Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Great bands that had a short lifespan

As I left my house last night, I grabbed JJ72's 2nd album, I To The Sky, to accompany my drive. JJ72 only put out 2 albums and then shortly afterwards, called it quits. As the song 'Formulae' hit the speakers, it got me thinking about something: Some great band's entire careers lasted less than some bands take to record their next album! Let's take a look.

Joy Division: One of my favorite bands of all time. Put out two studio albums, the 2nd one was actually released after singer Ian Curtis died in 1980.

  • Date of Birth: 1976 in Manchester, England
  • Ended: 1980
  • Age: 4 years
  • What happened: Ian Curtis took his own life on the evening before the band were to embark on the first U.S. tour

Bauhaus: Another great British band. They put out 4 studio albums in a very short time and then dissolved. Of course they reunited years later, but that doesn't count. :)

  • Date of Birth: 1978 in Northhampton, England
  • Ended: 1983
  • Age: 5 years
  • What happened: While recording 'Burning From The Inside,' singer Peter Murphy was hospitalized for pneumonia. Upon returning to the studio, vocals on several tracks were put down by Daniel Ash and David J. By the time the album was released, they were through. We'll categorize this breakup under personal differences.

Velvet Underground: Four amazing studio albums before founding member Lou Reed walked away to pursue a solo career. The Velvet Underground continued on for a few years fronted by Doug Yule, but that also doesn't count. That's as if The Doors had continued without Jim Morrison. Oh wait, they did.

  • Date of Birth: 1965 in New York City
  • Ended: 1970
  • Age: 5 years
  • What happened: Lou Reed quit his own band

The Doors: Jim Morrison and the boys put out an album each year during their short-lived career. Nowadays, that is unheard of. After Jim Morrison died in France in 1971, the remaining members released a couple of more albums with Ray Manzarek on vocals. You can most likely find them in the used vinyl section at your local record store, but I'd probably grab Christopher Cross's first solo album before one of these.

  • Date of Birth: 1965 in Los Angeles
  • Ended: 1971
  • Age: 6 years
  • What happened: Jim Morrison died in a French bathtub shortly after the release of L.A. Woman

The Smiths: Another great band hailing from Manchester. The Smiths released 4 studio albums in their short lifespan. As you know, Morrissey went on to have a great solo career, while guitarist Johnny Marr went on to play in several bands, including Electronic and Modest Mouse.

  • Date of Birth: 1982 in Manchester, England
  • Ended: 1987
  • Age: 5 years
  • What happened: The band split up before their last album was released. Why? One of the biggest breakup factors: Personal differences.

Big Star: This is a strange story. They formed in 1971, released their first album in 1972, then one of the main members, Chris Bell quits. In 1974 they release their 2nd album, Radio City, then bassist Andy Hummel leaves. During 1974, the 2 remaining members, singer Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens record a 3rd album. Before the year ended, the band was done. The 3rd album was released 4 years later. Alex Chilton went on to have a solo career and the band was revived in the early 90s with members of The Posies filling Chris and Andy's places.

  • Date of Birth: 1971 - Memphis, Tennessee
  • Ended: 1974
  • Age: 3 years
  • What happened: Lack of success perhaps, or maybe just time to do something else.

In 1997, Morrissey released 'Maladjusted.' It would take 7 years for him to release his next album. Do the math and you'll see that while we were waiting for 'You Are The Quarry,' The Smiths career would have came and went.

In 1995, Peter Murphy released a great album called 'Cascade.' While there were some other releases (an EP, live album, the hits), he didn't put out a full-length original album until 2002's 'Dust.' That 7 year gap was 2 years longer than Bauhaus were with us.

  • U2: 5 years before releasing 2009's 'No Line On The Horizon'
  • Radiohead: 4 years before 2007's 'In Rainbows'
  • Metallica: 5 years before 2008's 'Death Magnetic'
  • AC/DC: 8 years before 2008's 'Black Ice'
  • ...and of course, the grandaddy of them all Guns 'N Roses 'Chinese Democracy.' 17 years.

Nowadays, it's quite common for most bands to take 2+ years to release their next album. I'm embarrassed to say that even my own band, Audra, took 7 years to release our 3rd album! Why? Well, sometimes life just gets in the way: personal problems, record label stuff, etc. I admire the times when bands put out albums very frequently.

Let's look at David Bowie's 70s output: 12 original albums within 11 years. Wow. And they are all great. :) David Bowie's last album came out in 2003. It's 2010. In that 7 year gap, in the 70s he would've put out: Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station To Station!!!!

I'm not going to go into the many reasons why artists take longer these days. This is just simply a reflection on how some bands were around for such a brief time, yet left such an impact on future generations.

Thanks for listening.

Here's a JJ72 video for you to check out:


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