Getting the band back together…

During the final planning stages of our wedding a hair over ten years ago now, aside from the song for our first dance and a few specific requests and genre preferences, our DJ was given only one hard and fast rule: “no fucking ABBA”.

Now, I know I’m in a minority here and I’ve read plenty of posts within my ‘blogging circle’ to cement that knowledge, but I can’t stand them.

So imagine my chagrin when I had the misfortune to hear the tail-end (enough to leave a bitter aftertaste) of the ‘new’ ABBA song on the radio recently, or the twitching of my eye when the approach of their new album release means I’m hit by sponsored ads on the one social media site I still use, or posts from record stores I frequent promoting the opportunity to pre-order said pile of festering shite in a multitude of colours.

However, rather than turn this into a rant about the evils of septuagenarian Swedes phoning it in (I mean, they’re not even gonna bother going on their own tour, they’re asking people to pay to watch fucking holograms!) to grab cash to feather their retirement beds one last time… I got to thinking of those bands which would make me cry hallelujah should they decide to get the band together, even for just one more ride round the block.

So, without wanting to overstay my welcome I’ll keep it at five though I’m sure I’ve missed a good few

REM

They went out on a high with Collapse Into Now which seemed like the perfect way to end it but didn’t tour that album, instead leaving us with a reminder of just how great they were. They needed to do it after Around The Sun saw them floundering. but their last album and the recent re-releases of their seminal albums (including the soon-to-hit New Adventures In Hi-Fi) are proof positive that the Athens, Georgia band had bags of the good stuff and with all members still around and involved in music (save for Bill Berry who has stuck with his retirement from the music industry since 1997) it feels like this is one that really could still happen and live albums such as Live at the Olympia demonstrate their concert draw.

Led Zeppelin

It’s a no-brainer, right? News of a Led Zeppelin reunion, even without the whisper of new material, would be lapped up like nothing else. They, too, would be minus their original drummer but it’s been done since: 2007’s show at the O2 Arena as part of The Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert saw John Bonham’s son Jason fill the stool for a roof-devastating sixteen-song blast that’s easily stated as the best final concert they could have given…. except of course it’s left everyone clamouring for more. Even the band wanted more. Except, that is, Robert Plant. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham were rumoured to be working on new material together and with Plant not having it, auditioned singers including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler (which, according to Joe Perry’s ‘Rocks’ was not only a shambolic performance but caused further havoc one strained relations in his own band) but nothing came of it.

While it used to be a case that rumours would fly up regularly, Plant’s decisive and inarguable statements that it won’t happen (“I’ve gone so far somewhere else that I almost can’t relate to it. It’s a bit of a pain in the pisser to be honest. Who cares? I know people care, but think about it from my angle – soon, I’m going to need help crossing the street.”) and his desire to keep working on new material has meant they’re less frequent now. Still, as new documentaries and re-releases of their back catalogue prove, the public desire is as strong as ever… it’s a slim one but we can dream.

Sonic Youth

I know… this isn’t gonna happen. They had a brilliant run but with Kim and Thurston’s divorce it was curtains. Thurston has kept schtum on it but Kim’s ‘Girl in a Band’ seemed just as much as a way of airing their dirty laundry in public as it did her emphasising everything in her life non Sonic Youth as though and draw as clear a line under it all as possible and comments over the years but it as a done deal.

But.. hey; this is a ‘we can dream’ list after all and there are bands out there with divorced members (probably best not to mention the on-going drama that is Fleetwood Mac but the list still includes the White Stripes) and all members are not only still putting out some great music but often working together to do so… hell, Thurston Moore’s latest By The Fire shows he’s got Sonic Youth style tunes for days.

Screaming Trees

Of all those albums I forgot back in my post about great last albums, Screaming Trees’ Dust has got to be one of the biggest ‘d’oh’s. It’s such a strong album it’s pretty much perfect, easily their best effort. And yet… The album was already four years on from their previous – Sweet Oblivion – and Dust stalled on the album charts. Following another hiatus for Lanegan to work on his third solo album, the band went back into the studio in 1999 but couldn’t find a label with interest in the demos the sessions yielded. A few shows in 2000 still failed to garner label interest in the group and they called it day.

Always seemingly the undercard of the scene, Screaming Trees have a back catalog that’s stuffed with great tunes and even the recent-ish Last Words – The Final Recordings had plenty of solid contenders and it a reunion would be welcome, except that like so many bands Screaming Trees too seem pretty dysfunctional and relationships have only strained since.

Mark Lanegan recently sent an angry retort to a tweet suggesting he was up for just such a reunion: “I don’t know how many different ways I can say it but any Screaming Trees reunion, show, rehearsal, lunch or fistfight will not include me” which has lead Gary Lee Connor to ponder: “I really question what his motives were the whole time, though. Did he just use us to get famous? I thought it was about making great music.”

Still, if bigger hatchets can be buried I’m sure there’s still a chance…. right?

Dire Straits

Yep, I’d love to see this one but chances are it ain’t gonna happen. Mainly because I’m quite specific here: I’m talking the ‘classic’ Dire Straits lineup so chances are even slimmer.

Mark Knopfler couldn’t take the grief that came with touring on the scale that the last Dire Straits go-around had reached- after a break of five years, the On Every Street tour seemed determined to play on every street with 229 shows across a year and a half into 1992 and an era where the radio landscape was very different to that in which Dire Straits had their peak. For all its strengths both the album and the live document On The Night felt like it was time to stop and so you can’t fault Knopfler for doing so – it was too big to live.

But that was almost 30 years ago and I can’t help but think that a new Dire Straits tour done on a scale akin to Knopfler’s solo outings, where he’s not exactly playing garden sheds, might not seem so objectionable anymore and would be a much better way of saying ‘thanks and goodnight’ – especially if it were to feature Pick Withers who drummed for the band from formation through to Lover Over Gold (their finest) on a few tracks. It’d be unlikely that Mark’s brother David would be involved, though, but I kinda hope those two can at least get back on speaking terms… just take a listen to the difference in quality between their two live albums On The Night and Alchemy and the case for a better send-off is clear.

10 thoughts on “Getting the band back together…

  1. My wedding reception playlist was even stricter than don’t play ABBA. I actually gave the DJ a list from his collection that he could play from, which meant I didn’t have to hear the usual wedding reception schlock (as fun as the chicken dance is…).

    Oh and I’d love to see R.E.M. get back together, if only to go out and do one final tour.

    • I think The Smiths would be top of a lot of people’s lists for reunion wish lists. I think there was some legal beef that put pay to anything but an M&M reunion but I think these days that the way in which Morrissey has put himself so firmly on the naughty step as rendered any likelihood of Marr being willing (or me interested) as to be a remote one. Marr’s built up a hell of an impressive CV since though both as player and producer

  2. While I liked Abba more when I was a teenager than I do now, I still believe they had some very well crafted pop songs.

    I do agree with you the concept of the “Abbatars” is weird. It just goes against my beliefs as a hobby musician (although a terribly rusty one these days!) – if you decide to give concerts, it should be you, not some digital recreation, no matter how sophisticated it is!

    More importantly, I would definitely be much more excited about reunions of Led Zeppelin, R.E.M. and Dire Straits – all bands I unfortunately never saw.

    • Is that what they’re calling them? Abbatars? That’s actually a good pun. Completely though, agree – it’s a bleeding cheek and an insult to bands that put it out there every show, not to mention the audience ‘we couldn’t be bothered to turn up to collect your cash in person but here’s an ‘avatar’ of us to do so’. You’d have to wonder what’s in it for the audience – what could they get from it that they couldn’t get from watching a video of it at home? Standing in line to get in? Over-priced drinks? Being shoved from all sides by strangers? To do that without actually seeing a live band seems a bit pointless

      Hopefully it won’t set a precedence. There was an Elvis show or two where they used a live band and projected screens which worked well but then there was a reason behind that – the King has long been six feet under but that wasn’t a hologram and his estate have said no chance to it too.

  3. I had heard about the ABBA thing and wanted to be the first to tell you but couldn’t find a way to shoehorn it into a prior conversation. Let’s face it – the ABBA thing is a money grab. But then again it’s the same for so many bands of that era. ABBA are the first ones to say, Hey we’re too old, we’re now it only for the money and we know you are suckers enough to pay.

    Of the bands, you mentioned I agree with Christian’s picks. But as to Zep, considering that, according to Guinness World Records 2009, the concert holds the world record for the ‘Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music Concert’ as 20 million requests for the reunion show were rendered online (vs. say, 20,000 seats), I figure the chances of seeing them for less than thousands of dollars is slim to none.

    The other bands aren’t quite so extreme, but still. I would like to see the Police get back together for one more go-round.

    • I can’t remember how I found out – I think I felt an un-natural disturbance in my qi and just KNEW something like that had happened.

      The Police would be a good one for sure. They had another run around in 2008 and pulled in plenty of pocket money and if Sting’s willing to work with Shaggy then why not Summers and Copeland?

  4. You could have “overstayed your welcome” on the opening. I was enjoying it. IM living through your rant (lots of other music and money grabs for fodder). Thing is that kind of music makes lots of people happy. Some of our blog comrades rip some of the music I dig. I truly get a kick out of it.
    Id like to see a few bands do it again. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Have the Beach Boys got back on the road yet? Ill meet you there if so.

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