Friday 24 November 2017

The reunions we'll never see

The Smiths
The Smiths
Girls Aloud
Hüsker Dü
S Club 7
M People
B*Witched: they way they were in 1999 at the MTV Music Awards

The reunion merry-go-round picked up more passengers last week as the Happy Mondays announced they were to resume active duty for the first time since 1992.

The group were stars of the early 90s 'Madchester' scene, enjoying years of success before lead singer Shaun Ryder's spiralling addiction to crack cocaine pulled them under.

Having mended their differences, they will tour Ireland and Britain in May, including a stop off at Dublin's Olympia on the 15th of the month.

Hang on, Monday fans will say. Haven't they reformed twice previously, in 1999 and 2004?

Those weren't proper reunions, we are now being told. Although the Happy Mondays of 1999 and 2004 featured Ryder and future Celebrity Big Brother winner Bez, several original members -- Ryder's estranged brother Paul among them -- declined to participate.

Even if you could go the rest of your life without seeing Bez shake his imaginary maracas, the news raises a question: is the parade of musical reunions ever going to peter out?

Already announced for 2012 are 'long-awaited' returns from The Stone Roses, Van Halen, Steps, Guided By Voices, At the Drive In and The Beach Boys (featuring songwriter Brian Wilson for the first time in nearly 30 years).

When will it end? When scientists have created a robot John Lennon and George Harrison and The Beatles are booked for 15 nights at Wembley Stadium you suspect.

Until that day, here is the list of band reunions we'd love -- and those that fill us with dread (and which, alas, are far more likely).

The Reunions We'll Never See....

The Smiths

On paper, there's no reason why 80s misanthropes The Smiths ought not get back together. All four members are still young(ish), their music has never been more iconic, their fans are at an age where they're in a position to shell out to see them in concert.

Granted, they dissolved in considerable acrimony in 1987, the bassist and drummer later suing the singer and guitarist in pursuit of royalties. But if bad blood and legal action were deal-breakers, no band would ever have resumed active duty.

For all that, a Smiths return appears a long shot, with singer Morrissey insisting: "I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian." Probably not headlining Oxegen 2013, then.


The greatest pop group in history, Abba's dissolution was inevitable after the two couples in the line-up broke up. Most of mankind has been baying for their return ever since (several years ago they reputedly rejected a $1bn offer to tour). In early 2011, it appeared a get-together was on the cards when Agnetha Fältskog, (the blonde one) said it "might be fun" to perform together.

A long-time recluse, her statement triggered a landslide of speculation. Alas, the closest you are likely to see Abba on stage are front-row tickets for Mamma Mia.

Girls Aloud

Not quite the greatest pop group in history -- but better than the disposable chart totty they're often portrayed as. Many were disappointed when Girls Aloud drifted apart in 2009, not least Nicola Roberts, who took the news like a death.

"I felt I was having to give up something I loved," she told the Irish Independent last year.

"It was really frustrating. It was like having to find a new job. And I didn't want to do that."

Alpha queen rivalry between Nadine and Cheryl is rumoured to be at the heart of the split. With neither thriving as a solo artist, rumours of a get-together have started to circulate.

Hüsker Dü

Among the first rock outfits from the American underground to register with an international audience, Minneapolis three-piece Hüsker Dü were noisy and cathartic.

However, drugs, alcoholism and their manager's suicide on the eve of their biggest tour led to a seemingly permanent sundering between singer Bob Mould and guitarist Grant Hart in 1986.

If you ever see them in concert, it will likely be as support to The Smiths.

The Reunions We Don't Want To See...

S Club 7

The group who made the Spice Girls look like a bunch of intellectuals, S Club 7 were mogul Simon Fuller's second attempt at building a brand after Posh and co had given him the boot.

Without releasing a note of memorable music, this perma-grinning septet shifted 17 million albums (about 12 million more than Blur) before petering out in 2004 (amid complaints about treatment from management, including an insistence they fly coach class to the US).

Lately, however, grieving S Club fans have been given a shaft of light. With the Steps reunion going down so well, there have been talks of rapprochement between Rachel, Hannah, Jo . . . well, do you really need us to name all seven?

M People

In the glory days of Britpop, the Mercury Music Prize for best British album was mystifyingly handed to this brainchild of Manchester DJ Mike Pickering. Manchester likes to laud itself as a musical hot-bed but let's not forget it gave us M People AND Simply Red.

M People's credibility never recovered from their unearned Mercury and by the end of the 90s the group was on the way to obscurity. They reformed in 2007 for a baffling tour of British national parks. Since then, their silence has been total.


Custodians of the most annoying asterisk in music, B*Witched took advantage of the late 90s vogue for Irish pop in the UK. They topped the charts with 'C'est La Vie', but ran out of hits faster than it takes Shane MacGowan to go through a drinks cabinet.

Sinéad O'Carroll has gone on to work as a presenter, sisters Keavy and Edele Lynch (sisters of Boyzone's Shane Lynch) started a second band, Barbarellas. Don't worry if you haven't heard of them. Be grateful -- their existence means a B*Witched reunion is as far away as ever.


The Britpop band Sleeper had a brief run of smashes, even convincing Elvis Costello to cover one of their songs. By 1998, the party was over.

After their final album flopped and the tour failed to sell, singer Louise Wener decided things had run their course. Rather than accepting the public had gone sour on her Blondie-isms, she was inclined to blame shenanigans at her evil record label.

"It's like you've got nothing in common with your partner any more and they've got a bunch of personal habits that you find a bit disgusting," she said. "I'm going to be busy with the Listerine, washing the taste of corporate c**k world out of my mouth!"

She proceeded to get hitched to her drummer, move to Brighton and was last seen writing surprisingly successful chick lit.

Irish Independent

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