Guns N’ Roses and Other Unlikely Reunions

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that there are some very strong rumours circulating the music world that the classic (i.e Appetite For Destruction-era) lineup of Guns N’ Roses are reuniting. This claim comes as a massive shock to most because of the string of insults that have been thrown between the old band members, especially between vocalist Axl Rose and iconic guitarist Slash, for many years, following their split in the mid-nineties.

In addition to Rose and Slash, the classic lineup is considered to be bassist Duff McKagan, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler. However, the rumours seem to suggest it will either be Matt Sorum (who joined in 1991) or current member Frank Ferrer on drums and that current rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus will keep his place too.

A classic lineup reunion for Guns N’ Roses has been almost unthinkable over the past two decades, however if the rumours can be believed and we are on the verge of a historical announcement, then I want to indulge myself in musical fantasies and discuss what other conflict-fraught lineups could yet reunite if their differences were put aside.

The Smashing Pumpkins

When it comes to being an arrogant dictator in a band, it’s hard to look past Billy Corgan. Their original and classic lineup consisted of Corgan on guitar and vocals, James Iha on guitar, D’arcy Wretzky on bass and Jimmy Chamberlin on drums, but by 1996, five years after their debut album, the band was on the brink. It was well known that Corgan controlled the recording process, rarely letting Iha and Wretzy perform their parts, however the initial catalyst for their breakup was touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin’s fatal overdose. On the same night Chamberlin also overdosed and was subsequently fired from the band, before Wretzky was fired for similar reasons several years later, resulting in Iha walking out too. The band was well and truly over by the turn of the millennium.

After a five year hiatus Corgan eventually continued on with the Pumpkins names, reuniting for one album cycle with Chamberlin, before quickly hiring new members into the fold, whom have mostly gone their separate ways too. From an outside perspective it seems that the relationships between the classic lineup have been completely severed and that Corgan is still unable to maintain a healthy atmosphere within the band. Combining this with the fact that, since the breakup, the only other member to be musically active in the mainstream has been Iha with A Perfect Circle, it looks unlikely that the Smashing Pumpkins would ever reunite. But who’s to say it couldn’t ever happen…

Oasis

I personally can’t stand Oasis, which coincidentally is exactly how the Gallagher brothers view each other. Liam and Noel Gallagher formed one of the most iconic songwriting duos in British rock music, writing eight number one albums and singles together, coming the closest to replicating the media obsession over the Beatles. However their increasingly fragile relationship finally snapped backstage in August 2009 where a fight broke out, which quickly culminated in the band breaking up. Since then there has been no effort to reunite the band and Liam’s subsequent group Beady Eye has also disbanded. However Slash and Axl’s relationship was reportedly as frosty as the Gallagher’s brothers, so is there still some hope for Oasis fans yet?

Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson has a habit of aggravating band members, almost as much as Axl, Billy and the Gallaghers do. One such incident was the on-stage spat between then-guitarist John 5 and Manson himself during their Golden Age of Grotesque album cycle (shown below), which is one of many fall outs between Manson and various band members. The original lineup, or any lineup for that matter, was short lived, with original members Gidget Gein and Daisy Berkowitz leaving due to repeated drug overdoses and frictions respectively before the band could even record their second album. Since then a whole cast of members have been hired and often quickly deposed of, leaving lineups confused and continuity non-existent, turning what was once a band into very much a solo project for Manson. An original ‘Spooky Kids’ reunion, performing their original material would be almost impossible, but would undoubtedly draw the crowds.

Queensryche

My final impossible reunion is that of Queensryche, the American progressive metal band. The original and classic lineup that existed around their most successful album, Operation: Mindcrime, consisted of singer Geoff Tate, guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. The first of this lineup to leave was DeGarmo who departed in 1997 due to growing dysfunction within the band, however the remaining four members stayed together until 2012, when one of the nastiest band splits occurred.

Growing tensions within the band finally boiled over when the band fired their manager, who unfortunately was also Tate’s wife. This apparently led to a brawl, which ended up with two different versions of Queensryche existing, one with the band and new singer Todd La Torre and another with Tate and a brand new collection of musicians. What followed was a lawsuit which amongst other rulings, resulted in Tate’s band being renamed Operation: Mindcrime and the other members keeping the Queensryche name. The chances of a full reunion are practically zero. But hey, just look at Guns N’ Roses…

What bands would you like to see reunite that have little chance of doing so? Let me know by commenting below and as always like and share if you have enjoyed this RockAtlantic blog.

James

RockAtlantic’s last three album reviews:

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The RockAtlantic Guide: Placebo

In this week’s RockAtlantic blog I want to try a new post idea. Recently I have been focusing on writing reviews of new releases, but part of the joy of reviewing music is being able to pick out gems from the past. With this blog post I want to give a brief overview of a band’s entire career, providing a general guide for their discography whilst picking out highlights and critiquing where they fell short. The band I’m going to start with is one that has been circulating my iPod over the last fortnight: Placebo.

Placebo (1996) – Overall: 7/10

Placebo’s eponymous debut album is responsible for breaking the band into the public eye, most notably with the single Nancy Boy. The album also spawned four other singles, which alongside the rest of the record, portray themes of sexuality, drugs and gender that would later come to define the band. Musically the album mixes the heavy and dense guitars of post-grunge with the spunk and melody of glam within an alternative rock format, which when combined with Brain Molko’s intelligent, yet teen-appealing lyrics, makes Placebo an intriguing affair. Unfortunately the final two tracks of the album lose focus, which there are also brief hints of throughout the other three non-single tracks. Nevertheless Placebo was a strong debut album and still has the intended impact.

Without You I’m Nothing (1998) – Overall: 5/10

Without You I’m Nothing contains the darker side of Placebo, meaning some of their second album gets bogged down in mundane, depressing marches and whiny vocals. However, within this darker atmosphere are tracks like Every You, Every Me, Pure Morning and Scared of Girls, which shine with infectious melodies and introverted lyrics. Without You I’m Nothing also contains much more diversity than its predecessor, with punk-inspired blasts and depressing ballads gracing the same track listing. However, the album contains fewer highlights than Placebo and despite its many successes, it felt like a step in the wrong direction.

Black Market Music (2000) – Overall: 8/10

If Without You I’m Nothing focused on the darker side of Placebo’s sound, then Black Market Music concentrated on the more experimental aspects of their repertoire, pushing the band further into the alternative rock arena. With tracks like Special K and Taste In Men, Brain Molko made his lyrics less cryptic (in some occasions) and embraced wider influences, including glam, rap and electronic music. Because of this Black Market Music comes across as a vibrant record, despite the album’s numerous dark themes and the heavily drugged-up status of the band members at the time.

Sleeping With Ghosts (2003) – Overall: 8/10

Sleeping With Ghosts is the final album in Placebo’s transition from the post-grunge of their debut to the alternative rock label that they are usually given. The album also saw the band mature, taking a more measured approach, both musically and lyrically. One of the album’s strengths is the lack of filler; each track serves a purpose and doesn’t get stuck in overly-pretentious lyrics or stagnant song structures. Even the singles are more considered, providing a more deeper experience than the immediate gratification that is often expected from a band in the mainstream eye.

Meds (2006) – Overall: 10/10

Meds took the maturity learned on Sleeping With Ghosts and combined it with serious themes of alcoholism and drugs, in addition to documenting the most turbulent period of the band. As is often the case, with great hardship comes great artistry and Meds offers some of the best music the British trio have ever recorded. Infrared and Meds are infectious, straight-up rock tracks, whilst Follow the Cops Back Home and In The Cold Light of Morning take the listener down the deepest, most depressing thoughts of Molko’s psyche. The album flows excellently and provides just the right amount of variety, whilst maintaining a distinct sound throughout – it’s Placebo at their finest.

Battle For The Sun (2009) – Overall: 6/10

In contrast to the dark and subdued Meds, Battle For The Sun is a bright poppy affair, which flips the band’s outlook on life on its head, celebrating love and relationships. Sure, the odd moment of melancholy appears and makes its voice heard, but nevertheless Battle For The Sun remains Placebo’s most optimistic musical observation. The album is also packed with great ideas: For What It’s Worth has swagger and lush instrumentation, whilst Julien and Kings of Medicine experiment with song structures in a creative way. Unusually it is where the bright and sparky formula disappears that Placebo trip up on this record; Come Undone plods along aimlessly, Happy You’re Gone is dominated by an annoying whiny vocal and Devil In The Details feels too repetitive to enjoy it fully. In addition to this some of the album’s poppier moments fall flat with repeat listens, making this adventure into positive thinking fall into the ‘neither-here-nor-there’ category.

Loud Like Love (2013) – Overall: 7/10

Placebo’s most recent outing is combination of the last two albums. The accessibility practiced on Battle for the Sun is combined in many parts with the sadder tones from Meds, although brighter moments are allowed to shine through, making Loud Like Love a very diverse record. Unusually the album’s second half is stronger than the first, as it is filled with honest moments of worry and regret, such as the emotional Bosco and A Million Little Pieces, which vastly outshine the bizarre lyrics of tracks like Rob the Bank and Too Many Friends which try too hard to recapture their past. Loud Like Love is a snapshot of a band trying to redefine their sound now that the band are no longer in their twenties and on drugs, and it provides a promising outlook for their future.

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James

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