Most artists have one album that's generally regarded as their best, but sometimes these albums are so incredible and obviously superior that the rest of the artist's discography becomes overshadowed. Here are ten great artists who are known for just one album.
1. Andrew W.K. - I Get Wet (2002)
For a couple of years in the late '00s, I had assumed that Andrew W.K. was strictly a thing of the past, one of those curious turn of the millennium artists that people would look back on with perplexed amusement. However, when the tenth anniversary of his debut album I Get Wet rolled around, Andrew W.K. came roaring back, complete with a new rabid fan base and critical reevaluation. As for the rest of his discography...I'm sure it's fine, but I've never heard it, and I'm positive that I'm not the only one.
2. Television - Marquee Moon (1977)
Before I began writing this article, I knew that Television had released two albums in the '70s, but I had no idea that a third, self-titled album was released in 1992. This is largely because the band's debut album Marquee Moon is so wildly (and rightfully) acclaimed that nothing else the band did afterwards could have possibly compared or even registered.
3. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
Though many of the albums listed here are debuts, Neutral Milk Hotel's legendary album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was actually its sophomore effort. Diehard fans are familiar with both of the band's albums inside and out, but its vastly underrated debut On Avery Island is rarely subjected to the kind of in-depth examination or borderline religious devotion that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea receives.
4. The Bats - Daddy's Highway (1987)
The Bats may not be very well known outside of its native New Zealand, but the band's incredible debut album Daddy's Highway is by far its most revered, not to mention the only one you can find in American record stores or even on torrent sites.
5. Fugees - The Score (1996)
I had always assumed that the Fugees were one of those "one and done" artists, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered that The Score was actually the group's second album, after 1994's Blunted On Reality. Still, The Score is powerful enough on its own to cement the group's status.
6. MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (1969)
MC5's two studio albums may be well regarded, but neither of them can possibly compare to the raucous fury of the band's debut LP, the legendary live album Kick Out the Jams. In fact, the album's title track is really the only MC5 song known by the general public, though its infamous intro assures that it will never be played on FM radio.
7. Nas - Illmatic (1994)
There was a line in a Saturday Night Live sketch a few years ago that went, "Greece wanting respect for democracy is like Nas wanting respect for Illmatic," which of course means that Nas' career following his monumental 1994 debut has been quite disappointing by comparison. I consider myself a Nas fan, but this is based solely on Illmatic and pretty much nothing else he's done.
8. Slint - Spiderland (1991)
When I was writing up the list for this article, I had accidentally listed Slint as "Spiderland," which goes to show just how inseparable the band is from its bone-chilling second album. I know there are Slint fans that enjoy the band's debut Tweez, but anyone who actually prefers it is likely just being contrarian.
9. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)
Perhaps the most legendary sophomore slump is history is the Stone Roses' Second Coming, which came a full five years after the band's classic debut and impressed pretty much nobody (except Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead). The Stone Roses split two years after the album's release and though the band reunited in 2011, no new album has yet been released, leaving the band's debut as the only great Stone Roses album.
10. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak (1976)
Two of Thin Lizzy's three most famous songs, "Jailbreak," and "The Boys are Back in Town," appear on the band's 1976 classic Jailbreak, and though I'm not sure how the band is regarded in Ireland or the UK, in the US these are pretty much the only Thin Lizzy songs that ever receive any radio play.
What other artists are known for just one album? Let us know in the comments section!