The Beatles released 12 albums in seven years and changed music forever, while Creedence Clearwater Revival released three of their greatest albums in 1969 alone. If rock’s taught us anything, it’s that momentum is king. Pause, and the creative juices evaporate. Break up, you might never recover.
Here’s ten acts who ignored such wisdom and took their own sweet goddamn time. More power to them.
10. THE WHO: Time Between Albums – 24 years
The English rock legends had been inactive in the studio since 1982’s It’s Hard and lost bassist John Entwhistle to a cocaine-induced heart attack in 2002. But by 2006 band mainstays guitarist Pete Townshend and vocalist Roger Daltrey were back in action with an eleventh studio album, Endless Wire. It featured nine standalone songs, together with 10 pieces that formed a “mini-opera” titled Wire & Glass, and ably showed that — despite just 11 studio albums in 50 years — there’s still life in the old dog yet.
9. THE CARS – 24 years
Lumped in with new wave when they first appeared in 1978, Boston outfit The Cars were much more of a quirky pop/rock band at heart. Hits like Best Friend’s Girl and Drive made the group a fortune, but 1987’s Door To Door album saw their commercial popularity nosedive. Time for a break. Bassist Ben Orr sadly died in 2000, but the four remaining band members reunited for a seventh album, Move Like This, in 2011. There’s been no further material released since.
8. EAGLES – 28 years
Eagles lived the ‘70s west coast dream to the full – right until it became a nightmare. The band sold gazillions of records, then developed drug habits and ended up hating each other. 1979’s The Long Run was a multi-platinum success, but everyone had had enough. By 1994, though, Eagles were back together. And despite another spat that saw guitarists Don Felder leave for a second time in 2001, they finally released a new album, Long Road Out Of Eden in 2007. It went on to sell over 3.5 million copies.
7. NEW YORK DOLLS: 32 years
New York’s trash/glam/punk rockers descended into drug and alcohol-induced chaos in 1977, three years after their sophomore effort, 1974’s appropriately titled Too Much Too Soon. Three band members – bassist Arthur Kane, drummer Jerry Nolan and guitarist Johnny Thunders – were dead by the time a third studio album appeared, 2006’s One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This. Held together by original vocalist David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, the album was hailed, if not as a triumph, then certainly as a worthwhile endeavour.
6. THE STOOGES - 34 years
The Stooges have long been credited with developing the blueprint for punk rock. The Michigan band had already split once in 1971 after two raw and uncompromising albums. But they joined forces again under somewhat acrimonious circumstances to record 1973’s Raw Power, with the release credited to Iggy & The Stooges. 2007 finally saw the core of the band – vocalist Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton and drumming brother Scott – back together and releasing new album, The Weirdness. Most critics hated it.
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5. SIR LORD BALTIMORE - 35 years
This Brooklyn outfit was formed in 1968 and is credited as inventing stoner rock. Two albums – 1970’s Kingdom Come and 1971’s Sir Lord Baltimore – didn’t lead to a breakthrough, and poor sales and drug issues hurried the band’s demise. But in 2006 vocalist/drummer John Garner and guitarist Louis Dambra joined forces again to release Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw. The album featured music originally written for an aborted 1976 release, but offered an intriguing new Christian slant in the band’s lyrics.
4. THE SONICS - 35 years
These 1960s garage rockers from the Washington state area of the US were an early inspiration to Nirvana, firing out standards like Louie Louie and originals with intriguing titles like Strychnine and Psycho. The band released a début album, Here Are The Sonics, in 1965, Boom a year later and Sinderella in 1980. Sporadic live shows and a 2010 EP followed, but it wasn’t until March of last year that another fully-fledged album, This Is The Sonics, appeared a mere 35 years after their last effort.
3. THE YARDBIRDS - 36 years
Famous for giving us über-guitarists Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, the Yardbirds were nonetheless anchored by rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja, drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf. The band’s fourth album, 1967’s Little Games, came before a 1968 split. Relf died in 1976, but McCarty and Dreja reformed The Yardbirds in 1992 and released a new album, Birdland, in 2003. It featured seven new tunes and eight reworkings of the band’s classics. Beck made a guest appearance on My Blind Life.
2. GARY HIGGINS - 36 years
This little-known singer/songwriter from Connecticut released the Red Hash album on his own label back in 1973 after recording the songs with undue haste. Why? Because Higgins was about to do time for possession of marijuana. The record didn’t pull up any trees. But after Six Organs of Admittance man Ben Chasney covered leadoff track, Thicker Than A Smokey, in 2005, Higgins finally released a new album, Seconds, on the same label – Drag City – in 2009. Musical support came from a couple of his original collaborators, as well as son Graham.
1. RAINBOW FFOLLY - 48 years
An English psychedelic pop act whose first demos so impressed Parlophone that the label immediately released the tunes as the album Sallies Fforth back in 1968. Sales were slow (although you’ll be lucky to pick up a copy for less than £1000 today), and the band members threw in the towel that same year. That well-known 48-year itch needed to be scratched, however, and earlier this year the band (minus guitarist/vocalist Richard Dunsterville, who now lives in the US) came roaring back with a second album, the cleverly-titled ‘Ffollow Up’.