Parliament, Broken Social Scene top our list of best mega-groups of all time
With the 24 members of Gayngs assembling themselves for a pair of "Last Prom on Earth" shows tonight at First Avenue, we asked ourselves: Who are some other awesome, ridiculously large supergroups and mega-collaborations? Here's a short list of our faves.
1. The Traveling Willburys
Gayngs is technically not a supergroup ("That's totally a lame thing to think of it as," producer Ryan Olson told us. "We're not the Traveling Willburys, or the fucking Damn Yankees. I don't know, maybe we'll play the State Fair someday.") But know who is a supergroup, and an amazing one at that? The effing Traveling Willburys! While the '80s did a number on the careers of so many prominent late '60s and '70s rock musicians, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and that guy from ELO banded together to make some surprisingly not-terrible late-'80s folk- and country-influenced pop songs.
George Clinton's funk and soul collective Parliament-Funkadelic has had so many offshoots, rebirths, solo projects, and reunion tours that we're guessing even Clinton himself can't keep track of all his collaborators. After 50 years of reinvention, Clinton is still going strong and P-Funk is practically its own genre.
3. Broken Social Scene
This loose collective of musicians based in Toronto has churned out a ridiculous number of successful indie artists, from Feist to Metric's Emily Haines to members of Stars and Land of Talk. Centered around core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Broken Social Scene have been making music with and around each other since 1999, and the list of collaborators continues to grow to this day.
4. Polyphonic Spree
Ah, the Spree. They started out so creepy and cult-like, and ended up being so awesome. This mega-group ranges from 13 to 27 members, depending on the year, and has spawned at least one indie starlet (St. Vincent) and one Rockette (no seriously, check the Wikipedia page).
Let's bring it up to the present day. Collaborations are running rampant, especially in an era where digital files can easily be emailed between busy musicians, regardless of whether they are in the same country (a la the Postal Service). Much like our very own Gayngs, BlakRoc is a mega-collaboration loosely centered around the two musicians from the Black Keys, with contributions from Raekwon, RZA and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Ludacris, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, and more. These days, having a lineup of guest stars isn't a novelty anymore, and as more producers make a name for themselves by collaborating with groups of talented people, the boundaries that separate rap, rock, funk, electro, and experimental music continue to become increasingly blurred.
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