Five Ace British Rock Collaborations

Collaborations in rock music are not new and a lot of bands and performers have teamed up for ages to create something entirely new together. In British rock there are quite a lot of interesting works – both classical and contemporary. When the times meet and talents of various epochs team up, that’s where a very special direction in music is born – the direction of collaborations.

Queen feat. David Bowie “Under Pressure”

“Under Pressure” is a collaboration of greatest artists of pop and rock, the blend of charismatic characters, the union of amazing voices and skilful musicianship. The song started rather spontaneously when Bowie turned up at the studio where Queen were recording. The musicians started jamming together and that became the basis for what we now know as “Under Pressure”. However, there were a lot of difficulties during the work at the track due to different approaches, opinions and, well, characters. When strong individualities and firm believers collided, the whole idea to record a song together was almost put to an end as nobody wanted to give in, but creativity took over all the trivial matters and the song was recorded, mixed with great care and released as a single. “Under Pressure” is a perfect blend of the best from Queen and the best from David Bowie – the song recorded in the style of neither of them and thus very unique and outstanding. To top it all another thing that makes “Under Pressure” not an ordinary work of music is the fact that it was the one and only collaboration of Queen with another artist during the life of Freddie Mercury.

Manic Street Preachers feat. Ian McCulloch “Some Kind Of Nothingness”

It’s definitely the hand of Fate that brought Manic Street Preachers and Ian McCulloch to work together.  For Manics it was definitely a childhood dream come true as the first concert the band’s frontman James Dean Bradfield attended was the one of Echo & The Bunnymen. “I think there’s something resplendent about the fact that he’s there singing on our 10th album, – said Nicky Wire. – It’s about loss and the importance of grief.”  Despite such a dramatic topic, this soft and soaring tune sounds as light as a feather which makes quite a contrast to dark lyrics about loss and grief.  The addition of a gospel choir and an orchestra add up to the song’s character. On this tune Manics play their favourite game of performing a decent pop-rock tune with serious lyrical basis and that’s what they’re the best at.

Placebo feat. David Bowie “Without You I’m Nothing”

The collaboration of Placebo and David Bowie is the case out of the ordinary when a band gets a chance to perform with their hero by impressing him with only a couple of demo songs. David Bowie noticed Placebo in mid 90s and immediately called them one of the best bands he’d ever heard. It all resulted in Placebo’s opening several Bowie’s concerts around Europe and went on to their appearance at his 50th birthday concert in Madison Square Garden in 1997. The year 1998 saw the release of “Without You I’m Nothing” – the song by Placebo which featured the duet of Brian Molko’s and David Bowie’s voices. This moody, dark, intense tune sends gloomy shivers down one’s spine and the pain is performed with such a great skill that it can actually be felt. The haunting atmosphere grabs souls in its dark embrace leaving bitter aftertaste of desperation. It takes a lot of skill to record the track so vividly dramatic that it hurts, but with such a team of talented performers the question of “how to do it?” is not even a possibility.

The Blackout feat. Ian Watkins “It’s High Tide Baby!”

The Blackout and Lostprophets come from the same Welsh alternative scene and in the past the two bands  performed a lot of gigs together. In the longer run it resulted in the collaboration of The Blackout with Lostprophets’ lead singer Ian Watkins on the track “It’s High Tide Baby!” off the record “We Are The Dynamite”. This catchy and yet intense song features a tasty trio of vocals from Sean Smith, Gavin Butler and Ian Watkins which in their interchanging and mixing together sound very harmonious and complimenting. Music lines follow vocal lines perfectly emphasising the most important without letting it slip away.The variety of moods  which comprise this powerful rock ballad range from desperation and pain to confidence and firm determination.  Simple, but extremely appealing, this song has no fancy textures, layers of music and overdoing in any part of the tune. This contributes to its being very sincere, honest and emotionally real.

You Me At Six feat. Oli Sykes “Bite My Tongue”

As You Me At Six changed their direction at their third album “Sinners Never Sleep” by becoming heavier and, well, more sinister and there’s no wonder they collaborated with one of the most charismatic singers of UK hardcore  scene – Bring Me The Horizon’s frontman Oli Sykes. “Bite My Tongue” clearly stands out amongst other YMAS songs by being one of the heaviest tracks on the record. Beginning with slower tempo  the song is building gradually and becomes weightier and weightier with every second promising something agressive coming. Oli’s vocals burst out all of a sudden during the refrain adding the whole bunch of brutality and giving “Bite My Tongue” a certain, sharp edge. The screaming part not only stands out perfectly, but also highlights Josh Franceschi’s clear vocals makig the song play its facets to the full like in bright sunshine. That’s where Bring Me The Horizon and You Me At Six meet without compromises performing their best offerings and showing how softer rock and brutal hardcore can perfectly exist together.

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7 Responses to “Five Ace British Rock Collaborations”
  1. Placebo and David Bowie? Why have I never seen this?? What a cool and unusual collaboration.

    • rockmelody says:

      Love this duet too! It’s incredible how their voices work together 🙂
      Well, I believe this version has never been really promoted. The original version on the album goes without Bowie’s vocals and this one was released on a single.

      • trickygirl says:

        The Placebo covers album is well worth a listen too, an interesting selection of their take on some of their influences.

        As far as ace collaborations go, I’d also suggest ‘The Fix’ by Elbow and Richard Hawley (ex-Pulp and Longpigs and a great solo singer-songwriter in his own right), and ‘The Golden Path’ by The Chemicals Brothers and The Flaming Lips (although the Chemical Brothers aren’t strictly rock, and The Flaming Lips aren’t British!) – or, of course, The Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s ‘Fairytale of New York’ (despite The Pogues mostly being Irish!)

      • rockmelody says:

        Their covers are very interesting indeed. Have heard some of them and find them fascinating.
        Thanks for suggestions! I’ll definitely give them a listen 🙂

  2. I had never heard Under Pressure before. I love the song and the video thanks for sharing. 😉

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