Will ABBA hold the record for the longest gap between albums? And what are the best 70+ songs?
Forty years passed between the release of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” and that of the Clash’s “London Calling.” Forty years also will have passed between the release of ABBA’s previous album, The Visitors, and their new one, Voyage, due out Nov. 5. From the sound of the first two released songs, the contrast between the old and new is not so pronounced.
“I Still Have Faith in You” is big show-tune ballad while “Don’t Shut Me Down” also starts slowly and gets a bit peppier, with that ABBA sheen shining through. In sheer ear candy terms, neither song is up there with “Dancing Queen” or “Take a Chance on Me,” but what is?
Is this the longest gap between albums in the rock era?
No, it is not.
Forty-three years passed between the release of Emitt Rhodes’ Farewell to Paradise (1973) and the McCartney-influenced singer-songwriter’s Rainbow Ends (2016).
The Strawberry Alarm Clock also took 43 years between their Good Morning Starshine (1969) and Wake Up Where You Are (2012).
The pioneering all-female rock band Fanny released its 2018 comeback album, Fanny Walked the Earth, 44 years after its previous album, Rock and Roll Survivors (1974).
Forty-eight years came between the Sonics’ Introducing the Sonics (1967) and the Washington garage-rock band’s return on This Is the Sonics (2015). (That doesn’t count the widely disregarded 1980 so-called Sonics album Sinderella.)
And, Stereogum notes, folk singer Dean Gitter took a whopping 57 years between his albums Ghost Ballads (1957) and Old Folkies Never Die (2014). Unless someone can offer up another example, he wins.
Take a bow, Dean Gitter fans.
Maintaining a career over four decades is quite a feat regardless of any gaps. Who has that many great songs left more than forty years into a career?
Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny were in their 20s and 30s during ABBA’s heyday and now are in their 70s.
Forty-one years passed between Paul McCartney’s solo McCartney II (1980) and McCartney III (2021) albums, and II came 10 years after the first McCartney and 18 years after the Beatles’ debut single, “Love Me Do.” It’s telling that the most tuneful song on McCartney III, “When Winter Comes,” originally was recorded in 1992. Paul McCartney has been writing Paul McCartney songs for more than 60 years, and he still embraces experimentation and innovation, but not even he has an infinite supply of indelible melodies.
I often credit Richard Thompson, the first Caropop guest, with having the longest string of consistent excellence. The first self-titled Fairport Convention album came out in 1968, and 50 years later Thompson’s 13 Rivers was packed with strong songs, and the accompanying tour with his trio was dynamite.
An aura of awe surrounded the 2020 release of Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, with its 17-minute, Kennedy-assassination-invoking epic “Murder Most Foul.” His 80th birthday was in May.
Tom Jones turned 81 in June and that voice…whoa! With this spring’s release of Surrounded By Time, recorded when he was 80, Jones became the oldest male with a No. 1 UK album.
Legendary Chicago blues guitarist Buddy Guy, now 85, released his album The Blues Is Alive and Well weeks before his 82nd birthday three summers ago. He’s currently on tour.
This spring Loretta Lynn released her acclaimed 46th solo studio album, Still Woman Enough. She turned 89 in April.
My friend Howard Gensler, a Philadelphia-based entertainment journalist, suggested compiling a playlist of the Best Songs Written and Performed by People 70 and Over.
Great idea, Howard!
Your nominees, please…