The best "comeback" albums of all time
22 January 2022, 12:00
When bands go away and reinvent themselves, sometimes they can return bigger than ever. Here are some of the biggest comeback LPs from David Bowie to Blur.
Blur - The Magic Whip (2015)
After 2003’s Think Tank, nobody was expecting Blur to reconvene and create another album, let alone one with guitarist Graham Coxon back in the fold. The result of an impromptu session recorded across five days in Hong Kong, the result was delightfully in the mould of classic Blur.
David Bowie - The Next Day (2013)
Bowie was known for reinventing himself and reconnecting with audiences, but nobody else made a comeback like this. The album was announced on Bowie’s 66th birthday and his first new music in a decade was available immediately. No fuss, no hype, just a solid LP that paid tribute to the legend’s past work and yet, as always, looked forward.
The Libertines - Anthems For Doomed Youth (2015)
It took eleven years for Pete Doherty and Carl Barat to patch things up and regroup for the third Libertines album. Featuring the singles Gunga Din and Glasgow Coma Scale Blues, it was an older but wiser take on the band’s idiosyncratic style, but a welcome return.
Suede - Bloodsports (2013)
Once one of the leading lights of Britpop, by the time A New Morning came out in 2002, the band’s popularity was on the wain and singer Brett Anderson had forged a solo career. So it was a surprise when 11 years later, the group reconvened for one of their strongest albums yet.
U2 - Achtung Baby (1991)
Three years isn’t a lifetime in music, but the gap between 1988’s Rattle And Hum and 1991’s Achtung Baby saw U2 make a leap of light years in terms of style and content. Out went the Americana, big hats and epic guitar anthems; in came Berlin, Zoo TV and an experimental vibe. This didn’t alienate the Irish band’s fans; in fact, with songs like The Fly, Even Better Than The Real Thing and One, the record made them more popular than ever.
AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)
When Acca Dacca singer Bon Scott died following a drinking binge, it was felt that it was game over for the hard rocking Aussies. But with a new singer, Englishman Brian Johnson, they pulled an absolute classic out of the bag: the title track, Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long… this wasn’t the sound of a band on their last legs.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (1999)
When Dave Navarro left the Chili Peppers in 1998, it seemed that the LA band was done and dusted. But with former guitarist John Frusciante welcomed back into the group, the Chilis were given a new lease of life. The result was Californication, an album that spawned the more reflective title track and Scar Tissue, and put the Chili Peppers back in the big league.
Green Day - American Idiot (2004)
The US rockers had made a huge splash in 1994 with their breakthrough album Dookie, but the follow-ups Nimrod, Insomniac and Warning didn’t have the same effect as their predecessor. With 2004’s American Idiot, their political lyrics and hard riffing, accessible tunes caught the mood of the era.