Album Amnesia

Yesterday, Wes Burke put up his most insightful post of the year to date, Albums that Cause Amnesia. He poses an interesting question: Does an album that is so successful as to redefine a group’s sound cause fans to forget the albums that came before?

His strongest case study was Gold City’s Pillars of Faith. That 1992 release so defined Gold City’s sound that fans tend to talk less about the albums that preceded it. He also raises another persuasive case, the Kingsmen’s 1977 Chattanooga Live.

Count me among the convinced that this unusual phenomenon happens.

One example he gave, though, started my thoughts down a different path. He asked whether the success of the Cathedrals’ 1982 album Something Special causes us to talk less about their previous projects. What I’m wondering is this: Suppose the Cathedrals had never recorded Something Special, because they hung up their traveling shoes in 1979, after Roy Tremble, George Amon Webster, and Lorne Matthews quit. Don’t we actually talk about their 1960s and 1970s projects more thanks to Something Special establishing them as a mega-group than we would had they quit?