Friday, October 13, 2006

649 to 600

649. Kid Rock

T: Devil Without A Cause is a worthy addition to great Michigan rock and roll like Iggy, MC5, Seger, Mitch Ryder. And he gets to boink Pam Anderson. Yes, I know, I’m shallow.

M: Ain’t nothin’ but a party, y’all.

648. Thievery Corporation

T: I’m sorry but no thank you.

M: I like everything I’ve ever heard, but never bothered to invest.

647. Son House

T: A blues legend whose virtues Michael will surely extol.

M: Solo acoustic bluesmen often play with a limited palette, but the estimable Mr. House busts through with a driving, percussive force that makes him completely unique and indispensable.

646. Cat Power

T: Intriguing… finally dipped a toe in with this year’s The Greatest. Was happy I did. More soulful than I would have guessed.

M: Her songs are a little delicate for me sometimes, but it’s clear that Ms. Marshall has something special.

645. Leadbelly

T: My initial exposure was A Vision Shared which I still think is one of the stronger tribute records… a legend worth discovering.

M: I’m not much for traditional folk, but he really owns a special place in the pantheon.

644. Keller Williams

T: The aural equivalent of farting in Church… you’ll get noticed, but those around you might not be too happy.

M: Jam culture confuses me.

643. Air

T: Just not enough there to make me listen twice.

M: A perfect combination of atmosphere and melody that gives them heft while similar bands just float away.

642. Mississippi John Hurt

T: Folk blues king that I should be flogged for not knowing more about.

M: I know his legend, but, alas, not his music.

641. The Faces

T: The Faces are being punished for the last 30 years of Rod Stewart’s career. While they certainly carried on like mischievous hooligans, their gin-soaked rockers and wistful ballads put them at the top of the post Beatles/Stones Brit behemoths.

M: I’m shocked – shocked! – that they didn’t rank higher. This is rock and roll distilled to its hard, bluesy essence, five guys whose considerable individual chops were elevated by an undeniable boozy camaraderie. Stellar.

640. Joe Satriani

T: Did they play the song where he plays really fast?

M: There’s a difference between being impressed and being entertained.

639. Blind Lemon Jefferson

T: I always thought this was a made up name.

M: There seems to have been a blindness epidemic among early blues singers.

638. Dwight Yoakam

T: New traditionalist innovator. Strangely, played punk clubs on his first tour. Guitar, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. is essential. Creepy in Sling Blade.

M: He was doing this way before it was cool, and he continues to do it better than almost anyone. Two questions, though: (1) How does he get into those pants?; and (2) What’s under the hat?

637. The Sundays

T: The Mrs. used to play one of their albums… I remember liking the singer’s voice a whole bunch.

M: Pleasant enough, I suppose.

636. John Hartford

T: Connecticut’s favorite son… they named the state capital after him.

M: At what point do we stop hitting people I’ve never heard of?

635. Gin Blossoms

T: One the few power pop bands to actually dent the charts, New Miserable Experience was chock full of top 10 worthy blasts of pop bliss.

M: Not surprisingly, I think the best thing they ever did was to record a tune co-penned by Marshall Crenshaw.

634. Tom Rush

T: I once fell asleep at a Tom Rush concert, but his cover of Joni’s “Urge For Going” is a folk classic.

M: Philly loves its folk.

633. J. Geils Band

T: Peter Wolf is the least appreciated great rock frontman. And J. Geils live… would BLOW YOUR FACE OUT!!

M: The true believers think it was all about the hard R&B in the 1970’s, but I actually think the later singles are pretty good. At one point I owned the album they made after Peter Wolf left. Who knew that there was a new wave band inside waiting to get out, or that Seth Justman would sing like Stan Ridgway?

632. Bing Crosby

T: Der Bingle… who doesn’t love him?

M: The Elvis of the first half of the 20th Century.

631. Luther Vandross

T: My wife took me kicking and screaming to a Luther concert… I was knocked out. That boy could sing.

M: Is there anybody out there now who wants to take on a nine-minute version of “Superstar”?

630. Jeffrey Gaines

T: A tad earnest, but an engaging performer whose first record holds up.

M: Wow, 885 is a big number.

629. Alejandro Escovedo

T: The most consistently engaging artist of the last 15 years. His music has a certain dignity not usually associated with rock and roll. And since the True Believers won’t make it, I'll give a shout out to the majesty that is “The Rain Won’t Help You When It’s Over”.

M: One of the true bright lights of contemporary music. “Velvet Guitar” is a reverie that rocks.

628. Stephen Stills

T: From wannabe Monkee to # 628 on the all-time list… the only thing bigger than his ego is his forehead.

M: Crosby? Check. Stills? Check. Nash? Check. I wonder if Young will make it?

627. Leonard Bernstein

T: Yes we all love West Side Story, but… did you know he also wrote Wonderful Town and that I did a star turn as Irish Cop # 4 in the St. Andrew’s Players classic 1989 revival?

M: I had a good friend in college (now a quite prominent filmmaker) who worked out all the lyrics to “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” and swore that Stipe sang “Lee and Eric Bernstein.” Anyway, West Side Story is the straight dope.

626. Chet Baker

T: One of the jazz giants I’m a wee bit familiar with. I’ve always liked what I’ve heard.

M: What a gorgeous tone. His take on “Shipbuilding” makes the heart stop.

625. Sunny Day Real Estate

T: I used these guys to buy my house… and they serenaded us at the closing. Nice chaps.

M: I know I should know better, but which ones were they again? The Foo Fighters guys?

624. Dashboard Confessional

T: I know I’m not in their demo (by about 30 years), but The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most is not only a needlessly long album title but a fine little record. But dude… cheer up. There’s gotta be other girls.

M: My interest in emo is mostly limited to Emo Phillips. Man, was that guy funny.

623. LL Cool J

T: Ladies Love Cool James… and me too! Especially “Mama Said Knock You Out”.

M: “Jack the Ripper, a man not a myth. A-K-A James-Todd-Smith!” The man has produced some hot tracks.

622. Josh Rouse

T: While he can sometimes be a bit drowsy, I’m a fan. And “It’s The Nighttime” was one of 2005’s ace tracks.

M: A talented guy, for sure, but the new record seems to have been received with a roaring silence.

621. Patti LaBelle

T: I’ve always found her a bit over the top, but put “Lady Marmalade” on at a wedding and I’ll embarrass myself.

M: The style is a bit histrionic for me, but the funky spacesuits knock me out.

620. The Waterboys

T: I love, love Fisherman’s Blues and Room to Roam (their rustic period), but the rest of their stuff is very hit and miss.

M: Though a bit overwrought in their “Big Music” phase, they still managed to crank out some gems, most notably “The Whole of the Moon.” But when they made their move back to the earth on Fisherman’s Blues, they generated a classic. And then for reasons I’ve never understood, it sort of went “poof.” Too bad.

619. Portishead

T: Dummy…me for not knowing much about these guys.

M: This sort of thing has largely gone out of vogue, but they could bring a certain chill to the room better than almost anyone.

618. The Offspring

T: Talk about taking punk to the bank… but they had 2 or 3 singles that demanded to be played LOUD.

M: They’re minor at most, but no one has ever captured the pathos of the hetero male any better than this: “late at night she knocks on my door/drunk again and looking to score/now I know I should say no/but it’s kinda hard when she’s ready to go.”

617. Iron Maiden

T: I didn’t know you could vote for songs – [in deep robotic voice] “I am Iron Maiden”. I would have gone with “War Pigs”.

M: Mrs. Thatcher had a recording career?

616. Pantera

T: The song played was “It Makes Them Disappear”. Please.

M: Yes, Beavis, Yes!

615. Michael McDonald

T: David Dye doppelganger. Me, I think David is more rock and roll – he even played The Hold Steady.

M: Doo-bie or not Doo-bie, it’s out of the question.

614. Syd Barrett

T: I should go on and on about his influence, blah, blah, blah… but truth is I wouldn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

M: The creepy fascination surrounding this guy does nothing for me, nor does most of his trippy English fairytale music. But “Gigolo Aunt” (at least as covered by Robyn Hitchcock) is a kick in the pants.

613. Michael Hedges

T: I know he’s New Age and he’s probably cooler than Yanni. Or at least he’d better be.

M: It’s almost certainly a personal failing, but I’ve long had a prejudice against this sort of thing, which has probably kept me from discovering some music that I might otherwise enjoy.

612. Marshall Tucker Band

T: I got a soft spot for these guys (ed note: I think it’s called your belly) and I especially like “This Ol’ Cowboy", cause, ya know, nothing says cowboy like Havertown.

M: I prefer my southern rock with a little boogie, and most of what I know of the MTB has been a touch laconic.

611. Jerry Lee Lewis

T: Honestly, this is where Jerry Lewis should have finished (Hey Lady!). The Killer has a clutch of rock singles that helped define the genre. Certainly he’s contributed more to rock and roll than say… Breaking Benjamin.

M: My initial reaction was to cry foul at the Killer’s placement, and while he’s certainly a giant and a pioneer, it seems that he’s made a pretty good career out of only a small number of memorable tunes. But, man, when’s he’s memorable, he’s a monster.

610. David Wilcox

T: Quick… name one song by David Wilcox. I didn’t think so.

M: says that there’s a folk David Wilcox and a rock David Wilcox. Which one is this and how would I know the difference?

609. Wes Montgomery

T: The song played, “Bumpin” was lovely… but I feel they're starting to rub my face in the lack of jazz knowledge jar.

M: Sheer elegance, all polka dots and moonbeams.

608. Kirsty MacColl

T: There’s an elegance to her that was very appealing, but she earned her keep as the sugar in the sugar and spice “Fairytale of New York”, where she held her own with Shane MacGowan – no easy task.

M: She could have walked up and down my spine in those shoes any time.

607. Dido

T: For years I confused Dido and Jewel. I think I like Dido better, but Jewel’s got a bigger set of pipes.

M: She was number 622 on my list, so no real quibble.

606. Badly Drawn Boy

T: The former Damon Gough writes small Springsteen-like vignettes but then puts a lot of hoo-hah on some of them. Simplify BDB. Love the About A Boy soundtrack.

M: That song where Sinatra dies, and Lennon dies, and Cobain dies, and Jeff Buckley dies would have imploded in the hands of a lesser writer. This guy has real skills, but I’m still waiting for him to put it all together for the length of an entire record.

605. Keith Jarrett

T: I know he plays piano and I know he’s supposed to be really, really good. Michael?

M: I’m much more of a jazz hound than Trip, but I’ve only know Jarrett from a distance. I have something of his on a wish list; perhaps I’ll bump it up a few notches.

604. Bo Diddley

T: I believe the first rocker to name check himself in song. Provided the beat for all reading this blog [ Trip and Michael would like to thank our immediate family ]. Thanks Bo.

M: “I’m a Man,” “Who Do You Love,” “Mona.” Does anyone else in the 600s have three songs better than those?

603. Blue Oyster Cult

T: Spinal Tap-ish rock gods from I believe Long Island. They had something to do with Patti Smith so that gets them in the 600’s. Less cowbell.

M: I happened to see a BOC video on VH-1 Classic tonight. In addition to enjoying it more than I could have expected, I couldn’t help but notice that Buck Dharma and company looked more like the Union of Male Pornstars than any other band in history.

602. Arctic Monkeys

T: I’m not gonna knock these guys. They didn’t ask to be voted in ahead of Bo Diddley and the Killer. But their debut rocks like a mofo.

M: Hype be damned. These guys are for real. The album has stuck with me all year.

601. Alexi Murdoch

T. He claims he never heard of Nick Drake before making his first recordings. I’m here to dispute that assertion. An orange snooze.

M: I dreamed I heard another song.

600. John Butler Trio

T: I’ve don’t have anything nice to say about JBT but I just got home from seeing Jesse Malin and Joan Jett. Jesse and Joan believe rock and roll will save you.

M: I know a lot of you folks love ‘em, but I just don’t get it. I know, I know, you have to see him live.

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