Solo albums can be confusing things. When you hear a member of a beloved successful band is making one, there’s a knee-jerk reaction. The first one is usually, “OMG, my favorite band are breaking up!” The next reaction is “I wonder what it’s going to sound like…” This APTV video counts down some of the truly great albums from those situations.

There are plenty of reasons why some solo albums don’t work. The primary one is when a solo act steps away and makes the same kind of record they would with their bandmates. There are a couple people guilty of this, usually in the prog-rock and metal domains. Which reminds us of a joke. Do you know why the drummer got fired? He came to band practice and asked, “Can we play one of my songs?” (That was a howl when we heard it in 1989, swear.) Seriously though, there are a few recs that still make us wonder.

Read more: 10 bands who released incredible comeback albums

Our countdown of solo albums as good as the artists’ previous bands has a mix of circumstances. Art comes from shattering breakups, left-field creative desires and maybe a good dollop of egomania. But nobody could consider these records mere clones of their previous work. It’s amazing what a position in the drivers seat can do to a person’s creativity. It also goes far to re-establish what an artist can do. If you know any black-metal dudes forming bluegrass bands, let us know. (The closest we came to was neither, but still cool.)

So here’s to all the solo albums that tickled our cochleas and warmed our hearts. Thanks to the solo artists for not making The Grey Parade or QUIET! And thanks to all those rockers who decided to stay with their bands. Your desire to explore outside your comfort zones helped open up our minds to what other realms are out there.