Friday, June 05, 2015

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special And Yet Iggy Azalea Walks the Streets a Free Whatever the Hell She Is Edition

[I first posted this one sometime in 2010, which I believe is technically back in the Pleistocene Era. In any case, as is my wont, I've done some re-writing and added a new entry, just because I love you all more than food. Enjoy, if at all possible. -- S.S.]


And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. The Detroit Cobras

No cooler rock band trod a stage in the first decade of the current century. Needless to say, the world wasn't ready, and apparently it's still not.

5. Rob Laufer

Laufer is another alumnus of Beatlemania (see my number one choice, below) who turned out to have genuine talent above and beyond doing imitations of the Fabs. And as I've probably said here on several occasions, his 1995 Wonderwood album is one of the greatest power pop records ever made, with at least three songs -- including the Robin Zander-covered "Reactionary Girl," heard above in the composer's version -- that in any sane world would have been ubiquitous on every radio in the land.

4. R. Stevie Moore

Bloomfield, New Jersey's king of D.I.Y, and still either too smart, too weird, or both, for the room.

3. The Rutles

Okay, granted, their legend was never going to last more than a lunchtime, but I was convinced that at least one of the songs -- like the ominously Lennon-esque "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik" -- from their 1996 pretend vault exhumation set would finally get Rutland's finest to the toppermost of the poppermost

2. Peter Blegvad

Singer/songwriter/guitarist/cartoonist Blegvad's "Daughter" got a lot of exposure via Loudon Wainwright's very nice cover on the 2007 soundtrack of Knocked Up, and justifiably so, but what a pleasure it would have been to hear the composer's original 1995 version on the radio. And he's got boatloads of songs this good, in case you were wondering.

And the Numero Uno it's-lonely-being-a-genius pop/rock act of them all simply has to be...

1. Marshall Crenshaw

Technically Crenshaw did co-write the Gin Blossoms' "Till I Hear It From You," which cracked the Top Ten in 1995, but please -- at least one of the countless gorgeous songs he's recorded under his own name since his 1982 debut album should have been a bona fide smash. I mean, come on.

Alrighty, then -- who would your choices be?


The Kenosha Kid said...

Since you included that line "BUT BY NOW IT'S LOOKING EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THEY EVER WILL!!!" I assume we are only talking about living, still active musicians, ie Not Nick Drake.

The only thing that is coming to mind are those Seattle musicians that were supposed to be a big deal, and never caught on. I'm thinking of Mudhoney, but also it's kind of amazing the Melvins never had any kind of a hit, considering they formed around 1984, and they're still recording and touring.

steve simels said...

I think the Melvins were never exactly gonna be accessible to the mainstream. By design, obviously.

John F said...

Shouldn't Graham Parker be high on this list? He had a couple of minor hits on the radio in the 80's (e.g., 'Get Started - Start a Fire'), but should be much better known.

And although the Replacements did get a bit of airplay with Don't Tell a Soul and 'I'll Be You', I will never understand why 'Can't Hardly Wait' isn't known across the world!

Anonymous said...

Robyn Hitchcock has gotten the push from time to time and the tunes are definitely there, but I guess the Syd Barrett vibe has always derailed him.

Nanci Griffith, beloved in Texas, and almost as ubiquitous as Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin for a while, but they all appear to have retired to the upscale folk circuit.

Ryan Adams is the poster boy for this category, but like the Melvins mentioned above and at least half of the Replacements, he seems to have a complicated relationship with fame.

Poi Dog Pondering, still putting out releases and done a lot of stuff to position themselves for breakout, but at this point it's a small loyal audience.

Anonymous said...

Big Star
Moby Grape
The Pretty Things
Roxy Music
The Misunderstood
Matthew Sweet
Husker Du
The Creation
Chocolate Watchband
Nils Lofgren
Betty LaVette
Fairport Convention
The Posies


Anonymous said...

Richard Thompson


pete said...

Little. Feat.

Anonymous said...

Lucinda Williams
Colin Blunstone
Jerry Jeff Walker
Tom Jans
The Runaways
Mott the Hoople
The Subdudes
Anne McCue


Blue Ash Fan said...

Jesse Malin
Willie Nile
Bill Lloyd
Ian Hunter (post-Mott The Hoople)
Alejandro Escovedo
Artful Dodger
Chris von Sneidern
D.L. Byron
Terry Anderson
Mark Johnson
Ted Leo and Pharmacists

Graham Parker and Richard Thompson were already mentioned.

And, of course, Blue Ash!

Mark said...

Hey, Blue Ash fan! I'm going to see Ian Hunter Patterson tonight at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Hunter was 76 two days ago! Hunter's Rant Band is top-notch, too, and includes Jim Mastro of the Bongos on guitar and mandolin, former Wings drummer Steve Holley, and Mark Bosch on lead guitar, who plays midway between Mick Ronson and Keith Richards.

Charlie Watts is a pup compared to Ian Hunter.

Blue Ash Fan said...

Hey, Mark.

I've actually seen Hunter at the Bell House. Last September, to be precise. My wife and I often travel to NYC to see him at The City Winery.

Ian's been a hero to me since I was 11. And he's still putting out great music. I had the honor of meeting him on the "Rant" tour. Made an absolute fool of myself.

Enjoy the show. I'm sure it will be another excellent one.

Anonymous said...

Agent Orange (who's playing tonight at the Whisky)
Plimsouls / Peter Case
Jim Lauderdale
Buddy & or Julie Miller
Billy Joe Shaver
Sara Niemietz

VR - Planning a belated Luau Orgy poolside for my daughter's college graduation manana. Peter Lewis tonight. Snuffy and Sara later. But first I gotta disrobe for the Doctor.

Mark said...

@Blue Ash Fan -- I was at the Hunter show at the Bell House last year, too. I live nearby. Saw Wreckless Eric and Any Rigby (husband and wife) open for Hunter, as you may recall. And Ian's been a musical God to me, too, since the very first MTH in 1969, when I was 18.

With regard to CULT FIGURE(S) OR CULT BANDS WHO BY ALL RIGHTS SHOULD HAVE HAD AT LEAST ONE FRICKING TOP TEN HIT OVER THE COURSE OF THEIR CAREER, BUT BY NOW IT'S LOOKING EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THEY EVER WILL, first of all, 2015 is already becoming one of the best years for rock music since the early 1980s. I’ve already got 15 Top Ten albums for the year, and we’re not even half way through.

But for bands that should coulda woulda been big -- if there were only justice in this world, as the saying goes -- and had at least one mega-hit, my choices are current bands that have released at least three full albums, one of which was released in either 2013, 2014 or 2015. But before I start, Steve, R. Stevie Moore’s 2015 album with Jason Falkner (of the Three O’Clock and Jellyfish) is as good as it (and Moore) gets.

Spottiswoode and His Enemies ENGLISH DREAM (2014) These guys have been consistently brilliant since 1999. See

Moon Duo SHADOW OF THE SUN (2015) Consistent space-garage-driven rhythms since 2009. See

Ike Reilly Assassination BORN ON FIRE (2015) This new album is to be released later this month. Ike’s writing and stories are as good as rock storytelling gets. The attitude’s for free, and he’s to be at The Mercury Lounge in Manhattan in July. See

And the rest you’ll have to see for yourself.

British India NOTHING TOUCHES ME (2015, and from Australia)

Surf City JEKYLL ISLAND (2015, and from New Zealand, if you’re keeping score)

Beaches SHE BEATS (2013, and from Australia)

The Orange Peels BEGIN THE BEGONE (2015, and whose 2005 album, CIRCLING THE SUN is a power pop masterpiece)

The Minus 5 SCOTT THE HOOPLE IN THE DUNGEON OF HORROR (2014, and Scott McCaughey’s a genius)

Mikal Cronin MCIII (2015)

Crocodiles BOYS (2015)


Dover COMPLICATIONS (2015, and from Spain)

All of these bands and artists should be big, big, BIG, I tell you. B-I-G! With hits! Lots and lots of HITS!

Suddenly I feel like Max Bialystock.

steve simels said...

Saw Hunter at City Winery last Wednesday. First time I'd seen him since the Mott days.

Great show!

cthulhu said...

Most of the usual suspects have been mentioned, although major props to VR for the Plimsouls / Peter Case call-out: Million Miles Away is one of the great lost power pop songs of the early '80s, despite having been featured in the early Nic Cage movie Valley Girl (I'm just being snarky; Valley Girl is actually quite watchable, and Cage is goofily winning in it, and if the band that was playing Million Miles Away wasn't actually the Plimsouls, they were doing a good job of faking it).

I'll also mention Tonio K., who wrote a number 1 song, but none of his own recordings of his songs have made it up the charts, nor his albums - despite a lot of critical acclaim, not least from SS. Although, I shit you not, I first heard of Tonio K. via the auspices of People magazine while in a dentist's waiting room; they actually reviewed (favorably) Life in the Foodchain! I didn't see Steve's review in TMFKASR until some weeks later.

The other two that I get sad about not making it bigger are no longer with us, dying within six months of one another: Warren Zevon and Chris Whitley. At least WZ had one largish hit (you know which one), and got some good royalties from Linda Ronstadt covering some of his stuff (totally off topic: I recently watched the Eagles documentary, which was way better than I figured it would be, but it reminded me of something I hadn't thought of since I was 17: Linda Ronstadt was smoking' hot back in the '70s). Chris Whitley had a lot of critical acclaim for his first album, Living With The Law, and his fourth, the acoustic masterpiece Dirt Floor, but there's plenty of great stuff on his other releases too. Killer songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist.

I might also add Loudon Wainwright III to the list; he's done some good stuff down through the years. Saw him live a few years ago with RT on their "Loud and Rich" tour; LWIII was very good (of course, so was RT), and the few songs they did together made great use of their contrasting vocals, especially "Down Where the Drunkards Roll".

Anonymous said...

Del Amitri, come on!

Anonymous said...

The Flying Burrito Brothers / Gram Parsons / Chris Hillman

Re: Ian Hunter - Hope you guys caught a great show. I'm a huge fan as well. Had the first Hoople album already in summer of 1970. Still have that original copy. It has a one-inch diameter blood stain on it in the upper right corner, just above the opened book. I cut myself with a multi-purpose single-edged razor blade when breaking the shrink.

Me and one of the girls from the Wildcat had just chopped up a couple of 30mg instant release morphine tablets and snorted them. We drank some lemonade. Lit some smokes. And relaxed like never before, as the music washed over us. I was hooked on Mott the Hoople. And who didn't love that Escher cover. And the long haired boys pissin' inside. But I digress.

I saw Ian a couple of times earlier this year. January to be more specific. Not to parade on anyone's shit, but it was the first time I saw him where I thought it was not up to his usual. But I dug the fact that he did Laugh At Me into Irene Wilde. He doesn't do Ms. Wilde too much these days. Maybe I'm a sap, but it still can bring a tear to these eyes.

Hope your shows were better than mine. Not to say mine were horrible, but kind of a letdown after seeing so many of his really great performances. Maybe I just caught two off nights.

The Rant Band can be pretty good. But I still haven't gotten over the Ian Hunter Band from 1979-1980. I must have seen them a dozen times during those years. I couldn't get enough. They fuckin' cooked.

Re: Del Amitri?! I kinda liked their cover of "Lust For Life" in concert. But honey, they kissed this thing goodbye when "Roll To Me" hit the Top Ten.

VRoooom - I just wanna dance to Honaloochie Boogie. Yeah!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe I've seen Dave Alvin's name yet. I'm hard pressed to think of a singer/songwriter whose material I've enjoyed more , OK Bob Dylan, but I don't believe he belongs on this particular list.

It's always been something of a mystery to me how Syd Straw's song The Train That Takes You Away wasn't at least a minor hit but that may be another category altogether.

Remonster said...

The Golden Palominos should of been 'ahcontendah! Especially this gem rom 1985

General Zod said...


I noticed you commented on my posting at your BFF's site. Just to clear up the matter, I never said i agreed with anything he posted, only about your man crush on his site. Whatever gets you off. How's Watertiger? I heard you dumped her for a younger woman. Which would be anyone that's not dead yet, I guess.

Anonymous said...

The Hold Steady

The Old 97s

While already mentioned, The Replacements defined the category in question.

steve simels said...

Zod -- point taken. But it's not a man crush. He's an anti-Semitic asshole and I enjoy taunting him for that reason.

steve simels said...

The Hold Steady. Absolutely.

M_Sharp said...

Robbie Fulks
Ben Vaughn
Go To Blazes
Low Cut Connie
The Yahoos
The Fleshtones
Jim Dickinson
The A-Bones
Johnny Adams
Southern Culture On The Skids
Deke Dickerson

M_Sharp said...

The Bottle Rockets
Toni Price
Jimbo Mathus
The Hoodoo Gurus
The Morells

Anonymous said...

Dave Alvin!! Yeah! 100% agree with that one! Never seen him do a bad show even when he was sick as a dog. Fine, fine songwriter. In particular I love his wistful, evocative tunes about California and it's locales that now only exist in memory. "Dry River" is a masterpiece. Love, love, love his live album. I tape him whenever he plays and he's totally cool with it. To the point of letting me mic the instruments.

One night, after spotting us in the crowd, he dedicated "Out of Control" to me and Sandy. It was because of stuff we did during the opening act's set at the previous night's gig. And also after that show. I can't say exactly what it was because the statute of limitations hasn't expired on that yet.

I've never seen him do a bad solo show, even when he was sick as a dog. To say he's the real deal doesn't even come close.

And while we're at it:

Chris Gaffney/Hacienda Brothers - for all those nights at the Blue Cafe and all the biker roadhouses and the Swallow's Inn. That guy had just as much fun mingling with the crowd as he did performing.
Joe Ely
The Move - for being criminally neglected in America
John Hiatt - who I saw open for Ian Hunter in his early days. Spotty career but has some great songs.

VR - The Luau Orgy has already begun. I'm baking the Mahi Mahi as I write. I've got two tables filled with various fruits. The Kalua Pua's is in the ground. One of my daughter's friends is buzzed and grabbing me in the ass. He's repeatedly saying "Your mom's a fox" to my daughter while he grills the Huli Huli chicken. The more buzzed he gets, the more he propositions me. He does it every time he comes by the house. No class. But really, he's not a bad sort. It's just a game we play. If I ever took him up on it (NEVER), he wouldn't know what to do with it. And he's not worth teaching. Just a whiskey dicked newbie.

Anonymous said...

Toni Price!!! Great Call.

How about Gwil Owen.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The Mother Truckers - they spent the night at my house once - listen to this fine album. Never seen 'em do a bad show even when they were sick as dogs.:-)


Anna said...

The Replacements. Especially today, the fucking Replacements.

cthulhu said...

Dwight Twilley.

And agree about Dave Alvin. And the Hoodoo Gurus - Bittersweet being another great lost power pop song from the early '80s.

Anonymous said...

RE: Twilley - Runaway should have been a massive hit. Even though it's kinda silly, I wished they woulda released "TV" as a single too. Fun song.

But "I'm On Fire" and "Girls" got really close to the top ten. I had an acquaintance with a couple of girls who were in the latter song's video. A long story.


Anonymous said...



Brooklyn Girl in Queens said...

Zod, you heard incorrectly. Now please to be fucking off.

Arthur Lee and Love --- yes, I know he's dead.

Anonymous said...

The dB's.

M_Sharp said...

Gwil Owen, what a great songwriter! One of these days I'll make a mixtape of him and Toni Price's covers.

Anonymous said...

Baby, maybe there's something in the water making me feel like I do ... Baby, maybe there's something in the water. I hope you're drinking it too....


pete said...

No love here for NRBQ?

Anonymous said...

Nick Cave
Heartless Bastards
Tame Impala
The Duke Spirit
Tom Waits