As the old saying goes, better late than never. Some musicians have taken that to heart. These are the artists that waited years, and sometimes decades, to release a new album. Many simply gave up on ever hearing anything new, until it finally happened. Of course, we aren’t always happy with what we hear when the time comes. For better or worse, here are the musicians that made us wait but finally delivered.
The Chicks had quite a stretch in their careers, as the country trio had three number-one albums in a row, ending with 2006’s “Taking the Long Way.” This was back when they were still called The Dixie Chicks, of course. Now, they’ve kicked “Dixie” to the curb and they are returning with “Gaslighter,” their first album in over 14 years. Will another number-one album be in the offing?
Parliament, the legendary funk band, released “Trombipulation” in 1980. That feels like a fitting time for a funk band to hang up the instruments. George Clinton had other stuff to do, like cameos in “Good Burger.” Then, Clinton roared back, and he brought Parliament with him. “Medicaid Fraud Dogg” brought the funk back in 2018.
“Raw Power” saw the Stooges’ sound tweaked a bit, getting a little more rocking, but the 1973 album is still considered a predecessor to the rise of punk. Then, Iggy Pop went off on his own journey as a solo artist and shirt protestor. After decades apart, the Stooges reunited in 2007 for “The Weirdness.” Two years later, original guitarist Ron Asheton died, marking an endpoint for the Stooges.
The Eagles released some albums after 1979’s “The Long Run,” but they were of the live album variety. In fact, their 1994 live album “Hell Freezes Over” is one of the highest-selling releases ever. The very premise of that album was that this was not a band that ever imagined themselves getting back together. As such, there was a fair amount of surprise when “Long Road Out of Eden” was released in 2007.
On 1985’s “In My Head,” Henry Rollins was the singer for Black Flag. When the band returned in 2013 with “What The…” there was no Rollins, but they did bring back Ron Reyes as the vocalist, who had not been with the band since 1980. Then, Reyes got fired in the middle of a show while Black Flag was touring in support of the album. Talk about a true punk moment.
Chic was prolific for many years, as their 1992 album “Chic-ism” was their eighth. It also seemed likely to be their last. Then, Nile Rodgers got the gang back together, or in truth pretty much just brought back the Chic name for his music, for the aptly-titled “It’s About Time.” What else do you call an album 26 years in the making?
Waters is, of course, famous from his time with Pink Floyd. After the band called it quits, he would still tour performing “The Wall,” a concept album of his devising from the Pink Floyd days. In 2017, Waters released “Is This the Life We Really Want?” a pointed album with big themes. It was also his first album since 1992, not including an opera he worked on in the interim not released as a Roger Waters album.
Speaking of Pink Floyd, apparently taking long breaks runs in the family. Although, Gilmour didn’t wait quite as long between releases as his former bandmate. Waters took off almost 25 years. Gilmour’s hiatus was almost exactly 22 years. Literally, it was 22 years and one day between releases.
We would understand if you don’t consider 2006’s “Endless Wire” a true Who album. After all, it didn’t feature either Keith Moon, long since dead, or John Entwhistle, who had also passed away. That being said, when you think of The Who, you probably think primarily of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey. They were both still there, like they had been on 1982’s “It’s Hard.”
The Cars regained Ric Ocasek, but they lost bassist and vocalist Benjamin Orr in 2000 when he passed away. This was 13 years after they had released their last album “Door to Door.” Then, in 2011, Ocasek got back in the studio minus Orr for “Move Like This.” Ocasek has now also passed on, ending the run of the legendary rock band for good.
It’s quite fitting that a band called the Zombies took some time to return from the dead. In 1968 they released “Odyssey and Oracle,” only their second album. It seemed like a short run, but then in 1991 the Zombies returned for “New World.” You can be forgiven for not noticing.
Pixies were a massive influence on indie rock and the grunge scene, but eventually Frank Black and company called it quits. That was in 1991, just as bands they had influenced, like Nirvana, were really taking off. Some fans were excited when they came back with “Indie Cindy” in 2014, but the lack of Kim Deal on bass meant the album didn’t feel the same.
Mission of Burma released exactly one studio album during its original run, but it was the seminal “Vs.” That release alone made them an iconic post-punk band. Then, out of the blue, they returned in 2004 for a second album. They actually released a few more albums, but called it quits for good in 2012.
Speaking of influential bands that seemingly were done after a short run, My Bloody Valentine is a sterling example of that. They released “Loveless” in 1991, maybe the quintessential shoegaze album, and then disbanded. There were murmurings of a reunion, and then in 2013 they finally made good on that with “MBV,” which a lot of fans took to fondly.
Devo’s art rock made them stand out when they debuted, even if most people only know the song “Whip It.” Most people had stopped listening to them by the time they released “Smooth Noodle Maps” in 1990. There was probably some intrigue for “Something For Everybody,” if only because it was a 20-year gap between albums. However, during that gap, and since, Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh has become one of the most-successful film score composers.
L7 was big in the grunge era, but by 1999 the whole grunge thing had died down and then some. Given that, it would have been a reasonable time for the group to fold. And they did…until 2019. The ladies of L7 returned with “Scatter the Rats,” and it was actually pretty well received. Maybe it’s time for a little bit of grunge nostalgia?
The Monkees have pulled off the hiatus-ending album not once but twice. First, they didn’t release an album between 1970 and 1987. Then, they went from 1996 until 2016 without a new album. Of course, the fact that the band began as a TV show in the ‘60s means that any album releases post 1970 is pretty impressive.
The Jesus and Mary Chain were big in the post-punk, new wave scene of the ‘80s, and then they sort of petered out by 1998. It would have been fair for the Scottish rock band to call it quits, but instead they returned with “Damage and Joy” in 2017.
A Tribe Called Quest were a critically-adored rap group, but tensions led to a split after 1998’s concept album “The Love Movement.” It truly felt like Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and the crew wouldn’t reunite. Then, the tribe did indeed return for their first album in 18 years. Unfortunately, it came with a heavy heart. Phife Dawg passed away in March 2016, and the album wouldn’t be released until November, making it a posthumous affair.
The Go-Go’s were a punk band before becoming a massive ‘80s pop rock band, but they continued to party like the punks they were. That may be why they burnt out after only releasing three albums, the last of which came out in 1984. Many years went by, some of the band members got their lives cleaned up a bit, and then the band returned for “God Bless the Go-Go’s” in 2001. They haven’t released an album since, which means we could be in for another long hiatus if they ever get back in the studio.
In 1999, American Football released a self-titled album, which became a seminal emo release. Then, they broke up. Would they be a one-album wonder? Nope! In 2016, the band returned with their second album. What did they call it? “American Football,” of course.
At the Drive-In made a huge splash at the turn of the millennium with their driving, guitar-heavy sound. However, the group broke up, splitting into two other successful bands. Half the group formed Sparta, the other formed The Mars Volta. After almost 17 years apart, the band reformed in 2017 for a new release under the At the Drive-In name.
Dr. Dre has never been prolific, at least when it comes to his own music. While he helped shape West Coast rap, he only released two solo albums in the ‘90s, 1992’s iconic “The Chronic” and 1999’s “2001.” Dre would talk about releasing another album, but it just kept not happening. We all pretty much gave up. Then, finally, in 2015 Dr. Dre delivered with “Compton.”
Unfortunately for D’Angelo, his very good album “Voodoo” was overshadowed by the music video for his song “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” You know, the one where he’s basically naked. That may have played a part in him disappearing after 2000. That is, unless he dropped a true surprise album on us in 2014 with “Black Messiah.” Though it came out in December, a lot of publications revised their album of the year lists for D’Angelo.
We have to end with maybe the iconic long-delayed album. We’re talking “Chinese Democracy,” of course. Axl Rose promised the album for years. Even as his former bandmates like Slash left Guns N’ Roses and he was bringing in guys like Buckethead, Axl Rose said “Chinese Democracy” was going to happen. Nobody believed him. It became a piece of music lore, and a running joke. Then, in 2013 exactly 15 years after the last Guns N’ Roses album, “Chinese Democracy” was finally released, ruining the joke for good.