Best and Worst Band Reunions Ever

Are reunions worth the effort or do they just tarnish a well-established reputation?

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If there's a single idea that gets rock fans' blood pumping, it's band reunions, especially if it's regarding some of the genre's finest acts.

Rock and metal music aficionados love to reminisce their favorite bands glory days, often forgetting such time is long gone and that mere studio gathering will not result in the same energy, vibe and ultimately quality.

As usual, there are two sides to every coin - reunions can turn out epic, or they can blunder miserably. So are reunions really necessary? Should every band call it quits while at the top of their game? We'll give you a few examples of how regathering can or can't work and then you be the judge.

Best Reunions

Black Sabbath

We'll start with more recent affairs and the latest Sabbath reunion. Although not a full-fledged original lineup gathering, the reunion did bring Ozzy, Tony and Geezer back in the studio where they forged "13," arguably the best record of 2013 so far and more importantly, an album that brings the old Sabbath back to a good extent, rounding up their musical journey as somewhat of a full circle.

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Megadeth

Back in 2002, the future of Megadeth wasn't bright. Fronmtan Dave Mustaine severely compressed the radial nerve of his left hand after falling asleep in a chair in bad position, making him unable to even make a fist. The band was officially disbanded, but Mustaine didn't lose hope - he underwent intense therapy and steadily regained control of his hand. What made his efforts seem super human is the fact that he actually had to learn how to play with his left hand from scratch and regain the ability to shred frets once again.

So fast-forward to 2004, the band is regrouped, featuring drummer extraordinaire Vinnie Colaiuta and group's early axeman Chris Poland and has just unleashed "The System Has Failed." By all means a massive record, including such monster tracks as "Kick the Chair," "Blackmail the Universe" and "Back in the Day," the album also arguably became the last Megadeth effort to really amaze the fans. So super-human efforts from Mr. Mustaine and a crackerjack album, that's how scene returns are done and that's exactly what earned them a spot among the best.

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Exodus

Thrash metal pioneers Exodus initially returned from their '90s hiatus in 2001, just to be struck by tragedy as original singer Paul Baloff passed away after suffering a stroke. The band was determined to finish what they started and had vocalist Steve Souza rejoin the fold.

The resulting effort, 2004's "Tempo of the Damned," easily bested most, if not all of the group's early records, featuring such hit numbers as "War Is My Sheppard," "Scar Spangled Banner" and "Impaler," a tune dating way back to the time when Metallica's Kirk Hammett was in the band.

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Iron Maiden

For metal giants Iron Maiden, the '90s were somewhat of a hit and miss era. After releasing "Fear of the Dark" in 1992, the group parted ways with singer Bruce Dickinson and hired Blaze Bayley of Wolfsbane to take over the vocalist duties. Almost seven years of work resulted in critically not too acclaimed records "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI," so with Dickinson's return in 1999, it was once again either make it or break it for the Maiden crew.

What the reunited Maiden came up with was "Brave New World," a worthy contender of band's each and every classic album. Tracks such as "Wicker Man," "Blood Brothers" and the title song really speak for themselves.

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Alice in Chains

Proving that they can still deliver even without such late frontman Layne Staley, Alice in Chains made a big return with their 2009 effort "Black Gives Way to Blue." Featuring vocalist William DuVall, the record made most fans glad that Jerry Cantrell and co. decided to carry on the flame.

The latest album "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" only further proved that the band still has a few things to say; however, a portion of skeptical fans unwilling to accept DuVall is also very much present and vocal.

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Worst Reunions

Van Halen

We'll kick off the worst section in a similar manner with yet another fairly current reunion. Back in 2006, David Lee Roth officially confirmed his second Van Halen regathering, sparking hope for another "Jump" or "Panama" among the fanbase.

The resulting effort, "A Different Kind of Truth," was a solid one at best, receiving mostly mixed reactions. The band even admitted using early unreleased material, seemingly giving away a lack of enthusiasm and desire to give 100 percent.

Live performances weren't too briliant either, just check out the April 2013 footage below. No diss to Mr. Roth, he is unarguably one of the greatest, but the 1:53 "see what I mean" part will make even the most devoted Van Halen fans' teeth cringe.

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Sex Pistols

Labeled a blunt cash-in, 1996 Sex Pistols reunion and the Filthy Lucre World Tour were frowned upon by some of the fans, as it seemed fairly aimless. The reformation resulted in no studio efforts, only deepening the ironic theory.

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The Beatles

In 1995, the legendary Beatles reunited for a TV series project and three double CD box sets. Two new tracks based on early Lennon demos, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," were also included. Despite the series' commercial success, it is the Beatles we're talking about, making two mediocre tunes nothing but flop.

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Guns N' Roses

Ever since the beginning of so-called "new" GN'R in late '90s, the band was under constant attack from the fans yearning for classic lineup reunion. Granted, current Guns N' Roses did release a solid studio effort and consist of great musicians, but some of the negative aspects have still earned them a spot in the lower category.

Such aspects include the 14-year making process of "Chinese Democracy" and a simple fact that the current lineup simply pales in comparison to the classic one.

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The Doors

Technically called The Doors of the 21st Century, new lineup of rock icons The Doors had an impossible task to fulfill from the very beginning - replacing Jim Morrison to an acceptable degree. Formed in 2002, the band was initially fronted by Ian Astbury of The Cult, who quit the band in 2007. Without releasing any studio material, the band performed old Doors songs until keyboardist Ray Manzarek's death this May.

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The question remains the same - are reunions worth the effort, and which rock/metal acts would you like to see reuniting? Of course, if there's an act worth mentioning you think we've missed, let us know in the comments section.

72 comments sorted by best / new / date

    base851
    Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers" was the first thing that came to my head in the "Best Reunions" category. That album was killer.
    Kylianvb
    I got a chance to see Robbie Krieger & Ray Manzarek live, and it was ****ing amazing. If you're going there expecting Jim, you're a dumbshit; They hired very capable people to perform these songs, and the beautiful tunes these guys wrote were still solid. If you expected 'The Doors' to come back full-on, recording more albums without Jim Morrison and whatnot, you're pretty much missing the point of what they were doing, bringing the music a lot of people love to them. I never had a chance to see the complete line-up of the legendary Doors in action, but I'm sure glad they gave me this.
    Hydra150
    Rather surprised that this performance wasn't mentioned as a brilliant reunion;
    60s&70s
    Well it was technicaly a reunion but I think that UG means more like "work together for a while again" reunion. This one was a reunion of 3 hours xD. I love this concert by the way, Led Zep is my favourite band.
    vppark2
    Not really a fan, but how about Motley Crue?
    igo147
    Alice in Chains wins for me. It's rare for a band to pull off a reunion and a singer change at the same time and both please old fans and get thousands of new ones.
    koencr
    i think endgame is the last record that really amazed fans. that said, i also really enjoy thirteen and super collider
    FOO_PYPER
    The Stone Roses reunion was probably one of the biggest reunions of the decade, well at least it was in the UK. Same with Blur
    Absurder22
    Can't really speak for the live shows, but that Van Halen album was actually pretty dece. And the best songs on that we're the one's that WEREN'T based off old demo tapes.
    kosarsosar
    The **** is this list? The Beatles didn't reunite for the anthology. The two songs listed were never released, not to mention John had been dead for 25 years. Also, GnR didn't reunite, it was just Axl and some dudes.
    Alserda
    The System has Failed 'became the last Megadeth effort to really amaze the fans'?.. really? United Abominations had more good tracks than bad tracks, whole of Endgame was sick, whole of Thirteen is decent and whole of Super Collider is decent. I'd rather have those last 3 albums than TSHF. & Real Love is a good track of the Beatles, but without Lennon it would be hard to have a good reunion.
    Hydra150
    Also (and I know this isn't the typical UG reader's favourite genre, so bring on the downvotes :p ) when Take That got back together in 08 after a decade apart they had a few surprisingly-not-terrible singles. I won't post any videos though cuz I understand how averse to pop music some metal of you metal fans can be
    azrael667
    Any music without guitars has bad chances on ultimate-GUITAR
    Hydra150
    Of course Take That have guitars in their music Rhythm guitar is a staple of most pop music. They even throw in the occasional guitar solo. Like at the end of this song.
    Rex Inclitus
    Because Pop isn't regarded as serious music even by most of the musicians performing Pop, it is meant to be frivolous in nature. It would be very difficult for any guitarists on a guitar site nonetheless to put any credence in music that rarely consists of more than 3 chords ( and the same ones at that ) that has very repetitive formulaic values. If you play an instrument and understand music you can find no value in the constraints. For example look at Warren Cuccurullo of Duran Duran, he made Pop for money but is actually a huge jazz fan and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Zappa material which led him to a stint playing the music he ENJOYS with the man himself. There are infinite other examples. If you enjoy Pop fine, but don't expect real musicians to have intrinsic value or interest in it.
    AlanHB
    It's pretty clear that Rex judges a songs worth through its technical complexity. Why he assumes other musicians should do so is beyond me. The claim that the musicians don't take pop seriously is ridiculous, we are talking about the highest paid, biggest shows you can do as a session (or any) musician. You have to take it seriously if you want those slots because the competition is so harsh. Once you can put your pretenses aside and listen to the tracks on the top 40 you would find that there's some pretty cool stuff in there. Bruno Mars is trying to bring motown back, Pink is basically a rock star, the progressions in Katy Perry songs can be pretty interesting, Rihanna plays with Nuno Bettencourt. I may as well give a heads up that I know quite a few people whom held the same views as you, none of them made it professionally as a performing musician - they were always turning down work as they felt they were above it. Then they scored a rep someone who always turned down work, so people stopped offering work.
    Tutis
    I Killed the prom Queen?
    jaybrink10101
    Wat? I saw the new Prom Queen live at the end of last year, and Jamie Hope did a thoroughly decent job. The band has always been erratic in terms of timing and tuning though...
    tyler_gong
    Im shocked KISS didn't make the worst list. I am a HUGE fan of KISS but once Peter and Ace came back, the band was destined to fall apart again. And it did. Then the reunion album wasn't even a full reunion album cause they only did like 4 songs on it.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    The Beatles - Real Love was ok, and GNR never broke up so there is that.
    Clarkinator
    I actually don't mind the two Beatles tunes they put in there. They aren't up there with my favorite tunes of theirs, but they aren't bad. Certainly don't see how that deserves to be in "worst reunions" territory.
    wilberwildcat3
    honestly...how are the Beatles in the "worst reunion" category? Those are good songs that really don't deserve to be in the same category as van halen and gnr
    crazysam23_Atax
    "[...]where they forged "13," arguably the best record of 2013 so far and more [...]" Yeah, no. It was a terrible album.
    Kueller917
    I liked it but surely not the best album of 2013 for me. I would call it a solid enough return though.
    jhall236
    I've only heard the single from that album, and it is okay at best. Here's what people are really getting with that "best" reunion, at ~150 dollars a ticket. But this is UG, and everyone gets a huge boner every time they can say something about how awesome Black Sabbath is. (I do love some Sabbath, but there comes a time when you should just let your band be a legend.) Not to mention, they played Ozzfest not even a decade ago. Black Sabbath - Snowblind [HD] LIVE ATX 72713
    Superfranceso
    Sublime
    chrisp123
    Sublime with Rome has Brad turning over in his grave, truly terrible music. They have a song with Wiz Khalifa, seriously...
    Fourgiven
    I don't like the new Sublime, heck the drummer left too, so now its Just Eric that's originally from Sublime.. not much of a reunion.
    Nytrogod
    This is just my opinion, but c'mon, where's The Police? That 2007 reunion tour was simply awesome!
    JuSt_OkTa
    BEst reunion not mentioned red hot chili peppers After the One hot minute John came back and they Made Californication , By The Way and Stadium Arcadium .
    led.oltean
    Dude, that was not a reunion. They never broke up. It's just their guitarist that left the band.
    crosskip
    The **** is Maiden doing in this list
    Jazz1992
    My thoughts exactly. Their albums with Blaze were much, much better than the last 2 pre-reunion albums with Bruce IMO.
    plbrynt
    Ha,hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah a.....
    HomerSGR
    Europe! 4 excellent studio albums since reuniting, and constant touring, playing bigger and bigger audiences all the time. Not to say the critical acclaim of their latest effort, Bag of Bones.
    Mainer
    I expected to see Creed on the worst reunion list...Even though I love Creed haha
    HoverFan#1
    "13" sounds like classic Sabbath? I'm sorry, but the new album sounds absolutely nothing like classic Sabbath, and it couldn't even hold a candle to their older stuff. Well, at least they're playing songs live other than just Iron Man, Paranoid, War Pigs, and other songs you've heard a million ****ing times. Cornucopia, Under The Sun, THAT'S what I wanna hear!
    The9
    Worst reunion...how about queen?
    chrisp123
    You're kidding right? Paul Rogers is an incredible frontman and I don't know of anyone who could even come close to matching Freddie.
    JordanFlayer
    Chinese Democracy is actually a great album if you don't listen to it as a Guns n Roses album.