Thursday, June 17, 2010

Question for the audience

I thought about this the other day. What is the greatest American rock and roll band?

It's a tougher question than one might think. When I think about rock history, the best bands are almost all British: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Clash, etc. American bands tend to have a frontman (Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Sly Stone etc.) or are individuals with, in the main, a varying cast of sidemen (Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley).

So when I think about it, the bands that come to mind are:

Creedence Clearwater Revival
Beach Boys
Allman Brothers
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Velvet Underground

Whom would you pick?


Gino said...

i think first we neeed to define what 'great' means, what qualities typify a great band.

i would definately place skynyrd on that list, along with heart, and van halen.

picking one?... give me some time. i just woke up.

Bike Bubba said...

Deathtongue, of course, before they became Billy and the Boingers at Tipper Gore's hearings.

Night Writer said...

Well, CCR was basically John Fogerty (though I remember the photo of the band at Cosmo's Factory). Some might question whether the Eagles are a "rock" band, but then you're not only getting into Gino's "defining great" but "defining rock" as well.

Tell you what, though, as far as having a defining, identifiable "American" sound, you have to nod to the Beach Boys, with Skynyrd close behind by that criteria.

Anonymous said...

Lovin' Spoonful by virtue of the greatest Rock song ever: "Summer in the City". How can there be argument?

Mr. D said...

"Summer in the City"

A great song, no doubt. I'm not sure it's even the best song of its year, 1966, though. Lotta tough competition in that year, considering that was the year of "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Good Lovin," "Good Vibrations," "California Dreamin'," "96 Tears" and a whole lot more. A great year for music. And all those songs are from American artists, by the way.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Did someone say 1966? Two words: Moby Grape.

Mr. D said...

Moby Grape

The great lost band of the '60s. Totally mishandled by their record company, if I remember correctly. Kinda like Big Star was in the 1970s.

Gino said...

i'm glad nobody said the grateful dead.


Right Hook said...

Fly on Free Bird!

Mr. D said...

Two more bands for your consideration that should have been on the list:

The Byrds
Buffalo Springfield

Brad Carlson said...

For me it's The Eagles, and it's not close.

Night Writer said...

Not sure that I'm ready to accord the Eagles iconic status, but I would be happy to have their song "Get Over It" sung regularly in every grade school instead of ditties for the president du jour:

Turn on the tube, what do I see?
A whole lotta people cryin', "Don't blame me,"
They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else
Spend all their time feelin' sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your mama's too thin and your daddy's too fat

Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin', and cryin', and pitchin' a fit
Get over it
Get over it

You say you haven't been the same
Since you had your little crash
But you might feel better if I gave you some cash
The more I think about it, Old Billy was right
Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight

You don't wanna work, you wanna live like a king
But the big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing

Get over it
Get over it
If you don't wanna play then you might as well quit
Get over it
Get over it

It's like goin' to confession every time I hear you speak
You're makin' the most of your losing streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak
Yeah, yeah, yeah

You drag it around like a ball on a chain
You wallow in the guilt, you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in a gutter bringin' everybody down
You bitch about the present and blame it on the past
I'd like to find your inner child and kick it's little ass

Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin', and moanin', and pitchin' a fit
Get over it
Get over it

Get over it
Get over it
It's gotta stop some time, so why don't you quit?
Get over it
Get over it

Mrs. D said...

Not a vote but two comments. One, it is interesting that some British band members say that they were influenced by American singers. Two, a college told me one time that she always brings some Beatles music on road trips because everyone knows most of the words to most of the songs and hardly anyone hates listening to the Beatles.

Anonymous said...

One has to consider the Grateful Dead in the mix, but that is most assuredly subject to opinion. I'm pretty sure that BTO were Canadians, and that also knocks out Rush, I know that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers weren't the greatest, but they do deserve to be included in the conversation.

J. Peterson said...

This is a very interesting observation. I would have to go with KISS. They are rather campy, but they are An America Band. Van Halen could not get along with their frontman for long enough, Guns 'N' Roses had the same problem also, the Doors could not get along with their drugs, and most of the other bands had similar problems like staying power because of conflict, or they were not able to put enough songs together for the masses, or were too late in doing so like Metallica was.

Anonymous said...

Pitiful. The Great Music Maestro Mark didn't toss any of the following on his (Uriah) heap of US greats:

1. The Cars (Boston)
2. Violent Femmes (Racine)
3. And that band from Waukesha ( I can't quite remember their name because of the many beers I consumed at Summerfest, but they had hits such as "Fadeaway"

Anonymous said...

Music Maestro Mark forgot a few to put on his "uriah" heap of US greats:

1. The Cars (Boston)
2. Violent Femmes (Racine)
3. The Waukesha band that always played at Summerfest and had hits like "Fadeaway" (sorry I can't remember their name. Summerfest suds have a way of doing that)