14 Followup Albums That Were Almost Great

(via music aficionado) by Chris Willman

If only our all-or-nothing culture gave out ribbons for “almost as good.” But you definitely won’t find many critics devoting their energy to praising (or knocking) the slightly flawed appendices to blockbusters and masterpieces.

So here’s to those awfully good, B+ albums that really suffer only in comparison to what directly preceded them. And let’s relive, if you will, these Great Moments in Slightly Inferior Follow-ups! May we all be blessed to wane this well…

Eagles – ‘The Long Run’

Talk about a non-self-fulfilling prophecy of a title: Of course the Eagles would break up after putting this much blood, sweat, tears, and bickering into a follow-up to Hotel California, only to have the world sigh en masse, “Yeah, I like it about three-quarters as much as the last one.” Already inclined toward perfectionism to begin with, the band was following what mainstream rock fans would consider one of rock’s perfect albums, with nowhere to go but (slightly) down. The result was a 7-million seller—hardly a bummer, unless you’re rating it against 16 million ‘Hotel’ check-ins (or the still record-breaking 29 million certified units for their first Greatest Hits collection). Given the pickiness and expectations that made things tense in the studio, then, it’s a wonder that ‘The Long Run’ has as much looseness and life as it does. Leaving the three big singles out of it, this has some of their strangest and most mordantly funny album tracks, like Those Shoes and The Disco Strangler, not to mention the not-so-dark Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks, a song it’s still hard to believe that guys who took themselves this seriously let onto an LP. On top of those period-cynical oddities, you get one of Don Henley‘s best elegiac album-closers in Sad Café, a near-acknowledgement that the Eagles would be saying sayonara for 14 years. A lot of folks loved the ’80s just a little less without having their SoCal snark to take a temperature of the times…

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