Sunday, 10 December, 2023 in Culture, Music

Great Sister Albums

Sister Albums is an inconsistent premise of a pair of LP’s, where that of one artist shares similar DNA or an element of kinship to that of another. One of the most clearly defined Sister Albums is the pairing of ‘Low’ by David Bowie and ‘The Idiot’ by Iggy Pop. They were released individually by each artist but were recorded partially in the same studio, immediately after each other, with one of the same producers, many of the same musicians and had shared song-writing credits.

Of course, not every Sister Album is so easily defined. Some which make the list here are near simultaneously released albums from solo members of a core group after a split, others though may simply be solo artists using members of a stand-alone group as their backing band. Yes, the Sister Albums premise is inconsistent but generally, if there is some form of commonality between two albums by different artists then they, in my interpretation, are Sister Albums.

With that woolly interpretation this then is a list of Great Sister Albums and I’m sure – and hope – you will be able to add to the list.

…………………………………………………………

The Clash Sandanista || Ellen Folley Spirit of St. Louis


While clearly its own entity by an accomplished musician, Spirit of St. Louis could also be considered the 7th and 8th side of the sprawling Sandinista. It was recorded on the latter’s completion and with the same writing, performing, producing and engineering team. For further eligibility, Ellen Folley also performed on Sandanista, mostly notably providing shared lead vocals to Hitsville UK.

…………………………………………………………

The Human League Dare! || Heaven 17 Penthouse and Pavement

These two rival albums splintered from the core of the original Human League. Pride, huge competition and desire from both off-shoots to create a genuinely modern music resulted in two excellent releases. Obviously, Dare became the huge success but Penthouse and Pavement also did spectacularly well and sounds fresher today, to my ears anyway.

…………………………………………………………

Faces A Nod Is As Good As A Wink || Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story

The blurring of boundaries between these albums is quite spectacular. They are essentially two albums by mostly the same band, recorded directly after each other with only the eclecticism of cover choices in the Stewart solo project being the most identifiable difference. Peak Rod, two for the price of one.

…………………………………………………………

Spiritualized Lazer Guided Melodies || Spectrum Soul Kiss

Another set of uber-rival records that emerged from a core group, these being from the charred remains of Spacemen 3. Side one of the final Spacemen album was essentially the version of Spiritualized on this full lengther here and likewise, side one is Spectrum. Both sides were worthy predecessors to the majestic first full-length, official debut releases from each band. Lazer Guided Melodies remains one of my favourite albums but Soul Kiss really is also wonderfully inventive, full of dreamlike visions and is a fundamentally and unfairly overlooked album of the 90’s. On some days I prefer it to LGM.

…………………………………………………………

Byrds Younger Than Yesterday || Gene Clark …with The Gosdin Brothers

Yet another set of rival releases but in this case when the mothership band – The Byrds – still existed with each featuring much of the same musicians but cruelly released in the same month. When lead singer and principle songwriter, Gene Clark left the band the previous year it would seem his solo album would be the obvious success but, quite surprisingly it was the first in a series of commercial disasters.

…………………………………………………………

Roxy Music Stranded || Brian Ferry These Foolish Things

Stranded and These Foolish Things has far more distinction between them and the Faces/Rod solo pairings. This seems mostly due to the off-kilter covers on the Ferry solo but overall that release feels like a great Roxy side project that’s bang in the middle of their best period. BF available in every charity shop.

…………………………………………………………

Roy Orbison Mystery Girl || George Harrison Cloud Nine

You can probably also throw The Travelling Wilbury’s and Rock On! by Del Shannon in with them. They have a very defined sound, loved by fans of ELO, hated by fans of The Beatles. I’ve grown to quite like that huge gated snare which immediately identifies everything Jeff Lynne produces. It reverberates through every track so it’s imme-diately obvious he produced all four. Lynne’s work on Cloud Nine led to the Willbury’s project which itself begat Mystery Girl and later Rock On!

…………………………………………………………

Velvet Underground White Light White Heat || Nico Chelsea Girl

It’s difficult for two albums, recorded only weeks apart and mostly featuring the same musicians to sound so different but they do but equally, they also don’t. The unrelenting noise odyssey of Sister Ray is a world from the gentile, folk-Baroque of moat of Chelsea Girl. However, the discordia of Nico’s It Was a Pleasure Then could easily have sat next to the VU’s Stephanie Says, which was recorded just after WLWH.

…………………………………………………………

Scott Walker Scott 2 || John Walker If You Go Away

The break-up of The Walker Brothers led to one of the finest four album runs in pop, namely Scott Walker’s 1967-69 solo period; a fascinating and uncompromising career suicide for one of the biggest popstars of the 60’s. As each of his releases followed a diminishing commercial downward trajectory, they simultaneously gained equal and opposite artistic upward success. John Walker, the other star of the Brothers band, started his career at the same time but for inexplicable reasons he sadly did not start from the same pedestal of success. Which is a terrible shame as his first solo album is the equal of Scott’s first two. There’s actually very little musically to tell them apart, sharing arrangers and session musicians, both even covering ‘If You Go Away’. It seems unfair to compare both artists – nobody is going to come close to matching the vocals of Scott but that doesn’t mean John didn’t also own a wonderful voice and this solo album is recommended for any Scott fans.

…………………………………………………………

Alex Chilton Like Flies on Sherbert || The Cramps Songs the Lord Taught Us

Few albums contain the controlled chaos of Like Flies on Sherbert, an unhinged combina-tion of extremely talented musician’s and producers fronted by a genuine popstar, bathed in wildy excessive rock and roll carnage and experimentation. The legendary sessions were broken up with Chilton producing another outfit of equally deranged misfits – The Cramps – who would fit in perfectly with his (and their) then state of mind. Throw Tav Falco into the mix and you have Sister Triplets.

…………………………………………………………

Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque || Teenage Fanclub The King

The King was recorded during the sessions for Bandwagonesque. Don Fleming, the producer suggested the band to take a little moments break and have a bit of fun – which is exactly what they did – and amazingly, Alan McGee agreed to release that fun as a stand-alone limited release. The two albums together are Teenage Fanclub’s The White Album.

BMX Bandits’ C86 and TFC’s A Catholic Education are also pretty close Sister Albums, sharing Norman Blake and drummer, Francis Macdonald.. A Catholic Education was originally to come out on BMX Bandits leader, Duglas T Stewart’s Click! Records until distributor The Cartel went bust.

…………………………………………………………

Mercury Rev Deserters Songs || The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin

As suggested by Nick Portneil. Two bands with shared personnel and history. Made a year after each other but feel like the natural progression of a singular entity. Widescreen Americana and bubble-gum psychedelia mixed them into a unique whole.

………………………………………………………..

Françoise Hardy If I Listen || Et si je m’en Avant Toi

Two of her best. Recorded side by side and with most of the same musicians (including Richard Thompson). Et si je follows her imperial phase of moody and reflective self-penned compositions while If I Listen is an interesting collection of covers for the English speaking market. The covers are a fascinating insight into her own work, comprising obscure Acid-Folk and the crème of 1971’s singer-songwriters. This certainly adds to the myth that she wanted Nick Drake to write for her.

………………………………………………………..

Depeche Mode A Broken Frame || Yazoo Upstairs at Eric’s

The acrimonious departure of Depeche Mode’s principle songwriter Vince Clark in 1981 set in motion the steps to the eventual grandiose and dark electro stadium filling act we now know. It also led to an immediately ironic moment in 1982 – the slight and breezy songs on the Depeche Mode release bearing little in the trademarks of where Martin Gore would begin to take them and in Upstairs at Eric’s ,by Vince Clark’s new band Yazoo, an insight into how Depeche Mode may have sounded if he’d stayed. While Depeche Mode would eventually achieve huge worldwide success, their MK2 debut is surprisingly the most sac-charine effort they produced, while “Upstairs’ is full of wonderfully melodic and often very mature electro-pop.

 

Bubbling Under…

………………………………………………………..

Sebadoh Sebadoh III || Dinosaur Jr. Green Mind

Dinosaur Jr’s first album after the departure of co-songwriter Lou Barlow. Sebadoh’s third would have a classic of the ‘diss song’ in ‘The Freed Pig’, aimed directly at J Mascis.

………………………………………………………..

David Bowie Heroes || Iggy Pop Lust For Life

Much in the vein of The Idiot and Low, these albums were what happened next for each artist.

………………………………………………………..

Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding || The Band Music From Big Pink

Both albums would emerge from the long and infamous Basement Tapes.

………………………………………………………..

Rote Kapelle No North Britain || Jesse Garron Nixon

Two distinctly different Edinburgh bands with distinctly many of the same members.

………………………………………………………..

Blue Orchids The Greatest Hit || The Fall Hex Enducation Hour

The Fall with and without Mark E Smith.

………………………………………………………..

Nick Drake Bryter Layter || Fairport Convention Full House

Both albums featuring the Fairport rhythm section and occasional flourishes from Richard Thompson.

………………………………………………………..

Toy Clear Shot || SexWitch

Sexwitch is a one-off collaboration of Toy and Natasha Khan from Bat For Lashes, recorded just prior to Toy’s Clear Shot.

………………………………………………………..

Wings Venus and Mars || Mike McGear McGear

McGear is a hidden gem in the McCartney discography being his brother, Mike backed by Wings.

Grant McPhee
@GrantMcPheeFilm




Leave a Reply

By browsing this website, you agree to our privacy policy.
I Agree