Monday, 24 February 2014

The Longest 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 Longest Gaps:

1) David Crosby and Graham Nash: 28 years 1 month 15 days ('Whistling Down The Wire' and 'Crosby*Nash 25/6/1976-10/8/2004)

Of course, all the C/S/N/Y statistics are slightly distorted by the fact that the quartet release albums together and apart instead of sticking solely together as a group. Crosby and Nash released three albums together in the 1970s, but Crosby's drug addiction and later prison sentence meant that he became increasingly estranged from Nash. The fourth Crosby-Nash album should have been in 1979 (before a row made the duo work on solo albums instead) and again in 1990 (before Atlantic told them they'd sell more albums if Stephen Stills got involved), before finally seeing the light of day in 2004.

2) Cat Stevens/Yusuf: 27 years 11 months ('Back To Earth' and 'An Other Cup' 3/12/1978-11/2006)

Those 27 years and 11 months must have seemed like a lifetime for Cat Stevens because everything changed in between his 'retirement' and 'comeback': having become a Muslim in the mid-70s he quietly saw out his record contract with Island Records and turned his back on music to devote himself to religion. He also married, had children and set up a school for young Muslims in London before the events of 9/11 and wars in Iran and Afghanistan plus his son learning the guitar encouraged him to start his career again under the name he'd used since 1978.

3) The Who: 24 years 1 month 26 days ('It's Hard' and 'Endless Wire' 4/9/1982-30/10/2006)

The Who, too, had been convinced that their 1982 album would be their last. After all, who'd have thought that a group that once sang 'Hope I Die Before I Get Old?' would still be releasing albums past their 40th anniversary? All three surviving founding members of The Who went their own way and would probably never have got together at all had not a request from the Live Aid organisers in 1985 and John Entwistle's need to keep the taxman off his back not got in the way. Sadly John died after the album had been discussed but before it was recorded, so rather than being a re-birth of a whole new band 'Endless Wire' seems rather like an unwanted encore, full of homages to old songs without any real sense of where to go next. So far The Who have got back together on stage but not yet in the studio, meaning 'Endless Wire' is almost certainly it for one of our greatest bands.

4) Mike Nesmith: 23 years 1 month ('Inifinite Rider On The Big Dogma' and '...Tropical Campfires' 5/1979-6/1992)

By contrast Monkee Mike Nesmith didn't retire from showbusiness - he simply changed his career path. Mike had found the music video his record label had asked him to make for final single 'Rio' much more interesting than the album itself and - together with some younger associates - 'created' MTV, a concept that would have been impossible without the 'romps' in the Monkees TV series. Disagreeing with the emphasis on youth and throwaway culture Nesmith soon left the project but did start up his own film-making enterprise which took up most of the time in the 1980s. The fact that his mother - inventor of Tippex or 'liquid paper' - died in the late 70s and left most of her estate to her only son also meant he didn't have to rely on music as his day-job any more. Sadly Nesmith has since said that a soundtrack album he made for one of his films in 2000 will be the last music he'll ever make and so far has stuck to his word...

5) Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: 18 years 7 months and 21 days ('Deja Vu' and 'American Dream' 11/3/1970-1/11/1988)

CSNY would no doubt be amazed to learn that it would take them so long to follow-up their first album as a quartet and it took two aborted tries in 1974 and 1976 and a promise from Neil that he would get the band together if David Crosby came clean from his drugs habit to achieve. Sadly the most 1970s of albums is followed by that most 1980s of albums, sterile where the old one was warm and toothless where the older one had bite. CSNY were a bit quicker releasing their third album, which only took 11 years!

6) The Monkees: 17 years 2 months ('Changes' and 'Pool It!' 6/1970-8/1987)

The Monkees, however, would have been amazed that they were ever invited to release another album after 'Changes' sold so poorly and the band were reduced to a duo. Micky and Davy regrouped with Peter but not Mike for the first of their two reunion projects, pretty much resetting the band to where it was in 1966, covering outside songs and using session musicians (as if 1967-70 had never happened). Another reunion album followed comparatively on this record's heels- only a decade later!

7) Jefferson Airplane: 17 years 1 month ('Long John Silver' and 'Jefferson Airplane' 20/7/1972-22/8/1989)

Does this gap in the discography really count? The only line-up difference (at first) between Jefferson Airplane and Starship was the guitarist and bassist, although the sound between the two are quite different. sadly the final 'Jefferson' something album (bar a few small label one-off releases) sounds more like the sound of the Starship than the heady psychedelia days of old even if four of the five members are back in tow.

8) Graham Nash: 16 years 1 month 0 days ('Innocent Eyes' and 'Songs For Survivors' 27/3/1986-30/4/2002)

Another CSNY entry on this list. The long gap came about partly because Graham was busy with CSN/Y projects but partly because poor sales of the last two Nash albums meant few record labels were willing to take a chance on his solo work. 'Survivors' is actually a follow-up not to 'Innocent Eyes' but Graham's first solo effort 'Songs For Beginners' in 1971, forty years earlier.

9) Art Garfunkel: 14 years 6 months ('Lefty' and 'Everything Waits To Be Noticed' 4/1988-8/10/2002)

Whilst Art Garfunkel created lots of music in the 1990s most of it ended up as guest appearances on other people's records or on live albums. It took until 2002 before Art released his first solo album in 14 and a half years and 'Noticed' sounds quite different to his 'old' style of recordings. The album is actually a collaboration between Art, Bobby Mondlock and Maia Sharp but arguably features more of Art's personality than any other record, with Garfunkel-written songs about his past, present and future. Sadly since this album he's gone back to doing cover songs and then mainly from musicals that don't suit his superb voice - let's hope it doesn't take another 14 years before we get another 'proper' Art Garfunkel album!

10) Stephen Stills: 13 years 11 months and 29 days ('Alone' and 'Man Alive!' 11/9/1991-9/8/2005)

Yet another CSNY entry! Stills may have been the most prolific AAA star of them all in the 1970s, releasing a solo album a year with or without a CSN/Y album attached (and sometimes two). By the 1990s, though, he simply wasn't a big enough draw as a solo name and following 'Stephen Stills Alone' (released 10 years to the day before 9/11 and includes a song called 'Treetop Flyer' conspiracy fans!) the only work he could get for nearly 14 years was as part of his old band.

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