Songs where you get the girlfriend in to do the backing vocals. A document of artistic as well as romantic congress, a charter for skinflints getting round MU small print or the shameless pursuit of duvet brownie points?
Qualification: Can’t be full members of the band. So no Abba or Alannah Curries, Linda Vegetarian Curries, New Order’s Gillian, Mark E Smith’s Brix or Billy Childish’s Nurse Julie. Or fancy pieces picked up on the dancefloor of the Crazy Daisy by men with strange haircuts, for that matter.
1. Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil
Double bubble as it features both Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull. All together now, ‘Wooh, Wooh!’
2. Ray Charles – Hit the Road, Jack
If you wanted to be a Raelette, you had to ‘let Ray’, so the story goes. As for the backing singers involved, perm just about any combination from half a dozen candidates.
3. Gram Parsons – In My Hour of Darkness
Gram formed a relationship with backing singer Emmylou Harris as they toured with the Fallen Angels in 1973. Somewhat to his then wife’s displeasure.
4. The Stranglers – Paradise
Written by bass-slinger JJ Burnel about a nightmare holiday in the Seychelles with French society girlfriend Anna – who helped him sing it, apparently oblivious to the sentiment.
5. E.L.O. – All She Wanted
Most of the ‘choirboy with his testicles in a vice’ vocals on ELO’s output actually came from grown men. But this is one exception, featuring Jeff Lynne’s then girlfriend Rosie Vela.
6. The Style Council – Shout to the Top
This one features Paul Weller’s then squeeze Dee C Lee. A serial seducer in chorus line terms, he can be seen kissing Department S backing singer Lee Kavanagh on the video to Jam single ‘The Bitterest Pill’. Weller was last sighted in the tabloids Christmas 2008, having moved in with new beau, Hannah Andrews. His, erm, backing singer.
7. Notorious B.I.G – Notorious
With his homie and gal Lil’ Kim. We could have had their ‘#!*@ Me’ sketch, in which Biggie makes the beast with two backs to the soundtrack of Kim’s crude exhortations. But taste precludes.
8. The Beatles – Birthday
Yoko weighs in on the White album. Recommended related listening: The Young Fresh Fellows’ ‘Don’t Blame It On Yoko’.
9. Prince – 7
Recorded with backing singer turned wife Mayte Garcia. The video featured a theme borrowed from her former career as a belly dancer.
10. Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love
Patti Scialfa caught the Boss’s eye while touring Born In The USA. Their sexual chemistry on stage during performances of ‘(You Can Look) But you better not Touch’ made a mockery of that song title.
11. Bob Dylan – Caribbean Wind
If we’re to believe Susan Ross’s kiss ‘n’ tell memoir, the Zimmerman has been no stranger to mixing up his dressing rooms down the years. Here he’s joined by Clydie King, formerly one of Ray Charles’ Raelettes, so she probably knew the score.
12. Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair
Though stories of a procession of backing singers enticed into Sly’s web persist, the most notable inter-band liaison was between Leon Russell and Mary McCreary of backing group Little Sister. In 1975 they married and released The Wedding Album. Aww!
13. Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman, No Cry
Having spotted one Alpharita Constantia Anderson singing with the Soulettes in Studio One in the 60s, Bob made her Mrs Rita Marley and built his backing band the I-Threes around her.
14. England’s Glory – England’s Glory
Pete Perrett gave a berth to his wife and manager Zena Kakoulli on his pre-Only Ones album. Quite a family affair, what with brother Harry on bass and lil’ sis Mary also on backing vocals.
15. Neil Young – Quit (Don’t Say You Love Me)
“I’m with you Babe / I’ve always been” – ah, finally, a blow for romantic longevity among the revolving door entanglements of rock’s glitterati. It took Pegi Young 20 years from meeting her hubby in a bar in Santa Cruz before she performed backing vocals in public for the first time at the 1994 Academy Awards. She is also the subject of ‘Unknown Legend’ from Harvest Moon and much of 2002’s Are You Passionate? from which this is taken. Maxo muse points then.