Hello, Everyone. Before creating the list below I asked myself the question, "what are the songs/groups/musicians that have made the most difference in your musical life?", and went to work. Music has always been a big part of my life. I play guitar, bass, drums, and some keyboards and own a very good sound recording playback set up. It's always been an important hobby to me. This sort of answers the question, "what has he been doing all of these years?" I've listened to music that I love - a lot. The music I've listed has had different kinds of effects on me, and I'll explain those in line. Sometimes what affects me is the sound of a recording, sometimes it's the novelty of artist's work, other times it might be the historical importance of a work of music. Some of the music will be easy to listen to, like Percy Faith's Theme from a Summer Place. For some, other genres will be more difficult or undesirable to hear, like the entire Metal category. Yet, I can assure everyone that the musicians who produced the music here were all highly talented and chose to do the work they did mostly because they wanted to. It's their art. It's their musical finger print. All my memories about when I heard these songs for the first time are subject to possible error. I don't have publish dates on the songs on purpose. Most of the music here is timeless. The really hard and noisey music is more towards the bottom of the list.
Please sample only that which appeals to you.
Key to Items On Music List:
First, you'll see the, Band/musician name: song
Next, you will either see a clickable underlined link to the song on YouTube, or a video you can simply click on.
Finally, you will see a clickable underlined link to Wikipedia infomation about the artist.
Sometimes there will be more than one music link and Wikipedia link for each artist.
Helpful Music, Audio, and Recording Terms :
From Wikipedia: "A hook is a musical idea, often a short riff, passage, or phrase, that is used in popular music to make a song appealing and to "catch the ear of the listener". The term generally applies to popular music, especially rock, R&B, hip hop, dance, and pop."
From Wikipedia: "A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs or session musicians, proposing changes to the song arrangements, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through audio [sound recording quality]..."
From Wikipedia: "Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical or mechanical inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording."
From Wikipedia: "Mastering, a form of audio post production, is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master); the source from which all copies will be produced (via methods such as pressing, duplication or replication)." Mastering also balances the recording so all of the songs are at a similar output level, so one song doesn't sound louder than another.
Via dictionary.com: "to add other recorded sound or music, as a supplementary instrumental or vocal track, to a taped musical track to complete or enhance a recording. verb (used with object), overdubbed, overdubbing. 2. to add (a track or tracks) to a musical recording. noun." Les Paul invented multi-track recording. Because of computer recording and the advent of inexpensive data storage, musicians can create as many sound tracks as their computers can stand.
Wikipedia: "Distortion is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of something, such as an object, image, sound or waveform. Distortion is usually unwanted, and so engineers strive to eliminate distortion, or minimize it." Distortion has two aspects. The kind you don't want, and the kind you do want. For reproducing the sounds that the producer and mastererer created, you want the lowest distortion possible so the listener out there in public will get exactly what was recorded as closely as possible. The kind of distortion you want is usually used in music by guitarists and bassists. This is the addition of distortion as provided usually by an effect pedal or by an amplifier to enhance the sound of a guitar or bass in the way the musician wants. For Blues or Country music, this might be a slight bit of distortion that will add a bit of "bite" to a guitar sound. For a Metal guitarist, swimming in loads of smooth distortion might be what you're after. So, funny enough, a guitar might be heavily distorted, but the producer and mastering engineer want the recording of that distored guitar to be free of distortion so you can hear the distored guitar as it was intended, if that makes any sense.
Wikipedia: "Sound effects (or audio effects) are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media." In music, this usually means enhancing the music with reverbation, echo and a long list other effects.
Wikipedia: "This is usually achieved by using two or more independent audio channels through a configuration of two or more loudspeakers (or stereo headphones) in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing."
Wikipedia: "Stereo imaging refers to the aspect of sound recording and reproduction concerning the perceived spatial locations of the sound source(s), both laterally and in depth." With headphones this is easy to achive. This is what the brain interprets as the expansive space between the speakers. With headphones this sort of ends up sounding like it's "inside your head." With a really good speaker set up, a transparent stereo image, or one that sounds "real" can be achieved under certain circumstances (needs $$$). To give an idea, you can buy a pair of headphones for $300 that will give you a similar quality in sound to a speaker set up costing thousands. However, hearing high quality sounding music in a room that has been set up properly for sound, with good speakers and ancillary equipment, is something to experience. I had the chance to listen to speakers that were $40,000/pair (Wilson Audio Sophias) one time in a room that was well set up, etc. Louis Armstrong was played on the system. The sound image was so real, my brain couldn't tell where the speakers were, even though I was looking right at them. I wanted to reach out and give Satchmo a hug. It was as if he was right there. I very nearly cried. His voice was nearly as big as the room.
An A band is a band that has contributed to, changed, or created a genre. Also, an A band can exist without having changed much in the way of the history of music, but is amazingly good, like AC/DC in Rock. They haven't necessarily changed the Rock genre, but are masters of it. Almost all of the music here, except where called out, is "A band" status.
Most musicians and bands are B bands. They sometimes have hits, but they aren't likely to change anything. In musical terms they are more the hanger ons. They can be very good, but they miss some of the components that might put them over the top into A band status.
Early Musical Memories:
Beach Boys: The Warmth of the Sun.
I had an album when I was young by the Beach Boys called "Endless Summer," that had a lot of their hits over time. Little did I know that this would be some of the most beautiful music I would ever hear.
Harry Dacre: Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built For Two).
This is a song that my grandmother used to sing to me. It may be one of my earliest musical memories. And here is a creepy video from the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001 A Space Odyssey that features the song. HAL, the ships computer went haywire in the movie and the astronaut, Dave, had to shut him down. HAL sings Daisy Bell as he goes to sleep. Don't worry, most of the songs and videos below are not this creepy. Great movie, by the way.
The New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.
I used to sing this when I was a small child, and family has told me that I
used to get requests to sing it.
YouTube: Winchester Cathedral
Wikipedia: Information on The New Vaudeville Band.
Archies: Sugar Sugar.
As a young kid I was captured by the smooth pop sound of this happy song. I can't remember whether I saw the animation listed here way back when.
Wikipedia: Info on The Archies.
Chuck Berry: Mabelline.
Chuck Berry is a legend, of course, and when I was a child I had one of his greatest hits albums. Mabelline is one of the songs that I liked best, but I loved all of the songs. Chuck Berry is one of the originators of the Rock and Roll genre.
Wikipedia: Chuck Berry.
The Aristocats: Thomas O'malley cat.
When I saw Disney's animated movie the Aristocats when I was a child, I thought the cat character Thomas O'malley was one cool dude.
The Hollies: Long Cool Woman.
When I heard this song as a child I realized that music could sound serious too. I didn't understand what this song is referring to when I was a child, but I remember liking the sound of the song a lot. This song single-handedly hooked me on Rock and Roll. This is about the time I started noticing other things in music production, like reverberation and echo. In this song, the echo and Reverb is applied to the voice in a manner that was popular at the time of this recording.
YouTube: Long Cool Woman.
Wikipedia: The Hollies.
Except for Wayne Hancock, I learned about all of these artists from my Dad. I've always been thankful to have known these artists and many more Country artists through him. Country is kind of like Metal in that you really can't fudge it. You either do it right, or you sound bad. The country players that back up the singer's below are all top notch musicians. Some of the singers themselves are great players as well. These artists are really just the tip of the iceberg. There's as much fantastic Country music out there as you want to find and hear. I do suggest avoiding some of the modern pop style stuff, but that's my preference. There's a movement called Alt Country that has some young new artists that play more in a modernized classic style, rather than a bland Country pop style that I often hear on modern Country radio.
Willie Nelson: Stardust.
Willie Nelson has a long and illustrious career as a song writer and performer as we all know. I know him only because Julia knew a friend who Willie made a pass at. Other than that, I know nothing about him at all other than he's Willie Nelson. That's enough. Stardust is my favorite Pop song of all time. Willie Nelson's version here is astounding. I remember listening to it on my Dad's really good stereo. That meant a lot to me.
Waylon Jennings: I'm a Ramblin' Man.
I got to see Waylon with my Dad. Waylon kinda wandered around the stage, talked here and there, and once in a while sang a song. My Dad was kind of bothered by that. My reaction was, "well, it's Waylon." For me that meant, he got to do what he wanted to. Great songs.
YouTube: I'm a Ramblin' Man.
Wikipedia: Waylon Jennings.
Roger Miller: King of the Road.
A very smooth song from Roger Miller about bumming around. It's as catchy as any song that has ever been written. For me it makes me want to hit the road by any means possible as soon as possible. Thanks, Roger.
YouTube: King of the Road.
Wikipedia: Roger Miller.
Wayne Hancock: Highway 54.
A friend introduced me to Wayne Hancock and I thought, "hey, this guy is good!" I bought his first album, and it was all good. I haven't bought any of his other albums, but I bet they're good too.
George Jones: He Stopped Loving Her Today.
George Jones is one of my favorite Country singers, and He Stopped Loving Her Today is my favorite song by him. I have trouble listening to it because it's so sad, but it's fantastic.
YouTube: He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Wikipedia: George Jones.
I hate Disco with a passion. I loath it. Now here are some songs that I like from the genre of Disco. Yes I know this is a contradiction. I'm still working on it.
ABBA: Dancing Queen.
I've always loved ABBA. Hey, they're not Norwegian like me, but they're Swedish. Close enough. They are one of the World's top selling artists of all time. They make fantastic music.
Donna Summer: I Feel Love.
I was riding in a car when I first heard this song by Donna Summer. Electronic Music hadn't saturated the airwaves yet at that point and I found the electronic sounds very interesting. I fell in love with the song. Donna sang very well too, being the great artist that she was. This song is very repetitive. But remember, this was for dancing.
YouTube: I Feel Love.
Wikipedia: Donna Summer.
Miles Davis: Freddie Freeloader.
Freddie the Freeloader comes from the Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. Kind of Blue is my pick if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one album with me. Many think it is the greatest jazz album ever. I know that when I discovered it for myself I spent most of my musical time on it during a year and never ran out of things to find in it. They recorded it in an off-hand way like most of the jazz recordings of the time, in a few days, with ideas that Miles had sketched out. Sometimes things just work together and come out of the wash better than almost anything.
TheloniusMonk: Tea For Two.
When I really listened to this song for the first time I understood that Jazz could be art. Thelonius Monk, a famous Juliard educated Jazz pianist deconstructs Tea for Two for us here. We always
realize that the song is there, but by the time he's done with it, it's hardly recognizable. This is incredibly complicated and difficult to do musically. Remember that all of these notes are
intentional. You can often hear Monk in the background making noises as he runs through his musical options like a chess player.
Robert Johnson: Terraplane Blues.
Robert Johnson is a now famous bluesman from the 1930s. The Terraplane was a car by the Hudson car company at the time. When Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones first heard him he said, "who's that?" "Robert Johnson," the answer came back. Keith said, "who's the other guy?" thinking that there was another guitarist on the song he was listening to. Johnson often played in such a way that it seemed like two people playing. Much of Johnson's music can be heard on YouTube. Much of the Blues, Rock and Roll, and Metal came from music like this.
You know it when you hear it because you'll instantly have the urge to check for rattlesnakes and possible rolling sage brush.
Stevie Ray Vaughan:
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a great artist. He took Texas Blues to new heights. I spent quite a bit of time listening to him when he came out. He had quite a bit of success. He started out as a really hard drinker and nearly killed himself with it. He got cleaned up and was looking really good. He was coming through Seattle and I made the brilliant decision to wait and see him on the next time through, and some time after that he died in a helicopter crash. Eric Clapton (famous Rock guitarist) was driving when he first heard him. He said he had to stop the car in amazement and in wonder at where this guitarist was getting all these parts? I will always appreciate what we have of Stevie's. You'll see in the second live video, Stevie played better behind his back than I could ever hope to play in general.
(Album) YouTube: Rude Mood
Don McClean: American Pie.
I love this song. I have from the moment I heard it. I get melancholy when I listen to it. Great references in this song.
Steely Dan: Peg.
Aja, Steely Dan's album from which Peg came, was brilliant. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, the heart and soul of Steely Dan used top studio musicians and recorded in both Los Angeles and New York. The studio musicians from each area have a different feel and different styles. Peg was recorded using Los Angeles studio musicians. One well known thing about this album is that the musicians were required to practice the material to insane levels of perfection. Once they arrived at that plateu, the musicians seem to mostly say that the music flowed very freely. Michael MacDonald who sang the back up vocals for Peg said the harmonies were insanely tight and hard to sing. If I remember correctly, he said it was the hardest vocals he ever had to sing. Don't let the smoothness of this song fool you. It was very difficult to make it sound that way.
Journey: Don't Stop Believin'
Journey is a guilty pleasure for me. Part of me doesn't want to like them because when they had the chance to decide whether to be a jam (improvisational) band, or be a big money making hit generating machine, they chose the latter! Can you believe THAT? It's a good thing they didn't listen to me. They were incredibly successful. This has and always will be a very well constructed power pop song.
YouTube: Don't Stop Believin'.
Lady Gaga: The Lady is a Tramp (With Tony Bennett), and Applause.
Lady Gaga is a real artist. She does jazz singing with the likes of Tony Bennett and makes great pop. Clarence Clemmons, the former now passed away saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen, worked over night with Lady Gaga in the studio one time. He said it was the greatest musical experience of his life. She has it.
Electric Light Orchestra:
ELO played large in my early teen years. I appreciate the big sound and large sounding productions of mestreo Jeff Lynne, leader of the festivities. They have many songs that are very well written/performed/produced. Here are just a few.
YouTube: Telephone Line.
Wikipedia: Electric Light Orchestra.
Percy Faith: Theme for a Summer Place.
The first time I heard this song I thought, "how lovely is that?" This the theme for the 1959 romantic drama A Summer Place. A very interesting movie, and a fantastic song.
Stevie Wonder: Sir Duke.
Stevie Wonder is a national treasure. Here's an example of his work.
Elvis: I Can't Help Falling in Love With You.
I've always thought Elvis was a fantastic singer and showman, and have felt that his life and end were sort of a national tragedy. I visited his home, Graceland, with Dad. This was the song played at Julia's and my wedding in Las Vegas as we walked down the isle in Elvis chapel. This song and many Elvis songs are important to me for many reasons.
YouTube: I Can't Help Falling in Love With You.
Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass: Whipped Cream & Other Delights (album).
Dad introduced me to Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass and I'm not sure I've ever heard anything they did that I didn't like. Fantastic music. Sometimes I've imagined myself as a member of The Tijuana Brass. I imagine I'm out in the desert with the band. Why do I imagine that? Because that's how they're pictured! That's what you do when you're in the Tijuana Brass! You hang out in the desert and look cool! They had a great picture of a beautiful woman covered in foam on this album cover and that's ok too. But, of course, Dad, I never looked at it when I was a kid. Promise.
Wikipedia: Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass.
I discovered modern electronic music when working in computers in 1998. A friend had me listen to Future Sound of London's, "The Far Out Son Of Lung and the Ramblings of a Madman" and I was completely captured by it. It was very different from anything I'd heard. Computers give new possibilities in music recording and production and electronic music creators take as many liberties as possible with them. Without computers this music would not be possible.
Crystal Method: High Roller.
High Roller is probably my favorite electronic song ever. I love it's link to space flight. This song comes from the Crystal Method's album Vegas. If you want to try on electronic music, just get that album.
The Chemical Brothers: Block Rockin' Beats.
I find this song by the Chemical Brothers is something that just makes me want to get up and DANCE! Though I don't dance. Sometimes I do wave my hands around a little.
YouTube: Block Rockin' Beats.
Wikipedia: The Chemical Brother.
Shpongle: Shpongle Falls
I have listened to this song many times. I've gotten many different kinds of things out of it. Relaxation, exilaration, trepidation, even fear. It's a deep rabbit hole of a song. The more you listen, the more you hear. I advise fairly good quality headphones with this, or a stereo that images fairly well. Having a system that is capable of good low end (bass) is also good for this song.
YouTube: Shpongle Falls.
Ulrich Schnauss: Knuddelmaus.
I really like Ulrich Schnauss. The first time I heard him was with the song "Shine." For a moment I thought it might be the best song I'd ever heard.
Wikipedia: Ulrich Schnauss.
Future Sound Of London: The Far Out Son Of Lung and the Ramblings of a Madman.
This was the first electronic music of its type that I'd heard. A friend at work in Seattle introduced me to the song. I was fascinated at all the sounds in the recording and how they were blended together. Still am.
YouTube: The Far Out Son Of Lung and the Ramblings of a Madman.
Dire Straights: Sultans of Swing.
Mark Knopfler, who plays guitar and sings for Dire Straights, has a unique playing style. He picks with his fingers. When I first heard this song at around 15 years old I remember being really taken by Knopfler's style. He had a great and welcoming style, and filled in the pauses in the music masterfully. Usually when guitarists play lead they want to get in everyone's face. Knopfler wraps the music with his playing carefully.
YouTube: Sultans of Swing.
Wikipedia: Dire Straights.
Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody.
I think most will have heard this song. I would be repeating endless analysis of this song that has gone on forever if I said anything about it. It's stupendous, from any angle. There's a video about the making of the song below if you're interested. Queen was a fantastic band, with one of the best lead singers ever. They still play with various singers, but sadly, we've lost Freddie Mercury, who sang this song.
Procol Harum: Whiter Shade of Pale.
I have always loved this song, and it's always given me a nostalgic... vapory feeling when I hear it. I'm sorry to report I've never actually taken the time to figure out what the song says. I'm sure it must be something good.
YouTube: Whiter Shade of Pale.
Wikipedia: Procol Harum.
Van Halen: Unchained.
I love Van Halen. They were one of the first bands I ever saw live and they killed it. They sounded so good it was almost impossible to believe. They produced really great studio recordings and people were shocked when Van Halen performed live and sounded just as good. As it turned out Van Halen recorded much of their music live in the studio with minimum of overdubs. Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist, came onto to guitar scene like an explosion when I was a teen. Eddie was the most bad ass guitar player on his block, and his block was the whole World.
Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze.
Jimi Hendrix changed my life, and this song introduced me to Jimi Hendrix. He was superlative in a field of guitar gods. Jimi wrote the lyrics to Purple Haze while on, as I understand, his first LSD trip. I thought is was very, very cool when I heard it. I was like, "that's... cool...." Unfortunately, Purple Haze doesn't appear to be on a video site that I could find. Hendrix's Father is in control of the estate, and he keeps a pretty tight hand on it, from what I've seen. If you have Amazon Prime Music you can listen to it there. It is available in CD and on other music sites.
Wikipedia: Jimi Hendrix.
Foghat: Fool for the City.
Foghat was my first concert. My Mom was kind enough to drive my friends and I to the concert. It was really fun. My main thought during and after the concert was, "yeah, I want to do this more."
YouTube: Fool for the City.
Joe Walsh: Rocky Mountain Way.
Joe Walsh who was famous for being in the band James Gang, as well as having a successful solo career before joining the Eagles, is a fantastic guitarist. He's also a bit whacky. I met someone who had met and talked with Joe and that person said that joe doesn't make much sense unless he has a guitar in his hand. But, when you play like Joe Walsh, you get the leeway. Joe's playing is like watching someone who's stone drunk walking down the road, but they never fall over. I know there was a time when I didn't know about Joe Walsh and his amazing playing, but now I don't know when that was.
YouTube: Rocky Mountain Way.
Wikipedia: Joe Walsh.
The Police: Miss Gradenko.
The Police are a unique band. Sting (singing, bass), Stewart Copeland (drums), and Andy Summers (guitar) formed a unique rock trio by combining the Rock and Reggae musical genres. Copeland is, along with Phil Rudd with AC/DC my favorite Rock drummer. If you take time to listen to the police you'll be rewarded with rythmic and sonic complexity. My main listening period with the Police was college. I enjoyed their work a lot.
YouTube: Miss Gradenko.
Wikipedia: The Police.
Spiderbait: Reach for the Sky:
This is a new band to me that a friend told me about. Turns out they've been around for a long time. I'm sorry I've missed them, but glad they're here. This is a very well constructed song. Distortion and echo are used purposefully on the voice in this song.
YouTube: Reach for the Sky.
Boston: Something About You.
Boston figures very large in my musical history. The group's history is a story about an engineer musician who created one of the most successful bands in history. Boston and it's leader Tom Scholz are the reason I started playing guitar and eventually bought, as my first electric guitar, a 1972 Gibson Les Paul Standard Tobacco Sunburst model. It was amazing. Did I sell it? Yes. Am I regretful? Yes.... However, I'm very appreciative of the instruments I'm playing now. Boston is a group that changed the way I look at life through showing me what is possible when you put your mind to sound. Tom Scholz created a completely unique guitar sound through analog technology that he himself designed, and then created Boston and it's music with the help of some of his friends. The recordings themselves, however, have always sounded sub-par to me production wise. Basically, the recording was mostly there to capture Boston's unique and melodic sound, and not a lot else. There's a long story to Boston and everything that happened after they sold tens of millions of copies of their first album, from which I pulled this song.
YouTube: Something About You.
AC/DC are some tough guys from Australia. It's best if you see them in a dark alleyway to just not mess with them. That's basically what they are. They are the musical equivalent of a bar fight. They pretty much sing about fighting, escaping jail, sex, drinking, and generally being examples of various types of bad assness. They're claim to musical fame lays partially on their unearthly tightness and rhythmic steadiness, as well as the ability to create killer hooks over and over. They do the same thing they always have, and they do it perfectly. Anything less would be beaten to a pulp. They make it sound easy; it's not easy. Part of the reason for this steadiness is drummer Phil Rudd. Along with Stewart Copeland from the Police, Rudd is my favorite Rock drummer. Listen close to him. Every single move is atomically accurate, but still sounds groovin'. How does he do it? I have no idea. Flowing rhythmic perfection. I play guitar fairly well, but when I try to follow these guys and work to feel like I'm really in the groove, as I can feel with many songs from other bands, I just can't do it. I hear tiny discrepancies where I'm missing keeping up with them. AC/DC are an "A band" par excelance. AC/DC are bad ass, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
The first song is with Bon Scott who died in 1979. The next song is replacement singer Brian Johnson.
Bon Scott singing,
Brian Johnson singing,
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, entire album.
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band should be taken as a whole if it has never been listened to before. It was created as a single work by The Beatles. A great deal has been written about it so that much will be available on the Net. For me, it's an astounding musical achievement. This is what can happen if you give four very talented musicians, and a producer who's highly talented and can keep the boys in line, a bunch of money and time. Well worth fourty minutes of your time. [Wikipedia]: Rolling Stone magazine's Langdon Winner recalls, "The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt. Pepper album was released. In every city in Europe and America the radio stations played [it] ... and everyone listened ... it was the most amazing thing I've ever heard. For a brief while the irreparable fragmented consciousness of the West was unified, at least in the minds of the young."
Example: YouTube: A Day in the Life.
Wikipedia: The Beatles.
Wikipedia: St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Mark Heard: Heart of Hearts.
When I was a Christian I spent a lot of time listening to Mark Heard, and I still occasionally do! I felt that Mark Heard was the best musician of the Christians in modern Rock at that time. He didn't use conventional lyrics that people expected to express his life, ideas, or beliefs. Plus he was a great writer and produced his own music. A lot of talent there. Mark and I wrote back and forth several times and I was always appreciative of his input. Unfortunately Mark passed away in August, 1992
Wikipedia: Mark Heard.
Kiss: Rock And Roll All Night.
I like Kiss because they make me laugh, plus they rock sometimes. Show me a person that takes Kiss seriously, and I'll show you a person that doesn't understand them, and possibly doesn't understand Rock and Roll. I've always liked them because of their crazy get ups, and the fact that they work very hard to keep their fans happy. They love their fans, and they aren't slackers. When they rejoined and I saw them at the packed Tacoma Dome (23,000 capacity) they partied hard enough to catch the lighting rig on fire. After they put the fire out, the band came back on and Paul Stanley (Starface) said, "you waited for US, now we're here for YOU!" And off they went for another long while, trailing explosions in their wake. It was really, really fun.
ZZ Top: Heard It On the X.
ZZ Top is an American southern blues rock based rock group that rocks, and is famous. They're good. I've always been impressed with the musicianship of ZZ Top and the catchiness of their tunes. They specialize in hairpin blues turns.
YouTube: Heard It On the X.
Wikipedia: ZZ Top.
Tom isn't really one of my favorites, but he's always been there and is a consistenly good song writer. He's also been associated with a producer in Jeff Lynne (also the leader of Electric Light Orchestra) who is one of my heroes musically. Here are a few songs by Tom. One is his band The Heartbreakers and without Jeff Lynne at the production helm. The second song is Tom on his own without the band and with Jeff Lynne producing.
With The Heartbreakers:
YouTube: Even the Losers
(Solo) I won't back down.
The Sweet: Ballroom Blitz.
I was in grade school when I heard this and it blew my mind. I'd never heard anything even remotely like it anywhere at any time. It seemed very controlled yet wild and freakish and like everything I liked as a kid. GI Joe, Speed Racer , J.P. Patches (Local Seattle TV Children's show) all rolled into one. I later found out that this genre was called "Glam Rock" and Sweet, to me, were one of the best bands at that style of Rock.
YouTube: Ballroom Blitz
Wikipedia: The Sweet.
Progressive Rock.... Hm. Originally, Rock and Roll was like a lot of other popular music genres in that a song might have three, or possibly four chords. However, Rock branched into many different sub-genres. Progressive Rock is one of those branches. Progressive Rock songs use umpteen chords per song. Progressive Rock is usually more complicated than regular Rock. I have a luke warm relationship with Progressive Rock, but there are songs that I've found to be good over the years, and some albums that are amazing, like Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon."
Yes was the band that introduced me to Progressive rock. I was very impressed by their control over their instruments, and their range of musicality. They were all over the place musically, yet everything blended so well. Roundabout came from Yes's album Fragile in the early 70s. It is a very good sounding album for the time. Both Roundabout and the next song in the list, Hold On are by Yes, but Hold On was released in 1983 on the album, 90125. Both albums summarise the peak of production values for pop music at the time of their creation. So it's a good comparison to go back and forth between these two songs and see how far we'd come from 1972 to 1983 in our ability to produce great sounding music and how we'd taken better control of the sonic space. Plus synthesizers and computers enabling sampled voices as you hear in parts of Hold On had been introduced by the early 80s.
YouTube: Hold On.
Allan Holdsworth: Metal Fatigue.
Allan Holdsworth is a guitarist's guitarist. Amazingly talented and creative. I don't listen to his music much, but when I have I have always been amazed by what I hear when I pay attention to what he is doing on guitar.
YouTube: Metal Fatigue.
Wikipedia: Allan Holdsworth.
Rush hails from Canada. They are a band of musical nerds for musical nerds and when I discovered them I was a musical nerd. They are also amazing musicians and write unique music. A lot of the music they've produced over time I'm not fond of, but some of their songs really tweak the music centers of my brain. Limelight is one of those songs.
King's X: It's Love, and Dogman
King's X has an interesting story. Some Christians wanted to do real Rock. They got very close to success when they were signed by Atlantic Records. The song Dogman below is from that initial Atlantic Records effort. Their success never came to fruition, yet they are highly respected in the Rock community. Dug Pinnick, main singer and bassist eventually left the Christian faith. King's X remains together and is still making great music. But all told, if I really have to admit it, when it comes down to brass tacks, between you and me, off the record, King's X is a B band. But they are a really, really good B band.
Progressive, leaning towards Rock.
Progressive, leaning towards Metal.
Pink Floyd: Time
The album that Time comes from, Dark Side of the Moon, remained in the top 200 of the Billboard music charts for years after it's 1973 release. I recommend listening to the entire Dark Side of the Moon album if you never have. It's a monumental work of 20th Century music. David Gilmore, guitarist for Pink Floyd, is my favorite Rock guitarist.
Wikipedia: Pink Floyd.
Cream: White Room.
This song changed my life. I knew that LSD had had a play in the creation of this music, and I thought that the music was so interesting that.... Let's just say my interest was peaked. Cream has been called the first Rock Supergroup https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supergroup_(music) They are also grouped with those who helped lay down some of the musical components that would be required to construct the Metal genre.
YouTube: White Room.
Led Zeppelin: Sick Again.
I'm on the fence about Led Zeppelin being a basic force in my musical history because they were such a party band, and other than their extremely well formed songs and fantastic production, I don't feel like there's a lot of substance there. However there is no denying them there place as one of the bands that helped to usher in Metal as a musical form. For that, they deserve to be here.
YouTube: Sick Again.
Wikipedia: Led Zeppelin.
MC5: Kick out the Jams:
The MC5 came out of Michigan in the late 60s and blew people's minds. They didn't sound like the folk leaning message bands of the time. They came to party, and no one got in their way! Their music also helped pave the way for various sounds used in Metal coming in the 70s.
When I first got to Southern California in 1998, a friend at work had me listen to Fu Manchu. I spent a lot of time during the first few years here in SoCal listening to Fu Manchu, seeing them live, and riding motorcycles. It was fun. Fu Manchu is a great live band. It's called Stoner Rock basically because it's music by and for surfers, skate boarders, hot rod lovin', weed smokin', Dudes and Dudettes. I was at one of the two live shows with Julia where Fu Manchu recorded Go For It...Live! below. I may have been in that audience.
YouTube: Go For It...Live! Side A.
Wikipedia: Fu Manchu.
If Rock and Roll is a hot rod, Metal is a Tank. With Metal, there are no mistakes. You can slip up in Jazz and some other musical forms and it's OK. It's not OK with Metal. It's just not OK. OK? Also, Metal deals with the dark underbelly of life that other musical genres won't, can't, or don't have the guts to deal with.
Black Sabbath: Into the Void:
Not enough can be said about Black Sabbath's contribution to the creation of Metal as a genre of music. Without them it simply would not be what it is today. Lead guitarist Tonni Iommi early in the band's development saw a Vincent Price movie marquee of Price's then recent movie, "Black Sabbath." The story goes that when he got to band practice he told the others, "isn't it interesting how people pay to be scared?" I'm probably paraphrasing there, it's been so many years since I read that. They changed their name to Black Sabbath, started making scary music (with tritones! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritone), and the rest is history. "Into the Void," is my favorite Black Sabbath song and it's about the need to escape Earth at some time in the future as it has become near uninhabitable.
Ozzy Osbourne: Thunder Underground.
Ozzy Osbourne was fired by Black Sabbath in 1978 and went into a deep emotional spiral (something he's done at various points throughout his life). His now Wife Sharron basically saved him and talked him into going back into writing and performing. He has a highly successful career. He continues to be highly popular and rejoined Black Sabbath around 1995, if I'm remembering correctly. This song was recorded at the height of Ozzy's solo career. As far as production values go in Metal, you do not get much more high dollar than this. A great deal was spent in the attempt to blend the sounds in order to get what the producer/Ozzy wanted, and into what you hear here.
YouTube: Thunder Underground.
Ronnie James Dio: Rainbow In The Dark.
Ronnie James Dio is regarded as one of the best Heavy Metal singers ever. He passed away several years ago of cancer. He was a member of the bands Rainbow, Black Sabbath (after Ozzy was fired), and others, as well as having a long and successful solo career. When I first heard his voice I thought something like, "wow."
YouTube: Rainbow In The Dark.
Wikipedia: Ronnie James Dio
Judas Priest: Metal Gods, Electric Eye (1983 US Festival).
Judas Priest were part of the New Wave of British Metal in mid-late 70s. Most people know their song, "Breakin' the Law." What they might not know is how important they are in the World of Metal. This song is about the eventual takeover of Earth by robots. The album (British Steel) that contains this song was recorded at John Lennon's house, which was rented for recording when he wasn't at that particular home. At one point the recording of the song Metal Gods had the band in the kitchen tapping spoons on metal pans to simulate the marching of the encroaching Metal Gods. Rob Halford had a very wide vocal range when younger (and not bad now!), and used to shock people with the heights he would reach during various Metal screams.
Groove Metal (a term Darrell Abbott, guitarist of Pantera, liked):
Pantera: Goddamn Electric.
Pantera is a southern American Metal band that kicked some serious butt. Every one of their albums became more and more powerful and... it's hard to describe. Just when you thought, "they can't make anything more bad ass sounding than that," they would blow eveyone's minds with super thick guitar and tearing vocals. They have quite a story. They sort of broke up in 2000 or so. The famous lead guitarist Dimebag Darrell (Darrell Lance Abbott) was shot to death by a crazed fan on stage in 2004. You also get extra points for making it through this song.
YouTube: Goddamn Electric.
Exodus: Downfall. (WARNING: This video is very flashy. If you suffer from seizures, it would probably be best to avoid it. Or, cover the video while listening.)
Exodus is my favorite Thrash Metal band, and Gary Holt, it's main guitarist and leader is a hero of mine. He's responsible for almost everything you hear with the band, including setting up vocals and drum/bass parts. Tom Hunting, Exodus' drummer is my favorite Thrash Metal drummer as well. Exodus are super tight as a band/unit. They are also produced by one of my favorite producers, Wikipedida: Andy Sneap Producer. Andy has the capability to take a bunch of very raw and rough sounds and turn them into blended smoothness. This is very carefully constructed music. You get extra points for making it through this song.
Metallica: Enter Sandman
Metallica is the biggest Metal band in the World, and I don't like them. I think their drummer is horrible, and their lead guitarist relies on certain kinds of effects (wah-wah pedal) way too much, which we hear in this song. However, they own several titles in Metal that others simply do not have. First they are the most popular Metal band. Second, they were one of the formers of the Thrash Metal genre. For those things alone they deserve a spot in music history. This song, however, comes from an album where I think they did their best work. They worked with a producer named Bob Rock. He's a famous producer who has the ability to make amazing sounding recordings, and he certainly did here. Bob Rock says that the band nearly killed him because they wanted to get everything as perfect as possible. I like it when a band goes for broke and tries to do the absolute best they can at whatever they do. Metallica certainly did that here.
YouTube: Enter Sandman.
Megadeth: Angry Again.
Dave Mustaine is the leader (owner really) of Megadeth. Dave was fired from Metallica right before they were to record their first album. Dave was fired because he was TOO CRAZY FOR METALLICA. That took some work. The competition between Metallica and Megadeth went on throughout the years with Dave, as he often does, expressing how he was wronged... whatever, Dave. Just keep making great music. My contention is that Metallica would have held Dave back. Anyway, Dave went on from being fired to creating one of the greatest Thrash Metal bands of all time, Megadeth. I've never thought the Megadeth albums were fantastic on the production/sound side of things, but there is no denying Dave is a fantastic songsmith. Everything you've ever heard from Megadeth Dave is responsible for, whether by construction or approval.
YouTube: Angry Again.
Alice In Chains: Man in the Box.
Alice In Chains is a Seattle band that became famous during the huge Grunge Rock fad out of Seattle from around 1990 - 1996. I lived in Seattle during that time. For a musician, it was kind of heady to live in a city that was getting that much attention in the musical press. I once saw Alice In Chains live in Seattle in a fairly large space way back when, and the sound was so good, I felt like I was sitting in my living room. I thought they were one of the best of the Seattle Grunge bands. The lead singer eventually died from heroin overdose like many Seattle rockers of the time. Alice in Chains eventually reformed with a new singer and are doing very well.
Rage Against the Machine: Testify.
Rage Against the Machine combined Rap, Metal and Funk in a very unique way. The band and singer were involved in many social causes that were important to them and talked about many of those things in their music. One thing that amazes about Rage is their approach to music. It's Rap, it's Metal, it's Funky, and they combine them really, really well. Plus they sound unique, and have a unique spot in music.
I'm not a huge Punk fan, but the contribution to Modern Society and Art is meaningful to me, which is funny, but I think punk often centers around Nihilism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism). They usually sound undisciplined compared to other rock and rollers, and have a bit of an attitude. Kind of a bit of an attitude like a Hydrogen Bomb. I remember Val warning me about the Punk movement when she came back from Europe one time. She didn't have anything to fear. Punk was interesting, but not heavy enough for me.
Ramones: I Wanna Be Sedated.
I've always enjoyed the Ramones. They sang about drugs as if they really liked them. From what I hear they did.
YouTube: I Wanna Be Sedated.
Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen.
The Sex Pistols were shocking when they came out. They stayed shocking. There's a huge depressing story about people in this band that I do not know, and will never learn, if I have anything to do with it. But the music was interesting; filled with anger at the status quo.
Husker Du: I Don't Know for Sure.
Husker Du is a band that can't be accused of producing highly polished recordings. But I usually like the way they make me feel. It sounds like three guys having fun to me, in a depressing way.
YouTube: I Don't Know for Sure.
Wikipedia: Husker Du.