Remastered: the big reunions of 2012
The fall and rise of Stone Roses, Black Sabbath, more
Alex Fahey - 09 January 2012
Like the majority of the music consuming public we're not privy to the workings of large and influential music management
companies. Such though is the frequency of reunions for bands of music past that we assume there must be an annual mind-mapping
meeting to seek out acts whose differences aren't too large to be dissuaded from a ride on the cash cow.
As for the mind-mapping who knows how it starts? Perhaps it's the light-bulb moment for the young apprentice trying to impress with a bit of 'rose-tinted thinking'. They've spent the last of their annual leave visiting Mummy and Daddy in the Cotswolds and while fingering through their parents record collection they've chanced upon a band that are no longer plying their trade in a live capacity.
"Are these any good Daddy?" A listen confirms that the melody can indeed be transposed 40 years, "and they not together anymore? Oh. But they're all still alive? That 'I think so' is all I need Daddy."
But in reality, finance is often the recurring motif, so we assume that perhaps the reunion has a more sinister note to it.
A John Barry-scored suspense music soundtracks the scene
The camera frames the rear of a black leather chair. As the music fades, the chair swivels clockwise, slowly and the occupier speaks:
Chief Executive of music management company to band: “So, we meet again...”
The camera pans down to his hands, where he's stroking a large wad of fifty pound notes.
Both of these ideas are written through the mind's eye of a cynic of course and are probably far from the truth. We're sure the manager overseeing the comeback has an interest in making the reunion a reality and in order to do so charges himself with the task, trowel in hand, of plastering over the cracks of bruised egos and ever-present arguments.
This scribe for instance would jump and shout at the chance to see the Beatles live, if it were possible, and would gladly boil the kettle for the cuppa and cuddle Lennon and McCartney so desperately needed. The thinking behind it being if one person is keen on reconcile then thousands of others would be too.
So, with 2012 continuing the trend of inviting musical divorcees to forget their painful past for the sake of the fans, we ask who will be masters of the reunion?
The Fall: Dirty laundry shouldn't be aired in public but such wisdom wasn't passed on to Squire and Brown. The body and soul of the Stone Roses, had jumped through legal loopholes and ducked label changes while trying to work on material for their Second Coming.
The issues which were beyond the control of the band found themselves filtering down into the group, tension gave birth to disagreement, leading to such disharmony that the guitarist and singer refused to speak to one another.
Just as the baggy scene in which they were so prevalent fell at the wayside so too did the band. Reni led the way first before Squire jumped ship and finally with Mani's transfer to Primal Scream, Ian Brown called it a day for the Roses in 1996.
The Rise: T in the Park 2012. Enthusiasm is far from short supply at this Scottish soiree, so we imagine it’ll be the perfect festival return for the Roses and predict that Ian Brown will believe again, momentarily, that he has the whole world in his hands.
The Fall: The Black Sabbath story has had more twists then Chubby Checker record at a wedding. It includes a 44 year history, 22 different members performing under the Sabbath moniker - two of which, until 2010, were suing one another – drugs, Satanism, bats and Christian haters.
But despite all of that there is only one headline fans want to read: The original line-up of Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill are back together again and it’s been a long time coming.
With Ozzy at the helm, Sabbath were a fearful live prospect (more so if you were a flying mammal) and respected statesmen of the metal genre but it all unravelled when Ozzy left the original Sabbath line-up in 1977. He was briefly reinstated but subsequently fired again owing to excessive drug use.
Osbourne claimed that his substance use was no worse then any of the other band members during this time but on his Sabbath sabbatical Ozzy decided to make a record named ‘Blizzard of Ozz’. The prosecution presumably had no further questions.
The Rise: Download Festival 2012. The MTV caricature may have brought Ozzy Osbourne to a wider audience but it’s fitting that a festival that preaches metal as it’s mantra should host their return. The Sunday night slot should set up the perfect billing for a spot of Satanism.
The Fall: The lynchpin to the Beach Boys reunion is Brian Wilson. The troubled singer, songwriter and producer, has battled with the band through the courts, fought with the loss of his father and his resulting weight-gain, warred against cocaine and drug use which led to the premature demise of his voice and scrapped with psychological problems including bipolar disorder. It’s a heavy back story for the composer of ‘Good Vibrations’.
Brian Wilson’s influence and contributions waned as other aspects of his life ruled over his interaction with the band. Under the direction of his therapist he was fired from The Beach Boys in 1982 as a step to returning Wilson to health. He took to the stage in 1985 at Live Aid before taking a sideways step to work on solo material, including completing and performing the lost ‘classic’ album, ‘Smile’.
Such has been Wilson’s development since that departure that it’s fitting for him to return to the fold for the 50th year of the band. No doubt too that it’s worked in everyone’s favour that all of the issues involving unpaid royalties and co-writing credits have been resolved too, albeit via the mediation of a high court judge.
The Rise: Coachella? It’s all rumour at this stage and they do have a festival date already penned in for their 50th Anniversary Tour at the New Orleans Jazz festival but an appearance at Cochella could perhaps offer a greater prospect; the global audience is in place for the festival and the sunshine is in place for the band…wouldn’t it be nice?
The Fall: The forced metamorphosis from Joy Division to New Order is a tale read a thousand times previous because of the nature of the former’s premature end. New Order came into being and departed from the sound that platformed Ian Curtis’s talent.
The post-punk sound was shifted; Sumner was designated vocals and as synthesisers shook up the 80s music scene so too did their sound with their track ‘Blue Monday’ becoming the best-selling 12” single in history.
Since then it would be assumed that New Order were to be a mainstay in British popular music, but despite not performing since 2006, inter-group relationships began to fray, as bassist Hooky succinctly commented: “New Order deciding to tour without me. It makes me all the more determined to fuck New Order over in any possible way I can. If they think I'm just going to scuttle off to a cabin in the woods, they've got another thing coming. They're dickheads.”
The Rise: Future Music Festival 2012. The tail end of 2011 saw the band perform without Peter Hook but still using the New Order name and 2012 promises more of the same. Hooky still remains out of the picture but close your eyes and open your ears and it can be 1983 all over again.
The Fall: It wasn’t officially a split, more of a pause but the manner in which it was conducted was less then orderly. The hiatus was saw Kele go solo, Moakes dally with La Roux as well as his own project, Young Legionnaire, and Russell Lissack guest with Irish rock outfit Ash on tour.
No word as to whether the Ash tour prompted the decision but Lissack was eager to return to work with Bloc Party, so without Kele, the other three members began rehearsing new instrumental tracks. The NME got all Donald McIntyre on us and investigated the situation, even making available the audio from the interviews, as Kele admitted to seeing the band get together for rehearsals without him in New York. Lissack at the time suggested they’d “see if we can get a singer to” audition in the absence of Kele.
Throwing his ha’pennys worth into the ring Zane Lowe tweeted: “Bloc Party thing is nonsense. Management confirm it. Solid... solid as a rrrrock.” So there we left the band, weighed down with vague indecision on their future.
The Rise: Reading Festival 2012 and Leeds Festival 2012? Fast forward three years and Zane Lowe has returned as official spokesman for the band, making public in a Kele interview that 2012 will bring a new material from the group. So all seems well again and we can’t help but think that a spot among the Reading line-up, where in 2009 the band were deemed ‘flawless’ before all the nonsense began, would be a fitting place to return.