Monday, February 23, 2015

Top 10 Greatest Musical Comebacks Of All Time

Everything in life is cyclical.  What is loved will become hated  and eventually become loved again.  And everyone loves a comeback.  The same is with music.  Even the state fair kings Quiet Riot were accepted again before the death of Kevin DuBrow.  Although some comebacks are nice, some are absolutely triumphant.  The following are My Top 10 Greatest Musical Comebacks of All Time.  These are listed in no particular order.

Elvis / Comeback Special  - It's no wonder the The King was the King of Comebacks.  Prior to his 1968 comeback special Elvis hadn't performed live since 1961 a the states was in the middle of a British Invasion.  The special, however, catapulted Elvis back into the spotlight leading to the 1969 release of 'Suspicious Minds', quite arguably, one of the great moments in a great career.  Some might argue that 70's Elvis was hard to stomach but welcome all of it.  Without it we wouldn't have 'A Little Less Conversation', 'Promised Land', and 'Power of My Love'.

Genesis / Duke - When you lose your cult heralded lead singer and one of the best progressive guitarists in the business and you decide to continue on with the hand that had been dealt, well, you almost expect them to fold.  Or at least limp on.  That is what Collins, Rutherford, and Banks decided to do.  They managed on after Gabriel left for a solo career with two Gold albums.  After Steve Hacket left their next album went Gold as well.  But it was after that one that the trio found themselves and gained steam.  Duke was less progressive and more pop oriented.  It spawned three hit singles and went Platinum.  This started the wheels in motion as they released 5 multi-platinum albums over the next eleven years.  They managed to do this even with all of their solo success as well.  Not bad for a band who many felt had lost their two most talented members early on.

Bruce Springsteen / The Rising - Yes, even The Boss fell out of favor in the 90's.  Remember Lucky Town or Human Touch?  Bruce is hoping he didn't either.  After an historic up rise that led to Born in the U.S.A., Springsteen hit an all time low.  Sure, there was Streets of Philadelphia but that was really it.   Then the creativity and inspiration came in tragedy.  9/11 inspired The Boss back to form with The Rising.  He got the band back together and channeled the same patriotic symbolism that is Bruce Springsteen.  It was what the listener needed at that very moment.  The storytelling was back and has continued ever since.

D'Angelo & The Vanguard / Black Messiah - It's one thing to make a comeback.  It is another to completely transform into something greater.  In twenty years D'Angelo has only released three albums. There was a fifteen year gap between his second and third release.  Fifteen years of personal issues with performing, loss, and alcohol abuse helped lend to his transformation from 90's sex symbol to releasing one of the most important albums of my lifetime.  It is politically charged and musically elite channeling the likes of Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Miles Davis, and Prince.  My only hope is that we do not have to wait another 15 years for the follow  up.

Def Leppard / Hysteria - Def Leppard were giants.  But being giants takes it's toll.  While recording Pyromania, Mutt Lange had Def Leppard holed up in a studio for literally years.  They were in the studio for so long they had no idea that their previous album was becoming a hit in the states.  It drove original lead guitarist Pete Willis to drink and lead singer Joe Elliot to question his own chops.  Regardless, The results were phenomenal, and it unleashed a band tight as hell for the ensuing tour.  Then tragedy struck.  Drummer Rick Allen was in a racing accident and lost his arm.  The band decided that they would not continue without him.  They were going into battle and leaving no man behind.  The album took 3 years to record.  Original recordings were scrapped while they shuffled producers.  Eventually, Allen mastered his electronic drums and Lange came back and the result was Def Leppards biggest selling album to date

Van Halen / 5150 - Although 1984 was a big hit, it scared some loyal fans.  Their King of Guitar was playing synth keyboards.  What the hell was going on???  All was better for the loyalist once they heard 'Hot For Teacher', but not for the band.  David Lee Roth would soon set sail for schlocky solo hits leaving the rest of the band alone to write the next chapter.  Eddie found inspiration in musician and singer Sammy Hagar and the band fell in love again...for a couple of albums at least.  When Sammy and Van Halen parted ways that was the end of an era.  Fans to this day still argue over David and Sammy.  Regardless of what camp you are in you must admit that both ruled the airways.

Frank Sinatra / Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back - I mean, sure, the comeback Sinatra had to sing off a teleprompter.  Regardless, without the comeback we would not have gotten 'Theme From New York, New York' and 'Send in the Clowns'.  It was only a three year retirement for Ol' Blue Eyes but the comeback Sinatra seemed bigger and stronger.  It is still hard to imagine a time that Sinatra wasn't the jewel of the public eye.  The resurgence lasted until his death in 1998 with new albums, collaborations, and touring.  I still regret not seeing him in the early 90's when I had my chance.  Lesson learned.

Aerosmith / Permanent Vacation - Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have a relationship much like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards or Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone.  Regardless how they feel about each other their relationship transcends that.  They are Band Mates.  Nothing comes between that.  So when Steven Tyler confronted Joe Perry about his wife's antics backstage at a show in 1979 it was surprising that Perry quit the band.  The fact that he started the Joe Perry project added further insult to injury.  Neither side benefited from the split.  Perry and Whitford rejoined in 84 and their first effort 'Done with Mirrors' didn't gain any notice.  But after a rehab stint for Tyler and a successful team up with Run DMC they were primed for a comeback.  1987's Permanent Vacation had three hit singles and brought them back into the public eye.  Tyler said that it was the first album they had ever done solo.  The success started the ball rolling with 5 hit albums over 14 years.  I am still waiting for one more.

Heart / Self Titled - Heart never really went away before their 1985 comeback.  They just hadn't had a gold record since 1980's Bebe Le Strange.  That is not that great considering that their first 4 releases went platinum.  In those 5 years the persoenl had changed and there was more of a focus on folk.  When they switched from Epic to Capital to get ready for their 8th release they were ready for Mainstream Rock.  This was their first record to top the Billboard charts and also went 5 times Platinum.  The Stadium Ready Rock formula propelled their next two album to Platinum status as well.  The Wilson sisters are still together and recording but they have yet to recapture this magic.

Johnny Cash / American Recordings - The original bad ass had originally become a joke of himself.  He hadn't changed.  We had.  Rick Ruben eventually went and sought out Johnny Cash.  They set up in Johhny's living room  in 1994 and the rest was history.  The album was stripped down and raw featuring new and reconfigured Cash songs and covers written by the likes of Waits, Cohen, Danzig, and others.   The album was critically acclaimed and the videos made MTV rotation.  The resurgence led to 4 albums over a nine year span ending with Cash's haunting cover of Nine Inch Nail's 'Hurt' that even Trent Reznor loved.

There are others that qualify.  Steve Winwood and Peter Gabriel deserve a nod. If it wasn't for the allegations for song stealing Paul Simon would have made the list for Graceland.  These 10 mean the most to me though.  Then again, there are no wrong answers.

See you when the needle drops!


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