Picture the scene: you’re a record industry bigshot with exquisite musical taste, an unlimited expense account and the finest time machine money can buy. Your mission? Put together the greatest band that could ever be. The Ultimate Supergroup.
Okay, so we don’t have the expense account or the time machine, but with your help we should be able to handle the musical taste. This week we’re setting off on a quest to find the ultimate dream supergroup, as created by NME readers. This will culminate with a special issue, out 14th November, and we’ll be including the smartest, funniest and most thorough nominations in the magazine itself.
To get things started, there are a few names who’ll want this job for themselves. The hot favourite must be the recently-crowned ‘NME Icon of the last 60 years’, John Lennon. Not content with being de facto frontman of The Beatles, a pretty big deal, he already knows his way around a supergroup. Check out this video of him playing ‘Yer Blues’ with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience):
But even Lennon took lessons from somebody. For a truly seminal singer maybe we should go back to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin or the King himself, Elvis Presley. Or maybe, like NME Features Editor Jamie Fullerton, you think Scott Walker is the zenith of the lugubrious vocal style: “His croon makes Sinatra sound like Ian Brown circa ‘The Second Coming’.”
Before you make your decision, you’ll also have to weigh up whether you want your band to just have a great technical singer or a someone who’s going to blow you away live. Or that rare talent that can do both: Janis Joplin or Bob Marley, perhaps?
As NME.com editor Luke Lewis put it: “It depends what qualities you’re looking for – a pure singer, or a magnetic frontman? For vocal ability, I’d want Jeff Buckley circa 1993 (I think his voice deteriorated ever so slightly post ‘Grace’ through too much touring). For live presence and entertainment value: Freddie Mercury circa 1985. Or possibly Prince. Or Springsteen…”
Matt Bellamy’s updating of Mercury’s flamboyance must put him in with a shout, but will you choose him over Johnny Rotten’s punk snarl, Liam Gallagher’s swagger or Alex Turner’s wit? Perhaps you’d like to see what Jay-Z could do backed by a distinctly better band than when he did that album with Linkin Park?
Personally, there’s only one man I’d want fronting my band. He’s got the wit, snarl and swagger of all of the above, he eschews flamboyance and best of all he can’t sing for shit so I can feel perfectly comfortable safe along with my Ultimate Band. The band might not always be tuneful, but with this man at the helm they’d be visceral, angry and smarter than a barnful of Mumfords. He’s not an American brand, but he’s strange and he’s totally, totally wired. Step forward: Mark E Smith.
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Leave your nominations – with reasons – in the comments below, and the best submissions will be included in the magazine.