This is a revised and updated(ish) version of an article that first appeared on a previous incarnation of Out On Blue Six, and was originally written as a sarcastic rejoinder to a then-current blog craze for naming your ‘favourite duets’, which most seemed to take as a cue to list a lot of rather bland numbers that were really just songs with two people singing alternate lines rather than a ‘duet’ as such; and if we’re allowing them, then you might as well allow Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream. No, really, listen to it carefully. Anyway, it’s now slightly improved and indeed slightly lengthier, and bolstered by YouTube videos and other ‘interactive’ features to boot, so it’s now being presented rather appropriately in two parts. Look on this one as being by Peabo Bryson, and the second by one of the seemingly endless list of Peabo’s equally seemingly interchangeable duet partners. Ha ha ha… roll the tape!
Dig out your Learning To Live (Without Your Love) by Rick Astley & O’Chi Brown white label test pressing promo in die-cut factory sleeve, because it’s time for Out On Blue Six‘s guide to The Ten Best Direct Vocal Collaborations Between Otherwise Entirely Independent Acts Who For This One Particular Occasion Have Their Names Placed Next To Each Other Only With A Handy Ampersand Placed Between Them For The Purposes Of Artist Identification (Though Which One You’d File Them Under Is Anyone’s Guess)! Yes, alright, that could have just said ‘Duets’ and made the same point in literally one forty-sixth of the wordcount, but where would be the fun in that? And anyway, it reinforces the point that these are proper ‘duets’ where the song calls for two seperate vocalists, not just a song that happens to have two singers on it. Proper ‘duets’ like…
Sand by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
It’s normally the more widely-known Some Velvet Morning that gets the (entirely deserved) plaudits, but pop/country/weirdness’ unlikeliest couple were responsible for several albums’ worth of vocal collaborations that are well worth lending an ear to (well, apart from bloody Tippy Toes), not least this this harpsichord-led Cowboy Ghost Story pitched somewhere between the effects of the Guatemalan Insanity Pepper and those weird episodes of Heroes where Matt was lost in the desert with a talking turtle, with a sublime mind-melting backwards guitar break and Graeme-Garden-meets-Dr-Andy-Durrant spoken word drawls. And don’t forget the simultaneously Belle & Sebastian and Compo-inspiring Summer Wine either. Though you’re quite welcome to forget Tippy Toes.
Bonnie et Clyde by Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot
Not to be confused with Georgie ‘Wake Up Morph’ Fame’s Sunday Night At The London Palladium-courting showtune of much the same name and indeed much the same timeframe, this hypnotic Stereolab-purloined effort relates the epically unfolding story of notorious prohibition-era armed robbers Derek & Clive in hilariously flat prose and equally hilariously flat disinterested voices. Mention must also be made of Mr Gainsbourg’s duet with Jean-Claude Briarly on Un Poison Violent, C’est Ca L’Amour, not least on account of the fact that they appear to start arguing with other in the middle. Not so easy to speak so highly of Brigitte trilling alongside Sacha Distel on Le Soleil De Ma Vie (no prizes for working out what that’s a cover of), mind.
Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer) by Happy Mondays & Karl Denver
You’d be hard pushed to find a more definitive illustration of Tony Wilson’s peculiar pan-cultural artistic vision than teaming a futuristic dance/funk/guitarpop combo with a regional contemporary - and apparent inspiration for Vic Reeves’ club singer - of three-decades-previous chart popularity for a re-recorded version of a year-old album track, replacing the original’s spangly sitars with restaurant-friendly piano tinkling and characteristically reworded quotes from Family Affair , Gonna Make You A Star and Ticket To Ride. The entire output of late-eighties late-night Granada TV in one song.
Sometimes Always by The Jesus & Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval
Everyone’s favourite unison-mumbling pickers up of pen and paper join unexpectedly acoustic forces with the momentarily vogueish ‘alt-rock’ lust icon and pioneer of the single ‘multicoloured hair wrap’ look slavishly emulated by every single female student in the country at the time, who unlike a certain other momentarily vogueish ‘alt-rock’ lust icon and pioneer of the single ‘multicoloured hair wrap’ look slavishly emulated by every single female student in the country at the time, didn’t compromise every last shred of her artistic integrity by playing a rubbish ghost on My So-Called Life.
Son Of God by The Mike Flowers Pops and The Sounds Superb Singers
The little-played Lloyd Webber-pastiching b-side of their better-than-the-original cover of Wonderwall, flirting dangerously with Last Temptation Of Christ-esque imagery. And there was you writing him off as a novelty one-hit wonder…
…and that’s just Part One! Coming up in part two – That Girly Girl From Belle & Sebastian, Humpty off Play School, lots of insulting of Kula Shaker, and absolutely no Mac Band Featuring The McCampbell Brothers…!