Mix Six: “Supergroup … or Superdud?”
On paper, it sounds like a moneymaking formula: take individual members from successful bands, put them together in a supergroup to make music, record the magic, and watch album sales go through the roof.Â Yes, the Supergroup can, at times, be seen as a crass money grab, and at times it is.Â However, there are other times when the result of these ventures bears some tasty fruit. Now, people’s taste being what they are, it’s going to be an argument without end as to which of the groups represented here are Supergroups or Superduds.Â I certainly have my opinions, but don’t let that dissuade you from defending or slamming the six in this mix.
“Sole Survivor,” Asia (download)
Back when Asia made their debut in the early ‘80s, they were touted as the next big thing that would define rock music for the decade.Â Think about it: you take a little bit of Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and King Crimson, put them in a blender of sorts, serve up the contentsÂ and … what do you think you’re going to get? Go ahead and insert a 40-Year-Old Virgin joke here.
“Sucker Train Blues,” Velvet Revolver (download)
Hey, remember where you were when you first heard about Velvet Revolver?Â I do! I remember seeing “Slither” on MTV and running out and buying the CD the next day … only to be disappointed by most of the songs. It’s like Slash and Weiland were able to strike the right note on some songs (like this one),but other songs melted into a generic mush-up of style over substance.
“Tin Machine,” Tin Machine (download)
When Bowie announced that he was joining a group with Soupy Sales’ sons and Reeves Gabrels, I wasn’t convinced their partnership (which Bowie adamantly said was a long-term thing) would be any good.Â And while the debut album wasn’t an absolute gem of a recording, it was great to hear Bowie shed his ‘80s style and just rock out. “Under the God” was, to me, great stuff, but their eponymous track was no sloucher, either.
“Oh Yeah,” Chickenfoot (download)
Jefito sent over the Chickenfoot mp3s when I requested them, and had one caveat:Â lower your expectations.Â With Sammy Hagar out front, Michael Anthony on bass and backing vocals, Joe Satriani on guitar and Chad Smith on non-funky drums, one would think this album would be loaded with rock hits.Â Not really. Most of the songs are, as Jeff said, “Loud, dumb, and fun” (Like some of my high school friends), but they are not all that memorable.Â Considering the talent involved in creating a party record for 2009, they missed the mark by going for bombast over great hooks.
“Mystified,” Damn Yankees (download)
Tommy Shaw was always the rocker in Styx, and it very nearly killed him having to sing “Babe” night after night while his heart yearned to be free from the long shadow of Dennis DeYoung.Â When he finally got together with Ted Nugent, Jack Blades (Night Ranger) and Michael Cartellone he must have felt like he could really get back to the business of rocking.Â And he did, but not with Chickenfoot bombast. Rather, they were able to strike a good balance between balls to the wall rock and melodic hooks — as they do on “Mystified.”
“When I See You Smile,” Bad English (download)
Babys + Journey = Awesome. Power. Ballad.Â The rest of the album — while spinning off singles that charted — wasn’t as brilliant as “When I See You Smile.”Â And maybe that’s because none of the members of Bad English wrote the song. That credit belongs to Diane Warren.Â Maybe they should have checked their egos at the door and had Diane pen the other tracks.Â Then again, maybe not.Â After all, unless you’re Dennis DeYoung, you only need one power ballad per album.