The supergroup: Music's alloy of acclaimed artists

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The British band Cream formed in 1966, creating the first supergroup on the music scene.

When considering the all-time great bands, the term “supergroup” won’t always cross listeners’ minds. For many, it conjures thoughts of creative minds trapped in their own egotistical doldrums. For others, a musical mashup is a creation of artistically impeccable sounds that when put together amplify any individual style.  

Regardless of how successful supergroups have become, fans of music cannot deny the aptitude and expertise they have possessed. Since the introduction of what was arguably the first supergroup in 1966, numerous star-studded bands have changed the standard of music making. Even with attached stigmas of individual sounds and personalities, a few albums stand on their own as respective musical brilliance.

5. “Disraeli Gears” –Cream
The original supergroup, Cream and their 1967 album, “Disraeli Gears” created the foundation for what a supergroup was intended to be. The album’s singles, “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love” incorporate lead singer-guitarists, Eric Clapton’s poise and finesse on the ax, along with Jack Bruce’s eye-catching bass playing, along with drummer Ginger Baker’s unique and hammering sound.

The album content is distinctive and beautiful, incorporating some of the most widely known riffs and the psychedelic, hard rock sound that was so popular in the ‘60s.
Other songs like “Outside Woman Blues” and “Take It Back” incorporate the more popular blues influenced sound Cream was known for. In 1999, “Disraeli Gears” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was ranked 114th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.

4. “Contraband” –Velvet Revolver
This 2004 album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and rightfully so. This all-star line up included former members of Guns n’ Roses, Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, alongside Dave Kushner of Wasted Youth and former Stone Temple Pilots lead singer,Scott Weiland.

“Contraband” helped introduce a flurry of hard rock sounds that hadn’t been heard together in a number of years. The gritty, energetic influence from G N’R along with the soothing yet rough singing style of Weiland brought together the sounds both groups were known for. Slash’s energetic solos with fast-paced riffs and all around powerful tone created a style no one was expecting. It also incorporated a mature depiction of drug abuse and its toll on relationships, as well as the crazy rock n’ roll lifestyle on the road.  

The singles “Slither,” which is known for its unmistakably, catchy riff, along with “Fall to Pieces,” and “Dirty Little Thing,” bring together the heavy, bashing sound that helped the band reach commercial success.

The band’s time together was short lived with the departure of Weiland in 2008 and his eventual death in 2015, making this one of those amazingly rare collaborations.

3. “Temple of the Dog” –Temple of the Dog  
The band’s creation was different from most supergroups as Chris Cornell of Soundgarden conceived the group as a tribute to his late friend and Mother Love Bone singer, Andrew Wood. Cornell, along with Wood’s ex band mates and members of what eventually became Pearl Jam, helped record this one, very impactful album.

Musically, the sound was much different than the destructive style that Soundgarden played with. It was much slower with greater melodic harmonies. “Temple of the Dog” incorporates messages of loss, drug use and remembrance with scorching vocals and soothing melodies.
The song “Say Hello 2 Heaven” was a direct homage to their fallen friend and his struggles. Lyrics like “And he hurt so bad / like a soul breaking / but he never said nothing to me” helps shine a light on the tragic event. With two other singles “Hunger Strike” and “Pushin Forward Back,” listeners cans sense the sincere and emotional introspection coming from an album of such perpetuity.  

2. “Audioslave” –Audioslave
Once again Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell is making legendary music - but this time with a different band.

He teamed up with then former members of Rage Against the Machine to create a trademark sound.

The music scene from the early 90s, alternative influence from Soundgarden along with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and his unconventional playing style and solos created a sound that asserted their own separate identity.

The songs convey messages of sobriety, death and self-realization as the group reminds listeners where mainstream rock once stood.

Songs such as “Cochise,” which is influenced by the last American Indian chief to die as a free man, and “Like a Stone,” a song about the perfect afterlife, show Cornell’s powerful lyricism and the unique and raunchy sound that made them unique.

Other singles including “Show Me How To Live” and “What You Are” let the listeners hear the battles each member has been through and what it took to get back to the top.

After listening to this debut album, fans knew they were once again a slave to the music.   

1.  “Above” –Mad Season
Perhaps one of the most underrated albums of all time, Mad Season’s only album, “Above” took incredible risks with its writing and its music style. The band consisted of members from Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees, all popular bandsin the Seattle grunge movement in the early ‘90s.

“Above” was somewhat a crossover of the three bands it stemmed from, while incorporating jazz, blues and arena rock influences that most rock albums wouldn’t touch.

The majority of the writing was done by lead singer Layne Staley as he dealt with a struggle with addiction. The raw, artistic sound comes out in full force through the single, “Long Gone Day.” Staley sings, “Lord it’s a storm and I’m heading to fall / these sins are mine and I’ve done wrong.”

Their most popular song, “I Don’t Know Anything” still receives radio play to this day. With only two of the original members still alive today, the album provides a remembrance of a classic, musical era, and an honest sound that didn’t leave fans swimming in a “River of Deceit.”