Five Ill-Advised Rock Reunions
Buffalo Springfield, the 1960s band known for briefly employing Neil Young and Stephen Stills, announced a six-date reunion tour this summer and an appearance at the Bonnaroo festival.
Since half of Buffalo Springfield's original members are dead, the tour is less an actual reunion than a ploy by Young and Stills to perform a few more times before senility wipes all memory of their existence from the collective Baby Boomer psyche.
In a word, it's inessential. But so are most rock reunions, and at least for Buffalo Springfield, their one memorable song, "For What It's Worth," found a second life when it was performed 30 years ago on the Muppet Show. The rest of these groups would be lucky to carry Miss Piggy's bags.
5. Blind Melon
We always suspected that Blind Melon's success in the mid-1990s had more to do with the late singer Shannon Hoon's photogenic baby face than their music, a grating blend of jam-band guitars and alternative rock arrangements that lacked the former's expanse and the latter's punch (see above).
When Blind Melon reunited in 2006, they seemed so hell bent on demonstrating an appeal independent of Hoon's good looks that they hired in his place an emaciated, tattoo-sleeved carnie fittingly named Travis. Despite the efforts to grit things up, low sales of their newest record and a sporadic concert schedule suggested that Blind Melon was just another pretty face after all.
Guitarist Brian May astounded arbiters of good taste and common sense alike when he resurrected Queen in 2005 for a world tour and new album. Standing in for the irreplaceable vocalist Freddie Mercury was Paul Rodgers, a chemical-peeled hunchback and Danny Bonaduce lookalike known best for singing "All Right Now," a classic rock hit being enjoyed this very instant by a shirtless guy washing his car in the driveway.
Rechristened Queen + Paul Rodgers, the new band seemingly understood its limitations and aspired to give fans an Arena Football substitute for Mercury's NFL. Thanks to Rodgers' grunted vocals and "cool dad" stage persona, concertgoers got a middle-school Nerf scrimmage instead.
The collaboration thankfully expired in 2009, with May leaving to write musicals and become the world's lamest advocate for wildlife. The reconstituted Queen performs "Under Pressure" above.
3. The Germs
LA punk band the Germs became legendary for the violent antics of lead singer Darby Crash, who died of a drug overdose at 22. When a film about Crash, What We Do Is Secret, was released in 2007, his old band mates reunited to tour. In a display of the commercialism that old punk bands are supposed to despise, the Germs hired as their new singer Shane West, the same actor who played Crash in his biopic.
Whereas Crash had a malignant and snaky charisma, West, a steadily-employed TV star who nonetheless scowls when photographed, reminds us of a pissed-off rich kid who wears black T-shirts and eyeliner to affect the sort of LA "edge" that went limp with Richard Grieco. Audiences old and new alike caught whiff of the inauthenticity and stayed away from the film and tour.
West and the Germs underwhelm in the clip above.
2. 10,000 Maniacs
Talk about a merry-go-round of irrelevance. Although lead singer Natalie Merchant is now a bobbed footnote in the annals of self-important "issues" rock, the community college loafers from her old band have reunited twice in the last 15 years, and with a different vocalist each time.
We suspect 10,000 Maniacs keeps reforming not because the public-at-large is demanding more music from the people who wrote "Candy Everybody Wants," but because the proprietors and customers of vintage stores that specialize in creepily asexual costume dresses banded together and lobbied them for new material.
Although we love the infamous video of former Misfits singer Glenn Danzig getting punched out by a bouncer, we secretly harbor feelings of respect for the Mr. Universe of heavy metal.
Granted, this respect only came about in hindsight, after Danzig's former band mates in the Misfits reunited in 1997 and replaced him with Michael Graves, a self-described "conservative punk" who wears his trick-or-treat quality stage makeup in public and is allegedly proud of his New Jersey origins.
Making this one of the weirdest rock reunions in history, the new Misfits, attempting to boost record sales, took a nonsensical detour into professional wrestling. Angling to become the next WCW tag team champs, the Misfits instead got their costumed asses kicked while rowdy redneck audiences screamed in approval.
Eager to whore themselves further, the band appeared on The People's Court and introduced a shit storm of action figures and other products bearing their likenesses, effectively transforming what had been one of the underground's coolest punk bands into a white trash duplicate of the KISS business model.
Say what you want about Danzig, who apparently still has an ego as large and unyielding as his juiced-up pythons, but at least he's no longer hanging around with guys like this.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.