10 Great Musical Offshoots – Derek & The Dominos to Manassas

by TW on October 17, 2011

What’s a musician to do when he or she feels artistically tied? Take the often ill-fated solo path or hop out and jam with some friends, and perhaps record a record or two? Sometimes it works, most often it doesn’t, but here are 10 great offshoots and one-off groups that were worth “breaking up” or out for.

  1. Derek & The Dominos – Who knew that Eric Clapton’s best work would come outside Cream and his own solo career? Oh yeah, that was Duane Allman playing alongside and creating the momentous slide guitar licks on “Layla.”
  2. Traveling Wilburys – On paper it would be hard to argue against bringing Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison together for a fun romp in the studio. The result was better than expected, still, with Dylan and Petty’s voices sounding like sanding blocks against Orbison’s crystalline falsetto and Lynne and Harrison’s super smooth pipes.
  3. Temple Of The Dog – The overdose of Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood was the unfortunate impetus for the gathering of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron along with pre-Pearl Jam-mers Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder. The resulting tribute to their fallen friend includes Cornell’s touching “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and the brilliant back-and-forth singing by Cornell and Vedder on “Hunger Strike.”
  4. Golden Smog – Golden Smog’s Down By The Old Mainstream is the great lost Jayhawks, Wilco and Soul Asylum record and features several standout performances: Gary Louris’ sparkling “Won’t Be Coming Home”; Dan Murphy’s bluesy “Ill Fated” and Dave Pirner’s go-for-broke singing on “Nowhere Bound.”
  5. Heaven & Hell – Former Black Sabbath-ians Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice hook up  with perpetual Sabbath-ians Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to revisit the early 1980s in this modern-day power chord bludgeoning force. Listen to Dio’s raging vocal on “Eating The Cannibals” and ask yourself, “Who was the greatest 67-year-old metal singer?”
  6. Hot Tuna – One of the longest running offshoots formed as a vehicle for Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Cassidy to satisfy their blues’ jones. Long after the Airplane was grounded, Hot Tuna continues to swim.
  7. Blind Faith – Blind Faith was a fascinating one-off supergroup with a lifespan barely longer than an adult mayfly. With former Cream members Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker paired with ex-Traffic players Steve Winwood and Rick Grech of Family, the band managed one lone LP and an unforgettable single – “Can’t Find My Way Home” – before disintegrating.
  8. The New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Jerry Garcia could never be pinned down to Grateful Dead status alone, and his late ’60’s venture with fellow Dead members Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart along with John Dawson and David Nelson helped put the cosmic in country rock.
  9. The Highwaymen – What do you get when you put Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson together? You get exactly what you need. Four voices as craggy and weathered as the Rock of Gibraltar, singing tales of the road, cowboys and desperados.
  10. Manassas – In 1972 Stephen Stills gathered a force of like-minded musicians – including Chris Hillman, Joe Lala, Al Perkins and Dallas Taylor – and recorded a remarkable double-album that amalgamated country- and folk rock, bluegrass and blues, with nary a wasted note. The band’s 1973 follow-up, Down The Road, was a flat tire by comparison and Manassas would soon be a memory.

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