Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #77 Madness

I just can’t get over the fact that Madness is considered a one hit wonder in the United States. In the UK, they had sixteen top ten singles in the twenty years between 1979 and 1999. London’s masters of ska, they could definitely contend with the B-52s for being the world’s greatest party band. Just look at these great videos they made. They should have had multiple hits on these shores all through the early eighties. The personalities of each of the band members really came through in those videos. If you ask me, there was a wasted opportunity for a great Saturday Morning Cartoon, just like the Beatles had in the sixties and the Jackson Five in the seventies.

Hey you!
Don't watch that watch this
this is the heavy heavy monster sound
the nuttiest sound around
so if you've come in the off the street
and you're beginning to feel the heat
well listen buster you better start to move your feet
to the rockinest rock steady beat of madness

My girl's mad at me.

Ska on a Night Boat to Cairo.

Oh what fun we had...

How can you show your face when you're a disgrace to the human race?

One of the all-time great love songs. This should have been a huge hit on the US charts.

Welcome to the House of Fun.

and we conclude our look at Madness with their one big hit in America, Our House. 

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #78 Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars

Drummer Mick Woodmansey, bassist Trevor Bolder, and guitarist Mick Ronson played with David Bowie from 1971 to 1973 on three classic albums; Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Aladdin Sane. For those three albums, they were Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars. Woodmansey & Ronson also played on 1970’s The Man Who Sold the World and Ronson & Bolder played on 1973’s Pin Ups. Along with Marc Bolan’s T. Rex, David Bowie as Ziggy set the standard for the glam rock genre of the 70s. For me, this was the greatest period of Bowie’s legendary career. The songs were fantastic, Mick Ronson played fabulous guitar, and everything fell into place perfectly.


Gotta make way for the homo superior.

My favorite track from the Hunky Dory album. Is there Life on Mars?

Andy Warhol looks a scream.

Queen Bitch. Great guitar on this track. Mick Ronson was so incredible.

She's so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat
Oh God, I could do better than that!

and now we get to the Ziggy album. One of the best ever.

Freak out in a Moonage Daydream, oh yeah!

Let all the children boogie.

Classic song.

Ziggy played guitar!

Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am!

and we conclude our look at Ziggy and the Spiders with Jean Genie from the Aladdin Sane album.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #79 Squeeze

In most lists of great songwriting teams you’ll find Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, Morrissey & Marr, or Strummer & Jones, but that list wouldn’t be complete without Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook. Up the Junction, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), Tempted, and Black Coffee in Bed are just the start of all the great songs that have come from these guys. Starting in London in 1975, they found great success in England, but only had a few hits here in the States. I also have to mention the fantastic keyboardists that have played with Squeeze; founding member Jools Holland until 1980, followed by Paul Carrack who debuted with the band for their classic 1981 album East Side Story. Difford and Tilbrook are still touring. I hope they come to Seattle.

Fantastic first single. Take Me I'm Yours. Because dreams are made of this. Forever there'll be a heaven in your kiss.

Beautiful song. Great storytelling. Up the Junction.

Cool for Cats

My favorite Squeeze song. In fact, one of my favorite songs of all time by anybody.

Behind the chalet, my holiday's complete.
And I feel like William Tell, Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet.
Pulling Mussels from a shell.

Not a single or a hit, but still one of their best. I love this song.

In the corner with his book and tissue
All he can do is pretend to miss you,
Closes his eyes as he sees her body
Pulls funny faces and that's his hobby.
On the other hand love ain't a happy word
On the other hand love ain't a piece of skirt,
Makes for something special in your football shirt
In quintessence.

Probably their most well known song here in the States.

Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered
What's been going on
Now that you have gone
There's no other

and we conclude our look at Squeeze with the classic Black Coffee in Bed. This has one of my favorite keyboard riffs.

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #80 Eurythmics

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart met in a restaurant in London in 1975. The fusion of Stewart, a prodigiously talented producer, songwriter, and musician with Lennox, one of the most spectacular vocalists of her generation led to some of the most haunting and beautiful songs of the 80s. Their first MTV splash came with the Sweet Dreams video and Annie Lennox’s androgynous look. My favorite was always Here Comes the Rain Again. It was a great string of hits throughout the 80s.

Here's the one that made them famous. One of the most iconic videos of the 80s.

Really great video

Tied for my favorite Eurythmics song. Haunting and atmospheric. Both the video and the song are classic.

My other favorite Eurythmics track is one you may not have heard. They did the soundtrack for the film version of Orwell's 1984. This is Sex Crime and it is awesome.

Great rocker from Annie and Dave. They used to play this video constantly back in the day.

This is a beautiful song with some of Annie's most gorgeous vocals. It's all that and a Stevie Wonder harmonica solo.

run run run run

and we conclude our look at Eurythmics with Missionary Man.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #81 Traffic

One of the bright lights of British psychedelia; Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi were Traffic. Coming out of Birmingham in 1967, Mr. Fantasy was a landmark album for the group. Steve Winwood was a fantastic singer at the time. The band broke up and he went on to do Blind Faith, but when that ended Traffic re-formed and released another landmark with John Barleycorn. Great songs, great players.

It's just a paper sun. Their first hit was a nice bit of sitar-tinged psychedelia.

All that I knew was the hole in my shoe that was taking in water.

Ah, Dear Mr. Fantasy. Simply one of the finest pieces of psychedelia ever recorded.

This wasn't a single. If you don't have the Mr. Fantasy album, you may have never heard it. But I assure you, this is the best thing Steve Winwood ever sang. My favorite Traffic song. This is Coloured Rain.

The pure musicianship on display here is awesome. Traffic was such a great band.

Poor John Barleycorn. Folks always tryin' to kill him.

and we conclude our look at Traffic with the low spark of high-heeled boys. 

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #82 Jethro Tull

Who would have ever imagined what a great rock instrument the flute could be? Combine Ian Anderson’s mad performance and erudite lyrics with his virtuosic flautistry and throw in the powerful guitar of Martin Barre and you have Jethro Tull, one of the great progressive rock bands of the 70s. Starting in the late 60s with great songs like “New Day Yesterday”, they went on to create the 1971 classic Aqualung, one of the finest collections of songs released in the 1970s. I got to see them play live at Bumbershoot one year and they have definitely still got it.

Tull at the Fillmore in 1970. Love this song! It was a new day yesterday, but it's an old day now.

One of their first big hits.

The classic story of a dirty old man sitting on a park bench. Martin Barre gives one of the all-time great guitar riffs. Aqualung. Fantastic live performance in this video, too.

Cross Eyed Mary goes jumping in again. Man, what a great concert this must have been.

He is the God of nothing
If thats all that you can see
You are the God of everything
He's inside you and me

Magnificent performance from the Isle of Wight 1970. Ian really outdid himself here.

Martin Barre plays the hell out of this classic. Ian's flautistry is also very impressive. Love this song.

Another classic from Aqualung, here is Locomotive Breath.

Because I also love the Songs From the Wood album, we'll conclude our look at Jethro Tull with Ring Out Solstice Bells.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #83 Bauhaus

The godfathers of goth, Bauhaus formed in 1978 in Northampton, England. The brothers David J and Kevin Haskins formed a strong rhythm section with David J especially being one of the best bass players of his era. They had been playing since childhood with guitarist Daniel Ash. Ash is an incredibly inventive guitarist. These three later became Love and Rockets and had several hits on their own. The band was much stronger though with the addition of singer Peter Murphy. His image influenced generations of Goths. I was lucky enough to see them play live at the Paramount here in Seattle during their 1998 reunion tour.

Classic! This is the song that put Bauhaus and the whole goth genre on the map. Really excellent video here as well.

Really good performance here. Daniel Ash's guitar bursts and David J's wicked bass really come together in the flat field.

Still one of the scariest sounding songs I've ever heard.

Daniel Ash is a vastly underrated guitarist.

Here Bauhaus does a terrific cover of the T. Rex hit Telegram Sam.

Kick in the Eye. Great bass from David J on this one.

The Passion of Lovers from 1981's Mask album. This was a highlight of the live show I attended.

Cut down the puppet strings.

and we conclude our look at Bauhaus with their cover of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust.

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #84 Blind Faith

I know they only recorded one album, but that was a hell of a good album. They were one of the great super-groups that formed in the late 60s. Ric Grech was previously the bass player for the prog-rock group Family. Ginger Baker was the drummer for Cream and is rightly considered one of the greatest drummers in all of rock. Eric Clapton had played guitar with the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Cream and until the emergence of Hendrix was widely touted as the greatest guitarist in the world. Steve Winwood played keyboards and sang incredibly well, fronting the Spencer Davis Group at the tender age of fourteen and then going on to form Traffic. Their self-titled album contained fantastic songs, impressive musicianship (including what I consider some of the finest guitar work of Clapton’s career) and left you wondering what might have been had they continued to record together.

Since they only recorded the one album, I'm posting the whole thing. Except for the last song, but that was just a fifteen minute drum solo, so you won't be missing much. Winwood sings beautifully here.

But I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time
And I'm wasted and I can't find my way home.
Beautiful track. Winwood in fine voice and Clapton at his peak.

Blind Faith had a bit of a hit with this Buddy Holly cover.

Presence of the Lord. Magnificent track. My favorite song on the album. Also my favorite Eric Clapton guitar solo ever.

and we conclude our look at Blind Faith with Sea of Joy, another great vocal from Winwood.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #85 Abba

In the early 70s, a quartet came out of Sweden and became one of the most successful acts in the history of popular music. Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad have sold over 375 million records. They produced some of the catchiest pop tunes of the decade. Songs with such lasting appeal that they comprised the soundtrack of an incredibly popular movie musical released almost thirty years after their break up. I used to consider my love of Abba a guilty pleasure, but I don’t feel guilty anymore. Unquestionably, Abba was one of the great bands of our time. Good enough that one of their songs replaced the wedding march when my own wife walked down the aisle at our nuptials fourteen years ago.

Their first big hit.

at Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender. I like this one quite a bit.

This is the song we played at my wedding instead of the Wedding March. Just like in Muriel's Wedding. It was very cool.

The title song of the big musical. It was a very enjoyable movie. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried were both great in it.

Can you hear the drums, Fernando? A beautiful story of romance and revolution.

One of the classics of the disco era. This is Dancing Queen.

This one was written as the marriages within the band were beginning to crumble. It was a very interesting period for them, lyrically speaking.

and we conclude our look at Abba with my favorite Abba song, Take a Chance on Me. 

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #86 The Sugarcubes

I still remember that night clearly. A Sunday night in 1988, I was sitting up late watching 120 Minutes on MTV when they showed the video for a song called Birthday by a new band that came from Iceland. This beautiful elf-like woman opened her mouth and produced a sound unlike any I had ever heard and I was hooked. To this day, I consider Birthday to be one of the greatest songs ever recorded. I went out and bought their album “Life’s Too Good” and fell in love with the Sugarcubes. Björk, the gorgeous elf, has proven to be one of the greatest female voices of all time. She has been immensely successful as a solo artist, but I still prefer the music she recorded with this band. Einar, the other singer, does take a little getting used to, but he adds just the right element of quirkiness to the combo. Here’s to the only band from Iceland on the list.

Still one of the greatest things I've ever heard.

Just because it is such a magnificently beautiful song, here is Birthday again. The original recording in Icelandic. Really pretty language.

I will not finish, til I'm fully satisfied.

I love this one. That growl in Bjork's voice just melts me away every time.

From the vastly underrated second album, Here Today Tomorrow Next Week, this is Planet.

This song makes me hungry. I would like strawberry juice.

Wait for me underneath the water.

We conclude our look at the Sugarcubes with Hit.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The 100 Greatest Bands of all time - #87 The Jam

The Jam was formed during the 1st wave of British punk, but they were a little different from their contemporaries. Unlike the Pistols and Clash who declared year zero and attempted to discard the 60s bands that had come before, The Jam emulated the Mod style of the Who and the very British themes of the Kinks. Paul Weller wrote songs that were so very British that they had a hard time breaking through in America, which is a shame as they were some of the best songs of the era. Bruce Foxton was also an integral part of the sound of The Jam due to his heavily featured bass lines. Songs like “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”, “That’s Entertainment”, and “Town Called Malice” should have been huge hits on these shores, especially when British New Wave began to dominate the American charts. Alas, it was not to be, but they definitely deserve their spot on this list.

The Jam hit big in the UK with their first single, In the City.

This song should have been a hit here. Paul Weller tells a frightening story of being attacked in the subway and Bruce Foxton proves himself one of rock's great bass players.

Eton Rifles.

This is Going Underground.

One of the best things Paul Weller ever wrote. This is a thing of beauty.

Absolute Beginners.

and we finish our look at The Jam with Town Called Malice, another song that should have been a massive, huge hit.