They first made their name in the early years of popular music, but some music acts are like fine wine and only get better with age.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, 76, whose music dates back to the 1960s, is No. 1 on the Billboard album charts for the first time in 36 years. Tony Bennett, 92, has been putting out records since 1949 and has a new album.

They join the list of veteran musicians who are coming back into the spotlight with new albums and hits.

It is hard to say what drives musicians who have been inactive for years to suddenly re-emerge and produce new music – a drive to create that never faded, a new spark of inspiration or even a sense of nostalgia – but 2018 seems to be producing a bumper crop of comebacks.

Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney

With the rest of the Beatles, British singer, songwriter and musician Paul McCartney played a pivotal role in defining rock and pop music in the 1960s and his work has been immensely influential since then.

McCartney has been consistently putting out new music throughout the years, but his latest and 18th solo album released earlier this month, Egypt Station, is significant.

It is his first to top Billboard’s album charts since his fourth solo album, Tug Of War, released in 1982. While it is his eighth solo album to top the charts, it is his first that went straight to No. 1.

He has been busy playing shows worldwide and making media appearances of late.

Besides gigging at venues that were pivotal to the Beatles, such as London’s Abbey Road and Liverpool’s Cavern Club, he is also touring North America and the rest of Britain. He also recently appeared in an episode of popular television/online music series Carpool Karaoke.

Cher

It is hard to miss pop diva Cher this year. The 72-year-old has a prominent role in musical film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the box office sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia!.

She plays Ruby Sheridan, mother to Meryl Streep’s Donna and grandmother to Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie.

And just as the musical is based on Abba’s songs, she has just released Dancing Queen, a collection of her renditions of the Swedish pop icons’ hits. It is her 26th album.

November will see the Broadway debut of The Cher Show, a musical based on her life and long-lasting music career, which dates back to the early 1960s.

Cher, who has won an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar, said to the New York Times in a recent interview about her life’s work in show business: “I just do them. I have never planned a single thing in my entire life.”

Tony Bennett.

Tony Bennett

American singer Tony Bennett released his latest album, Love Is Here To Stay,a couple of weeks ago.

A duets album with multi-Grammy-winning Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall, 53, it features pop standards by legendary music duo George and Ira Gershwin.

He also scored a new Guinness World Record. The new album includes a new rendition of jazz standard, Fascinating Rhythm, his first recording from 1949.

Guinness recognised the feat as the “longest time between the release of an original recording and a re-recording of the same single by the same artiste”.

Steve Perry

Steve Perry

American singer Steve Perry, former frontman of pop-rock juggernauts Journey, triggered excitement among classic rock fans when it was announced that he is making a comeback with his first new music in 20 years.

The new album, Traces, will be released this month. Perry sang on Journey’s most famous hits, such as Don’t Stop Believin’ from 1977, until the group disbanded in 1987.

He put out new music in the 1990s, including a solo album in 1994 and a Journey reunion album in 1996, but the last music he released was in 1998.

He then became a recluse from the music scene for almost two decades before reappearing on stage again in 2014.

It is reported that his return to music was inspired by a promise he made to his late girlfriend, who died of cancer in 2012.

Abba

In April, Swedish pop icons Abba, comprising Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, announced that they had recorded two new songs, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, which will be their first release in 35 years.

It was supposed to come out in December, but Andersson has since said they will be out only early next year, together with a new documentary on the band.

Andersson, 71, said of the new songs to the BBC in May: “I don’t feel that we have to prove anything. I don’t feel we have to think about, ‘Oh, what if it was better before?’

“Maybe it was, but we can’t care about that. We do it because we think it was a good thing to do.”

Abba’s back catalogue has seen a return to popularity, thanks to recent box-office musical film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which has pulled in US$383.7mil.

The soundtrack, sung by its actors such as Amanda Seyfried and Cher went to No. 1 in places such as Britain and Australia.

Chic

Disco legends Chic released It’s About Time, their first album in 26 years, at the end of last month.

Known for dance floor-fillers such as Le Freak (1978), Good Times (1979) and Everybody Dance (1978), Chic is headed by Grammy winner Nile Rodgers, the producer behind multiple hits by pop stars such as Madonna, Duran Duran and David Bowie.

He found a new generation of fans with his collaboration with popular French electronic music duo Daft Punk in their 2013 album, Random Access Memories.

Rodgers says the new album is the first in a two-part release and it is set to feature a bevy of guest stars, including Elton John and Lady Gaga. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network