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Old 11-24-2010, 11:42 AM   #1
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Most radical musical "reinventions"

As we all know, the "cutting down The Joshua Tree" Achtung Baby/ZooTV reinvention was impressive and probably the main reason (along with Zooropa, Passengers and Pop) why I consider U2 to be one of the all-time greats.

Radiohead's OK Computer/Kid A transition was another WTF move justifiably hyped in the media and in the fanbase all around, with both of those albums being sure masterpieces.

Bowie doing "plastic soul" after his glam rock days (Diamond Dogs to Young Americans) and then again with his krautrock and electronica-influenced Berlin Trilogy, influenced tons of musicians who tried to escape "musical typecasting", including U2.

I wouldn't call this necessarily a reinvention, since the acoustic, tender side of Alice in Chains was always there, but doing the stunning, mostly acoustic Jar of Flies EP after the violently heavy Dirt caused some head-scratching I'm sure.

But nothing of those rivals the radical musical journey Talk Talk accomplished. They are first and foremost famous as one of those synth-pop 80s bands, with this song being arguably the most well-known (popularized again in the aughts with that dreadful No Doubt cover):

YouTube - Talk Talk - It's My Life

Afterwards, frontman and chief songwriter Mark Hollis decided to pursue his more extreme musical ambitions and created two albums that are now universally lauded as some of the finest work that has emerged in the late 80s and early 90s - Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. I didn't hear any music before to compare it with these two gems - Hollis and co. really created something unique here, a minimalist approach in merging rock, jazz and ambient music, the result of which some are calling the spark that created post-rock.

Some of my favorites:

YouTube - Talk Talk - THE RAINBOW - 1988

YouTube - Talk Talk - NEW GRASS - 1991

Any other suggestions for some radical musical changes such as this?
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Old 11-24-2010, 12:12 PM   #2
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Talk Talk's 'I Believe In You' is awesome. I like the rest of the album, but have never gotten into it nearly as much as I'm into that song. If you're a big Talk Talk fan, maybe you should give Shearwater a chance.
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Old 11-24-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
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Scott Walker, circa either Climate of Hunter or Tilt, depending on how "radical" you want it.
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Old 11-24-2010, 04:06 PM   #4
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How about Underworld?

They made a pretty radical change from 80's funky electropop to 90's techno/dance/house music.


1988's
Underneath The Radar
YouTube - Underworld - Underneath The Radar (1988)


1989: Stand Up
YouTube - Stand Up- Underworld

and then


1996's Born Slippy NUXX

YouTube - Underworld Born Slippy
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Old 11-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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Talk Talk is indeed a great example of a radical musical reinvention. You could call them the Radiohead of the Eighties (maybe even better, IMO). The Colour Of Spring is an amazing album, where they left the intelligent synth-pop template and went for something different. It is the link between It's My Life and Spirit Of Eden and one of the best records ever.
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Old 11-24-2010, 05:02 PM   #6
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Blur: britpop outfit (The Great Escape) to consciously indietastic, Americanized noise rock band (Blur).
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Old 11-24-2010, 05:36 PM   #7
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Miles Davis's stretch between Miles in the Sky and On the Corner not only reshaped his musical identity, but that of jazz itself. He shifted dramatically at least three times during that period.
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:31 PM   #8
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i can't think of anything outside of bands that went from being decent punk rock/hardcore to lame-ass radio friendly shit when they decided ok this music thing was fun, but now it's time to make some money. i believe they're known as "sell-outs" in some circles.
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iron yuppie View Post
Miles Davis's stretch between Miles in the Sky and On the Corner not only reshaped his musical identity, but that of jazz itself. He shifted dramatically at least three times during that period.
miles davis did a hell of a lot of shifting, that's for sure. i'm not an expert, so i may be getting this horribly wrong, but i always got the impression he'd kind of morphed as time went on, kinda like the beatles did. no real clear defined shift, but a lot of innovative way-before-his-time transitions. but like i said, i could be dead wrong.
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Old 11-25-2010, 12:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IWasBored View Post
miles davis did a hell of a lot of shifting, that's for sure. i'm not an expert, so i may be getting this horribly wrong, but i always got the impression he'd kind of morphed as time went on, kinda like the beatles did. no real clear defined shift, but a lot of innovative way-before-his-time transitions. but like i said, i could be dead wrong.
I think you are essentially correct about the gradual but persistent development of style. That was the case for the vast majority of his career. In my mind, however, his work between 1968 and 1972 defies that pattern. Miles in the Sky is a floating, almost free-form acoustic-electric hybrid. Then you have In a Silent Way, which is almost an ambient album. Bitches Brew is a psychedelia-tinged piece of studio magic, and Live-Evil is a full-fledged, unapologetic rock album. Then you get to On the Corner, which is Sly Stone-infused funk. I'm leaving out a few albums in between, but the intensity of the shifts throughout those years is pronounced.

Many jazz enthusiasts mark Kind of Blue as a major turning point on account of its modal emphasis, but to this day I still do not quite understand what modal jazz entails.
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:47 PM   #11
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How about the change from Depeche Mode's early sugary pop to the darker stuff?
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
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How about the change from Depeche Mode's early sugary pop to the darker stuff?
That seemed to be a gradual shift though. Once Vince Clarke left and Martin Gore took over the writing duties, the really simple pop went out the window, but that was so early in their career, I'm not sure it counts. They really hadn't made that much of an impact by that point
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:27 PM   #13
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Two that come to mind are The Cure between Seventeen Seconds and Faith as well as Genesis between From Genesis To Revelation and Trespass.They were those rare early career reset buttons.
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:58 PM   #14
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Two that come to mind are The Cure between Seventeen Seconds and Faith as well as Genesis between From Genesis To Revelation and Trespass.They were those rare early career reset buttons.
I was thinking that the change from Three Imaginary Boys/Boys Don't Cry to Seventeen Seconds was more dramatic. The first album just doesn't sound much like The Cure at all, to me.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:46 PM   #15
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I was going to mention the Cure except they've just had so many dramatic changes, it feels like.

Boys Don't Cry > Seventeen Seconds
Seventeen Seconds > Faith
Pornography > The Top
The Top > Head on the Door
KMKMKM > Disintegration
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