Released earlier this year, ‘IRM’ is the third album by serial-collaborator, Charlotte Gainsbourg. While it features the ever-creative Beck, her last album, ‘5:55’ employed a veritable dream team of musicians including Jarvis Cocker, seminal chill-out duo Air and Radiohead producer Neil Godrich. As someone who’s more commonly known as an actress it’s easy to see why Gainsbourg is such a fan of collaborating but then again why shouldn’t she be? Everyone’s doing it.

Let’s take the current in-vogue super-group Them Crooked Vultures for example. Their line up features members of Nirvana and Led Zeppelin: perhaps two of the most influential bands of all time. Add to that Thom Yorke’s recent outing with Flea and Joey Waronker and you can put Radiohead, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and R.E.M on the list.

Another example is Tired Pony, the upcoming project from Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody, which features yet another member of R.E.M and various associations with Belle & Sebastian, U2, Weezer and Bloc Party to name but a few. Also, one has to mention the ultimate icing on this super-group cake: Mary J. Blige’s star-studded cover of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ featuring performances from guitar legend Steve Vai, Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and Michael Jackson guitarist Orianthi.

It’s unsurprising that as the music industry continues to battle with the recession and ever decreasing revenues labels tend to like the idea of a super-group. In marketing terms it’s a no-brainer, as you have two or more established artists’ fan-bases ready to exploit before the album is even recorded. If the group doesn’t meet the sum of its parts then live income is always a plan-b because everyone loves to say, “I was there.”

It’s true that super-groups have always been a part of the musical landscape but with high profile albums such as Charlotte Gainsbourg’s ‘IRM’ and Broken Bells’ debut (see below) already out, 2010 looks like it’ll be rife with notable musical alliances. Let’s just hope Barry Manilow and Kid Rock don’t meet.

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