Expiration Date Notwithstanding
A band past their prime making a fantastic return to form is as rare as finding a 1776 silver continental dollar in a street gutter. In other words, it’s a wonderful fantasy but highly unlikely. Some folks stick with the beloved musical outfits of their youth, buying all the sub-standard output in the hopes of former glories being restored and their patience and loyalty being rewarded with a “classic” album. Most give up after one or two blasé efforts, and I’m no different. We move on. Usually it’s the discovery of a brand new band (or brand old band we rediscover) that draws out attention away from our vigil, sometimes it’s just life and growing up that gets in the way. It is, in the words of The Borg Queen, inevitable.
Occasionally it happens, though the sad part is when it happens we generally couldn’t be arsed putting in the effort. It takes a very special release by said band to make us take notice, buy and really absorb their new effort. Madness recently accomplished this by not only releasing an exemplary album but what I feel could very well be their BEST album, and they’ve been traipsing around (in one form or another) since the late 70’s! One of my faves, O.M.D., released an album a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say it was pretty mediocre. They went too far down John Hughes’ sugar coated rabbit hole and have little hope of escaping at this point. Paul Simon did it with Graceland. Elvis did it with help from the fabulous “’68 Comeback Special” and the album Elvis In Memphis. Johnny Cash with American Recordings; Bob Dylan with Time Out Of Mind; Nick Lowe with The Impossible Bird; Paul Weller’s 22 Dreams and Brian Wilson’s Smile project (the shocker of the century, and a tad overrated I’m afraid). Then there are those comeback albums that fail miserably, like Guns And Roses Chinese Democracy, or the Happy Mondays Unkle Disfunktional.
Some bands I believe still have it in ‘em to reclaim their former glory (most need to reform for this to happen, granted): The Beat, Squeeze, The Psychedelic Furs and Roxy Music.
And what about you, faithful holders of the torch? Which band or artist do you think has a “Liberty Of Norton Folgate” still in them after all these years?