One heck of a Supergroup

Today’s guest post is from Nick Withers, Louisa’s cousin, because Louisa is currently sunning herself in the beautiful country of Spain and is so relaxed she couldn’t lift a finger no matter how hard she tried. Nick studies Journalism at Salford, has his own blog here and has tried on numerous occasions to get a good band together… and failed. So, in lieu of this, Nick has compiled his own super group for us! Enjoy..

We currently live in an age with so many bands and musicians that it gets harder and harder to sift through them all and find the most skilled, most proficient players among them. Wouldn’t it be easier if all of the most talented musicians just joined each other in one band? If they can make some of the best songs in the world separately, what could they do together?

With that in mind I present to you my initial fantasy line-up for the greatest supergroup of the 21st century:

On guitar – Sonny Landreth

A blues guitarist from Louisiana, Sonny Landreth is the master of the slide-guitar and one of the best players on the planet. Which only makes you question why more people haven’t heard of him.  He’s played on albums by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Buffet, Buddy Guy and other artists of that calibre. But his skills really shine on his own albums, my personal favourite being 2008s “From the Reach”. This album is filled with great songs and incredible bluesy guitar sounds right the way through, from the instrumental piece “The Milky Way Home” to the catchy hooks of “When I still had you” (featuring Eric Clapton). With some soaring guitar solos like this, no band can go wrong.

On vocals – Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple could have gone in to this list for either vocals or keys and it was only my unyielding duty as a die-hard fanboy to include Ben Folds in every musical piece I ever write that kept her from being in twice. A traumatic childhood (Apple was raped as a twelve year old) has given her a dark edge when it comes to song writing and she gets this across with moving and sometimes very harsh lyrics. For the best examples of her incredible song writing and jazz/rock piano playing listen to “Sullen Girl”, “Limp”, “Paper Bag” and “Get Gone”. But for sheer vocal talent listen to her rendition of the Cy Coleman song “Why try to change me now”.

On keys – Ben Folds

I’ve already expressed my love for Ben Folds once, but I can’t stress enough just how good a musician he really is. Both as a solo artist and as the frontman for the Ben Folds Five his (often questionable) lyrics are always a treat as they move you, make you laugh or just plain confuse you for a while. From the expletive-ridden ballad “Bitches Ain’t Shit” to the stories of mad friends in “Steven’s Last Night in Town” and “Not the Same”, to the cripplingly depressing “Brick” (a song about taking his high-school girlfriend to have an abortion) Folds covers the entire spectrum of emotions in his albums, all with his signature piano-rock style. A great showman as well, each song at his gigs will be introduced with stories or jokes and he will always look to get the audience involved at some point as his unofficial back-up singers. He has a lot of great songs, but my personal favourite, and the first one of his songs I ever heard, is “Landed” from the album “Songs for Silverman”, which really shows off his skills as a pianist and songwriter (part to listen out for: the crescendo at around 3:07. Fantastic).

On bass – Mark King

Thinking of a great bass player to add to this ensemble was difficult, but in the end I had to go with Level 42’s Mark King and his signature slap bass technique. No other band has such a distinctive bass sound and it’s his playing that made Level 42 the band they were. With a band full of outstanding musical talent it’s often the bass player that gets overlooked, but with King’s machine-gunning slap bass he could hold his own against even the loudest, most ostentatious guitarists and singers in the rock world. Check out his ridiculous skill in “Mr Pink”.

On drums – Thomas Pridgen

I haven’t listened to very much of Mars Volta, but a friend showed me a clip of their ex-drummer solo-ing and it definitely got my interest. The youngest ever recipient of a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, Pridgen is often recognised as one of the best young drummers in the world. He’s now playing with The Memorials whose first album is due out in November, and I for one will be checking it out, if only for the drums. Here he is showing off his talent in an extended solo.

I’m sure someone with more time and energy (and who isn’t doing this while still royally hungover) will be able to find some alternative or additional members to this band, so feel free to make your suggestions. In the meantime can someone please get these people in a room together so they can figure out how to mix their wonderful sounds?

Update: If you’ve enjoyed Nick’s post you can check out his blog here – http://nwithers.blogspot.com/ He’s even got an article on Vinyls!

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