Now as much as I try to stay on top of the music scene, I admittedly hadn’t heard anything about Monsters of Folk, the supergroup straight out of my dreams. The band features Jim Jones (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and M. Ward (from solo projects and She & Him). Everyone in the group totally brings it. The album is awesome, and each member contributes to every song without anyone stealing the spotlight. Here’s a video to prove it:
After listening to their album, I got to thinking: what are the 5 supergroups with the greatest collections of talent? For this post, I’m considering a “supergroup” to be a band where band members from at least 3 bands have come together to form a new band. This of course excludes bands like Audioslave and others where only one member was actually replaced. I do take liberties with one choice, however, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. So without further ado, I present THE FIVE MOST AWESOMELY TALENTED SUPERGROUPS:
5. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
For those of you that don’t know who this band is, think about any punk-sounding cover of a famous song you’ve heard before. Odds are it was done by these guys. They’ve released seven albums, each with a different theme, and some of their covers namely “Over the Rainbow” and “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” have gone on to be used in commercials and TV promos. This band takes me back to the good old awkward days of middle school. Included in the group are Fat Mike from NOFX (easily my favorite band in middle school), Spike Slawson from the Swingin’ Utters, Joey Cape and Dave Raun from Lagwagon, and Chris Shiflett from No Use for a Name (and more notably, Foo Fighters). It’s like a punk all-star team and all they do are covers. Not a bad gig at all.
4. Wu-Tang Clan
Here’s the “supergroup” where I take some liberties. When Wu-Tang was first forming back in 1993, most of the members will still struggling to secure solo recording contracts. After Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) came out and started getting good reviews, nearly everyone in the group locked down recording deals. Out of nowhere the careers of Method Man, ODB, RZA, GZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were born. Even after these guys got deals and made it big, the group continued to come together and make records and ended up releasing Wu-Tang Forever in 1997, which for my money is one of the best rap albums of all time. A few other albums followed, but never reached the commercial success of Forever. Either way, almost every member of the group has recorded or produced a hit solo album, and some of the members have established themselves as decent actors. Everyone knows Method Man was in How High, and in case you don’t know, RZA was the guy that worked with Seth Rogen behind the deli in Funny People.
3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
After stretching the title of supergroup with the Wu-Tang Clan, we pull a 180 and come to one of the original supergroups, CSNY. Now although Neil Young didn’t join the band until 1969, I include him here because this was the lineup when the group played at Woodstock. It’s really not a big stretch to include these guys on this list, because from the time they assembled there was huge interest in the band and their initial records were huge successes. While the band was successful, the atmosphere surrounding the members was always very strained, and by the early 1970s most of the members were focused on producing solo records rather than collective efforts. While these guys were totally awesome, they're also totally boring.
2. A Perfect Circle
Since the name of this post is the 5 Most Awesomely Talented Supergroups, the strength of A Perfect Circle as a group of musicians can’t be overlooked. The group formed after Billy Howerdel (who was working as a guitar tech for Tool) approached Maynard James Keenan (lead singer of Tool) and played a few demo tracks he’d been working on. Keenan took a liking to the sound of the tracks, and decided to form a group to see where the music would take them. The original lineup of the band included Howerdel, Keenan, Paz Lenchantin (who later joined Zwan), Troy Van Leeuwen (who later joined Queens of the Stone Age) and Josh Freese (of the Vandals, now with Weezer). Several other prominent musicians have recorded albums with A Perfect Circle, including James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson). The band was an awesome collection of talent, and the producing skills of vision of both Howerdel and Keenan contributed to a great deal of critical acclaim for the band.
1. Traveling Wilburys
While sometimes considered too “gimmicky” to really be considered a serious band while they were recording, there’s no doubt that the Traveling Wilburys were far and away the most talented supergroup to ever record an album. Let’s start from the top. Bob Dylan. George Harrison. Tom Petty. Roy Orbison. Jeff Lynne (from ELO). So, you’ve got a Beatle and some of the most famous songwriters of all time working together on an album. I can’t even imagine what the recording sessions were like. According to most accounts, Orbison, Harrison and Lynne were eating dinner over at Bob Dylan’s house, Harrison forgot his guitar over at Tom Petty’s house, and then they decided to form a band. Piece o’ cake. A few of the band’s songs were pretty big hits, including “The End of the Line” and “Handle with Care”. Unfortunately the band didn’t last too long with the original lineup, as Roy Orbison died shortly after their first album was released. Nevertheless, they certainly go down in history as the greatest group of musicians ever assembled.