Hive Five: Longest Follow-Up Albums

Bush perform in Fontana, Calif., September 2010. Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Bush, the radio-friendly hit machine of the post-grunge era, has been silent since its breakup in 2002. (Though truthfully most casual fans hadn’t heard much from Mr. Gwen Stefani’s group since their string of mid-‘90s hits like “Machinehead,” “Glycerine” and “Greedy Fly.”) But now the British band is back with their first album in 10 years, The Sea of Memories — and they aren’t the only musicians who needed an extended hiatus to recharge their creative batteries (or become sufficiently broke to require a nostalgic cash-in). Hive’s dug up five other acts that didn’t seem to mind the gap at all, taking their sweet time between releases.

1. Vashti Bunyan

English-folk singer Vashti Bunyan only made one album, 1970’s Just a Diamond Day, before she quit the music industry. But over time her fragile voice, intimate acoustic arrangements and child-like, pastoral themes influenced a new generation of musicians like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, who created their brand of so-called “freak folk” in Bunyan’s image. So 30 years after leaving music, she was back in demand, guesting on albums by Banhart and Animal Collective and even re-releasing her debut. Then, in 2005, she went back into the studio, bolstered by the young musicians who championed her, and made Lookaftering, a sophomore success 35 years in the making.

2. The Stooges

With three albums of proto-punk perfections (their self-titled effort, Fun House and Raw Power) behind them, the Stooges legacy was secured by the time of their 1974 breakup. In 2003, when they reunited (and added Mike Watt on bass) they didn’t need to make a new record — they could have showed up and played “Search and Destroy” and that would have been enough for their fans — but to the studio they went. And while 2007’s The Weirdness isn’t on par with the rest of the Stooges’ classic catalog, it’s still thrilling to hear Iggy playing alongside Ron and Scott Asheton again. It’s poignant, too, since Ron died only two years after its release.

3. Guns N’ Roses

In the history of rock and roll no album has been as hotly anticipated and famously delayed as Guns N’ Roses sixth effort, Chinese Democracy. Ostensibly a follow-up to 1993’s “The Spaghetti Incident?”, the album seemed to have a new release date and a different band lineup with each passing year. Chinese Democracy finally made its way into the world in 2008 with frontman Axl Rose as its only continuous presence. Though it was greeted with a flurry of press and eventually was certified platinum, the album, which reportedly cost $13 million to make, feels like an unforgettable flop after all the build up, proving that not all things are worth their wait.

4. The Vaselines

By the time most Americans had heard of the Vaselines, the cheeky, lo-fi Scots had already broken up. But lucky for us, Kurt Cobain had heard of them and their 1989 debut, Dum-Dum. Cobain, whose band would go on to record covers of three Vaselines songs, became the band’s stateside cheerleader, which led to a 1992 Sub Pop compilation of the collected works of their short career. But it wasn’t until the Vaselines played a few gigs together in 2008, including Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary show, that they regrouped and started making new music again. The result is 2010’s Sex With an X, a twee, shambolic follow-up to a 21-year-old album that sounds like no time at all has passed since then.

5. The Feelies

No other album title this year has been as literal as the Feelies’ Here Before. The band hadn’t recorded an album in 20 years (not since 1991’s Time For a Witness), but as the inventors of the kind of jangly, jittery college rock that influenced bands from R.E.M. to Weezer, they are no strangers to the recording studio. On their latest effort, the reformed Feelies manage to acknowledge their long absence—“Is it too late to do it again, or should we wait for another 10?” they sing on its opening track — without dwelling on it, so Here Again feels less like a reunion album than just another addition to a stellar band’s enviable catalog — that’s about 19 years late.

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