'Real' Follow-Up Discs Are Due In Spring
By Craig Rosen.
Nirvana's "Incesticide," on DGC, is currently No. 50 on The Billboard 200, while Spin Doctors' "Homebelly Groove ... Live," on Epic Associated, sits at No. 194. Both albums were released late last year and include material recorded prior to the bands' commercial breakthroughs.
The independent Sub Pop Records, Nirvana's original label, once planned to release an album of Nirvana rarities called "Cash Cow,'' according to published reports. Sub Pop never released such an album, but DGC employed the same concept under a different title.
Geffen Records' head of marketing, Robert Smith, says "Incesticide" was released at the band's request and is not a calculated move to cash in on the fast-rising band's success. He instead characterizes it as an artist development tool to further establish the band's credibility and to give newly converted fans a glimpse into its history. A spokesperson for the band confirms Smith's claim.
Epic Records' head of marketing, John Doelp, says similar ideas prompted the release of "Homebelly Groove."
Meanwhile, despite the recent releases of "Incesticide" and "Homebelly Groove," DGC and Epic continue to work singles and videoclips from "Nevermind" and "Pocket Full Of Kryptonite." Nirvana's "In Bloom" and Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" are in MTV rotation. Spin Doctors' "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" and "Two Princes" are Nos. 11 and 24, respectively, and "In Bloom" is No. 8 on this week's Album Rock Tracks chart. (A live version of "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," which is at No. 31 on the Hot 100, is included on "Homebelly Groove.")
In addition, Nirvana and Spin Doctors are expected to have their "real" follow-up albums completed for 1993 release, possibly by spring.
Happy to sell more
Retailers apparently don't mind a new title from a hot act, even if it contains old material. "I don't think it helps their career, but I don't think it hurts it, either," says Joel Oberstein, director of retail marketing at the 10-store, Chatsworth, Calif.-based Tempo chain. "It tides the fans over while the band is writing new material."
However, Oberstein also notes that labels are putting out these albums while the bands are still hot: "Labels are trying to hold on to the audience, because there is always another big thing around the corner and it happens so quick."
In the past, rarity collections such as "Incesticide" were usually issued much later in a band's career or included in a boxed-set retrospective.
For example, the Who's "Odds And Sods," a combination of hits and rarities, wasn't released until 1974, eight years after the group's debut album appeared. More recently, R.E.M.'s "Dead Letter Office" was issued in 1987, following the release of an EP and four studio albums, and five years after the release of the band's debut EP on I.R.S. Records.
By comparison, Nirvana has had only two full albums to date, 1989's "Bleach" and 1991's "Nevermind," and a handful of singles and EPs. "Pocket Full Of Kryptonite" is the Spin Doctors' first full album.
'G N' R Lies' Turned Heads
Geffen's release of Guns N' Roses' "G N' R Lies" in 1988, following the tremendous success of the band's 1987 debut album, "Appetite For Destruction," may have inaugurated a policy of fast follow-ups to big-selling debuts.
"G N'R Lies," which combined the band's independently-released 1986 EP "Live?!*@ Like A Suicide'' with four acoustic tracks, bridged the four-year gap between "Appetite" and the "Use Your Illusion" albums, which weren't released until 1991. But "Lies," which sold close to 4 million units in the U.S. and spawned the gold single "Patience," also proved helpful in other ways.
"Part of what 'Lies' did was that it re-established that Guns N' Roses are a street rock 'n' roll band that went from the street to enormous mainstream and commercial success," says Smith. " 'Lies' showed where they came from."
Smith says "Incesticide" provides a similar function: "It's very important to establish with the core audience that this band is really authentic. The reason why Nirvana is where it is today is because of (the material featured on) 'Incesticide.'
"Nirvana is not just a punk band that got really big," he adds. "There's a real root of progression to follow."
Less Accessible Materiel
The 15-track "Incesticide" features B-sides, demo recordings and outtakes. Smith acknowledges that some of Nirvana's new fans may be put off by some of the less accessible material on "Incesticide": "It's possible, but that goes with the territory. You become an overnight fan of a true punk band and you better be prepared for what comes with it."
Smith says DGC conducted a low-key campaign to promote the album: "We didn't do a video or single. We didn't advertise in People magazine, but only in the truly alternative magazines."
Adds Smith: "It would be easy to put the record out and have it sell a million copies quickly, but ultimately that would confuse the public and do a disservice to the band. Now that the record is taking hold and selling very well, we are planning to work it further." He adds there will likely be a single and a video clip released to support "Incesticide."