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The Fifteen Best Second Albums

Updated on February 1, 2020

Dan Fogelberg Got Help From The Eagles On His Second Album

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During a recent jam session at the local music store, one of the guitar players impressed me with his rendition of Neil Young's "Down By the River." He corrected me when I mistakenly said that it was my favorite song from Young's first album, informing me that it actually appeared on the second album.

A subsequent internet search did indeed confirm that the song came from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young's follow up to his self-titled debut album. It is listed right there among his biggest early hits, "Cinnamon Girl" and "Cowgirl in the Sand."

In spite of those great tracks, I was a little surprised to see Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere ranked among the best twenty second albums in rock history. After all, the entire record contains a mere seven songs,which would hardly qualify it to make my list.

With all due apologies to Neil Young, here are my favorite sophomore albums. Each one is a follow up that trumps the good debut of the artist.

1. Utopia Parkway by Fountains Of Wayne
The power pop quartet's self-titled first record promised a future of similar clever and catchy tunes, which was delivered with great songs like "Red Dragon Tattoo", "Troubled Time" and "Valley of Malls."

2. Empty Glass by Pete Townshend
Who Came First was the cleverly-titled first solo effort, which featured Pete beside an egg but included just a few original cuts. His second time on his own ranks among his best songwriting, much of which was inspired by the death of Who drummer Keith Moon.

3. Somewhere I've Never Travelled by Ambrosia
In spite of getting two Top Forty hits from the accessible debut, the quartet delightfully grew more experimental on its follow up. "Dance With Me George" and "The Brunt" are just a few of the rewards from their risk-taking.

4. Imagine by John Lennon
Plastic Ono Band was understandably well anticipated, but even if its best tunes pale to treats in the subsequent release like the title track, "Crippled Inside" and "Gimme Some Truth."

5. Cool For Cats by Squeeze
The first offering appeared with a bang bang, which sounded more like a whimper after they gave us the title track with "Slap and Tickle" and "Up the Junction."

6. The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death by the Housemartins
It was a Happy Hour when we were introduced to these Brit rockers on London 0 Hull 4, which just a year later was topped by gems such as the title track, "Me and the Farmer" and "Five Get Overexcited."

7. Piano Man by Bily Joel
Cold Spring Harbor suffered from recording deficiencies, as well as inferior tunes. When Joel stepped away from love songs on this next record, he proved capable of creating epics like "Captain Jack" and "The Ballad of Billy the Kid."

8. Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
America's most recognizable duo started with Wednesday Morning, only to become even more popular through the constant airplay of the title track, "I Am a Rock" and "Most Peculiar Man."

9. The Freewheelin' Dylan by Bob Dylan
He had only two original tunes on the first record, a mere glimpse of the talent he harbored. Fortunately, we got to see it much expanded on the sophomore album.

10. Spaceship Earth by Sugarloaf
A green eyed lady made the debut a huge success, but this lesser known disc holds more treasures.

11. All American Alien Boy by Ian Hunter
Mott the Hoople's front man scored a bit with the debut opener "Once Bitten Twice Shy", which he quickly topped with lesser-known nuggets such as "God" and "Irene Wilde."

12. You're Gonna Get It by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
After greeting us with a breakdown and an American girl, Petty with his pumpbusters got even better on tunes like "Listen To Her Heart", "I Need To Know" and "No Second Thoughts."

13. Souvenirs by Dan Fogelberg
HIs debut, titled Home Free, hinted at only a bit of what was to come with "Part of the Plan" and "As The Raven Flies."

14. Self-Titled by Warren Zevon
Acoustic guitar was the only instrument heard on Wanted Dead Or Alive, so his piano-based next album prepared us for what would get even better on Excitable Boy.

15. Get Your Wings by Aerosmith
Steven Tyler topped "Dream On" by coming up with rock classics like "Same Old Song and Dance", "Seasons of Wither" and "Lord of the Thighs."

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