Sunday, October 15, 2006

499 to 450

499. Audioslave

T: Why Rock?

M: Roll over, Beethoven; tell Tchaikovsky he’s not quite as good as Audioslave.

498. John Mayall

T: “Room to Move” is brilliant. Sired just about every Brit rock god.

M: I really only know him through his prized pupils, but what they say about him speaks volumes.

497. Dusty Springfield

T: The best British soul singer ever…

M: “There . . . is . . . no . . . easy way down.” Pure perfection.

496. Run-DMC

T: I still remember hearing “It’s Like That” for the first time. I didn’t what it was, but I knew I wanted more. Shame on you if you don’t own their first three records. And there’s no way in hell there’s 495 more worthy artists. These guys belong in the upper echelon.

M: The kings of rock, there are none higher. So what are they doing at number 496?

(Ed. note: these entries truly are created separately and distinctly.)

495. Joe Walsh

T: “Rocky Mountain Way” yes. “Life’s Been Good” no.

M: For reasons not apparent to me, Walsh used to show up on the radio in Kansas City from time to time as a DJ. Can anyone else on the list make that claim?

494. Waylon Jennings

T: Fueled the “outlaw country’ movement and hard core honky tonk to the bone. Thank god he finished higher than Jason Mraz. (what?!)

M: If you own five country albums, one of them ought to be Honky Tonk Heroes, where Waylon gives perfect voice to Billy Joe Shaver’s songs. A masterpiece.

493. Lowell George

T: One solid solo album gets you on the list, huh? I’m OK with that… as long as that album contains “20 Million Things”, George’s loose diamond.

M: It seems strange to see him on the list solo based on such a limited career outside of Little Feat, but why the heck not? The man had soul to burn.

492. Robyn Hitchcock

T: Creepy lyrically and gorgeous melodically, add Lennon inspired vocals and it’s quite the macabre psychedelic stew.

M: From the transcendent Soft Boys up through the present day, Hitchcock has been delightfully daffy and terrifically tuneful.

491. The Chieftains

T: Been around long enough to lay claim to inventing Irish music. The only artist in the top 500 not to sing with the Chieftains… Styx! Everybody’s gotta draw the line somewhere.

M: They make me feel like an honorary Irishman.

490. Stone Roses

T: Melded guitar rock and dance music to produce classic first record… and felt strongly enough about themselves to title the next one Second Coming.

M: The production seems very much tied to a time, but the songs still resonate. Too bad that they seem to have been paralyzed by their initial success.

489. Raul Malo

T: Mavericks on the countdown? Absolutely. Raul Malo? Not even Mr. & Mrs. Malo voted for both.

M: Like Lowell George, his small body of solo work wouldn’t seem to justify such a lofty position, but he remains a pleasure through and through.

488. Bad Religion

T: Ladies and gentlemen… Michael Atchison.

M: The truest of the punk rock true believers (save, perhaps, Mr. MacKaye), one scorching broadside against the culture after another.

487. Big Star

T: Like VU and Kraftwerk, way larger influentially than commercially. At their best, heartbreaking pop for the ages. The # 1 Record / Radio City cd twofer is essential, Sister Lovers is frail and devastating.

M: Power pop heaven! One of the great joys of my life was being at their first reunion show in 1993 (after a 20 year hiatus). Alex Chilton’s genius as a songwriter was on full display on the first two albums (and Chris Bell wasn’t half-bad, either), but it’s on the third record, Sister Lovers, where the listener is invited in to hear Chilton’s genius implode in 40 minutes of haunting glory. To quote the Bard of the Upper Midwest, I never travel far without a little Big Star.

486. Soul Coughing

T: Soul Coughing ahead of Big Star? I feel like bustin’ up some voters.

M: I like them, but a little goes a long way, so step aside and let the next band through.

485. Gomez

T: Morticia and Uncle Fester better be top 200!.

M: I love the Addams Family!

(Ed note: Really we do these 1100 miles apart on different computers. Honestly.)

484. Charles Mingus

T: Michael… in the next several months, can you add a Mingus mix to the others?

M: More than just a giant, Mingus was a colossus, a composer and bandleader of unsurpassed vision. Buy Mingus Ah Um. Now.

483. David Sylvian

T: Great to see him back with David Jo and the Dolls.

M: I need to go to a Sylvian Learning Center.

482. The Stooges

T: All hail Iggy… a rock and roll original.

M: It really was a fun house, thick swipes of sludge and rhythm with a self-mutilating lunatic out front. And that was just the sound checks. Indispensable.

481. Jason Mraz

T: Mravesty.

M: Mr. A to Z runs to gamut from A to B, covering the same sappy, smug territory time after time. I need the remedy.

480. NRBQ

T: Here comes Terry… Here Comes Joey… and featuring super secret weapon Al Anderson. “Riding In My Car” is as good as it gets.

M: By now, they should really be ORBQ, but who am I to quibble? Play music so joyous for so long and you’ll never get old.

479. Edith Piaf

T: Dingbat!

M: Love her rice.

478. The Yardbirds

T: Heat stroked lightning breeding ground for three guitar gods. I wish I could have experienced these guys first hand.

M: A lot of their early stuff sounds too much like homage and not enough like the blues for my tastes, but “Train Kept A-Rollin’” is a juggernaut.

477. Michael McDermott

T: says Michael McDermott was born in Chicago and influenced by rock and roll. I was born in Philadelphia and influenced by rock and roll. Can I be on the list?

M: Loved him on The Practice. Was unaware of his recording career.

476. Morphine

T: Cure For Pain... Yes.

M: You couldn’t make it up. A three-man band with a drummer, a two-string slide bass player and a guy blowing two saxes at once. And you wouldn’t ever believe that it could be transcendent.

475. Benny Goodman

T: I didn’t put him on my list but bravo to those who did. The King of Swing.

M: Damn right, Benny Goodman.

474. Blues Traveler

T: I remember liking a couple of singles, but jams bands generally leave me cold.

M: Not really my thing, but not without its charms. And that guy can wail on the harp.

473. Captain Beefheart

T: Bought Trout Mask Replica… hated it. Years later got a Beef comp mix… loved it. Dude had some weird mojo.

M: I tend not to spin the Captain for pleasure, per se, but as a cranial enema, he’s without peer.

472. The Specials

T: It’s hard to make commercial political music. To make socially conscious music this commercial and danceable is impossible.

M: Just one irresistible song after another, rendered with an authenticity that goes so far beyond tribute that it claims ska as an indigenous music of the U.K.

471. Rilo Kiley

T: To say that I love these guys would be an understatement. Just remember, I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass.

M: I’m writing this not knowing what my partner is going to say, but knowing there’s no way I can top it.

470. Sade

T: "Gudbuy T’ Jane" and "Cum On Feel the Noize" rule!

M: I think she has a crush on me. I can hear it in the songs.

469. Sir Douglas Quintet

T: A storied and eccentric career… more Sir Doug please!

M: What a pleasant, completely unexpected, surprise. All hail Doug Sahm!

468. Fela Kuti

T: Thanks Michael… for everything.

M: I voted for him, but I’m still a little shocked to see him on the list. This is my idea of a jam band, music that flows naturally, unexpectedly, dramatically from place to place. Always bracing, never meandering, and anchored by the rock that is Tony Allen, one of the greatest ever to pick up a pair of sticks.

467. Cracker

T: Lowery’s voice could cut glass, and his snarky observations of losers and misfits with Camper and Cracker make him a natural fave here.

M: Their peak was brief, but it was high, as Dave Lowery shed some of Camper Van’s eccentricities to make slightly off-kilter music for the mainstream’s margins.

466. Cheap Trick

T: Cheap Trick. In Color. Heaven Tonight. There was nowhere to go but down after those three. And how come nobody mentions Robin Zander in the best singer ever discussions?

M: “This next song I’m sure you all know!” When they drove off the cliff, they did it fast and plunged hard to the rocks below, but for about four or five albums, these guys were great. And I mean GREAT. Two geeks, two guys sleek and chic, and songs pouring out of every pore.

465. The English Beat

T: A three year run that was more than enough for a lifetime. Multi-racial, multi-cultural explosion of great songs and danceyourassoffability.

M: Buoyant and joyous, less doctrinaire than the Specials, but with bigger pop hooks. If they could get over their bitterness, the reunion tour would be spectacular.

464. The Smithereens

T: These are the neighborhoods schlubs made good. A string of rocking, infectious singles that still sound good today. Ear splittingly loud live.

M: The formula so simple, the results so sublime. I saw that Pat DiNizio turned 51 the other day. How did that happen? The 400s are kicking the crap out of the 500s.

463. System of a Down

T: Uncompromising, intense, cerebral, rousing metal. Seriously, I have no idea what I’m talking about.

M: I’m such an old geezer, but I hear the spirit of Faith No More in these guys, so that’s definitely in their favor. But the quadruple-time metal stomp is something I’ll never quite get used to.

462. Sandy Denny

T: The voice of an angel and the mouth of a sailor. Stirring.

M: Take-your-breath-away lovely.

461. Trout Fishing in America

T: I threw them out The Window, The Window...

M: Give it up for Kids Corner.

460. Robert Palmer

T: Suave soul pop new wave maestro…I dig him.

M: Palmer was such a chameleon that it’s hard to get your arms around him. His New Orleans and New Wave phases satisfy in a big way, but the Power Station, oy, that was a bit of a misstep. Still, we’ll not speak ill of the dead here. I’m (almost) always glad to hear him.

459. INXS

T: While I was getting into the Replacements and the Blasters, these guys ruled the world. I could never figure out why.

M: I don’t think they ever made a great album, but there are eight or ten tunes that are instant party-starters in my house. “Well you know just what to do to me, the way you move, soft and slippery . . . .”

458. Stephen Sondheim

T: I know enough to know this was an inspired choice.

M: I’m hardly expert when it comes to musical theater, but I did see an ace production of “Sweeney Todd” years ago. A big Huzzah to XPN’s more cultured listeners.

457. Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

T: Hall of Fame catcher and Frasier… welcome!

M: I’ve never given this pair my full attention, which is a shame, because I’ve never failed to be impressed.

456. Tower of Power

T: “So Very Hard To Go” is sublime and I’m happy knowing there’s at least one listener who jumped out of his skin when this band played. I dedicate this selection to my in-laws and the Outer Banks 2006.

M: I like my funk a little harder than this, but it’s a decent enough way to kill four minutes.

455. Gentle Giant

T: I laughed. I cried. I changed the channel.

M: This guy’s voice sounds strikingly like Dave Thomas from Pere Ubu, who is not to be confused with Dave Thomas from Wendy’s.

454. Medeski, Martin & Wood

T: Legal team that counted over 6,000 ballots… well done.

M: I dig these guys. The way they morph Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” into Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” made my head spin upon first listen.

453. The Jesus and Mary Chain

T: While the distortion and feedback was sometimes a bit much, these guys delivered the goods with a Spectorian wall of sound.

M: So dangerous in their time, they sound dated now (the drums are sooooo 1980s), but the songs are still good enough to carry the day.

452. Nick Cave

T: Emerging from the morass of the Birthday Party, this sunshine loving popster finds the best of Nick Cave eerily compelling.

M: Hyper-literate Aussie rocker broke free from goth roots to become an enduring icon for vampires, gunslingers and frustrated English professors.

451. Cole Porter

T: I get a kick out of him.

M: He’s too darn hot. One of the five greatest American songwriters.

450. Jewel

T: Ummmm… she photographs well.

M: Who will say-ay-ave my ears?

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