Top Ten Lags Between Albums

[Another stellar list from special correspondent, Brent Chittenden. -AC]

Alan handed me a challenge this week. A list of the longest durations between albums without breakups. Right off the bat, we had rules. Mainly that it couldn’t be from a band that had “officially” broken up.

The Eagles, for instance, are disqualified. Guns N Roses were okay.  Hiatus was also allowed.  The band also had to contain at least one original member or member that was in both the last album and the latest album. Live albums, b-side/demo compilations, box sets and greatest hits albums did not count, only official studio albums were to be used.

So here it is, the top Longest Durations Between Albums (without breakups).

10) U2 (5 years)

To be honest, this isn’t really a bench mark as I could find a ton of bands that have similar gaps in their recording schedule but I figured it was a good representation. U2 usually has three to five year gaps in their recording history but the reason I used them to start the list is that despite these gaps and the band’s 36 plus years they have never had a major line up change.

9) The Prodigy (7 years)

The Prodigy had a huge hit with Fat of the Land and it ushered in a wave of “electronica” and electronic music. It took Prodigy mastermind Liam Howett seven years to put together the follow up (due to just regular time off and getting married Natalie Appelton from All Saints) Always Out Numbered, Never Out Gunned.

8) The Rolling Stones (8 years)

Despite their very prolific career and at least one member or another working on some musical project or another, The Rolling Stones did have an eight year gap between the albums Bridges To Babylon and A Bigger Bang.  And it’s not like they were sitting around doing nothing; solo albums, touring, The Simpsons, etc, just not as a unit.

7) Portishead (11 years)

Coming out as one of the critical success of Bristol’s trip-hop scene, they tend to take time with their albums. There is a eleven years between Portishead and Third and Geoff Barrow did joke that it might be another ten years until the next release.

6) Van Halen (14 years)

This was a stat that surprised me a great deal because you always hear some version of Van Halen on classic and rock radio at least once in a two or three hour stretch. That being said there was fourteen years between the completely forgotten Gary Cherone voiced Van Halen III and this year’s A Different Kind Of Truth with David Lee Roth returning to the mic.

5) Guns n’ Roses  (15 Years/17 years)

Now this one might draw some complaints but for all intents and purposes, Axel owned the name Guns n’ Roses, by all accounts a metric ton of work was done on Chinese Democracy but it just took a very long time to complete. Now the real question is where you count from. The last studio recording was The Spaghetti Incident? but it’s an album entirely made up of covers. Before that, if you want a true proper studio release you have to go to Use Your Illusions I and II. So depending on how you want to look at the gap between Gunner albums is either 15 years or 17 years. And surprisingly, they just crack the top five.

4) Kraftwerk (17 years)

Kraftwerk’s gap is so large you’d be forgiven if you thought that a) they are no longer around and b) that they had indeed released anything resembling a new album but in the seventeen years between Electric Cafe and Tour de France they influenced everyone from Gary Numan to Afrika Bambaataa.

3) Steely Dan (20 years)

Depending on how you want to look at this, Steely Dan might not belong on this list but as far as I can tell there wasn’t an official breakup of the band but the was an official hiatus. In some ways it might have been a break up but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker did try to work together on and off for year which says to be the band wasn’t broken up, they were on hiatus. HIATUS I SAY!… um… yes 20 years between Gaucho and Two Against Nature.

2) Devo (20 years)

No official break up and in fact despite possible public perception, Devo have been doing stuff. Live shows, soundtracks, etc but a good twenty years between Smooth Noodle Maps and 2010’s Something for Everyone.

1) My Bloody Valentine (21 years and counting)

There was no way anyone else would top this list. Kevin Shields have never actually broken up despite large periods of inactivity.  The impact of Loveless on the alternative generation of the 90’s and beyond is pretty hard to measure at this point. You can hear their influence on everyone from The Smashing Pumpkins to Radiohead.  Every couple of years we hear Shields mention that new music is on the way and given that the band has reportedly recorded at least two albums worth of material (possibly more) it is a possibility more music will be heard… I just wouldn’t hold my breath over it.

Special thanks to Cara Lea and Sean May for help with assembling this list.  But who did we miss? What am I incorrect on? Are there details I’m missing?  

Please post your thoughts and comments below and we’ll talk. Who know? Maybe it’ll generate another list.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Lags Between Albums

  • April 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    The gap between The Who's IT'S HARD and ENDLESS WIRE was *24 YEARS*. Should be worth a mention.

    • June 2, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Leo O’Kely here. I play with Tir na nOg…we just released our first studio album, The Dark Dance, after 42 years! Any contenders?

  • April 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I thought about it but there was an actual break up or two in there. I might try this list again but allowing break ups because there are a few really long stretches. The Eagles for example.

  • April 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    If you allow the use of "…and counting" as you did with your number one pick, then Tool would slot in at the 6 year mark. Did I Mother Earth break up or is it considered a hiatus now that they are playing shows? They are at 9 years and counting.

  • April 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    A very valid point Kevin about IME. That's a weird one where I recall interviews after the fact saying that IME broke up but since then (especially recently) there's been a ton of stuff saying that "Oh no, it was a hiatus". But currently they've also stated they are unsure about recording an album so I left them off the list. Tool however should be on this list and I have no idea how I missed them.

  • April 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Roxette released its Room Service record (their seventh) in 2001. The next year, singer Marie Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and band went on hiatus while she recovered. Songwriter/singer/guitarist Per Gessle released a bunch of solo records in the meantime.

    Roxette regrouped in 2010 and released Charm School in 2011, so a 10-year gap for them, which would put them in eighth spot on the list. They haven't enjoyed much success in North America since the early 90s, but they've remained very popular in Europe and South America all along.

  • April 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    That would explain their current tour coming to Toronto. I was kind of curious the reasoning behind it, I guess they're touring to back this new album. Keep them coming guys!

  • April 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    You forgot Boston (8 years). "Don't Look Back" in 1978 to "Third Stage" in 1986.

  • April 26, 2012 at 12:08 am

    The Vaselines… depending on your definition of "album", their last for a while would have been either 1991 (Dum-Dum — actual studio LP) or 1992 (if you want to count the compilation albums "The Way of the Vaselines" and "All the Stuff and More". Their next album would be either 2009 (again, IF you count compilations — "Enter the Vaselines") or 2010 ("Sex with an X", their second studio LP). So 17 to 19 years depending on your standards and the dates those albums were releases…. And yes I hit up Wikipedia for the specifics. 🙂

  • April 26, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Nice to see two of my favourite bands on here (U2 and Steely Dan), and a lot of others that I like, such as Prodigy and Portishead. The most interesting thing for me is seeing the change in sound between long gaps. U2's relatively small gap between Rattle & Hum and Achtung Baby revealed a very different sound, while the huge gap between Steely Dan's Gaucho and Two Against Nature yielded songs that fit in very closely with the rest of Fagen/Becker's oeuvre. The difference in sound between Portishead's eponymous album and Third could be different bands (the stuff Beth did with Rustyn Man sounded like Dummy unplugged at times).

  • April 26, 2012 at 1:05 am

    A Natural Disaster (2003) very much an underground (none album charting) band >>>> We're Here Because We're Here (2010)
    Chart (2010) Peaks
    Dutch Albums Chart 52 Finnish Albums Chart 19 French Albums Chart 69 German Albums Chart 50 Greek Albums Chart 6
    Being dropped by Music for Nations / that label being taken over by Sony / being dropped (contractual difficulties) / changing their direction (atmospheric rock from doom-death) has seemed to help them after many years in the wilderness.Their latest album Weather Systems has just entered the UK charts at No.50 & German charts at No.19 even.Almost getting mainstream in rock terms these days.A break can be great for some rock bands it seems.A band very much on the way up – only took them 23 years 😛

  • April 26, 2012 at 2:50 am

    It's been almost 13 years and counting since Dr. Dre released "2001".

  • April 26, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Aren't we still waiting for the second full length Mary Margaret O'Hara album, what, 24 years on?

  • April 27, 2012 at 6:28 am

    When the Eagles released Long Road Out of Eden in 2007, it was their first studio album since 1979's The Long Run. That's 28 years…


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