The Worst and Best Ever Collaborations In Music

After hearing a brief clip of ageing rock dinosaurs Metallica and Lou Reed’s album it got us thinking about some of the best and worst collaborations in music.

Lou Reed and Metallica

Sometimes giants of rock can get together with startlingly good results, other times these musical link ups end up being complete tosh.

Among our list of terrible partnerships we’ve got a former glamour model and an iconic heavy metal act, a country music great’s flirtation with house music and the most absurd take on Mozart you are ever likely to hear.

Among our best of collection we have one of the best indie dance crossovers of all time and a transatlantic tribute to one of the great pioneers of US music.

 Top Five Terrible Collaborations In Music

5. Jack White and the Insane Clown Posse

Jack White and Insane Clown Posse cover Mozart. What on earth can go right? This mess is as bad as you’d expect. I think both ICP and Jack White thought it’d be funny, but as Tomservo3 who posted it on Youtube says “it was fun to listen to the first few times, but listening to it again it’s just getting boring.”

4. Tammy Wynette and KLF

There’s something chilling about Tammy Wynette singing lines such as “they’re justified and they’re ancient” alongside this house revamp by KLF of their track Justified& Ancient. Wynette puts on a good front and her pay cheque must have been nice as this turned out to be a mega hit, but deep down she must have been wondering what the hell she was doing there. The track, renamed Justified and Ancient (Stand by The Jams), is a terrifying mash up of styles and a welcome entry into our terrible collaborations list.  But hey, it reached number one in 18 countries, so what do we know anyway?

 3. Sam Fox and Hawkwind

For those of you who didn’t have to grow up in the UK and much of Europe in the 1980s Sam Fox has probably passed you by. The former glamour model found  unlikely fame as a kind of soft rock singer across Europe as her modelling career wavered. Along the way she teamed up with metal dinosaurs Hawkwind for a homelessness charity version of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. While I applaud their sentiments the only way this link up was ever going to earn money was if music fans paid them to stop doing it.

2. Metallica and Lou Reed

These giant craggy dinosaurs of rock met at a rock and roll hall of fame event in 2009 and hit it off as they performed a terrible, squealing guitar version of Sweet Jane together. Two years on and they have an album out called Lulu “inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box, which tell the story of a young abused dancer’s life and relationships”, says their website. This is every bit as dire as you can imagine, with the end result essentially Lou Reed talking inanely over squealing guitars.

1. Lemonheads and Kate Moss – Dirty Robot

We got a bit of a ticking off a while back from Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando’s mum for suggesting that his 2009 album of covers Varshons was terrible. For us this version of Dutch duo Arling & Cameron’s Dirty Robot, improbably featuring model Kate Moss on vocals, was an all time career low for Dando. Nevertheless Evan’s mum raved about Moss’s efforts. We’ve revisited it and sadly have to confirm it’s still terrible. “I don’t care for your bleeps and bloops. Go away, why don’t you just shut up” sings Kate on this track. Couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Top Five Excellent Collaborations In Music.

5. Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux

Interlude, originally recorded by Timi Yuro in 1968 was among a number of covers presented by Morrissey to Siouxsie for a possible collaboration. They agreed this fitted their styles perfectly and the two got on famously during the recording.  But divas that they are, they soon fell out and even refused to film a video together. EMI finally released this winter track improbably in the summer of 1994. It still reached number number 25 in the UK singles charts. Great stuff from two of the most iconic figures in UK music.

4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey – Henry Lee

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 1996 album Murder Ballads is packed with excellent collaborations, with Kylie Minogue and Shane McGowan among those excelling across these epic crime tales. For us though its PJ Harvey’s duet with Cave on the traditional Henry Lee that is the standout track. They sing this like they really mean  it, with their performances oozing emotion throughout.

 3.Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul – Fallin’.

1993’s Judgement Night was a film soundtrack with a twist. Every track was a collobaration between a hip-hop artist and a rock act. Somehow Teenage Fanclub found there way into the project and their collaboration Fallin’ with De La Soul is the best of the bunch. Laid back, summery, this will take anyone of a certain age right back to the mid 1990s.

2. Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Narrowly, and I mean very narrowly this missed out on top spot. MacColl and Pogue’s frontman Shane MacGowan’s voices are wondrous for this love song that ended up a Christmas hit in 1987 and for many years to come. There’s an added poignancy as the years roll by due to McColl’s untimely death in 2000. This is as perfect as a duet can be.

1. Wilco and Billy Bragg

Wilco and Billy Bragg’s two volume collaboration to add music to Woody Guthrie’s lyrics has the edge over all the others for the sheer effort and love involved in the project. They also ended up creating some of the best songs of either of their careers including California Stars and one of our Top Ten Tracks About Being A Parent Hoodoo Voodoo.

by Joe Lepper, with ideas from Nic Newman, Barnaby Salton and Dorian Rogers