Not long ago, we finally saw the release of the long-awaited album from Radiohead/Red Hot Chili Peppers supergroup Atoms for Peace, and it got me thinking: Supergroups are a tough trick to pull off. We all fantasize about our favorite musicians playing together, but when it actually comes to fruition, we often have mixed feelings.
There's the excitement, yeah, but it's mixed in with a sense of dread. After all, how many supergroups have turned out to be absolutely awful? The vast majority of them end up being pretty bad, all things considered. Like I said, it's a tough trick. But every once in a while, it oddly enough manages to work out and satisfy fans.
If I told you that the guitarist from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, notably a not-very-heavy band, was in a band who described themselves as "noisegrind," would you believe me? Well, that's exactly what Nick Zinner did when he joined the supergroup Head Wound City in 2004.
The band also consisted of Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato from the Blood Brothers, and Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian from the Locust. In other words, it was a post-hardcore fan's wet dream. The band didn't let down on the only album release they recorded, one of the heaviest and craziest albums any of the members had ever participated in. Blilie put it best, describing it as "kind of like if Alien and Predator started a band instead of fighting each other."
4. Wild Flag In the '90s, a wave of women invaded punk and planted their flag, proving to the formerly male-dominated punk-rock world that women could rock just as hard. Two of the most important bands on the scene were Sleater-Kinney and Helium.
Unfortunately, those bands no longer exist, but in 2010, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney united with Mary Timony from Helium and Elephant Six and Rebecca Cole of the Minders to form Wild Flag, a new band in the spirit of the original scene, to rock a new generation.
3. Fantômas/Tomahawk Two of the best of Mike Patton's post-Faith No More projects have been supergroups. The first, Fantômas, was an avant garde metal band fronted by Patton and featuring King Buzzo from the Melvins, Trevor Dunn from Patton's former band Mr. Bungle and Dave Lombardo from Slayer.
The second, Tomahawk, a more alternative metal group, was composed of Patton, Duane Denison from the Jesus Lizard, Kevin Rutmanis from the Melvins (recently replaced by Dunn) and John Stanier of Helmet.
Both bands have been among the most rewarding projects of Patton's career and have won all the members a great deal of critical acclaim outside of their respective bands.
2. Bob Dylan and the Band Bob Dylan on his own was perhaps the most important star of the '60s, standing alongside the Beatles as the greatest musical legacy of the era. But by the latter half of the '60s, many had lost faith in him as he had turned to experimentation and spurning his fans. Few knew that at the time, he was recording an album with the Band, a stellar band in their own right, to produce some of his greatest music.
Those who did know managed to get their hands on the recordings through bootleg records. By the '70s, most who really cared had already heard them, but Dylan finally decided to let the world have the songs legally. The Basement Tapes ended up being one of Dylan's most well-regarded albums of the '70s and saved him some good will during a down period of his career.
1. Temple of the Dog Perhaps the greatest supergroup album wasn't intended to be one. Temple of the Dog just started because Mother Love Bone front man Andrew Wood tragically passed away and the band, in their mourning, got together with some friends to record a sort of tribute album to him.
Of course, we all know that those former Mother Love Bone members became Pearl Jam and the friend they got to sing on the record was Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell. The album met with hesitation at first, but it hit big after people caught on to Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Suddenly the all-star grunge collab was making waves and for good reason: It was an absolute tour de force of an album.
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From start to finish, almost every song is a perfect mix of the classic Pearl Jam sound with Cornell's soaring vocals (along with duets and backups with future PJ front man Eddie Vedder), and it delivered not only touching tributes to the dearly departed Andrew Wood, but some of the most solid grunge hits of the '90s.