Singers Vs. Their Former Bands – Who’s Debut Was Stronger
Band lineup changes happen all the time. When the singer leaves though, the fate of the band overall is much more in jeopardy. Whether you agree or disagree with the situation or its outcome, ultimately the music does the talkin'. With that in mind, here are four breakups that resulted in epic comebacks and my take on who really "won".
- Van Halen -- 5150. The Van Halen brothers rebounded with guitarist, vocalist and writer extraordinaire Sammy Hagar. With Montrose and a strong solo career under his belt, Sammy was more than up to the task and Van Halen as a band ... moreso than Roth, who was starting fresh ... had a lot to prove. Which, they did.
GLENN SAYS: SPLIT DECISION: Although the Hagar era yielded more hits and tours, the band Roth put together was technically superior. Van Halen wins in terms of hit songs, world tours and lasting impressions but, while Roth's band only lasted another year or two, "Eat 'em and Smile" was by far the stronger debut. He had to prove he could do it without Eddie and Alex and he did. Decades later, they would ask him back.
- Ozzy Osbourne -- Blizzard Of Oz. Freshly fired from Black Sabbath, Ozzy had the charisma, talent, and sheer lunacy to pull out all the stops and just go for broke. His attitude ... coupled with an amazing young guitarist named Randy Rhodes who was about to re-write the rock guitar playbook ... made his debut solo album a turning point in rock history.
- Black Sabbath -- Heaven And Hell. Black Sabbath, on the other hand, had years of material and legions of fans already in place which left them in a situation similar to Van Halen's. A lot to prove but also with a comfort zone that allowed them to move forward slowly and precisely. They also chose a frontman, Ronnie James Dio, (ex-Elf, ex-Rainbow) with plenty of experience.
GLENN SAYS: OZZY. Ozzy made an incredible impact and continued to do so from that day forward. Black Sabbath raised the bar in some ways but, after losing Dio, they "picked at the bones" for decades before finally reuniting with Ozzy in 2011.
- Rob Halford -- Ressurection. I chose this album because I feel it's the first of his solo efforts to really come at Judas Priest on even ground. (Fight was much heavier and Two was more "experimental".) Nothing groundbreaking here but, great music from a man who shared the same legion of fans, talent, and experience as his "exes".
GLENN SAYS: HALFORD. Rob continued to be himself and evolve while Priest broke their necks trying to find another Halford. No disrespect to Ripper but he and the others were really fighting a losing battle all along. There is only one "Metal God" and he reclaimed his "Priestly" throne in 2003.
- Bruce Dickinson -- Tattooed Millionaire. Bruce Dickinson's solo debut was a straight-ahead rocker, It wasn't as lost in technical playing, electronics and epic, 15-minute long sonic adventures as Maiden albums had become. He stripped it all down, got back to his roots and the heavy metal world was thankful.
- Iron Maiden -- The X Factor. Former Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley got the daunting task of stepping into Bruce Dickinson's shoes. While he sang well and the music written during his tenure was certainly above average, this version of Maiden ... much like post-Dio Black Sabbath ... was just trying to get by.
GLENN SAYS: DICKINSON BY TECHNICAL KNOCKOUT. He's hands down the best of the best. However, he was not the first, nor the only. Much credit must also be given to the other members and singers ... Steve Harris in particular ... for keeping it all together. It just isn't Maiden without Bruce though which is why he would return in '99 to continue the "heavy lifting" that has made them legend.