799 to 750
799. The Carter Family
T: Great to see Jimmy and Rosalynn getting some love from XPN nation.
M: As we get into the 700s, looks like I’m gonna have to fake it for a few picks. I don’t have the firmest grasp on the First Family of Country Music, but I know about the Circle and that it’s Unbroken and that they were the foundation of a lot of things to come.
798. Prefab Sprout
M: I don’t know them well enough not to embarrass myself, so I’ll let Trip embarrass himself.
T: Underrated band with some serious songwriting chops and Paddy McAloon’s otherworldly croon. Did they take their name from a Monty Python skit?
797. John Wesley Harding
T: JWH made a great a splash but has since fizzled. Does anyone know for sure if he wrote “Cathy’s New Clown” about me? My wife Cathy sure seems to think he did.
M: I cannot confirm the origins of “Cathy’s New Clown.”
796. James McMurtry
T: His laconic, sad drawl makes me want to pop a whoppee cushion under him… but he’s quite a good songwriter.
M: Books on tape with a rockin’ backbeat, master narrator with a world-weary drawl.
T: Ever see these guys? Their lead singer does this kinda spazz dance where he looks like he’s swatting away flies… think Elaine Benes or if you’ve ever seen me dance…me. Some cool songs though.
M: I love the fearless description of the female sexual response, and of course, the yodeling.
794. Erykah Badu
T: I hope Michael spells her name correctly. I remember liking her first record, especially “On and On” – haven’t heard much since. Snappy dresser.
M: I enjoy the idea of her more than I enjoy the music (I never connected with Mama’s Gun), but I dig how she put that dude Tyrone in his place.
793. Todd Snider
T: He is an “Alright Guy” whose songs I like more in theory than in practice. Which means I haven’t been inspired enough to buy any of his cds.
M: I didn’t hear it, but the website says XPN played “Alright Guy.” Sometimes the entries write themselves. (ed. – we write these things separately, really we do; we’re just cliché-spewing hacks)
792. Sonny Landreth
T: I’ve seen Sonny a few times and his band smokes. His stature as the hottest slide player around is not in doubt – I recommend his South of I-10 for starters.
M: I know who he is and what he does and that it’s accomplished and tasteful and authentic, but hell if I could pick many songs out of a lineup. I’ll try to do better, I swear.
T: Female artists named after a geographic location – good. Male artists named after a geographic location – bad. Like Erykah Badu, a snappy dresser.
M. I bought the first album, and I think she’s pretty good at a fairly limited thing, but I fear that she’s showed us all her moves. Hope I’m wrong.
790. Del Amitri
T: I know they had hits, but they should have been massive. Their first cd is never far from rotation. And the others all have much to recommend. Greatest accents ever.
M: A lot of people love these guys. I’ve never gotten it, though I’ve never tried very hard.
789. Sun Ra
T: I like anybody who’s from outer space.
M: Dagnabbit! I missed it! And I was looking forward to hearing the world spin off its axis.
788. Robert Earl Keen
T: An acquired taste as a singer (a nice way of saying his singing ain’t that good), he’s got a split personality – either finely drawn slice-of-life vignettes or occasionally ham fisted rabble rousers. No Kinda Dancer and A Bigger Piece of the Sky are recommended.
M: Look, ma, it’s Rootsy Southern Dudes Hour on the countdown. I can smell Townes Van Zandt in the distance. And really, he doesn’t smell all that good.
787. Michael Penn
T: His first record is minor pop gem. Sean Penn’s brother and married to Aimee Mann (lucky bugger!). Wonder if he was pissed that Sean didn’t use any of his songs in Dead Man Walking.
M: The great thing about recording a huge tune right out of the box is that it gives you an audience. The bad thing is that it brings expectations, and I’m not sure he has ever lived up to them. But he’s forged a solid, workmanlike career as a songwriter, plus he got the girl, so life is good.
786. Diana Krall
T: Married to EC and jazz pop chanteuse that seems to get little respect from the cognoscenti. I kinda liked the song I heard.
M: I like to watch her play. The smoky eyes, the way she moves. She’s like a predator.
T: Hey it’s a select-a-set of celebrity couples (Gene & Ms. Tweed). I’m a huge Kiss fan and charter member of the Kiss Army. “Hard Luck Woman” is my favorite Kiss song (maybe Rod shoulda done this on his new cd), but that’s not what made Kiss great. They brought the rock.
M: Very big, very dumb, the soundtrack of my childhood. I pleaded for an advance on my allowance so I could buy Alive II. And though most of their stuff is just plain terrible, there are a few tunes – “Rock and Roll All Night,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud” – that would be classics if these guys looked like Weezer. And I’m not naming names, but rumor is that at least one author of this blog has had sex with Gene Simmons. Maybe both.
784. Jimmy Cliff
T: You should carry a scarlet letter on your forehead until you purchase your first album. When that momentous day arrives, The Harder They Come should be free with that first purchase. Y’all have it… you know how good it is.
M: Completely sublime. “Sitting in Limbo” is one of the most majestic things I’ve ever heard.
783. Glen Phillips
T: I actually like Glen Phillips but how the hell did he make this list? Is it possible Toad will finish top 100? I’m all about soft rock but if this dude’s tunes weren’t tethered down, they surely would float away.
M: The guy from Toad the Wet Sprocket? Sorry, I was at Donuts with Dads Day at kindergarten when this came on. The donuts were good.
782. North Mississippi All-Stars
T: I see lotsa groove from these dudes but no substantial tunes. Am I wrong?
M: These guys are true believers, for sure, and they get bonus points because their dad produced Sister Lovers and Pleased to Meet Me.
781. Donna the Buffalo
T: These guys ride herd over all the other jam bands.
M: Not too proud to say I’m stumped, but I can only guess that they’ll usher in the Age of the Buffalo, with appearances by Buffalo Tom and Grant Lee Buffalo, plus Malcolm McLaren’s tender reading of “Buffalo Gals.”
780. Steel Pulse
T: I like my reggae in small doses… but I’d like to hear more Steel Pulse.
M: Yeah, I’d put Jimmy Cliff ahead of SP, but that’s a minor quibble. It’s nice to hear some real reggae on the radio.
779. Mason Jennings
T: Waylon, Shooter and Crystal Gayle better all show up. Seriously, if “Be Here Now” is his best song, he shouldn’t be able to crack the top 50,000.
M: Be over now.
778. Return to Forever
T: Didn’t hear it, but let’s assume I drifted off at the 7 minute mark.
M: You know, I could sort of dig this if it were more concise and didn’t have any instruments that sound like harpsichords (I like Jeff Beck’s work in a similar vein), but it reminds me a little too much of Beethoven rocking out in the finale of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
777. Danielia Cotton
T: I know she’s a homegirl and all, and I liked one song of hers I heard on the radio, but doesn’t she have an almost Boltonesque ability to over emote?
M: Sitting here at trip sevens, I thought I’d be a little luckier than to hear “It’s Only Life” again. Is there another one?
776. Silver Jews
T: As Marlon Brando said to Matthew Broderick in the Freshman “So this is college. I didn’t miss much.”
M: I once read a review that compelled me to contemplate buying their last album. It’s stories like that that keep readers coming back for more.
T: His first record was a neo-soul classic. Extra points for great hair and his “silver hammer”.
M: I’m a sucker for this sort of ultra-smooth soul.
774. Less Than Jake
T: Less than Jake but more votes than Kiss and del Amitri? Why, those who voted for Less Than Jake, why? Madness lite.
M: This band is here and the Modern Lovers were number 838?!?
773. Ian Hunter
T: One of rock’s iconoclasts and one my favorite rock voices. This bodes well for Mott. RIP Mick Ronson.
M. Stick to your guns, boys, stick to your guns. The guy’s the prototype of the wizened, boozy frontman, and he’s a treasure.
772. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
T: One of the best songs I heard today. I assume Michael’s will provide requisite hosannas. I’ll trade you a Bodeans mix for a Blakey mix? (ed. – you’re on)
M. Hot friggin’ damn, I love these guys. The lineups with Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan slay me. Free for All is some of the hardest jazz I’ve ever heard.
T: I’ve still never heard one note of Mogwai. I love their name though. Are they any good? Tell me folks… please.
M: I’ve heard the name. I missed the song. What do you want from me?
770. Chaka Kahn
T: Chaka Kahn… Chaka Kahn… Chaka Kahn.
M: If only she were every woman. Actually, I’d like to have a wide variety of women, but more like her.
769. The Fixx
T: How many times do I have tell you – the Fixx are better than Ian Hunter. These guys always seemed totally and completely without merit. Docked several notches for the cheesy double x.
M: Sure, they’re slight, but I squeezed a little pleasure out of them way back when. If “Red Skies at Night” came on the radio, I certainly wouldn’t turn it off.
T: I really like Feist’s debut but even had I loved it, it doesn’t belong here. I’d rather Feist than switch! (I gotta tell you 799 to 750 is pretty uninspiring. I can’t even work up a decent snark.)
M: You know, I actually kind of liked her first solo offering, but it never, ever, ever would have occurred to me to vote for her. (ed.- we really need to start reading each other before posting)
767. Jill Sobule
T: I’m sure Jill Sobule is a nice person and I saw her once at the Tin Angel and she was pretty good, but for the love of god countdown… give me something I can sink my teeth into.
M: She gave us the least sexy lesbian song ever. And it’s still pretty sexy.
T: Now we’re talking! I love this record. My fave of the solo-named early 00’s rock groups. But for crissakes people… they’ve only made one record. I’m gonna be pissed if the Rave Ups aren’t on this list.
M: OK, folks, I have the first Jet album, and it’s a decent little party record, but if you voted for these guys to the exclusion of the Stooges and AC/DC, turn in your badge.
765. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
T: I’m not gonna harp on the fact that I don’t know much about this band… but “Born in Chicago” showed a little sumpin-sumpin.
M: I’m a little young to have experienced this as it happened, and (where I’m from, at least) it didn’t make the rotation at the local classic rock stations. But Mike Bloomfield’s work on the early electric Dylan albums fully cements his stature with me.
764. The Raconteurs
T: Really? Jack White’s leftovers make this list? And Brendan Benson won’t. For shame.
M: So I own the one and only Raconteurs album, and it has a certain charm, but it’s a minor trifle, destined not to be remembered as one of this year’s better releases, and certainly not worthy of conferring any sort of historic significance. Where are The Skids when you need them.
763. Lauryn Hill
T: I’m gonna forgive you guys for putting one album only Lauryn Hill on this list… cause her one album is that good.
M: Man, she was so huge for a moment, and then just gone, like a hip hop J. D. Salinger. And the parallels are eerie, aren’t they, when you figure that The Score and Miseducation equate to Franny and Zooey and Catcher in the Rye, and that both took time off to have Bob Marley’s grandbabies.
T: The goth Grateful Dead… with a hard to believe Harry, worse singer. The song played had a birthday…
M: Proto-goth. I’ve always been ambivalent. They seemed dangerous in the day, and all the cool girls in black dug them, but the tunes never stuck to my ribs.
761. Les Paul
T: Thanks for the guitar… no thanks for the song.
M: All hail. You can thank Mr. Paul and Leo Fender for the way rock and roll sounds.
760. George Winston
T: Not as awful as I thought… quite pretty. Not recommended while operating heavy machinery.
M: I saw him once (with a girl, and I married her, so it all worked out), and I can’t say that it was unpleasant, but I also can’t say it was compelling. Still, there’s a place for this sort of thing.
759. Bad Company
T: Bad Company… Good Listenin’! You believe that my high school newspaper editor actually threw that headline on my review of Bad Company’s still great debut. Not like I carry a grudge or anything.
M: I used to really dislike them, now I’m indifferent (I acknowledge the presence of some sturdy tunes, and Paul Rodgers really is a badass), so they’re trending up. Maybe I’ll love them in twenty years.
758. The Hold Steady
T: Should have been # 1. If you don’t go see these guys at the North Star Bar on Nov. 21st and buy their latest Boys and Girls in America… may god have mercy on your soul.
M: Ladies and Gents, the heavyweight champs, the baddest band of barroom believers working today. They would eat most of the bands on this list, and they just may. Be afraid. Do this list a year from now and they’ll jump 200 spots.
757. Rascal Flatts
T: Not to invoke the dreaded B-word twice today, but this was Michael Bolton bad. I hope it made Tom Cochrane a pile of dough.
M: I don’t normally do this, but I’m compelled, especially given that they finished one spot ahead of a great, great band. These guys suck. I mean, they’re terrible. And it’s not some anti-country bias. I love good country music. It’s an anti-suckery bias. Yeah, I know, they’re huge, lots of people love ‘em. But Kraft Singles are huge, too, and it doesn’t make it good cheese.
756. Freedy Johnston
T: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Freedy. Thank you. “Well I sold the dirt to feed the band”… a classic opener.
M: It seems like the muse has moved on, but for a while this guy really had it together. He sold the dirt to feed the band. Terrific. (ed. – OK, Trip, this has to stop)
755. Tom Paxton
T: Not sure but I believe Tom Paxton has played every Philadelphia Folk Festival since 1902.
M: I plead ignorance. And arrogance.
754. Fall Out Boy
T: You could do worse than this pop-punk lite. Well done youngsters.
M: I know they’re huge right now, but I don’t know them. At all. It’s strange how you can be so connected to music yet so disconnected to the culture.
753. The Dixie Dregs
T: Jazz-rock fusion… yikes!
M: We’ve hit a string of bands that are mostly foreign to me. I know that these guys are revered (especially the guitar player, whose name escapes me at the moment), and they even get name-checked in a Hold Steady tune, which in and of itself justifies inclusion. But if you want meaningful insight, you’re in the wrong place.
T: After listening to Slayer, please say 10 Hail Marys, 4 Our Fathers and whatever else you do to wipe away sins. Anyone been to confession lately?
M: What’s most frightening to me is that I don’t think these guys think it’s a show.
751. Moxy Fruvous
T: These guys actually have some cool harmonies but it’s hard to make comedy rock that doesn’t suck.
M: This clearly is a Philly thing, so I’ll leave it to the good people of brotherly love.
750. Big Head Todd & the Monsters
T: I’ve heard a couple of their songs that I liked… and the dude does have a big head, so that’s two good things.
PSA – Sorry for the excessive snark. Today’s artists just didn’t do much for me.
M: I assume that there’s more to these guys than “Bittersweet,” but I wouldn’t know.