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Eponymous

January 30, 2021

[Album 843 – 848 / 1001]

Time for a ‘Top-of-Mind’ awareness exercise.

Pencils ready?

Okelie dokelie.

Here we go…

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…name the first 3 self-titled albums that come to mind.

For whatever reason, the trio of eponymous albums that I thought of first were The Tragically Hip (1987), Blur (1997), and =w=eezer (1994).

And it got me thinking, why do groups go the self-titled route?

Based on my top-of-mind choices, I imagine it may be done:

a) To properly introduce the band, the debut album / artist name repetition reinforces the b[r]and message, less anonymous if eponymous (The Tragically Hip)

b) To signal a career peak (Blur)

c) To introduce the band, at their peak (=w=eezer)

As shown graphically below:

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What about the remaining self-titled albums on the 1001 list?

Given its status on My Top 15, The Beatles (1968) would join Blur in the nay-debut / yay-peak category. That review however will have to wait until album # 1001 / 1001.

In the Meantime, where does one classify Violent Femmes / Killing Joke / United States of America / Roxy Music / Moby Grape / Velvet Underground?

Are they debuts? Are they career peaks? Or a little from column A, a little from column B?

We shall see!

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Moby Grape – Moby Grape (1967)
Debut: Yes
Career Peak: ?

Alas, some of my findings remain inconclusive.

For Moby Grape, Killing Joke, and Violent Femmes, I have insufficient evidence to properly place them in a Venn diagram (and you can’t just go around potentially misplacing artists in Venn diagrams).

Strangely enough, Apple Music only had a portion of the Moby Grape debut album.

Thankfully, YouTube delivered the full album.

My only major issue: the track ‘8:05‘ did not appear 8 minutes + 5 seconds into the running order, it feels like a missed opportunity.

But if that’s the biggest complaint…and perhaps I’m to blame for not investing in the LP.

As if I needed an argument in favour of buying the physical product?

According to the Moby Grape album cover shown on the YouTube video, you also get a “giant full-color” poster!

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Killing Joke – Killing Joke (1980)
Debut: Yes
Career Peak: ?

With a career now spanning across 6 decades (70s/80s/90s/00s/10s/20s) & 15 studio albums, by merely hearing Killing Joke (KJ)’s debut album twice, it doesn’t quite feel like I’ve heard enough to boldly declare this as their finest hour.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if fans place this one at or near the top of the discography heap.

In part because while I was listening, I was reminded of a pair of my favourite albums by a pair of my favourite artists.

Beginning with the aforementioned Tragically Hip, The Wherewithal sounds like it could have been inspired by the KJ song Complications.

And Primitive has a real Pearl Jam Not For You vibe.

Considering Fully Completely & Vitalogy are all-timers in my books, perhaps Killing Joke one day will be too.

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Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983)
Debut: Yes
Career Peak: ?

Did you ever have the ‘Frosh‘ mix CD?

I never owned a copy but thanks to high school friends, I have fond memories of listening to Blister in the Sun (and David Wilcox’s Do the Bearcat) among other tracks.

Seeing as it is the opening track here & my friend (and annual Top 10 Quiz finisher) Mark included the Violent Femmes debut in his caption-less ’10 influential albums’ photo series last year, I’m semi-confident that this album might represent the band at their best.

If none of their other albums feature a xylophone (the xylophone feature on Gone Daddy Gone was a delightful surprise!), then I’d be more willing to lock it in.

But I’m not 100% sure, partly because after listening, I was curious to see where they went next.

And if I leave a debut eager to hear the follow-up, that could be an encouraging sign of things to come.

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Roxy Music – Roxy Music (1972)
Debut: Yes
Career Peak: No

“Here’s looking at you kid”
– Roxy Music, Here’s Looking at You Kid (and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca)

With the remaining eponymous entries, I’m more prepared to make it official.

And while I wouldn’t put Roxy Music’s Roxy Music on par with Casablanca per se, when I heard it for the first time, it made me feel like this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I just think that they might be even stronger musically on their next album (For Your Pleasure) and even more risqué with the cover on the one after that (Country Life)!

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The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)
Debut: No
Career Peak: Oui!

“Well I’m beginning to see the light”
Beginning to See the Light, The Velvet Underground (and me, with regard to enjoyment of The Velvet Underground)

It took me a while to appreciate The Velvet Underground (VU).

These days, I also quite enjoy ’em.

I found this was quite different from their other albums on the 1001, no déja VU, so to speak.

I suppose on this one, the songs matter as much as the sounds/styles, which may explain why I approve so enthusiastically.

Could it also be that because it too me so long to arrive at VU enjoyment, I’m now unconsciously trying to make up for lost time?

Or was it predetermined to be their peak simply because it’s from 1969, and unwittingly, I knew I’d dig the album before even listening (as has their ever been a more consistently impressive calendar year, both in terms of quantity and quality)?

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The United States of America – The United States of America (1968)
Debut: Yes
Career Peak: Yes

In this case, they only released 1 studio album.

So I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the band at their absolute zenith!

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Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate variations on self-titled album names, including treble charger’s self=title & R.E.M.’s Eponymous!

From → 1960s, 1970s, 1980s

34 Comments
  1. jprobichaud permalink

    A couple comments:
    1. I would respectfully disagree that “Blur” was Blur’s high watermark; I’d give that award to “Parklife”. “Blur” was definitely a departure for the band, a redefining, if you will, which was likely the reason for the self-titling of that record.
    2. “Violent Femmes” is definitely that band’s high point in my books. An excellent album all the way through. The closest second might be 1991’s “Why do birds sing?”.
    Cheers.

    • Good point about the likely rationale behind the ’97 naming.
      And I would respectfully agree that Parklife does contain a career peak, as Clover Over Dover is as close to a perfect song as I’ve heard.
      Or perhaps tied with The Universal, so perhaps they’ve got a bimodal distribution / multiple peaks when it comes to their excellent individual tracks!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        I like so many of their tracks/albums that most of their career was a peak for me so maybe I’m not so objective.

  2. Fabulous post, Geoff. One of your longest, and one that could easily be enjoyed for many more self-titled albums!
    There is so much here that almost everyone will disagree with something, but that’s OK. I’m with jpr on Blur, you on The U-S-A (hard not to be, really). Certainly not with VU Third (I’d place it fourth of the four, despite loving parts of it).
    Then there’s Black Sabbath, Crowded House, and myriad albums titled only with the artist’s name. Could be a whole new project for you…

    • Much appreciated, Bruce – I’m pleased we agree on The USA!
      And yes, it feels like this is merely scratching the surface of a larger investigation. I won’t be able to be the lead researcher on such a project, but I’d enjoy reading about it!

  3. The first three I thought of were The Clash, Yes (because I was listening to it recently) and Can (actually the group’s tenth album).

    The first side of Roxy Music is amazing, but the second is really tough going. I had a Moby Grape compilation that covered the first three albums or so and I ended up selling it and burning the debut onto a CD-R. So I think it’s a career peak, along with Skip Spence’s Oar.

    • I’ve got Oar playing as I type – and I like that Can waited so long before their self-titled album!

  4. The first three I thought of are Iron Maiden, RUSH and Led Zeppelin. Was playing that self titled Weezer today. Side 2…needed to hear “In My Garage”

    • The harmonica intro, a beauty – we had the blue album LP on in the basement here last week too. Only got through side 1 though, may have to flip to side 2 this morning!

      • One of my fav guitar solos from 1994 by Rivers on that tune.

  5. Sometimes they go eponymous after a major line up change or stylistic shift to say “hey, we’re still us” like Motley Crue or Queensryche or Metallica

    • A good point – and Metallica’s the only one of those 3 without at least one umlaut in their name!

  6. I’ve always looked at when naming the album the same name as the band, the band was fresh out of ideas. Hell, Collective Soul did it twice as they have two albums that are self-titled (even though the second is called Rabbit to tell them apart because of the picture of the rabbit on the cover)

    • I think laziness might have something to do with it at times – weezer’s up to something in the ballpark of their 6th self-titled album!

  7. This was so awesome. I had the Hip and Weezer, but my third was Pearl Jam. Violent Femmes is a great shout, that probably would’ve come to me with more thought, but the idea was off the top of the head, sorry boys! And man, Moby Grape, I haven’t thought of them since the old CMJ days. Great idea for a post!

  8. Great post, Geoff! Loads to think about… and whle I could think of a few self-titled albums, I wondered about bands lots who have two and, eh, Weezer, who have a whole library of self-titled albums that are better known by their colours (oh Weezer, you guys are so funny!).

    • Cheers, J!
      And yes, I think weezer likely has the record for most self-titled, they’re running out of colours!

      • Maybe they’ll look at releasing stuff like Bluey-Green album. Unlimited possibilities. A greatest hits package called Skittles?

      • A Fuchsia album may be on the horizon!

  9. Max Webster, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. I don’t know if I think of them as the best but they are the first three I thought of.

    I’m still waiting to appreciate Velvet Underground, lol

    • Bonus marks to the Sabbath one for adding the track name as well – it took me 8 years for the VU, it may still happen someday!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure (1973) and Country Life (1974) & Brian Eno and David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1967 | 1001albumsin10years
  3. 1968 | 1001albumsin10years
  4. 1969 | 1001albumsin10years
  5. 1972 | 1001albumsin10years
  6. 1980 | 1001albumsin10years
  7. 1982 | 1001albumsin10years
  8. 1 album in 1 day! | 1001albumsin10years

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