This week, 64-year-old reggae icon Jimmy Cliff releases Rebirth, an album produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong. It’s the latest in an ongoing trend that Flavorwire dubbed "inter-generational" musical collaborations: full-album pairings between an older legend and a younger industry stalwart. From Jack White and Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose to Ben Folds and William Shatner's Has Been, these pairings have always been around. But the last few years have seen a marked uptick. And so now, in our never-ending quest to make everything a competition, we evaluate some of the more prominent inter-generational collaborations, not based on the merit of their music, but on the inherent difficulty level they possessed. Using our foolproof "Revival of Beloved But Forgotten Artist" Difficulty-O-Meter, we figure out exactly which young, elder-respecting musician/producer overcame the biggest challenge.
Earlier today, as they promised they would, Blur released two new original songs. They did so via a livestream of a performance from a London rooftop (it's not embeddable, but you can see it here), which was a pretty apt way of doing things for a sensitive band that keeps on flirting with an all-purpose, world-conquering comeback: both effectively dramatic — tune in now for the exclusive live world premiere!, etc. — and charmingly muted. Yeah, Damon Albarn and his crew were doing some cool rock-and-roll shit on a roof, but they still went about their business in a polite, hangdog manner. First they knocked out the gorgeous, wistful ballad "Under the Westway"; then they ramped things up a touch, for the "la la la's" of "The Puritan." As they wrapped up, a small rippling of off-screen cheers and claps could be heard. Also, it was raining. Perfect.
Damon Albarn is a ridiculously talented, commendably hard-working fellow. You could have checked in on Damon at any given time over the last decade and found him mixing it up with a preposterously diverse set of characters and musical collaborators; there have been charity albums and operas and adaptations of Chinese novels from the 16th century and even a band with Flea. Really, it’s amazing. That said — and with all due respect here — most of us are mostly only checking for two of Albarn’s manifold projects: Blur, which has recently been semi-revived for one-off singles and some gigs, and Gorillaz, dormant since 2010. And, now, Albarn tells The Guardian (via Pitchfork), both Blur and Gorillaz are done.
What, exactly, is Andre 3000's thought process when it comes to leaving the plush, luxurious, and fully stocked underground bomb shelter he calls home? We don't hear from the guy for years, then he pops up on Ke$ha remixes and in Gillette commercials and God knows what else. It's jarring!
At one point, not that long ago, certain cross-genre dream collaborations were comically impossible to imagine. And then, all of a sudden, and it’s not exactly clear when it happened, the music industry’s mind-set on CGDCs blew right past "impossible" to "not only possible, but going to happen, again and again and again." Damon Albarn’s the latest instigator: He’s pulled in Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen (second-best all-time Tony Allen, though, obvs) for a band called Rocket Juice and the Moon. Their debut album, which will feature Erykah Badu (!), is due out March 12. Says Allen: “It is all funk. Groove music, music that makes you dance. The audience don't want to sit and listen, they want to move their bodies.”
When David Lynch announced he was dropping a full-length album, he had two options. First: Move radically away from the fragmented horror movie vibe everyone was expecting. Maybe pop out a few smooth, serviceable alt-country numbers, or an instrumental trad-jazz thing? Second: Move wholeheartedly toward the fragmented horror movie vibe everyone was expecting. This song is called “Crazy Clown Time” so, yep, he did the second thing.