Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Dire Straits’

I’m not making a case that these are the five “greatest guitarists of all-time”, but they are my all-time favorites.

5.  Larry Carlton: 

Though Larry is a Jazz music legend, I am most familiar with his work with Steely Dan, which is nothing short of spectacular.  His fills are always tasteful, generally warm, and frequently remarkable.  Listen to the solo on “Kid Charlemagne” or his work on “Aja”, both by Steely Dan. 

4.  Stevie Ray Vaughan:

In his short but brilliant career, Vaughan created a catalog of memorable blues rock music that both paid homage to the classics and forged its own path forward.  His fluid playing woven into a raw vocal style created beautifully textured songs that stick to your soul.  Checkout his playing on “Riviera Paradise”.  

3.  Mark Knopfler:

Dire Straits was by no means a guitar driven band, but Mark Knopfler’s distinctive playing style was at the heart of their best music.  He was never showy or much on guitar solos, but his virtuosity was undeniable.  Checkout “Private Investigations” and/or “Telegraph Road”.

2.  Carlos Santana:

It is tempting to say Carlos is my all-time favorite.  His playing style is all his own, and it adds a savory tang to everything it touches.  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Europa” is a great place to start.

1.  Jimmy Page:

What makes Page standout for me is his ability to seamlessly shift from blues, to rock, to folk.  The sheer variety of his catalog is astounding.  Again, hard to pick just one, but “Since I’ve Been Loving You” jumps to my mind.

Read Full Post »

  1. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd:  Though “Dark Side of the Moon”, and “The Wall” are undoubtedly the groups most iconic albums, die-hard fans often rank “Wish You Were Here” above them as the band’s finest work. 
  2. Aja – Steely Dan:  Despite being generally revered by Rock critics, Steely Dan’s albums are rarely mentioned amongst the all-time greats.  Arguably, “Aja” stands out as being one of the bands most cohesive projects.  Decades later, it sounds even better than when it was first released.
  3. Reggatta de Blanc – The Police:  While “Outlandos d’Amour” was a great introduction to this talented trio, it was “Reggatta de Blanc” which provided the first glimpse of the band’s spectacular potential.  It was a leap forward in style, songwriting, musicianship and production.
  4. Frontiers – Journey:  On the heels of the phenomenally successful “Escape” album, the band released this gem, which combined the best of that previous record with a heavier, more rock based sound.  While the former could be considered a pop record, with some rock underpinnings, the later was more of a rock record, with pop sensibilities.
  5. Bad Company – Bad Company: Formed from the remains of successful bands, “Free”, “Mott the Hoople” and “King Crimson”, Bad Company came out firing on all cylinders for their debut record.  Though this album contained numerous rock radio staples (e.g. Bad Company, Can’t Get Enough, Ready for Love, Movin’ On) and featured one of rock music’s best vocalists (Paul Rodgers), it is rarely acknowledged amongst rock’s elite records.
  6. In Utero – Nirvana:  There is no denying the massive impact the bands, “Nevermind” album had on the music industry, but in some ways that story has obscured the brilliance of their latter work.  With “In Utero” the band began to show its range, both musically and emotionally.  Tragically, their story was cut short before we got to see how far they could take it.
  7. One of These Nights – The Eagles:  The extraordinary success of 1976’s “Hotel California” didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.  1975’s “One of These Nights” was a number one album, featuring three top ten smashes, “One of These Nights”, “Take it to the Limit” and “Lyin’ Eyes”, which were each sung by a different lead vocalist.  Few records or groups have ever managed such a feat.
  8. Pieces of Eight – Styx:  The dynamic tension between Dennis DeYoung’s over the top pension for musical theater, and Tommy Shaw/James Young’s hard rock dreams came into perfect balance for the album, “The Grand Illusion” and on its breakout single, “Come Sail Away”.  But on the follow-up record, “Pieces of Eight” it was the duo of Shaw & Young who got to be the rock band they’d always wanted to be.  Unfortunately, the phenomenal success of the single, “Babe” from their next album, “Cornerstone” brought DeYoung back to the forefront, and marked the beginning of the end of the band’s straight ahead rock sound.
  9. Love Over Gold – Dire Straits:  Though it was not their best selling or highest charting album, “Love Over Gold” may be the band’s most artistically ambitious work.  The plaintive “Love Over Gold”, the haunting “Private Investigations”, and the sprawling, “Telegraph Road” create a soundscape that rivals the film scores that Mark Knopfler would eventually become famous for.
  10. Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin:  Though Led Zeppelin I, II & IV are most often featured on critics “best of” lists, “Houses of the Holy” features some of the bands strongest and most original work (e.g. The Rain Song, No Quarter, Over the Hills and Far Away, D’yer Mak’er).

Read Full Post »

 

 

  • Ambrosia:  People who’ve only heard their Top 40 hits have no idea what a brilliant and bizarre band this was.  Their first album was engineered by Alan Parsons (of Dark Side of the Moon fame), who went on to produce their second LP (Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled) as well.  After two records filled with symphonic pop opuses and medleys that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Broadway cast album, they turned to a sparkling jazz pop fusion for their most successful records Life Beyond LA and One-Eighty.  The originality, musicianship and vocals on these four albums rank them amongst my favorites of all time.
  • Steve Winwood:  This talented singer has been around for decades and I’ve enjoyed his work through every phase of his career.  Whether it was the blue eyed soul of the Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin’), the eclectic improvisation of Traffic (Low Spark of High Heeled Boys), the rootsy blend of Blind Faith (Can’t Find My Way Home), or even the pop sheen of his solo work (Arc of the Diver), he’s proven himself to be one of rock music’s most enduring and talented vocalists.
  • Ricki Lee Jones:  Despite the popularity of her first hit, “Chuck E’s In Love”, it was really her appearance on Saturday Night Live, singing “Coolsville” that grabbed my attention.  I don’t know too many other 15 year old boys who were mesmerized by her blues/jazz/funk/folk/beat poet blend, but something about her startling honesty resonated in my soul.  All these years later, it still does.
  • Dire Straits:  Though Mark Knopfler and his band eventually became a hugely successful pop group, it was the rich textures and soundscapes of their non-radio songs (e.g. Water of Love, Follow Me Home, Romeo and Juliet, Telegraph Road, Brothers In Arms…) that really struck a chord with me.  Perhaps their least commercially viable album, Love Over Gold was, for me, the pinnacle of their catalog.
  • Crowded House:  Born from the ashes of the successful 80’s band, The Split Enz, Neil Finn and his mates (occasionally including brother Tim) produced four memorable albums (Crowded House, Temple of Low Men, Woodface, Together Alone) of smartly written, skillfully performed pop music.  Both witty and wistful, even twenty years removed, much of this music still sparkles.
  • Peter Gabriel:  After a sterling start with art rock pioneers Genesis, this multi-talented artist forged a highly successful career as a solo performer.  His music was always original (Games Without Frontiers), sometimes peculiar (Shock the Monkey), frequently poignant (Biko, Don’t Give Up, The Book of Love) and consistently compelling (Solsbury Hill, San Jacinto, In Your Eyes, Blood of Eden).
  • Til Tuesday:  Though the band’s singer had the look of a punk rocker, and their first big hit Voices Carry was an MTV sensation, it was ultimately the unpretentious distinctiveness of lead singer Aimee Mann that made them memorable.  After the stir caused by their debut release, their follow up albums Welcome Home and Everything’s Different Now were considered commercial failures.  Yet, artistically they were both a giant leap in texture and tone.  Upon the breakup of the band, Mann went on to have an admirable solo career.
  • Tears for Fears:  Though the band featured numerous talented musicians and collaborators, it was essentially the creative vehicle for singer/songwriter Roland Orzabal.  Their 1982 debut The Hurting chronicled his painful childhood and largely featured a moody synthesizer sound, not unlike The Cure.  Their second record, Songs from the Big Chair, featured a much less subdued tone and became a huge international pop hit.  Orzabal continued his evolution with the soulful, and at times beatlesque, release Sowing the Seeds of Love, and a fourth release Elemental, which was essentially a solo album.  Despite the changing styles, the music remained fresh and compelling.
  • The Innocence Mission:  This Pennsylvania based folk band featured husband and wife team Karen and Don Peris, who garnered a fair amount air time on Alternative radio stations in the early to mid-1990s.  Though their records did not achieve platinum success, the hauntingly beautiful songs featured on their first three releases (The Innocence Mission, Umbrella, Glow) make them a standout amongst their contemporaries.
  • Steely Dan:  To call the musical musings of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker unique would be a vast understatement.  Fagen’s distinctive vocal style, combined with wry lyrics, complex jazz influenced arrangements, virtuoso musicianship (e.g. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Jeff Porcaro), and pristine production values resulted in a sound that could not be duplicated.  Though they seemed an unlikely pair for pop radio success, they managed to create a string of successful and memorable records that spanned the 1970s and 80s.

Read Full Post »