It's Easier Than 1, 2, 3
Much has happened since I last posted on the ABC theme. It’s busy, busy, busy here at BRP! It’s now time to pick up where I last left off. Let’s remember that we got through the letter O last time. Onward to P, Q and R. As always, 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.” Ready, steady, go.
P is for Prince. A very close call here with Parliament Funkadelic, but Prince has to be the epitome of the many great artists who share the letter P. Using P adjectives, Prince was prolific, profound, powerful, proud and never a prig or prude. He left a huge legacy, and his music transcended categories. Prince dipped into electronica, dance, rock, funk, world and virtually any other musical category as he pursued his art. Yes, some of his songs are overtly sexual, but so what? They still make you move your feet. Hits? You bet. A ton of them, and rightly so. I have a bias against music that is so blatantly commercial that it has no soul or heart. Prince was commercial, but only because his music was so great that radio couldn’t ignore him. A wonderful American talent, and one of the best musicians of the rock era.
Honorable mentions: Parliament Funkadelic – the mothership has landed! George Clinton is an American treasure. A great live act, grooves galore, and some of the best party music ever. Sure the lyrics are sometimes remarkably stupid. So what? My butt is moving and I’m having fun. Elvis Presley – the King. One of the main reasons that rock ‘n roll exists. And he also left us jokes galore! What a legacy. Pixies – commercial indie rock. Lots of indie bands hate the Pixies and I think it’s simple jealousy. Really good songs that challenge the norm. The Plimsouls – Peter Case made power pop that is still worth listening to. Pogues – jig and reel for the modern world. Too many songs glorifying alcohol, but a lot of cool stuff here. The Pretenders – one of the best new wave bands ever. Chrissie Hynde led a singles band par excellence with rocking guitar and sexy vocal delivery. Professor Longhair – if you like New Orleans R&B grooves, then class is in session. Passion Pit – I generally don’t go for bands that are too synth driven, but the Pit is an exception. Phoenix – best French band going. The Police – loved their early albums. Originators of the rock/reggae synthesis with huge commercial success. Michael Penn – Sean’s more talented brother, and that’s saying something. Phish – they inherited the lost souls and dirty hippie fleabag losers that followed the Dead for years. But they have some great songs. And even some that are incredibly weird but still challenging and worth it. Wilson Pickett – play it and I’ll hang out with you. Talented and praised for good reason. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Petty is one of the few old guys that still is creating good music. Not a great live act, but a deep catalog and you know the words to every song. Classic artist well deserving of all the accolades.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Protomartyr – I love this Detroit band. They don’t sound like many other acts out there, but their songs are complex and powerful. They need to develop their live act, but I’ll go to see that happen. Parquet Courts – modern indie heroes. Some great songs, some pap, but likely to be torch bearers for a new generation of rockers. It’s hard work to sound this slacker. Pulled Apart by Horses – watch this band.
Disrespect: Public Image Ltd. – John Lydon, nee Johnny Rotten, just couldn’t match what the Sex Pistols created. I like some of their songs, but they just don’t measure up. The Police – their later music was …. butt awful. King of Pain? Oh, so sorry for you Sting! Go stalk someone. Pearl Jam – they could have been so great. But then Eddie Vedder’s ego got involved. Pre-10, one of the most promising of grunge bands. Now, I just can’t take them. Seems like most of their former fan base feels the same way. Pink Floyd – some of the worst classic rock ever. Their albums come with an Imodium coupon for a reason. Pablo Cruise – At least Pink Floyd can take solace in the fact that they aren’t Pablo Cruise.
Q is for Queen. Now, there are some letters that lack a lot of bands/artists, and Q is one of them. But that does not mean that Queen is not worthy of acclaim. Freddie Mercury was arguably the best front man of his generation, including Mick Jagger, and his voice was fantastic. We all know the hits. Killer Queen. Another One Bites the Dust. And Bohemian Rhapsody. What a legacy.
Honorable Mentions: ? and the Mysterians. 96 Tears is one of my all-time favorite songs.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Queens of the Stone Age. Not exactly new, but still not well known. Hard rocking – you’ll like them, believe me.
R is for The Ramones. Nope, not the Stones. If you sit where I sit, the Ramones are just hugely influential and important for much of the music that I love. They were loud, fast, funny and smart with short songs that stripped away the bombastic claptrap of 1970s commercial rock. No long guitar solos or shrieks from the lead singer. No capes and synthesizers. No reliance on dry-ice smoke or laser lights. Driving drums and 3 chord rhythms. We’re a Happy Family. Pinhead. Blitzkrieg Bop. Sheena is a Punk Rocker. And of course, I Wanna Be Sedated. Gabba gabba hey!
Honorable Mentions: The Rolling Stones – yes, they’re probably overrated at this point. But if you never saw Jagger, you missed out. And the bad boys of the British Invasion left a huge legacy and deep catalog of great songs. I still love them. And I still listen to them. The Replacements – fantastic indie garage band, but responsible for the worst live show I ever saw. REM – No one sounded like these guys when they first came out – I was a huge fan. They faded off later, but were truly great and influenced a ton of bands. Red Hot Chili Peppers – I hate Flea, too, but it’s hard to dislike their combination of hard rock and funk. Rare Earth – Funky with a big horn section. Are you getting the feeling that I like funky with a big horn section? Even better live. The Rascals – you can call it sappy pop. And you would be right. But I love them nonetheless. Reverand Horton Heat – bar band wedded to rockabilly. Bring me that Texas sound, boys! Rockpile – a side project for Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe, but what a side project. Teacher Teacher. Heart. Love it. Radiohead – I don’t love these guys like so many others do. But I get that they are different and influential. Good, but a tad overrated, IMO. Bonnie Raitt – again, not my favorite, but I admire what she does and her staying power. And she is powerful as a live act. Lou Reed – unlike Dylan, I still occasionally listen to Lou. Way ahead of his time with the Velvets. Deserving of the praise. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light is one of my favorite songs by Todd. Best thing out of Upper Darby ever. Rush – hard rocking classic rock. They were big when I was in high school. On my iPod, they remain big. Otis Redding – Just OMG. You would need an industrial scale to measure the weight of this massive talent. Smokey Robinson – what a name, and what a talent.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Raconteurs – not that new, but not famous enough for BRP. Great name, btw. Royal Blood – if these guys keep up what they did with their first album, they will get a plaque in Cleveland someday. It doesn’t sound so great when I say it that way, does it? Royal Headache – I just stumbled upon this band. Good thing for me and now for you. The Revivalists – I don’t love every song, but these guys can be rollicking.
Disrespect: Rancid – you would think that I would love these guys. And I did like their first album. But they’ve put out about 8 albums and they all sound the same. No artistic growth = no respect. Reel Big Fish – yes, I like some of their music. But they have a shtick. It’s tiresome after 15 years. REO Speedwagon – remember these hacks? A terrible band that got a lot of radio airplay.
S is for Squeeze. There are many great acts that begin with S. Squeeze is one of my favorite bands ever. They write poppy songs that are electric enough for a high energy live show. Their lyrics reflect where they are in life – silly and youthful on some of their earliest albums, grown up and speaking to me as an adult later on. Two great vocalists. And even guys who left the band are great – Paul Carrack is groove approved and Jools Holland left and started the best rock TV show, Later … with Jools Holland. Always fun to see live (and I’ve seen them too many times to count), and they always give you your money’s worth. I listen to them all the time, and never get tired of them. An all-time underrated act.
Honorable Mentions: The Supremes – perhaps my favorite Motown act other than Marvin Gaye. Fantastic songs and Diana Ross’s voice is what I want to hear if I ever get to heaven. I hear you saying “fat chance” but a man’s reach shouldn’t exceed his grasp, right? Santana – decades of great music. Put on Abraxas or Moonflower and they still sound fresh. A true hall of fame band. Sex Pistols – hard to overstate their importance. A band designed to implode, but their impact on modern music is huge, from Johnny Rotten’s snarl to their defiance of all things sacred. I still listen to them. Shakira – a huge talent in a tiny package. Catchy tunes and watch her videos – best dancer since James Brown? The Smithereens – NJ power pop at its best, good live act, and a leader who ran for Congress. You can’t make this stuff up. The Smiths – If you simply read about the Smiths, you will hate them. But when you listen to them, their popularity becomes apparent. Super guitar, catchy tunes, and ridiculously self-centered angst-filled lyrics that all somehow work together. The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight is the best new wave album no one has ever heard. Big guitar sound. Robyn Hitchcock and Kimberly Rew just rocked it. Son Volt – Wilco is far better, but Jay Fehrer’s group stuck closer to the alt-country format of Uncle Tupelo and to good effect. Sonic Youth – too much feedback (I can’t believe I just wrote that) but just HUGE talent. Listen to Teen Age Riot and tell me that this band isn’t brilliant. I love SY. Southern Culture on the Skids – you want cheesy hillbilly rock? Of course you do, and this band delivers. Good live act, too. Spin Doctors – I love the song Two Princes. That’s enough. Steely Dan – one of my favorite bands, jazzy but rocking, too. They’re losing it as a live act, but Aja remains a classic album, and many of their songs have staying power. Stiff Little Fingers – best band out of Northern Ireland. Punky and pioneers of the rock/reggae intersection. The Strokes – seriously good indie rock. Please do a reunion tour. Sober. Sugar – Bob Mould leaves Husker Du and forms Sugar. College radio ready from the start, they rocked it hard. I adore them. Spoon – they keep putting out great albums. Who woulda thunk? Bruce Springsteen – has lost his voice, but still one of the best live acts ever. His early career was simply brilliant. And his early career covered about 7 albums. Sly and the Family Stone – oh, we miss this band so much! Britney Spears – overproduced voice, but some seriously catchy songs. And despite her redneck-y background, I still pull for her to get it together and find her way. Rod Stewart – amazing career, great live performer, some classic songs that still sound great. Time for beatification. Donna Summer – who knows why she redid Macarthur Park, a truly awful song, but her career is full of hits. And disco has held up better than a lot of other stuff. Hats off, Donna. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend is a classic album. Sick of Myself is one of my all-time favorite rave-ups. He’s a BIG talent. Taylor Swift – perhaps she is lucky that I’m writing this in 2016 as her career seems headed in a bad direction, but her early work is simple, heartfelt and tuneful.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Shins – lots of people love this band. Lots of people are right to do so. Shopping – miss the B-52s? Check out Shopping. Sleater-Kinney – ok, their vocals are hard to take. But underneath is a band worth listening to with driving guitars and hooks. Sleigh Bells – wow, what a unique sound. Catch ‘em if you can. Speedy Ortiz – I just discovered this band, and they keep creeping into my iPod “most played” list. Challenging music in the best way. Stereophonics – not new, but new to me. Not consistently good, but when they are on, they are compelling. The Struts – 4 great songs. Four seriously great songs. The Strypes – new 1960s sounding blues rock delivered with passion.
Disrespect: Sade – I never knew how to pronounce her name, but one of my friends told me it rhymes with “sucks.” Paul Simon – is it ok now to say that the Sounds of Silence is a terrible song? Yes, I like some of Simon’s work. But over the hill is, well, over the hill. The Smashing Pumpkins – It’s true: South Park’s Eric Cartman sings lead for SP. A band whose music hasn’t held up. Bombastic. Overproduced. Yuck. Patti Smith – I dig her in every way except as a rock musician. I never liked her as a rocker, and her best song was a Springsteen song. Soft Cell – Tainted Love was good when it came out, but I don’t think it’s held up too well. And that was the only reason to listen to these guys. Spandau Ballet – another synth band that is overrated. Not true that they also performed under the name Flock of Seagulls. The Spice Girls – I like a song or two, but Victoria Beckham has ruined this band for me. Sting – the world is not big enough for his ego. I move that he goes to Mars with Elon Musk. Do I hear a second? Thank you. Styx – I almost forgot about this band! And now I hate myself for remembering them. Listen to Babe and you, too, will hate me. Supertramp – Proving that the British Invasion was long over, many still question how these bozos got so popular. I defy you to listen to the Logical Song and provide a cogent explanation.
10/27/2016 04:20:58 am
You missed one! The Stone Roses are great.
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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.