Folks, I've said it before, but I have an undying love for the musical partnership of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, regardless of whether they're calling themselves At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta, De Facto or the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group. As long as they were together, they made beautiful, magical music in all manner of styles. It was with great mourning that I watched their friendship and musical projects together implode early this year.
But one thing has helped it sting a lot less. Last month, a whole Mars Volta album's worth of unreleased tracks, including demos and previously unheard songs, leaked. It was bliss for me, and hearing specifically the track labeled "14" and called "Clouds" by fans has really ended their career on a great note for me.
In that vein, I thought about all the many great bands over the years that have broken up and how their final singles must have been such a solace to their bereaved fans. Having not been around for most of these breakups, I can only guess how fans might have felt listening to what they knew was their favorite band's last song, but I'm guessing hearing these great final singles helped at least a bit.
R.E.M., "We All Go Back to Where We Belong" I actually was around for this one, and I have to admit that it didn't quite soothe the pain of having never been able to catch R.E.M. live before they officially closed the book on their career, but it was nice to hear them out there with another great song one last time around.
It was satisfying, yet felt final at the same time, as though they truly had said all they could say and were done. This one didn't leave any loose ends, and we thank Stipe, Mills and Buck for that, at the very least.
The Clash, "This Is England" Though Cut the Crap is mostly reviled as the sound of a dying band sputtering to a conclusion, which in its own way probably helped fans accept that the era of the Clash was over, "This Is England," the band's final single, is actually a pretty decent summation of everything they were about.
Yeah, it suffers from the cheesy '80s synths that mark it like a big yellow highlighter, but otherwise it has all the greatest hallmarks of a Joe Strummer composition and it's a fitting send-off for a band that had such a love/hate relationship with its home country.
Genesis, "The Carpet Crawlers 1999" Many wrote Genesis off after Peter Gabriel left, more after Steve Hackett left and mostly everyone else after Phil Collins left. I don't think anyone would argue that Calling All Stations (featuring singer Ray Wilson) was a satisfying or welcome end to the band, but luckily they rectified that shortly after the album flopped and Wilson was sent back to whatever hole they found him in.
The entire group, including Collins, Hackett and Gabriel, came back together in 1999 to do a re-recorded version of their classic song "The Carpet Crawlers" from their most beloved prog-rock record, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Though it might seem like a shame they couldn't come up with a new song to do, it was nice to hear them all back together again one more time, playing a song beloved by all Genesis fans.
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Faith No More, "I Started a Joke" Faith No More's breakup was bitter and abrupt, though critics at the time had maligned their latest sonic divergence, the ironically titled Album of the Year. However, the last single that came out from the band was perhaps the most fitting possible: a cover of the Bee Gees' pre-disco ballad "I Started a Joke."
"I started a joke which started the whole world crying, but I didn't see the joke was on me," is maybe the perfect summary of Faith No More's bizarre, genre-hopping career, and it's even better when sung with such conviction and sincerity by Mike Patton.
Queen, "You Don't Fool Me" Discounting the regrettable decision by certain members of Queen to continue performing and recording with other singers, the last true Queen single to be released was this adult-contemporary rocker from the band's last album, Made in Heaven.
It came together unexpectedly, compiled from old vocals recorded by already-deceased front man Freddie Mercury, but it flowed naturally and came out pretty damn great, all things considered. It may not represent the truly classic sound of the band, but the great thing about Queen was their ability to work within any style, and this is a perfect example of the band twisting contemporary sounds to fit the Queen style.
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