Worst Musical Comebacks


Embrace are the latest band to jump on the comeback bandwagon, announcing their first album in eight years after previously splintering off to pursue solo projects - a return to fame and fortune are practically guaranteed, right?

Many surely think, 'if it worked once, it'll work again', but the passage of time can be a cruel mistress; their fans may have moved on, the old magic may have been lost or - usually - there was a reason why you stopped in the first place.

We take a look at the 10 worst comebacks in musical history.


Guns 'n' Roses

When frontman Axl Rose returned in 2001 with a brand new lineup, minus Slash and the rest, people expected the worst, but the new live gang, bolstered by the virtuoso guitarists Buckethead, and Nine Inch Nails' Robin Fincke, worked incredibly well. Axl may have looked slightly strange, but the voice was still there. However, the big moment that everyone was really waiting for was the long-awaited studio return; namely, the release of Chinese Democracy - and this was a huge, crushing disappointment. Everything about it was overblown - the production cost of $13m, the use of an astonishing 13 different studios and its 71 minute running time. Practically every known musician in the Western world recorded a part for Chinese Democracy - but too many cooks spoil the broth it seems. Over time, the members of the original 2.0 group left, and the group rumbles on with Axl, inferior musicians and dwindling crowds. A crying shame.


All Saints

All Saints emerged in the Spice Girls' slipstream as the girl band it was OK to like, having a reasonably cool image and some undeniably great tunes. I Know Where It's At and Never Ever established them and, when they released the William Orbit-produced Pure Shores, they even had some credibility to go along with their popularity. When they split in 2001, their legacy was secure. Or so it seemed. In 2006, they announced their reunion, released a comeback single which went top 3...but then the album, Studio 1 utterly bombed, entering at number 40. A second single missed the top 200 and the members admitted that they had reformed just for money. In 2009, Mel Blatt said she would be happy if she never sang again. Naturally, a second reunion was announced in November 2013 - bizarrely the band will support the Backstreet Boys on five dates in 2014. We wouldn't hold our breath for new music.


Geri Halliwell

The Spice Girls reunion narrowly missed this list - despite an ill-advised comeback single, their tour was succinct, and successful. Geri, however, does not escape, with two tremendously unsuccessful comebacks under her solo belt. The first Spice Girl to go it alone, she started well, but slowly dwindled, stopping for a first time in 2002. A 2004 comeback tour was cancelled after poor ticket sales, and she stopped - seemingly for good - to concentrate on writing children's books and being a mother. However, fast-forward eight years, she had become a judge on Australia's Got Talent, and dusted off the microphone to release a new solo single Half of Me in November 2013. It stormed in at 281 in the Australian chart, a devasting blow to any chances of a fully-fledged comeback but, fair play, Geri admitted on her blog that, "maybe I need to learn how to lose well in order to be a good winner". Either way, we wouldn't advise a return to music any time soon.


The Doors

Continuing without your frontman is always a tricky affair, but particularly so when it was one so iconic as Jim Morrison - the face, the voice and the mojo of the band. Most assumed that when he met his untimely end at the age of (of course) 27, The Doors' legacy would remain left alone. They were wrong, as guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek resurrected the name - albeit slightly changed to the unwieldly 'The Doors of the 21st Century', recruited Police drummer Stewart Copeland and former Cult frontman Ian Astbury and hit the road in 2002. Unfortunately, people weren't having it - not least former drummer John Densmore, who teamed up with the Morrison estate to issue legal proceedings and prevent them using The Doors name. Undeterred, they changed to D21C, Riders on the Storm and then Manzarek-Krieger - and they even butchered a Morrison vocal sample with Skrillex, of all people, before Manzarek died in 2013. Naturally, through it all, they never came close to matching the heights of the original lineup. Sometimes, it's best to let sleeping lizards lie isn't it chaps?


The Smashing Pumpkins

Another example of a band with a frontman with a planet-sized ego (cf. Guns 'n' Roses), Smashing Pumpkins had established themselves as one of the most iconic bands of a generation by the time they played a farewell gig in December 2000. Billy Corgan then went on to form Zwan and release a solo record, but after poor sales, clearly realised the value in a name and decided to resurrect the Pumpkins in 2005. Unfortunately, the only other original member was drummer Jimmy Chamberlain - James Iha and Melissa Auf der Maur stayed firmly away. The comeback record Zeitgeist received mixed reviews, with the missing duo's absence being keenly felt. Chamberlain left in 2009 and Corgan continues to plough a lone furrow; unfortunately most of the band's fans have stopped listening.


Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols were the band that defined punk, and everything about what they did was perfect: a short, sharp lightning bolt which smashed the status quo: releasing just four singles and one album they changed everything and left a trail of destruction in their wake. And with the death of Sid Vicious in 1979 after their break-up, that should have been it. Unfortunately, it wasn't, and they reformed in 1996 for the Filthy Lucre tour - at least no-one could accuse them of hiding their motives. Punk was never about middle-aged men and particularly was not about nostalgia; this was one reunion which should have been avoided at all costs.


Sugababes/Mutya Keisha Siobhan

OK, so perhaps it's a little early to call time on this one, but the signs are not encouraging. The Sugababes had gradually lost members after Siobhan, then Mutya were replaced and they went full-on Trigger's Broom when the final original member, Keisha, was forced out of the band to be succeeded by Jade Ewen. Even their most ardent fans decided that enough was enough, and the backlash had an unexpected consequence: the 3 'origibabes' put aside their differences and announced that they would make music together again. A deal with Polydor followed and anticipation was high: they had always had credibility as the pop group it was OK to like and the comeback single Flatline was well-received by the critics. Unfortunately radio blanked it, the expected fanbase didn't buy it, and it crawled to number 50 in the charts. The album is still due to land in 2014, but there's still no release date. We'll be honest girls, it's not looking good.


Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit had been huge in the second half of the 90s, mixing rap and metal and 'I hate my parents' lyrics to spearhead the dark days of nu-metal. Whatever you thought about frontman Fred Durst, however, the guitarist Wes Borland was well respected and when he left to pursue other projects, a poorly received record Results May Vary was released. Surprisingly, Borland then rejoined and the band made a comeback with The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) which was released without any promotion - Durst confidently predicting that their loyal fanbase would make it a success. It sold just 37,000 copies worldwide. Borland then left again, then rejoined for another comeback, Gold Cobra in 2009 - this sold marginally better, but nowhere near the scale of their glory days, and Interscope dropped them. Amazingly, they got another deal with Cash Money records and a third comeback is on the cards with Stampede of the Disco Elephants slated for a 2014 release. Just give it up guys OK?


East 17

The success of Take That's comeback in 2006 surprised everyone, and when tickets for their tour started to sell out, it was clear to all their fellow 90s boybands that a reformation was the way to go. East 17 duly reformed for a one-off gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire. However, while Take That released Beautiful World and went stratospheric, East 17 members Tony Mortimer and Brian Harvey clashed again, with the former - the band's principal songwriter - leaving. They struggled on as a 3-piece for a while before Harvey left, and Mortimer rejoined in 2010. A new studio album - their first in 14 years - was released in 2012 and largely ignored. That comeback could definitely have gone better, couldn't it.


Led Zeppelin

Obviously, we love the Zep. And obviously their 2007 reformation was triumphant, but Led Zeppelin's performance at 1985's Live Aid was...ahem...not the greatest. They played the Philadelphia leg of the giant fundraiser, with Phil Collins - one of the world's great drummers - and the equally adept Tony Thompson of Chic guesting on drums. Plant's touring bassist Paul Martinez completed the lineup but the performance was a disaster: their lack of rehearsal showing in out-of-time playing, Page's out-of-tune guitar and Plant struggling with a hoarse voice and pitching issues. It was so bad that the band refused to let the footage be used for subsequent video releases. Thankfully, 2007 was great, so we can pretend this never happened (although you can watch it above).


(Images: Rex)


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