There are a number of times in history that music has reared it’s beautiful head in the form of a group that captivates it’s fans in ways that aren’t quite as easily explained as “great lyrics,” or “their instrumentation is extremely intricate,” etc… Unfortunately, there are, also, a number of times when bad blood, poor periods of creativity, or lack of focus causes bands to spiral and, ultimately, splinter from the base that brought so many fans to begin with. These are 6 bands that should never have broken up.
First, let me preface with this notion: I didn’t want to include any band that had broken up, or drawn to an abrupt halt due to a death of a fellow band member. So let’s begin….
#6 – The Postal Service
When it comes time for days, months, and years to click off a calendar, many people will end up going back to The Postal Service’s only record, Give Up, and be reminded of the beauty of melancholy lyrics, and electro-pop melodies that they so masterfully encompassed. Made up of Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, and Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, the duo collaborated on Tamborello’s (This is) The Dream of Evan & Chan. They went on to produce one of 2003′s most accomplished indie pop albums. Over the years since it’s release there have been serious rumors that there would be a follow up album to their debut, however that’s pretty much all been squashed with Gibbard growing Death Cab further toward the mundane tween pop stardom, and playing larger venues, and Tamborello being preoccupied with his various side projects. Please, Postal Service… Come back, just once more.
#5 – The Police
Let’s put it this way… Although, they had done a few reunions here and there in recent years… The Police could never be the same the way the first hit the public all those years ago. When a band has such a successive, increasing list of hits over a growing period of time, and there popularity increases daily during their major peak era, there is bound to be some… mild bad blood. If you are unaware, I’m speaking of the legendary feud between Stewart Copeland, and Tantric sex practitioner, Sting… I mean bassist. Type in Stewart Copeland Sting on Google, and the next word is fight (THANKS, GOOGLE!). Their feud is of epic proportions, so much so that it essentially drove the band to shambles. Sting took off and began to do his own solo career, but not first before attempting another go with Copeland and The Police. Sting lost interest in the writing, Copeland was sitting thinking of where to stab sting, and they ended. The band did reunite in 2009, but to say it went well would be a lie. And I don’t want to lie to you.
Read Copeland’s take on the ’09 reunion… Here
#4 – The White Stripes
If you can an interesting fact about The White Stripes (Yes, seriously, this is how I’ll gauge your intelligence of The White Stripes), continue reading. If you searched, Seven Nation Army on Google, and this pulls up, kindly close your laptop, and leave this page, because you clearly aren’t aware of the power The White Stripes brought to the table when they suddenly appeared to the music world in ’99. Jack White, the outspoken brother/husband/creator of all things good and evil/guitarist, was the epitome of the enigmatic front man for fans to plead for more from. Meg was… well, she wasn’t technically a drummer, until Jack had taught her, and even then it was a primitive, primal approach she brought to the music, but somehow their ultra punked out blues resonated to millions. However, it was a sad day in 07 when it was announced that the band would be cancelling the rest of their tour, due to Meg’s acute anxiety. Again, after years of waiting and speculating that a new album was in the works, we recently had news that The White Stripes would be broken up. Seriously… it is horrid not knowing that somewhere down the road, you’d get to see Jack White aka THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN MUSIC and Meg rage a room near you. Even worse that there wouldn’t be any new records, songs, light up buttons from the band.
#3 – Uncle Tupelo
I put Uncle Tupelo this high because they will easily be the one band that 90% of you reading this haven’t heard of. Head count… How many know who Jay Farrar is? Raise your hand. Anyone know a fella by the name of Jeff Tweedy? Raise a hand. If you’re me, you have two hands in the air, which begs for a question to be asked… “HOW IS HE STILL TYPING?!”
Uncle Tupelo developed as an alt-country (yes, that exists) band not too far from my home. This band featured both Son Volt’s Jay Farrar, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy(& John Stirratt). Basically, take two of the greatest midwestern song writing minds of the current age, and make a great band, A SERIOUSLY GREAT BAND (if you’ve never listened to Anodyne, do it right now, dammit!). Except in band’s with this dynamic, there is usually the give and take relationship that is heavily influenced in how songs are performed or written. Early on, Farrar started as the featured vocalist, however when Tweedy began to find his stage feet, he would feature significantly. Even more to Farrar’s fear, Tweedy began writing more powerful lyrics. Couple that with the addition of new band members, and you have one seriously moody as hell Jay Farrar. He bailed… started Son Volt, which is good… recorded a record with Ben Gibbard (REMEMBER THAT NAME FROM 10 MINUTES AGO?!) using Jack Kerouac’s words from Big Sur, and that’s Jay Farrar in a nutshell.
Jeff Tweedy, on the other hand, exploded into a shimmering ball of expansive song writing genius. He created Wilco with John Stirratt, and is now the definition of a musical phoenix. Rising from the ashes from something once extremely beautiful to grow into an even more powerful beast.
#2 – The Talking Heads
First off, if you have never once heard Remain In Light, I’d suggest going to wherever you purchase your music (using rollerblades, because exercise is all the rage these days), and picking it up. Secondly, read anything and everything you can about Brian Eno. To say that The Talking Heads (+Eno) changed the face of music through insightful new wave music, would be quite the understatement. Starting in the genre of pseudopunk, and essentially morphing, successfully I’ll add, through the ether into a new wave phenomenon is worth every listen to their layers upon layers of musical gumbo (oh, and the lyrics aren’t bad either). The musical intricacies, typically the rhythmic percussion filled lasagna, are astounding, and their success is due in part to the fact that Brian Eno captured their abilities so well with his 3rd eye for sonic resonance. Like all good things, they imploded with various side projects in their career, and bad blood seeping into their relationships. They did reunite for their induction to the Rock & Roll HOF, but they won’t be touring for sometime, since Tina Weymouth once stated that David Byrne is ”a man incapable of returning friendship.” Come on, David. Sack up. We need beautiful harmonies, and powerful percussive grooves to save us from the dreary shit that occupies the airwaves now.
#1 – The Beatles
If anyone knows me at all, you’ll know my obsession levels max out for The Beatles (No, I don’t listen to Here Comes the Sun on repeat). What is there to say about the lads from Liverpool that hasn’t been said already? They create the greatest album of all time, put out a near 7+ minute single (“Because we’re The Beatles, they’ll play it.”), and ruled music and the world for a decade. Where’d the downfall occur? A few things actually. John originally the writing genius (however, I use that loosely) began to wane in his production around the time after Sgt. Pepper (Trust me, he did. Don’t be blinded by his bed-ins, and we’re all one demeanor), and Paul & George’s output began to increase in insane amounts. The ill fated song writing partnership of Lennon/McCartney started to be poisoned around the time of Pepper due in part to the fact that Lennon hated that Paul created the idea of Pepper on his own. George & Paul’s increased production, the introduction of Allen “The Super Devil” Klein as the band’s manager after Brian Epstein died, and, of course, everyone’s favorite gal, Yoko, coming to the scene found one of the world’s most beautiful musical structures implode in on itself. Watch the Let It Be movie, and instead of watching the greatest band in the world record, you begin to see where the band ends, and why.
What could have been had they been human beings to each other, and respected their once beautiful dynamic? We could have had them doing endless tours, or releasing records just because they could…. (See: The Rolling Stones) We’ll obviously never know, but the prospect of speculating what might have been is too fun. Hell, it’s possible that in some alternate universe, we might still have George and John on this Earth had they stuck around as a unit. Instead, we’re left with Paul charging an arm and a leg for tickets to stadium shows, and Ringo judging beauty contests at local casinos, and on a few off chances, they’ll meet up and do a Beatles tune, which just makes you wish for the other two, to be able to relive one of the greatest occurrences in history.
Have any other’s that you can add to this list? Disagree with the list? Agree with the list? Toss them in the comments.