The 15 Worst ...and Friends! Albums Of All-Time
It's hard not to remember Santana's 1999 album Supernatural.
Besides just the Rob Thomas collab "Smooth," which we've spent the past decade trying to erase from our memories, the album received a lot of attention at the time for being one of those records that featured a different collaboration with a big name artist on every track--attention which even won Santana awards and single-handedly revived his career.
For lack of a better term we've begun referring to these as ...and Friends! albums.
But it is not like Santana was the first artist to dream up the ...and Friends! album concept; artists had been employing the shallow technique to revive their dwindling careers for years by the time Santana got around to it. The thought process? That by aligning themselves with artists who are still significant, they too will be relevant by association.
So when we saw that The Roots were coming out with one of these albums--called How I Got Over, the disc is scheduled for a June 22 release--it struck us a bit confusing. As a general rule, artists don't resort to ...and Friends! territory until they've fallen well off the map of relevancy--and The Roots seem to have a pretty choice high profile late night gig.
Unfortunately, their odd career move not only inspired this list of the 15 worst ...and Friends! albums of all-time, but it also earned them a place on it. See the rest of the list after the jump.
1. The Roots - How I Got Over
Featured guests: John Legend, Joanna Newsome, Jim James
The Roots have been slowly chipping away at this album while simultaneously holding down their jobs as the house band on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but the tracks that have leaked so far don't seem all that original. For instance, recently leaked "Dear God 2.0" is just a glorified cover of Monster of Folk's version with a couple of obligatory rap verses by Black Thought thrown in for good measure.
2. Santana - Supernatural
Featured guests: Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews
Even the Rob Thomas collab, "Smooth" may have won a pair of Grammys wasn't enough to convince me that Santana didn't just persuade 15 of his friends from various genres into donating tracks to his album and then just adding his little guitar doodles all over the place.
3. Slash - Slash
Featured guests: Ozzy, Lemmy Kilmister, Fergie, Chris Cornell
Despite the huge list of rock vocalists, the end results are very hit or miss--Chris Cornell's "Promise Me" really hit, but Fergie's genre-blending "Beautiful Dangerous" couldn't have been more off the mark, confounding most metal purists. Hands down the project's most egregious transgression lies with the decision to release an updated remake of GnR's "Paradise City" that featured Cypress Hill rapping the verses and Fergie's oversinging on the choruses.
4. Frank Sinatra - Duets
Featured guests: Barbara Steisand, Bono, Aretha Franklin
Such a joke of an album it was parodied on an episode of SNL with Phil Hartman playing the impetuous Sinatra. The albums was so slapped together, in fact, that none of the featured guests were even in the same room as Sinatra during the recording process, having to instead sing to his prerecorded vocal cuts via telecommunications link--although even that didn't stop them from making the follow-up album, Duets II.
5. Timbaland - Shock Value
Featured guests: Justin Timberlake, Elton John, The Hives, 50 Cent
Despite Timbaland's so-called renown as a rapper and producer, he's rarely been able to release a track in his career that didn't feature at least one guest artist. Shock Value took the dependency on others to a whole new level, calling in favors from some of the biggest names in the game.
6. Wyclef Jean - Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant
Featured guests: Serj Tankian, Paul Simon, Norah Jones, Lil Wayne
Intended as a commentary on 2007's immigration crisis, Jean brings in beats and rhythms from all around the world and awkwardly pairs them with star studded guest vocals from some of America's brightest stars. There's nothing like a little Chamillionaire rapping over a Bollywood orchestra to make one feel ethnocentric as hell.
7. Randy Travis - Heroes and Friends
Featured guests: B.B. King, George Jones, Clint Eastwood
Admittedly this album does feature duets with several country legends (Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, etc.), but even that doesn't make a duet with Clint Eastwood any less confounding--and perhaps renders it even more unnecessary to begin with.
8. Kenny G - At Last (The Duets Album)
Featured guests: Daryl Hall, Burt Bacharach, Chaka Khan
At last, Kenny G finds a way to put out the most superfluous album of his career. Realizing that fewer and fewer people were finding his bastardized brand of jazz amusing, he enlists the aid of a stable of schmaltzy adult contemporary vocalists to distract from his breezy, unwarranted asides.
9. Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company
Featured guests: Elton John, James Taylor, Van Morrison
Charles' posthumous duets album boasts some of the biggest names on the list. That fact, paired with the timely release of the Ray biopic two months later, and a partnership with Starbucks make the album one of the most successful as well, earning eight Grammys and a triple-platinum certification. As ill-advised as most (if not all) other duet albums may be, it is hard to second guess an artist who recorded 250 albums in his career.
10. Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing
Featured guests: Jimmy Page, Ringo Starr, Kid Rock
Deriving its title from the fact that Lewis is the only Sun Studios artist still alive, he aims to surround himself more culturally-relevant rock stars on this half-hearted 2006 "comeback" album, his first in 10 years. Fortunately for the legendary ivory-pounder the result is more filler than killer.
11. Herbie Hancock - Possibilities
Featured guests: John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Trey Anastasio
By the time you've released 44 studio albums fresh ideas start to run low. Possibilities, Hancock's 45th album, sees the celebrated pianist watering down his patented style and sophistication in favor of Starbucks-ready pop sensibility--with disappointing results.
12. Buckethead & Friends - Enter the Chicken
Featured guests: Serj Tankian, Saul Williams, Maximum Bob
Avant-garde shredder Buckethead -who is sadly more well-known for his visual aesthetic than any of his 29 studio albums, and perhaps most associated with Chinese Democracy-era Guns N' Roses--attempts to surround himself with bigger named metal stars like Serj Tankian to garner more attention for the disc than a typical Buckethead release generally receives. Unfortunately, because Tankian was so closely associated with the project most reviewers/media outlets wrote the album off as a followup to System of a Down's Toxicity.
13. Reba - Duets
Featured guests: Carole King, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake
Not really sure what is a worse idea; giving Reba McEntire her own television series or letting her record an album featuring young pop star duet partners. Sadly, showing just how far our country has fallen, the album went platinum and her television show, Reba, lasted a surprising six seasons.
14. Tony Bennett - Duets: An American Classic
Featured guests: Bono, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney
Like the Ray Charles disc, the names Bennett is able to land our absolutely massive. Unfortunately all the material they were given to work with was just rehashed versions of some of Bennett's most well-known classics. As schmaltzy as the resulting album turned out, Bennett deserves credit for being physically present with each of his duet partners during the recording process instead of taking the Sinatra way out.
15. Waylon Jennings - Waylon and Company
Featured guests: Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed, Hank Williams Jr.
Like some of the worst albums on the list, Waylon and Company features a surprise cameo from an actor not typically known for their musical prowess. But unlike Randy Travis and others who were able to wrangle A-list talent like Clint Eastwood, Jennings has to settle for struggling P.I. Jim Rockford, aka James Garner.
*Honorable Mention: Travis Barker's upcoming Can The Drummer Get Some?
Continuing with his recent kick of putting a hard-rocking spin on big hip-hop hits by adding in his patented fast-as-lightning, thunderous skin pounding, Barker plans to include collaborations with such stars as Lil Wayne, Eminem, Swizz Beats, and Rick Ross on his upcoming album. Not to be one to count chickens before they hatch, it is hard to imagine this album being released and not ending up on future incarnations of this list.
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.