A few weeks ago, I took my family down to a train wreck of an event called the Great American Food and Music Festival in Mountain View, CA.Â It was supposed to be a day where you could eat regional foods from around the country,Â listen to music like Marshall Crenshaw, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Little Feat, and then watch cooking demonstrations from Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri of the Food Network.Â I won’t go into too much detail on why it hellish experience, but just to give you a sample (ha!) of why it was such a poorly organized event, I give you this:Â it was a day where you had to stand in line for three hours to get food — like a hot dog from Pink’s Hot Dogs.Â Anyway, as we were driving down, we were listening to the radio and “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie was on.Â This started a 10 minute discussion on duets and collaborations that started with UB40 and Chrissy Hynde’s cover of “I Got You Babe.” I kind of filed some of the duets in my mind with the intention of doing a Mix Six at some point in the future, and guess what?Â The future is now.
“Getting Away With It,” Electronic and Neil Tennant (Download)
This collaboration between Bernard Sumner of New Order and Johnny Marr from the Smiths lasted longer than I thought it would.Â And with Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys lending his distinctive vocals to the song, Electronic went from “side project” to almost a supergroup in the ’90s (I’m sure someone is going to argue that they were a supergroup, but I’ll leave that to a discussion in the comments section).Â The song sounds so much like New Order and the Pet Shop Boys, that Johnny Marr’s contribution sounds rather muted.
“Slow Train to Dawn,” the The and Neneh Cherry (Download)
Like many folks, I was a big fan of the The’s Soul Mining.Â I bought the cassette on a whim when it was released in 1983 and probably listened to it non-stop in my car for a two weeks.Â When Infected came out three years later, I immediately bought it because I heard/saw the lead single on MTV and just loved it.Â While I didn’t find Infected to be as quirky as Soul Mining, it had some great songs on side one.Â Side two was more of a “grower” side that included “Slow Train to Dawn” with Neneh Cherry doing co-vocals.Â This was, of course, years before she charted as a solo artist with “Buffalo Stance.”
“Don’t Give Up,” Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush (Download)
If you just factor album sales, 1986 was Peter Gabriel’s best year ever.Â So was just so much more than the title suggests — which isn’t much.Â And while So contained great pop songs like “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time,” his collaboration with Kate Bush on “Don’t Give Up” was, for me, one of the album’s high points.Â When I saw Peter Gabriel in concert during the tour in support of So, it was rumored that Kate Bush was going to show up at the Oakland ColiseumÂ (which is where I saw the concert) to sing “Don’t Give Up.”Â When he introduced the song, I was waiting with baited breath for Kate to show up, but … nothing.Â A friend of mine who had backstage passes met Gabriel and asked him what happened to Kate.Â He replied, “We talked about her coming out and doing a couple of dates on this tour, but she has a tremendous fear of flying, so she declined.”
“Me in Honey,” R.E.M. and Kate Pierson (Download)
I do believe this was the last R.E.M. album I bought and didn’t entirely regret.Â “Shiny Happy People” almost made me want to return it, but there was something about “Me in Honey” that I loved.Â Kate Pierson’s vocals (one of three co-vocals on the album) added the right about of je ne sais quoi to make the song go from good to great.
“The Foggy Dew,” the Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor (Download)
My step dad is a huge fan of the Chieftains and a good deal of Irish folk music, so I’ve heard more of this genre of music than, well, any Indian-American living in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area during the ’80s and early ’90s.Â When it comes to the Chieftains, though, this is probably their most popular album — mostly because they collaborated with a bunch of A-list artists. Â And despite the (professional) suicidal tendencies of O’Connor, her vocals on this song are just solid and a good reminder of what a powerfully emotional singer she is.
“The Long Road,” Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder (Download)
When this soundtrack came out, I bought it because of the line up of artists featured — and loved the music more than the film.Â One day, I was working on a paper for a class I was taking duringÂ grad school, and left the CD on repeat for three hours — which is something I don’t really do in this age of digital downloading.Â Anyway, the two songs Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder collaborated on made my ears perk up whenever they came on.Â Now, I’m a complete sucker for the fusion of musical genres, so when I heard the combination of the Indian instrumentation with Vedder’s vocals (and Ali Khan’s vocal flourishes) it was one of those magical musical moments for me.