These days, the news that a band is about to record a comeback album is usually a sign that someones retirement pot needs a cash injection. As you might expect, these albums typically fall short of said band’s original genius. Here is a list of 5 of the most disappointing and unnecessary comeback albums we could think of.
1. Guns n’ Roses: Chinese Democracy (2008)
The album took 11-years to make, is reported to have cost more than $13 million dollars, and only involved 2 original members of the band: vocalist, Axel Rose, and keyboardist, Dizzy Reed. The rest of the band had either quit, or been fired, depending on who’s story you choose to believe.
It wasn’t a flop exactly – Chinese Democracy is certified Platinum in the UK and the USA – but it certainly was a disappointment. After a decade of work the results were still a far cry from the hard rock brilliance produced by the original Guns n’ Roses lineup.
As the most expensive rock album ever produced, Chinese Democracy is living proof that you need a lot more than money to make a great album.
2. The Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist (2007)
The Smashing Pumpkins’ reunion was announced on June 21st, 2005. The announcement was made via a full page ad in two Chicago papers, written and paid for by The Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman, Billy Corgan.
Coincidentally, June 21st 2005 was also the release date of Billy Corgan’s solo album, TheFutureEmbrace. Isn’t it funny how those two things happened on the same day? A cynical person might believe Corgan was using the announcement to draw attention to his solo project, which of course it did.
Two years later, the reformed Pumpkins (or rather Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin of The Smashing Pumpkins plus a couple of other guys) released the seventh Smashing Pumpkins studio album, Zeitgeist. As with Chinese Democracy, it wasn’t as if the album was atrocious, it just wasn’t very good either.
The album was full on with heavy drums, screeching solos, and Corgan’s unavoidable whine, which are all features of the original Pumpkins music that fans love. But the album lacked the versatility that made the Pumpkins a mega-group rather than just an alternative rock success.
The Smashing Pumpkins continue to work on new music with a double-album planned for 2020 [add link to news article].
3. The Eagles – Long Road Out of Eden (2007)
Long Road Out of Eden was the first album by The Eagles since 1979. It took them 6 years to put it together (already a bad sign) and the album ended up being a huge commercial success for which the only viable explanation is the amount of baby boomers desperately trying to relive their youth through the music of a tired out bunch of guys they used to listen to back in the day.
The band has clearly gotten stuck, emotionally and psychologically, in the 70s and the album demonstrates their apparent inability to develop since then.
What is clear is that the end of the 00s was a really bad time for reunion albums.
4. Hole – Nobody’s Daughter (2010)
When Country Love announced the return of Hole, nobody was buying it. With Love being the only original band member involved it was obvious to everyone that this was a solo album by another name.
Unsurprisingly, it fell far short of anything produced by the real Hole, although it did echo some elements of Celebrity Skin (1998), such as the high-end production value, the guitar driven pop style, and the in-your-face lyrics.
Nevertheless, fans were not to be deceived and Nobody’s Daughter died a lonely death on the shelves of the record store.
5. Kiss – Sonic Boom (2009)
Having never been the kind of guys to shy away from the chance to sell-out a little bit more, Kiss jumped on the opportunity to sell a few more records to the inexplicably reinvigorated fan base with the album Sonic Boom in 2009. The album was a Wal-Mart exclusive, which is obviously totally rock n’ roll dude.
The album featured just two members of the original lineup, Gene Simmonds and Paul Stanley, and the music was as predictable as it was played-out.
Frankly, we could also have added Kiss’ previous album, Psycho Circus, to this list too. One reviewer described it as feeling “worn out” and, “more of a huge advertisement for an impending tour than a full-fledged record.”
If you can think of another terrible comeback album let us know in the comments. It shouldn’t be too hard to think of a few more!