AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #266 : SIDESHOWS

A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

So there I was, minding my own business and thinking about bands, when I accidentally fell down the rabbit hole of band members who had side projects. I began listing the ones I liked and realized there are more than enough for a quality ICA–one with some old favorites, hidden gems, and hopefully a song or two no one’s heard before. Of course, it was necessary to impose stiff restrictions: this comp only includes musical projects separate and apart from the musician(s)’s main gig. No prior or subsequent or solo outings. That helped get the numbers down.

I also eliminated some acts because, while they meet the criteria, the music isn’t all that great. For example, two different side projects from Siouxsie & the Banshees fit the bill (The Creatures and The Glove), but those acts just aren’t that listenable. Same thinking behind leaving off The Power Station even though they were extremely eligible. You get the idea.

1. KLARK KENT – Don’t Care.

Klark Kent was the mostly disguised alter ego of Stewart Copeland from The Police. He released an LP of snarky but catchy power-pop before the Cops found megastardom. ‘Don’t Care’ is quintessential new wave, a rockin’ little record I want my jockey to play. Pretty sure Copeland played all the instruments, too.

2. GORILLAZ – Clint Eastwood.

Blur‘s Damon Albarn could have supplied half the tunes on this compilation. In addition to the “virtual band” Gorillaz, he recorded as or with The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Rocket Juice and the Moon, Africa Express, the Heavy Seas, and numerous other solo and collaborative projects outside of his day job. But I really like him as 2-D.

3. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – Wannabe in L.A.

Like Albarn, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme get around. He’s collaborated with countless acts, notably Them Crooked Vultures with the likes of Dave Grohl and Led Zep icon John Paul Jones. With EoDM he just plays drums, but the band are a blast and this is my favorite song of theirs, from 2008’s Heart On.

4. LOOSE FUR – The Ruling Class.

The good-natured voice of Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy is instantly recognizable, but this is a true side project that only features Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Chicago indie legend Jim O’Rourke. This is from their second and, to date, last record Born Again in the USA. That LP was released in 2006. Not sure if there’s anything else forthcoming from Loose Fur.

5. BROKEN BELLS – The High Road.

In which James Mercer, the brains behind The Shins, meets up with Danger Mouse. Like Tweedy (and Albarn), Mercer is instantly recognizable on the mic, but the heavy-duty string section is a departure from his band’s arrangements.

6. TOM TOM CLUB – Genius of Love.

David Byrne got all the attention from Talking Heads because he wrote the lyrics and fronted the band. And was generally a creative genius. But the loveable husband and wife rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth had a massive club hit with this number. Still sounds great today almost 40 years later, with the Sweetbreaths (Weymouth’s sisters) on backing vocals.

7. THE SPECIAL GOODNESS – Life Goes By.

Weezer is pretty much all about singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo. But the band was co-founded by drummer Patrick Wilson, who’s been there from the very beginning. Wilson isn’t what you’d call a household name and neither is his band The Special Goodness, with whom he’s released four albums so far. This is from 2003’s Land Air Sea.

8. HINDU LOVE GODS – Raspberry Beret.

It’s Warren Zevon with REM‘s Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills, playing a Prince cover. They only released a self-titled LP back in 1990, and a couple of singles including this one.

9. RACONTEURS – Steady, As She Goes.

Even though The White Stripes were flying high in the mid-00’s, winning Grammys for 2003’s Elephant and 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, Jack White still had things to say. So he connected with Detroit stalwart Brendan Benson (who’s arguably a better songwriter than White) to form Raconteurs, with members of Cincinnati’s Greenhorns. This was the band’s first single and hit.

10. ELECTRONIC – Getting Away With It.

Although Johnny Marr was a free agent in 1989, Bernard Sumner was still throbbing along with New Order. When putting this post together I was surprised to learn that Electronic released three albums. Don’t know if their catalog is any good, but this song’s a winner. (especially, here in its extended from – JC).

BONUS?: Up to you guys and gals. Plenty of bands out there could have been featured; Atoms for Peace, Last Shadow Puppets, Divine Fits, Monsters of Folk among them. I like my 10, but I’m sure I missed a load of songs that I’d like to know about.

JONNY

13 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #266 : SIDESHOWS

  1. Got me thinking.
    Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers as Better Oblivion Community Center springs to mind.

  2. Must disagree regarding The Glove, quite enjoy the album – and very much so goes for the b-side to the Like An Animal single – Mouth To Mouth which is one of the better tracks ever penned by Mr Smith. IMHO.

  3. The Breeders should get a mention – they were Kim Deal’s side project from Pixies (and Tanya Donnely’s), even though they became her main band. And then there’s The Amps – Kim Deal essentially being The Breeders when they were on hiatus – a side project of a side project.

  4. Great idea for an ICA. I was surprised by how many of these I actually have. I’m sure there’s enough material out there for a 2nd ICA of this ilk (and no, that’s not an offer to do it – well, not in the immediate future anyway).

    I quite like The Creatures tracks that I’ve heard and would certainly have considered one of theirs. Mention of the Power Station made me recall another Duran side project – Arcadia. I preferred the former of the two – and let’s leave that just there.

  5. A few others to mention

    Alex Turner: Arctic Monkeys/The Last Shadow Puppets.

    Nick Cave/Warren Ellis/Martyn P. Casey/Jim Sclavunos: The Bad Seeds and Grinderman

    Peter Hook: New Order and Revenge

    Steve Morris/Gillian Gilbert: New Order and The Other Two

    M. Ward: joined forces with Zooey Deschanel to record and perform as She & Him

    And lastly, and most appropriately given the author of this fine ICA……

    Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) perform together as Jonny.

  6. Don’t kick yourself too much about the Breeders, JTFL. Kicking this off with Klark Kent was an inspired choice. One of the great 10-inchers of all time. Nothing against Jack White, but your aside about Brendan Benson being “arguably a better songwriter” is the smile of the day. He’s the very definition of underappreciated power popster.

  7. A really great ICA, Jonny, in the face of an almost impossible task. This works really well as a compilation/mixtape, which is the whole point. Hindu Love Gods possibly a mandatory inclusion but great to see Loose Fur as well.

    I disagree about The Glove and The Creatures. I love Blue Sunshine (& the Deluxe Edition B-sides and Robert Smith demos) and The Creatures have plenty of ‘listenable’ moments, notably the Boomerang and Hai! albums.

    Honorable mentions to the following sideshows:
    The Assembly (VInce Clarke, Eric Radcliffe & Feargal Sharkey)
    The Opiates (Billie Ray Martin)
    Marc & The Mambas (Marc Almond & Matt Johnson)
    Spell (Boyd Rice (Non) & Rose McDowall (Strawberry Switchblade))
    … and David Holmes, who could give Damon Albarn a run for his money, e.g. The Free Association, The Disco Evangelists, Scubadevils, Unloved, etc.

    Great all round. More please!

  8. Great idea! Great ICA!
    I would have included a track from The Glove – Like An Animal, Marc And The Mambas – Black Heart and Monaco – What Do You Want From Me.

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