Hell, one tremendous single, even. (Though I don’t really know what “uneven” means. *All* albums are uneven.) But if you’re asking whether I’d take a awesome three minutes (like, I dunno, ? And the Mysterians or Nena or M) over a consistently half-assed 30 or 40 years (like, say, Pink Floyd or the Grateful Dead), it’s really no contest, in my mind.
Well it depends…I don’t mind a band that can spit out great albums like the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac and many others. That’s good stuff..I appreciate a band that can do it. That is not an easy task, either you have it or you don’t. Even if it’s one great song then thats great! Just depends on the band and your preference.
One could argue that the albums Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me, and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory are all we need to establish Tupac Shakur’s “musical leagacy” and that his ten plus posthumus releases do more harm than good to that legacy. However, in an entertainment industry where Orange Bowl organizers shamelessly roll a violently shaking Muhammad Ali out to mid-field in a wheelchair for the “enjoyment” of fans, what would you expect?
Less is definitely more. The Sex Pistols, NWA, and Nirvana all had relatively short recording careers, but their impact on the music industry is undeniable.
At first I was going to quickly agree with the high quality/low quantity side, but then some of my favorite bands/artists are The Fall, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Current 93 and Guided By Voices, all practically defining the second category. I love these acts for their failings almost as much as I do for their successes, though it must be said that without their successes, I would never have considered their failures.
Then you have folks like Elvis Costello and Prince and The Rolling Stones – all having periods of work that I love while the rest of their timeline is (to me) of dubious quality. I’m willing to drop in and out of an artist’s continuum, keeping half an eye on them in case they get the old fire back. Kind of like how you Google old girlfriends – you don’t necessarily want to get back together but you still want to know what they are up to.
I still hold a hope that The Stones will pull off one more really great record before their contract with the devil runs out and they are freed from the Sisyphean labor of being the Rolling Stones.
Finally, you have Jandek, whose line between success and failure is so blurry that it barely exists (much like Jandek himself)
it doesn’t even have to be an album – example: the incredible “City Slang” by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band
^^this. in general and specifically the example cited. (tho SRB had 1-2 albums worth of good unrecorded material just to muddy the waters a bit. the distinction between one-shot brilliance and plugging away may depend on circumstances beyond the musician’s control.)
I guess for me this comes down to artists vs. songs. If your primary interest is in following the contours of an artist’s career, I could see where a dozen albums of varying quality might be of interest. If your primary interest is in songs (which it is for me), you’ll take good ones from anywhere, the “who” is of almost no importance (I hardly ever follow band’s careers anymore), and quantity from any one particular artist is kind of irrelevant because you know you’ll encounter more good ones from elsewhere (it’s a selfish way of listening, and I fully condone it). There are exceptions to everything I’ve just said, but as a general rule of thumb, I’m not a stick-with-’em kind of listener and haven’t been for about 20 years.
>>> Or, as I like to put it, which band do you like better, the Beatles or the Stones? <<<
Don’t both of them clearly fall in the large-quantity-of-unevenness category? Granted, I don’t know if the Beatles even released a dozen actual albums in their lifetime, but they did release a lot of albums in a six-seven year span, and much as I love pretty much all of them at least half of them I’d say are really uneven (Abbey Road, for instance). (And yet, I accept both their unevenness as well as the Stones — at least up to a point with the latter — and will sometimes even sit through lousy tracks just to re-experience the full package.)