It takes two, so says Rolling Stone’s 20 Greatest Duos of All Time. “Less narcissistic than a solo performer, more intimate than a band.” Not sure that quite holds up, but when the chemistry works, a duo can indeed be magical.
I’m a tad confused about what holds this list together, though. We’ve got bona fide duos, such as Richard and Linda Thompson, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Everly Brothers.
But then we’ve got duos that may be duos but they sound like bands, even though they are definitely driven by a partnership of two, e.g. Black Keys or Steely Dan. I mean, is Ronnie Wood any less of a hired gun than Larry Carlton?
Debatable, maybe, if you apply that logic to Sam & Dave, but then the list gets weird. Ashford & Simpson were really known for songwriting, not performing, so why not King & Goffin? Fripp & Eno were a one-off. Ike Tuner was big before Tina, Tina was big after Ike, and no one wants to remember the period in between.
Maybe 20 is a stretch and this should have been a Top 10 list.
ps - Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra have “stood the test of time?” Really?