Monday, October 16, 2006

449 to 400

449. Barry Manilow

T: Can’t smile with you…Can’t Smile Without You.

M: He didn’t write “I Write the Songs.” I think that’s funny only to me.

448. Garbage

T: Despite the presence of Miss Manson, I’d rather Spooner in this spot.

M: Shirley Manson is so relentlessly sexy that I buy my wife flowers after each listen.

447. Dead Kennedys

T: More famous for being dangerous, the DKs defined the political, uber-left hardcore punk ethos with “California Uber Alles”, “Holiday in Cambodia” and PMRC baiting “Too Drunk To F***”.

M: I’ve long thought Jello was better at provocation than music, but “Holidays in Cambodia” still rocks like an insurgency.

446. Steeleye Span

T: Limited knowledge of these guys, but always glad to hear “Alison Gross” and “All Around My Hat”.

M: Abbot and Costello could have had great fun with Steeleye Span and Steely Dan.

445. Styx

T: As the Godfather of Soul once said “Super Bad”.

M: I feel like I’ve just watched the Hindenburg explode. Oh, the humanity!

444. Sarah Vaughn

T: Billie. Ella. Sarah… I’m just happy to hear her on the countdown.

M: Sassy, indeed. I love to hear her rip through “Shulie A Bop.”

443. Rusted Root

T: Send them on their way… now! (This countdown is downright weird.)

M: Yes, please, send them on their way.

(Ed note: Some are just teed up.)

442. Los Lonely Boys

T: They seem to have this one song that gets played in many variations.

M: They don’t have much for songs, but they got some swagger.

(Ed. Note: We’re only half way through? Yikes.)

441. The Neville Brothers

T: Whatever I said for the Meters goes double for these guys.

M: Aaron and his otherworldly instrument get the glory, but the magic of the Nevilles lies much deeper, in the grooves, in Cyril’s voice, and in a chemistry that could only be forged through five-plus decades of brotherhood.

440. Garth Brooks

T: Garth Brooks is to hamburgers as McDonald’s is to music.

M: The temptation is to call him all hat and no cattle, but that shortchanges a guy with a canny knack for his craft and an innate understanding of his audience, like a red state Madonna.

439. Rory Gallagher

T: Lived hard and played hard… a cult hero but one that I wish I knew more about.

M: I know him mostly by his rep (and I always confuse him with Roky Erickson), but it makes perfect sense that out of all the European disciples, it was an Irishman who felt the blues most deeply.

438. Antonio Carlos Jobim

T: calls him the Gershwin of Brasil… I call him the guy that does “The Girl From Ipanema”.

M: I don’t speak a word of Portugese, but I understand Jobim completely.

437. Harry Nilsson

T: A pop maverick who unfortunately is best remembered as Lennon’s Lost Weekend compadre in drunken buffoonery, “Everbody’s Talkin” cements his spot on any best of list. And next time your friend splits with their significant other, play him (her) “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”. Bound to get a smile.

M: One of John and Paul’s favorite songwriters, Mr. Schmilsson (like his contemporary, Randy Newman) forged a kind of career that hardly exists anymore (Stephin Merritt is one of the few true descendents), combining Tin Pan Alley discipline and modern style to create intelligent, adult songs that are “rock and roll” only by association.

436. Joe Strummer

T: He’s got the keys to my heart… heart.

M: He ought to be on the list three times: Once for the Clash, once for himself, and once more for good measure.

435. Drive-By Truckers

T: Wow… great band but I would never considered them for any all-time list. And I really like these guys.

M: Defiantly, unapologetically Southern, and desperately, unassailably good, the DBTs are among the best bands going.

434. J.J. Cale

T: Laconic drawl and lazy, shuffling groove, you know him as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Call Me The Breeze”.

M: I know him best through others’ work. A master craftsman.

433. Heart

T: Is it too easy to say I don’t *heart* Heart. My brother does though.

M: Quick, name three things sexier than a hot girl with a guitar. Ah, Barracuda!

432. Outkast

T: “Hey Ya” might be the best pop single this decade.

M: Big Boi doesn’t move me much, but Andre’s droppings really do smell like roses. Shockingly creative.

431. AFI


M: I loved their list of 100 greatest movie villains.

430. Psychedelic Furs

T: It’s hard to believe that these guys were once the uber coolest band on the planet – all over“Yesterday’s Now Muisc Today”. Viva Richard Butler’s voice… and viva Lee Paris.

M: Richard Butler crooned like Marianne Faithfull in a lower register and cranked out a handful of unforgettable singles.

429. Pet Shop Boys

T: Synth pop stalwarts who aren’t really my cuppa… but I’m always happy to hear them.

M: More arch concept than rock and roll band, and surprisingly endurable. Entering their third decade as a going concern, and interesting at every stage.

428. Franz Ferdinand

T: Count me as a fan. They make me wanna, make make me wanna…

M: I may be the only one who hears Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove” in “Take Me Out,” but it’s a good thing. The thing that separates this band from other members of the new new wave is its attention to the bottom end.

427. Bill Evans

T: Michael – add Bill Evans to the list. I was lucky to be listening when his two cuts were played… classic stuff.

M: Everybody digs Bill Evans. Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby are classics of telepathic interplay within a jazz trio, and you should own them.

426. Massive Attack

T: A little out of my wheelhouse, but man, both songs played were teriffic. We’re on quite a run since the Psychedliec Furs.

M: It got less interesting to me after Tricky left, but those first two albums are masterpieces of modern groove.

425. Weather Report

T: I don’t dig fusion but “Birdland” sucks me in every time.

M: A 90% chance of funky jazz fusion, with some scattered extended jams.

424. Mike Doughty

T: This is a head scratcher…ahead of Soul Coughing and Bill Evans. Recount?

M: Soul Coughing was a decent enough little combo, but, for the life of me, I can’t figure how he rates here on his own.

423. Whiskeytown

T: Ryan Adams is sure to come later but Whiskeytown was one great little band. I actually prefer Pneumonia (hooky junk) over the more lauded Stranger’s Almanac, but they’re both alt country landmarks.

M: Back when Ryan Adams played to his strengths instead of catering to every artistic whim, he led one of the most consistently satisfying bands around. Stranger’s Almanac is a classic of the form.

422. Glenn Miller

T: Again… mighty props to listeners who put me “In the Mood”.

M: You know it, I know it, the American people know it. “In the Mood” remains one of the most infections things ever put on wax.

421. Jim Croce

T: Unapologetically huge Croce fan here. Forget the treacly “Time In A Bottle”, there are many gems to celebrate – his greatest hits is an excellent pickup.

M: Remember when folk singers had pop sensibilities? Croce ain’t exactly my cuppa, but I’d never deny his gift.

420. Doc Watson

T: A folk-country giant.

M: The patriarch of the first family of American flat picking.

419. Nickel Creek

T: I don’t not like what I’ve heard… but they’re not in Doc’s league… yet the votes say they are.

M: Doc’s descendents.

418. ZZ Top

T: From Texas boogie kings to MTV titans, the Top never fail to put a smile on my face.

M: Ass-kickin’ Texas boogie. And they pulled off their mainstream move with remarkable aplomb.

417. Ian Anderson

T: All right people. A vote for solo Ian Anderson is a vote for The Secret Language of Birds, Rupi’s Dance and Divinities: Twelve Dances With God. Any Tull fans want a do over?

M: Flautas? I love flautas. Oh, “flautists,” you say? Not so much.

416. Francis Dunnery

T: He’s seems a little self important but it wouldn’t be nice to make funnery of Mr. Dunnery.

M: Don’t know him much. I like that one tune.

415. Derek & the Dominoes

T: No one’s crying “the only one album blues” here. Layla is a masterpiece.

M: Only one real album, but what an album it was. As a bluesman, Clapton’s never sounded more authentic, and as a man, he’s never sounded more desperate.

414. Tina Turner

T: Put through the wringer with Ike, she’s never ever does anything nice… and easy. Private Dancer is the bee’s knees too.

M: Brass and sass with enduring class. “Do I love you, my oh my . . .” Was there ever a better marriage of producer and singer than on “River Deep, Mountain High”?

413. Duran Duran

T: Never a fan and you can’t convince me otherwise.

M: Some of their tunes sound like embarrassing period pieces now, but others – “Girls on Film,” “Hungry Like Wolf” – define the period in question.

412. Janis Ian

T: Name another song besides “Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen”. I dare ya. I double dog dare ya.

M: I’d be lying if I said I knew anything other than “At Seventeen.” I’d also be lying if I said that song isn’t possessed of a certain hypnotic grace.

411. Roger Waters

T: The heads make their presence felt. Prediction – Floyd top 5.

M: Like former compatriot Gilmour, his solo work hardly merits inclusion, but together, their impact is nearly incalculable.

410. The Arcade Fire

T: Oh no you didn’t.

M: Quite the cult has built around a band with one album to its credit, but it’s not entirely undeserved. They’re a little too precious, but undeniably potent.

409. Townes Van Zandt

T: Did just about everything to sabotage his own career. I preferred others’ takes on his brilliant, honest, thoughtful ruminations on the human condition. I’m gonna add him to the Mount Rushmore of great American songwriters.

M: Depending on whom you ask, Townes was either a prophet or the messiah for the faith of dusty Texas country folk music. “Pancho and Lefty” is the standard everyone shoots for and few ever achieve.

408. Five for Fighting

T: James Blunt should thank this Five For Fighting guy. He makes Blunt look good.

M: People should get Seven to Ten for Voting for this schmaltz.

407. The Four Tops

T: Ladies and gentlemen… Levi Stubbs.

M: Have you heard their take on “Walk Away, Renee”? The Tops, indeed.

406. Poco

T: It’s a steep drop after 1973’s Crazy Eyes, but man these guys made some joyous country rock… witness their classic “Good Feelin’ To Know.”

M: Pretty Ordinary Country Offerings.

405. Rancid

T: Yeah they sound like the Clash… so what? Pop punk masters at least on Let’s Go and And Out Come the Wolves.

M: I spent a couple of months completely infatuated with their And Out Come the Wolves album back in the day. Clash clones, maybe, but whose DNA would you rather steal?

404. Seal

T: A quick review indicates he’s got it all.

M: He sleeps with Heidi Klum. Like there’s anything I could say to hurt the guy.

403. Interpol

T: Their Joy Division-isms leave me wanting… Joy Division.

M: I gave Rancid a pass for stealing the Clash’s identity, so why can’t I do the same for Interpol’s appropriation of Joy Division’s?

402. Dave Mason

T: A rock and roll foot soldier… promising solo career devolved into bland MOR hitmaker.

M: “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me and we just disagree.” I tried that on my wife once. She’s still laughing.

401. Journey

T: Combining the worst of many genres, Journey still managed to sell more records than the Beatles. Ixnay on the OurneyJay.

M: They got one good song (“Don’t Stop Believin’”), which makes them better than Styx, and no sense of humor, which makes them worse than Weird Al. Who’s crying now? Me, for one.

400. Ry Cooder

T: Those first four solo records are essential. From the Rising Sons to solo success to movie soundtracks to world music curator, Ry’s so good he turned down the Stones.

M: Ultimate sideman, reluctantly brilliant frontman, occasional Keith Richards proxy, and rock’s great ethnomusicologist, Cooder fills a unique spot in the culture, and he makes records full of understated glory.

1 comment:

Satch said...

OK … so the listeners of WXPN are gonna tell me that there are 400 more bands that are going to be listed higher than Dion [blaspheme at 728. How many great songs do you have to have?], The Faces [641??? ‘A Nod Is As Good As Wink’ anyone???], The New York Dolls [553. Yeah, I can’t wait to see how many bands who own their careers to The Dolls sound & image end up above them] and RUN-DMC [496: I’ll just say ‘Holy Crap!!!’ – and leave it at that].

It would be easy to slag so many of the choices on this list, but instead, I’ll just happily smile as I remember the nights David Dye spun amazing shows at the 23 East Cabaret. So far, I’m guessing we would have heard David spin about 20-25 of the first 485 bands listed so far on any given night ‘back in the day’

Outside of that, I get the strange sense that I’m better off reading the comments Trip & Mike make about the countdown so far as opposed to actually having had to listen to it.

Great job guys!