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Posts Tagged ‘The Cars’

  1. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin:  From the opening notes of the first track (Good Times, Bad Times), Zeppelin’s debut album hailed the coming of one of rock-n-rolls greatest bands.  Mixing bruising rock with heavy blues, and sprinkling in a touch of folk, it was an instant hit that set off a string of now classic albums (e.g. Led Zeppelin II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti).  Cuts like “Dazed and Confused”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Communication Breakdown” stand amongst the best in Zeppelin’s catalog.
  2. The Cars – The Cars:  On the front of what was aptly called the, “New Wave”, the Cars debut record was a heady blend of synthesizers, crunchy guitars and quirky lyrics.  Though the band went on to score numerous radio hits, no album in their catalog ever approached the consistent quality of this one.
  3. Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses:  Looking back, it’s hard to remember that this record didn’t initially sell very well.  It wasn’t until the radio got a hold of “Sweet Child o Mine”, that sales began to take off.  Along with the popularity of tracks like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City”, the album went on to sell almost 30 million copies worldwide.
  4. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills and Nash:  Despite their notable success with other bands, David Crosby (The Byrds), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) and Graham Nash (The Hollies) never sounded better than when they joined their voices together in this super-group.  Their 1969 debut album stands as one of the greatest records of that turbulent era.
  5. Van Halen – Van Halen:  The Van Halen brothers arrived with a bang on their 1978 debut record.  Featuring tight rhythms, David Lee Roth’s distinctive howl, and Eddie’s virtuoso guitar work, it was a gritty counterpoint to the synth-pop sounds that ruled the airwaves.  For die-hard fans, this album still represents the pinnacle of their catalog.
  6. Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston:  Though originally released in 1985, it took almost a year for this landmark debut album to reach a worldwide audience.  But Whitney Houston’s dazzling voice and stunning beauty were impossible to ignore; as the record went on to produce three #1 singles.  It was a remarkable beginning for one of pop music’s most amazing voices.
  7. Boston – Boston:  Though their debut album seemed to explode onto the music scene in 1976, it was actually years in the making.  Techno wiz Tom Scholz essentially began the process of recording with the core of the band in the early 1970’s, repeatedly reworking the demos until he felt they were ready.  The finished product became one of the biggest selling debut albums of all time, and nearly forty years after its release, songs from this record can still be regularly heard on rock radio.
  8. The Pretenders – The Pretenders:  Though formed in England, the creative core of the group was primary songwriter, and singer, Chrissie Hynde; who was originally from Akron Ohio.  More gritty than the typical New Wave band, and more accessible than the average Punk band, their music was a compelling blend of influences.  Even decades removed from the context of the early 1980’s, this record still sounds fresh and relevant.
  9. Ten – Pearl Jam:  Just as band mates Stone Goassard and Jeff Ament’s previous group (Mother Love Bone) was set to release their debut album, lead singer Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose.  Just a year later, they regrouped with a new lead singer (Eddie Vedder), renamed the band (Pearl Jam), and released their ground-breaking debut album “Ten”.  Despite it’s rather dark themes, rock radio gravitated to cuts like, “Alive”, “Evenflow”, “Jeremy”, and “Black”; as the album went on to sell over 13 million copies.
  10. The Doors – The Doors:  1967 proved to be a pivotal year in Rock-n-Roll history, and the release of The Doors self-titled debut record proved to be a significant part of that.  Whether it was the irresistible keyboard hook of “Light My Fire”, the rocking “Break On Through”, or the haunting, “The End”, this record was an instant classic.

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1.    ABBA Songs:  Quite possibly the guiltiest pleasure of all, much of ABBA’s music was kitschy and light weight; yet irresistible nonetheless.  Though never to be mistaken for high art, these songs still sparkle and dare you not to sing along.  Favorite – S.O.S.

2.    Three Dog Night Hits:  This bands eclectic catalog and shifting vocalists made them hard to pin down; but their knack for producing catchy songs, that get stuck in your head, is undeniable (e.g. Joy to the World, One, Celebrate, Liar, Shambala, Mama Told Me Not to Come, Never Been to Spain, Black & White).  Favorite – Liar

3.    Electric Light Orchestra Records:  Despite their progressive rock trappings, ELO was first and foremost a pop band.  Jeff Lynne’s penchant for Beatlesque hooks, combined with a group full of genuinely talented musicians, produced a bowl full of ear candy that’s still fun to dip into.  Favorite – Evil Woman

4.    Bread Ballads:  Though the lovelorn themes of their ballads could be a little overwrought at times, David Gates expressive rendering of these songs makes them hard to resist.  Favorites – Everything I Own & Guitar Man

5.    Michael Jackson Hits:  Though dubbed “The King of Pop” and posthumously hailed as some kind of pop culture martyr; few of Michael’s songs could actually stand on their own merit lyrically or musically.  Ultimately it was his genius as a performer that breathed life into them and rendered them unforgettable.  Favorite – Off the Wall

6.    Pre-Disco Era Bee Gees Hits:  Arguably, songs like “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, “Lonely Days” and “Run to Me” were the ultimate showcase for the collective vocal talent of the brothers Gibb.  They possess a timeless quality that their later disco era hits often lacked.  Favorite – To Love Somebody

7.    ZZ Top’s Pop Songs:  Though many a rock purist lamented when ZZ Top traded in their crunchy blues rock sound for the “Eliminator” era pop sheen of hits like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”, several of those songs have aged rather gracefully; still provoking a volume increase whenever they come on.  Favorite – Sharp Dressed Man

8.    Journey Records:  Although their lyrics were largely standard pop song fare, Journey consistently created well produced and highly listenable records.  Whatever they may have lacked in the lyrical department, they more than made up for with outstanding musicianship and the impassioned lead vocals of singer Steve Perry.  Favorites – Lights & Send Her My Love

9.    Eighties Synth Pop Hits:  In the early eighties, bands like “The Cars” and “Blondie” ushered in a new wave of young artists, many of whom were armed with state of the art synthesizers and other techno gear.  This produced a dazzling array of new sounds, as bands seemed to appear and evaporate on a daily basis.  Though the wave seemed to ebb rather quickly, it left behind a rich cache of pop gems that are still worth listening to.  Favorite Bands – Tears for Fears, The Pretenders, Til Tuesday, The Eurhythmics, The Cure, INXS, Men at Work

10.  Garth Brooks Songs:  Though disdained by many country music purists, Garth Brooks clearly has a way with a song and knows how to connect with an audience.  In the end, we all would probably admit to having “Friends in Low Places” or maybe even to being one.  Favorite – The Dance

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1. Art Garfunkel (Simon & Garfunkel):  Undoubtedly Art Garfunkel possessed one of the most distinctive voices in popular music; but despite his moderate success as a solo artist, it was really his collaboration with Paul Simon that allowed his gifts to be fully realized. Simon’s amazing songwriting and his deft vocal interplay were the perfect vehicle for Garfunkel to shine. While Simon’s career continued to soar as a solo artist, Garfunkel never again scaled the heights he visited in this partnership.

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2. David Crosby (The Bryds, Crosby Stills Nash & Young):  Like Art Garfunkel, David Crosby possessed a truly unique and beautiful voice. Though he was also an able songwriter and musician, it was his collaborations with people like Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Gene Clark (The Bryds), Graham Nash (The Hollies), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) and Neil Young that created a lasting impact.

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3. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen):  Eddie Van Halen is not only a tremendous guitar player, but a multifaceted musician and the creative force behind the band “Van Halen”. Yet despite his ample talent, it is unlikely that he would have ever achieved the same level of success without finding someone to be the face and voice of his band. Needless to say, he found two of rock’s most memorable showmen in David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.

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4. Freddie Mercury (Queen):  Almost the polar opposite of Eddie Van Halen, Freddie Mercury was a quintessential showman, in need of collaborators to create the proper setting to showcase his talent. He found that in Brian May and the other members of the band Queen. This highly underrated group of musicians provided an accessible context and added valuable substance to Mercury’s eccentric persona.

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5. Ric Ocasek (The Cars):  Undoubtedly the quirky pop genius of Ric Ocasek was the driving creative force behind the music of “The Cars”. And while it seems unlikely that they would have had been noticed without him, the band’s best work occurred when Elliot Easton’s edgy guitar and Benjamin Orr’s emotive vocals were allowed to balance out his off beat lyrics and synth-pop sensibilities.

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6. Dennis DeYoung (Styx):  Like Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Dennis DeYoung of the band “Styx” was the pop visionary behind their most successful music. His creative flourishes fueled the concept albums and stage productions that distinguished the band from its peers. But at its core, Styx worked best as a rock band and in those moments, Tommy Shaw and James Young were essential in balancing DeYoung’s more theatrical sensibilities. Neither DeYoung nor the remaining members of Styx (who perform without him), have been as compelling since they parted company.

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7. Elton John:  Without question, Elton John is a tremendously gifted musician, singer and performer in his own right; but it is through his 40+ year songwriting collaboration with Bernie Taupin that his most memorable work has been produced. It is difficult to know what his career would have been without Mr. Taupin’s contributions.

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8. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd):  Certainly Roger Water’s dark cynicism and disdain for standard musical conventions were at the heart of Pink Floyd’s most memorable recordings, but without the balancing contributions of his band mates (most especially David Gilmour), his solo work has been erratic and far less compelling. Considering his sizable contributions to the band’s collective identity, the remaining members have made some surprisingly worthwhile music without him.

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9. Eric Clapton:  Though Eric Clapton has enjoyed a long and successful career as a solo artist, his most notable moments have almost always come through his collaboration with other artists. His contributions to bands like “The Yardbirds”, “John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers”, “Cream”, “Blind Faith” and “Derek & the Domino’s” were legendary and even much of his most memorable solo work showcased other songwriters like J.J. Cale (After Midnight), Robert Johnson (Crossroads) and Bob Marley (I Shot the Sheriff).

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10. Lennon & McCartney (The Beatles):  While inferring that either one of these musical legends wasn’t talented enough to stand alone would amount to sacrilege in the minds of most people, I would submit that both benefited greatly from their collaboration. Though they each created some classic music on their own, neither consistently produced anything that rivaled their work together.

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