Sorry about that long hiatus between posts. I’ve been exceptionally busy, and I haven’t been seeing any shows, so I didn’t write anything for a bit. But now I’m back yet again on the rock ‘n roll ABCs. I do want to chastise you, however. I’m not getting a lot of feedback on the first 6 letters, and I know that I took some outrageous positions on them. I disrespected Bob Dylan for God’s sake! I’m going to keep on keepin’ on, but expect better audience participation. Please don’t make me call on you in the back row, ok?
So here we go with G, H and I. Again, if an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” Good? Let’s roll.
G is for Marvin Gaye. Who else? Is there a better soul singer than MG? He wrote amazing songs like “What’s Going On,” “Sexual Healing,” and “Let’s Get It On.” And he performed them so stylistically that he defined the genre. His songs were sexy, although some were political, and they are still marvelous to listen to. Put them on, and people instantly groove and say “good choice.” And Marvin was from DC, a place where the finest Americans spent their formative years.
Honorable Mentions: The Grateful Dead – love the alt-country stuff the best. I can’t say I dig the dirty hippie dead heads or the drug glorification, but they are legendary for good reason. Green Day – I really like the Dookie album, and they continued to grow as a band. I know a Texas Republican judge who thought that American Idiot was a fantastic album – now that’s saying something. G. Love – terrible live performer (he SITS IN A CHAIR), but some really good songs out of this Philly boy. J. Geils Band – a classic rock act still worth listening to. Love Stinks, Centerfold, First I Look at the Purse. C’mon, one of Detroit’s all-time best acts. Gloria Gaynor – not ashamed to admit that this disco singer was compelling. Generation X – Billy Idol’s band before he went solo. I miss them – just terrific songs with great guitar and Billy’s vocals/attitude. Gin Blossoms – I almost went disrespect with them, but just too many good songs even if they are the 90s version of Firefall, who I forget to hate on when I did “F.” The Go Go’s – the greatest all-girl group since the Motown era. Worth the price of admission. Golden Earring – Radar Love. Driving to Florida on spring break in 1980 with everyone but me asleep and I’m blasting it. An all-time BRP memory. Robert Gordon – love the pompadour hairdo, the great guitar sound, and the retro feel. Government Issue – along with Minor Threat, harDCore at its finest. Govt Mule – Warren Haynes in the post-Allman’s orbit. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message is the best rap song of all time. I know, not a high bar, but you have to acknowledge the effort. Al Green – another terrific soul singer, just not as good as Marvin Gaye. Jonathan Gregg & The Lonesome Debonnaires – The rail thin JG delivered great country music from the heart of the country music capital of the world, New York City. Guns ‘n Roses – they almost made the “g” is for…. Had they remained together, they might have been the greatest rock ‘n roll band of all time. Sweet Child O Mine is a sentimental favorite for BRP. Buddy Guy – still bringing it after all these years. Grass Roots – a couple of great songs. Really, really great songs. Guess Who – I like BTO, too, but not enough to give them the respect I give to the Guess Who. American Woman!
Newbies who are worth checking out: Grouplove – I was struggling for G newbies. Here’s one worth checking out, but I don’t love them.
Disrespect: Pete Gabriel – What the heck was all the buzz about? Shock The Monkey? Please. Gypsy Kings – Great name, terrible act. Goo Goo Dolls – Sorry, just not a fan. And the name sucks. Amy Grant – While she did lead to a great Young Fresh Fellows song just about her, her actual work makes me believe that there is no god. Dobie Gray – I hate his one famous song Drift Away. And that was his only song. The definition of a One Hit Blunder. Arlo Guthrie – I hate folk. AG defines folk. A + B = C.
H is for Hűsker Dű. If not one of the two best American punk bands ever (along with the Ramones), I want you to tell me who was better. Bob Mould led this trio, and wrote incredible songs that are powerful, fast, full of fuzzy guitar, and yet never lose their tunefulness. The song New Day Rising has no other words, but builds to a noisy, angst-filled crescendo that will blow you away. Candy Apple Gray, Flip Your Wig and New Day Rising are three of the best punk albums of all time.
Honorable mentions: Haircut 100 – Proving that BRP is as sappy as the next guy. Pelican West is a fun turn down the road to pure pop heaven. You’ll recognize half of their songs from commercials and sports intros. Hall & Oates – Philly rock ‘n soul with a huge catalog of catchy hits. John Hiatt – one of my all-time favorite solo performers. He can rock it, he can croon it, but it’s all good and full of hooks and solid lyrics. Holly & The Italians – Holly Beth Vincent made one of the best new wave albums ever. It holds up. So Tell That Girl to Shut Up already, ok? Hoodoo Gurus – best Australian band you’ve never heard of. Housemartins – still a favorite in the BRP household. Some people grew up on this music! The Hollies – Bus Stop. Carrie Anne. On a Carousel. Long Cool Woman. Must I continue? Merle Haggard – Helen knew I was a closet country fan when she noticed me listening to Merle. Outlaw country before that name existed. Jimi Hendrix – I’ll bet you were wondering when I would get to JH. Well, here he is.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Hop Along – another Philly band that is grabbing national attention. PJ Harvey – not that new, but I’m trying to fill the space. Rockin!
Disrespect: John Wesley Harding – I was actually excited to see him open for the Jayhawks. And then he proved to be in the bottom 5 of live acts that BRP has had to suffer through. Havana 3 a.m. – I actually love the song Reach The Rock, but Paul Simonon was behind the tossing of Mick Jones from the Clash, an unforgiveable sin. Herman’s Hermits – I like some of their songs as they remind me of when I was 5, but words like “cloying,” “bubblegum,” and “earworm” all come up in a negative way when I hear their songs. Hole – in the words of Beavis and Butthead, who would name their daughter Hole? Courtney Love, rock protagonist. Hootie and the Blowfish – they blow all right. The Hooters - - hey Philly, they weren’t that good. They’re the Philly equivalent of a Primanti Brothers sandwich – loved only in their Pennsylvania hometown.
I is for Iggy Pop. Yes, I could have, maybe should have, gone with the Isley Brothers here. No, that’s not true. As great as the Isley’s are, Iggy is a true icon. There was no one else like him in rock when he emerged from the Motor City, and he and the Stooges paved the way for all the great punkers to follow. In my opinion, the first true punk rocker, and still one of the all-time best. I still listen to Iggy, and now they are using his tunes on commercials – proving he was about 40 years ahead of his time. And he lives in Miami, thus demonstrating that he’s still smart after all these years.
Honorable mentions: The Isley Brothers – how good are the Isley’s? One of the most influential bands ever and Eric Isley was a rock hero before that cheesy term was put into circulation. Ides of March – Vehicle. Horns, smart lyrics, driving beat. Enough said.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Interpol – they’ve been around a while but again, I was having trouble thinking of newbies for the letter “I”. I like them a lot. Good tunes and lyrics. Imagine Dragons – I knew about them about 30 seconds before they exploded on the world. Commercial success does not always equate to crap music, and ID is exhibit A.
Disrespect: Janis Ian – She learned that she sucked at 17, and then turned it on the world to all of our detriment. Indigo Girls – Awful band. Janis Ian is a founding member. That last part isn’t true, but it’s believable because they both suck so much. INXS – radio did their best to foist them on an unsuspecting public. And for that, I will never forgive radio.
As you can tell, some letters are easier than others. If you play scrabble, you’ll know that the damn Q and X letters are problematic, but perhaps there are some surprises yet in store. Hang in there, get commenting, and have some fun with me on this. I still love ya even if you ignore me.
See you later and thanks for reading.
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.