Posted by: kubiakl | October 7, 2008


Synergy – The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined
effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Supergroups are tricky propositions.  When you put together a band made out of famous musicians, you also put together a band made out of large egos.  The clashes over who should be louder in the mix, which songs by which writer should be on an album, and even how publicity shots are taken (the movie “Almost Famous” has a great example of this) can kill the entire enterprise.  Look at Cream – some of the best psychedelic rock, but the ego clashes kept them from playing together from 1968 until 1993 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.  After that it was twelve years before they reunited at Royal Albert Hall (which produced an amazing live album you should own).

I don’t know if The Word really qualifies as a supergroup.  They have only put out one album and put on sporadic live performances.  But watch them play together:

There aren’t a lot of clips of The Word, a side project between the North Mississippi Allstars, Robert Randolph, and John Medeski.  (Sad side note: a search for “Soulja Boy” gave me 155,000 results)  They did put out a great album though.  When you combine one of the best modern guitarists (Luther Dickinson), an incredible pedal steel player (Robert Randolph), a high-caliber keyboardist (John Medeski), and the greatest rhythm section around (Chris Chew and Cody Dickinson) you get something good.  When these incredibly talented musicians also know how to sacrifice their ego for the good of the music, you get synergy.

The Allstars also did Spencer Dickinson with Jon Spencer (of the Blues Explosion).  And (because apparently they didn’t have enough to do) they backed John Hiatt on his “Master Of Disaster” album.  Each time they played within the music – you won’t hear anything forced or out of place.  They took the sound to a higher level without dominating it.

Here’s a track from the Spencer Dickinson album:

And with John Hiatt:



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