Every new band's worst nightmare is having to deal with the sophomore slump. When you have your whole career to look forward to, this is the moment where you're either going to come into your own as a great songwriter or burn out way too quickly. As these rockers entered the studio the second time around though, they were just coming into their own as some of the greatest musicians of their generation.
The beauty behind most of these albums is that they weren't trying to be a carbon copy of what they did on the first record. That was the first hint at what they were capable of, and now this is what it sounds like as studio veterans. Looking to peel back the different layers of their sound, these are the songs that were a little bit more intricate than what had come before, whether that be the band members showing off their chops or opening up new avenues in what you could sing about.
On the best of occasions, these are the kind of left turns that most of us weren't even prepared to hear from them, and yet it all fits together in one neat package. It's almost a miracle to make even one great album, but having these bands release two of them in a row makes the whole thing almost look easy.
10. Fly By Night - Rush
If there's one word that should be as far away from Rush's music as possible it would be average. At the start of their career though, you could easily mistake these guys for every other Led Zeppelin ripoff coming out in the mid '70s, with most of their first album getting into the bluesy territory that Page and Plant had pioneered. After a tour that left them without drummer John Rutsey, everything changed once Professor Neil Peart was brought on board.
Contributing to the song arrangements as well as writing lyrics for almost every song, this is where the classic version of Rush really starts to come into view. Being the new kid in town, Peart is playing like he has everything to prove, turning the Bad Company stylings into a sound that feels like Yes by way of Black Sabbath on the title track.
The lyrics also took a massive step up as well, talking more about literature like the Ayn Rand pastiche Anthem and getting salty about the state of America on Beneath Between and Behind. There are even a few hints at what Rush would be capable of in just a few years, with By Tor and the Snow Dog being their first attempt to write a story driven song with multiple parts to it. Even though it was only a few months in between both of these albums, you'd swear that these prog legends had grown up by 5 years in that timeframe.