Ten Sequel Albums That Didn't Live Up to the Original - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Ten Sequel Albums That Didn’t Live Up to the Original

From Neil Diamond’s ‘Hot August Night II’ to Ja Rule’s ‘Pain Is Love 2’

Graham Wiltshire/Redferns

Eminem pulled off a pretty amazing feat last month: he released a stellar sequel album. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 may not quite live up to the original, but compared to other sequel albums in rap and rock history it's the musical equivalent of The Godfather 2 – or, at the very least, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Sequel albums in rap are fairly common, but in rock they tend to come when an artist has trouble getting attention for any of their recent work. Predictably, most are highly disappointing. Here are 10 rap and rock sequel albums that failed to live up to the original.

By Andy Greene

Courtesy Epic Records

Cheap Trick – ‘Budokan 2’

When Cheap Trick made the original At Budokan, they sifted through the tapes from two shows at the historic Japanese venue and released the 10 greatest songs, including "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me" and their cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame." These versions made their studio counterparts seem limp by comparison, and the album finally broke Cheap Trick as a huge band. Fourteen years later, at a time when Cheap Trick's commercial appeal had drastically diminished, they returned to the 1978 Budokan tapes and crafted Budokan 2. The 12 songs on the new LP, including "Elo Kiddies" and "Southern Girls," are by no means bad, but there's a reason they didn't make the original cut. They finally released the whole thing in 1998, leaving Budokan 2 as a forgotten footnote. 

Courtesy IRS Records

Peter Frampton – ‘Frampton Comes Alive II’

Much like Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton broke through in a huge way with a live album back in the Seventies. As Wayne Campbell said in Wayne's World 2: "Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs, you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide." It sold millions and millions of copies, but things quickly turned sour from Frampton, and just 10 years after it came out he was playing guitar in David Bowie's backing band. Thinking that maybe people just didn't want studio versions of his songs, he made another live album in 2005 and called it Frampton Comes Alive II. The songs on the LP are superior to the originals, but this was the era of Hootie and the Blowfish, and very few people cared. 

Courtesy Virgin Records

Meat Loaf – ‘Bat Out of Hell III’

Meat Loaf's 1993 album Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell accomplished the impossible: It revived the completely dead career of the Seventies rocker. This was the peak of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, yet somehow the nearly-forgotten Meat Loaf got a single on the charts that would not die. It's largely due to the fact he re-teamed with the brilliant Jim Steinman, who wrote and produced the entire album. The duo split apart after it came out, and 13 years later  a business dispute and Steinman's health issues forced Meat Loaf to make the third Bat out of Hell album without the songwriter. Desperate to use Steinman songs, Meat Loaf revived "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (famously recorded by Celine Dion), a song Steinman wrote for an aborted Batman musical, and other odds and sods the man wrote over the years. The result was a bizarre Franken-Steinman album that didn't come close to capturing the magic of the first two Bat records. Meat Loaf has been telling the press he's made peace with Steinman and they're going to work together again, but we'll believe it when we hear it. 

Courtesy Def Jam Records

Method Man – ‘Tical 0: The Prequel’

Five years after George Lucas made the world fear the world "prequel," Method Man dropped a prequel to his beloved 1994 solo debut Tical. While it wasn't quite the disaster of Star Wars Episode One: The Phanton Menace, it was a big ol' mess. Everyone from Diddy and RZA to Ludacris contributed to the effort, and the result was a scattershot collection of songs the critics ripped into. Two years later, he told MTV he wasn't happy with the album. "On the third LP, it was suggested to bring in Harve Pierre and P. Diddy," he said. "Who am I to argue? Puff knows how to sell some records. But that wasn't the direction to go in, and I know that now."

Courtesy Capitol Records

Ian Anderson – ‘Thick as a Brick 2’

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson had a lot to live up to when he began work on a sequel album to his 1972 magnum opus Thick as a Brick a couple of years ago. Beyond the fact it had been 40 years since he made the original, he didn't have the help of any of his bandmates since he opted to record the disc as a solo artist. The original Thick As a Brick tells the story of English schoolboy Gerald Bostock across the course of a single 44-minute song divided between both sides of the record. It was a huge influence on prog bands like Rush, but the sequel simply didn't have much bite. Presenting five different futures for Bostock over 13 songs, it failed to make any sort of impression with the public. 

Courtesy Young Money Records

Lil Wayne – ‘Tha Carter IV’

With the very notable exception of Rocky IV, franchises are usually running on fumes when they come around to the fourth chapter. Check out Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol and Lil Wayne's 2011 disc Tha Carter IV. It followed the rapper's stint in prison and his ill-fated rock album Rebirth, and it was clear Lil Wayne was spreading himself a little too thin. Drake, Rick Ross and John Legend did what they could to help, but the record still lacked the genius of Wayne's earlier work. Sadly, things almost got worse with 2013's I Am Not a Human Being II. Maybe it's time to start a new franchise. 

Courtesy Columbia Records

Wyclef Jean – ‘Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant’

Wyclef Jean's post-Fugees work got off to a very strong start in 1997 with the release of The Carnival. He scored a big hit with "Gone Till November," and even managed to get Bob Dylan to appear in the video. Ten years later – right around the time he was back on the radio with "Hips Don't Lie" – Wyclef released a sequel album. It revisited many of the characters and themes of the originals, and had guest spots from Paul Simon, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Serj Tankian and even Louis Farrakhan. There were some very nice moments on the album, but musically the thing was just all over the place, a little too eclectic for its own good. 

Courtesy Columbia Records

Neil Diamond – ‘Hot August Night II’

A sequel to a live album is rarely a good idea, especially when you wait 15 years and use many of the same songs from the original. Neil Diamond's Hot August Night captured the Jewish Elvis at his live peak during a run of magical shows at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. By 1987, his was an oldies act belting out "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Sweet Caroline" for the 10 millionth time. Fans never tire of hearing the classics, but this whole package just sounds a little too Vegas and is wildly inessential. 

Courtesy Kiss Records

Kiss – ‘Alive IV’

Imagine taking the Kiss that recorded the original Alive! in 1975, adding 28 years of wear and tear to their vocal cords, swapping out beloved guitarist Ace Frehley for former Kiss cover band guitarist Tommy Thayer and tossing the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on top of the whole thing. That's pretty much the formula behind the 2003 Kiss LP Alive IV. The symphony does make familiar fare like "Beth" and "Love Gun" sound a little different, and it is their last album with drummer Peter Criss, but nobody needs to hear this thing when the original Alive! is out there. 

Courtesy MPire Music Group

Ja Rule – ‘Pain Is Love 2’

Things haven't gone so well for Ja Rule since the release of his 2001 album Pain Is Love. Long prison sentences for tax evasion and gun and drug possession robbed him of much career momentum. He was dropped from his label, and eight years passed without the release of a single physical album. The original Pain Is Love had guest spots from Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti, Missy Elliott and many other big stars. The 2012 sequel, released when he was still in prison, had appearances by the likes of Anita Louise and Amina. It's hard to promote an album from the clink, and it peaked at number 197 on the Billboard album chart. It sold 3,200 copies that week and went downhill from there. 

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.