Absolutely including this lot…
The big news is that John Lydon is reforming his old group Public Image Ltd to go on some kind of tour. And that got us to thinking. PiL was Lydon’s second successful stab at the big time with a band, but what other artists have been lucky enough to enjoy two days or more in the sunshine? We decided to come up with ten of the best, with the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets, The Raconteurs, Gorillaz and The Foo Fighters all falling at the final hurdle…
1. The Style Council
The Jam split up in 1982 and Weller formed The Style Council in 1983. Much to a lot of Jam fan’s disgust. Where were the spikey guitar riffs? Fuck me, is that a PIANO? The Style Council were much silkier and soulful. They wore lovely cardigans. It was picnic-pop, but totally brilliant. Weller’s finest hour?
2. The JB’s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, James Brown ploughed through backing band line ups – mainly because he was a massive soul bastard, and paid everyone in either punches or peanuts. The JB’s provided the sound for his golden period in the early 1970s, succeeding The Famous Flames, The James Brown Band, and The James Brown Orchestra. Bootsy Collins on bass, “Jabo” Starks on drums, Fred Wesley at the back tromboning. So to speak.
3. Public Image Ltd
Formed in 1978, almost directly after the Sex Pistols had imploded, PiL featured John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten), Keith Levene – once of The Clash – and Jah Wobble. Or, at least, the first line up did. Over the years, almost twenty thousand people could claim to have once been a member of PiL. You were probably in the band without realising it. Lydon’s best band.
4. Humble Pie
Small Faces were bloody excellent, Humble Pie weren’t too bad either – much rockier, intent on wooing audiences in America. They initially got together after Steve Marriott had failed to convince his Small Faces bandmates to allow Peter Frampton to join the group, so he flounced off and made Humble Pie instead. For the first half of the 1970s, they were a fantastic band, then Marriott went a little bit loco.
5. New Order
After Ian Curtis decided to dance weirdly into the eternal night in 1980, the Joy Division morphed into New Order – a far more oily band, replacing their office temp outfits for short shorts, and highlights in their hair. All three surviving members– Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris – stayed on board, with the addition of Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert on keyboard guitar. As anyone who reads massive textbooks about war well knows, the Joy Division was a reference to the prostitution wing of concentration camps during the Second World War, New Order was incorrectly seen to be taken from a quote in Mein Kampf. The band are not fascists.
Wings, though rather unfashionable to like, were actually a pretty decent band. Not, obviously, as good as The Beatles, but tracks like Maybe I’m Amazed and Live and Let Die would have been great additions to any Beatles back catalogue. In fact, the latter was produced by George Martin. They were also the only permanent band formed by any of The Beatles after the split, with McCartney leading the merry troupe for around ten years. He might even have been a Wing for longer than he was a Beatle. They enjoyed much chart success with Linda on backing vocals.
7. Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby was once of The Byrds, Stills was once of Buffalo Springfield, and Nash was once of The Hollies. All very successful, sometimes brilliant, pop groups. Hence, this was seen as something of a supergroup project when the three formed in 1968. And yet, they’re still going. Or, at least, on and off. They were so-named to prevent any of the bandmates stealing the name of the group should any of them decided to leave – a result of bitter experience in the cases of Crosby and Nash – and Neil Young would occasionally join in, making it Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Rather cleverly.
8. Lucy Pearl
Like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lucy Pearl was made up of three big names from successful R&B and hip hop groups. There was Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone!, Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. Originally D’Angelo was supposed to join in too, but some kind of commitment clash meant that he couldn’t. In the original formation, they only managed to squeeze out one album – in 2000 – but the good news is that it was a corker.
9. Big Audio Dynamite
After getting royally booted out of The Clash, Mick Jones shuffled around for a bit, then eventually formed Big Audio Dynamite with reggae/punk legend Don Letts in 1984. With Jones on lead vocals for once, they became known for mixing punk rock with reggae, hip hop, and whatever kind of genre they fancied with an impressive degree of success and innovation. Their biggest hit came with E=MC2 in 1986. Which isn’t featured below.
10. Gnarls Barkley
Both members of Gnarls Barkley have enjoyed musical success with other groups. Danger Mouse with the Damon Albarn cartoon vanity project Gorillaz, and Cee-Lo Green with the popular US rap group Goodie Mob – who were particularly popular in the 1990s thanks to their affiliation with Outkast, and the rise in popularity of raps from the Deep South. As Gnarls Barkley, everyone knows them for that great song about going bananas.
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
When it comes to the Lennon/McCartney debate, we rather unfashionably prefer Paul McCartney. That might be because our first ever single was Ebony and Ivory, it might be because he was the real genius in The Beatles. We just don’t know. Also rather unfashionably, we think that Wings were completely brilliant. Above is some proof of that.
No room for this gentleman…
In tragic music icon terms, Michael Jackson actually lived a fairly long and prosperous life. He made it to half a century, which isn’t bad at all. Elvis only got as far as 42, John Lennon made it to 40 before taking four bullets in the back, and Michael Hutchence was still a fairly youthful 37. Keith Moon and John Bonham made it fashionable for great drummers to die at 32. Then, of course, you have all of the rock stars who couldn’t make it past 27 – Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison. Gram Parsons was even younger at 26, as was Otis Redding when he died in a plane crash. Tupac was 25, Notorious BIG 24, Ian Curtis 23, and Sid Vicious and Eddie Cochran were barely grown ups at just 21. In fact, the list of tragic early deaths is relatively endless. So with that in mind, we thought it high time to select the four most unfortunate, as decided by us…
1. Jimi Hendrix, 27
It was a very sad day for music in 1970 when Hendrix apparently lay on his back, choking on his own sick, thanks to a few too many red wines. The whole thing still smells a little bit fishy, with rumours floating around that it might not have simply been the innocent death of a drinker. Either way, it robbed the world of a fantastic music man, who managed to mix rock, soul and psychedelic stuff really really well. He keeps the likes of Steve Marriott, Janis Joplin, Marc Bolan and Phil Lynott out of the top four, and, to really put things in perspective, without Hendrix we probably wouldn’t have Prince. What kind of rubbish world would that be?
2. Minnie Riperton, 31
One of the great female soul singers, Riperton died of the damn cancer when she was 31. But what a 31 years. She’ll always be remembered for Lovin’ You, a slightly drippy love song, but we’ll forever love her for the rock/soul numbers she did with Rotary Connection, Les Fleurs, and the rather graphic sex song, Inside My Love. With so many excellent soul singers to choose from, she has achieved the remarkable feat of keeping Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke out of the top four. That’s a very big score for the sisterhood.
3. Keith Moon, 32
There were a few decent dead drummers to choose from, but Keith Moon just beat Dennis Wilson and John Bonham to grab a place in the top four. He edged it for being more of a total maniac. Famous for driving cars into pools, flushing explosives down toilets, and for being a completely brilliant drummer in The Who, he died after taking too many anti-alcohol pills in 1978. He’d just been out for dinner with Paul and Linda McCartney, which presumably had nothing to do with the overdose.
4. Big L, 24
The rap game has seen lots of premature deaths – Easy E, Big Pun, Tupac, Scott La Rock, Jay Dee, Biggie Smalls, Jam Master Jay, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. But the one that really makes us slam our fists and weep up to the heavens screaming “why?” is Big L‘s. We honestly think he could have been the greatest rapper of all time, but instead he took seven bullets to the head and chest one evening in 1999. The murder remains unsolved, which makes it double annoying.
The Beatles Cartoon, Paperback Writer
Ringo Starr – you know, of Beatles fame – turns 68 today, so he and Paul McCartney will presumably be getting together to drop acid and mime about the old times. And what old times they were, when four dirty little scamps in leather bondage gear suddenly took the music world by the throat and declared to God-fearing Americans that they were even more marvelous than Agamemnon and Moses put together. Or something like that. We don’t know, we’re making it up. We can’t remember the 60s, because we weren’t there. And we don’t mean that we were out of our minds, man. We mean that we weren’t born yet. Even so, we thought we’d get Ringo a gift, and it boiled down to a toss up between another ring, or a clip of an old cartoon. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Ringo!
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
Paul McCartney turns 67 today, and if anyone is walking proof that the lord giveth with one hand, and punches you in the stomach with the other, it’s Macca. The ups have included enormous success with his pop groups The Beatles and Wings. Massive downers have included frog choruses, bereavement, and a very bizarre one-legged nutcase, who took him to the cleaners. Hence, this year, we thought we’d get him a present, so we hit KFC for three boneless banquets, and we talked hard, before it boiled down to a toss up between one of those toy skateboards that you use with just your fingers, or a clip of one of the McCartney UP moments. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Macca!
The Beatles, Don’t Let Me Down
Yes! Thursday! We adore Thursdays, because they’ve been recently declared – by us – the official day of love. A time for romance, snogging, and smearing handfuls of treacle into your lover’s soft thighs. Today, The Beatles explain how there’s a woman out there really watering their testicles. Yoko perhaps?
The Beatles, Rain
The Beatles were amazing, everyone knows that, and the above track is the flipside to Paperback Writer. It’s a great video, made even better by George Harrison kicking it off with a rather grand notion…
No room for Lennon, nor McCartney
At one stage The Brit Awards became ridiculous – okay, yes, more ridiculous – when no one seemed capable of finding a Best Male. Phil Collins won it perhaps fifty times, then Paul Weller took it every year for about sixteen years, then Tom Jones got it, and then Robbie Williams became a national treasure because of his cheeky grin, and that was that. They just seemed either so thin on the ground, or they were Sting. This got us to thinking, who would our four Best British Males be? We came up with this rabble…
1. Joe Cocker
Probably the best blue eyed soul voice ever to come out of Sheffield, his cover of With a Little Help From My Friends made him huge, as did his strange habit of looking like a man in the grip of a breakdown whenever he sang. Completely brilliant.
Oop, has someone been smoking pot?
Although Sgt Pepper is often hailed as The Beatles’ druggie 1960s masterpiece, Revolver and Rubber Soul were equally far out, and frankly, better albums. Most fans will probably argue long into the night over which one is their greatest record, so we’ll settle it right now. Rubber Soul is their best to listen to, but Revolver has a more impressive cover. Bosh! Done! Now, as for the sleeve, it was clearly the band’s way of telling the world that they were totally into their drugs now – just look how zany they are! Photographs are mixed with cartoons, John is emerging from George’s hair, Paul has a cartoon of George in his ear, and Ringo has a half-man-half-toon Paul lying down on his head. Bonkers. It’s all just too bloody trippy – the album cover equivalent of telling your parents that you want to be a dancer by coming down for dinner in a frilly pink tutu.
Hear some classic Revolver after the jump…