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. 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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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!