Each morning the birthday section of the local newspaper prints the names of the famous people who were born on that particular day, and there is almost always a prominent musician listed among them. In some cases the editor finds it necessary to mention the band name, as the musician probably is not known to many people who might know the group.
Yesterday the paper listed Steve Vai, an esteemed but not widely recognized guitarist. For some reason none of the bands Vai worked with accompanied his name, even though that information might have helped music fans more clearly identify him.
His most famous collaboration cane through rock legend Frank Zappa, but Vai worked with many noteworthy artists during the decades that followed. My first introduction to Vai came through David Lee Roth, after I purchased the former Van Halen singer’s first solo album Eat ’em and Smile.
Steve Vai had a huge role in that album, but it still ended up with a lukewarm reception. Most fans of Van Halen, like myself, were disappointed by Roth’s first solo effort.
He was not the first singer of a great band to release a debut solo album that failed to live up to expectations, and here are ten others.
Mr. Bad Guy by Freddie Mercury
Queen’s front man took a disco approach to his first release without his three mates, so fans of vintage discs like A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack were bound to be a little disappointed. The album does have some tracks that have aged well, such as “Man Made Paradise” and “Living On My Own.”
Self-Titled by Ian Hunter
After the final two delightful Mott the Hoople records, Hunter did manage to score a hit by himself with “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” Few of the other songs here, however, meet the standards his band had established.
The Night Fly by Donald Fagen
“New Frontier” was a huge hit and most of the songs have endured, yet as a whole this collection pales to the discography of Steely Dan.
Beatitude by Ric Ocasek
It sounds like something his band The Cars might have done, only it clings too closely to a new wave sound that was already fading.
I Can’t Stand Still by Don Henley
People who liked both the rock and the country phases of the Eagles probably felt some regret when the singing drummer filled his first disc with mostly unremarkable pop tunes like “Dirty Laundry.”
Self-Titled by Eric Carmen
Carmen played power pop like “Go All the Way” with the Raspberries, only to do a complete one eighty all by himself on songs such as “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.”
Schemer Dreamer by Steve Walsh
The energetic stage leader of Kansas broke out on his own to release an album with just seven songs, one of which was a cover of Elvis Presly’s “That’s All Right.”
Daltrey by Roger Daltrey
Busy with starring in the rock opera Tommy and singing most of the songs for the Who, Daltrey probably had limited time to spend on this solo release.
Pictures At Eleven by Robert Plant
He would enjoy much success as a solo artist later on, but this initial release kind of went over like a lead zeppelin.
Face Value by Phil Collins
“In the Air” was a huge hit, but the record veered too much from the work Collins did with Genesis in the early years.