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Expanding the “10 Greatest American Bands” Debate

As I stated before, I agree with the majority of the “Top Ten Bands” on Mr. Huey’s list with a couple of exceptions. To me, a great band is one that wrote great music and lyrics, had vast influence on the genre and (I’m sorry but I do think this is a factor to be considered) executed their music with solid if not great musicianship.

The following are bands that, if I were to take Mr. Huey’s list and remove those I do not agree with, I would put in their place.

Parliament- what James Brown and Bootsy started, George Clinton solidified as a genre…maybe not  totally creating it but taking the elements from others and combining them into a whole that would forever change R and B and truly create funk. They taught us how to dance a new way (hell they changed the way a generation partied), told us wild and creative stories with totally unique points of view and played their asses off. An odd choice I know but when you apply the rules that have so correctly been laid before us earlier in this debate, I think you will see they deserve to be there. Can you truly compare “Sir Nose…” to “Turn, Turn, Turn” or “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” well it’s debatable but R and B and the emerging Soul genre were affected just as much by Parliament as The Velvet Underground and The Ramones affected Rock. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Nirvana- there is an argument that no band was more a mouthpiece of a generation that the than those of the flannel and horse. Their songs spoke to the angst and frustration of a a culture and age. From a musical perspective they broke new sonic ground and established a new tonal sound that was not present in Rock before. The don’t get a lot of juice as musicians but Cobain was top notch guitar player and one of Rock’s best singers. And then there’s Dave Grohl…’nuf said.

Steely Dan- “undefinable”, “brilliant”,  “no one else like ‘em” are just a few of the accolades that could be heaped on this great musical mix of Rock/Pop/R and B/Jazz. It has always been surprising to me that the public embraced music that was this cerebral and Steely Dan managed to score several BIG hits. “Hey 19″ may be the tightest groove ever and while lyrically they can sometimes be a bit over the head of the regular listener, they managed to come up with one of the greatest choruses in modern musical history (sure you’ve heard it but take 10 seconds and read it again and marvel):

I learn to work the saxaphone and I play just what I feel

Drink Scotch whiskey all nite long and die behind the wheel

They’ve got a name for the winners in the world and I want a name when I lose

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide…and call me Deacon Blues

I am totally down with The Allman Brothers call. It’s not that I’m not down with The Byrds but CSNY refined the sound The Byrds started and in my mind made it better…certainly the singing was better in fact CSNY was one of the great vocal groups of all time. And even with the risk of an ass kicking for Senor Huey, The Eagles do have some merit. Maybe not one of the top 10 bands of America but certainly credible very solid writing, playing and singing over 35 years. Don Henly is one of our great Pop/Rock singers as well. I leave you with one incredible lyric….again, read it anew and tell me this isn’t good…

Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona… such a fine sight to see

It’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me

C’mon Baby…Don’t say maybe…I’ve gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me

We may lose and we may win but we will never be here again

So open up I’m climbin’ in…take it easy!


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