12 Best Rock And Blues Collaborations of 2022 (So Far)
By Ellie Rogers
When great musicians come together on stage or in a studio, magical things can happen. Just look at the star-studded tribute to Taylor Hawkins that millions of viewers around the globe tuned in to watch live from Wembley Stadium earlier this month.
Spanning nearly six hours, and with a set list of 50 songs – from Liam Gallagher’s opening guest spot, right through to Shane Hawkins’ emotional performance of ‘My Hero’ that almost broke the internet – each performance captured exceptional musicians bringing out the very best in each other through collaboration.
The monumental gig got us thinking about some of the other phenomenal team efforts that have already been cut and released this year.
Represented here are 12 of the finest rock and blues collabs of 2022 (so far) that display a meeting of minds, voices and instruments in the most skilful, beautiful and – in some cases – surprising of ways.
Listen along with our ready-made playlist, featuring every collaboration on this list below.
1. Edgar Winter, Taylor Hawkins & Doug Rappoport: ‘Guess I’ll Go Away’ from Brother Johnny
When Edgar Winter set out to make this all-star tribute to his brother, the late great Johnny Winter, he had no idea that the hard-rocking rendition of ‘Guess I’ll Go Away’ would end up being doubly – and inadvertently – poignant.
Featuring Doug Rappoport on guitar and Taylor Hawkins on vocals and drums, ‘Guess I’ll Go Away’ was the first song to be released following the drummer’s death in March. Beyond its tragic timing, the track serves as a brilliant reminder of Hawkins’ impeccable, but often overlooked, abilities as a powerhouse rock vocalist.
2. Ozzy Osbourne featuring Jeff Beck: ‘Patient Number 9’ from Patient Number 9
‘Patient Number 9’ has everything a disciple of The Prince of Darkness could possibly wish for – notwithstanding the absence of a headless bat. It’s a dark, melodic seven-minute epic, featuring a masterful guest appearance from Strat-wielding legend, Jeff Beck.
Unlike a lot of guest guitarist slots, this one feels more substantial than just a cameo, and Beck really accentuates the track’s creepy Victorian mental asylum vibe with his contribution of a suitably twisted and unhinged sounding, effects-laden guitar solo.
3. The Black Keys featuring Billy F Gibbons: ‘Good Love’ from Dropout Boogie
Nobody knows how to make a tune really slink along like the long-bearded king of boogie, Billy Gibbons.
He became a fan of The Black Keys back in the mid-2000s after watching the band play live at a small venue in New Mexico during their Rubber Factory album tour. The best part of a decade later, Dan Auerbach invited the ZZ Top legend to his Easy Eye Sound Studios to jam on ‘Good Love’ and the rest, as they say, is history.
With characteristically nonchalant Black Keys swagger, a head bob-inducing syncopated groove and bucket loads of improvised lead embellishments from Auerbach and Gibbons, ‘Good Love’ is a slice of pure garage blues perfection.
4. Eric Gales featuring Joe Bonamassa: ‘I Want My Crown’ from Crown
Two titans of the contemporary blues scene are captured on fighting form on this electrifying blues showdown that might better be described as “Eric Gales versus Joe Bonamassa” than “Eric Gales featuring Joe Bonamassa”.
Over 30 years and 18 albums, Gales never quite galvanised the worldwide recognition he deserved until unleashing this symbolic blues/funk tour-de-force. Between Gales and Bonamassa (who also co-produced the record with Josh Smith), there’s fretboard fireworks aplenty, and – perhaps most importantly – an audible sense of seriously infectious musical camaraderie.
5. Joanne Shaw Taylor featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd – ‘Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me’ from Blues From The Heart Live
Released as the second single from her stellar Blues From The Heart Live album, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s rendition of this Albert King classic captures both players at their wild, improvisatory best.
If the point of a collaboration is for two musicians to bring out the very best in one another, then this performance ticks the box with style and charisma in absolute abundance.
6. G. Love & Special Sauce featuring Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram: ‘Guitar Man’ from Philadelphia Mississippi
The entirety of G. Love’s Philadelphia Mississippi record is an embarrassment of riches in terms of the sheer quantity and quality of its special guests. It features top blues figures like Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cam Kimbrough, R.L. Boyce, Jontavious Willis, and Trenton Ayers as well as legends from the world of hip hop and rap.
But, with its relaxed call and response style, ‘Guitar Man’ featuring Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, captures one of the warmest and most authentically fun sounding collaborations of all. An ode to the lifestyle of the hardworking gigging guitarist, its humble lyrical sentiments seem perfectly reflected in the charmingly battered acoustic guitar tones that run throughout. A soulful electric guitar solo from Ingram at the close of the track is simply the icing on the cake.
7. Jack White & Q-Tip: ‘Hi-De-Ho’ from Fear Of The Dawn
Professional pusher of musical boundaries, Jack White turned heads earlier this year with this raucously off-beat, genre-defying caper – featuring rap icon, Q-Tip
Using a vintage Cab Calloway sample as its creative centrepoint, the track features everything from huge synth-like guitars, to groove-powered verses and even some delicate acoustic timbres – all bound together by an imaginative and ever so slightly trippy production.
While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there really isn’t anybody else out there with a musical mind quite like the former White Stripes frontman. So, plug in, turn up and let’s get weird for three minutes and fifty-six seconds with Mr. White.
8. Supersonic Blues Machine featuring Sonny Landreth: ‘8 Ball Lucy’ from Voodoo Nation
Built around a core trio consisting of Kris Barras, Kenny Aronoff and Fabrizio Grossi, Supersonic Blues Machine are collaboration experts whose star-studded back catalogue includes recordings cut with the likes of Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Billy F Gibbons, Shemekia Copeland, Walter Trout and Robben Ford, to name just a few.
The jewel in their latest collection comes in the form of moody rocker ‘8 Ball Lucy,’ which is peppered with the inimitable slide stylings of bottleneck legend, Sonny Landreth. With rumbling bass, an air of swampy voodoo mysticism and a sing/shout-along chorus, this is a track best enjoyed with the volume cranked.
9. Ry Cooder & Taj Mahal: ‘Pick A Bale of Cotton’ from GET ON BOARD
Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal’s collaborative record Get On Board saw the two blues/roots pioneers join forces for the first time in almost six decades. Having worked together in The Rising Sons back in the mid-1960s, the project brought the pair circling back to the Piedmont blues style that had inspired them both as youngsters.
Cut live and with next to nothing in the way of production frills, ‘Pick A Bale of Cotton’ is just one of many joyously organic acoustic romps on the album. Originally written by Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, it features Cooder on guitar and vocals, Mahal on harmonica and vocals and Cooder’s son Joachim on percussion. If you’re searching for something decidedly and beautifully un-modern, then look no further.
10. Larry McCray featuring Warren Haynes: ‘Down To The Bottom’ from Blues Without You
What do you do if you’ve penned a perfect blues ballad but want to really bring it home with some absolutely soaring slide guitar? You call upon Warren Haynes, of course.
The Gov’t Mule virtuoso – who has guested on more records than we could possibly count – has been in high demand since the early 1990s, and his tasteful slide playing on this track expertly compliments Larry McCray’s own nimble fretwork.
In a song all about rising from one’s lowest ebb through patience and determination, the pair’s blazing dual-guitar performance at the song’s close provides just about the most apt crescendo you could ask for.
11. John Mayall featuring Marcus King: ‘Can’t Take No More’ from The Sun is Shining Down
There’s nothing quite like a collaboration between an elder statesman of the genre and one of its brightest young stars to reinforce the intergenerational, timeless appeal of blues music.
Here, Mayall and King make for equally matched sparring partners – despite their 62-year difference in years – as they trade fiery, vibrato-laden licks. At times, it’s even challenging to tell the two apart.
Earlier in 2022, Mayall announced that he would be hanging up his touring shoes. If ‘Can’t Take No More’ represents a metaphorical passing of the baton, then the genre is in demonstrably safe hands with Marcus King.
12. Ian Siegal & Shemekia Copeland: ‘Hand In Hand’ from Stone By Stone
2022 has been a big year for Shemekia Copeland, and while we could have chosen a collaboration from her own album, Done Come Too Far, a relatively undiscovered gem can be found in the form of her guest spot on British Bluesman Ian Siegal’s latest record.
‘Hand In Hand’ a hopeful unplugged number with a backing track of breezy, pre-war style fingerpicking that Siegal peppers with lots of tasty slide guitar. But it’s the somewhat alchemical magic of Copeland and Siegal’s two very different voices coming together that really makes the track. Would it be greedy to wish for a whole album of Siegal/Copeland collabs? Listen and decide for yourself…
Rock & Blues Muse Spotify Playlist 12 Best Rock And Blues Collaborations of 2022 (So Far)