Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
After a decade and a half of fronting Death Cab for Cutie, singer/guitarist Ben Gibbard has only just now gotten around to releasing his first solo album, Former Lives. In this accelerated age, it seems like most successful bandleaders in his position would have tried out a solo scenario sooner; after all, DCfC already has seven albums under its belt, including a Number 1 record (2008’s Narrow Stairs) and a Platinum-seller (2005’s Plans), and the guy has already wooed, married, and divorced Zooey Deschanel. On some level one has to wonder why he waited this long to delve into solo life. But in Gibbard’s defense, let’s look at a few other famous rockers from different eras, who took their own sweet time in putting out an album sans bandmates. Clearly, he’s in great company … the results though, are mixed.
1. Mick Jagger, She’s the Boss
It took 23 years of standing in front of Charlie Watts before The Mighty Mick finally got the gumption to make a more individual statement. 1985’s She’s the Boss and its single “Just Another Night” did well, but one wonders whether Mick’s primary motivator was the inexplicable feeling that The Stones’ 1983 Undercover wasn’t quite ‘80s-sounding enough, or perhaps that he simply hadn’t yet explored eye makeup to its fullest potential.
2. Freddie Mercury, Mr. Bad Guy
There must have been something in the air in ’85. Not only did Mick make his move that year, but 14 years after founding Queen, while the band was still working on rebounding from the commercial catastrophe that was 1982’s Hot Space, Freddie Mercury seemingly decided he hadn’t enjoyed enough of the spotlight so far. In America, where his band had seen their greatest successes, Mr. Bad Guy and its attendant singles were greeted with a deafening roar of apathy.
3. John Lydon, Psycho’s Path
Having changed the world with the Sex Pistols and created the concept of post-punk with Public Image Ltd. for a follow-up, you’d imagine John Lydon, nee Rotten, had already met his quota for landmark albums long before 1997. You’d be right. But that didn’t stop the 41-year-old provocateur from making Psycho’s Path, with a somewhat less epochal end result.
4. Noel Gallagher, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Wait a minute, how the hell does one of the Gallagher brothers come out smelling the rosiest on this list so far? Following what must have seemed like centuries of partnership with Liam in Oasis, Noel’s emancipation finally arrived in 2008. Three years later, he unveiled his new project, striking up the spirit of his former band without the fistfights.
5. Jack White, Blunderbuss
Just in case you thought only Brits were allowed in this tally, let’s look in on the Detroit dandy himself. Jack White’s probably got the best excuse of all for delaying his entry into the solo album scene — the guy just loves forming bands. From the White Stripes to the Raconteurs and Dead Weather, he’s clearly a team player at heart. He must have had a few minutes to kill in between projects in order to bang out a worldwide Number 1 album under his own name with Blunderbuss.