Few bands have been able to improve after releasing their first four albums. Other than legends like The Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Bob Dylan, and several more modern acts like Elvis Costello, the Kaiser Chiefs, and Fountains of Wayne, the fourth studio album usually marks a band’s peak.
Even though fans were disappointed when James Mercer announced that his band the Shins would release no more albums, I was actually relieved. Their fourth and last album, Point of Morrow, meant that they would not fall victim to the fifth disc letdown that has besieged countless artists.
Here are ten of the most famous examples of bands that should have ceased recording after their fourth studio album.
The fourth album (One Eighty) by the David Pack-Joe Puerta collaboration featured their biggest hits, “You’re the Only Woman” and “Biggest Part of Me.” Their previous albums had even more quality, but the fifth (and last) effort Road Island was a disappointing way to go out.
The self-titled debut gave us “Dream On” and Steven Tyler’s rock quintet just kept getting better, following it up with Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, and Rocks. They should have drawn the line at that point, instead of releasing Draw the Line and all the heartless albums after.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
After back to back smashes Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises two albums deep into their career, the band 토토핫 fell to barely average with Long After Dark. That fifth album did spawn a hit (“Yu Got Lucky”), as did many of the later albums, but TP and the Pumpbusters never regained their early luster.
An impressive self-titled debut precluded two ensuing gems, culminating with Toto IV. Four singles, including “Rosanna” and “Africa,” came from the album, which the group followed up with the regrettable Isolation album and all of the forgettable ones for the next twenty years.
Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford actually peaked on third album Argybargy, but it’s successor East Side Story certainly sparkled in its own right. It was the fifth effort, Sweets from a Stranger, that marked the band’s inevitable decline.
Jeff Tweedy was on a roll upon the demise of Uncle Tupelo, creating AM, Being There, Summerteeth, and the highly-acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Then his band, perhaps due to the departure of Jay Bennett, released weaker efforts like A Ghost Is Born and Sky Blue Sky.
Foreigner 4 gave fans enduring classics such as “Urgent,” ” Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Juke Box Hero.” The first three albums were equally enjoyable, all spawning singles like “Hot Blooded,” “Cold as Ice” and “Feels like the First Time.” The fifth disc, Agent Provocateur, offered nothing anywhere near as solid.
Simon and Garfunkel
It would have been impossible for the folk-rock duo to maintain the great stuff they had done for the last years of the 60s, so they should have stopped before 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. The title track included, the album is bereft of any of the charm exuding from the first four records.