Here are the things that I love oh so much about High Fidelity, and miss in my current musical universe:
-knowing endless trivia and stories about every band and song
So for the Paper Crane Collective, I figured I’d combine all these things into a twice-monthly Top 5 list. Every other Tuesday, Those Who Dig will present a list on various topics, genres, themes, news stories, or whatever we feel like writing about that day – along with commentary, stories, and tunes!
Well, we over at Those Who Dig are just pleased as punch to be included in this awesome Collective of badass bloggers. We’ll be comin’ at ya two Tuesdays every month with our All Time Top 5 feature.
In the spirit of musical brotherhood, I thought I’d focus my first contribution to PCC on the Top 5 Bestest Collectives in music history. Well, that might be a little bit of hyperbole, but these are my favorites, anyways! I tried to make the order somewhat relevant, but didn’t really give it too much thought.
I guess strictly speaking, Parliament Funkadelic is the actual “collective”. But I couldn’t pass up a chance to use this picture, could I? I guarantee there was no other time in his life when George Clinton was dressed up as a 50’s Elfachaun (that’s a cross between a leprechaun and Santa’s elves).
The Parliaments began their long, odd musical career as a barbershop, doo-wop quintet in Jersey in the 50’s. And they were fucking awesome. When Clinton came into a heated contract dispute, he lost the rights to the name “Parliaments” (for a short time). These dapper gentlemen couldn’t well go nameless, so ol’ Georgy pulled the name “Funkadelic” out of his butt.
Many years and a many joints later, Parliament Funkadelic is the living, breathing embodiment of the musical collective. Clinton has been the only consistent member in this group of rotating members, side bands, and genres. Hats off, George.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
The only people in the universe to have seen a 70’s documentary about a Japanese biker gang and like it enough to take their name from it, Godspeed You! Black Emperor take the obligatory “mysterious anarchists collective” spot on our list. We all love them, and there’s plenty who love to hate them, but you can’t deny how purely interesting they are.
GY!BE may also be the only band to rise to prominence after the release of 33 copies of an album on cassette tape. All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Dooling (greatest. name. ever.) led to an expanded group, tour schedule, and the eventual release of the classic F#A#Infinity (I can’t figure out how to insert an infinity sign).
The gents of GY!BE have moved in and out of existence over the years while various members work in various other projects. They’ve been called overly political and they’ve been called anarchists, but everyone agrees that they put on epic live shows.
This would be the ultimate indie-fanboy music collective if it wasn’t for #2 on the list (teaser!!! don’t scroll down yet!!). Elephant 6 is just as loose as it is huge. The recording group founded in Denver by four childhood friends now contains members of the bands Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Elf Power, and Of Montreal.
The bros have all linked up on various projects, contributed to each other’s albums, and appeared at everyone else’s shows. It’s the kind of group that makes you jealous you’re not a underappreciated, underpaid, artsy, indie icon.
Broken Social Scene
Yes, of course they made the list. Broken Social Scene is the greatest group of musicians to collect themselves in the last decade(ish) hit the scene in 1999 and have done nothing but make brilliant albums and launch careers ever since. Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning are the original men to thank for the hours of parsing through album after album of dense indie rock.
I first came on board with You Forgot It In People, an album that totally crawled into my 17 year old ears and exploded my brains from the inside of my frontal cortex out. That’s about the time the world took notice of the group’s genre-exploring, sexual-innuendo containing, baroque indie pop as well. Or, I guess, “volcano rock” as drummer Justin Peroff has dubbed it. They’ve won two Juno awards (the Grammy’s for those crazy Canadians), sold a bunch of albums, and made my soul cry.
And that brings us to…..
#1….with a bullet
You knew it had to be the Wu, right? Has there ever been a more talented group of individuals making more influential music? Well, maybe, but goddammit I love Wu-Tang. Between them and Tribe, my rap sensibilities were shaped at an early age.
The boys of Wu formed their world-dominating collective on the streets of Staten Island in the Shaolin Housing projects (get it?) by the RZA, GZA, and ODB. Apparently Biz Markie (!) was one of the first already famous rappers to hear Wu (then called Force of the Imperial Master) and recognize their talent. After their debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) they blew the fuck up and after a series of albums, solo albums, projects, books, and bling became the Greatest Musical Collective Ever. I still blame them for How High though.
Let’s end this with a reader question…who’s your fave Wu member? Ghostface for me. Man spits fire and wears a bracelet with a massive gold eagle on it. Win.