[Another stellar list from special correspondent, Brent Chittenden. -AC]
Alan handed me a challenge this week. A list of the longest durations between albums without breakups. Right off the bat, we had rules. Mainly that it couldn’t be from a band that had “officially” broken up.
The Eagles, for instance, are disqualified. Guns N Roses were okay. Hiatus was also allowed. The band also had to contain at least one original member or member that was in both the last album and the latest album. Live albums, b-side/demo compilations, box sets and greatest hits albums did not count, only official studio albums were to be used.
So here it is, the top Longest Durations Between Albums (without breakups).
10) U2 (5 years)
To be honest, this isn’t really a bench mark as I could find a ton of bands that have similar gaps in their recording schedule but I figured it was a good representation. U2 usually has three to five year gaps in their recording history but the reason I used them to start the list is that despite these gaps and the band’s 36 plus years they have never had a major line up change.
9) The Prodigy (7 years)
The Prodigy had a huge hit with Fat of the Land and it ushered in a wave of “electronica” and electronic music. It took Prodigy mastermind Liam Howett seven years to put together the follow up (due to just regular time off and getting married Natalie Appelton from All Saints) Always Out Numbered, Never Out Gunned.
8) The Rolling Stones (8 years)
Despite their very prolific career and at least one member or another working on some musical project or another, The Rolling Stones did have an eight year gap between the albums Bridges To Babylon and A Bigger Bang. And it’s not like they were sitting around doing nothing; solo albums, touring, The Simpsons, etc, just not as a unit.
7) Portishead (11 years)
Coming out as one of the critical success of Bristol’s trip-hop scene, they tend to take time with their albums. There is a eleven years between Portishead and Third and Geoff Barrow did joke that it might be another ten years until the next release.
6) Van Halen (14 years)
This was a stat that surprised me a great deal because you always hear some version of Van Halen on classic and rock radio at least once in a two or three hour stretch. That being said there was fourteen years between the completely forgotten Gary Cherone voiced Van Halen III and this year’s A Different Kind Of Truth with David Lee Roth returning to the mic.
5) Guns n’ Roses (15 Years/17 years)
Now this one might draw some complaints but for all intents and purposes, Axel owned the name Guns n’ Roses, by all accounts a metric ton of work was done on Chinese Democracy but it just took a very long time to complete. Now the real question is where you count from. The last studio recording was The Spaghetti Incident? but it’s an album entirely made up of covers. Before that, if you want a true proper studio release you have to go to Use Your Illusions I and II. So depending on how you want to look at the gap between Gunner albums is either 15 years or 17 years. And surprisingly, they just crack the top five.
4) Kraftwerk (17 years)
Kraftwerk’s gap is so large you’d be forgiven if you thought that a) they are no longer around and b) that they had indeed released anything resembling a new album but in the seventeen years between Electric Cafe and Tour de France they influenced everyone from Gary Numan to Afrika Bambaataa.
3) Steely Dan (20 years)
Depending on how you want to look at this, Steely Dan might not belong on this list but as far as I can tell there wasn’t an official breakup of the band but the was an official hiatus. In some ways it might have been a break up but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker did try to work together on and off for year which says to be the band wasn’t broken up, they were on hiatus. HIATUS I SAY!... um... yes 20 years between Gaucho and Two Against Nature.
2) Devo (20 years)
No official break up and in fact despite possible public perception, Devo have been doing stuff. Live shows, soundtracks, etc but a good twenty years between Smooth Noodle Maps and 2010’s Something for Everyone.
1) My Bloody Valentine (21 years and counting)
There was no way anyone else would top this list. Kevin Shields have never actually broken up despite large periods of inactivity. The impact of Loveless on the alternative generation of the 90’s and beyond is pretty hard to measure at this point. You can hear their influence on everyone from The Smashing Pumpkins to Radiohead. Every couple of years we hear Shields mention that new music is on the way and given that the band has reportedly recorded at least two albums worth of material (possibly more) it is a possibility more music will be heard... I just wouldn’t hold my breath over it.
Special thanks to Cara Lea and Sean May for help with assembling this list. But who did we miss? What am I incorrect on? Are there details I'm missing?
Please post your thoughts and comments below and we’ll talk. Who know? Maybe it’ll generate another list.