The best solo albums
27 November 2020, 20:00
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.
Paul Weller - Stanley Road
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. It even has a cover painted by Peter "Sgt Pepper" Blake.
Bjork - Debut
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.
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
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.
Iggy Pop - Lust For Life
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.
John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band
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.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon
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 third outing from November 2017 was produced by David Holmes, who pushed Noel into new and interesting areas such as Holy Mountain, She Taught Me How To Fly and It's A Beautiful World.
Jack White - Blunderbuss
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.
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
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".
Ian Brown - Music Of The Spheres
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.
Richard Ashcroft - Alone With Everybody
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).
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.
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.
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.
Liam Gallagher - Why Me? Why Not
The second solo outing from the younger Gallagher is a solid follow-up to 2017's As You Were. Kicking off with the strident Shockwave, the album include the Noel-provoking One Of Us and the more introspective Now That I've Found You and The River.