7 weird musical guest appearances you might have missed
Guest artists on albums come in all shapes and sizes.
Sometimes they're hard working up and comers who are just looking for a few bucks to make ends meet. Sometimes they're emerging stars looking for that next break. Sometimes they're multi-platinum recording artists who just want to lend some of their skills to a friend or respected colleague's band.
The vast majority of guest appearances are easily forgotten, but sometimes, often in hindsight, they're super weird.
Here are seven that fall into that category.
Joe Satriani on Crowded House’s first album
How many times have you heard ‘World Where You Live’ and ‘Something So Strong’? Well, we promise you’ll never hear them quite the same way again. Master of shred Joe Satriani leant his dulcet tones to the Crowded House classics way back in 1985, making it his greatest recorded performance of all time. I’m going to get in trouble for writing that, aren’t I?
“I sang background vocals on about five or six songs,” he told Guitar World in 1989. “I knew the producer, Mitchell Froom, who did some work with an old band of mine called The Squares. Andy Milton and I were the singers and we had developed an interesting blend. Andy has a great voice, and I have a very specific tone -- a Long Island whine. But together we don't sound like anybody. I was flattered that someone wanted me to sing on the record.”
Kim Deal on The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’
Including samples in this piece is opening a can of worms. But this is one of those instances that could well change the way you hear a song that has been a part of your life for the past 20 years.
The Breeders’ ‘S.O.S’ features a short passage of noisy guitar about a minute in, which ended up becoming the wailing riff that blazes through The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’.
Deal is credited as a writer on the song and admits that the royalty cheques that came as a result of her involvement have been pretty handy.
“It did really well, and since I own, like, a quarter of the song, it felt like, ‘Wow, it’s like, gosh, where’s this money coming from?’” she told The AV Club. “You can barely hear the sample in the first place. It's so hidden you can’t even tell where it’s coming from, but it’s from ‘S.O.S.’
“Now I root for them since they used a song of mine. Now I’m like, ‘You go guys!’ It's like I’m in the biology club and they’re in the football team, you know?”
Prince on Stevie Nicks’ ‘Stand Back’
Stevie Nicks agreed to split the royalties to her 1983 single with Prince, even though he receives absolutely no credit on the song whatsoever.
The story goes that Nicks was so inspired by hearing ‘Little Red Corvette’ on her wedding day, that she wrote a song right there and then and demoed it in the honeymoon suite that night.
When she took the song to the studio, she called Prince to tell him about it and he showed up to the studio, laid down some otherworldly synths, and disappeared from Nicks’ life for years.
“[He] walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes, and then left,” Nicks said in Timothy White’s book Rock Lives. “He was so uncanny, so wild, he spoiled me for every band I've ever had because nobody can exactly re-create - not even with two piano players-what Prince did all by his little self.”
Elton John on everything
Elton John is the king of the guest appearance. It’s probably because he’s such a voracious music appreciator that he agrees to appear on so many records when he could release an album of him playing the guitar blindfolded, with his feet, and still shift a reasonable number of units.
A few highlights from Elton’s raft of guest performances are as follows:
- T-Rex’s ‘Children Of The Revolution’
- A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Solid Wall Of Sound’ (sampled)
- Alice In Chains – ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’
- Kanye West – ‘All Of The Lights’
- Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘Fairweather Friends’
- John Lennon – ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night’
- Bon Jovi – ‘Dyin' Ain't Much of a Livin'’
It’s nothing if not diverse. You never know where he’s going to turn up next.
Lester from The Wire on Joan Armatrading’s ‘Love and Affection’
How good is The Wire? Honestly, if you haven’t seen this intense HBO crime drama, cancel all your social engagements for a couple of months and delve right into it.
There aren’t any bad performances, but one of the best comes from Clarke Peters who plays wise detective Lester Freeman.
But it turns out Peters’ had a pretty solid career in music before finding acting fame. In the 70s he moved to the UK where he formed a soul band called The Majestics. He also appeared on a series of sessions from pop artists around this time, including Joan Armatrading’s revered 1976 folk-pop standard ‘Love And Affection’.
You can hear that mighty impressive baritone in the choruses. You can’t miss it.
Of course, if you’ve seen the also excellent Treme, this won’t surprise you. He belts out some amazing tunes as Albert "Big Chief" Lambreaux in that show too.
Stevie Ray Vaughn on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album
Okay most big David Bowie and Stevie Ray Vaughn fans know this one already, but it’s too good a story to leave out here.
Stevie Ray Vaughn wasn’t much of a David Bowie fan when they met in the early ‘80s, but Bowie fell hard for the Texan’s playing. As a result, SRV is all over the Let’s Dance record, including hits like ‘China Girl’ and the title track, as well as the notably guitar-heavy ‘Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)’.
The relationship was short-lived though. Vaughn had his own album coming out around the same time and Bowie’s management essentially made him choose between the two projects. Vaughn’s manager apparently made that decision on his behalf very quickly and the guitarist was promptly booted from Bowie’s tour.
Jason Statham in Erasure’s ‘Run To The Sun’ video
You might know him best from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, but if you’re a fan of British synthpop duo Erasure, then you were no doubt unwittingly familiar with Jason Statham well before those films.
Yes, that’s one of modern cinema’s most sought after tough guys and antiheroes, dancing around shirtless, covered in silver paint. After you see this, you’ll never see Fast and the Furious 7 the same way again, if that’s your kinda thing.