Our top 25 best classic rock comeback albums list takes a look at a group of bands and artists who released albums after being away for a long time. However this comeback list does not just include artists who have not released albums for a long period of time. Quite frankly, its includes albums from artists who did not release good albums for a long period of time or at least released albums that signified a return to form. Of course, that’s all subjective but we stand by our picks. First and foremost, the comeback albums have to be GOOD to make the list. It’s not about an artist or band who has been away for thirty years and then releases a new album that stinks. Its about artists coming back with GREAT albums. Some of these will be obvious and some may be a little surprising. But that’s what makes for an interesting read. We hope you have fun with our 25 Best Classic Rock Comeback albums list.
The comeback category in rock music really started with the Elvis Presley Comeback Special album in 1968. Since then, record companies love to promote on albums covers when its an artist’s first album in x amount of years. How many times have you seen “xxx first new studio album in 13 years,” on an album cover? Well, that’s all disappearing now since most artists have stopped releasing new albums all together. Which in reality, may fuel more comeback albums than we have ever seen if people start actually buying physical product again. Nonetheless, here is our 25 best classic rock or just simply put best rock comeback albums ever released.
# 25 – A Different Kind of Truth – Van Halen
We wanted to open this list with a real good one. Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth was the first Van Halen album released in fourteen years since the release of Van Halen III in 1998, which many people feel was the worst Van Halen album ever issued. Furthermore A Different Kind of Truth was the first Van Halen album to feature David Lee Roth on lead vocals in twenty eight years since the release of 1984 in 1984.
# 24 – Long Road Out of Eden – The Eagles
The Eagles Long Road Out Of Eden album was released in 2007. It was the band’s first full length new studio album in twenty eight years since the release of The Long Run in 1979. That’s a long time.
# 23 – Mystery Girl – Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl album was the legendary’s singer’s first studio album in ten years. Fueled by his renewed popularity as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, the album featured an all star cast of musicians and became one of his most successful albums of his career. Sadly he passed away before it was released.
# 22 – Ordinary Man – Ozzy Osbourne
# 21 – Celebration Day – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin coming back for one night is better than most bands coming back forever. If they had continued to carry on, this would be at number one on the list but since there comeback only lasted less than three hours we had to place this one appropriately. Still, it was nice to have a new Led Zeppelin album in the 2000s that was recorded in the 2000s even though it contained no new material.
# 20 – Angel of Retribution – Judas Priest
Angel of Retribution was a huge comeback album for Judas Priest because it was the first Judas Priest album in fifteen years to feature the return of their original legendary lead singer Rob Halford. Angel of Retribution was released in 2005. Rob Halford’s last appearance on a Judas Priest album was on Painkiller in 1990.
# 19 – Supernatural – Santana
Santana’s Supernatural album hit number one in 1999. The album featured six successful singles. It would become Santana’s most successful album ever released. It was Santana’s first album in seven years.
# 18 – Black Gives Way To Blue – Alice In Chains
One listen to this fabulous album and you will understand why we included it on the list. The Black Gives Way To Blue Alice In Chains album was the band’s first album in fourteen years and the first Alice In Chains albums released without their former vocalist Layne Staley who had passed away in 2002.
# 17 – Tug Of War – Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney had released so many solos albums with and without Wings leading up to the Great Tug Of War album. The reason Tug Of War was considered a comeback album was because Paul McCartney had released a record of such brilliant songs that many people felt was his best album since the break up of The Beatles. We agree.
# 16 – That’s The Way It Always Should Be – Booker T. & The M.G.s
Booker T. & The MG’s were one of the most important bands of the 1960s. They played on countless recordings as the back up band for so many STAX recording artists. They released a series of very successful solo albums in the 60s headed by their big hit “Green Onions.” That’s The Way It Always Should Be was their first new studio album released in seventeen years since their 1977 album Universal Language.
# 15 – Private Dancer – Tina Turner
Tina Turners Private Dancer album was a huge hit in 1984. Tuna Turner’s last big hit was in the early 1970s with her husband Ike who was discovered to be be abusive. Private Dancer was a successful celebration of independence both artistically and personally for Tina Turner.
# 14 – Achtung Baby – U2
U2’s Achtung Baby was a comeback album that signaled a new direction and importance for the band.
# 13 – Bat Out Of Hell II – Meat Loaf
This one was a real shocker after delivering one of the greatest albums of the 1970s with the original Bat Out Of Hell album, and then releasing a series of mediocre recordings in the 1980’s Meat Loaf teamed up once again with Jim Steinman to release one heck of a blockbuster album in 1993. The Bat Out of Hell II album was released sixteen years after the original.
# 12 – American Recordings– Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash’s 1994 album was a comeback album in terms of importance. We laugh when people comment that Cash is not rock and roll. The ignorance of that comment just defines a complete misunderstanding of what rock and roll really means. Some people just look at the pictures, the titles or the headlines. Others read, listen, feel, live, learn, hurt, celebrate. And if you don’t get that, well, you just don’t get it.
# 11 -Time Out of Mind – Bob Dylan
# 10 – 68 Comeback Special – Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley’s 69 Comeback album was based on the televised special which featured Elvis’s ‘first live performances in seven years. That was a big deal back then.
# 9 – Seven Turns – The Allman Brothers
Nothing can revitalize a band like new blood. The addition of Warren Haynes and Alan Woody from Dickey Betts solo band sparked the return of the Allman Brothers Band in 1990 with their best album since Enlightened Rogues in 1979.
# 8 – The Rising – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
While Bruce Springsteen had released multiple studio albums with different configurations of musicians in the 1980’s and 1990s, his album The Rising was the first full E Street Band album in twenty five years since the release of Born in the U.S.A. in 1984. Released in 2001, The Rising was meant to help heal the wounds of 9/11. It was done with class, dignity and respect and stands as one of the most important artistic responses to the tragedy of 9/11
# 7 – Songs From The West Coast – Elton John
Elton John fans had been praying for an Elton John album like this since 1976’s Blue Moves. Songs From The West Coast was not a complete return to form of the classic Elton John 1970-1976 sound, but it was as close as he has ever gotten. This was a wonderful album released in 2001.
# 6 – Centerfield – John Fogerty
One of our all time favorite comeback albums on this list is John Fogerty’s Centerfield album. Filled with great rock and roll songs, it was so good to hear that legendary voice on the radio again like we had heard all the time in the 1960s and early 70s. The Centerfield album was released in 1984. It was John Fogerty’s first album in nine hears
# 5 – 13 – Black Sabbath
It was very surprising that Black Sabbath’s 13 album was not bigger than it was. This was a great Black Sabbath album and the first Black Sabbath studio album to feature Ozzy Osbourne on the lead mic since 1978’s Never Say Die.
# 4 – Perfect Stranger – Deep Purple
Deep Purple changed lineups more times than the Kardashians changed boyfriends. Nonetheless, it was their first album in eleven years with their legendary lineup of Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Roger Glover and Ian Paice. It was well worth the wait. This album killed.
# 3 – Two Against Nature – Steely Dan
Most Steely Dan fans never expected to see a new Steely Dan album. The band’s reputation for perfection in the studio seemed that it might be a huge block for the two brilliant artists to return to the studio to release a new album. Well as Sean Connery once said, Never Say Never! Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature was their first new studio album together in twenty years since the release of 1980’s Gaucho. Now that’s a comeback album.
# 2 – Back In Black – AC/DC
AC/DC’s Back In Black is sort of an outlier on this best classic rock comeback albums list. The band had not been away at all, they just happened to lose their lead singer Bon Scott the previous year whose death had been labelled as “death by misadventure,” by the coroners office. The fact that after losing their lead singer who had an incredible presence, yet still wanted to continue while discovering a new singer in Brian Johnston was a bit heroic. The fact that they would then release the biggest album of their career in Back In Black is what convinced us to lay them in the number two spot on this list.
# 1 – Double Fantasy – John Lennon
At number one on our best classic rock comeback albums list is John Lennon’s return in 1980. John Lennon had not released an album in five years. That’s a very long time for an ex-Beatle who had spent most of his career releasing two albums a year with multiple singles in between. When the album was released in 1980 it was met with both praise and criticism. Sadly John Lennon was murdered just after it was released. Maybe the saddest day in rock and roll history. It still hurts.
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