Rock album misfires may fall into two primary categories: the album might have been ahead of its time (or at least, fans weren't ready for it), or the album was simply awful.
In many, if not most cases, the major bands recover. In fact, you can't have a long-standing career without making a few blunders. Even though the artist might be forgiven for the album, no one forgets -- you know it, we all know it. =) In some cases, however, they don't truly recover: the album actually killed 'em.
Here's a list of notable misfires, with annotations as to the damage:
Aerosmith: Rock in a Hard Place (proof of life after death)
Black Sabbath: Never Say Die (killed Ozzy / Sabbath)
Blue Oyster Cult: The Revolution by Night (killed 'em dead)
Cheap Trick: The Doctor (killed 'em dead - some subsequent twitching of the corpse emitted "The Flame")
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Mardi Gras (killed 'em dead)
CSN: American Dream (killed 'em dead)
The Cult: The Cult (not all bad, but killed 'em bad)
Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs (seemed to end a run)
ELP: Love Beach (deep chest wound)
Genesis: Calling All Stations (not so much 'killed 'em dead' as pulled the plug)
Pink Floyd: The Final Cut (killed the band despite being, with the inclusion of "When the Tigers Broke Free," the best depressing album ever)
Queen: Hot Space ("Under Pressure" was the defibrillator that saved them to fight another day)
Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesty's Request (wounded, recovered)
Rolling Stones: Emotional Rescue (badly wounded, crippled)
Rolling Stones: Dirty Work (kill shot)
Rush: Signals (a masterpiece that was initially derided)
Rush: Power Windows (a near-mortal wound that shunted the band into the wildnerness for years with only their fanatical cult-like followers to keep them company)
Thoughts? Agreement or disagreement on any of these albums?
Please feel free to ADD to the list.