Hey, I finally got a comment! It was about Daft Punk. Hahaha, now that’s funny. And I saw where Blonde Summer mentions BRP on their Facebook page, and a band from DC called Dot Dash contacted BRP and is looking for some free publicity. For some free streaming from Dot Dash, go here:
The national reach of BRP is just too incredible to ponder. And you can tell them all “I was there at the start.”
It’s back to the ABC diversion with the letters T, U, V and W. Yes, sadly we are nearing the end, but there are still many great and not so great bands to mention. If you’ve read this far into the series, you must be insane or perhaps you are just liking it? I’m going to assume you aren’t Hinkley and are just with me. So go grab a drink and come along for this next installment. 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.”
Keep on reading, keep on having fun, and we’ll all be cool.
T is for Teenage Fanclub. Rockin’ pop from this UK band. Nothing but great songs, slow or fast. Three, yes three, songwriters and all of them are good. That is Teenage Fanclub. Virtually unknown here in the US, they play huge festivals and halls in their native land. For some reason (lack of payola?) they never got the radio airplay they so richly deserved here, but maybe that kept them from resting on their laurels. Bandwagonesque, Grand Prix and Howdy are three major albums that you should know. I’m going to see them live shortly, and will report back as usual.
Honorable Mentions: The Temptations – best men’s group from Motown? Maybe. Hard not to love them. Talking Heads – full of eggheads, somehow it works. Quirky songs with offbeat lyrics, but a driving rhythm section keeps the songs danceable and poppy. Good live show back in the day, too. Tedeschi Trucks Band – if you like the Allman Brothers, this band travels in the same southern blues-based genre, but with a female lead singer. They bring it as a live act, too, with two drummers and a full horn section. Yowza! Television – like the Talking Heads, another band that played a lot at CBGBs. Marquee Moon is a classic album. That Petrol Emotion – fantastic follow-up to the Undertones. Tina Turner – What a great story and artist. Many super albums and a huge voice. Fantastic live show, but she’s retired. I hope you caught it. Iconic. Thin Lizzy – straight ahead rock ‘n roll with heart. I still listen to them a lot. Train – I LOVE my Soul Sister. Travis Tritt – great outlaw country. Randy Travis – great pure country. Third Eye Blind – Go ahead, ridicule me. I like them. Justin Timberlake – I don’t really go much for today’s pop music, but I like JT. The guy puts out danceable, fun songs that everyone knows. Tower of Power – funk with a big horn section. You knew I’d love them.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Titus Andonicus – if you regularly read BRP, you know that this band is one of my favorites. Punky, tuneful, passionate and great live show. Torche – new metal for a new generation. Tenement – another BRP favorite. Crunchy guitar, great songs with hooks galore. I missed their 2015 tour, dammit! Tribes – I dig this band. A New Music Express favorite, and for good reason.
Disrespect: Tangerine Dream – a college dorm neighbor loved this band. I hated them. Like going to church, I’ve done my time and hope never to have this experience again. James Taylor – I like some of his stuff, but not much. And I never thought he was deserving of the acclaim he received. I’ll take Carol King any day. They Might Be Giants – clever to a fault. But Minimum Wage is brilliant. Robin Trower – let’s all chip in and get him a retirement annuity so he never tours again. Marshall Tucker Band – They live next door to Pablo Cruise in cheesy has-been land. Thompson Twins – Clearly, the triplet with all the talent was still born.
U is for U2. I know, it was close with the rapper Unk, but U2 pulled it out. Everyone knows this band, right? They play stadiums and the Super Bowl, appear on Apple TV commercials, prove themselves more self-righteous than Leonardo DiCaprio, and have slid into late career malaise. Hey, bands that last this long eventually run out of new things to say, but if they are great performers, they can carry on for a long time. And U2 was once a fabulous band. Two early albums, War and Boy, are amazing. The Unforgettable Fire had some great songs, but was inconsistent. And the Joshua Tree had some of the best of the best of U2. Bono is not the front man that, say, Jagger is/was. But who is? He is good. And the Edge has a guitar sound that is distinctive. U2 rocked it, had a lot to say, and has a terrific legacy of recorded works.
Honorable Mentions: The Undertones – John Peel’s all-time favorite rock song is Teenage Kicks, and it’s a great song. But so are Here Comes The Summer, Listening In, etc. Feargal Sharkey’s vocals drive the band. Uncle Tupelo – If you like alt-country, this pre-Wilco, pre-Son Volt band delivers the goods. Lots of good songs in the archives here. Usher – I kind of like some Usher songs. And I respect his business acumen. So here he is. Surprise!
Newbies who are worth checking out: I got nothin’ for ya on this one. If you’re gonna start a band, get a name that begins with U and U will make the list.
Disrespect: UB40 – Kind of a bad reggae band who got a lot of attention because they were British rather than Jamaican. There best song was written by Neal Diamond, which alone qualifies them for some ring in hell. Ultravox – I used to like one song by these poseurs, but man, did their music fail the test of time.
V is for Van Halen. When I was in college, everyone who played the guitar wanted to sound like Eddie Van Halen. A technician, experimenter, pioneer and all-out rocker, EVH had it all. Putting David Lee Roth in front and letting him run wild was inspiration of the highest order. The result? Unbelievable arena rock that will still get you going. In fact, if you see Van Halen live, you’ll be amazed by the number of songs where you can shake your fist two or three times to the music while you are watching DLR rip it up. Custom made for venues that hold 20,000 people and where volume is not controlled, these guys are some of the best of the late-classic rock movement.
Honorable Mentions: Velvet Underground – I know, they could have carried this whole thing, but how fun would it be if I simply aped what every rock critic has said for the last 40 years? Before their time is an understatement. The Ventures – Surf guitar at its best. Great songs. Violent Femmes – Indie rockers who bridged into the mainstream. That’s not easy. Frankie Valli – I love the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli. Just great stuff from the boys out of Jersey. Stevie Ray Vaughan – I never saw him, unfortunately, but what a huge talent this guy was. RIP, man.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Vaccines – great name, some really catchy songs, good live act. If you like the Arctic Monkeys, you’ll like the Vaccines. Vampire Weekend – the band that is safe for soccer moms everywhere, their syncopated sound is distinctive. They need to move on to a larger range of music to have staying power.
Disrespect: Vanilla Ice – Was this the guy in the movie Gran Torino to whom Clint Eastwood said “I wouldn’t want to be your bro, either?” Hahaha. The Village People – I like disco. But I hate the song YMCA, and it’s ubiquity in our society. It’s right up there with “Celebration,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “The Happy Song.” Nurse, help!!!!
W is for Weezer. It’s a new generation, Who fans, and we ain’t talkin’ about yours anymore, except when the subject of Social Security reform is the topic. Weezer has put out so many good albums and singles that they defined the 90s and early 00s. Rivers Cuomo wrote some songs that will stay in your mind for years, and delivered them with passion and emotion. Yes, they have tailed off and yes, the cool kids all say Pinkerton is the only good Weezer album (and it is great), but the cool kids were secretly loading up their iPods with the blue album, the green album and the red album, too. How could you not? If you like catchy power pop, this band smokes it, and with wit, humor and enough radio-ready hits to reach the masses. They are a decent live act, too, but watch your step on the way back from the bathroom.
Honorable Mentions: The Who – yes, they were one of the very best of the British Invasion bands. You know the songs. Daltry in his day was great, but he lost his voice. Townshend wrote songs of distinction, and never shied away from ambition. Hall of Famers. But of a different generation. Stevie Wonder – And hey, Who fans, Stevie Wonder was a better talent anyway. This guy pumped out fantastic songs for decades. One of the best live shows I have seen over the last few years, too. War – Eric Burden was cool. A band known for a couple of hits, but who went much deeper. Wilco – you can’t even pigeon-hole this band into a type anymore. Alt-country, rock, whatever, they are one of the best bands out there right now. Jeff Tweedy will tell you that he invented the sun, moon and stars, but he writes great songs, and they rock it live. They almost took the letter W from Weezer. The Wipers – Greg Sage’s Portland, Oregon band was a valuable American new wave band. Their music stands up. Wreckless Eric – a loveable chap from England with some classic songs from the much-missed Stiff label. Never caught on in the States, to the shame of all us. Whiskeytown – I already mentioned Ryan Adams, but before he became Ryan Adams, he fronted Whiskeytown. A great legacy of alt-country and rock was left behind. Some of my favorites from Mr. Adams fly under the Whiskeytown flag. The White Stripes – Jack White, rangy guitarist and all around strange dude, really ripped it up in this band. Put it on late at night and wake up the neighbors – I bet they won’t mind. Junior Walker & The All Stars – C’mon, hum those Motown hits. Great band with a great horn sound. Dionne Warwick – I love Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs. And no one sang them better than Dionne. Dale Watson – You want old school outlaw country? You want to hear songs about drinking? Look no further. Barry White – What a voice! Great songs that plaster a smile on your face and that you turn up extremely loud while in the car.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Wolf Alice – grungy, trippy, rocking music from the UK. Really solid live act. I listen to them a lot. We Were Promised Jetpacks – You want to rock it? Strap on - here’s your vehicle. The Wonder Years – not that new, but basically unknown. Good power pop from Philly. Walk The Moon – do you disrespect a band just because they had a huge hit? I don’t. I love Shut Up and Dance, but that album is better than just that one song. The Walkmen – a WXPN favorite, and for good reason. I like ‘em, too. Whiskey Folk Ramblers – Oh my, these guys know the difference between a redneck and a hillbilly.
Disrespect: Wall of Voodoo – Yes, I like Mexican Radio. It was smart and funny. So the disappointment with the rest of this band’s output is palpable. The Wallflowers – A perfect name for a loser band. Wham! - I never understood the hype. And to think that these guys got rich. Life ain’t fair. Steve Winwood – I like SW when he is in a band. As a solo act? Nope.
Alright, that’s it for now. We are down to the final three letters, and with X in there, it won’t take long to go through that list of bands. I’ve been having fun doing this. And yes, I know that I left out some bands that you figured I would mention. I did this for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t remember every band while I was writing. And some I considered but didn’t include because they are … just there and not worthy of mention. In my mind, they didn’t deserve respect or disrespect.
I’ll be back to close this out, and then who knows where this feeble mind will take you next. I still have much to discuss, and shockingly, I have opinions on virtually everything. Until then, watch season two of Narcos and check back with this space on occasion. Au revoir.
Oops, wait a minute. For you Hokie fans out there, it was a thrashing that VT put on East Carolina this weekend. I mean a BEATDOWN. I’m excited about this team. Now, class is dismissed. See ya.
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.