The best follow-up albums of all time

13 July 2019, 10:00 | Updated: 13 July 2019, 10:01

Best Second Albums
Best Second Albums. Picture: Press

The difficult second album? What of it? Great debuts are often hard to follow up. Here are the times when the sequel almost overshadowed the original.

  1. Radiohead - The Bends

    Radiohead - The Bends album cover
    Radiohead - The Bends album cover. Picture: Press

    Although Pablo Honey included the great song Creep, The Bends proved that Radiohead were not just one-hit wonders and saw them create a new sonic universe for themselves. Fake Plastic Trees, High And Dry, the tile track and the exquisite finale of Street Spirit make this an absolute classic.

  2. New Order - Power Corruption And Lies

    New Order - Power Corruptions & Lies cover
    New Order - Power Corruptions & Lies cover. Picture: Press

    1981's Movement was scorned by critics as a lame attempt to revise the Joy Division magic without Ian Curtis, but two years of touring, writing and spending time partying in New York clubs saw the band head off on a new course… dance rock!

  3. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

    Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream album cover
    Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream album cover. Picture: Press

    Gish made a few ripples, but it was the 1993 follow-up that made a bigger splash. Today, Cherub Rock, Rocket and the evergreen Disarm all redefined the band's status, despite Billy Corgan later claiming he'd played most of the album himself.

  4. Queens Of The Stone Age - Rated R

    Queens Of The Stone Age - Rated R album cover
    Queens Of The Stone Age - Rated R album cover. Picture: Press

    The band's self-titled debut was a reaction to Josh Homme's old band Kyuss, but 2000's Rated R was an absolute rock beast, kicking off with the unforgettable Feel Good Hit Of The Summer and then slamming straight into The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret.

  5. Gorillaz - Demon Days

    Gorillaz - Demon Days album cover
    Gorillaz - Demon Days album cover. Picture: Press

    Damon Albarn established his virtual cartoon band with a self-titled debut in 2001, but it was the follow-up that featured some brilliant tunes: Dirty Harry, Feel Good Inc and DARE, featuring Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays.

  6. Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory

    Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory album cover
    Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory album cover. Picture: Press

    One of the biggest albums of all time (in every sense of the word), the second album from Oasis made them household names. The album spawned the tracks Wonderwall, Don't Look Back In Anger, Some Might Say and Champagne Supernova.

  7. The Smiths - Meat Is Murder

    The Smiths - Meat Is Murder album cover
    The Smiths - Meat Is Murder album cover. Picture: Press

    The band's eponymous debut was viewed as something of a disappointment, but the follow-up was more assured and included the provocative title track, as well as That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore, one of The Smiths' more underrated singles.

  8. Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head

    Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head album cover
    Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head album cover. Picture: Press

    Parachutes was a monster debut, but the band's second album is chock full of Coldplay classics: In My Place, The Scientist, Clocks, God Put A Smile On Your Face...

  9. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

    Amy Winehouse - Back To Black album cover
    Amy Winehouse - Back To Black album cover. Picture: Press

    Hard to accept that Amy only made two albums: the jazzy Frank (2003) and the darker, more personal Back To Black (2006). Songs like Rehab, Love Is A Loving Game, Tears Dry On Their Own and the title track have an autobiographical tone that adds a whole new dimension.

  10. The Killers - Sam's Town

    The Killers - Sam's Town album cover
    The Killers - Sam's Town album cover. Picture: Press

    The Las Vegans were touring their debut Hot Fuss for what seemed like an age, but the follow-up saw Brandon Flowers get back to his roots. The title is taken from a casino in Vegas, while the songs feature an air of wistful romance.

  11. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

    Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare album cover
    Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare album cover. Picture: Press

    Their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was the fastest selling debut of all time, but the follow-up was just as good and featured a very different set of songs, led off by the single Brianstorm.

  12. Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish

    Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish album cover
    Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish album cover. Picture: Press

    1991's Leisure saw Blur dismissed as baggy wannabes, but the follow up saw the band regroup and come back with the blueprint for Britpop.

  13. Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape

    Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape
    Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape. Picture: Press

    The self-titled debut established Dave Grohl as a songwriter in his own right, but 1997's The Colour And The Shape was a stone cold classic from the off. Monkey Wrench, My Hero, Everlong and Walking After You are just some of the huge tunes on this record.

  14. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

    Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II album cover
    Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II album cover. Picture: Press

    Oh hello, what’s that? That’s the sound of heavy metal being invented: from the orgasmic opener Whole Lotta Love to the ridiculously epic Ramble On, this is a fantastic follow-up that propelled Zeppelin towards their ambition to be the greatest rock band in the world.

  15. Happy Mondays - Bummed

    Happy Mondays - Bummed album cover
    Happy Mondays - Bummed album cover. Picture: Press

    After a shaky start with 24 Hour Party People, the Mondays put themselves and Madchester firmly on the map with this quirky outing, produced by former Joy Division knob twiddler Martin Hannett.

  16. Joy Division - Closer

    Joy Division - Closer album cover
    Joy Division - Closer album cover. Picture: Press

    The band's second and final album, released just after the death of singer Ian Curtis. A suitable epitaph.

  17. Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbeak

    Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbeak album cover
    Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbeak album cover. Picture: Press

    With a track listing that includes The Bucket, King Of The Rodeo and Four Kicks, the Kings proved they were not just a flash in the pan.

  18. The Cure - Seventeen Seconds

    The Cure - Seventeen Seconds album cover
    The Cure - Seventeen Seconds album cover. Picture: Press

    Robert Smith's debut Three Imaginary Boys failed to make much of a splash, but the follow-up album saw the band hit the UK Top 40 for the first time with the single A Forest. The music on Seventeen Seconds was much darker than its predecessor, making The Cure one of the key acts of the Goth/gloom years in the 80s.

  19. Nirvana – Nevermind

    Nirvana – Nevermind album cover
    Nirvana – Nevermind album cover. Picture: Press

    The ultimate second album. The follow-up to the scratchy Bleach, Butch Vig's production put the sheen on these classic songs and made this a legendary record.

  20. Pixies - Doolittle

    Pixies - Doolittle album cover
    Pixies - Doolittle album cover. Picture: Press

    If you ignore the Come On Pilgrim mini-album, this was Boston's finest's second long player and their first with producer Gil Norton. Debaser, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Here Comes Your Man, all the classics are there.

  21. Muse - Origin Of Symmetry

    Muse - Origin Of Symmetry album cover
    Muse - Origin Of Symmetry album cover. Picture: Press

    It took two years for the trio to follow up Showbiz, but their second album saw the band mature and produce some excellent tracks, in the shape of New Born, Bliss, Hyper Music, Plug In Baby, Citizen Erased…

  22. Stereophonics - Performance And Cocktails

    Stereophonics - Performance And Cocktails album cover
    Stereophonics - Performance And Cocktails album cover. Picture: Press

    The Welsh trio’s debut, Word Gets Around, was full of hometown tales, while the follow-up detailed what happened when you travel around the world as rock band: Bartender And The Thief, Just Looking, I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio, all instant classics from Kelly Jones and co.