Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Talkin' Bout Reformation

Within the last few years we’ve seen some pretty high-profile (and high-profit) reunions of bands once considerd long dead, and 2011 is looking to be no exception. Who would have thought we’d ever get to see The Police, The Who, Pavement, Pixies or Rage Against The Machine live again, let alone hear new material? With record sales diminishing, touring has become increasingly lucrative - though a less cynical observer might claim these revivals to be motivated by loyalty to fans or even creative urges.

The most high-profile reunion of recent years has of course been that of Take That, whose phenomenal success has even seen Robbie Williams come crawling back, and fans of boybands will be delighted to hear that Blue have reformed to nobly take on the challenge of representing the UK in the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest. After last year’s UK entry Josh Dubovie came a pathetic last, here’s hoping.

Fans of britpop will be pleased to hear that Pulp, Jarvis Cocker’s much-loved band of common people, are gearing up to play a series of festival sets after an eight-year hiatus including Hyde Park’s Wireless Festival and the Isle of Wight Festival. There are no signs of a new album yet, but if this year’s tour proves successful we may be rewarded. Fingers crossed!

After 23 years, American new wave band The Cars have announced their very first LP, with the working title Sharp Subtle Flavor. This is a genuine reunion: nothing to do with 2005’s New Cars which consisted of only two of the original members. Despite missing bassist Benjamin Orr, who passed away in 2000, the band have already released clips of two new songs, ‘Sad Song’ and ‘Free’.

Another high-profile reunion is that of noise-dance-rock-thingy pair Death From Above 1979, who originally split back in 2005 over differences in, well, pretty much everything. However, Jesse F. Keller (having messed around in MSTRKRFT a bit) and Sebastien Grainger appear to have got over their issues and are set to play Coachella later this year. If we’re extra good, maybe they’ll treat us with a follow up to their first and only album You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.

Finally, this writer’s most anticipated return is that of superstar rapper and producer Dr Dre, who is said to be close to releasing his first album in twelve years: the long-awaited Detox. After focusing on production since previous album 2001 (which, confusingly, was released in 1999) Dre has confirmed that Detox is finally complete, having been in production for almost a decade. As you might expect, Dre is to be joined by a star-studded line-up of rappers including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Akon, Jay-Z and (er) La Roux. But after disappointing first single 'Kush' was released back in November to little fanfare, Dre still has yet to prove that the world shouldn’t forget about him.

What of these dinosaurs returning from their extinction, then? It seems inevitable that some bands will want to continue making music - and if it’s still good, why not? On the other hand, it’s easy to be cynical about overpriced reunion gigs, but the appeal of reliving one’s youth (or, for younger and newer fans, seeing a long-dead band for the first time) should never be overlooked.

Originally published in The Courier, 7th Feb 2010.

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