June 24, 2008

Exhibit 24: Supergroups


By the late 1960's, demand for rock and roll had increased to such a level that mere music groups were inadequate. As regular music groups were increasingly unable to repel NLF and NVA forces in Vietnam with their shimmering pop hooks and shaggy hairstyles, or stop the Watts Riots with their renditions of "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" on Wilmington Avenue, the need for more awe-inspiring combinations of pop musicians escalated.

To compensate for the power diminishment of regular music groups, General William Westmoreland ordered the creation of supergroups, amalgamations of the most popular components of other, smaller groups (sometimes unfortunately and mistakenly called "semigroups") into one standard-sized group with considerably more oomph, zazz, kapow, hotcha, and woof-woof.

Based loosely on Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch, supergroups were designed to jolt the consciousness of music listeners with a cumulus of almost unbearable star quality, such that if the listener was to experience even a few moments of the supergroup's music, his or her very intestinal fortitude would be rewired and compromised, to the point of actual physical upheaval. This facet of the supergroup at least partially explained the epidemic of people throwing up at Damn Yankees concerts in the late 1980's.

The first supergroup prototypes, alas, were hastily planned, with little concern or attention given to cultural relevance or context. Dow Chemical's foray into the arena was Ginormous, featuring Sonny Bono, the Fugs' Tuli Kupferberg, Petula Clark, the Lollipop Shoppe's Fred Cole, and drummer Jim Keltner. The supergroup was ill-advisedly allowed to write their own material, which resulted in the confusing hit single "I Got Your Existential Uprising In Swinging London Right Here, Babe":

My hair's too long, my spirit is free
The city-state engulfed in its own glut
I just bought a new purse dooooown-tooooown
Pammie's on a bummer
Thwack.

The United Kingdom took the lead in supergroup excellence, offering these groups into classic rock hsitory:

  • Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce) recorded several unassailable rock staples and also cured diabetes.
  • Blind Faith (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, Ric Grech) recorded an eponymously titled album that defined the supergroup ethic and also rid the world of rabid dogs.
  • Derek And The Dominoes (Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon) made "Layla" a classic rock staple and also cleaned the streets of London with their tongues.
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer) wrote the book on rock pomposity even as they were performing six open-heart surgeries a day.
  • Asia (Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton, Geoff Downes) helped eliminate insomnia by their mere existence.

America was not to be outdone, though, and gave the world the musical gift of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Morgenstern, Schmidt, Rosenberg, Rosenberg, DeLillo, Feinstein, Fierstein, Blomstein, Gluckstein, Springstein, Abramsky, Fleischer, Bomberg, Jacoby & Meyers, Bartles & Jaymes, Mankowitz, Rabbinowitz, Rothschild, Shapiro, Zangwill, Monash, Lehmann and Liebermann. The group sued themselves for breach of contract and represented themselves in court.

Other notable supergroups in rock history include:

  • Warped Gnutella: Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Barry McGuire (“Eve Of Destruction”), Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “I Just Got A Job At Woolworth’s!”
  • The Important People: Keith Emerson, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “The Bathroom, Parts I-VI”
  • The Floundering Wilburys: Pete Best (Beatles), Slash (Guns ‘n Roses), David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “Severance Package Blues”
  • The Big Sleepers: John Tesh, Kenny G, Enya, George Winston, Jim Keltner. Best-known work: "I Could Do PCP All Night!"
  • The Bleakles: Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Robert Smith (The Cure), Morrissey (The Smiths), Edith Piaf, Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “No, Everything’s Going Great – Why Do You Ask?”
  • The Moving Vans: David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen), Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “Who Told Cherone Where The Studio Is? Don’t Let It Happen Again.”
  • The Jim Keltner Experience: Jim Keltner, Jim Keltner Replicant #1, Jim Keltner Replicant #2, Jim Keltner Replicant #3, Jim Keltner Replicant #4. Best-known work: “Actually, Yeah, I Do Have Free Time This Weekend”
  • Toto: Steve Lukather, David Paich, Bobby Kimball, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, David Hungate. Best-known work: “Maybe We Wouldn’t Have Sucked So Hard If We’d Hired Jim Keltner”

14 comments:

Ed T. said...

Hey don't forget about a more recent super group, early this decade there was; Oysterhead. Trey Anastasio from Phish on guitar and vocals, Les Claypool of Primus on bass and vocals, and Stewart Copeland of the Police on drums.

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Based loosely on Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch, supergroups were designed to jolt the consciousness of music listeners with a cumulus of almost unbearable star quality...

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The first supergroup prototypes, alas, were hastily planned, with little concern or attention given to cultural relevance or context.

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