As Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s Watch The Throne tour kicks off this week, there’s really not all that much else to talk about. Between set lists, leather outfits, copious bling and “OMG WILL PREGONCÉ OR FRANK OCEAN OR BOTH MAKE AN APPEARANCE?”, it’s a truly immersive experience, permeating all facets of daily life and conversation. So while we wait very impatiently for our turn to Watch The Throne, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite collaboration albums of all-time.
BRIAN ENO & DAVID BYRNE — My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, 1891
If you’re anything like us, you die in your pants every time you even think about the genius of this, the same way you do when you hear the names Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel in the same sentence. Pioneering electronic and ambient music, absurdest and surreal, Brian Eno and David Byrne‘s offering is seminal to the synth led sounds that are so popular today. Directional and experimental, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is as challenging as it is inspiring to listen to.
NEIL YOUNG & PEARL JAM — Mirrorball, 1995
The thing we love most about Neil Young and Pearl Jam‘s collaboration, Mirrorball, is that it wasn’t as much about Neil Young getting down with the kids as it was about Pearl Jam getting up with Neil Young. With Young behind the album, conceptualizing and writing the music, Pearl Jam kept up the pace with their unrelenting high energy. And if you thought the Watch The Throne tour was huge, think about what happened when the Jam went on tour across Europe with Young (affectionately dubbed “Neil Jam” by fans) to promote the album in 1995…
BROKEN BELLS — Broken Bells, 2010
By their powers combined — they are Broken Bells. Formed of slashie (artist slash producer) Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and James Mercer of The Shins, Broken Bells was a success from its very conception. We loved the eponymous album, and continue to replay the infectious “The High Road,” which was the band’s first release in 2009.
NAS & DAMIAN MARLEY — Distant Relatives, 2010
Hip hop met reggae when rapper Nas and Bob Marley‘s son Damian Marley teamed up for Distant Relatives. The album focuses on the duo’s shared African ancestry, as well as struggle and poverty, with proceeds from album sales going directly to aid in Africa to fund projects such as building schools in the Congo. It’s always good to see performers putting their money where their mouths are, and tangibly reaching out to do something about the issues they spout so passionately about in their songs.
GNARLS BARKLEY — St. Elsewhere, 2006
Yes, Danger Mouse is behind some of the best contemporary collaborations of the past ten odd years. Yes, everything Danger Mouse touches turns to gold. Yes, it turns extra shiny golden when you add Cee Lo Green to the equation, as is the case with the duo’s influential project, Gnarls Barkley. St. Elsewhere‘s first single, “Crazy”, has become somewhat of a classic in its own right, earning the #14 spot on VH1’s list of the Best Songs of the 2000s.
THE DEAD WEATHER — Horehound, 2009
The Dead Weather is what happens when arguably the of two coolest artists in contemporary rock work together. We’re talking about The Kills‘ Alison Mosshart and The White Stripes / The Raconteurs Jack White. Add Queens Of The Stone Age‘s Dean Fertita and The Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence and there’s absolutely no way anything could go wrong. The second release from the collaborative debut album, “Treat Me Like Your Mother” saw Mosshart and White go head to head in a simulated shootout for the video, and is as iconic visually as it is given the epic meeting of minds that resulted in its creation.
THE POSTAL SERVICE — Give Up, 2003
From the voice and sentiment of Death Cab For Cutie‘s front man Bed Gibbard and the production talents of Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel and Headset came The Postal Service. The collaboration band’s debut release Give Up changed our lives — from matter-of-fact to gruesome to saccharine romance, Give Up covered a broad spectrum while remaining charmingly tongue in cheek. With a cameo from Jen Wood on “Nothing Better,” the album was fanciful, mystical and a little bit whimsical. And now, nearly a decade later, fans are still clamoring for a second chapter…