Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tosho's Top Five Super Groups

So if anyone out there doesn't know what a super group is I will lay down a quick definition. A super group is a music group whose members have already achieved a large amount of fame and success before the creation of the group. There have been tons of so called super bands over the years but I will lay out my top five and let you have a look at why I think they are so awesome.

#5- The Good The Bad and The Queen
This was originally thought to be the name of the band but in reality was the name of the album (the band having no official name). It started out as a solo project for Damon Albarn during the Gorillaz hiatus. Danger Mouse signed on to produce the album and soon after Albarn announced that it was going to be a concept album by a group he had just formed. The group consisted of Damon Albarn (from Gorillaz and Blur, on lead vocals and keyboards), Paul Simonon (from The Clash, on bass guitar and backing vocals, Simon Tong (of The Verve, on lead guitar) and Tony Allen (of Fela Kuti's African 70, on drums) with Danger Mouse on occasional percussions, synthesizers and production. All the songs off the album are written by Albarn and Simonon and each focus on modern life in London.

The tracks are very well written and the lyrics are beautiful and poetic. It flows together as a concept album better then most that I have heard over the last ten years. With the sheer amount of talent contained in this group it is a wonder they can even be in a room together but they pulled it off for this album and it is a pretty excellent effort. All reviews were favorable and most gave 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recomend it if you ever wondered what a mix between The Clash and Gorillaz would sound like. I really hope that in the future they get together for another album.

#4 - The Monsters of Folk
When I heard that My Morning Jacket's front man Jim James was releasing an album with long time friends Connor Oberst and Mike Mogis, I was sufficiently stoked to say the least. I did some checking and found it interesting that the band was formed in 2004 when the members were on tour with their respective bands and solo projects. After playing together both on-stage and backstage, they started working together on various material. Due to the members' main projects, Monsters of Folk did not wrap up their first album until 2009. So well favoured was this album that they were referred to by certain critics as this generations 'Traveling Wilburys' (although they sort of sound a bit more reminiscent of CSNY).

After the first listen, the only flaw that I could see was that Jim James had only brought 5 songs to the mix here, but after another listen that turned into a plus because this album has helped me get into the work of Connor Oberst who brings some of my fave tracks to this album Ahead of the curve in particular Everyone shines on this record, although James, whose lead vocals open and close the set, beams brightest. The eclecticism of his latest My Morning Jacket sounds are brought into sharper focus by the company of his new bandmates. I am hoping this is the start of much more to come for the Monsters. This album shows off the talents of these four men at the top of their respective games but creates something here that is greater then the sum of their individual parts.

#3 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
A band so awesome that each member has been inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame twice! Mixing protest songs with amazing vocal harmonies and beautiful folk ballads, the CSNY became one of the leading champions of the sixties ideal and affected a generation so deeply that they are still extremely popular today and still tour occasionally. David Crosby had helped launch the Byrds to fame with his talent for lyrics and his powerfully moving vocals. Graham Nash was lured out of the Hollies by the prospect of working with now freed up David Crosby and then Stephen Stills and Neil Young brought the tremendous talented guitar skills and further impeccable vocals with them after the demise of their group the Buffalo Springfield. Their decades spanning career has spawned so many hit songs and just as many albums full of material that other groups could only dream of. These four guys literally had talent dripping off them at all times.

The Woodstock Music Festival would be the event that helped propel them into the spotlight and over the years they are synonymous with the spirit of that festival. Of their work together I would say that 1970's 'Deja Vu' is the take away album. The addition of Neil young completes the band in pretty much every way. 'Teach Your Children', written by Nash, is one of the stand out tracks on the album. After that the band kind of fell apart for the majority of the seventies but came back in 1977 with 'CSN'. It is a totally solid album featuring really strong performances and songwriting from all three of them.

#2 Cream
The super group that began it all! Cream featured Eric Clapton fresh out of the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Ginger Baker from the Graham Bond Organization, and Jack Bruce from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers as well. They defined the genre of psychedelic blues rock and inspired everyone from the Beatles, to the Stones, to the Jimi Hendrix experience. This was also the platform that would really launch Eric Clapton to the world wide audience as the king of guitar. The released a couple of really fantastic albums together before imploding under the weight of their own stardom and immense talent. After the destruction of Cream, each would go off to be in other huge projects over the years. There really has never been a band quite like Cream. They were the poster band for the power rock trio and the sounds and lyrics have kept fans coming back for over forty years so far. Eventually the trio decided to get back together for a few historic shows in 2004 at the very hall they played their last show in the late sixties. I have watched the dvd from those performances and it is inspiring that even after all this time they still had the mojo together. The band was tight and the classics have never sounded so good except I think I enjoyed their vocals even more with the age they have in them now. Somehow blues just sounds better coming from older people who have lived a life and have grown to know what the blues are really all about.

#1 The Traveling Willburys
Of course I had to give the number one spot to the Traveling Willbury's. It really isn't fair to even call these guys a super group. They go so far beyond super it almost defies description. Some one once said to me "What's so great about the Traveling Willburys?"
Well I don't even know where to begin to answer that kind of question other then "Have you heard of them?" George Harrison (umm the BEATLES), Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lyne (ELO) and oh ya, a guy by the name of Bob Dylan! That is a crazy line up for one music festival let alone one band. They wrote a fantastic album together before they lost Roy Orbison who passed away soon after they finished recording. They did go on to write a second using some of the material they had from the first sessions but the second album didn't have the power of the first. I can't tell you enough how awesome their work is on 'Traveling Willbury's Vol 1' and if you haven't dug it then you should go out and do so ASAP!

Check out this, it is Handle Me With Care by the Traveling Willbury's. It is shocking how many rock giants are in this video.


Anonymous said...

that is such a fantastic video....made me remember just how great each and every one of them is, but collectively???!
thanks for sharing Tosh

Lauren said...

<3 Traveling Willburys. "Dirty World" almost always makes me smile.