Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekend Listomania (Special Lee Greenwood Can Go Fuck Himself Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental tater tot Fah Lo Suee and I are off to Hollywood, where we're going to try to interest the folks at HBO about a movie based on the current Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

We're trying to get Lyle Waggoner to play Mitt.

Hey, I thought Lyle was dead too, but according to Wiki, it turns out "he currently resides near Jackson, Wyoming where he is a sculptor. His works can be seen at Galleries West Fine Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and are usually humorous renditions of lovely ladies some of which are cast at Eagle Bronze in Lander, Wyoming."

In any event, given that (unless something untoward happens) things are sure to be a little quiet around here for a few days, here's a fun and hopefully stimulating little project to help us all wile away the idle hours.

Best/Most Important American Rock Band of the 1970s!!!

No arbitrary rules, except that I'm gonna have to be a Nazi about the whole "rock band" thing. Specifically, Bruce Springsteen is not eligible, given that none of his studio albums have ever been credited to the E Street Band. In other words, for the purposes of our discussion, Bruce is technically a solo artist.

Unlike, say, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, who have numerous albums out under that moniker and who are in fact eligible if you're so moved.

Also, feel free to nominate The Eagles. However, be aware that if you do I will come to your house and taunt you mercilessly.

And my totally top of my head Top Five is/are:

5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Petty has pissed me off a couple of times over the years -- a Confederate flag as a stage prop? A duet with Stevie Nicks? -- but those first couple of albums were inarguable. Plus, the band was drop dread great live as you can hear from the above version of "American Girl," recorded in their prime. I saw them in a club around the same time as this -- dressed all in black, amps up to eleven, and they were simply devastating.

4. Talking Heads

I succumbed to these guys charms later than most people, and I still think that a lot of David Byrne's anxiety attacks set to music are a tad pretentious, but c'mon. What a body of work.

Plus -- Tina Weymouth, or as we used to call her around Casa Simels, "Marianne Faithfull in a trash compactor."

Also -- yes, I know this album came out in 1980, but since my then girlfriend did the album cover I'm letting it slide.

3. The Ramones

Mentioned this a few weeks ago, but very few pop musicians in any genre get to invent an entire sound. Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, and The Byrds come to mind, and yes, this bunch of loveable pinheads accomplished exactly that.

2. Steely Dan

By the time they entered their smooth jazz period I kind of lost interest, but in the beginning at least the Dan a) had the hottest guitars that ever managed to get on Top 40 radio, and b) wrote more interesting songs (based on personal experiences) that nobody (besides the authors themselves) actually quite understood what they were about than anybody in rock history.

And the Numero Uno made-in-the-USA outfit of that miserable and unlamented decade simply has to be...

1. Television

The greatest two-guitar front line band ever. My early 80s skinny tie group used to do a killer version of "Ain't That Nothin'", but no matter how hard we tried, we never could get that guitar riff from "See No Evil." And I've never heard anybody else who could do it, either.

Alrighty then -- who would YOUR choices be?


¡barangus!™ said...

I'm going to have to put in Cheap Trick given the affect the first records had on musicians. Maybe the public not so much but when, say, your Dave Grohls shit themselves when the talk about CT then you've had some lasting influence.

Hannes A. Jónsson said...

Yeah, Cheap Trick. Much like Tom Petty's lot, their first three records are amazing. I'd also put Blondie on my list.
Never got Television, though. I always thought the purpose of Punk was to get rid of Prog - not incorporate it into your sound. Same with Talking Heads - massively overrated!
But hey, that's just me...

steve simels said...

Also -- Shoes.

For obvious reasons, but I left 'em off because I'm writing about them next week.

David said...

If you're talking about influential, Big Star was pretty massively influential to subsequent generations.

mister muleboy said...

I would include Alice Cooper. They were certainly more important than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, even if one finds the latter "drop dead great live." And they were undoubtedly influential, for good and for bad.

And they gave Bob Ezring a vehicle to become a mega-producer. Again, for good and for bad. . . .

And please discount all that Vince Furnier has done to diminish the accomplishments of the band.

mister muleboy said...


buzzbabyjesus said...

I see I'm not the only one who thought of Cheap Trick. Here's a curveball: ZZ Top.

steve simels said...

I saw ZZ Top in the mid 70s, before they grew the beards, and when they were still pretty much a local phenomenon in Texas (a concert in Dallas, is where I saw 'em).

At the time, they struck me as just a middling blue-based power trio. They didn't really grow beyond that until later, IMHO.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I can't argue with your picks. Even though I've disliked The Talking Heads from the getgo.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

forgot to add THE POLICE

steve simels said...

Uh, anonymous --

The category is AMERICAN bands.

Gummo said...

Can't argue with the Ramones, Television or the Heads.

Let me just add:

Pere Ubu - nothing I love more than a band I connect with immediately while thinking, "I never heard anything like that before!" Ubu did that for me, just like the three mentioned above.

steve simels said...

Nobody has any love for Little Feat?

steve simels said...

Also -- two words.

The. Raspberries.

Anonymous said...

I'll second Television and Big Star (mentioned above). Those two are far and away my top two. I would also add The Stooges, The New York Dolls, and The Raspberries (mostly because of their last two albums). I get that the Talking Heads are a really important band, but I just don't find myself listening to them for enjoyment; glad to find I'm not the only one here who thinks that. I've never gotten Steely Dan though that probably reflects on me more than them. I just plain hate the Eagles.

buzzbabyjesus said...

The first three Little Feat albums, and in particular "Sailin Shoes" are among my all-time favorites.

I can't think of Lowell George and Roy Estrada without bringing up The Mothers of Invention.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Jeez, Simels, you stole Little Feat before I could mention them. :-)

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, but only because I can't nominate Brooooooooce.


Billy B said...

I agree on Petty and the Heartbreakers. I would put Aerosmith close to the top of my list.

Sal Nunziato said...

If you're going to be a Nazi and disqualify Bruce on a technicality, I vote to disqualify Steely Dan and the Heads and any others who aren't ROCK bands. Rock bands and "bands that rock" are two different things to my ears.

That said, I nominate Bruce & The ESB.


Shriner said...


I would include The Alice Cooper Group here (in both categories)

I would also include KISS -- as they were monstrously (no pun intended) important as a band in the 70s.

And another second for Big Star -- but maybe being more "influential" than best/important (though I love me that first album to death...)

And who doesn't love the Raspberries?

swboy said...

And for the saparated at birth thing:

Haik Mendelovich said...

Listening to Verlaine's vocals on this track reminded me of one of my fave guilty pleasures - Sparks, and their vocalist, Russell Mael.

I know, they polarize people, and I'm only counting their pop/rock albums, not their '79 devolution into dance crapola. And yes, I know that most of one 70s iteration of Sparks was British.

But still.

I think in retrospect, their first three or four records were the stuff of genius. Very, very odd genius, but genius nonetheless.

(Queen stole their act, BTW, leaving out Sparks' sense of humor... and going on to megastardom. Ugh.)

JZ said...

Hey, where are The Raspberries? In the early '70s, you hoped either The Raspberries or Badfinger had a single in the pipeline, because those were the only two groups on the charts in those days who understood you could have a beat and a melody line at the same time.

I also think Big Star needs to be on the list; if Stax Records hadn't been falling apart they would have been much bigger. And an Honorable Mention for the first Dwight Twilley Band album. "You Were So Warm" was a killer beat ballad.

Uncle Smokes said...

I'm interpreting the rules this way:

1) the American band must have made their mark in the 1970's. They may have continued through the next decade and beyond, but their primary body of work for which they're remembered is squarely in the 1970's.

2) Their music was in heavy rotation on my brother's stereo. Born 3 years before me in 1961, he was a 70's teen, the primary target market--I was the mere child tagging along. He decided what we'd be listening to.

In no particular order, then, are ten "important" American 70's bands which formed the soundtrack to my waking years:

Grand Funk Railroad
Lynyrd Skynyrd
ZZ Top
Blue Öyster Cult
Kiss [My first concert in 1978!]

There's of course much more that we heard on the radio and liked, but didn't bother buying.

Uncle Smokes said...

Now that I think about my rules, ZZ Top may not count. They became an MTV sensation, and most people probably remember that contrived material.

However, my brother and I didn't bother with them post-70's, having moved on to other things. I still think their best original Texas blues sound was from the 70's.

MJConroy said...

I haven't seen the J. Geils Band listed yet.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I've thought about this after commenting too early, and I've read what others have said.
Sal, I agree the candidates need to rock, but ESB doesn't qualify, as Simels is right, Bruce is essentially a solo artist.
If that's true then is Tom Petty any different than Bruce as far as solo artist stature?
The Talking Heads don't rock, and who did they really influence anyway?
Steely Dan is iffy. They only sorta rocked and by the end of the decade they weren't rocking at all.

I can't believe the New York Dolls didn't come immediately to mind. Without them there wouldn't have been any Ramones.
I hesitate to suggest Big Star, while they are one of the most influential to me, no one really heard them when they were working in the '70's.

The Raspberries are too bubblegum.

In no particular order

The New York Dolls
Alice Cooper
Cheap Trick

They all rock.

And come to think of it, How about The Grateful Dead? Most of their best work came out in the '70's.

Dave said...

When I see the comments, I'm shocked at how little most of these bands matter to me, and not even THAT much IN the 70s. Of those listed, I guess I'd pick Steely Dan, The Ramones, and The Raspberries, probably in that order.

pete said...

KISS and Alice Cooper are not "important" bands. They were popular bands, and presumably influenced a few young teens to start bands of their own because they were popular. But an "important" band is a band that influenced the course of music. KISS, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk, ZZ Top, and others of that ilk did nothing of the kind. They were derivative - reductive of their influences and creating nothing that didn't simply repeat the conventions of the time.

Little Feat, on the other hand, DEFINED their time as they brought it into a new place. The Eagles just suck.

Good point about Petty versus Springsteen.

pete said...

Allman Brothers Band

Shriner said...

KISS (and to the same extent) redefined the live stage show. For that, they were important. I'll stand by that.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Allman Brothers. Shit yes! Fun discussion. Everyone who comments is essentially right.

mister muleboy said...

Pete - I marvel at your


Alice Cooper weren't merely "popular". -- they elevated the marriage of rock, theatricality, and "danger" in ways that paved the way for:
(1) the bloated arena "productions" of ELO and even Wings;
(2) the campy "heavy" shows of Kiss;
(3) the androgynous, rough glitter of the New York Dolls; and
(4) punk as we know it (what band accompanied Johnny rotten--admittedly on the jukebox-- for his Sex Pistols audition. . .).

To put them in the same category as ZZTop is to fundamentally misunderstand what took place.

Any chance that you just didn't like that music, had your own bag, and lumped 'em all in without inspection?

All said with love and respect, since we're all just playin here. . . .

mister muleboy said...

Sorry -- I didn't see the Little Feat reference. I needn't have asked the question.

I thought little feat a minor band with some interesting thoughts on Americana - largely unheard.

But I, too, had my own bag. . . .

cthulhu said...

Coming in very late to this thread (blame the old work-life balance thing), just a couple of comments:

(1) ZZ Top's Tres Hombres is a killer album - I adore "Jesus Just Left Chicago" - but I wouldn't rank the Top all that high on the list; too much dross in the career. But I'm looking forward to the new album anyway.

(2) CCR in some ways is more of a '70s band than a '60s band; at least their finest work, Cosmo's Factory, came out in 1970.

(3) Talking Heads does belong on the list, as do the Ramones.

(4) I get the love for Steely Dan; just listen to the guitar solo from, say, "Bodhisattva" and try to say they didn't rock with a straight face. And "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" is still amazing for getting Top 40 radio airplay with a song that is about a guy discovering he's gay.

(5) At the risk of Steve's ire, I gotta have a little (not much, but a little) love for the Eagles. Yes, Don Henley is and has always been the most humorless and pretentious dickhead in rock, and yes they released whole albums of eye-rolling trash (One of These Nights and The Long Run come immediately to mind), but parts of On The Border and even a couple of songs on Hotel California are worth listening to (the Joe Walsh number, "Pretty Maids All in a Row", is just lovely, and the Don Felder / Joe Walsh guitar dual that closes out Hotel California is pretty tasty). But there is no way they belong on this list, and I'm not about to argue otherwise.

pete said...


I thought we were talking about music here.

Alice Cooper invented punk? I don't think so. Iggy Pop doesn't think so. MC5 don't think so. The Dolls don't think so. AC's original producer Frank Zappa wore a dress on the cover of the Mothers' 1968 "We're Only in it for the Money." Does that mean HE invented androgyny? Or was it Aubrey Beardsley?

mister muleboy said...

Part 1

Pete, baby-- we are talking music here. In fact, I'll go back to the definition that you offered: But an "important" band is a band that influenced the course of music. Alice Cooper certainly meets that criterion.

I think it's pretty easy to knock down the straw man here, and you did it ably. Alice Cooper didn't invent punk. Nobody said that they did.

"Paving the way" admittedly serves as an ill-defined descriptor, but it plainly encompasses something that provides a model or roadmap, begins movement in a particular direction, and provides inspiration. Something that makes it significantly easier to later do something.

In offering up the Dolls, you provide a prime example of a band aping -- or at lest applying -- the Alice Cooper model that had been in place for years. Five guys in dresses, near dresses, or sparkly outfits, dripping makeup and teased hair, playing gritty, distorted guitar-based rock intended to offend James Taylor fans, and excite young parking-lot kids.

Zappa may have worn a dress, but I reject the notion that the line between Zappa and Alice Cooper was a more direct line than Alice Cooper to the Dolls.

When Alice Cooper were gigging in the midwest, living in Detroit and sharing bills and a scene with the Stooges and the MC5, they weren't treated or considered as Zappa confreres -- they were peers; five other guys eager to make a living musically by offending and pressing the envelope with roughness rather than arch condescension (but we needn't open the Zappa wars again).

(and I'll concede that the stooges were more impressively *different*, influenced the Pistols and other bands mightily, and had a long-lasting musical influence)

mister muleboy said...

Part 2

Going back to your earliest observation: yes, Alice Cooper ultimately were popular for a couple of years. I would argue that this doesn't diminish their importance, but helps explain it. Because they simply weren't "repeat[ing] the conventions of the time.

Where was "shock rock" before them?
[I know, you trotted out Zappa's dress-wearing; now will you cite Screaming Lord Sutch?] You can be disdainful of the music if you like, but I submit it presaged and ushered in music and culture that still show some Alice Cooper DNA. Bauhaus, Rob Zombie, and Howard Stern would have had to battle a stronger current without A.C.

Where were "glitter" bands before Alice Cooper? Bowie was effectively the only other practitioner, and the timing and development of the band and that English singer were surprisingly contiguous.

Where were the theatrical, macabre bands of the time? Were lots of bands mounting bigger productions with props and effects, or were they standing in jeans strumming and singing earnestly in front of five thousand guys standing in jeans?

Where were the self-consciously crass, proudly apolitical, take-the-piss bands of the time? "We're only in it for the money" wasn't exactly the prevailing ethos of music at the time.

I don't think I'm just announcing and baldly asserting that the band DEFINED their time as they brought it into a new place. I wouldn't have the gall. But I think I'm demonstrating that they were important.

And Steve did us a favor by not saying "best," but by saying "most important." That way neither of us gets away with saying "yeah, but how can you even think of nominating that crappy music?" But we can at least try to show "importance," whatever that means to each of us. I like four of Steve's five, but alongside Cheap Trick I think Alice Cooper make a good name for inclusion. and

And no, I don't think that they were the Beatles changing the face of music. They weren't even the Ramones, creating a sound never before remotely heard. But to dismiss them as another Grand Funk is silly. And to refute the never-made argument that "alice Cooper invented punk" doesn't address any of the four things I mentioned earlier, or what I've written here.

Ain't this fun?

Greyhoundude said...

I'm another one of those that never got off on the Talking Heads. Too arty/pretentious. But yeah, they were fairly important at the time. Anyway, I'd have to go with Neil Young/Crazy Horse. ZUMA and RUST NEVER SLEEPS are albums that never grow old. And, as much as I love Petty & Steely Dan, I don't play their albums as much as I play NY & CH.