album's title refers to the railway line between Bradfield's home in South Wales and London.

    James Dean Bradfield - The Great Western album cover
    James Dean Bradfield - The Great Western album cover. Picture: Press