LINKS TO THE MUSIC SCENE (07/25/08)
Recommended links of some of the best musicians
From The Edge YES is
the ultimate progressive rock group with
To The Edge and Relayer.
Find out the
latest on what the group is up to at this web page. Follow the
links to the great band members past and present: Jon
Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe (none better!), Chris Squire,
Rick Wakeman, the original action man Mr. Alan White. Also
read some of the discussions among contributors to get an idea of how
much this group means to its fans.
- Pete Townshend
Pete was the main writer for
that loud and raucous group called The Who. ("Long Live
Rock! Be it dead or alive"... Right now, it's on life
support.) This was one of the more interesting musician web
sites. The Eel Pie store
still exists; it has some remastered versions
of a few of Pete's solo albums including some Meher Baba inspired
albums (see Billy Nicholls below) that were at once long out of
print. Pete's diaries were extremely interesting, but
unfortunately all that has been removed from the Internet and now the
site for The Who covers everything.
- John Entwistle Bassist extraordinaire for The
Who. I put him on top of the list, with Chris Squire a close
second. (Sorry all you Chris Squire fans.) Then I would put the
talented Tony Levin.
Most other bassists are rather boring in comparison. [Well, sadly
John is gone now. Perhaps a quote from one of his album covers is
appropriate, "In loving memory of rock 'n' roll. Never really
passed away, just ran out of time."]
Leonard Cohen Files Leonard Cohen was originally a poet out
of Canada who began putting some of his lyrics to song in the early
70s. He's not the most talented of musicians so he sticks
to basic chord progressions, which in this case is a good thing.
The end result is some dreary, sometimes hauntingly beautiful, songs
which are meticulously crafted lyrically. There is a bit of
sardonic humor tossed in. In the late 90s, he spent some time in
a Zen Buddhist colony on "Mount Baldy" in California. He came
down off the mountain and released Ten
New Songs, which is
characteristically Cohen. On it he took a bare bones approach
with instrumentation, in a sense taking a step back to his first
albums. I think it
sold huge everywhere except in--you guessed it--the United
States. He's well remember for his early work of the 60s/70s, but
another essential album is I'm
- Only the finest back up vocalists will do for
Batalla is of Mexican heritage and based
in California. She has great tonal quality and an amazingly
strong voice. She's produced all her own albums, save the debut
release on Warner. Discoteca Batalla
is Hawaiian. She has a very pretty
voice, and I give her credit for being a talented writer, as her self
titled debut is
quite good. Don't let the pretty voice fool you though.
I get the impression she has a lot of spunk regarding any number of
matters. She actually once questioned Leonard Cohen for choosing
to play at a Jazz festival; she must have been new in the band at that
Warnes is fairly well known for her own work, backup vocals for
and also duets (e.g., that theme from the movie Officer and a
Gentleman, "Love Lifted Us Up"). I
Well, and her collection of Leonard Cohen tunes, Famous
Blue Raincoat (reissued with some bonus tracks in 2007).
The latter contains a Warnes/Cohen/Elliott
composition "Song of Bernadette". Keep tissues nearby when you
hear it: "So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine, torn by
what we've done and can't undo." There are some good videos of
Ms. Warnes from long ago. Jennifer announced new
management in 2008 and is working out some tour dates. Be sure to
catch her show if you have the chance.
Davies "For Christ sake have a cuppa
was the lyrical genius behind the many campy (but not really) classics
Kinks. If you don't know The Kinks material from the British
Invasion days, you don't know the roots of English rock! Don't
up a chance to catch one of Ray's solo gigs. This page was off
line for a while and now has a complete upgrade commensurate with his
recent release of solo albums (two in a period of a couple years).
- Dave Davies The other prominent member of The
Kinks; the guitar player.
"You Really Got Me", the guitar part? You know. What
goes "nah-NEH-NEH, nah-NEH... nah-NEH-NEH, nah-NEH...
nah-NEH-NEH, nah-NEH..."? The part that Mott-the-Hoople and Van
Halen tried to improve upon, but failed? He launched that.
(Ray banged it out on the piano first, but Dave gave it
life.) Dave occasionally goes on mini-tours with his own
group. Dave did a bit of the writing for the Kinks as well.
His best (my opinion,
of course) is "When You Were A Child" off Think
you believe that most critics panned the album Think Visual?
Blimey!) Dave suffered a stroke while promoting a solo album so
has spent a long time recuperating. His voice has changed
somewhat as a result. Ray talks in 2008 of a Kinks reunion, but
Dave has resisted. My guess is that it will happen at some
point. Dave's guitar adds so much to Ray's songs. However,
separate tour buses will probably be necessary.
McGuinn Founding member of The Byrds, Roger created the
instantly recognizable 12-string Rickenbaker sound. He emerged as
the leader of the group through attrition. The rest of the
were made up of Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Michael Clark and Gene
Clark, all talented musician/songwriters in their own right. The
band then evolved into a lesser known version of folk/country
musicians. Somehow, 'though, the lesser known albums (e.g., Ballad
of Easy Rider and Farther
Along) are more endearing.
Roger tours quite a bit still and is definitely worth seeing in
concert. He is also into technological gadgetry, so maintains an
interesting web page. Read the story of how Roger got his
name. (BTW, here's a tip: buy only the remastered versions of
Byrds CDs. Columbia originally messed up the transfer
of their albums to CD.)
- The Move Being the best British band to not
make a dent in the United States, The Move were the precursor to
Electric Light Orchestra. Their work stands on its own as quite an
accomplishment. Built initially around the strength of Roy Wood's song
writing talents and an outlandish stage act, the band was sort of
pulled in competing directions. Carl Wayne was a very talented
vocalist. (It's often difficult to tell if it is Roy singing or
Carl singing. Roy's voice was pretty much one dimensional, but
Carl could often sing in a style and tone similar to Roy.) Their
second album, Shazam,
was a long time in the making and was a shift to showcase the
instrument talents of Wood and the vocal talents of Wayne. In any
case, look for the newly remastered and repackaged Fly/Salvo
releases of their albums. They have great sound quality and
include excellent bonus tracks and band photos.
- Richie Havens The coolest musician on this
list. Everyone should see him in concert; one of the best
performers I've seen. (And I've seen a lot!) Richie plays
his own material and covers with a unique song styling and guitar
playing. It's too bad for us all that the many great Havens
albums are out of print and aren't available on
CD. [This is changing... reissues are appearing one at a time on
Richie's web site.] Wishing Well
and Nobody Left To Crown
- Oysterband Five years ago, I gave this band
cursory mention, but over that period their significance has grown for
me. They are difficult to classify. The presence of violin
and other acoustic string instruments first makes one think of Irish
music. However, the best description might be English punk folk
rock. (That's right, as odd as that might sound.) The folk
elements are there, but with some mainstream melodies and sometimes
abrasive, politically conscious lyrics. There really isn't a bad
Oysterband album, which says a lot given their long career. In
fact, they improve with each album. They've gone through subtle
phases: traditional story-like folk tunes (Wide
Blue Yonder) to hard edged electric (Holy
Bandits) to progressive folk (Here
I Stand) to high energy acoustic folk (Meet
Tony Carey is g-r-e-a-t, great!
He spent a short time in Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, but soon
went on to a solo career including a few well known apocalyptic albums
under the name Planet P. Must haves are the Planet P albums as
well as Some
Tough City. So many good albums.
- Laura Fuentes Laura has a wonderful
voice. If you like a variety of Latin music (i.e., good Latin
music, not the flash-in-the-pan hyper-intensive stereotypical stuff) it
is worth checking out Laura's albums. Look at her tour schedule
to see if she is coming to a town near you. Laura spent some time
in Sotavento and Paraguas, groups similar to the likes of Los
Folklaristas and Inti-Illmani. Laura's album Sobrevida is
good, from her time in Madison. (Not sure where you'd find a
copy.) She has one album released since moving to Chile, Donde
Vivo, which has the hallmark of a breakthrough album.
Needs a follow up.
- Sinead Lohan Sinead disappeared from the music
scene to raise a family. Her second album, No
Mermaid, is really good and there is reportedly a third album on
the way, but that was many years ago. What you can expect here is
a very mellow music; a few pop tunes, but also some slow-paced
soundscape sorts of things. She'd probably be placed in the folk
genre, but that isn't exactly right.
- Burton Cummings
Burton was the front man for
the Guess Who, the group that popularized Canadian "prairie
rock". He went on to have some success
in a solo career. Huge in Canada, not so big in the U.S., Burton
was one of the few to give us Americans an irreverent glove slap
in the face with such classics as "American Woman", "Guns, Guns, Guns",
and "Rain Dance". I saw Burton live in the mid 80's, and it was
one of the best rock shows I've seen. (And I've seen a lot!
Did I say that already?) This web page is kept very up-to-date,
but according to Burton will be soon. His
myspace page is more interesting. Burton's solo albums were
re-issued in 1999/2000. (Now if only the Guess Who albums were
properly re-issued. A few were done right on the Buddha label
that is now defunct.) The Guess Who reformed some time around
2000 with the likes of Gary Peterson and Mr. McDougal ("that's as in
LaRou"). There is still a version about, but no Burton.
- Randy Bachman Randy was another important
member of the Guess Who in their
early days. A talented guitarist adept in jazz guitar as
well as the heavy, heavy sound of the well known Bachman Turner
Overdrive, or BTO. I recall an interview of Randy where he said
they added the "Overdrive" one day because at the time they were going
by Bachman/Turner and were often mistaken for a folk group.
(Two name folk acts were popular at the time.) As a result, they
were getting booked in coffee houses and the like. Ahh, a
sip of coffee amid the soft strains of "Tramp!" and "Stay Awake All
Night!". (And what about BTO re-issues?!)... By the way, there is
an official BTO
website, run by
Randy's brother Robin, and the band has the other three major
players. I don't think they do much these days, unfortunately.
Frampton A friend of a friend says that Frampton
Alive is the only live rock album that one needs to buy.
(There is some question as to whether studio dubs were added.)
may be true, but check out Peter's very good lesser known albums such
All The Rules and Premonition. Frampton's career
stumbled a bit in the late 70s, and the critics ridiculed him.
His reaction was a harder edged sound with louder, distorted guitar
riffs. It's unfortunate in a way. Peter's
always on tour somewhere.
- Al Stewart About half of Al's albums are very
good. Past, Present and
Future is a
folk masterpiece, as I see it. Not every song may be exceptional,
but songs like "Old Admirals" and "Roads To Moscow" more than make up
for that. I've seen Al in concert several times now. Always
entertaining stories about the historical settings of his songs, and a
surprisingly good guitar player.
- Gary Wright We all remember Gary's song "Dream
Weaver". The thing that strikes me about his music is that it
becomes more enjoyable with each listen. His early work of course
was centered around electronics, not that the core of his music was
electronic in the sense of, say, Tangerine Dream. His sound
matured with his career when he started delving into world music.
I particularly like the album Who
I Am, featuring George
Harrison and Alan White (see YES above) on a couple tracks. It
also contains the song "Rose", which dare I say could possibly be the
best song ever. It's just
piano and vocals and starts "One broken heart ago, you found
me..." His latest, Human Love is rather good too.
Rea (another link) "Fool If You Think It's Over" was
Chris' most recognizable hit, but oddly it was produced in a fashion
that really doesn't reflect his sound. He's a talented guitarist
with a baritone, raspy voice, both of which he uses to create a
soundscape. He has a great intuition for slide guitar; different
to the way it is typically played, something more akin to George
Harrison's style of slide guitar. His most well known album is The
Road to Hell, but he has had a lot of good singles in
Chris is one of those musicians that, unfortunately, America has no
time for. If you like a laid back groove, check out Chris' work.
- Iain Matthews Iain Matthews is of folk heritage,
went popular for a while, and now has
settled into folk/country. The biggest name group he worked with
is probably Fairport Convention, but the biggest hit he's associated
with (at least in the U.S.) is "Shake It" which he did as a solo
His name was spelled Ian at the time. This is an artist for
which you have to listen to his albums a few times before it sinks in.
For example, the album Stealing
Home at first listen
seems like toss away pop/folk. But it gets better with each
listen. My description would be that Matthews is a more folksy
version of Cliff Richard.
- Bill Miller Of the Stockbridge-Munsee
tribe, Bill Miller is a talented
guitar player and wooden flute player, and his music is a cross
of Native American, rock and country. Also, he's an all around
- Penguin Cafe Orchestra A strange group, the
main member of which is no longer alive. You may have heard one
of their songs in a car commercial and not have known it. It is a
hard to describe. Sort of a mix of classical instruments played
in unconventional ways to create soundscapes. If you like stuff
that is out there, check it out. Otherwise, tread lightly.
Björling A professor in the UW Math Department
introduced me to this tenor's music. Unbelievable vocal control
and clarity, Beorling played a role in many notable operas throughout
his career. In the U.S., Beorling had yearly gigs at the
Met. (That's short for Metropolitan Opera, for all you squares
out there.) Some say Beorling was the greatest tenor of all
time. Given my limited knowledge of opera, what the hell, I'll
- Steve Hackett Steve was once guitarist for
Genesis around the time Peter Gabriel was in the group. He went
on to a solo career. He's an inventive guitarist, and now is
going more in the direction of classical guitar. He and Steve
Howe were the basis of the group GTR, who had one studio album with
some really good songs. However, the album suffered a bit from
the reverberant "heavy metal" production typical of the 80's. (I
saw the group in Milwaukee at the Oriental Theater.) I put Steve
in this list if only for his album A
Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Eddy Grant "Electric Avenue", "Gimme Hope
Joanna", "Ire Harry", "War Party (Me No Wanna Go)", "Romancing The
etc., etc., etc. Eddy also formed his own record company Ice
Records, to publish a lot of the calypso/reggae artists from
Barbados. One really neat song of his is "Kidada", the first half
of which is a spoken allegory about the loss of African names in the
new world, "Kidada did something, he opened my eyes to
everything. Oh yeah, he was an African King."
Morrison Hey, Van is the Man. His string of albums
throughout the 70's are essential listening. And in the 80's he
had a lot of good albums with a bit of Irish influence. His music
can be both invigorating and relaxing. He seems to capture "the
groove". Interestingly, any covers I've ever heard of
Van Morrison songs simply do not work. Only Van can sing his
songs. Today, Van turns out albums still, and the material isn't
too bad (more jazz influenced). However, the 90's albums have
this uneventful backup vocalist on them. Whereas the 70's albums
were characterized with great female vocal backup choirs, the backup
vocals on the 90s' albums are downright annoying.
- David Bowie Like Van Morrison, David's string
of albums throughout the 70's are essential listening. Of course,
Bowie's albums are slightly different from
Van's. David had visions of being the next Anthony Newly in the
60's, but then found his muse at the end of the decade eventually
the glam rock king/queen, or whatever. Then David took on a
like persona, changing from album to album-all great stuff. Ziggy
Stardust and the Rise and Fall of The Spiders of Mars should be
any glam rock CD collection. (Look for the RykoDisc versions of
the CDs if you can find them.) His creativeness began to wane in
the 80's. Since then he has tried to strike in different
but nothing really has captured my interest. A key to Bowie's
was that he always had a great guitarist backing him up, whether it was
Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, Robert Fripp or Stevie Ray Vaughn.
His latest guitarist is very talented, but somehow he sounds more flash
and special effects than anything else.
I imagine most everyone recalls in the back of their mind the songs
"Little Willy", "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox On the Run"; good songs
for sure. However, these songs only represent a small
portion of their varied body of work. Many people would think I'm
crazy for suggesting that this band might be one of the most talented
rock bands ever, but I'm going to do so anyway. I've not heard
a band with so many creative "glam rock/metal" guitar riffs and drum
breaks combined with unimaginable vocals like these guys.
"Action", "Big Apple Waltz", "Fever of Love", "Love Is Like Oxygen",
Today", "Dream On", oh what great tunes. Sadly, two of the
original members are gone, but the remaining two are still involved in
music. Andy Scott
has a version of Sweet still going for many years now, but I haven't
heard it yet so can't
what it's like. Steve Priest too is just forming a band in 2008.
Reyes I came across the album Tarot in a discount
doesn't take long to get hooked on these Latin, flamenco, Gipsy
Wow, these songs have a really strong rhythm, some real punch.
makes you want to dance. But they do slow things down a bit
occasionally, and they don't sacrifice melodies either. Not a
very good web site, however, as there is no concert schedule or list of
albums, and the "news" page is one item several years old. (I
suppose web pages don't rank high for Gipsy musicians.)
Russell and Ronald Mael are the core of Sparks. A very
(VERY) strange couple of guys. Their early songs (the stuff I
like) have peculiar lyrics and equally strange melodies. You need
to have an appreciation for a weird sense of humor to enjoy this music.
(It is catchy stuff 'though.) Anything before 1975 is
definitely good. The eighties saw them dive all out into new
wave. In between they had a somewhat ground breaking album of
dance/synth music produced by Giorgio Moroder. With the release
of their 21st album, Exotic
Creatures of the Deep, they achieved something probably no artist
(even Zappa) achieved before--a series of concerts playing in
chronological order a different album every night.
Bragg For socialists only.
Progressive-space-rock is the best way to describe Camel.
Probably not for everyone. In some ways their music is similar to
Pink Floyd, but with less of a rock structure. Very artsy web
site, featuring-you guessed it-lot's of camels! They're currently
putting together a farewell tour (2003) if you want to catch them one
last time. They aren't calling it quits, but it sounds as though
Andrew Latimer is fed up with attempting to arrange concert dates just
to have them canceled for one reason or another.
- The Hollies
Probably the most halcyon song from my youth is "Some times, all
I need is the air that I breathe..." Anyway, legendary vocalist
Allan Clarke retired around 2000/2001 and Carl Wayne (vocalist of the
great British group The Move) took his place. Wish they'd come
back to America.
- Ian Hunter Ian Hunter's
was the best rock album of 2001. Don't
me? Check it out and see. (Warning: You may develop an urge
to rebel against society.) The music industry has long forgotten
what rock 'n' roll is about, not that they ever really cared.
This guy hasn't forgotten.
- Billy Nicholls The Meher Baba inspired albums
of Pete Townshend included some songs and performances by Billy
Nicholls. Nicholls put together a few albums that went
unnoticed. But more well-known musicians have covered several of
his songs with notable success on the charts. The compilation Forever's No Time At
All is so
comprehensive that it is probably the only album of his, up to 2005,
- Warren Zevon "Some
of them keep running 'til they run straight in their graves. Stay
the wild age."
My "era" was the New Wave days. Judging from the above links you
should probably guess that I wasn't into the music of that time period
in a big way. But there were a few bands here
and there that were worthy of whole albums worth of material rather
a single here or there. Of course there were the bigger names
The Police, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, etc. But here are a
few of the lesser known bands I liked from the time...
- New Musik This is a strange group having Tony Mansfield as the main writer and band leader.
The songs are often in straight 4/4 time with no drum breaks
or cymbals (although there is drums present), but rather repetitive
synthesizer lines. You would think this description makes it
fall under electronic music. Oddly enough, however, the songs
have a very organic feel to them. In any case Sanctuary
was one of my and friends favorite albums from that time period.
There was rumor of a new New Musik album around 2001, but I'm not
sure if anything is materializing because info on Mansfield is scant.
Rings A nice combination of pop and reggae out of the east
scene. I think anyone who is a fan of The Rings
(another link) will spend the rest of their life wondering why this
band never had a national hit.
- Joe Jackson I guess
Joe Jackson is fairly well known. I always like his stuff.
original Joe Jackson Band has reunited and release Volume 4.
a quite good album very reminiscent of their first albums from the new
wave days. There are some ballads, some jazzy numbers, some fast
pace reggae-beat tunes, all with the typical vitriol Joe Jackson
The high-light of the album is probably "Love at First Light".
pun intended.) Must haves of Joe Jackson are Night and Day
and Body and Soul.
DAN SEBALD'S TOP 1 ROCK ALBUM OF ALL TIME
Rolling Stone magazine recently released its list of
top 500 rock albums of all time. The backlash followed claiming
R.S. to be living in the past, and they missed a lot of great albums.
To set things right, after the top album of all time, what else
matters? So, Dan Sebald's Top 1 Rock Album of All Time is (drum
"A beach is a place where a man can feel he's the only soul in the
world that's real..."