2012 seemed like a particularly interesting year for the rock industry. Bands like Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes, and Alt-J rejuvenated the airwaves without the Auto-Tuned fizziness to which we have [unfortunately] grown accustomed. Musicians and listeners alike were struck with a return of dependence upon the human elements of rock music.
Dave Grohl took the reigns beyond chart statistics, directing a documentary called Sound City, about the legendary LA recording studio that generated monster albums by artists such as Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, and even gave a home to Nirvana's Nevermind. This mecca of musical genius that no longer exists is paid homage in the documentary.
Not only does the project highlight the process and beauty behind the tape- based studio, but it also sparked some of the magic that was originally rooted in Sound City. "In this age of technology, where you can manipulate anything, how do you retain that human element?" Grohl points out in the trailer.
At the 12-12-12 concert, Paul McCartney teamed up with Nirvana to form a supergroup that lasted all of one performance, however, Grohl is no stranger to the concept of getting some incredibly talented guys together to jam. Along with McCartney, Grohl rocked out with a heap of artists who still feel Sound City's impact today- which will be released alongside the documentary in an album called Sound City- Reel to Reel.
Why don't artists get together like this more often? Seriously, combining the numbers seems to have really paid off in the past. Here are our favorite moments with some of our most cherished supergroups that fused together and took sounds to levels only accessible through those human elements of collaboration.
1. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (1968)
You can't watch this and not want a time machine. CSNY pool side in Big Sur? It just oozes groove. Recorded about a month after Woodstock, this supergroup (composed of David Crosby of the Byrds, Stephen Stills & Neil Young of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash of the Hollies) with occasional appearances by Mr. Young indefinitely intimidated other folk acts of the 60s. Although they were famous for their legal issues and political messages, their harmonies blended together like jack and coke: molding a tasteful foundation for supergroups to come.
2. The Traveling Wilburys (1988)
This group's successful stretch arguably marked Dylan's last vocally strong years. Sorry, Bob, but it's a compliment! It's strange - when you put Dylan and Tom Petty together they sound strangely alike. Not to mention that George Harrison radiated in this group. You can hear traces of All Things Must Pass on a lot of their tracks. It's nice to hear the quiet Beatles' capacity - really nice.
3. Oysterhead (2000)
Let's face it, whether you can't get into Primus' weirdness or Phish's happy-go-lucky mentalities, it's hard to entirely ignore it. You can't argue with Les Claypool's ridiculous bass lines or Trey Anastasio's rhythm guitar riffs. Sprinkle in a drum tempo from The Police's Stewart Copeland, and you've got the mastermind behind Phish digging deeper and darker than ever before.
4. Audioslave (2001)
Yes, that is a live performance. No big deal. Just Soundgarden's Chris Cornell taking the lead vocals on top of Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk. There's really nothing more to say about them, except why, ohhh whyyy did this band have to end?
5. The Dead Weather (2009)
We hear vague traces of Patti Smith, the Velvet Underground, and a bluesy element of Stevie Ray Vaughn - all spun by the hands of Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack White (The White Stripes), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence(The Raconteurs). And we are absolutely captivated by it.
6. SuperHeavy (2011)
Say what you want about Mick Jagger's eccentric ego and lively persona. But when it's put just in the right place, it's nothing short of magic. The team of Sir Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, David Stewart (Eurythmics), and A.R. Rahman (composer) gained critical success with last year's self-titled album. There's gotta be something in the English water that makes Jagger and Stone sound so fabulous together. Maybe it's due to her last name.
7. Atoms For Peace (2009)
Well, we all know anything involving Thom Yorke or Flea is going to come out, for lack of a better word, really awesome. Alongside Joey Waronker (of Beck & R.E.M.) and Nigel Godrich (Radiohead producer), this newly formed experimental supergroup has got all eyes on them. Plans to release their first album, Amok in Feburary have got fans dying with anticipation. They teased us by releasing two songs, "Tamer Animals" and "Default," which draw heavy similarities to Radiohead's Kid A. We've got nothin' but high hopes for these impeccable artists.