It could be argued that rock supergroups are to music what The Expendables franchise is to Hollywood: tantalising collaborations between industry heroes that ultimately pan out to be disappointing vanity projects. But if there's one man that can transform supergroup potential into gold, it's perennial good guy of grunge Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters' big cheese has already helmed two kick-ass all-star bands - Probot and Them Crooked Vultures - and is currently raising the curtain on a third: Sound City Players. A motley crew of rock legends featuring former Creedence Clear Water Revival singer John Fogerty, NIN main man Trent Reznor, Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks and members of Foo Fighters, Slipknot and Rage Against The Machine. Formed to provide the soundtrack for Grohls' directorial debut, a documentary on Californian studios Sound City, the band made their live debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on January 18 (above).
With Grohl trying to put the super back into supergroup, here are five example that demonstrate why cramming a host of stars into one band isn't always an exact science...
Psychedelic granddaddies of the blues boom Cream have been credited as rock's original supergroup. Consisting of the knock-out rhythm section of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker - who cut their teeth in pioneering fusion outfit the Graham Bond Organisation - and masterful blues axeman Eric Clapton, the trio conjured a strange brew of jazz-informed rhythms, traditional blues and synapse scorching riffola which foreshadowed the emergence of progressive rock outfits, jam bands metal heads such as Deep Purple, The Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Rush. They are also responsible for formulating one of the most memorable hooks in rock history with the grinding, wah-wah
saturated riff of Sunshine Of Your Love.
On paper, Zwan looked formidable. Led by The Smashing Pumpkins tortured genius Billy Corgan and his He-Man drumming sidekick Jimmy Chamberlin, the band also featured a who's who of indie-rock pedigree - Chavez's Matt Sweeny, Slint's David Pajo and A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin. Their first and only album, Mary Star Of The Sea, contained one or two belters reminiscent of Corgan's stadium-busting past, but was on the whole bloated with forgettable rock clichés - a shame given each individual member's past innovation in other bands. The album went on to sell poorly, and the band split acrimoniously while on tour in 2003. Was it a case of too many Chiefs not enough Indians? Nope. As Corgan put it in Entertainment Weekly in 2007, it was "sex and drugs
and junk" that tore them apart. Sounds very familiar indeed.
Audioslave are the ultimate Ronseal band: they do exactly what it says on the tin, namely by pasting Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell's lung-busting, leathery vocals over Rage Against The Mahcine's grenade-blast metal riffs from Tom Morello. They trotted out three albums of the stuff, before realising, presumably, that their former bands were due a much needed restoration - Soundgarden have now put out a new record and RATM reformed last year to make festival appearances.
Supercheesey would have been a more appropriate name for this truly motley crew of musicians. Featuring perhaps one of the most mismatched line ups in pop history - Dave Stewart (Eurhythmics), Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and A.R Rahman - Superheavy were a comically overwrought mixture of R&B balladry, roots-reggae toasting and arena rock. The album was sadly bereft of any song writing quality, but sort of made up for it, thanks to Jagger's posturing, with its gaudy display of bravado. Besides, where else would you hear the Stones' frontman rapping?
Them Crooked Vultures
For Josh Homme and Dave Grohl, Them Crooked Vultures was clearly a dream come true: they got to be in a band with one of the world's true surviving Gods Of Rock, Led Zep's John Paul Jones. And the trio gelled right away. Much of their self-titled debut is inevitably the result of hours spent in the studio jamming, nevertheless, it is crunchy, psychedelic stuff which, for the fans, obviously, references the back catalogue of each member.
Jamie Skey @jamie_skey
10:20 AM | 25/01/2013
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