Wednesday 27 September 2017

Chemical Brothers collaborations

I was driving around the other day with my Never Ending Mixtape on shuffle and all of a sudden Wide Open by The Chemical Brothers with Beck came blasting out of my car speakers.

I marvelled at the song and, not for the first time in relation to a Chemical Brothers collaboration, questioned 'what if?'

What if Beck and The Chemical Brothers had got together for an album?

It is something I have thought about many times in relation to Chemical collaborations, particularly in relation to the mesmerising, pulsating, modern psychedelic masterpiece The Golden Path, their work with The Flaming Lips from their Singles 93-03 compilation in 2003.

What if some bright spark had suggested - that really is incredible, lets get together for a week or so and see what we can come up with? I suppose at that time that both the Chems and the Lips were riding high and touring constantly on the back of their success, so that option never materialised. What if?

A full list of Chemical Brothers collaborations is listed below. Here are my own top 5;

1. The Golden Path
Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips takes on lead vocals with bandmate Steve Drozd on backing vocals. The song flows superbly and takes the listener on a trip, much like the dreary office worker living in a grey world and dreaming in technicolour glory. Coyne and Drozd apparently sent the Chems a demo thinking they would get another chance to improve on it, but the Chems called them back ecstatic - and that was that.

2. Life Is Sweet
Tim Burgess was into the Chemical Brothers from the off, partying at the Heavenly Social and getting them to remix and produce some Charlatans tunes; PatrolNine Acre Court and the Time For Livin' cover being those I remember off the top of my head.

Life Is Sweet is a match made in heaven. The beats and groove suit Burgess, his vocals, melody and style are perfect for The Chemicals. The beats, synths and bass combine in a funky flowing way

I'm driving in the sun
It's a hell of a way down south
Bring me back my love

3. Out Of Control
Bernard Sumner is someone who responds very well to opportunities to work with others. He is a bit of a studio boffin and I love his work with Electronic and more recently a collaboration with Hot Chip on the brilliant Didn't Know What Love Was - check the video to that HERE.

As for Out Of Control, it surges, soars, floats - the guitar break is pure New Order with fizzing laser synth sounds - and then it surges some more. Sumner is in great form and he's joined by Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie on backing vocals.

Maybe I'm just scared of losin' you
Or maybe it's the things you make me do

4. Where Do I Begin?
Beth Orton was crowned the 'comedown Queen' back in the day. She collaborated with the Chems on a number of occasions and I was torn between this and the glorious The State We're In, but this just wins for me.

It really is a comedown tune. A lovely riff is picked out with all kinds of psychedelic effects in the background. Orion's voice is whispery and gorgeous.

Sunday morning I'm waking up
Can't even focus on a coffee cup
Don't even know whose bed I'm in
Where do I stop, where do I begin

And then the beats come in and it all kicks off in a typically frantic and glorious Chemical Brothers fashion. The video below is an edited version. You can check the full 7-minute album version HERE.

5. Wide Open
The song that prompted this blog. It's sublime, it really is outstanding. The beat that comes in with the synth bass is instantly cool, Beck's vocal is one of his best.

I'm wide open
But don't I please you anymore?
You're slipping away from me
You're drifting away from me

If you haven't heard it then stick your headphones on and drift away in a song that flows superbly. There are little twists and turns along the way; the one day just gonna see me section is stunning, the bass really kick in at one point and the song just keeps flowing and building.

Chemical collaborations

Life Is Sweet - Tim Burgess (Charlatans)
Alive Alone - Beth Orton
Setting Sun - Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Where Do I Begin? - Beth Orton
Out Of Control - Bernard Sumner (New Order)
Let Forever Be - Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Asleep from Day - Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star)
Dream On - Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev)
The State We're In - Beth Orton
The Test - Richard Ashcroft (The Verve)
Galvanize - Q-Tip
The Boxer - Tim Burgess (Charlatans)
Believe - Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)
Hold Tight London - Anna-Lynne Williams
Left Right - Anwar Superstar
Close Your Eyes - The Magic Numbers
No Path to Follow - Willy Mason
All Rights Reversed - Klaxons and Lightspeed Champion
Do It Again - Ali Love
The Salmon Dance - Fatlip
Battle Scars - Willy Mason
The Pills Won't Help You - Tim Smith (Midlake)
Wide Open - Beck
Born in the Echoes - Cate Le Bon
Neon Lights - Annie Clark
EML Ritual - Ali Love
Go - Q-Tip
The Golden Path - The Flaming Lips

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