Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekend Listomania: Special Your Favorite Band Sucks! Edition

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental tuna casserole Fah Lo Suee and I will be blah blah blah blah.

And the blah blah thing just means that I'm tired and I have no joke this week. Seriously, I'm pooped. (Although I'm actually pleased that I finally figured out how to use the new Blogger so that I don't have to manually insert paragraph breaks. Seriously, what a drag that was.)

Ih any event, that being the case, here's a fun and hopefully relevant little project with an amusing subtext that we can all get behind while I take a long and well deserved nap:


No arbitrary rules, except that no solo artists or folk duos need apply -- sorry Bob, sorry Paul, sorry Artie etc.

And no singing/vocal groups either. Which means that if you nominate any of the Motown acts other than Jr. Walker and the All-Stars I am going to taunt you mercilessly. We're talking bands here -- with people who, like, play guitars and drums and stuff. Okay? Okay.

And yes, we may have done this one a couple of years ago, but if Hollywood can remake Total Recall then for heaven's sake I'm entitled to recycle as well.

And my totally top of my head Top Ten, in no particular order except for Number One, is/are:

10: The Rascals

Blue-eyed soul. Nobody did it better and with more rock attitude.

9: The MC5

"The American Ruse" indeed, and it's really quite horrific that this song hasn't dated a whit. Although Jon Landau's production still (characteristically) sucks.

8: The Velvet Underground

Nelson Algren meets the Rolling Stones. If you think that anybody at the moment is doing something as innovative, gutsy and avant-garde, please e-mail me at Just Blow Me.Com. Thank you.

7: The Blues Project

"I Can't Keep From Cryin' Sometimes" [remastered, from Blues Project Anthology]

Maybe you had to be there, but these guys were among the most exciting live acts I've ever seen. And they sounded EXACTLY like this in person.

6: Jefferson Airplane

"She Has Funny Cars" [Live at the Cafe Au Go Go 4/3/67 bootleg]

America's loudest band. I was actually at this show, so I know what I'm talking about.

5: Moby Grape

"Omaha" [unedited version without fadeout]

The greatest debut album in all of American rock. And the two that followed were pretty damned good, too.

4: Buffalo Springfield

"Baby Don't Scold Me" [currently unavailable stereo version from Buffalo Springfield -- vinyl rip]

Don't even get me started on the fact that the reunion tour is probably over and didn't make it to the East Coast. I may take a hostage.

3: Paul Revere and the Raiders

"Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be)" [stereo remix from The Essential Ride 1963-67]


Seriously, that's it.

2/1 (IT'S A TIE): The Beach Boys and The Byrds

"Please Let Me Wonder" [unreleased stereo mix from Beach Boys Today]

"Mr. Tambourine Man" [Jim Dickson stereo mix from Never Before]

The short version? Apart from everything else, both the Beach Boys and Byrds invented a sound. Hell, a genre. Very few people in music history can make that claim.

And before somebody goes "What -- Paul Revere and not The Band?", let me just say the The Band would have been my number 11, and that -- heretical as the judgement may be -- they have never really rocked hard enough for me. Sorry.

And also, before somebody brings up The Grateful Dead, let me just say that while it's hardly a secret that I am not now and have never been a fan, I would nonetheless submit that the albums on which their reputation mostly rests -- American Beauty and Workingman's Dead -- were both released in the 70s. And that their work prior to that was mostly along the lines of a fairly meh white blues band with a mildly irritating experimental bent.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?


Gath said...

Damn, Steven - I think you pretty much nailed it! The Paul Revere thing had me going for a minute, but then I relented. Like you wrote, though, I probably would've replaced them with The Band. Or The Angels (were they Motown?)....Thanks for doing this one!

Sal Nunziato said...

And The Band aren't American, so you're off the hook with your "never rocked hard enough" comment, Mr. VU At #8" :)

It took many, many years for me to "get" the VU, loving Cale all that time, and liking Lou for the most part. I can now listen to and actually enjoy the "VU & Nico" and "Loaded." But a truly great band needs to be more than "innovative, gutsy and avant-garde." For all that is good with the VU, there is just as much on those first 3 that is unlistenable.

Shriner said...

(apologies if this is duplicate).

Do all members have to be American? That would toss Buffalo Springfield and not allow me to nominate The Monkees.

steve simels said...

I'll grant you a certain bullshit quotient with the VU.


buzzbabyjesus said...

The Mothers Of Invention, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Spirit, Moby Grape, The Stooges, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground,
The Flying Burrito Brothers, Buffalo Springfield

Gummo said...

FU, Steve: The Grateful Dead.

Talk about inventing a genre! I mean, really.

And I still put The Band on that list, because I don't care where they were FROM (and they weren't all Canadian), when they made their incredibly innovative music, it was in America, about America, and rooted in American traditions.

The Doors -- they may not have aged well, but important at the time? Hell, yeah.

The Lovin' Spoonful.

Sly & the Family Stone.

Not that I don't agree with some of your picks, but Paul Revere and the Raiders? Moby Grape? "Personal favorites" is not the same as "important."

Gummo said...

And again, if we're talking "important", I'd have to add (go ahead and guffaw) Sha Na Na to that list.

Their appearance at Woodstock single-handedly kick-started the 50s revival that peaked with that godawful "Happy Days".

And again, if importance is the criterion, how about The Archies? Their lamentable success began the turn back to producer- rather than artist-dominated music that culminated in the disco era of anonymous artists and celebrity producers.

Because an event/artist can be important in a negative way, too.

Yes, I'm feeling ornery this morning, why do you ask? Had some bad Mexican food last night that played havoc with my night's sleep.

steve simels said...

Creedence should probably be on the list rather than Raiders, but for some reason I think of them as an early 70s band. I regret the error.

And The Spoonful probably should be there too.

But the Dead? I still say no, and I'm not aware that they invented a sound. Folk-rock a la the Byrds is a sound. Surf music a la the Beach Boys is a sound. What the Dead invented was instrumental noodling, which is something else altogether.

As for the Mothers, meh. With the exception of "Trouble Coming Every Day" everything they ever did strikes me as insufferably smug.

And Sly and the Family Stone should be maybe 12 on the list; their greatest stuff is, obviously, out of this world, but most of the albums are really patchy, and I mean REALLY patchy.

Okay, we return to somebody else ranting, already in progress.

powerpopster said...

Well, the genre that Dead 'created' IS jam-band, which gave us everyone from Phish, Deep Banana Blackout, Blues Traveler to Dave Matthews Band. All the more reason to hate them! ;)

powerpopster said...

Hmmmm...."TOP TEN MOST IMPORTANT AMERICAN ROCK BANDS OF THE SIXTIES!!!" 'Important' is in the eye of the beholder, as always. I think the VU sucked, so they wouldn't be anywhere near my list, despite the fact that they greatly influenced others....

In no particular order, at all:
1. Beach Boys
2. Doors
3. Santana
4. Allman Brothers Band
5. Tommy James & The Shondells
6. Chicago Transit Authority
7. CCR
8. Rascals
9. Steppenwolf
10.Steve Miller Band

Bubbling under: Byrds, Airplane, Three Dog Night, Spirit, Sly, Monkees, Box Tops, Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, Buffalo Springfield, Lovin' Spoonful, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Grass Roots, and Bob Seger System.

MJConroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve simels said...

Allman Brothers were really a 70s phenom.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Since you at least gave The Grateful Dead credit for arguably their best two albums, I let you pass on your mostly accurate appraisal that during the '60's they were a "fairly meh white blues band", etc.
The Dead pioneered the same "cosmic american music" that both Gram Parsons and Elvis Presley(!) were after. The synthesis of blues, R&B, gospel, country, and folk.
I submit that the third finest album in their catalog is "AOXOMOXOA", which is the first of the trio, and released in 1969.
That tilts their creative peak back into the '60's, and qualifies them for inclusion in today's escapade.

Voxtron said...

Important to who? For a Power Pop blogger, these bands are pretty much the antithesis of the genre other than the Rascals, Raiders and Beatles. It seems that all of your unobvious choices were anything but power pop precursors or influences.

The Raiders were the most underrated band of the 60's. Midnight Ride is one of the top ten albums of the decade.

buzzbabyjesus said...


Sal Nunziato said...

I must throw some points on the GD pile. Yeah, they should get blamed for the "jam-bands" mentioned earlier. Those bands, mostly fail to get the point. But this "noodling" was rarely heard on the studio recordings, and those studio recordings continue to influence.

The resistence to the GD, and I'm not necessarily saying you Sir Steve, just in general, usually comes from hearing "Truckin'" one too many times on FM radio, or some poorly planned attempt by a Deadhead to initiate with some horrible live show they attended.

Start with the debut and continue through Blues For Allah. You will hear The Byrds and The Dillards and Moby Grape and The Burritos and even, believe it or not some Beach Boys.

Too many people I know hate the Dead, then admit they've heard parts of a few records and that's it. Or they hate the Dead because they hate hippies. How about listening to the records?

Okay, I'm done. Sorry.

steve simels said...

I like "The Golden Road" a lot, speaking of the first Dead album.

powerpopster said...

"Allman Brothers were really a 70s phenom."

Agreed. However, so were Chicago, Steve Miller Band, Santana, CCR, etc. But they BLASTED out of the late sixties, so I included them...

pete said...

I defy anyone to listen to Pigpen sing "Turn on Your Lovelight" and not come to the conclusion that the Dead were full of shit. If the Mothers were "smug" (they were) and the VU had "a certain bullshit quotient" (they did) then the Dead were flat-out incompetent. They had one or maybe two decent instrumentalists whose talent was more or less completely obviated by drug use. They didn't invent anything, although they might have waved at it as it went by. And Moby Grape, it says here, is the greatest (at worst second-greatest) band that ever came out of San Francisco.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Well, since the 60's era American rock bands really don't pre-date 1966 (except for the Beach Boys), I think all of them have been named.

Except maybe Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.


Prior to then, the only rock bands we had were the Funk Brothers and all those other (at the time) nameless, faceless studio musicians.


Brooklyn Girl said...

Okay, maybe 1965, not 1966.

JZ said...

Mine are fairly similar but there's a few exceptions;

The order could change daily with me but the acts would stay the same;

1. Lovin Spoonful-Go Zally!

2. Byrds--All the hits aside, "Ladyfriend " was an epiphany for me.

3. Jefferson Airplane (although if the current band keeps playing these godawful PBS oldies shows they may get booted off my list)

4. Moby Grape--The promotional campaign behind the 1st album--releasing 6 singles with all 12 songs on the same day--is perhaps the most gallant disaster in all rock history)

5. Bubble Puppy--I defy anyone to say that "Hot Smoke And Sassafras" isn't the best Yardbrids cop ever recorded, the follow up "Beginnings" ain't too bad either.

6. The Cryan' Shames--This is the Chicago group, not the Liverpool Lads (although they also cut some neat singles). "A Scratch In The Sky" has some of the best close harmony work I've ever heard. They should have been
much bigger.

7. We The People--Love their singles, especially "You Burn Me Up And Down".

8. Paul Revere And The Raiders--their records are like fine wine, they sound better with the passage of time.

9.Booker T and The MGs--I play "Hang 'em High" and "Green Onions" all the time.

10. Flamin' Groovies, maybe most of their records came out in the 1970's but their hearts were firmly rooted in 1965.

Mr. Minimac said...

With the inclusion of the Byrds, Springfield, Airplane and Moby Grape (among others) you get no argument from me. BTW Byrd fans should be advised to run, not walk, to pick up a copy of Johnny Rogan's Magna Opus "Requiem for the Timeless Vol. 1." It's a 7 course, gourmet meal for Byrd lovers!

Anonymous said...

If the Band or Buffalo Springfield
are "American", I nominate Jimi Hendrix. Regardless of who was in his band.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Love. Duh!

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I don't think "most important" is subjective; I think it's an objective fact, and therefore the Shadows of Knight must be in any Top 10 because when I encountered them in Mt. Prospect, IL, at the age of what, 13?, they changed my life. Oh wait ... :-) But they're still a great American band and must get extra points for coming from the Chicago suburbs, seriously. :-) Forty some years later I still love this band.

Wendy said...

I went to school my freshman year -- Winter 1965 -- in Chicago and I was astounded by how big the Shadows of Knight were in the area. They were the Rolling Stones, as far as the local teens were concerned.

Alas, I never got to see them....

Hannes A. Jónsson said...

1. The Beach Boys
2. The Byrds
3. Monkees
4. Four Seasons
5. The (Young) Rascals
6. Tommy James & The Shondells
7. Love
8. Grass Roots
9. Box Tops
10. Merry Go Round

Bubbling under: Sly & the Family, Jeff. Airplane (JUST for "Surrealistic Pillow"), Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Anonymous said...

once upon a time The Band DID rock hard; they were called Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks.....

And I guess the Byrds rocked (for a bunch of guys who coming up never played a Chuck Berry song)

Hannes A. Jónsson said...


Anonymous said...

If by "important", you mean influential to future music,
I'd have to include Iggy &
the Stooges. If you had told me in 1969 that the Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath and the Stooges would
be so influential I'd have laughed
and cringed. Those albums were
"party killers" though the Stooges were kind of dumb fun...

GLLinMO said...

I was shocked to see PR & the Raiders on the list. Figured, as with most pundits, they had too much commercial success for their own good.

Yea, so good bands left off like CCR, Tommy James, ect. But ya gotta start and stop somewhere.

Anonymous said...

once upon a time The Band DID rock hard; they were called Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks.....

The Band were from Canada, not the USA.

Anonymous said...

"The Band were from Canada, not the USA."

thank you, anonymous. That was pointed out a couple of times in the previous 30-odd comments. Good catch!!

Anonymous said...

Later 60's but hugely influential on a zillion guitarists and later metal-heads - Grand Funk. Classic critics nightmare - they panned the crap out of them but anyone that every saw them live put them at the top of their 'best shows' list... and they got better as a band with every album... no amount of bashing from the critics could kill off their audience.... And a second vote for CCR!

Anonymous said...

Re: the Grateful Dead. I would defend also the idea that just because jam bands followed them cluelessly, doesn't diminish their "Importance ", any more than Zeppelin deserves blame for Whitesnake, etc.
As for "noodling" or "jamming" (or as Jazz aficionados call it: "music") I would stack up the BEST of the Dead's jams with any out there. I'd point you to the night Miles Davis joined them or Branford Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, etc. There were many nights it felt flat but they were worth it for the nights where it took flight. Before there were lyrics and content in music, there was the interplay of instrumental collaboration. Hate the "noodling" if you want, but how many bands had a 500 song repertoire, wrote nearly a hundred classic, catchy songs, and ALSO incorporated pop, jazz, New Orleans, funk, disco, folk, country, psychedelic, blues, rock, bluegrass, Chuck Berry, etc into one recognizable mix?

Anonymous said...

I love lists like these, and I really applaud the inclusion of the Blues Project. Also, people forget how astonishingly good the Airplane were. I would definitely get Arthur Lee and Love in the list though, way before the Rascals and Paul Revere. Not even close.