They say that making up is hard to do . . .: Velvet Underground are. Led Zep may be. But, no, not Cream] Giles Smith on bands reforming, and those who shouldn't

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THE WORD is out: The Velvet Underground are reforming. And there's not a thing you can do to stop them. This summer, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale and Maureen Tucker will appear on stage at Edinburgh Playhouse (2 June), at the London Forum (5 June) and at Wembley Arena (6 June).

These are their first British concerts together for 22 years. It could be staggering. Or you could end up wishing they had left you alone with your memories and your records. But either way, this reform business is now officially out of hand.

It is becoming increasingly hard to see the woodwork for all the old bands crawling out of it. Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Emerson Lake & Palmer . . . groups you thought were dead and buried are rising to dance on their own graves. Robert Plant was recently spotted being shown around a west London health club. He may only have been thinking of tidying himself up in time for his forthcoming solo album: but this sighting does coincide rather conveniently with rumours that Led Zeppelin are considering a comeback tour.

Evidently The Byrds are thinking about it, too. Even the Gang of Four have returned, hoping to tempt a public that has not welcomed them into the charts since 1982. And who would have thought the Seventies revival would have enough breath in it to revive 10cc, on tour throughout June? Their bassist, Graham Gouldman, said: '10cc represent everything that's good about British pop. It's only a shame that we aren't starting out now, instead of being old lags. People are so fed up with pop music, and this is like, here comes the cavalry.'

You can never write a band off. In fact, many of the groups one hoped never to hear from again are in reality still quietly at it somewhere. Even Tony Orlando & Dawn still pack them in in Atlantic City. Only a marital rupture, it seems, utterly wrecks an act. (You would get very good odds indeed on an Ike and Tina Turner reunion, or a new Sonny and Cher comeback album.)

It may be that you would rather remember them the way they were. Far from treading softly on your dreams, a reformed band will happily drive a fleet of lorries across them, loaded with unnecessarily large PA systems. It is time to draw the line. While there's still a chance, we offer the following list of acts, all of them potential reformers, to whom, for various reasons, one would only wish to say, 'Don't even think about it'.

1. Abba

Any accountant you talk to will agree that there has never been a time more ripe for an Abba re-emergence. It speaks volumes about the band's profile that Bjorn Again, a dodgy comedy band from Australia, can make a handsome living by dressing up in blonde wigs and pretending to be Swedish. The compilation album, Abba Gold, sold in skiploads last year. Erasure had a big hit with an EP's worth of Abba tunes, albeit camped to the heavens.

But these are precisely the reasons that Agnetha and Frida, Bjorn and Benny should just say no. We are interested in them either as they were (absurdly satin-clad, ludicrously flared, ornately jumpered), or as they come reflected in the funhouse mirror of parody. How could the band in the flesh ever live up to expectations like these? It would be like trying to take Simon Bates seriously, post Smashie and Nicey. Or pre Smashie and Nicey, for that matter. Luckily, a healthy quantity of marital disharmony - in the form of two divorces - accompanied Abba's split so, on the Sonny & Cher / Ike & Tina principle, we are likely to be spared. And just as well. Better Bjorn Again than born again.

2. The Beatles:

This is the reunion the promoters have been baying for almost since the official split announcement in 1971. The calls have not diminished (have, perhaps, even intensified) since the murder of John Lennon. But who needs a Fab Three? To have Julian Lennon along to make up the numbers would not really be much above engaging someone from Leslie Crowther's Stars in Their Eyes. The Beatles occupied a period of pop history that one would be reluctant to see re-enacted as a pageant. We are probably safe, if only because the principal motivating factor behind comebacks (erosion of wealth through unwise investment in old priories, salmon fisheries, items for personal recreation or whatever) is never likely to bother McCartney, Harrison or Starr. They don't need the money. And we don't need the show.

3. The Clash

Perhaps the best things about the Clash derived from internal friction. They were made to fall apart. They should respect that.

4. Cream

Eric Clapton to rejoin Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce? Such was the rumour when Cream were recently inducted into America's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Clapton has gracefully reconstituted his career by a continuous process of slight self-redefinition. Could he really ditch all that and sign on for long hours of regressive psychedelic soloing? Again, simple economics may spare us. Clapton, with six Grammys in his arms after this month's awards ceremony in LA, can expect to generate more cash from his next solo tour than a Cream reunion could reasonably rake together over a period of several years. The message is: it's broke - don't fix it.

5. The Eagles

This one has Wembley Stadium written all over it. You can already see the sleeve of Hotel California, blown up to serve as a backdrop. If the stories about the band are true, they wouldn't be able to stop arguing long enough to get a single chorus rehearsed. But just in case: don't come back; all is not forgiven.

6. Sex Pistols

A reformation for the first family of punk looked horribly on the cards last autumn, when the band's back-catalogue was restored to them and a retrospective compilation album was released. With some innocent filling in for Vicious on bass, we would be in for a show of anarchy still more grindingly stagey than the first time. It's also hard to know how many of the original fans, most of whom are now working in the City, would come out for this. John Lydon (formerly Rotten) is widely assumed to be too clever to fall for the promoters' wiles - but even clever people have to pay bills. The traditional, teary-eyed between- song banter would be down to him, and it would not sit easily: 'Here's a number we wrote way back . . . No future]' Forget it.

(Photograph omitted)

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