Monday, 17 February 2014

The Shortest Gaps Between AAA Albums (News, Views and Music 233 Top Ten)

When David Crosby's latest solo album 'Croz' was released on January 28th 2014, he actually beat his own record for the longest gap between albums (his third solo album, 'A Thousand Roads' was released on May 4th 1993, making this an impressive gap of 20 years, seven months and 24 days; his earlier record was 17 years, 11 months and 1 day between his first two solo albums, 'If Only I Could Remember My Name' released on February 22nd 1971 and 'Oh Yes I Can!' released on January 23rd 1989). Which set us thinking: what other AAA bands had the longest (and shortest) gaps between releases? So here they are! We've chosen to count the gaps between bands or solo releases, by the way, rather than mixing the two or Dave Davies and The Kinks would have won this list easily ('Chosen People' and another of our recent reviews, 'State Of Confusion respectively, released just a few weeks apart). Live albums, compilations and box sets don't count by the way, otherwise the Hollies would win hands down (there seemed to be a new Hollies set out every other week at one point during the 1980s!) You might want to have a read of our AAA release date special here by the way ( and we're still missing a small handful of release dates which we'll have to pass on for now:

The Shortest Gaps:

1) The Beach Boys: O Months, 21 days ('Surfer Girl' and 'Little Deuce Coupe' , 16/9/1963-7/10/1963)
A special case this one: 'Little Deuce Coupe' is a hybrid half-new album, half-compilation record which is arguably rock and roll's first ever concept album (consisting of songs about cars before you get too excited). The Beach Boys were releasing six albums a year for most of the 1960s and this is an early case of fulfilling such obligations as quickly and painlessly as possible.

2) The Beatles: 1 month 26 days ('The White Album' and 'Yellow Submarine' 22/11/1968-13/1/1969)

Another special case: The Beatles didn't really know when the film of 'Yellow Submarine' was going to be released and didn't really care, having donated a bunch of 'leftovers' from 1967 and 1968 to the project that didn't have much to do with the band's big statement of the year 'The White Album' (plus a whole side of George Martin's rather dated classical music pastiches). So closely did the release dates coincide that the Times review of 'The White Album' was simply cut-and-pasted onto the back of the original 'Submarine' record to demonstrate how great the Beatles were at the end of 1968

3) Brian Wilson: 2 months 9 days ('I Wasn't Made For These Times' and 'Orange Crate Art' 15/8/1995-24/10/1995)

Yet another special case: I had some doubts as to whether to add 'I Just Wasn't' to our discography at all, seeing as it's a kind of concert (albeit with many studio outtakes) and features several old songs (albeit with quite a few songs getting their first release). 'Orange Crate Art' isn't exactly your usual solo album either: it's s song cycle by 'Smile' lyricist Van Dyke Parks that he couldn't get released until he phoned up his old friend Brian and added his name to the cover. In actual fact, both of these recordings could have been released in 1994 and it's just a quirk they were released so close together like this.

4) The Monkees: 2 months 18 days ('Head' and 'Instant Replay' 1/12/1968-15/2/1969)

The difference between the arty, angsty, self-confessional 'Head' and the pretty outtakes set 'Instant Replay' seems like the difference between night and day. In truth the reason these two albums came out so closely together was that being a film soundtrack 'Head' naturally came out at the same time of the film and therefore there's a much bigger gap between albums 5 and 6 of the Monkees that record label Colgems wanted to fill with new product. They probably hoped that 'Head' would be a big earner and wanted to cash in on it (which, of course, it sadly wasn't). Most of 'Instant Replay' actually dates from the 'Birds and Bees' sessions of about a year before with just three 'new' songs.

5) The Monkees: 2 months 30 days ('The Monkees' and 'More Of The Monkees' 10/10/1966-9/1/1967)

The first record release on our list without any special circumstances behind it. Yes they might not be playing their own instruments on these first two LPs but the Monkees still sang every note on these two albums and recorded an entire TV series at the same time as part of a particularly onerous release schedule that saw them put out four albums within 12 months.

6) The Beach Boys: 3 months 0 days (''Smiley Smile' and 'Wild Honey' 18/9/1967-18/12/1967)

As all god Beach Boys fans know, 'Smile' should have come out for Christmas 1966, neatly splitting the release dates for the Beatles' 'Revolver' and 'Sgt Peppers' LPs. When that didn't happen Capitol Records reminded the band that they still owed them several LPs a year and got them to hurry up a bit, despite the fact that Brian Wilson was now partly confined to bed and unable to work as fast. The band get round this by recording two simple lo-fi records as quickly as possible, the first sounding like unplugged psychedelia and the second like no-frills R and B.

7) Brian Wilson: 3 months 6 days ('Gettin' In Over My Head' and 'Smile' 22/6/2004-28/9/2004)

'Smile' is back again, this time in it's first 'official' release as part of Bian Wilson's solo discography. The project took an awful lot of on-and-off planning and recording so the Wondermints (Brian's very excellent backing band) decided to alternate with an album of Brian's new songs and record them more or less back-to-back. The fact that the band had a 'Smile' tour all planned also helped sales no doubt, although the sudden-ness of the two albums did cause some problems among cash-strapped fans more used to an album-per-five years schedule by their favourite artists and who had to reluctantly choose to buy one or the other (me, for instance!)

8) The Beach Boys: 3 months 27 days ('All Summer Long' and 'Beach Boys Christmas' 13/7/1964-9/11/1964)

Another example of the Beach Boys' ridiculously full release schedules. Having enjoyed a one-off hit with 'Little Saint Nick' at Xmas 1963 it made sense for the band to record an album of festive songs quickly, with Brian only having to write half an album of new songs rather than a whole one.

9) The Beach Boys: 3 months 28 days ('Today' and 'Summer Days and Summer Nights!!!' 8/3/1965-5/7/1965)

Ditto this pair of albums. 'Today' took longer to make than any Beach Boys album to date (four whole months!!!) As a result the follow -up was released even quicker than usual.

10) The Beatles: 3 months 29 days ('Help!' and 'Rubber Soul' 6/8/1965-4/12/1965)

Beatles albums five and six are the closest of all the 'proper' fab four albums. With a contract demanding two albums a year (until it was re-nogiated in 1967), 1965 was a particularly difficult year for the band. 'Help!' had been delayed by the small fact that the fab four had to shoot a film to go with it and had a longer summer break than usual before getting on with their next LP 'Rubber Soul'. Recorded in a hurry, some songs were only finished a week before the album's release, which was also closer to Christmas than any previous Beatles LP. Things clearly had to change and they did, starting with 1966 when the band had a whole eight months off between LPs...

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