Once you’ve hit your stride as a rock star, you don’t really need any help getting your own sound. Even though it might be difficult to find that one magic hook over and over again, it gets to be like second nature after you’ve been around the block a couple times. That’s not to say that there isn’t at least a little bit of help that you can get every now and again.
Working outside of their usual comfort zone, every one of these songs have guest features by some of the most legendary rock stars imaginable. Did the songs really need them to be great? On their own, probably not, but not everyone on this list was just a favor for a friend or anything. When you’re in the studio for days on end and are just not finding the right riff to put together, it’s sometimes better to bring in an outsider to keep you on your toes.
You can only jam with your friends for so long, and bringing in someone else’s perspective can give you a whole new lease on the creative process, working off of them in a much different way than you would if you stuck to your usual standards. No matter how good these bands thought they were on their own, these songs would be a shadow of themselves if it weren’t for these guests coming in. This wasn’t just a cool collab…this was another shot of life.
10. L'Via L'Viaquez - The Mars Volta
Given their pedigree in the world of progressive rock, not many people would tell you that the Mars Volta really needs any more members. If you look through what Omar Rodriguez Lopez can do just by himself, bringing him into the prog rock world is enough to turn your brain to mush if you’re not paying attention. They were looking to go a little more epic on Frances the Mute, and that meant calling in some friends to help melt our faces.
Going through most of the album, L’Via L’Viaquez feels more like an event than a song, taking the basis of the track and stretching it out to nearly 12 minutes and building atmosphere for the last few minutes. It would be pretty easy to assume that the fiery fretwork going on here is from Omar, but some of these actually come courtesy of John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who was friendly with the band around this time. Flea also subs in as the bass player on this song as well, always giving the song the right push when it needs to before going off the rails along with John as Cedric Bixler-Zavala reaches in the back of his throat for those insane high notes.
This wouldn’t even be the last time that the world of the Peppers would cross paths here either, as Flea would eventually play bass on the side project Antemasque with both Cedric and Omar a few years down the line. We were already in for a kaleidoscope of noise, but hearing these solos feels like John is trying to open up your third eye all by himself.