Back to the top 10 lists with a late entrant from Robert. Always interesting stuff, I had to open it back up. Check out the list. I know he struggled with it for quite some time. Without further rumbling from me, here it is:
Jay from reddgranite.com requested such a list, so here it is.
Top Ten Bands
Apologies to Jay for taking so long to compile this list. It was very hard. I am happy that this is for bands, as it will provide me with the opportunity to squeeze out another top ten list of solo artists, some of whom might have otherwise made this list.
1. Van Halen – The most influential guitarist since Jimi Hendrix, two very different but equally great (at least on vinyl) singers, album after album in which I know every single song. It is probably a cliche for someone in my demographic to love VH so much, but so be it.
1a. Motley Crue – While VH and AC/DC turned me in favor of hard rock and away from the pop of Top 40 radio, it was the Crue that really turned me into a metalhead. I bought their first album based on the cover alone, having never previously heard of them. It did not disappoint. As with Van Halen, even their bad albums are good.
3. Rainmakers – They have been forgotten by many, but these Kansas City-based roots rockers had a moment in the sun in the late ‘80s, with a couple of catchy hits and a string of interesting albums. I normally do not pay much attention to lyrics, but lead singer Bob Walkenhorst’s writing is so insightful and meaningful that even I became enamored with it. Though Walkenhorst is a typical flaming liberal these days, in his early days he wrote some right-leaning tunes. “Government Cheese” and “Drinkin’ on the Job” are in my head every single day, with the latter featuring my favorite lyric of all time, “The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys . . . .”
4. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – With a punk heart and a rock-n-roll soul, Joan Jett has always been about the music. (Yes, I know that sounds generic, but it is true and it is the kind of thing that she would say.) She has whipped out plenty of quality original material, and she can cover a song and make it her own better than anyone else in rock history. A reviewer of Jett’s movie “Light of Day” said that she could act, but that she couldn’t sing. What a hack. Her voice is amazing. I could listen to the “Bad Reputation” album every day for a year and never tire of it.
5. Violent Femmes – Every frat-boy on Earth bought the Femmes’ debut album (on cassette) and wore it out playing “Blister in the Sun” at every party held from 1983-1987, but so few people gave their later albums a listen, and it is simply unfair. Their subsequent works were just so damn consistently inconsistent, with Gordon Gano’s pained vocals being the common thread. Their show at the Peony Park Ballroom in 1986 ranks at or near the top of my list of concerts attended.
6. Throw Rag – Here is an obscure one for you. These boys are a punkabilly outfit formed in 1998. A friend and I discovered them by accident when they opened for the Stiff Little Fingers in Dallas. Though he has now left the band, lead washboard player and head nudist Action Craig “Jacko” Jackman (“the new face of rock-n-roll”) brought comedy and a high level of energy to the outfit. Lead singer Capt. Sean Doe (trivia – he is the cousin of Crispin Glover) is quite the showman as well. They have only had four studio albums, but they are all great.
7. New York Dolls – These boys have been shy on the album release front as well, but it hasn’t hurt them. Part glam, part punk, they set the bar high for the many pretenders who followed them. Though their career was derailed by drugs and other bad things after only a couple of years, their two albums released in the ‘70s featured one catchy gem after another. After taking a thirty-year or so vacation that included David Johansen turning into Buster Poindexter for a while, the surviving members found each other again. To the surprise of many, they still had their songwriting chops and released two more superb records. They also returned to the stage, where they are older, wiser and less flamboyant, but still hugely entertaining.
8. Iron Maiden – How can any list be complete without an entry from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal? Bass player and primary writer Steve Harris has persevered through many a lineup change (including three lead singers), but has never sold out or changed the band’s soaring lyrical stylings and multi-guitar (three at current count) attack. It was a difficult to choose these boys over Judas Priest, but I gave them the nod because they were at the top of their game right out of the gate, while it took the Priest a few albums to really figure out what they wanted to do.
9. Cars – For some reason, this group of incredibly talented musicians and writers have been largely forgotten by radio and the kids of today, despite having sold tons of records and made scads of influential videos. The only reasons that I can fathom for this is that they broke up after only a few albums, and because they never really fit into a single musical classification. They were not hard rock, they were not metal, they were not punk, they were not really New Wave (though some claimed they were) . . . they were just The Cars. They probably would have ranked higher on my list, except that they were a dog in concert. Ric Ocasek hated to tour and it showed.
10. Replacements – Drunken catchy rockin’ pop. Goddamn these guys could put some thought into a song . . . or not. Half fun, half bitter, half angry, half not-giving-a-fig, all drunk, they put on a helluva show, whether it was on vinyl or live.
Just outside the top ten:
11. Ratt – Ratt is SO underrated. I saw one tv show on VH1 that referred to them as a one-hit wonder. Unbelievable. They guys just flat out jammed, with five excellent albums and many hits. Unfortunately for the fans, lead singer Stephen Pearcy is a major twit who left the band on more than one occasion, causing them to lose favor with the public, as least as far as being a headliner with huge album sales was concerned.
12. Pixies – Black Francis, Kim Deal and the rest were a band that surprised me back in the day. They were one of those alternative groups that was just so different, yet endlessly interesting. Fast-slow-soft-loud-English-Spanish . . . it was tough to follow what they were doing, but it was impossible not to love the songs.
13. Motorhead – Lemmy is a god. The man invented thrash and for that he makes this list.
Two that might have made the list had they quit music in 1988: