The Edge, Kraftwerk, Peter Murphy and RUN-DMC – The art of unexpected collaborations


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When one thinks of odd and unexpected collaborations in music most likely one of the first you will come to think of is when RUN-DMC made a video together with Aerosmith. Aerosmith was a then over-the-hill rock group who’d fallen out of the spotlight, while Run-DMC was the most prominent group in rap that had yet to break through to the mainstream. But the two crews’ pioneering 1986 rehash of “Walk This Way” solved both problems, resurrecting Aerosmith’s faltering career and catapulting Run-DMC and rap music onto the pop charts.

However, the music history is full of even more unexpected collaborations of which some has fallen into hiding, and we are not referring to things like when Elton John collaborated with Eminem, but rather music endavours involving acts like Kraftwerk, U2’s The Edge and Peter Murphy from Bauhaus.

Meet three album that we never thought would see the light of day:

N.M.L. – ZERO LANDMINE

Featuring: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Brian Eno, Cyndi Lauper, David Sylvian and Kraftwerk

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Who would ever have thought to experience an album with the appearance of Kraftwerk on it. Although Kraftwerk only made the so called sound logo to the track – they are still on it.

Sakamoto and other musicians were concerned about the issue of landmines remaining buried in several countries. Together with a number of domestic and foreign artists and musicians, Sakamoto formed the unit NML (No More Landmines). NML produced the EP recording Zero Landmine, which runs for about twenty minutes with ethnic music and singing forming the bulk of the second half of the song. David Sylvian wrote English lyrics for the song. Proceeds from the CD of the recording have gone towards de-mining efforts and other related funds.

SNAKE CHARMER

Featuring: Jah Wobble, The Edge and Holger Czukay

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Snake Charmer is a collaborative EP between musicians Jah Wobble, The Edge and Holger Czukay released in 1983 through Island Records. This is quite an odd piece both in relation to performing artists but also in relation to the music as such. The immediate impression is that you are listening to quite standardized soul, pop and funk type music at its worst from the mid 80´s, but listening on one will find some connections to the sound of Herbie Hancock. 80´s as you can hear from the first stuttering synths on this overwrought supersession. Bassist Jah Wobble was post-Public Image Limited, The Edge from U2 clearly at a loose end and multi-instrumentlist Czukay from Can probably quite liked the idea of getting into a studio for a series of free-flowing sessions. Others who dropped in during the recording of the Snake Chartmer mini-album were Can’s Jaki Liebezeit, jazz-funk singer Marcella Allen and guitarist Animal.

Wobble had already explored “Islamic funk” with his Invaders of the Heart band but here got down with some weird amalgam of Eurobeat hooked to Afro-funk of the Talking Heads kind. Mat Snow in NME at the time generously described the five tracks as “all good but somewhat lacking in unity” and “displaying more on and off the wall wit” than his old “boss” from PIL, John Lydon, was managing to muster.

In truth it is a lumpy mini-album and perhaps more enjoyable than actually interesting.

DALIS CAR – The Waking Hour

Featuring: Peter Murphy, Mick Karn and Paul Vincent

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Dalis Car was a musical group formed in 1984 by Peter Murphy (vocalist), Mick Karn (bassist, keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist) and Paul Vincent Lawford (rhythm construction). The band was formed soon after Murphy and Karn left their former bands (Bauhaus and Japan, respectively). They took their name from a Captain Beefheart song from his album Trout Mask Replica. Initially, they recorded one album, The Waking Hour (UK No. 84), and released one single, “The Judgement is the Mirror” (UK No. 66). The cover of the album features a detail from Maxfield Parrish’s seminal painting Daybreak.

Dalis Car were doomed almost from the start.

A seemingly good idea when first suggested to Peter Murphy that he should collaborate with Mick Karn, the group nearly self-destructed before it was disbanded. Their sole album, The Waking Hour, released in 1984, came in more than £20,000 ($30,000) over the £40,000 ($60,000) budget given them by Virgin and Beggars Banquet. A commercial failure, the album produced one equally disappointing single, “The Judgement Is the Mirror.” Things seemed fine when Murphy and Karn began their collaboration. Initially working with four-track tapes that they sent back and forth, they wrote most of the songs before they came together in the studio. Once there, however, they clashed, and when the project was completed, neither wanted to work together again. “It was a particularly difficult project,” Karn said in a late-’90s interview. “We were two very different people.”