Aborted's first album The Purity of Perversion sounds very, very little like their future releases. The production is much rawer, the riffs are for the most part more frantic and less structured, and very few of the band's trademark elements are present. It's still regarded as a good album, though.
AC/DC: The songs recorded in the mid-1970s sounded very different from their later hits; this was primarily because they weren't quite taking themselves seriously yet, and mostly preferred crude novelty songs. The first album to sound anything like AC/DC as we know them today was Let There Be Rock (1977), and even that had some goofy mid-70s glam influence on it. And the band that was the spiritual forerunner of AC/DC - The British Invasion-era (though actually Australian) band The Easybeats - hardly sounds like AC/DC at all.
The major influence in their shift was when they hired Robert John "Mutt" Lange as their producer, starting with their Highway to Hell album, the last one with Bon. You can clearly tell it sounds much more like their next few albums than ever before.
For even more early installment weirdness, there's their rare debut single, "Can I Sit Next to You Girl"/"Rockin' at the Parlour", their only release to feature little-remembered original vocalist Dave Evans: On one hand, the actual song-writing isn't too different from their Bon Scott material, and in fact the band re-recorded "Can I Sit Next To You Girl" with Scott for the album High Voltage. On the other, Angus and Malcolm Young hadn't found their signature guitar tones yet, and most strikingly, Dale Evans sang in a drastically different way from either of the band's better-known vocalists: Both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson are known for high-pitched, raspy singing voices, while Evans had a lower voice that didn't stand out nearly as much from other hard rock singers of the time. Seeing the rare promo video for the original version of "Can I Sit Next to You Girl" can be surprising too, since the band had a Glam Rock image instead of the more "working class" one they have now - Angus Young still had his trademark schoolboy outfit, but in a way that just makes everyone else look weirder in comparison.
Trace Adkins originally sang in a higher, more restrained voice and sometimes went falsetto (most notably on "Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone"). In addition, almost none of his material was overtly sexual or macho (except for "I Left Something Turned On at Home", which even then is played far more lightheartedly). By Chrome in 2001, he began singing in his deeper Badass Baritone and cutting edgier, often more sexualized material such as "Chrome", "Hot Mama", or "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" alongside more impassioned ballads.
Aerosmith's first album is different mostly because Steven Tyler doesn't use his trademark singing voice often, frequently using a lower, bluesier vocal tone instead ("Dream On" can be recognized only when he starts a Metal ScreamTitle Drop).
Alice in Chains started off in 1986 as a glam metal band that was extremely similar to Guns N' Roses, even appearance-wise. If that wasn't different enough, this group was descended from the glam-rock hair band Alice 'n' Chainz (which, aside from having the same vocalist, are not the same band). The latter band are noticeably... different from the famous Grunge band. Their first album, Facelift, has very obvious glam-influence (especially obvious on the second half) in strong contrast to the dark, gloomy heavy metal of their later albums. The lyrics, while far from upbeat/happy, are also a little lighter and less pessimistic.
Considering the all-out storyline of western music: All music written before 1450 may count as one huge Early Installment Weirdness, because even the harmonic rules are "off", compared to later standards. The Ominous Latin Chanting is actually the least weird music from the period.
Early on, Gary Allan had a softer and less raspy singing voice, and his material tended toward the upbeat more often, with positive songs such as "Her Man", "Right Where I Need to Be", "Tough Little Boys", and "Nothing On but the Radio" (although he still had the occasional downer, most notably "Smoke Rings in the Dark"). Then after his wife's suicide in 2005, he seemed to undergo a nearly-permanent Creator Breakdown: his voice became raspier and he began singing falsetto more often, while his material became darker and often introspective (such as "Life Ain't Always Beautiful", "Watching Airplanes", or "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)").
Alter Bridge's first album, One Day Remains, has a far stronger Post-Grunge influence and a heavy Creed feel in its songwriting. It did however have a couple songs (most notably the title track and "Metalingus") that are more like what they'd write later.
Aly And AJ: The first album had more Christian elements than later material.
Andrew W.K.: Everyone knows him for his songs about partying, partying, and even more things related to partying. However a track he recorded when he was 17 would have fans a little....scared
Animusic and its gravity-defying drumsticks in three of the seven videos.
Anthrax: The first album with John Bush, Sound Of White Noise, is a bit different from their later Bush-era albums. Its production is rawer, its songs are more brutal, and Bush uses far more multilayered vocals and high pitched screaming than on the following three albums.
Rodney Atkins: On his 1997 debut single "In a Heartbeat", he sang in a tremolo-heavy voice like Roy Orbison. He is barely recognizable on the single's cover, wearing a pressed shirt and cowboy hat, and sporting a mustache. After a five-year hiatus, he returned as basically an expy of then-labelmate Tim McGraw with the album Honesty. One more hiatus, and he came back again with If You're Going Through Hell, which established his Signature Style: baseball cap and blue jeans, a high gravelly voice, and often-uptempo songs about family and fatherhood.
The Avalanches' El Producto EP did have the same dense layers of samples as their more well-known Since I Left Younote (The parrot sample that would later show up in "Frontier Psychiatrist" even makes an early appearance in "Rap Fever"), but used them to a somewhat trippier and slightly less danceable effect. More importantly, while Since I Left You was instrumental except for sampled vocals, El Producto actually featured the group rapping Word Salad Lyrics over most of the songs.
Avenged Sevenfold's first effort Sounding the Seventh Trumpet (2001) ressembles their later works very little. First, the bassist wasn't Johnny Christ but Justin Sanenote not to be confused with the Anti-Flag frontman, Zacky Vengeance was the sole guitarist, M. Shadows screamed for 90% of the album, and drummer The Rev was in the middle of his 'Pinkly Smooth' period (a Mr. Bungle-inspired side-project). The result was a pretty messy Hardcore Punk album produced with close to no budget under a Belgian label, that featured none of the epic riffing and soloing of later albums (save for the remade intro track "To End the Rapture", recorded after Synyster Gates joined the band as lead guitarist). The album does feature a Power Ballad though, which is pretty jarring. Also, the band didn't have its iconic Deathbat logo yet. The untitled demo made the year before with original bassist Matt Wendt, is even weirder. Their second album Waking the Fallen also qualifies, but to a lesser extent − while it has a melodic Metalcore style and still a lot of screaming, the core of their later material is already there, and the final track "And All Things Will End" largely prefigures the style of City of Evil.
Ayria's style has always generally been electro-industrial/futurepop, but her first album, Debris, is definitely lighter and more trance-influenced than later productions.
Their second album, Into the Unknown, wasn't a punk album at all but a PROGRESSIVE ROCK album!
Even their first album How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, which was punk, is more Hardcore Punk-influenced than most of their better-known material, with rougher production, less melodic vocals, and none of the harmonies that became part of the band's signature sound. You could say that on their first album, the music was recognizable as Bad Religion, but the vocals weren't, whereas on their second album, the exact opposite was true.
Beastie Boys started out as a punk rock group. No, really! That didn't last long, however- they quickly realized that punk wasn't going to be profitable and switched to rap. Considering how successful they were, it was probably a wise choice - specially as their musical instruction allowed for songs where they played the musical backing such as "Sabotage". The unexpected success of early single "Cooky Puss" was what eventually led them to start performing hip-hop, but even that release was pretty far from what they'd sound like on their first full album: The title song was a parody of instrumental breakdance music, with crank-calls to a Carvel restaurant as the only non-sampled vocals, while the only b-side that wasn't a "Cooky Puss" remix was "Beastie Revolution", a dub reggae jam note the liner notes to the Some Old Bullshit compilation explain that for these sessions, they ended up in a studio normally used for commercial jingles and couldn't get their punk songs to sound the way they wanted with the equipment provided, so they just started messing around with other styles.
First, they were originally a "punk" band (or whatever the late '50s/early '60s equivalent of punk was) who had much shorter hair than we remember; performed in a surly, indifferent manner; ate fried chicken onstage (leaving the bones behind them); and sneered at the audience. In general, they were probably more performance artists than musicians in those days. Then there was their firstthreealbums, which were more guitar-oriented pop-rock music. It wasn't until Beatles for Sale that they started to find their artistic footing. They didn't completely go from the Fab Four to artists until Rubber Soul, which included much more experimental songs, and Revolver, which began the psychedelic rock sound that would emerge fully formed in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Ludwig van Beethoven's early period (particularly the years while he lived in Bonn) is both heavily influenced by Mozart and Haydn, and radically different to the later pieces such as the 5th and 6th Symphonies when he had developed his own style.
Big & Rich: Before the band was founded, members Big Kenny and John Rich cut solo albums (which went unreleased until 2005). Although Big & Rich's music was silly, fun country-rock with some rap, Big Kenny's solo album was more indebted to synthpop and psychedelic rock, and John Rich's was largely slick commercial late-90s country-pop outside a few tracks like "She Brings the Lightning Down" that hinted at the lavishness of Big & Rich.
Blind Willie McTell, known for his mastery of the 12-string guitar, recorded two songs with a 6-string in his first session and then never again. However, he was often backed by 6-string player Curly Weaver.
Garth Brooks' debut album was noticeably more mainstream than his distinctive rock and pop influences on later work, even though "The Dance" remains among one of his most beloved songs. In particular, "Not Counting You" sounds like it could've been cut by nearly any guy in a cowboy hat.
Luke Bryan's debut album I'll Stay Me is by far his most country-sounding. The sound is twangier and more fiddle-driven, with more authentically country imagery, and an overall closer resemblance to Billy Currington's "Good Directions", which Luke wrote just before his breakout. There are no melancholy guitar-driven ballads like "Do I" or "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye", and especially no "bro-country" like "That's My Kind of Night" (although a few later releases like "Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Every Day" and "Most People Are Good" have proven that he can shift back to the older sound if he wants).
Captain Beefheart fans who stumble across his first album, 1967's Safe as Milk, will be shocked to find that it's relatively normal, with very little of the weirdness that would appear in Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby. (Early Installment Lack-of-Weirdness?) Captain Beefheart actually started out as a solid blues/rock band in the tradition of The Yardbirds or The Rolling Stones in their early days. What's even crazier is that Captain Beefheart were a featured artist on American Bandstand when Safe as Milk was released AND Don Van Vliet took questions via phone from a "Bandstand" kid who actually seemed to be a proto-fan.
CDR's 1999 debut was written and released before he had decided on a distinct sound. It's longer and more eclectic than much of his output, yet you'd be hard-pressed to draw a link between it and his later works.
Celtic Woman's first concert focused much more on the solo artists, which makes sense - it was originally intended to be a one-off event at the Helix in Dublin, bringing together five of the biggest names in Irish music. The concert sparked a tour, Celtic Woman exploded onto the World Music scene, and by A New Journey the five artists - and the production team - had gelled into an organic, coherent whole. From A New Journey onward the performances were a pretty solid mix of duets/trios/group numbers and solo numbers, with each of the girls generally having one or two solo songs in the concert, and Celtic Woman had matured into its current form.
Kenny Chesney is another pretty extreme example. When he started out in the early-mid 90s, he sang in a very twangy voice, and had a very commercial "neotraditionalist" country sound akin to nearly any other young hunk in a cowboy hat. By the end of the decade, his voice started getting less nasal and his material became slick country-pop that also fit in with the time (interestingly, this transitory era produced two of his biggest hits in "How Forever Feels" and "The Good Stuff"). Starting with 2002's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, he moved mostly to where he is now: singing without the slightest hint of twang, and alternating between arena rock, Jimmy Buffett-esque beach country, and slow contemplative acoustic numbers. Much of his material since When the Sun Goes Down has also had an inrospective bent, regardless of tempo, and later albums have found him also downplaying the arena rock somewhat.
Childish Gambino's early work focused on Boastful Raps with plenty of Narm and Painful Rhyme. It wasn't until 2011's Camp that Gambino began finding his voice as a rapper. This trope is even more applicable for people who got into him through his 2013 album Because the Internet, which is a much more experimental Concept Album than Camp, which is more or less straightforward hip hop.
Kelly Clarkson's first album Thankful is quite different from her later albums, as it's considerably softer and more R&B influenced, only occasionally showcasing the hard rock influences that would permeate subsequent albums. Clarkson's voice is also different, sounding more like a Mariah Carey knock-off than the gruff Southern belle she became on Breakaway.
Clutch's first LP, Transnational Speedway League is a gritty metal album with a few lyrical homages to southern life. While there are some of Neil Fallon's trademark spacy lyrics, the blues influence that is currently a hallmark of the band's music is almost nonexistant.
Cocteau Twins: Their trademark sound didn't really emerge until their second full-length album, Head over Heels. The Peppermint Pig EP, their recording debut, sounds more pop, sometimes like a weak imitation of The Police. Garlands, their debut album, has all the instrumentation in place but a Darker and Edgier, more Goth-like sound.
Coldplay are best known for songs based on pianos ("Clocks") or sonic landscapes ("Viva La Vida"), but their debut, Parachutes, is mostly filled with acoustic guitars.
Covenant's first couple of albums were darker and harder, closer to electro-industrial. They didn't take on the familiar Futurepop style until Europa, their third album.
Cult of Luna's self-titled debut album wasn't different from their later sound by much, but was far more hardcore based. The quality improved on the following albums.
Da Yoopers: The Michigan-based group, known mainly for their novelty songs about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are rife with weirdness on their first albums:
In terms of content, 1986's Yoopanese has two completely serious songs ("My Shoes" and "Critics Tune"), two songs with surreal science-fiction references ("Robot Girl" and "I Don't Wanna Glow"), and a parody song ("Road to Gwinn", a parody of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again"). It is also their only album besides 1992's Yoopy Do Wah to have no guest musicians or sketch comedy interludes. Culture Shock still has surreal sci-fi themes on "Chiquito War", along with another song parody in "Rusty Chevrolet" (although that remains one of their signature songs). Both Culture Shock and Camp Fever also contain several covers of traditional Finnish folk songs.
Even their sound was different early on. On the first two albums, Lynn Anderson (not the same woman who sang "Rose Garden"; later known as Lynn Coffey) largely plays an analog synthesizer instead of more traditional keyboards. "Last Frontier", the opening track to Culture Shock, even has a drum machine! Original bassist Jim Pennell gets two turns on lead vocal, singing "Smeltin' USA" on Yoopanese and "Chicquito War" on Culture Shock. Pennell's short-lived replacement, Joe DeLongchamp, sang and wrote the title track to Camp Fever. Finally, most of the second halves of Culture Shock and Camp Fever, even beyond the folk song covers, rely on "folksy" instruments such as jugs, spoons, washboards, and gutbucket bass (interestingly, this includes the Signature Song "Second Week of Deer Camp" from the former). By Yoop It Up, their sound was fully established.
Deep Purple: If you know them primarily as the hard rock band who brought you heavy rock albums like Deep Purple in Rock, Machine Head and Made In Japan then you're in for a surprise with Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969), a Live Album where they perform together with a classical orchestra! Then there's Deep Purple Mk. 1 with Rod Evans on vocals. Their keyboard-heavy Epic Rocking and penchant for bombastic covers made them sound a lot like an English Vanilla Fudge, while Evans' deep, soulful vocals are a sharp contrast to the shrieking, screaming Ian Gillan, who would come on board in mid-1969, ahead of In Rock.
Def Leppard's first two albums On Through the Night and High and Dry have a much more straightforward heavy metal (for the time) sound. Not until Pyromania with a new guitarist and "Mutt" Lange on production duty did their signature melodic hard rock sound coalesce.
Demon Hunter's first album featured heavy Nu Metal influence, and Ryan uses a much different harsh vocal style than he does on all albums succeeding it.
Descendents' first single, "Ride the Wild" / "Hectic World": As opposed to the melodic Hardcore Punk they'd become known for, the two featured songs were sort of a mix of Power Pop and New Wave, prominently featuring a Surf Rock-influenced guitar-playing style with no distortion. In addition, Milo Aukerman hadn't joined the band yet, so members Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo sang one song each. "Ride the Wild" and "Hectic World" were later included on the compilations Bonus Fat and Two Things At Once, and the contrast with the rest of the material can be sort of jarring.
Devo started out as a punk rock band who did crazy things like wear diapers onstage (which is this page's image) before getting into their famous yellow suits and then switching to new wave and gaining the energy domes with Freedom of Choice. Some songs were performed faster at first, and oddly enough, a bootleg recording of a 1978 concert has Jerry's yell of "Satis... FACTIIIIIIIIIION!" in the "Satisfaction" cover simplified to just "SATIS-FACTION!"
Some of the tracks from this era collected on the Hardcore Devo compilations are more profane than anything on their studio albums.
Die Ärzte were marketed as a teeny boyband type of act in the early 1980s (something which they themselves never fully bought into and soon mercilessly lampshaded) and while their "bad boy" image dates to their very first days (their first ever LP angered the Moral Guardians so much it spent years being banned for under 18 years olds), their humor and stage antics only developed into a beloved part of their routines much later into their career. The predecessors of Rodrigo Gonzalez at the bass also got in way fewer words edgewise (despite Sahnie's protestations that the band "needed his face" shortly before being kicked out)
Ronnie James Dio is best known for his work with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, but he initially started out in the late 1950s... as a teeny-bopper doo-wop musician. His work with Ronnie and The Red Caps and Ronnie Dio and The Prophets is vastly different from anything he would spend the majority of his career on, with the former band cranking out this Frankie Avalon-esque number circa 1961. Ronnie and the Prophets, on the other hand, were dangerously close to Lou Christie territory with this particular song from 1967. Even Dio's pre-Rainbow band Elf was more hard rock than heavy metal, as evidenced by this cover of The Faces' "Stay With Me".
Dixie Chicks were originally a bluegrass quartet consisting of Martie Maguire, Emily Irwin Robison, and lead vocalists Robin Lynn Macy and Laura Lynch, the former of whom left in 1993 over Creative Differences. Lynch left on good terms just before the band signed with Sony, and Natalie Maines took her place. With Maines at the forefront, the band shifted from straight-up bluegrass to country-pop with a bluegrass influence, which kept them as A-listers until a creator-killing remark from Maines in 2003.
Dream Theater's first album, When Dream and Day Unite, is the only album by them to feature Charlie Dominci as the lead vocalist. The album is the most metal-oriented of any of their releases (even more than Awake or Train of Thought), being a Power Metal album that is informed by prog rock but owes far more to Fates Warning and Crimson Glory than to Yes. The songs are shorter and less elaborate (none reach the nine minute mark and several are under five minutes), John Myung is much more active in the bass, and John Petrucci plays a lot more riffs and fewer solos. Their next album, Images and Words, brought a new singer in James LaBrie and a more accessible sound that is as much Progressive Rock as metal and ultimately defined them as a band.
Dualtone Records was originally a country music label, having released albums by David Ball, McBride & the Ride, Radney Foster, and Chely Wright among others; their first chart hit was Ball's late-2001 single "Riding with Private Malone". Over time, the country artists were replaced by more folk artists such as Shovels & Rope and The Lumineers.
Eisenfunk: The Industrial/EBM band's self-titled first album was nothing special compared to other bands. The only thing that distinguished them from others was the heavy use of electronic music and sampling. In their next album, 8-Bit, they kept the electonic music but overhaluled everything else, becoming much Lighter and Softer (and humorous) and incorporating numerous references to geekdom. It was these changes that made them well known. Their third album, Pentafunk stayed the course (for most part), leaving Eisenfunk as the odd ball album.
Eminem's first albumInfinite had more of a low-key feel and sounded more like the other hip-hop artists of the time that inspired him, and even contained less profanity. It wasn't until The Slim Shady EP and The Slim Shady LP that Eminem established his more "unique" style and his eponymous psychotic alter-ego, as well as more story elements in his tracks.
Evanescence had an early demo EP of slow, almost dirge-like music with lots of quiet pianos and a violin. They quickly evolved into a rock band, but there's a large catalog of demos and unreleased songs that occasionally veer into other genres, and the loud guitars weren't prevalent until the release of Fallen.
Sara Evans' debut album Three Chords and the Truth in 1997 was far more traditional than everything that came afterward. It even had covers of Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, and Bill Anderson. Her second album, despite having her Breakthrough Hit in the lush pop ballad "No Place That Far", also had some more twangy traditional sounding material such as "Cryin' Game", and vocal contributions from George Jones and Alison Krauss. From Born to Fly onward, she had fully established her more pop-sounding style of country.
Fear Factory initially sounded nothing like they are known for. Their early material up to the first album, Soul of a New Machine, had a much rawer sound and their music featured a strong death metal/grindcore influence. Compare this with all their subsequent releases; if you're unfamiliar with the band, you might be shocked by the difference.
Florence + the Machine's "Kiss with a Fist" is more rock-esque than the rest of Lungs, due to being an earlier recording. Even earlier tracks that have more indie rock vibes.
Radney Foster: As half of Foster & Lloyd in The '80s, he pursued a slick country-rock sound with a bit of an edge (as exemplified on "Crazy Over You"). As a solo artist from The '90s onward, his sound became softer and twangier, and his lyrics more thoughtful and introspective (such as his biggest solo hit, "Nobody Wins").
Robin Fox: The One-Hit Wonder's early works, such as "Seduction", recorded in 1999 but not released until 2004, were nothing like the trance of I See Stars, consisting mainly of funky house with a touch of breakbeat.
Glenn Frey: As a Michigan teen in the mid-'60s, he played with the Mushrooms, faking an English accent in their song "Such a Lovely Child". Meanwhile, in Texas, Don Henley was lead singer and drummer for Felicity, his voice instantly recognizable in songs like "Hurtin'". Either way, it's a far cry from what they'd put out as members/creative leaders of Eagles.
The Frozen Autumn's first album, Pale Awakening, consisted mostly of ballads, rather than their trademark driving mid-uptempo darkwave style.
Gaither Vocal Band: Today, the band is primarily known as the face of gospel impresario Bill Gaither's Homecoming tours, which are strongly southern gospel oriented. The band itself has a strange history. They were formed because of Gaither's love of southern gospel quartet music, but their first album contained only a few songs one might classify as "southern gospel". By the mid-80's, there was practically no southern influence on the group's albums at all (though they held to the four-part structure). By the early 90's, they could easily be thought of as adult contemporary. Then came Homecoming, intended to be the band's last album, wherein Gaither did what he always wanted to do; gathered a number of his southern gospel heroes in one room to record a song together. After that he re-invented the group as a southern gospel quartet, and hasn't looked back since. True, their sound is still very progressive for southern gospel, and Gaither claims that he doesn't limit the sound of the group to a single genre, but he's not fooling anyone; the GVB is a southern gospel quartet (and as of 2009, a quintet).
Genesis: The first album, From Genesis to Revelation, featured shorter, more straightforward songs far closer to baroque pop and art rock than their well-known brand of progressive rock. Their second album, Trespass, though far more progressive, was still slower and more folk-based. Nursery Cryme was their first album to truly show their talent at making lively and complex progressive rock; the rest is history.
Vince Gill: Listen to his 1980s work on RCA Records versus his 1990s and 2000s material for MCA Records. The RCA material reverberates the hell out of his voice and throws it up against walls of keyboards (par for the course in the 1980s), while the MCA material shows him exploring mainstream country, traditional country and bluegrass with equal skill. And before that is his tenure in Pure Prairie League, where his phrasing was a bit more stuffy, and the material more 80s soft rock/AC than he would later become.
The Go-Go's: Another band that sounded a hell of a lot more "punk" at the beginning of their career. They who got their start in punk clubs before significantly turning up the pop quotient and transforming themselves into more of a '60s beat combo-type band.
Goldfrapp are constantly changing styles, so those more acquainted with the electro/dance of Black Cherry, Supernature and Head First will probably be quite surprised at Felt Mountain, their first album, which was incredibly trippy and about as far from dance as it gets.
Selena Gomez mentioned that when making her first album as "Selena Gomez And The Scene", Kiss + Tell, she hadn't yet decided on a style, so she imitated all of her favorite female singers. The album explores pop-rock, pop-punk, new wave, electro-dance and hip-hop styles in a way she wouldn't for the rest of her career. It was only when the synth-electro-dance-styled "Naturally", her personal favorite, became a Top 10 hit, that the style for her next two albums would be decided on.
Delta Goodrem's first single ("I Don't Care") and the first two videos she recorded were decidedly pop to take advantage of the trend of the time. It was 2001 and she was finding her feet, but contrast incredibly with her Innocent Eyes and Mistaken Identity albums, which are Singer/Songwriter and extremely autobiographical.
The Goo Goo Dolls started off with bassist Robby Takac as the lead vocalist. The musical style matched the rougher vocals. John Rzeznik didn't sing on any tracks until the third album, Hold Me Up, and didn't really take over as the lead singer until the sixth album, Dizzy Up the Girl, which still featured a few tracks sung by Takac, and harder tracks sung by Rzeznik. Fans who bought the album for "Iris" were probably a bit surprised, but wouldn't even have recognized the band on their self-titled debut album. Fans who started with Let Love In would be even more surprised by their early works.
Green Day's first 2 albums were produced at indie label Lookout! Records and feature a noticeable lack of polish than their later albums. Their first album also featured their original drummer John Kiffmeyer rather than Tré Cool, who'd join Billie and Mike on their second album when Kiffmeyer left the band to go to college. They also feature a more straight Punk sound than they're usually known for. Their third album became a giant hit and revolutionized what we call Pop Punk nowadays. After that, the rest of their 90s output into Warning went either darker or experimental. Hell, Warning was their most Pop-friendly album at that point and features a lot of Folk elements. It was only when they lost the master tapes to Cigarettes and Valentines that was supposed to bring them back to how they used to be that they decided to produce their magnum opus, American Idiot, and reinvented themselves as political Punk rockers and Rock Opera producers, which they continued into their next album before producing the trilogy to try again to hearken back to what they used to be, then decided to mix the best elements of their best albums to produce Revolution Radio, which has a good mix of both political and non-political songs.
Ellie Goulding is well known for her well-polished brand of Synth-Pop and general Electronic Music. However, her debut album Lights was much less professionally produced, and more along the lines of indietronica. Also, there were prominent folk influences that never show up today.
Hunter Hayes was originally a Cajun musician who had been playing professionally since age 4 and cut his first album at 8. His major-label debut "Storm Warning" was a punchy country-rock song, but the rest of his career has been defined by lightweight teen pop-styled country as exemplified by "Wanted" only one single later.
Walker Hayes (no relation) started out with a country rock sound comparable to Eric Paslay or Frankie Ballard, with whom he shared producer Marshall Altman. This sound was exemplified on his debut single "Pants". But after his album for Capitol Recordsnever materalized due to single underperformance, he disappeared for six years. He returned in 2017 with a style clearly influenced by Sam Hunt, with very wordy songs that consist mostly of half-sing/half-talking over an electronic beat, as exemplified by Hayes's Breakthrough Hit "You Broke Up with Me". (This is likely due to a second producer overlap, as the corresponding album was produced by Hunt's producer Shane McAnally.)
Helalyn Flowers: The gothic rock band's first album had a rather Industrial Metal-influenced sound. With their second album, they went somewhat Lighter and Softer and focused more on synthesizers, giving it a darkwave vibe.
The Hellacopters: The Swedish rock band were clearly rawer and angrier on their first two albums Supershitty to the Max! and Payin' the Dues, garage punk albums with a clear The Stooges and MC5 influence. In Grande Rock onwards, vocalist Nicke Andersson shifted to a more melodic singing style, with the band transitioning from pure garage rockers to a garage-influenced, yet melodic hard rock band.
Faith Hill originally recorded mainstream female-oriented country music in The '90s, with songs that could just as easily have been cut by Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, or any other leading lady of the time. But starting with her duet with Tim McGraw on "It's Your Love" in 1997, she soon pushed to a more lushly produced, bombastic, pop style, culminating in her crossover smash "Breathe" in 1999-2000.
Hot Hot Heat started out with a much heavier, Post-Hardcore / "synthpunk" sound, original vocalist Matthew Marnik mainly did a lot of screaming, and part of their signature style was that rather than have a lead guitarist, they had Steve Bays play lead synthesizer. After adding guitarist Dante DeCaro and having Bays take over on vocals (as well as synthesizer), they started playing the catchy New Wave Music and Dance-Punk they're known for now. Scenes One Through Thirteen, a compilation of their earliest material, hardly sounds like the same band as their other releases.
The Human League were one of several bands who pioneered dark synthpop, recording two very dark albums, Reproduction and Travelogue. A few years later, they dropped two of their original members, hired two female vocalists and gradually began turning into a pop-disco band, the most infamous example being Crash. They were eventually ridiculed for their change in sound and have begun re-embracing their old style. It should be noted that the two members who left the original lineup (Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh) were those who formed the band originally, but were actually fired by the singer they hired (Phil Oakey). As a result they formed the band Heaven 17 with the singer they originally intended for The Human League (Glenn Gregory), so it turned out alright for them too.
Hunters And Collectors took their name from aCan song, but you wouldn't know it from the "Oz Rock" or "Pub Rock" sound they cultivated from Human Frailty onwards. However, in their early years they released two albums and two EPs that reveled in the sound of Krautrock with a bit of post-punk thrown in. Their third album The Jaws of Life takes those influences and applies them to traditional song structures and is considered by some to be their best, but their mid 80s to early 90s work garnered more acclaim and especially more sales.
Ill Nino has always been a metal band about evolution, but if you're familiar with their discography's second half, their first few albums will sound absolutely jarring. Seriously, compare All the Right Words to La Epidemia. It's like hearing Linkin Park turn into All Shall Perish. The difference is absolutely staggering.
Imagine Dragons had female backup singers on their early EPs, while today the band consists only of male musicians.
Insane Clown Posse are best known (at least by those not in their hatedom) for their Horrorcore stylings and elaborate "Dark Carnival" mythology. Almost all of this is missing from the first "Joker's Card", Carnival of Carnage, which is for the most part straight-up gangsta rap more in line with the group's original incarnation as the Inner City Posse, which is even more surprisingly different from their current style. The only real similarity between tracks like "Life At Risk" and their recent songs are the bleak picture sometimes painted by the lyrics. As the Inner City Posse (named after their actual street gang at the time), they didn't even wear their signature paint, and had a third rapper in the mix: Shaggy 2 Dope's brother, known as John Kickjazz (which made the "Posse" thing make a lot more sense). Their "Dark Carnival" style is a result of the group wanting to try something new after realizing that every other rapper out there was doing gangsta rap, making it hard for ICP to distinguish themselves.
In This Moment: Comparing their older music videos and their future ones is especially jarring. Compare The Promise from 2010 and Beautiful Tragedy from 2011 to 2014's Big Bad Wolf and Sick Like Me. Their sound and especially music videos make them seem like two different bands. Their older videos were far less theatric and their songs more subdued sounding. You wouldn't have called Maria Brink "the Lady Gaga of metal" several years ago.
Iron Maiden, under original vocalist Paul Di'Anno, had a patently punk vibe that lasted for the two original albums. Then (in order from each album following the second), guitarist Adrian Smith, vocalist Bruce Dickinson and drummer Nicko McBrain joined the band and they started showing their more familiar sound. If one compares the songs from the album The Final Frontier with Killers or The Number of the Beast, one might think of three completely different bands (and that's not counting the period when Blaze Bayley was the singer).
Janet Jackson's first two albums, released in 1982 and 1984, were little more than failed rehashes of big brother Michael's Off the Wall album. However, Janet's second album flopped around the same time she turned 18 and was finally free to control her own career independent of her family's influence. So she moved to Minneapolis to work with funk producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, known for their work with Prince, and her 1986 breakthrough album Control became a smash success.
Michael Jackson: If you're only familiar with him through the scandals of the decade before he died, even the album cover of Thriller is a little jarring. But going back even further, his first actual solo album was 1972's Got To Be There which was released when Michael was 13 going on 14. It kicks off with a more-than-respectable cover of "Ain't No Sunshine," but from that point forward is incredibly ballad-heavy and even the more well-known stuff ("Rockin' Robin" and the title song) don't even hint at any aspect of the post-disco dance pop of the '80s. His next three albums are more of the same, and even Off the Wall was far more disco/quiet storm than one might expect from his later work. No rock crossovers or anthemic ballads about saving the world. If you know Jackson mostly as the singer of paranoid songs where he screams in anger and lets out many of his trademarked high yells you'll be surprised that most of his output before Thriller is rather happy and cheerful without any "a-hi-hi"'s thrown in for good measure.
Japan's first album Adolescent Sex is camp glam rock with frequent use of the words 'dancing' and 'babe' and vocals delivered in quite a high range. Japan would become famous for melancholic new romantic music with baritone vocals and oriental influences. So anyone who was into the later stuff picking up their first album out of curiosity without reading about it first would have been shocked. Their second album, 'Obscure Alternatives' is very experimental and has Sylvian singing in both his older falsetto style and his later baritone style, with a mix of both the glam rock songs and the post-punk/new romantic style they would evolve into. Unsurprisingly, David Sylvian wishes Adolescent Sex never existed and that Obscure Alternatives should have been their first album, which is quite a brave statement considering many fans of the band discredit the first two albums entirely and start with their third "Quiet Life", which sounds like the band's signature style coming into place but not being quite there yet. Possibly because of this dramatic change in style, the compilation "Assemblage" was released at the height of their popularity in 1981. It features some of their early work and but also most of their later work that didn't appear on albums.
Jethro Tull: On their first album, This Was, sound like a Cream rip-off. This began to change with their second album, Stand Up, when original guitarist Mick Abrahams left, and front-man Ian Anderson started to monopolize the band's song-writing duties.
Billy Joel is best known for contemplative keyboards-based ballads such as Piano Man. If asked to categorise his music, the listener might think of the pianist in an upmarket bar or restaurant playing jazz-flavoured mellow ballads. But not so in 1970, when he was the keyboards half of an unique heavy metal band called Atilla. Unique as it only had keyboards and drums. They only made one album, the cover of which shows two hirsute barbarians dressed as the eponymous Huns, in an abbatoir amidst what look like horse carcasses. The music isn't much better.
Elton John's first album, Empty Sky, had many psychedelic overtones and Purple Prose lyrics (courtesy of his lyricist Bernie Taupin). The album was relatively lo-fi (on four-track tape) and featured session musicians. Elton's use of session musicians continued until 1972, along with the heavy use of dramatic orchestral accompaniment. The earlier albums were very much in the "singer-songwriter" mold, and had considerably less of a rock feel or band sound as he'd be known for, as he was on a limited budget and his songs contained strict arrangements to the note to conserve money and time. By 1972, Elton decided to use his live backing band (Davey Johnstone on guitar, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums) full-time, recorded in France instead of England, and developed more of a rock feel than previously, making less blatant use of orchestration (though he still used it). The resulting release, Honky Château, featuring the hit "Rocket Man", established the sound he'd be known for, and helped make Elton a superstar.
Jamey Johnson's first major-label album, 2006's The Dollar, was by far his most mainstream. He had only a short, neatly trimmed beard; his delivery was more upbeat; and his songs ranged from early 90s-styled neo-traditionalist country (the title track) to rock- and rap-influenced country-pop ("Rebelicious") in the same vein as Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk", which he co-wrote. After a management change at BNA cut the album short and caused its second single to miss the charts entirely, Johnson's life spiraled out of control, even though a few other artists had cut his songs. He got cleaned up, then grew his hair out much longer, and took on a more "outlaw" image, recording somewhat darker albums that are widely praised for recapturing the spirit of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. The cute, heartwarming When You Coming Home, Dad? story of "The Dollar" is certainly a far cry from him singing about "cocaine and a whore" on "High Cost of Living" (most certainly an autobiographical cut) only one album later, or even the nostalgic "In Color", his only big hit. The Dollar also stands out as his only album not to use the Idiosyncratic Album Theming of the word "song" being in all of his album titles.
Journey was a jazz-based progressive supergroup with a hint of a commercial touch, but mostly with an anti-pop attitude. The first album had relics of Santana (understandable since the guitarist Neil Schon and singer Gregg Rolie were members of Santana's band before starting Journey), the second was more Zeppelin-ish, and the third had influences from (and on) Rush.
Cledus T. Judd has this in spades. His first release, "Indian In-Laws", doesn't match the source material (Tim McGraw's "Indian Outlaw") as closely as his later parodies do, with many notable music variations from the latter. Its B-side was a rap cover of John Anderson's "Swingin'", something that he never did again. The first two albums also had parodies of songs significantly older than the album's release date (for instance, his first in 1994 parodied "Hotel California" and "We Are the World" — which also happen to be among his only non-country parodies — and the second parodied "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", "Jackson", and Sammy Kershaw's 1991 hit "Cadillac Style"). From 1998's Did I Shave My Back for This? onward, he mostly limited himself to songs within a year or two of the album's release date. The first three albums also have more of a Stylistic Suck nature to them with intentionally off-key vocals, missed notes on the instruments, and musical gags, but around Juddmental he began using a more straightforward singing voice and recreating the original arrangements more accurately.
Toby Keith is known for his macho, swaggering, patriotic style. But his albums on Mercury Records in The '90s are dominated by ballads and midtempos about a relationship, such as "Who's That Man", "Me Too", "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You", or "We Were in Love". Debut single "Should've Been a Cowboy", despite being one of his signature songs, also stands out for its romantic cowboy imagery that he never used again (he's done a few more "cowboy" songs since, most notably "Beer for My Horses", but they were far from romantic). In addition, all of his Mercury albums except for 1997's Dream Walkin' (his last for that label) have very dated sounding production with lots of electric piano and reverb, due to being produced by Nelson Larkin instead of James Stroud or Keith himself. The swagger, though occasionally present as early as "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action", didn't really come in full force until he switched from Mercury to DreamWorks Records at the Turn of the Millennium and released the in-your-face "How Do You Like Me Now?!". Despite containing this song and the equally in-your-face Country Rap "I Wanna Talk About Me", his first two DreamWorks albums still had some older-style ballads on them such as "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" and "My List". The Patriotic Fervor didn't show up at all until his post-9/11 song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)", the lead single to his third DreamWorks album, which has informed nearly all of his subsequent albums in one way or another.
Kiss: The second album, Hotter Than Hell (1974), never became a huge hit with anyone other than die-hard Kiss fans, even in the wake of their later mega-stardom, and it's not hard to understand why: the record hardly fits the Kiss stereotype at all. Although the band had their "kabuki/dungeon porn" look by this time (as opposed to their appearance in the original version, Wicked Lester, where they were simply in street clothes and plain whiteface), only about two or three of the songs were similar to "Rock and Roll All Nite" or other classic Kiss hits. "Parasite" was more of a "stoner metal" song (seriously, you can just picture Beavis And Butthead rocking out to it, especially the Anthrax cover version), while "Goin' Blind" has a very low-key, almost '90s alternative sound to it. Quite a few of these songs were written by guitarist Ace Frehley, who had much less of a "pop" sensibility than the other band members.
KMFDM's second (and breakout) album, What Do You Know Deutschland, had more of a proto-EBM or industrial electro type sound, similar to Microchip League, early Ministry, and Nine Inch Nails' first album, rather than their signature Industrial Metal style. Their obscure first album, Opium, was more experimental and thus even weirder. It took a few weird installments for KMFDM to find their sound, with three more albums between "Deutschland" and "Naive" where they really started flirting with industrial metal, even though much of the album still had kind of a dance vibe to it. They were releasing albums for almost a decade before finally doing a full-on industrial metal album with "Angst" (and even that had a couple of dance songs on it).
Korn: Listen to the first album. Then listen to every single other one. Sure, it's all Nu Metal, but none of their work sounds as angry and raw as their first album. Furthermore, there are some noticeable Progressive Metal influences on their first two or three albums, through the inclusion of Throw It In! jamming, multiple riffs and tempo-shifting in songs, elements which gradually disappeared and were simplified afterwards.
Kraftwerk started as a fairly conventional Kraut Rock band, with guitar, drums, bass and flute, before switching to its trademark all-synthesizer sound.
Lady Antebellum didn't have the big, grandiose, orchestral sound (e.g. "Need You Now") that much on their first album. They instead had a bit more of a rock edge, as evidenced on "Love Don't Live Here" and especially "Lookin' for a Good Time". Also, "Love Don't Live Here" stands out as being one of their only singles to be sung entirely by Charles Kelley, while most of their other songs since have been duets between him and Hillary Scott.
Lady Gaga: If you met Lady Gaga from "Bad Romance" onward, listening to The Fame will be weird, as it's mostly standard electropop with a bit of Genre Roulette (including two piano ballads, a pop-rock song, and even a rap song) that mostly lacked the Darker and Edgier shock-rock/pop overtones from the newer tunes (except maybe "Paparazzi").
It wasn't so much that The Fame was out-of-place so much as just... different from her next two releases. The Fame Monster was intentionally different, and Born This Way mostly continued the "darker and edgier" style mentioned above. From there on out, fans just sort of expected this to be her style (particularly Born this Way, as it was largely devoid of the "fun" songs prevalent throughout The Fame, instead going for a more serious approach). In any case, the fans expecting this to be Gaga's permanent style was more of a knee jerk reaction to a singer whose career was still relatively young. To the surprise of some fans, ARTPOP ended up largely going back to The Fame's style with its own unique vibes, as mentioned below.
Even more jarring is her pre-Gaga work as the namesake of the Stefani Germanotta Band. Their one EP, Red and Blue, features mostly (as phrased by Gagapedia) "female-vocal ballads with a glam rock edge," very similar in style to her acoustic versions of "Poker Face" and "Paparazzi". Though the title track is more in the vein of No Doubt than anything else.
Her most recent solo album, ARTPOP, bears a lot more similarities to The Fame, with its varying genres and electropop overtones (though not without plenty of its own unique qualities). Gaga even sports her signature fringe bangs on the cover art.
Linkin Park, in their Hybrid Theory EP era circa 1998-99, had a fairly creepy and somber sound with somewhat less conventional song structures than their next two albums (before they switched to U2-like alt-rock and then to an indietronica sound).
Little Big Town's Self-Titled Album in 2002 was a lot more slick and polished, making them sound more like a generic country vocal group than the earthy sound they had on subsequent albums. Also, despite the group's reputation as a Vocal Tag Team, both of the singles were sung by Kimberly Schlapman (then Kimberly Roads) and Philip Sweet — in comparison, their second through fourth were more varied (with some singles, such as their Breakthrough Hit "Boondocks", even featuring all four singing in polyphony), while the ones after that have relied almost exclusively on lead vocals from Karen Fairchild (including their biggest crossover hits, "Girl Crush" and "Better Man").
Lonestar: The Country Music band was radically different on their first two albums. Besides the fact that John Rich (who would later become famous as one-half of Big & Rich) sang lead a few times on said albums, their debut has honky-tonk and country-rock influences not far removed from Brooks & Dunn or Shenandoah; unsurprising, since those two acts and Lonestar were all produced by Don Cook. The second, 1998's Crazy Nights, is more breezy and somewhat Eagles influenced soft-rock. From 1999's Lonely Grill (the first album without Rich) onward, they switched to producer Dann Huff and dove headfirst into slick country-pop that only got more bombastic and theatrical over time, while Rich's departure left Richie McDonald as the sole lead vocalist. They also became a lot Lighter and Softer, with more songs about family, domestic bliss, and love. It's just hard to believe that their first #1 was the edgy, humorous "No News"; their third was the Power Ballad "Amazed"; and their last two were the soccer mom-friendly, Tastes Like Diabetes "My Front Porch Looking In" and "Mr. Mom". According to band members, their Lighter and Softer sound from "Amazed" onward was the result of Executive Meddling, which ultimately led to McDonald leaving the group from 2007 to 2011.
Dustin Lynch's debut single "Cowboys and Angels" sticks out as it has a twangy, traditional country sound, while all of his other singles have been very slick, polished, rock and rap-influenced country similar to Jason Aldean. It would be easy to brand nearly all of his post-"Cowboys" releases as "bro-country".
Bob Marley: During most of the 1960s he sounded more like a smooth Motown soul singer. Marley was inspired by The Impressions and almost sounds like an exact copy. The topics of his early songs are often childlike and banal: "Mr. Chatterbox" is about the irritating aspects of radio, for instance! Also, he only became a Rastafari after 1965. The studio version of No Woman, No Cry (1974), found Natty Dread sounds almost comedic, compared to the much slower, dramatic and famous live version found on the album Live (1975).
Maroon 5's early stuff has a bit more soul/jazz influence. That Other Wiki lists one of the genres for their debut Songs About Jane as "blue-eyed soul". If you listen to the demo versions of "Harder to Breathe" and "Sunday Morning" (released as part of the 10th anniversary edition of Songs About Jane), the R&B influence is even more evident. Their later albums are almost completely pop-rock and, starting with Overexposed, electropop. The band started out as a Jellyfish-likePower Popquartet called Kara's Flowers in the mid-1990s, with Adam Levine as the band's sole guitarist.
Louis Marullo: This is Louis as a 12-year-old boy fronting a preteen band called The Kids. This is Mr. Marullo all grown up, as Manowar vocalist Eric Adams.
Kathy Mattea is known for her folk/bluegrass influenced country music. But on her first album from 1984, her sound was a lot more slick and polished, with far more electric guitars and synthesizers (such as on her debut single "Street Talk"). It also features a cover of a Barry Manilow song, which is a total contrast to her more established sound.
Matthew Good Band: The first two albums, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts and Underdogs are decidedly different from the next album, Beautiful Midnight, and miles away from Good's solo work. The sound is different (Astronauts in particular is fond of guitar-strumming instead of the guitar-playing in later albums), the themes are different, and the lyrics are much heavier on repetition. They're not bad albums, but the jump from Underdogs to Beautiful Midnight, or from either to Avalanche (Good's first solo album) is jarring.
Martina McBride had a very neo-traditionalist sound on her 1992 debut album The Time Has Come, before adding a little more pop influence. Even her breakthrough hits from the mid-1990s ("My Baby Loves Me", "Independence Day", "Wild Angels", etc.) can seem like this compared to the much slicker, poppier, melismatic sound she developed as early as "A Broken Wing" in 1997. There's also the fact that from about "A Broken Wing" onward, she started getting a serious case of Issue Drift.
Tim McGraw was a lot more mainstream on his early albums. His little-known self-titled debut has his only song to date not produced by Byron Gallimore ("What Room Was the Holiday In"), and the video for "Welcome to the Club" has him strumming a guitar, something he hasn't done since. His breakthrough albums Not a Moment Too Soon and All I Want relied heavily on novelty numbers like "Indian Outlaw" (his Breakthrough Hit) and "I Like It, I Love It", along with slick ballads like "Not a Moment Too Soon" or "She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart" that could've been done by just about anyone in a cowboy hat. Starting around 1997, he started to move into a mature and more pop-oriented sound as seen by the crossover successes of "It's Your Love" and "Please Remember Me", respectively the lead-off singles from Everywhere (1997) and follow-up A Place in the Sun (1999). Even on these songs, though, his voice was still fairly high and whiny. He didn't settle into his slightly lower register until around the next album, 2001's Set This Circus Down. Dspite the marked change in sound, "Indian Outlaw", "I Like It, I Love It", and "Not a Moment Too Soon" remain among his Signature Songs.
Sarah Mclachlan's first album, Touch, is very strange sounding, mostly because Mclachlan hadn't mastered her vocal ability at the time.
The Meat Puppets are primarily associated with indie and Alternative Rock, but got their start as an abrasively noisy Hardcore Punk band. The only hints at their future direction on their self-titled album were a pair of country covers, "Walkin' Boss" and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds", which hinted at the country-punk style they'd develop on Meat Puppets II. Especially odd is Curt Kirkwood's Vocal Evolution - he spent much of the first album yowling and shrieking unintelligibly, as opposed to the more sleepy-sounding, monotone vocals he'd start using later on.
Melvins are known for slow, heavy songs and Epic Rocking, but started as a Hardcore Punk band with fast tempos and songs that were generally under two minutes long.
Mercury Rev: The first two albums bear the influence of Pink Floyd filtered through punk and noise bands, with some elements of world music and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. In other words, nothing like the Lighter and Softer (but fucking awesome) band's breakthrough fourth album Deserter's Songs. The aptly named third album See You on the Other Side sounds closer, but is more of a palette cleanser than a bridge between the two eras.
Merzbow, of all people. His earlier stuff put far more emphasis on avant-garde than it did noise. For example, compare Merzbient (a box set of twentysomething-year-old recordings on CD) with the more recent (2009-2010) 13 Japanese Birds series.
Metallica's Kill 'Em All contains some weirdness that wouldn't be found in their next several albums. James Hetfield sings in more of a "shriek" than on later albums, and the album has two songs ("Hit the Lights", "Whiplash") with lyrics that are, in Hetfield's words, "Sort of Judas Priest, 'let's go rock out..'", contrasting with their later releases which tend to be about social or political issues.
While the music is as fast, loud and optimistic as they arguably never repeated, the production is kind of muddy and the instruments are hard to discern (particularly the drums).
This is not to mention their pre-Kill 'Em All demos, featuring original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine. "Thrash" is not the word that comes to mind when listening to the demo song "the Mechanix"note which Metallica rewrote as "The Four Horsemen", while Mustaine retained it as the faster "Mechanix" on Megadeth's debut. Hetfield, imitating English vocalist Sean Harris, sings in a glam rock style and puts on an English accent on occasion while singing Mustaine-penned lyrics about sex. The guitar solos are different for these songs, because Mustaine's replacement Kirk Hammett rewrote them.
Metric: When they first formed in 1998, they had a different stage name (Mainstream) and very different musical output compared to their later releases. The "Mainstream" EP had little to none of the signature sound the group would codify on "Static Anonymity" and "Old World Underground", was much more downtempo and electronica-based, and didn't have supporting bandmates Joules Scott-Key and Joshua Winstead (they hadn't joined the band yet).
Ministry's first album With Sympathy was a synth pop album in which Al Jourgensen attempted to sing in a fake British accent. Their next album, Twitch is an album of aggressive EBM. Neither prepared anyone for their third album, The Land of Rape and Honey, which premiered the harsh industrial sound they became famous with. Jourgensen hasdisownedWith Sympathy, calling it "an abortion" and reportedly buying and destroying every copy of it he runs across, and has been varying in his press statements on Twitch.
Their debut single, "Cough/Cool" b/w "She", was pretty typical for the Glenn Danzig-fronted version of the band... Except for the fact that it was recorded by a lineup that was temporarily without a guitarist, so in addition to singing, Danzig also filled in the rhythm by playing electric piano. In a way, it sort of worked: Turns out if you take early Misfits and replace the guitar with a keyboard, it sort of sounds like a Punk Rock version of The Doors. Both songs were later re-recorded with proper lead guitar.
Likewise, the entire early 80s period for the band is much darker in tone, as Glenn focused heavily on themes of death and murder. Jerry Only would maintain much of this when the band reformed in the 90s, but the overall theme toned it down some and allowed Jerry to experiment more with references to campy 50s-era music styles and movies. Sound production quality is also much higher than in the early days, mostly due to the band actually having better equipment now. Danzig would maintain the overall dark themes with his solo career though it would result in him being more or less a One-Hit Wonder as a result (unless you're a regular fan of his music, odds are "Mother" is the only one of his songs you are familiar with).
The Moody Blues are commonly known as one of the codifiers of psychedelic, progressive, and symphonic rock, with songs like "Nights in White Satin", "Tuesday Afternoon", and "Question" blending classical and popular influences, and prominently featuring flute solos from Ray Thomas, the symphonic textures of the mellotron courtesy of Mike Pinder, and spoken poems written by drummer Graeme Edge. You'd never guess that their first album, 1965's The Magnificent Moodies, was straightforward R&B (hence why they're called the Moody Blues) as sung by lead guitarist Denny Laine, exemplified by their chart-topping cover of Larry Banks and Milton Bennett's "Go Now". Within two years, Laine and bassist Clint Warwick left the band and were replaced by Pinder and Thomas' former El Riot and the Rebels bandmate John Lodge on bass and Wilde Three guitarist Justin Hayward, Pinder started using a mellotron instead of a piano, and the band were introduced to producer Tony Clarke... and the rest is history.
My Chemical Romance tries new things on every album, but compare I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love to Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. The difference is astounding, every member had improved and it gave the band the sound they're best known for.
Willie Nelson began his country music career in the early 1960s as a clean-cut young man in sedate, tailored suits and ties. This is not a joke. (His musical output was more along the lines of what one would've expected from him, i.e. mainstream classic country material not that far from what he's performed in the last 35 years.)
Olivia Newton-John was a country-pop singer early on, with songs such as "Let Me Be There" and "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" that sounded completely in line with other mid-70s country-pop ladies. Over time, the few remaining country elements disappeared, leaving her more familiar style as exemplified by the Grease soundtrack and her Signature Song "Physical".
Nickelback's debut Curb and the follow-up album The State were a far cry from the Post-Grunge Pop-Rock sound that they're famous for. Those albums were much more in the vein of Godsmack as they were much heavier with more of an alt-metal/hard rock sound and Chad Kroeger's vocal style was much louder with a lot more screaming. It wasn't until Silver Side Up that Nickelback found their signature sound.
Nico & Vinz's first album, The Magic Soup and the Bittersweet Faces (recorded under the name Envy), is a hip hop album completely different from the Afro-pop on Black Star Elephant that would grant them international success.
Nine Inch Nails: The first album, Pretty Hate Machine, was heavily influenced by the new wave music that Trent Reznor had previously performed, and sounds almost like a darker version of Depeche Mode. It would take Broken and The Downward Spiral to transform the band to the industrial metal its known for.
Nirvana's debut album, Bleach, takes massive influence from heavy metal - it could reasonably be labelled "punk metal" (if avoiding the term "grunge") - and sounds like a combination of Soundgarden and The Melvins. Grunge music was forced on them by the producers, as the grunge scene was already huge in Seattle by that point. Cobain expressed disdain for this album in later years.
Although Nirvana are considered grunge (usually by people who haven't heard of Alice in Chains or Soundgarden), they didn't reach massive success until they largely ditched grunge and released the commercially-accessible Nevermind, their most famous album, in 1991... which is what most people consider to be grunge.
The Oak Ridge Boys were originally a gospel group, and none of the four most famous members (Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban, William Lee Golden) were in the original lineup. That lineup was not in place until 1973, by which point the group had already begun its transition to country music, culminating in their first Top 10 country hit "Y'all Come Back Saloon" four years later.
Oomph!: The German NDH band's first album in 1992 was considered to be an Electronic Body Music album. Their second album, Sperm (1994) had much more of an industrial metal sound, while retaining some EDM influences. It is considered to be the first NDH album, inspiring artists such as Eisbrecher, Unheilig, Megaherz, and most famously, Rammstein.
Orchestral Manśuvres in the Dark: Listening to their self-titled album for the first time is a strange experience for anyone used to the band's later work. It sounds like Seventies German techno rather than Eighties British synthpop. Even the album version of "Messages" is jarringly different from the later recording that became a hit single.
Emily Osment: The music of the Hannah Montana star might count. Her earlier songs like "Hero In Me" and "I Don't Think About It" are straightforward late-Oughties teen pop, enjoyable, but relatively unremarkable. She hadn't quite found her feet vocally, and the songs were written by outside writers. Her EP, All The Right Wrongs, was more personal and much better sung, and musically more Adult Alternative-influenced and harder-edged. Her full-length debut, Fight Or Flight, is well-crafted, catchy Synth-Pop with more poetic lyrics, and Emily's vocals are are very strong. She's taken a jazzy/acoustic bent with the "Ramshackle" music she's released on YouTube.
Jake Owen is known for recording songs with a mellow, summery vibe such as "Barefoot Blue Jean Night", "Beachin'", and "American Country Love Song", which still have very heavy production. Not so much on his first two albums, which were more driven by subdued ballads such as "Startin' with Me" or hard country-rock such as "Yee Haw" and "Eight Second Ride".
Pantera: Listen to the first works of this band, now known for its heavy, kick-ass "take no shit" music and lyrics, that came out in the early 1980's, then listen to anything from/after Cowboys from Hell. The difference can be...staggering.
While the glam-metal era is a no-brainer, the canon release Cowboys From Hell, while it does have a few songs that are lyrically heavy, is a lot more fun and wild than their later albums (compare the title track for instance to anything out of Vulgar Display).
Parliament and Funkadelic, the influential funk music bands from the 1970s, started out as a Doo-wop group called The Parliaments. The difference between this and this is quite staggering to say the least.
Katy Perry, she of the gravity-defying cleavage and songs about California, alien sex, partying aftermaths, and getting over break-ups with "the eye of the tiger", started out in the Christian music genre before going secular, and made it big thanks to a song about lesbian experimenting. She also recorded folksy self-penned singer-songwriter type music as a Christian musician (under her real name, Katy Hudson [believe it or not]) that was actually really highly regarded by Christian music reviewers. One review even predicted lots of future success for Ms. Hudson/Perry (little did the critic know how successful she'd be, or what her success would be in).
P!nk's first album Can't Take Me Home was standard pop/R&B fare, and while it was moderately successful, critics considered it So Okay, It's Average at best and a TLC knockoff at worst. She took these criticisms to heart, and her next album Missundaztood was more rock while emphasizing the "bad girl" elements hinted at in the previous album. Its success set the course for the rest of her career.
Pink Floyd began in 1965 as the prototypical psychedelic rock band, a band noted for improvisational "freakouts", who were encouraged by record execs to produce hit pop singles. After 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, their bandleader, Syd Barrett, became a tragic acid casualty (he only appears on three songs on A Saucerful of Secrets, and only sings on one), and bassist Roger Waters and new guitarist David Gilmour became vocalists/bandleaders. They spent 1968-72 basically "learning to use their chisels", as Waters would recently put it in a TV documentary, experimenting and slowly forming a group sound and style independent of Barrett, creating Cult Classic albums like Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother in the process. 1971's Meddle was the first work to resemble what we now know as the Pink Floyd sound and style. They also created music for Italian psychedelic art films of largely instrumental tracks, two of which were released as soundtracks: More (1969) and Obscured by Clouds (1972). Fans who realise the existence of the first six or seven albums might barely recognise them prior to their 1973 breakthrough album, The Dark Side of the Moon, by which Waters began to take over as Face of the Band. Here's Syd'sFloyd. Here's "Classic"Floyd.
Ray Price: With the country music legend that had equal success with Western swing-infused honky tonk and the pop-influenced Nashville Sound, his voice did not have its unique, distinctive sound on his very earliest single releases from the 1950-1952 timeframe, including "Jealous Lies" and "Talk To Your Heart," where he sounded much smoother in the vein of a pop balladeer with a country twang. Some well-taken advice from Hank Williams and it wasn't long before the sound fans became familiar with became apparent on songs like "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes" and most notably the two-sided smash hit "I'll Be There"/"Release Me," the first of a string of hits that lasted more than 30 years continuously.
Project Pitchfork's early works, especially the demo album Embryonal Thoughts they produced under the name Demoniac Puppets, were avant garde-type industrial in the vein of The Art of Noise, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. rather then the borderline darkwave/EBM they are better known for.
Queen was more like Led Zeppelin, with much more of a rock feel to them in their early albums. They didn't really hit their stride as a Genre Roulette band until A Night at the Opera, which featured hits like "I'm in Love with My Car", "39", and the wildly popular "Bohemian Rhapsody". Their self-titled debut album in particular featured more morally-focused and religious themes (even including a song called "Jesus"). The latter was almost entirely absent from later releases, until "All God's People" on their Innuendo album 18 years later.
Rammstein: One of their defining traits is their legendary Impressive Pyrotechnics, among the most elaborate and extravagant in the music world. Which makes it all the more jarring to see footage of their earliest shows and realise that said pyrotechnics are entirely absent.
Rascal Flatts sounded very much like a boy band on their first album, particularly on "Prayin' for Daylight" and "This Everyday Love". This basically meant catchy hooky choruses, breezy high-voiced harmonies, and none of the band members playing instruments. By the time the second album came out, they shifted to a more mature country-pop sound, replete with two of the band members playing their own instruments (lead singer Gary LeVox doesn't play anything) and slightly more substantial songs. But even their second and third albums seem radically different than the theatrical, bombastic Power Ballads from "What Hurts the Most" onward; this change was brought on by them switching producers, from Mark Bright to Dann Huff (who is notorious for his bombastic production).
Eddy Raven and his brand of Cajun country came only during his peak in 1987-1990. His very earliest top 40 hits, from the mid-1970s, including "Good News, Bad News" (from 1975) were very much in the country pop vein.
Collin Raye's first two albums display this to a great extent. Other than the Tear Jerker "Love, Me", which is still one of his biggest and most popular songs, the first two albums largely consisted of lightweight, forgettable material with dated production. Starting with 1994 album Extremes (his first with longtime producer Paul Worley), Raye began recording much heavier material that often tackled societal issues, such as a story of a recovering alcoholic ("Little Rock"), women's place in society ("I Think About You"), child abuse ("The Eleventh Commandment"), acceptance ("Not That Different", "What If Jesus Comes Back Like That"), while even his lighter fare such as "That's My Story", "My Kind of Girl", or "Little Red Rodeo" had much more punch to it.
Melinda Kathleen Reese, of the Google Translate Sings series on Youtube, takes well-known songs, runs them through a few layers of Google Translate, then sings the results. Her early videos were quite basic, with her singing in front of a blank wall and including a video of the original music video for comparison. This began to change when she did a translated cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan, which featured Caleb Hyles and some props. By the time she covered "I Just Can't Wait to be King" from The Lion King, she was creating full music videos for the translations and was no longer including videos of the original song with hers. Recent videos have her recording herself singing a line multiple times to create a chorus, or occasionally playing characters in the videos, and sometimes instead of covering a whole song she sings well-known bits of a few different ones in the same video. If you only got into the Google Translate Sings series later on, it can be quite odd to go back to her first video and see how basic it is in comparison.
The Residents: Their earliest known works were remarkably less coherent than their more recent output.
Thomas Rhett's first album was more indebted to "bro-country", with light country-rock songs largely focused on hot women. From about "Die a Happy Man" onward, he began to focus more on richer, smoother songs with a more romantic bent.
Kenny Rogers is best known as a singer of both traditional and pop-influenced country, one of his best known hits being "The Gambler". Early on, though, he was a member of the rock group The First Edition, who had a big hit with the psychedelic rock song "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)", which is about getting high.
The Rolling Stones' musical output was very different in their early years, especially for fans who only know of them based on their last two-three decades of work. Their self-titled debut from 1964 consisted almost entirely of covers (with one original song written by Jagger/Richards), and was heavily R&B-oriented. Their debut tour in the United States was a disaster - television hosts made fun of them for dressing as a ripoff of other successful British Invasion groups like The Beatles, and their former manager/publicist Andrew Oldham removed at least one man from the group because they did not fit the mould of "thin, long-haired boys" wearing identical suits. It was only on 1966's Aftermath that the group began to codify their signature sound, not only making the songs much more otherworldly and darker, but unintentionally ditching the "boy band" image. Also, they became more sexual than The Beatles.
Darius Rucker: Though they were considered an Alternative Rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish had enough folk and blues influences that Darius Rucker's successful solo career as a Country Music singer isn't too surprising. What is surprising is that his solo debut, 2002's Back to Then, was a Neo Soul / Contemporary R&B album with guest appearances by Jill Scott and Snoop Dogg. Darius has since said that while he enjoyed making the album, it's not a style he plans on revisiting anytime soon.
Rush: On their self-titled first album, sounds like just another Led Zeppelin clone. This started to change with their second album, Fly by Night, when drummer Neil Peart joined and took over writing most of the lyrics, although it took another couple of albums until they finally became the Rush pop culture knows them as.
Sabaton now sings almost entirely about historical battles, but didn't settle on this until Primo Victoria. This can lead to a lot of Mundane Made Awesome, as the style's more or less the same, but you're hearing about the exploits of a random biker gang instead of, for instance, the battle of Wizna.
Sawyer Brown: In the 1980s, this was a very bubblegummy country-pop band, noted for their dance moves, pink tennis shoes, and near-total lack of substance. By The Dirt Road in 1991, they began changing to a more mature image and sound, helped in part by lead singer Mark Miller co-writing and co-producing with popular songwriter/producer Mac McAnally, known for his understated style. The change in sound from completely weightless fluff like "Step That Step" or "Betty's Bein' Bad" to the likes of "All These Years" or "Cafe on the Corner" is staggering, and most of their material from roughly 1991-1998 is usually heralded as their best. Even their more upbeat material in that timespan (such as the witty "Thank God for You" or an impassioned cover of Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road") shows massive artistic growth from the 1980s-era band.
Scatman John's first album, under his real name of John Larkin, was more straightforward jazz, as opposed to the eurodance-scat mix he had codified in such songs as "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)".
Screaming Trees: Listening to them evolve from their mid-'80s beginnings to their final album Dust in 1996 is similar to listening to a mid-'60s garage band evolve into an early-mid '70s hard rock band. Consider this 1985 song "Barriers", a garage/new wave-y ditty where Mark Lanegan sounds all of 20 years old. Then listen to the Trees' 1988 song "Ivy" from the album Invisible Lantern. One year later, the Trees started crossing the bridge between psychedelia and grunge/hard rock, as evidenced by songs like "End of the Universe", which features heavier guitars and Lanegan singing in a deeper register.
"England Dan" Seals and John Ford Coley You probably remember Seals and his fellow Texan Coley as the soft-rock duo who gave us hits like "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight". In 1968, they were the mainstays of Southwest F.O.B., a pop-psych group who had a minor hit (No. 56) with "Smell of Incense". For the late Seals, it was a case of Early Installment Weirdness-ception. Before changing their sound and renaming themselves to Southwest F.O.B., the band was known as Theze Few, and they had an upbeat frat rocker called "Dynamite", which was included in the Highs in the Mid-Sixties garage rock anthology. After England Dan and John Ford Coley, Seals went solo, initially sticking to his stage name, but making it big in the mid-'80s under his real name as a country singer.
Sentenced: Late band Sentenced began as this with Taneli Jarva on vocals , and ended like this with Ville Laihiala as his replacement . Consider that the guitarists and drummer are the same in both songs.
Sevendust: If you listen to their later work and then listen to their debut, it's going to sound a little weird. Their self-titled first album had rawer production and was heavier and much rougher than the polished radio-friendly heavy metal sound they are known for.
Shadows Fall's first two albums, Somber Eyes to the Sky and Of One Blood, feature a rather generic, though not bad, Melodic Death Metal sound. It wasn't until their third album that they would develop the thrashy metalcore sound they are famous for. Even the band themselves were sick of getting their early work compared to Swedish melodeath bands, which is why they changed their sound in the first place.
Blake Shelton's first three albums had a twangier and more traditional sound, with cover versions of songs by Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, Earl Thomas Conley, and Johnny Paycheck, along with co-writes from traditionally-minded writers such as Paul Overstreet, Harley Allen, Shawn Camp, and Bobby Braddock (who also produced those albums). He also wore a mullet and sometimes even a cowboy hat. From Pure BS onward, he began taking a slicker, more mainstream sound, and he ditched the hat in favor of a shorter haircut and beard.
Six Feet Under's first two albums bare an uncanny resemblance to Obituary, largely due to Allen West's presence on guitar. It wasn't until Maximum Violence when their signature sound set in.
Skillet's music used to sound very explicitly religious, like a lot of Christian rock groups; Ardent Worship and Hey You I Love Your Soul being the most obvious albums. "Collide" is when they started changing, and their songs began to sound more like mainstream Alternative Rock with various Alternative Character Interpretations. A lot of people don't even notice they're a Christian Rock group nowadays.
Skinless: Progression Towards Evil, the debut album of the Brutal Death Metal band, was almost entirely focused on Toilet Humor and Gorn. Their sophomore album, Foreshadowing Our Demise, still contained a few songs of this nature, but by and large shifted to the Humans Are Bastards and politically-oriented themes that took up the entirety of their last two albums.
Slayer's first album, Show No Mercy, is very different from their later albums. It is (very slightly) slower and much more melodic (as opposed to out-right E-string shredding a la Reign in Blood - it is fast in its own right) and aside from being American and much heavier, is almost downright NWOBHM (in the words of Kerry King, there is some "Iron Maiden [influence] here and there") - to the extent that it's pretty much a Venom tribute album.
Smog's early albums were full of noise experiments and song fragments that sound nothing like the folk and rock Bill Callahan is best known for. If you listen to any of his first three albums and then any of his recent albums, he's unrecognisable as the same vocalist, as his voice got a lot deeper over time. Wild Love (1995) is a transition between the two eras, and in terms of Callahan's voice, you can hear the early and later Callahan in his mid 90s output in general.
Spinto Band had a lot of self-released albums full of Ween-inspiredNeoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly; by the time they got signed they whittled down their influences to something more coherent. From their 2006 album Nice And Nicely Done and on, their style can basically be summed up as a mix of indie, New Wave Music, and Power Pop. Earlier albums like Digital Summer (New Wave Techno Pop) jump from trippy instrumentals to ska to novelty rap.
Split Enz: The majority of their earlier songs could best be described as strange, ethereal ballads, often over six minutes minutes in length. As of their third album they shifted to a much more poppy and mainstream music style (though still fairly quirky).
Rick Springfield had a couple of them way back in 1973, long before he was a chart-smashing phenom who also starred on General Hospital. Not only do these songs not fit under the "Power Pop" category that most people associate with Springfield's music, they also feature very different vocal stylings from Rick that sound nothing like the crooning he became known for in later songs such as "Jessie's Girl".
Status Quo: The long-lasting British band started out in the late 1960s as a psychedelic/prog rock band (during this time, they had their one American hit, "Pictures of Matchstick Men"), before switching in the early 1970s to the guitar boogie style they've maintained ever since. This is parodied by the very un-metal early songs of Spinal Tap in This Is Spın̈al Tap.
Stone Temple Pilots were one of the biggest alternative acts of the 1990s, but their debut album Core has a Heavy Metal sound and marketed as suchnote all of their albums sound different from the last, but this one is the most out-of-place in the discography. Released in 1992, Core was initially lambasted by critics for being derivative of bands like Alice in Chains from the then-huge grunge metal scene. Fans of 1996's "Lady Picture Show" may be surprised to hear "Sex Type Thing", the band's debut single, for the first time. Also, it was in the 1996 album Tiny Music where Scott Weiland arguably found his own voice as a singer, almost completely eschewing the yarling grunge baritone going forward. It gets weirder; the band started out in the late 80s as a Funk band called Mighty Joe Young, and then Shirley Temple's Pussy until the name was censored to their current name.
The Stooges: "We Will Fall" from their first, self-titled album, is a ten minute psychedelic drone that didn't inform anything they wrote afterwards.
Stratovarius was an incredibly different band than what it is today. Consider this , versus this ; it's important to understand that the band does not feature any of their original members anymore. The first three albums featured Timo Tolkki on vocals - Timo Kotipelto didn't take over until the fourth album, Fourth Dimension, and the band wouldn't start using their signature "symphonic power metal" style until the next album, Episode, which was the first album to use the "classic" Stratovarius lineup (Timo Kotipelto on vocals, Timo Tolkki on lead guitar, Jari Kainulainen on bass guitar, Jens Johansson on keyboards and Jörg Michael on drums).
Sugarland's first album Twice the Speed of Life had slicker production (from Garth Fundis instead of their usual producer Byron Gallimore) and much less of a Genre Roulette feel. It was also the only album to feature guitarist/songwriter Kristen Hall. After she left the group, the other two members (lead singer Jennifer Nettles and guitarist/mandolinist Kristian Bush) decided to pursue a more dynamic, acoustic pop-influenced sound, often with lighter lyrics than Hall contributed.
Sugar Ray are primarily known for breezy pop-rock, but spent their first two albums as an Alternative Metal band. The turning point was "Fly", a massive hit from Floored that was more than a bit softer than the surrounding material. Instead of letting "Fly" become a Black Sheep Hit, they opted to just roll with it and go in a Lighter and Softer direction. They did some humorous Lampshade Hanging on this: their third album 14:59 opened with a short lyrically dissonant mock-Death Metal song called "New Direction", immediately followed by much calmer material.
The Sweet: The British glam rock band had their first major U.S. hit was 1973's "Little Willy," which was overtly bubblegum music, despite its rough power chord and distorted guitar sound. Although it bridged their musical styling, from pop rock to more hard rock, members of the band have tried – unsuccessfully – to distance themselves from the song, preferring output such as their hard rock songs "Ballroom Blitz," "Fox on the Run" and "Love is Like Oxygen." However, to this day, "Little Willy" remains their biggest U.S. hit and gets more airplay than their last two American hits combined, and considerably more than "Ballroom Blitz" (although "Blitz" is of course the cult favorite).
Taylor Swift's first album was by far her most country-sounding, with a lot more fiddle and banjo, and a twangier vocal style. Each subsequent album moved her further and further away from country, culminating in her abandoning the genre entirely with 1989 in 2014. Her first three albums were produced entirely by Nathan Chapman, with Swift writing either by herself or collaborating with country songwriter Liz Rose, while the pop albums' material been predominantly produced and co-written by Max Martin and Shellback (although the transitory Red had a myriad of collaborators). The early albums also serve as an Early Installment Weirdness for Chapman, whose production style was noticeably more subdued than on the electric guitar and drum-machine driven style he'd use on his later work with Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban.
Billy Talent's first album focused more on Benjamin's screaming and Ian's back-up vocals appeared much more often. The lyrics were also much more nonsensical, so a few of their songs back then (especially "Cut The Curtains" and "Voices of Violence") were impossible to figure out, which is a welcome change since it made their music less sloppy. They also had less themes of anger as the years went by.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe's second and third albums, recorded after a ten year hiatus, are much more subdued and indebted to traditional gospel than her debut. She didn't abandon the gospel influence, but her subsequent recordings are more upbeat and demonstrative of her skill as a guitarist.
Randy Travis's early recordings in the late 70s were under his real name of Randy Traywick. The material is a lot more generic, with his voice sounding more swaggering, somewhat like a mix of Waylon Jennings and Conway Twitty. It's a considerable distance from his trademark reedy bass-baritone and neotraditionalist ballads that drove him to stardom in The '80s and the first half of The '90s.
Shania Twain's first album was good, if unremarkable, mid-1990s mainstream country. Her second album, The Woman in Me, paired her up with the aforementioned Robert John "Mutt" Lange (who later became her husband until 2010), and she developed (for better or worse) the slick crossover sound she's forever known for.
Conway Twitty was a rock/pop singer in his early days. It wasn't until the mid-1960s that he switched to country and became known for his sultry, romantic ballads.
Type O Negative were always Doom Metal, but their first album Slow Deep And Hard contained more Thrash Metal influence than their more well known Gothic Metal sound. Their lyrics focus more on Peter's hatred for certain people than they do on sex, although there are a couple of songs about the latter. Justified in that the songs on the album were written for Peter Steele's previous band Carnivore, who were a thrash band. This is also why the sound of the album is so raw. Type O Negative would become known for their clean sound quality (rare in metal) later on.
Ume: It wasn't until Sunshowers or Phantoms that Ume gained some attention, so it would understandingly be jarring for newer fans to go back into 2005's Urgent Sea. The production is more raw with their Hard Rock influences more upfront than their usual Shoegazing, and contrasting with Lauren's later dreamier style, she had a heavier edge (you could even tell she's from Texas in this one). And oh yeah, there's also screaming involved.
Underworld started out as a new wave/alternative pop band and released two albums (Underneath the Radar and Change the Weather) in this style, which also fetched them a minor American hit in the single "Stand Up". After a nearly five year recording hiatus following their second album, they emerged as an electronica/house group, which they have remained ever since.
Keith Urban's first American albums are rife with this. His first American release was as one-third of the band The Ranch in 1997, which found him performing mostly soft mainstream country. When he put out his first solo American album a couple years later, the weirdness continued. His sound had much more emphasis on fiddle and steel over electric guitar solos (likely due in part to session pianist Matt Rollings producing instead of longtime producer Dann Huff). He also wasn't yet playing the "ganjo" (a six-string banjo tuned like a guitar), which became a part of his sound as early as his Breakthrough Hit "Somebody Like You" in 2002. Also on that album only, he spelled his name in all lowercase letters, and his hair was shorter.
Vangelis: When you think of Vangelis, you usually think of synth soundscapes like the ones in the soundtracks to Chariots of Fire or Blade Runner. When he started out with Aphrodite's Child, however, he was dabbling in early Bee Gees styled pop. The closest that group came to sounding like the Vangelis we know was with their third and final album, 666.
Velvet Underground: People familiar with the seminal Proto Punk group’s much more abrasive first two albums may be surprised to find out that their 1965 demo recordings consist entirely of acoustic Folk Music. This does, however, anticipate the direction they would take on their Lighter and Softer third album, which is not entirely acoustic but certainly qualifies as Folk Rock.
White Zombie are primarily known for mixing Industrial Metal and Groove Metal in the 90's, but started out as a chaotic, lo-fi Noise Rock band in the late 80's: They cited bands like The Birthday Party, Butthole Surfers, and Black Flag as influencing this phase. Rob Zombie's voice was also only sometimes recognizable at this point - instead of the near Guttural Growler vocal style he'd use in White Zombie's nineties albums (and throughout his solo career), he sang in more of a nasal, punk-ish sneer. The main thread running through both stages of their career are lyrical references to grind-house and horror movies and frequent use of Spoken Word in Music. Interestingly, Kurt Cobain was a fan of their early work, as was Iggy Pop.
Wild Beasts: Some listeners who got into the band through either Two Dancers and Smother may find the madcap cabaret numbers featured on their debut Limbo, Panto bewildering.
Hank Williams, Jr.: Early on, was a teenager covering his daddy's songs, starting with "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" in 1964. For the next several years, he followed the "countrypolitan" sound of the day, singing lushly produced country-pop ballads in a markedly different voice. After a break enforced by his fall off a mountain (which damaged his face and required a great deal of surgery, in addition to requiring that he re-learn how to sing), he finally forged his edgier, Southern rock and outlaw country influenced sound with Family Tradition at the end of the 70s. Even though his Early Installment Weirdness era produced two #1 hits in "Eleven Roses" and "All for the Love of Sunshine", those songs are at total odds with his most famous style, and all but forgotten today.
Amy Winehouse began as solely a Jazz singer on her debut album Frank, but by the time of Back to Black she had abandoned Jazz completely for Soul. Her look also changed in accordance with her shift in genres. By the time of Back to Black she started wearing her trademark beehive haircut and thick black eyeliner which reflected the fact that she was drawing on Soul, girl groups from the 1960s such as The Ronettes for inspiration as opposed to Jazz singers such as Frank Sinatra whom her first album was even named after.
Darryl Worley's first two albums did not have any political or soldier-related songs, and were largely composed of ballads. He only started doing political songs after the runaway success of "Have You Forgotten?" in 2003.
Dave Wyndorf: Well before becoming a stoner rock icon with Monster Magnet, Dave Wyndorf fronted a pop-punk band called Shrapnel, which also had future The Ramones producer Daniel Rey on guitar. Here's the future Space Lord in all his short-haired, clean-shaven glory, cheesing it up with a song called "Combat Love."
"Weird Al" Yankovic's output can basically be divided into two eras: his self-titled debut album, and literally everything else. Said album's parodies feature only vague approximations of the original arrangements at best, prominently featuring Al on the accordion. There's no polka medley, roughly half the songs feature armpit farts, every single one has the accordion as its lead instrument (due to Al's longtime guitarist Jim West not being at the sessions; the few guitar parts present are instead played by producer Rick Derringer or session musician Richard Bennettnote brother of Al's drummer Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz), and only one of the original songs ("Happy Birthday") is done In the Style of... some other artist. Coincidentally, it's also his only studio album to date with a featured vocalist. His appearance is also a case of Early Instalment weirdness: in the 80s and 90s he wore thick-framed glasses and a mustache, only adopting his current style of appearance (long flowing curly black hair, no glasses, clean-shaven) in 1999.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Fever To Tell" is a lot more punk-sounding than "Show Your Bones" and "It's Blitz!".
Yes: The first two albums count. Along with the unique playing styles of founding guitarist Peter Banks and founding keyboardist Tony Kaye, Yes specialized in re-arranged covers of Byrds, Beatles and Buffalo Springfield songs, while their originals showed more '60's pop influences. The band's second album, Time And A Word also incorporates orchestral accompaniment, which Yes would rarely use to such an extent until 2000's Magnification. Also, their breakthrough third release, The Yes Album, was Yes' first attempt at using synthesizers, and were used in a relatively subtle way, as keyboardist Kaye was reluctant to use them. Their multi-keyboard sound would not develop until the followup, Fragile, by which time Rick Wakeman would replace Kaye in the lineup.
Zac Brown Band's major-label debut The Foundation is rife with this. Most of the songs are rerecordings of either material from their 2005 independent album or concert favorites from the same era, so (especially on "Chicken Fried", the debut single) the lyrics and sound are more formulaic. Overall, the band sounds more like a mix of Jimmy Buffett and Dave Matthews Band than the Genre Roulette present on their subsequent albums. The Foundation is also the only major-label album to feature little-known members Marcus Petruska and Joel Williams, who were respectively replaced by Chris Fryar and Coy Bowles by the time "Chicken Fried" was actually released. Since the album also predates the addition of Clay Cook, this also means that the harmonies are only three-part instead of four-part, and the keyboard parts are played by session musicians. Finally, the track "It's Not OK" stands out as being their only song to date sung by someone other than Brown (it was instead sung by John Driskell Hopkins).
Zoviet France: The first three albums by the industrial group were made up of the most aggressive and nauseating sounds recorded to tape. From animal growls and tortured screams to out of tune violins and pianos that sounded like they were played by mad men. They're now known for using homemade tape effects to create murky ambient/drone pieces, but they occasionally delve into their old style of Musique concrète.