When it comes to collaborations, Johnny Marr’s CV is jam packed; from co-writing tracks with the likes of Kirsty MacColl and Edwyn Collins to guesting on a Gi
10 of Johnny Marr’s Best Collaborations
When it comes to collaborations, Johnny Marr’s CV is jam packed; from co-writing tracks with the likes of Kirsty MacColl and Edwyn Collins to guesting on a Girls Aloud album. We took on the very difficult task of compiling a list of some of our favourite tracks that Johnny’s been a part of.
To make things slightly easier, we decided not to include any tracks by bands that Johnny has officially been a member of – an upsetting but necessary decision in helping us to avoid any stress induced breakdowns! On the bright side, this leaves room for future articles where we can talk about The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs to our hearts delight…
1. The Avalanches ‘The Divine Chord’
Last year saw the return of The Avalanches with their third studio album, ‘We Will Always Love You’ – an exquisite piece of work that hosts a colossal list of collaborators. ‘The Divine Chord’ sees the duo team up with Johnny and MGMT, delivering a cosmic trip of the highest calibre. If you ask us, this track salvaged 2020!
2. Talking Heads ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’
In 1988, Johnny teamed up with Talking Heads, featuring on several tracks on their last album, ‘Naked’. Our favourite of the tracks is the almost tropical sounding ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’, which not only boasts one of the best intros of the 80s but also a double whammy of collaborative excellence, as it also features Kirsty Maccoll on backing vocals!
3. The Charlatans ‘Plastic Machinery’
Johnny graces three tracks with his presence on the thirteenth Charlatans album, ‘Different Days’ – the title track, ‘Plastic Machinery’ and ‘Not Forgotten’. The energy of ‘Plastic Machinery’ alone had us hooked from the first listen and it’s impossible to not be infatuated with the crashing of Johnny and Mark Collins’ guitars – a complete and utter dream team!
4. Crowded House ‘Don’t Stop Now’
‘Don’t Stop Now’ was the long-awaited comeback single from Crowded House – originally written as a solo effort for frontman Neil Finn, the track features Johnny on guitar. Despite ‘Don’t Stop Now’ being the band’s first since 1993, the Australian crooners succeeded in delivering a vintage Crowded House track with guitar driven melodies and sunny harmonies.
5. Billy Bragg ’Sexuality’
Back in 1991, Johnny teamed up with Billy Bragg to write ‘Sexuality’. Featured on his ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ album, ‘Sexuality’ is an anti-homophobia and generally sex-positive track that showcases Johnny’s jangly guitar riffs and maintains to be one of the fan favourites at Billy’s live shows to this day.
6. Pet Shop Boys ‘This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave’
It’s no secret that Johnny has guested on numerous Pet Shop Boys tracks over the years; including the electro ballad, ‘This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave’ from their 1990 album, ‘Behaviour’. Overall, it’s a beautifully elegant track with an intro that’s more than worthy of a few goosebumps!
7. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’
Though Johnny was involved in the recording of the 2002 Oasis album ‘Heathen Chemistry’ and has joined Noel onstage (and vice versa) on multiple occasions, the pair didn’t officially collaborate as solo artists until ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’ – the second single from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ 2015 album, ‘Chasing Yesterday’. There’s an electrifying guitar solo about 2 1/2 minutes in and believe us when we tell you that that solo alone makes this song worthy of being featured in our ‘Top Ten’.
8. Edwyn Collins ‘Come Tomorrow, Come Today’
Five years after suffering a series of strokes and brain haemorrhages that left him unable to read, write, walk, or talk, Edwyn Collins released ‘Losing Sleep’ – his first new album since he began his recovery. The album saw Edwyn recruit a wonderful team of collaborators; including Johnny, who played on ‘What is my Role’ and co-wrote ‘Come Tomorrow, Come Today’. Johnny peppers the latter with his signature guitar sound, resulting in a shimmering track that oozes with freshness.
9. Kirsty MacColl ‘Walking Down Madison’
‘Walking Down Madison’ was the first track that Johnny wrote after the split of The Smiths, though he sat on the demo for quite some time before eventually sending it over to Kirsty – at the time, Kirsty was spending a lot of time in New York, searching for a new musical direction and had already written the tracks lyrics. Luckily for us, Kirsty was able to suss out a melody and adjoin Johnny’s guitar with her lyrics as soon as she heard the demo!
10. Beck ‘Milk and Honey’
After talking about collaborating for a while, fate put Beck and Johnny both in Los Angeles at the same time, during the recording of Beck’s seventh studio album, ‘Midnite Vultures’ – resulting in Johnny’s contribution to the chaotic number that’s ‘Milk and Honey’. Overwhelmed with synthesisers and samples, ‘Milk and Honey’ well and truly sees Beck pack as many ideas as possible into one track and you can’t fault Johnny’s electrifying guitar lead.