My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day 10: The Top Ten!

10.26 God Gave Rock N Roll To You

We have finally made! It Friday, the end of the working weekend, standing on the verge of getting it on with the possibilities of weekend Halloween parties ahead of many of the younger readers, while us old farts are simply trying to hang on another day.  Perhaps, more importantly, this blog entry happens to be the penultimate entry on my latest series, My Top 100 Artists of All-Time. So, let’s just get this party started!

10.26 10.Elvis Costello

10. Elvis Costello – When many older people say the name “Elvis,” they mean Presley. But, when I say “Elvis,” I mean Costello. I have always dug his beginnings as the angry young man who grew up loving R&B but performed it with the punk energy of the day. From the moment I first heard “Watching the Detectives” on a new local radio station, I was hooked. Their may never be a more perfect song that explains a teenage male’s jealousy of a girl he has strong feelings for who dates everyone but him than “Alison.” And, no one has ever correlated a new relationship with actual chapters in a book when he recorded “Everyday I Write the Book.” Elvis Costello is my generation’s Bob Dylan, that’s the only way I can put it. Favorite Albums: My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, Spike. Favorite Songs: “Alison,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” “Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes,” “Veronica”.

10.26 9.Elton John

9. Elton John – I have loved Elton ever since I heard “Daniel” for the first time. As a matter of fact, I still own that single, along with “Crocodile Rock.” And, my first 8-Track tape was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, with Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and Greatest Hits all not too far behind. Elton John was the Beatles of my life, a rock star who transcended his music. I will NEVER forget his performance as the Pinball Wizard in the movie Tommy; his performance in the movie while on stilts and wearing the largest shoes of all-time is such an iconic moment of the Seventies. His first Greatest Hits album should be placed in a time capsule for other planets and future civilizations to learn about great music from Earth in the 20th century. Favorite Albums: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Honky Château, Madman Across the Water, Tumbleweed Connection. Favorite Songs: “Daniel,” “Rocket Man,” “Empty Garden (Hey Johnny),” “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (with George Michael),” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Tiny Dancer,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”.

10.26 8.Paul Weller

8. Paul Weller – When I say Paul Weller, I am talking about his WHOLE career, The Jam, The Style Council and solo. The man created a nearly perfect blend of Motown and punk with The Jam, Seventies soul and disco and pop with The Style Council, and a mix of R&B and everything else under the rock sun as a solo artist. So, it’s his R&B Mod heart that I love. It’s a damn shame that the rest of America never caught on with Weller’s genius because it’s the blend of musics that us Americans usually go for. Favorite Albums: The Gift and Sound Affects by The Jam; My Ever Changing Moods and Internationalists by The Style Council and Wake Up the Nation, Heavy Soul, Stanley Road and Sonic Kicks by Paul Weller. Favorite Songs: “Going Underground” by The Jam; “Long Hot Summer,” “My Ever Changing Moods,” “You’re the Best Thing,” “A Solid Bond in Your Heart,” “Shout to the Top” and “Walls Come Tumbling Down”.

10.26 7.Hall & Oates

7. Daryl Hall & John Oates – The most successful duo of all time, Hall & Oates combined all of their influences from Philly soul, Motown, rock and folk into a rock ‘n’ soul pop confection that was sweet tasting and nutritional for the soul. And when these guys were hot in the early Eighties, NO ONE could touch their songwriting. Much like Elton John, Hall & Oates are masters of the pop melody. Few artists worked as hard as this duo did to become successful and they actually worked hard for everything they earned. Their music is the soundtrack to a generation of adults. What bigger honor is there for a musician? Favorite Albums: Abandoned Luncheonette, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Along the Red Ledge, X-Static, Voices, H2O, Private Eyes and Big Bam Boom. Favorite Songs: “She’s Gone,” “Sara Smile,” “Rich Girl,” “It’s a Laugh,” “Wait for Me,” “Kiss on My List,” “You Make My Dreams,” “Private Eyes,” “Did It in a Minute,” “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch”.

10.26 6.Bruce Springsteen

6. Bruce Springsteen – I will always remember where I was when I first heard “Born to Run.” My family was setting up our Christmas tree in 1975 for what would become the last one we had together before my parents’ divorce. We were listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown show on the home console stereo when this otherworldly sounding song blasted through the speakers and into my heart. In that nearly four minute song, it possessed all the emotions and insecurities of a teenage boy on the cusp of manhood and sung with a real desperation that no one does any more. And, from then on I was a fan of The Boss. And, I continue to follow him, no matter how hot or cold the weather is the day his new album arrives in the stores, I will get there! I have lived with Springsteen during his first foray into folk music with Nebraska. And, I celebrated during 1984 and 1985 as The Boss became everything I ever hoped he would. Favorite Albums: Born to Run, Born in the USA, The Rising and Wrecking Ball. Favorite Songs: “Rosalita,” “Born to Run,” “Jungleland,” “Thunder Road,” “Prove It All Night,” “Hungry Heart,” “Bobby Jean,” “Dancing in the Dark” and “Glory Days”.

10.26 5.REM

5. R.E.M. – R.E.M. signaled the change from new wave pop music to alternative music rock music. And, they became the transcendent band of college rock to meet up with success. For a short period of time, they even flirted with the greatest band in the world title. R.E.M. ended their career in 2011 with their artistic integrity fully intact. They were the first band whose members were actually close to my age that I love. Favorite Albums: Lifes Rich Pagaent, Murmur and Automatic for the People. Favorite Songs: “Believe,” “Superman,” “Radio Free Europe,” “So. Central Rain,” “Fall on Me,” “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” and “Everybody Hurts”.

10.26 4.Queen

4. Queen – I love bands and artists with a sense of humor, and camp is a great thing to include in one’s persona. So, when I discovered Queen through “Killer Queen,” I knew I found a band with the rocking sound of Led Zeppelin and the campiness of an episode of the Sixties Batman TV show. Plus, I loved how this band used to get under the skin of the Baby Boomer music critics in my favorite rock magazines. They could play anything, and they usually tried to. I am so excited about their biopic finally coming to the big screen in a couple of weeks! Favorite Albums: A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Jazz, The Game, Hot Space and The Works. Favorite Songs: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Under Pressure (with David Bowie),” “Body Language” and “Radio Gaga”.

10.26 3.Tom Petty

3. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Lyrically, Tom Petty must have understood my inner self better than I did. I was hooked with I heard “Breakdown” on the FM Soundtrack album. But, it was the one-two punch of albums Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises that made the Tom Petty fanatic that I am today. I owe so much to Petty, because it seemed his music was always there every time something big happened in my life from 1979 through to today. I miss that we will never get any more new music from him. Favorite Albums: Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Wildflowers, Echo and Highway Companion. Favorite Songs: “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Breakdown,” “The Waiting,” “Insider,” “You Got Lucky,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Saving Grace” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.

10.26 2.Cheap Trick

2. Cheap Trick – Sometime around Halloween 1977 I bought my first Cheap Trick album, In Color, based solely on an album review in Creem magazine, something I had never done before, but it wouldn’t be the last time. I loved the yin and yang of this band, from the pop jutting up against the hard rock of their music to the two nerds working with the two pretty boys. Whatever they did on their first five albums ALWAYS worked for me. Then, they hit something of a dry spell that never got straighten out until the mid-Nineties when the got back to their indie roots. And since then, they have been on a longer creative roll than ever before. Favorite Albums: Cheap Trick (1977), In Color, Heaven Tonight, At Budokan, Dream Police, Cheap Trick (1997), Rockford, The Latest, Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello and We’re All Alright. Favorite Songs: “I Want You to Want Me (live),” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” “Voices,” “She’s Tight,” “I Can’t Take It”.

10.26 1.Prince

1. Prince – No one, and I mean NO ONE, has been able to pull off the whole rock/soul/funk/punk/etc. combination that Prince created and expanded during his career. I cannot begin to describe how great of a musical genius he was. He will tower over rock music for eternity. Favorite Albums: 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, Sign ‘o’ the Times, The Black Album, The Gold Experience, 3121, HitnRun Phase One and HitnRun Phase Two. Favorite Songs: “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Sign ‘o’ the Times,” “U Got the Look (with Sheena Easton),” “Alphabet St.,” “Cream,” “Get Off,” “7,” “Endorphinemachine,” “Baltimore” and “FallInLove2Nite (with Zooey Deschanel)”.

That’s it! My Top 100 Artists of All-Time. I hope you enjoyed the countdown. These people actually dominate my music collection, with my Top 10 having the biggest presence. Have a great weekend everyone! And, keep on rocking in the free world! Peace!

My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day 9: #11-20

10.24 rock n roll ruined my life

…Or did it??? I really think rock has enriched my life.

The Top 20! Finally, we are getting somewhere. So, let’s just get this thing going.

10.25 20.Pearl Jam

20. Pearl Jam – Back in the Nineties, you almost felt like you had to decide to back either Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Sorry, everyone, I love both bands. I just with Kurt were still with us because I would have love to heard how he would have gotten Nirvana to grow into adulthood. Most fans felt Nirvana was an example of “real” grunge. I disagree. Pearl Jam had a legitimate grunge pedigree when they first burst on the scene. Now, Pearl Jam are the elder statesmen that they were truly meant to be all along. To get the whole band history watch Cameron Crowe’s outstanding documentary PJ20, which happens to be one of the best “rockumentaries” ever. Favorite Album: Ten. Favorite Song: “Yellow Ledbetter”.

10.25 19.The Clash

19. The Clash – When I bought The Clash’s third album, London Calling, the hype sticker on the album stated, “By the only band that matters!” And, on that album, along with their output from 1980 through 1983, The Clash truly were the only band that mattered. If only Joe Strummer had not been brainwashed by the band’s stupid manager to fire his songwriting foil Mick Jones, maybe they would have assumed the mantle of being the world’s truly greatest band, which U2 ended up ascending to. Yet, they remain one of my all-time favorite bands, and London Calling just maybe my favorite album ever. Favorite Album: “London Calling” Favorite Song: “This Is Radio Clash”.

10.25 18.Big Star

18. Big Star – I honestly did not join the Big Star bandwagon until I heard their debut album in college, nearly a decade after it was recorded. It seemed as if that album, #1 Record, had been placed in a time capsule after it was recorded in 1972 and opened in 1984, the perfect time for this music to actually become a hit. Unfortunately, only a few record lovers were around for that time capsule’s opening. Next to the Velvet Underground, Big Star may be rock’s greatest cult band; a band that sold a handful of records, yet every one of those record buyers started bands that had the Big Star sound of power pop. Favorite Album: #1 Record. Favorite Song: “Thirteen”.

10.25 17.The Police

17. The Police – From the moment I heard the opening salvo of “Roxanne” in the Spring of 1979, I was a Police fan. And that fandom grew and grew with each album they released in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties. By the time the band released their fourth album, Ghost in the Machine, I thought they were the greatest band in the world. Unfortunately, the three members of The Police were strong-willed and talented, so musical differences could escalate into fisticuffs and fights. So, when the band came off the Synchronicity Tour in 1984, you just knew their creative juices were spent. Unfortunately, the three waited until after Sting’s successful debut album, Dream of the Blue Turtle, to announce they had broken up. And, I am still sad. I prefer my Sting songs played by Andy Summer and Stewart Copeland more that Sting with all the session musicians in the world. The Police could have even bigger if they could have remained together. And, maybe, just maybe, we would have NEVER heard that stupid Sting album he did last year with Shaggy! Favorite Album: Ghosts in the Machine. Favorite Song: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”.

10.25 16.Chicago

16. Chicago – This band may actually be the most individually talented band in my countdown. These guys are so much more than their hit ballads. Go ahead and give a their first five albums a listen (but skip #4, as it is a boring live album, nothing like they really are in concert. I will NEVER understand why the critics hated Chicago so much. Yes, they were nearly all music majors in college. Yet, their music retains a loose, rock element within the strict, jazz-influenced arrangements. It’s no wonder why Chicago remains such a strong following to this very day. Favorite Album: Chicago II. Favorite Song: “Dialogue Parts I & II”.

10.25 15.Todd Rundgren

15. Todd Rundgren/Utopia – Todd Rundgren may be rock’s great Renaissance man, as he was on the cutting edge of record production and engineering, songwriting, performing both solo and with Utopia and video production. You cannot fully evaluate Rundgren’s career without throwing Utopia into the discussion. If you think David Bowie and Madonna are musical chameleons, I suggest you go through Rundgren’s solo AND Utopia’s catalogs. Between the two, this man has made fantastic records in power pop, blue-eyed Philly soul, pop, album oriented rock, prog rock, new wave and even a tongue-in-cheek disco excursion. I guess the best way to sum up Rundgren’s career is by mentioning that he produced Meat Loaf’s bombastic, teenage rock opera classic Bat Out of Hell. If he can lovingly deliver that classic to the public then the man can do anything he wants. Favorite Album: Hermit of Mink Hollow. Favorite Song: “Can We Still Be Friends?”.

10.25 14.Blondie

14. Blondie – THE pop band as the Seventies became the Eighties. Although America did not discover the band until their third album, Parallel Lines, with their mega-hit “Heart of Glass,” their first two album were making a noise with the punk underground and critics alike. Blondie’s run of hits ended in 1982, when their album The Hunter stiffed while the band imploded due to musical tensions, drug use and a rare mysterious ailment suffered by the band’s leader Chris Stein, former boyfriend of lead singer and visual center of the band Debbie Harry. Today, the band still tours and records, but their big commercial days are in the rearview mirror. Favorite Album: Eat to the Beat. Favorite Song: “Rapture”.

10.25 13.U2

13. U2 – For the better part of last 25 to 30 years, U2 have carried the banner as the world’s greatest band. They are definitely the world’s most politically passionate band, putting their money where their collective mouths are (Bono). They are a Gen X-ers dream, an alternative band that has not forgotten its roots, that did not compromise their standards in order to become the biggest band in the world. U2 are active in many worldwide political groups, including their very own ONE Foundation. They have accepted the responsibility of being the voice for a generation by taking on the leadership role that other rockers have shunned. Favorite Album: Achtung Baby. Favorite Song: “Beautiful Day”.

10.25 12.Talking Heads

12. Talking Heads – I was hooked on this band’s take on minimalist funk on their first two albums upon seeing them perform on Saturday Night Live in 1978. Then, Talking Heads took on African rhythms into their basic sound, winding up with an unbeatable amalgamation of punk, funk, bubblegum, pop, rock, African rhythms and dadaist lyrics to create a dance sound on 1983’s Speaking in Tongues. Yet, another example of a band that broke up way too soon. Favorite Album: Remain in Light. Favorite Song: “Burning Down the House”.

10.25 11.David Bowie

11. David Bowie – The great David Bowie checks in at #11 on my countdown. Since his untimely death in 2016, everyone has become very familiar with his catalog. What David Bowie did was leave behind one diverse sounding set of albums. From his Glam Rock Ziggy Stardust days to his Thin White Duke soul man mid-Seventies to his cocaine-ravage Berlin days through his Thin Tan Duke pop/rock maestro, through his noise rock Tin Machine days up to his face-off with death on Black Star (released a day before his passing), David Bowie took on a rich musical trip that few musicians have had the balls to do. Every phase of his illustrious career has value to the overall music story Bowie left behind. Rock will never be the same because of his contributions. Favorite Album: Scary Monsters. Favorite Song: “Young Americans”.

So, who do you think will be in my Top 10. If you have been reading this blog or have known me that should be easy to discern. Tomorrow, all answers will be revealed! Peace!

My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day 8: #21-30

10.23 rock n roll is my life

Whew! What a past 24 hours or so! Earlier this year, I had purchased two tickets to see Elton John in Louisville, Kentucky, for my wife’s birthday present. And, although we saw him a half-dozen or so years ago when he performed a solo concert to raise money for the Ryan White AIDS Foundation (or something like that), my wife still wanted to see the man live with band in tow. And, then, nearly three-quarters of a year ago, Elton John announced that this tour would be his last, which only seemed fair after spending the better part of half a decade on the road. As we know, musicians find it very difficult to stay away from the stage with so much money being thrown at them these days, at least it seems as though Elton will really remain off the road. He has done it all from number one albums and singles to Grammys and an Oscar, to whom would Sir Elton ever try to top his illustrious career. Elton, thanks for all the memories you have given me personally: your music, your sense of humor on TV shows, your performances at the funerals for Ryan White, a young man from rural Indiana who contracted HIV from a tainted unit of blood used to treat Ryan’s hemophilia, and Princess Diana, the People’s Princess, and the three concerts that I attended (1980, 2012 and 2018).

10.24 Elton John Farewell Tour

The concert was a near three-hour performance in which Elton John performed 24 songs, 19 of which are hits. Sure, he could have performed another three hours and still not have had enough time to perform EVERY hit or signature song in his catalog. Yet, at 71, Elton Hercules John and his stalwart band still played as though they were all 20 years younger. This was one of the finest songs I have ever scene. If you cannot tell, I recommend that every reader who is an Elton John fan go see him on THIS tour, because even though the tickets are pricey, the opportunity to see a genuine master of his craft at work one last time. Elton John is definitely better in concert in 2018 than he was in 1980, during all the bisexuality controversy and protests and his substance abuse problems at the time. He is definitely going out on top.

But, more about Elton latter this week – HINT! HINT! Let’s get this ball rolling again and start the countdown!

10.24 30.Jellyfish

30. Jellyfish – This band was underappreciated during its brief career in the early-Nineties. However, if you are a fan of meticulously arranged pop songs, the band is for you. Listen to either of their two studio albums and you can pick out all of their influences, from The Beatles (together AND individually) and Squeeze to Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and Queen and all spaces in between. Jellyfish should have been stars but were dealt the exact fate as THE power pop standard-bearers Big Star: their influence out weights, and outlives, its financial reward. Favorite Album: Bellybutton. Favorite Song: “The King Is Half Undressed”.

10.24 29.ELO

29. Electric Light Orchestra – Yes, this was Jeff Lynne’s band, but who cares? No one was able to take Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles as a starting point and make an innovative career out of it as ELO did. Name a band who could have a Lennon-esque hit song (“Can’t Get It Out of My Head”) AND a McCartney-sound-a-like hit (“Mr. Blue Sky”). Few would try both directions, but ELO pulled it off. Still, they were much more than another band that genuflected at the Beatles alter. This was a pop band at heart with prog window dressing to straddle both worlds. Favorite Album: A New World Record. Favorite Song: “Mr. Blue Sky”.

10.24 28.Fleetwood Mac

28. Fleetwood Mac – Honestly, I thought they were a new band back in 1975. And, I guess, they kind of were. But, it was the way they shifted from a great UK blues band into a purveyor of the Southern California sunny soft rock sound that surrounded dark lyrics of love lost, betrayal and the anger that surrounded the whole drama. Yet, the most famous Mac lineup somehow stuck it out to create some of rock’s most enduring adult-themed music. Favorite Album: Rumours. Favorite Song: “Tusk”.

10.24 27.The Cars

27. The Cars – The Cars made New Wave acceptable to rockers and classic rock tolerable to punks. They straddled the two camps effortlessly as they pushed rock and pop back together for a brief time in the early Eighties. In the early 2000s, there was a run of Cars-soundalikes who had a brief run on the pop charts when bands like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and The Vines were all the rage on MTV. And, I haven’t even mentioned their fantastic videos either. Favorite Album: Heartbeat City. Favorite Song: “Bye Bye Love”.

10.24 26.Stevie Wonder

26. Stevie Wonder – Once Stevie Wonder was able to gain control of his creative process at Motown did the public learn of Wonder’s true genius: the man could play every instrument and make it sound like a real band of session players. And, then the commercial floodgates opened full-throttle. His early Seventies run of hit and Grammy-winning albums, from Music of My Mind to his magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life. Stevie Wonder is arguably the most important artist from the Motown stable (though Michael Jackson fans might want to complain about that statement). Favorite Album: Songs in the Key of Life. Favorite Song: “Master Blaster”.

10.24 25.Raspberries

25. Raspberries – Since I was too young to have experience any kind of the original impact of Beatlemania, it was the Raspberries who brought Power Pop into my life. The Raspberries, along with Badfinger, represented that beautiful quadrant in rock music where pop music co-existed with hard rock guitars of The Kinks, The Who and The Small Faces. I simply call it beautiful music. Favorite Album: Fresh. Favorite Song: “Go All the Way”.

10.24 24.The Beatles

24. The Beatles – Hey! Stop yelling at me! When you see my Top 30, you will see the Fab Four’s fingerprints all over it. There’s no denying that they are the originals of many of rock’s subsequent genres. Plus, the four individuals had very productive solo careers, so I lumped them all together. Favorite Album: Rubber Soul. Favorite Song: “We Can Work It Out”.

10.24 23.The Rolling Stones

23. The Rolling Stones – Perhaps, The Stones were the original rock band, hands down. And, their run of classic albums, from 1968’s Beggars Banquet to Exile on Main St. in 1972, set the tone for the sound of classic rock. By most people’s standards, The Stones are the greatest band ever. Favorite Album: Some Girls. Favorite Song: “Miss You”.

10.24 22.The Band

22. The Band – Generally speaking, The Band was involved with Bob Dylan going from a folkie to an electric guitar-playing rocker. But, on their own, The Band were a beast unto themselves. They had three lead singers who never harmonized but sang against each other in a manner that allowed their songs to reveal a natural tension to the lyrics. The most important thing about The Band? They invented this genre of rock called Americana. Favorite Album: The Last Waltz. Favorite Song: “The Weight”.

10.25 20.Green Day

21. Green Day – Punk rock was commercially popularized in the Nineties by Nirvana, but it’s been Green Day who has outlasted them all to become America’s Punk Emeritus. They exploded on the scene with Dookie, as well as introducing the Rock Opera to punks around the world with their classic album, American Idiot. They have developed into the second-greatest rock band of the Nineties behind Pearl Jam. Favorite Album: American Idiot. Favorite Song: “Minority”.

That’s 80 artists complete, and twenty more to go! I’ll be back again tomorrow.

My Top 100 Artists, Day 7: #31-40

10.22 rock & roll saved my life

I recently read an article about a Yale Professor who has been studying the Holocaust and the history of Central and Eastern Europe for his adult life. The man, Dr. Timothy Snyder, had release a book last year entitled On Tyranny. Since I have always been interested in history, political science and economics, I found the article interesting. Even though I was a microbiology and biochemistry major in college, I did take history classes for fun and what I considered an easy good grade. Anyway, Dr. Snyder had found that four things occurred when a tyrant begins to take root in a country. First of all, generally speaking, the people will NEVER see it coming. It’s like putting a frog in a pan of water and slowly turning the heat up, because the frog will remain in the water and eventually boil to death because the slow temperature changes will not be sensed by the frog. The same thing happens with tyranny. Perhaps the biggest thing that a tyrant attempts to undermine is the world’s basic TRUTHS. Tyrants attack everything that was once considered to be a truth so they can set themselves up as the purveyor of truth.

How does this occur? Our European friends know this for the mistakes of their not so distant elders. First, the budding tyrant will have an open hostility to all thing in which are verifiable, whether its an ethics office in the executive office or telling scientist and researchers in the CDC or within the governmental agencies to never discuss global warming, vaccines being safe and the like. Next, the tyrant-wannabe will lead the people within his power base certain chants that unify that crowd attending a rally or gathering. Generally speaking, a crowd will react to a few “dog whistle” words and begin chanting in unison, seemingly spontaneous, phrases such as “Build the wall!” or “Lock her up!”

The third way in which a budding tyrant begins to destroy TRUTH is convincing the general public of almost magical thinking. Examples would include that a tax cut for the middle and lower classes will be coming from Congress in the next couple of weeks, even though Congress is not even in session, nor will not be in session until their break is over. Or, perhaps, the budding tyrant can blame your unemployment on immigrants who are coming to our country in an effort to escape violence in their country or just to experience the greatness of our country, even though most of those people would never qualify for your job. Finally, the tyrant will put him- or herself in the place of God. You will be expected to thank the tyrant for all things you have and your place in the world. Additionally, the tyrant will be the sole purveyor of truth. And, that, my friends, becomes the final nail in the coffin for a country.

Now, do I believe that our current president is a tyrant? Not yet. But, there seems to be many signs that Mr. Trump seems to want to move in that direction. He loves all the strong men of the world, such as Putin, and often expresses admiration for the regimes running China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, among others. And, as long as he continues this method of dividing the country and appointing people of the lowest common denominator to run his departments, he slowly consolidates his power. You cannot waste time pointing out his lies and flaws, though there are many of each, you have to counteract the budding tyrants with solid programs that will actually benefit the very same people who believe they are benefiting from the tyrant’s policies, even though they continue to fall further behind economically speaking. It’s going to take a group of individuals to come together to develop and campaign behind these ideas. It is not easy beating back a potential tyrant, but it can be done. You just have to execute this long term gameplan BEFORE the tyrant attempts to subvert democracy by declaring a state of emergency in order to take full control of our government. This was Hitler’s playbook, known as Reichstag’s fire. Unfortunately, Dr. Snyder predicts that Trump will attempt this scenario very soon.

That’s why it is important to vote and to educate yourself about the full ramifications of the policies that each candidate espouses. Go back and learn from history’s patterns, so you will not fall prey to such leaders.

Sorry about that! Let me quickly step down from my soapbox before I fall off of it and break my neck. Let’s delve into the good stuff, like my current artist countdown!

10.23 40.Graham Parker & the Rumour

40. Graham Parker – Of the critic’s five favorite songwriters from the mid-Seventies (Costello, Petty, Seger & Springsteen being the others), Graham Parker had the least amount of success. No matter! This guy is the real deal, as he has stuck with his R&B roots throughout his rich career. Plus, you can see the man himself in the movie This Is 40. Favorite Album: Squeezing Out Sparks. Favorite Song: “Wake Up Next to You”.

10.23 39.Devo

39. Devo – Everybody’s favorite nerd robotic de-evolutionists have given us some of the best electronic music over their 30+ year career. Could there be a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in the near future? Time will tell. Favorite Album: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo. Favorite Song: “Uncontrollable Urge”.

10.23 38.Rush

38. Rush – Yet another artist from a Paul Rudd movie (I Love You, Man), Rush quietly built one of the most loyal bases this side of Kiss. They are perhaps the heaviest jazz band ever. Favorite Album: Moving Pictures. Favorite Song: “The Spirit of the Radio”.

10.23 37.Chic

37. Chic – Easily the greatest disco band, although that label unfairly limits the band’s true vision and scope. Simply put, Chic were the Steely Dan of the R&B Charts. Favorite Album: The Chic Organization: Up All Night – The Greatest Hits. Favorite Song: “Le Freak”.

10.23 36.Bangles

36. The Bangles – The best band from L.A.’s Paisley Underground scene, these power popsters did not get a hit until Prince gave them “Manic Monday.” What I loved about this band was their powerful playing coupled with their intricate vocal harmonies. Favorite Album: Different Light. Favorite Song: “Manic Monday”.

10.23 35.KISS

35. Kiss – After Alice Cooper, Kiss was my next big rock obsession. And, yes, at one time I was a member of the Kiss Army, without question the coolest name for a fan club ever. The band’s first six studio albums are all classics, along with their first live album. After that, they became cliches. But, fun cliches at that! Favorite Album: Destroyer. Favorite Album: “Rock and Roll All Nite”.

10.23 34.Styx

34. Styx – Named for the mythical river surrounding Hell, Styx music is nothing but heavenly. Their recipe was taking some Beatlesque vocals and adding it to a hard rock sound with a pinch of prog rock thrown in to spice things up. One of the biggest selling bands of my high school years. Favorite Album: Pieces of Eight. Favorite Song: “Renegade”.

10.23 33.Weezer

33. Weezer – From the moment I first heard “The Sweater Song (Undone)”, I labeled them as the “Cheap Trick of the Nineties.” And I continue to stand by it! Like Cheap Trick, they are transcendent live and their first couple albums are classics by anyone’s standards. But, like Cheap Trick, they can be exasperating to follow as they can release some real clunkers for albums, then follow it up with a near-classic, just to whet your appetite, only to go back to clunkers again. But, I do love those power pop bands that push the genre forward, as Weezer has been doing for 20+ years now. Favorite Album: Weezer (“The Blue Album”). Favorite Song: “Buddy Holly”.

10.23 32.Joan Jett

32. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – From the ashes of The Runaways, Joan Jett arose like the phoenix, leading rockers in a back-to-the-basics style of the Ramones and AC/DC. She has outlasted most of her peers through sheer tenacity and an obvious love ’70s Glam Rock and Bubblegum music, combining them through a punk filter. Favorite Album: Album. Favorite Song: “Do You Wanna Touch Me?”

10.23 31.George Michael

31. George Michael – I have loved George Michael ever since his Wham! days. The man had a Daryl Hall way of writing smart pop songs that conveyed adult themes. And, he had one of rock’s greatest voices. Plus, the man stole my heart when he stood in for the great Freddie Mercury to lead Queen through a rousing version of “Somebody to Love.” Michael should have toured with Queen and not Adam Lambert. Favorite Album: Faith. Favorite Song: “Father Figure”.

Another day is down in the countdown! And, the artists’ presence in my collection are getting larger! See you tomorrow!

My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day 6: #41-50

10.19 rock n roll saved my soul

Well, music lovers, I survived the weekend. About once a quarter of a year or so, my wife and I have our niece’s kids over. Now, it was much easier when there were only two of them to worry about. But, now we have four over, aged two to eight, and it’s a madhouse! It’s fun, but very exhausting. The crazy thing will be when their six-month-old will be old enough to come up too. That’s right! This young couple has FIVE children! Now, I am not sure how many kids my boys are planning to have, but I am pretty sure that it’s NOT five or more. Now, being the former coach, I would prefer to run a tighter ship with the kids when they are over, but my wife wants to have “fun.” So, I am allowed to retreat to the music when I suffer from sensory overload (you see, I AM ADHD and, as my wife teases, somewhere on the very mild autistic spectrum, which may have been why I was always something of a pied piper for the autistic kids in school – they flocked to me as a teacher). Needless to say, we survived, although we are spent. Next weekend, we will get to have our granddaughter over for a night for her first sleepover without her parents! Now, that will be different since she is only one, but she also has part of my genetics, so she is more comfortable in our surroundings than let’s say the great-nieces and -nephews are.

This week, my wife and I are going to see Elton John for his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Farewell Tour. This will be my third time to see him and my wife’s second time. First time I saw him, he was slowly sinking from his commercial peak. It was 1980, and Elton was touring behind a hit single, “Little Jeanie”, from the album 21 at 33. This was the period during which Elton wore a Donald Duck costume onstage. Although he was no longer Captain Fantastic, he was still damn good, although ticket sales were very soft, and the arena in Indianapolis was far from sold-out.

When my wife and I saw him, he was performing in an intimate setting at a Ryan White Foundation fundraiser in Indianapolis. He performed many of his great songs with just him on the piano with no band. It was a terrific way to see him perform, but it also made us pine to see him with a full band. So, now, we will get to see Sir Elton once again but in a more rocking environment – the way he was meant to be seen.

So, today, we enter my Top 50 Artists countdown, as we work our way to number one. So, without any further adieu, let’s get this countdown going!

10.22 50.Heart

50. Heart – Ann and Nancy Wilson are perhaps the greatest sister duo in rock history. Ann has, hands down, the greatest hard rock voice of all-time, and Nancy is one of the finest guitarists in rock history. I especially love Nancy’s 12-string guitar play during the band’s early days. Her guitar sound is pure and precise, with loads of feeling. And, how do I ever begin to describe Ann’s vocals? Some of the high notes she hit during a 1982 concert I attended are part of the cause of hearing loss in my left ear (Brian May’s 1982 guitar solo during Queen’s Hot Space Tour gets some credit as well). I have always loved it when current strong-voiced singers sing then call Ann to come out, and she just blows them away. I would love to witness her in a sing off with Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Mahalia Jackson, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood and any other woman to determine the greatest vocalist of all-time, because my money is on Ann to win. Favorite Album: Dreamboat Annie. Favorite Song: “How Can I Refuse”.

10.22 49.Beach Boys

49. The Beach Boys – The oldest act in my countdown, the Beach Boys possessed some of the finest vocal harmonies anywhere on earth or heaven. And, when Brian Wilson began to take control of his songwriting and production powers, the band was difficult to top. Favorite Album: Pet Sounds. Favorite Song: “Good Vibrations”.

10.22 48.The Smiths

48. The Smiths – Often derisively referred to as Mope Rockers, The Smiths may sound as though they revel in melancholia. However, this great guitar band of the Eighties possessed a wicked sense of humor lyrically and musically. Sure, Morrissey’s vocals are a little mopey, but they were counterpointed by Johnny Marr’s innovative guitar licks. Favorite Album: The Queen Is Dead. Favorite Song: “How Soon Is Now”.

10.22 47.AC-DC

47. AC/DC – The genius of AC/DC lay in the seeming simplicity of their guitar riffs. Along with the Ramones, AC/DC brought rock back to its basics and just pummeled listeners with riff after jackhammer riff. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the author of many of those most famous riffs, was the band’s true secret weapon. It will be interesting to see if Angus, the band’s diminutive, school uniform-wearing lead guitar can keep the Rock & Roll Train chugging now that Malcolm has passed away. Favorite Album: Back in Black. Favorite Song: “Thunderstruck”.

10.22 46.Billy Joel

46. Billy Joel – Although Joel has been often referred to as the American Elton John, he is so more his own man than that. Joel captured all that was great about New York City’s musical past and present, from Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, Brill Building songwriters, street corner doo wop groups and rock music, and concocted an amalgam all his own. We sure could use some new Billy Joel music these days. Favorite Album: Songs in the Attic. Favorite Song: “Leave a Tender Moment Alone”.

10.22 45.Ramones

45. Ramones – There may have been others that came before them, but none of them personified punk rock as the Ramones did. They popped on the scene at a time will rock was getting fat and bloated with prog rock, jazz rock and lumbering heavy metal. The Ramones took bubblegum music’s simplicity, added chainsaw-sounding guitars, and played as fast as they could, sans a guitar solo. And like the hard rock brethren from down under, AC/DC, Ramones brought rock back to its most beautiful basics just when it needed that swift kick, setting the stage for another dynamic twenty-five year of great tunes. Favorite Album: Rocket to Russia. Favorite Song: “I Wanna Be Sedated”.

10.22 44.Peter Gabriel

44. Peter Gabriel – Believe it or not, I discovered Peter Gabriel the solo artist long before I heard him as a member of Genesis. So, when I think of Gabriel, his third (“Melting”) and fourth (“Security”) eponymous titled albums were my initial exposure to his dark genius. As a matter of fact, I still think that his “Intruder” song is one of rock’s scariest songs, while “In My Eyes” is one of rock’s most heartfelt. Favorite Album: Peter Gabriel (3 or “Melting”). Favorite Song: “Sledgehammer”.

10.22 43.Bob Dylan

43. Bob Dylan – I remember loving it when I heard the radio play “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”, that I would crank the radio on my old “all in one” stereo system, attempting to decipher the lyrics of each song. However, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really came to understand Dylan’s full genius. The great thing about Dylan is that he never fully reveals himself on one album; it’s as it you need to be a completist in order to gain that insight. And, even then, Dylan is such an enigma that he will send you on wild goose chases when attempting to pin him down on a subject. That’s why I find his Bootleg Series so enjoyable as I get to discover him at the same time as others since he was beginning his elder statesman phase of his career when I was just learning about rock history. Favorite Album: Highway 61 Revisited. Favorite Song: “Like a Rolling Stone”.

10.22 42.Pink Floyd

42. Pink Floyd – It is my firm belief that EVERY teenage boy should go through a Pink Floyd phase during his teenage years. No other band shows such an innate understanding of the craziness of life and the angst it causes than Pink Floyd. Plus, you can experience a drug trip without taking pharmaceuticals just by listening to their music. Fortunately, I got to see The Wall performed live. Unfortunately, it was only Roger Waters and not the whole band. It just proved how great their music is, as it stands up with great session musicians playing it in the place of the creators. Favorite Album: The Wall. Favorite Song: “Comfortably Numb”.

10.22 41.Neil Young

41. Neil Young – My wife cannot stand his voice, but this man has written some of the most beautiful melodies in the history of music, not just rock. I honestly believe that Young is underrated as a songwriter. He’s not the lyricist that Dylan is, nor is he the pop melody writer that McCartney is. Yet, some of ballads can just send shivers up and down your spine without a word ever being sung. And, remember that everyone from Power Poppers to Alt.Country artists, from Grunge to Alternative artists, from Folk to Country, from Blues to Rock, all list Neil Young as a major influence. Few artists have influenced more rock genres than Neil Young. Favorite Album: Rust Never Sleeps. Favorite Song: “Comes a Time”.

That wraps up 60 artists on my list, meaning that the Top 40 begins tomorrow. The numbers get smaller, but the artists get bigger in my eyes (and ears, and, even more importantly, my collection). Have a great day!

My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day #5: #51-60

10.18 It's only rock n roll baby

We are now halfway through my countdown of my favorite artists of the rock era. For the most part, I feel my list is predictable for a man of my age. Mostly, there are the usual pop/rock suspects from the Seventies and Eighties, with a sprinkling of artists of the same time period that off that beaten path. There might be a choice or three that might catch the reader by surprise, but mainly, I am probably average with whom I list. The only thing that might make my list unique is that the artists that dominated my generation are listed in the bottom half. Still, those names are in my mix.

If the truth be told, first, I am more of a pop guy than a rocker. Second, I generally like tunes with a “good beat and are easy to dance to,” to use the most common description of a highly rated tune on American Bandstand. Plus, I prefer alternative music to metal, though there are some excellent heavy metal artists. Finally, if given the choice, I’d much rather listen to soul/R&B/funk than metal as well. But, of course, you, the loyal reader, had all ready surmised my tastes in music.

So, yes, I would LOVE to see Casey Kasem inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I believe he hard more to do with pushing music to the masses than any other disc jockey of his era. Sure, there were probably many who were better, and Casey’s AT40 demeanor was prime for parody. But, something about him made him eternal to me. Then, thrown in rock journalists Lester Bangs, Lisa Robinson and Cameron Crowe, as the first three rock journalistic voices that brought the music by artists alive for me, voices who I had to read before anyone else.

Speaking of the RRHOF, I was just on the voting site to see how the voting was going. Initially, Stevie Nicks was leading the fan voting, but recently, Def Leppard has taken the lead, as I predicted. But, it was the next three that caught me by surprise, with The Cure in third, my fave of the nominees Todd Rundgren fourth and Sixties icons The Zombies in fifth place. Much to my surprise, Janet Jackson was in sixth place and Devo seventh, both of whom I honestly thought would be higher in the standings. Also surprising to me was Radiohead being in eighth place. Maybe, they are more of a critic phenomenon than an actual pop group. Most disappointingly were the showings of Rage Against the Machine (ninth), Roxy Music (tenth), LL Cool J (eleventh), Kraftwerk (14th) and MC5 (15th). I honestly thought there would have been much more support for those last two. All of this proves that I generally do NOT know what I’m talking about, I guess.

So, with all of that said, let’s get on with the countdown and go into the clubhouse halfway through the whole exercise.

10.19 60.John Mellencamp

60. John Mellencamp – I can remember the excitement I felt the day I saw Mellencamp, then known as John Cougar, “performing” on American Bandstand and seeing original guitarist Larry Crane wearing an Indiana University t-shirt. There’s something about Hoosiers because we always get excited about people representing us on the national stage. That’s why everyone in the state will become a fan of the Pacers or Colts when they have great seasons, or when little Butler University gets to the national championship game in the NCAA tournament, or even when we get behind a singer on the Voice to drive them to the championship on the show. Anyway, here in Indiana, Mellencamp is something of a saint. Basically, he’s our Springsteen or Petty. And, I respect him for basing his band here in Indiana. Favorite Album: The Lonesome Jubilee. Favorite Song: “Cherry Bomb”.

10.19 59.Jackson Browne

59. Jackson Browne – As teenager with enough angst to light up Chicago’s energy grid for years into the future, Jackson Browne was perfect music for those sleepless late nights. And, I don’t care that he recorded “Somebody’s Baby”! He had recorded too many great songs to allow that song to mess up his career. Favorite Album: Running on Empty. Favorite Song: “Doctor My Eyes”.

10.19 58.The Who

58. The Who – Back in 1982, I promised my brother that I would take him to see The Who on their farewell tour that year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get tickets. Then, right after bassist John Entwistle passed away, my boys got me tickets for us to see them. It was good, but it was also obvious that half the band was missing. Still, Who’s Next is one of the greatest albums of all-time. Favorite Album: Who’s Next. Favorite Song: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

10.19 57.The Replacements

57. The Replacements – Back in the mid-Eighties, when R.E.M. was rocketing up my favorite artists list, The Replacements were becoming something of a rocking counterpoint to R.E.M.’s Beatlesque standing in the alternative community. Unfortunately, the Mats never really caught on to this band’s genius, and it was the mainstream’s loss. For a bunch of supposed drunks, this band created some of the most lasting and compelling rock music of the mid- to late-Eighties. Favorite Album: Let It Be. Favorite Song: “Talent Show”.

10.19 56.Parliafunkadelicment Thang

56. George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic Empire – No one combined hard rock and funk like Clinton’s stable of virtuosos, vocalists, studio wizards and weirdos. Sure, initially Parliament was more of a horn band and Funkadelic a rock band. But, as Clinton’s ambitions grew, the distinctions between his main two bands grew hazier, as did all of the other “minor” players in his stable, like Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Parlet, Brides of Funkenstein, the Horny Horns, just to list a few. Clinton’s late-Seventies creations are among rock’s most vital, let alone black music. He was for everyone! Favorite Album: Mothership Connection – Parliament. Favorite Song: “Flashlight” – Parliament.

10.19 55.Duran Duran

55. Duran Duran – When I call them “The Beatles of the Eighties,” I’m NOT be derogatory at all. These guys had it all: talent, looks, and the best music videos of the era. Favorite Album: Rio. Favorite Song: “The Reflex (The Nile Rodgers Single Remix)”.

10.19 54.Michael Jackson

54. Michael Jackson – Yet, another Hoosier, whose family left for the good life in sunny Southern California. Jackson’s trilogy of albums, Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad were the pinnacle of pop music that proved the true power of music. This was truly music for the masses, Too bad his weirdo personality became the story in the Nineties until his untimely death in 2009. Jackson was THE master of popular music. Favorite Album: Thriller. Favorite Song: “Billie Jean”.

10.19 53.Paul Simon

53. Paul Simon – I keep saying that as the years pass, I come to understand Simon’s music more and more. Back in 1975, I hated “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Now, I can honestly defend that song’s honor. Favorite Album: Graceland. Favorite Song: “Late in the Evening”.

10.19 52.Steely Dan

52. Steely Dan – This guys have to be one of the more insidious bands going. On the surface, their jazz-influenced and -structured music came off as smooth and relaxing. But, their lyrics could be a bit on the dark and perverted side, which made for compelling listening sessions. Steely Dan and Chic were the two bands that successfully mined this area. Favorite Album: Aja. Favorite Song: “Deacon Blues”.

10.19 51.New Order
New Order

51. New Order/Joy Division – In 1980, on the eve of Joy Division’s American tour, lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide. Unfortunately, that great band’s vision died off with Curtis. However, the other band members picked up their synthesizers and another band member to create some of dance music’s most innovative and vital music of all-time. New Order rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Joy Division to take alternative music into the discos around the world. Now, New Order is held in the same high regard as its predecessor Joy Division. Favorite Album: Substance 1987. Favorite Song: “Bizarre Love Triangle”.

OK, folks, we are half-way through this countdown. Next week, we will wrap this all up. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Peace out!


My 100 Top Artists of All-Time, Day 4: #61-70


When I do these big type of countdowns, I always feel like something between Casey Kasem doing an American Top 40 show and a K-Tel compilation album from the 70s, which were great purchases when you are in middle school and wanted all of those great radio hits on one source instead of recording them off the radio every day and night. Sure, taping songs off the radio was a fun activity, you inevitably would always get a DJ talkover either during the intro or outro, or both, on your tape of the latest Top 40 songs. Then again, that tape recorder was a great diversion from homework. But, to me, those AT40 shows or K-Tel records were pure gold. And, now, as one who is nearly a senior citizen, I am close to living my dream through this blog.

So, as a very pasty white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Casey Kasem, it is my pleasure to kick off today’s countdown segment. So, buckle your seat belts! Here comes Day #4 of my countdown of My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, #61-70.

10.18 70.GNR

70. Guns N’ Roses – Sure, I really loved these guys, especially the original lineup. I get it that they were combining punk attitude with a hard rock/heavy metal sound, but I also remember 70s-era Aerosmith sounding very similar. And, although Axl Rose is a Hoosier, like me, he’s still seems like he is a bit of an ass. Favorite Album: Appetite for Destruction. Favorite Song: “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”.

10.18 69.Journey

69. Journey – There was a moment in my life when Journey would have top this countdown. But, as I gained more and more musical experiences, I came to the reality that while Journey is good, they were not worthy of my total devotion. Favorite Album: Departure. Favorite Song: “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'”.

10.18 68.Randy Newman

68. Randy Newman – It took me a long time to finally understand what Randy Newman was all about. But, now I look forward to his new music, while still discovering his excellent past platters. Favorite Album: Sail Away. Favorite Song: “Political Science”.

10.18 67.Thin Lizzy

67. Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy was quite possibly my introduction to Irish rock music. And, what a perfect introduction. These guys have been criminally overlooked here in the States. Plus, I prefer their triple guitar attack over Lynyrd Skynyrd’s. Favorite Album: Jailbreak. Favorite Song: “The Boys Are Back in Town”.

10.18 66.The Kinks

66. The Kinks – The Kinks may be rock’s most underrated band. Yet, their influence is nearly universal. Everyone from Van Halen to The Jam covered songs in their own sound, displaying the flexibility in songwriter Ray Davies’ music. Favorite Album: The Village Green Preservation Society. Favorite Song: “Waterloo Sunset”.

10.18 65.Supertramp

65. Supertramp – Initially, this band was put together by some rich guy in Europe in order for the band to play highly experimental music. When the money ran out, the band turned to being influence by “I Am the Walrus”-era Beatles, which led to their watershed moment in 1979. Favorite Album: Breakfast in America. Favorite Song: “Take the Long Way Home”.

10.18 64.The J. Geils Band

64. The J. Geils Band – Along with The B-52’s, the Geils Band was my go-to band for great party music for frat parties. This band could bring the House down. Favorite Album: Freeze-Frame. Favorite Song: “Love Stinks”.

10.18 63.Led Zeppelin

63. Led Zeppelin – I would suppose that most men my age would have the Zep near the top in their countdowns. But, I am just fine with these Golden Gods placed here. Favorite Album: IV. Favorite Song: “Rock and Roll”.

10.18 62.Nirvana

62. Nirvana – Yes, I loved the band. But, I may have been just a bit old for their version of punk rock. Still, there is a huge hole in rock today where Kurt Cobain should still be creating. Favorite Album: Nevermind. Favorite Song: “Smells like Teen Spirit”.

10.18 61.Johnny Cash

61. Johnny Cash – The Man in Black will always be one of my favorites. The man is simply a badass. Plus, he was my favorite as a five-year-old. Favorite Album: American Recordings Favorite Song: “Sunday Morning Coming Down”.

Well, that completes Day #4’s entry. Only six more to go. This has been an enjoyable experience for me. I hope it influences every reader to make a list of their own. See you tomorrow!

My Top 100 Favorite Artists of All-Time, Day 3: #71-80

10.17 Rock & Roll All Night

I don’t know what the weather’s like in “your neck of the woods,” but here in Central Indiana, we have gone from 88ºF last week to a low last night of 28ºF. That’s nearly a 60º turn around in less than a week. No wonder there’s crazy new viruses popping up all the time. Back in April, one day our temperature was winter-like and seemingly and abruptly, we were experiencing summer-like temperatures. It seems to me that the temperature transition seasons of Spring and Fall are going by the wayside. I am a huge believer in climate change, but I tend to look at from a chemist’s point of view, that may be due to the fact that I taught chemistry during most of my teaching career.

You see, there’s an underlying concept in chemistry known as Le Châtelier’s Principle, which essentially states that all chemicals within a system are staying in an equilibrium, in essence so the system allows for life on Earth, until there is a stress that acts upon the system. There are so many of these little chemical reactions going on within an ecosystem that it would require a major stress to cause a shift within this equilibrium. But, since the discovery of massive amounts of energy stored in fossil fuels, humans have been burning these energy source with much gusto. The more we burn, the more carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere. The atmosphere was designed to work efficiently with the carbon dioxide produced by living things. Then, all of a sudden, humans began burning fossil fuels with much gusto in order to heat and cool their homes, to individually drive their cars, among MANY other activities. Now, all of this extra carbon dioxide has to go somewhere. So, it goes into the atmosphere. In response, the natural carbon dioxide scrubbers cannot keep up with the demand, especially as we deforest the planet whose trees act as the atmosphere’s CO2 scrubbers, so the CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, driving up the temperature. Small temperature increases begin to affect other equilibria, such as the water cycle, where ice begins to melt, putting a stress on that cycle and causing an increase in the amount of water vapor in the air and fresh water in the oceans. The excess water now screws with our weather and, ultimately, our climate, leaving the human vulnerable, and finally screwed. Thus, simply put, we, human beings, are playing a major role in climate change. So, Mr. President, in addition to your minions of naysayers, just a small understanding of eighth grade physical science will tell you that climate change is a man-made phenomenon and will not change back.

Alright! Alright! Alright! I will quit proselytizing. Let’s get on with some rock talk! How about doing Day 3 of your Top 100 Artists of All Time Keller! Uh, yeah, sure. OK! So, let the countdown begin!

10.17 80.Joe Jackson

80. Joe Jackson – I am NOT talking about the famous Jackson family patriarch. I am talking about the great singer/songwriter from the UK, the very one who, along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, formed what critics referred to as the Angry Young Men songwriters. All three burst onto the scene with major attitudes toward the status quo and were ready to upset the apple cart. Of course, all three mellowed and made compelling music as maturing men. Jackson moved in a more jazz- and Latin-influenced musical direction from his power pop/punk beginning. Favorite Album: Night and Day. Favorite Song: “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”

10.17 79.Whitney Houston

79. Whitney Houston – When Whitney Houston burst on the scene in late-1984, the music world was totally enraptured with her voice and looks. Now, she was a DIVA! Little did we know of her depression, possible suppression of her natural sexuality and how she used to self-medicate to keep her personal pain more manageable. Behind that beautiful and infectious smile was an underlying, constant pain that could no longer be held at bay by the end of her life. But, if you ever need to her Miss Houston at her best, just pop her debut on your turntable and drop the needle. Then, just kick back and take it all in. Favorite Album: Whitney Houston. Favorite Song: “How Will I Know”.

10.17 78.Eurythmics

78. Eurythmics – This is yet another band that I feel have never been given their due. They were so much more than their pop image and hits. Eurythmics had a soulfulness and sophistication that other synth poppers lacked. Maybe, that was due to Annie Lennox’ vocals. I feel like it was Dave Stewart’s songwriting. They just may have been music truly first synth ROCK band, even while playing up their Motown side, not unlike what the Rolling Stones did during their whole career. Favorite Album: Be Yourself Tonight. Favorite Song: “Love Is a Stranger”.

10.17 77.Lady Gaga

77. Lady Gaga – That’s right! Your eyes are NOT deceiving you. I think that Gaga is the most talented rocker going right now. I especially feel justified after seeing her brilliant performance in the new version of A Star Is Born. The woman is fearless. Wouldn’t be cool if she did an album of blues covers? Her star is only going shine brighter. Kids, she is your David Bowie. Favorite Album: Born This Way. Favorite Song: “The Edge of Glory”.

10.17 76.Janet Jackson

76. Janet Jackson – She had me at, “My name ain’t Baby, it’s Janet, Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty.” Let’s be totally honest: who else thinks her Rhythm Nation 1814 is a better album than Michael’s Bad? Truth be told, I preferred her music to Michael’s AFTER Thriller. And, it wasn’t just producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis who made her. They simply brought everything out of her. Favorite Album: Rhythm Nation 1814. Favorite Song: “Miss You Much”.

10.17 75.Dire Straits

75. Dire Straits – Back in 1978, when I first discovered the magical sound of Dire Straits, everything on the radio was AOR bands, sappy pop music and over-saturation of disco, so their Bob Dylan-like sound was a relief to my inexperienced ears. They continued to be panoramic in the scope of their sound, at least until 1985’s Brothers in Arms. That’s when they blew up to momentarily become the biggest band on this planet. Favorite Album: Love over Gold. Favorite Song: “Industrial Disease”.

10.17 74.Squeeze

74. Squeeze – Back in 1981, critics were overreaching with praise for Squeeze’s songwriting tandem of Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook as the band released their brilliant third album. They really were not the second coming of Lennon & McCartney. Actually, they were had much more in line with The Kinks’ Ray Davies with Squeeze’s duo, as they were writing songs about British life. Still, without that “next-Beatles” albatross around the band’s collective neck, Squeeze has continued to release brilliant album, including last year’s excellent The Knowledge. Favorite Album : East Side Story. Favorite Song: “Tempted”.

10.17 73.Pretenders

73. The Pretenders – Lead singer/songwriter Chrissie Hynde left her native Akron, Ohio, to make it big in England. And, big, she and her band, The Pretenders, were. Their music, a canny mix of The Kinks and punk energy, propelled them all the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Favorite Album: Learning to Crawl. Favorite Song: “Tattooed Love Boys”.

10.17 72.Husker Du

72. Hüsker Dü – In the Eighties, Hüsker Dü was arguably the fourth biggest rock export from the great state of Minnesota, behind Prince, Dylan and The Replacements. Hüsker Dü was known for the blazing speed at which they played their songs, yet those very same song possessed a Beatlesque quality in their melodies. Their music laid the groundwork on which Pixies, in addition to the whole Grunge scene that was percolating up in Seattle. Favorite Album: New Day Rising. Favorite Song: “Makes No Sense at All”.

10.17 71.Alice Cooper

71. Alice Cooper – My original favorite artist. Who knew that his original band only had two great albums in them, and that Alice, as a solo artist, would only have two-and-a-half good albums in him. Though, Alice had the uncanny ability to stage a little comeback every five to ten years with a Top 10 song. Still, the man is an undeniable icon, and one of rock’s original shock rockers. Favorite Album: Alice Cooper Goes to Hell. Favorite Song: “School’s Out”.

And, that’s a wrap on Day Three of this 10-part series of My Top 100 Artists, brought to you by Social Security. When your actually disabled and feel pain 24/7, turn to Social Security, and they will eventually approve you. Just remember that it is a two-to-three-year process. Hope you can survive until those payments kick in. I HAVE to get a NEW sponsor. Then again, any sponsor would be welcomed here.

Peace to all of you!






















































































































My Top 100 Artists of All-Time, Day 2: #81-90

10.16 the-great-rock-n-roll-swindle

Okay, yeah, I get it! The banner today is cheesy, like a bubblegum nerd version of the Sex Pistols’ vision, which pretty much sums up me. I’m a grandfather, in my mid-Fifties, trying to write about a subject that initially was created as a disposable, teen-oriented music, that ended up becoming the defining music for two generations of people. Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers were the generations that grew up immersed in popular rock music. Sure, the Millennials like our music, but, for the most part, music is not the unifying art form of their generation like it was for ours.

You know what? I don’t care! Rock music has gotten me through so difficult times as well as being the soundtrack of so many great things, that I don’t know what I’d be like if I hadn’t gotten that 8-Track tape of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out back in elementary school all those years ago. And, although the readership of this blog is minuscule when compared to those of the great writers at the rock magazines of the Western world, I am so surprised how many people now visit this blog just to look at what I have to say, or what I said in the past. Do I wish I were reaching more people? Absolutely! But, there’s something subversive about writing about rock music to the few.

So, who saw Paul Simon perform on Saturday Night Live for a record tenth time? You know, Simon and SNL have been intertwined for the whole span of the iconic TV show. Everyone knows that Simon was the host AND performer on the second show ever and has made appearances during every decade the show has been on the air. So many great musical guests have performed on the show over the course of its 44 years on the air, but Paul Simon is kind of like the Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin of musical guests. And his 1986 performance with Ladysmith Black Mambazo remains one of my all-time favorites to this day. By the way, Simon nailed his performance on the show once again with a cut from his new album, In the Blue Light (“I Can’t Run’), along with a reworking of his Simon & Garfunkel standard “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that was captivating. Cheers to Paul Simon, an artist whose stature has only grown over the years in my eyes.

With that said, let’s shift topics again and get on with today’s segment of the countdown of My Top 100 Artists of All-Time. Today, we are going through numbers 81 through 90.

10.16 90.Teenage Fanclub

90. Teenage Fanclub – This early entry into the Britpop sweepstakes took the UK and the US underground by storm back in 1992 with their ode to Big Star Bandwagonesque. While, very little of their catalog hit me with the force of that album, the band had maintained a great career of fantastic music that butts right up to being power pop. Favorite Album: Bandwagonesque. Favorite Song: “What You Do to Me”.

10.16 89.Metallica

89. Metallica – One of metal’s most talented bands, Metallica brought the actual speed of lightning to metal that the genre was sorely needing back when the band burst on the scene in 1983. At one time, Metallica was arguably the biggest band in the world. Favorite Album: Metallica (aka “The Black Album”). Favorite Song: “One”.

10.16 88.Warren Zevon

88. Warren Zevon – One of rock’s more acerbic songwriters, Zevon has a reputation of being a songwriter’s favorite songwriter. Unfortunately, the general public did not get to hear much of this terrific music other than the ubiquitous “Werewolves of London.” Favorite Album: Sentimental Hygiene. Favorite Song: “Hasten Down the Wind”.

10.16 87.Van Halen

87. Van Halen – Unknowingly at the time, Van Halen’s success kicked off the whole Hair Metal scene in LA. In the late-Seventies, heavy metal was fat and bloated and fun of cliches. But, Van Halen injected the genre with fun, partying and booze. No wonder Spicoli blew the money he got for saving a drowning Brooke Shields on Van Halen to play at his birthday party in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Everyone my age wanted Van Halen at their parties. Favorite Album: Van Halen. Favorite Song: “Unchained”.

10.16 86.Aerosmith

86. Aerosmith – They were the “Van Halen of the mid-Seventies.” The only problem is they took a liking to alcohol and drugs more than their careers. At least, until Rick Rubin convinced Run-D.M.C. to re-record “Walk This Way” with the band’s creative duo known as the Toxic Twins, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry in 1986. That jump-started the band’s second act as Hair Metal godfathers and a pop hit factory. Favorite Album: Toys in the Attic. Favorite Song: “Walk This Way”.

Beastie Boys in 1987

85. Beastie Boys – Originally saddled with being known as white rappers, the Beasties turned from the formula that brought the band their initial success and became artists and arguably the voices of a generation. The band was silenced upon the untimely death of Adam Yauch, aka MCA. Favorite Album: Paul’s Boutique. Favorite Song: “Intergalactic”.

10.16 84.Donna Summer

84. Donna Summer – The Queen of Disco has been underrated ever since the end of the disco era. Disco artists have been unfairly savaged as being disposable ever since the disco era ended in protest with refrains of “Disco Sucks!” heard throughout the country. However, Summer possessed one of popular music’s greatest voices, just a level below the late, great Aretha Franklin. Whatever, Donna Summer’s music continues to bring joy to my life. Best Album: Bad Girls. Best Song: “I Feel Love”.

10.16 83.The Cure

83. The Cure – Originally lumped into the Goth Rock scene, and unfairly I might add, The Cure burst forth in the latter half of the Eighties with a couple pop hits here in the States, “Just like Heaven” and “Lovesong”. There music is not as dark as it has been made out to be by critics, but when you prefer to wear black clothes, black eyeliner, black nail polish and keep your hair dyed black, it’s easy to make assumptions.

10.16 82.The B52s

82. The B-52’s – THE party band of my college years, The B-52’s hit a career lull in the mid-Eighties when guitarist Ricky Wilson passed away from complications due to AIDS. Then the band hooked up with Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and our heroes soared to even greater heights behind their Cosmic Thing album and the eternal “Love Shack.”

10.16 81.INXS

81. INXS – As Australia’s second best band, INXS was able to synthesize their winning sound by taking the Stones’ grimy raunch and hooking it up with some good old Eighties dance beats. By the time the band perfected the sound, the world welcomed them with open arms with the Kick LP and the stream of Top 10 hits songs the album spawned. It continues to hurt that lead singer and band image center Michael Hutchence passed away in the Nineties because we could sure use INXS now. Will The 1975 ever fill this void? I’m about to give up hope on that.

Well, music fans, that ends today’s entry. Tomorrow, I will be back with the next ten artists in my countdown of My Top 100 Artists of All-Time. Peace!

Because I Can: My Top 100 Favorite Rock Artists of All-Time, Day 1 – 91-100

10.15 It's Only Rock n Roll

Lately, I have been in a very nostalgic mindset. I am not sure that one thing has triggered this, but a multitude of acts have conspired to put me in this situation. First and foremost, I had to make the decision that my step-father could no longer handle the care of my mother, who is suffering from Ahlzheimer’s Disease. For the most part, I have lost my mother to this terrible disease. Sure, Mom and I had a contentious relationship throughout my life, but she is still my mom and nothing would ever change that. Anyway, she was absolutely at her best while raising my brother and me after my parents’ divorce. After parenting two young men myself, I could have never imagined raising them by myself, as Mom did with my brother and me. Now, she is a shell of her old talkative self. Just a couple years ago she posed a rhetorical question to me about this situation, “Why did I work so hard to make all of these memories just to have them taken away?” I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Then, you throw in that I have friends who are facing end of life situations with their loved ones, the marriage of my younger son, and the birth of my first granddaughter, the first female in my lineage in four generations, have combined to put me into this mood. I am not depressed. I know when I am depressed. I am simply wistful. So, instead of listening to new records and CDs, I was reorganizing my collection when I discovered a group of CDs my best friend gave me, which are compilations of music from the Seventies. So, I began to listen to them, allowing the music to take me to different eras of my life. Silly things, like begging my music teacher in third grade to let our class sing Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” during class. Or, the day my Dad stopped me in the lunchroom at the school where he was principal and I was a fifth grader to tell me that Jim Croce died in a plane crash. I began to remember things from middle school and high school, as well, as I moved through the ten years worth of discs of music.

Of this reflection led me to rank my favorite artists, one through one hundred. Honestly, I had a great time making this list. All of these artists are represented in my music collection, with each artist having at least two records in my collection. Remember, this list reflects my listening habits only. Just because I don’t have Jimi Hendrix on this list does not mean I dislike him. I simply do not own enough of his stuff nor has it spent many hours being played on my stereo.

With that said, let’s get this countdown started!

10.15 100.The Rubinoos

100. The Rubinoos – A power pop band from the late-Seventies, they piqued my interest after seeing them on American Bandstand all those years ago. Favorite Album: The Rubinoos. Favorite Song: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”.

10.15 99.The Doors

99. The Doors – They brought a certain dark mood into their music that was missing up to that point in 1967. Favorite Album: The Doors. Favorite Song: “People Are Strange”.

10.15 98.Genesis

98. Genesis – When I speak of Genesis, I am talking about latter-day Genesis, after they became a pop hit-machine trio. Favorite Album: Genesis. Favorite Song: “Mama”.

10.15 97.Bob Seger

97. Bob Seger – With my apologies to my long-time friend, the former Lori Dunwiddie, I never became as big of a Seger fan as you Lori. But, because of your incessant playing of his albums, I came to like him a bit. Favorite Album: Night Moves. Favorite Song: “Feels like a Number”.

10.15 96.Phish

96. Phish – In the late-Nineties and early-Aughts, my boys and I were Phish-heads. I still enjoy listening to my Live Phish albums. Favorite Album: A Live One. Favorite Song: “Bouncing Around the Room”.

10.15 95.Drive By Truckers

95. Drive-By Truckers – One of my favorite artists of the past twenty years, DBT are the premier Southern Rock band, maybe the last of that breed. Favorite Album: Southern Rock Opera. Favorite Song: “Everybody Needs Love”.

10.15 94.Dexys Midnight Runners

94. Dexys Midnight Runners – Considered by most to be a one-hit wonder, “Come on Eileen,” Dexys is renown in its native UK, where they have near-godlike status. Their first two albums are classics. Favorite Album: Too-Rye-Aye. Favorite Song: “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)”.

10.15 93.Billy Idol

93. Billy Idol – Back in the Eighties, lip sync competitions were all the rage. Ball State started its long-running “Air Jam” competition back when I was in college and performed as Billy Idol doing “Dancing with Myself.” I didn’t win, but I was hyper-active crowd favorite during Homecoming 1983. Favorite Album: Rebel Yell. Favorite Song: “Dancing with Myself” (for those of you who know me, there was NEVER any doubt!).

10.15 92.Roxy Music

92. Roxy Music – I fell in love with this band back in 1975 when I first heard “Love Is the Drug” on American Top 40. They went on to influence New Wave and Post-Punk musics in immeasurable ways. Favorite Album: Avalon. Favorite Song: “Love Is the Drug”.

10.15 91.Run DMC

91. Run-D.M.C. – Simply put, Run-D.M.C. are the gods of rap music. And, I’ve been on their bandwagon since hearing their first album in 1983. I still have to get that album on vinyl…Idiot! Favorite Album: Raising Hell. Favorite Song: “My Adidas”.

Well, fans, there you have it” My first ten artists in my very own Top 100 Artists list. See you tomorrow!