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Who’s The Greatest Band?

Who’s The Greatest Band?

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Is there one?

So I’m walking through the office and this guy has a list by his desk of what he considers “the top ten greatest bands of all time!” He’s written down bands like Limp Bizkit, Journey and Creed. Just stuff that makes me want to puke! This other guy, who sits next to him; has his list too which is slightly better but I don’t like Lynyrd Skynyrd and I’m not really into rap like Woo Tang Clan or other things of that nature.

So there was a debate going on with the two guys standing there and my wife and this other girl. Who are the greatest bands of all time? Two of us previously had this other list going on, we called it the frisbee list which we tossed back and forth and kept adding albums to that we believe to be really good…….at least 70% of the way through it. Ones that you rarely skip through. Essentially they are excellent all the way to the end of the record. That was the criteria.

But the whole thing is subjective, honestly. The more people that get involved with the frisbee list, there is going to be so much criteria that too much conflict of interest will occur. My lists are simply a personal thing. I choose my favorite albums of a given year. Or I choose playlists of the month that indicate a mood or a feeling. There’s a difference between favorite albums and favorite bands. Because you have to look at all of their individual records and decide what percentage of them are AWESOME!!!

All of our opinions are different. Surveys, polls, interviews and contests won’t yield any true accurate result. It essentially would last forever, the process. You could just keep listing band after band after band. Led Zeppelin, The Who, Genesis, Metallica (are they the greatest heavy metal band of all time???) and you could drive yourself crazy with a list like that.

In fact, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a top ten list. They are invalid. I’ll tell you why. How likely are we going to agree on all of the choices? Opinions are so wild. Let’s say you bring up The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. They seem to be the undisputed champions of the British Invasion. But then you forget about bands like The Kinks. Friggin LOU REED!! Now he was a genius!! I brought some of that up during the “discussion” at the office but that seemed to get shot down, among other artists I mentioned, like Megadeth (poor man’s Metallica? Really?) .

But coming up with lists are fun and we like to debate. Its an interesting way to IDENTIFY ourselves. We are all uniquely passionate about various artists. Criteria is very important. You can’t just say “these are my favorite bands” and that’s it. Could be only how you feel in that exact moment you announce those musicians. Or only what you remember. What if from several months from now your opinion greatly changes. Then what?

I wish people would focus on the dawn of music, more so. At least recorded music. Go back to the 1920’s. How about Louis Armstrong? An amazing Jazz innovator and trumpeter. Woody Guthrie, the folk movement. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane.

The bands on those lists in the office are just too specific to a certain time period. You can’t say that they’re the greatest bands of all time especially if you’re too zoomed in on a short period.

Is there a point to my babble?

You can’t ignore jazz. Take a music appreciation class that discusses the history of Rock and Jazz. Its important to learn about how things began. Appreciate the birth of rock and roll. How can you fully embrace what you listen to today without that knowledge?

My my top ten lists are only valid for my world. We listen to what we feel like.

Disagreements are okay.

I think many of us have come to the conclusion that the band Creed SUCKS!!! I don’t believe that most people today in America would say THAT band is one of the greatest groups of all time. In fact, I own the book entitled “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.” Creed is never mentioned. Just saying…

You got to live for today. Make your mixtapes for your friends. They’ll either like them or they won’t.

There was talk about The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sure I like them but I don’t worship them nor would I say that they were the defining band of my generation. That’s a bit much. But I did enjoy a couple of their records. Again…..more opinions. What about Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots. Its silly to only limit it to one band. Just personal favorite tastes. 31 flavors…like Baskin Robins. Ice cream. Tons of licks. Don’t all enjoy the same flavor but we all like ice cream.

If we took a look a several genres and chose 10 bands (artists) from each category we could use those artists as a springboard. Or even go by decades. But honestly, its an impossible mission. Music is always new. Even now as I write down these words, there are “up and coming bands” recording incredible sounds.

We debate

and in the end….we establish something….I guess

It passes the time

Oh and one last thought…….

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Album Reviews

LIFE IS PRECIOUS: Essential and Challenging Music

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I swear that what I am about to tell you is absolutely true.. This really happened.A guy named William Basinski created a musical concept known as The Disintegration Loops. This was created out of several tape loops Basinski made back in the early 1980s. These loops were really important to Basinski. Something about these pieces of music had some kind of importance to them. In the beginning, he just wanted to transfer the loops from analog reel-to-reel tape to some kind of compact disc format. However, once he started the transfer, he realized something very important: the tapes were old, dusty and they were disintegrating as they played while he recorded them. He once said, “The music was dying.” But he kept recording this sort of mini documentary on the death of these loops.

The recordings were done in late August and early September of 2001. This is where the story gets to feel a little unreal and terrorizing. William Basinski lives in Brooklyn which is only about a mile from the World Trade Centers. On September 11, 2001, as he was literally completing The Disintegration Loops, he watched these towers get destroyed by the planes. He had friends over and went onto the roof of his building and played the Loops over and over, all day long, watching this trauma unfold in New York. Just imagine listening to the death of this music while this act of terrorism is occurring. Sounds unreal doesn’t it?

The music is beautiful, minimal, sad, frightening, confusing, and ultimately uplifting. What he created here is a living document: a recording of orchestrated decay. It sounds like nothing else I’ve heard, yet, it’s the simplest and most familiar music I can imagine.

Basically the sounds you hear are a repeating loop that slowly deteriorates into oblivion. The loops are simple with lush strings, synth melodies with atmospheric melodies. The melodies are pastoral works intended as representations of nature and beauty. This is ambient music, setting a mood, creating a feeling of being among a a sort of movie soundtrack.

But the ravages of time has killed these loops and the pastoral and ambience they once represented. What we hear on The Disintegration Loops are not poetic images of nature or beauty. What is striking is it somehow gives a taste of nature and beauty as they truly exist in this world. Always lasting for a short time, then slowly dying. What makes these works so memorable is not the fact that the loops are slowly disintegrating but the fact that we get to hear their deaths. In a shocking way, we experience the ugly, brutal realities of life. However, this is incredibly beautiful. Maybe even more beautiful than the original loops ever could have been.

This is really not ambient music in the traditional sense; this is not one melody played over and over to fill the background of a restaurant or part atmosphere. This is natural music: music created from the elemental forces of life. This is the sound of disorder and life as it decays and dies before our ears. When I listened to this music yesterday, I was honestly fighting a crying fit. I was facing my inevitable fate and all others because this music is so powerful and shocking. And like all living things, these sounds struggle and claw for life with their last, dying breaths. Someone once said, “Their deaths are a memorial to Basinski’s past. That he dedicates these works to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is fitting. I can think of no better tribute, no better response to a tragedy of that magnitude than a work as beautiful and as fragile as this one.”

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Album Reviews

Flashback to the land of Spiders!

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Spiderland? What the hell is that? In 1991, a record from a band called Slint landed on the shelves of record stores representing the underground scene. It is a real celebrated album. Spiderland opened doors to a great progression in music and reinvented rock without leaving its primary components behind. Brian McMahon’s voice is a balance of grungy growls and soft whispering with narration. This creates a sublime atmosphere. A cold and dark mood surrounds the record. Actually, it is really intense, sometimes appearing to arrive at the doorsteps of suicidal states of major depression. I would not be surprised if some of the guys in the group had to be committed during the recording sessions. When I listen to the music of Slint, its like I’m floating downstream and being told a story without a happy ending. There are disturbing aspects of adolescent life that are painfully exposed through Brian’s vocals.
But, these guys were actually pretty simple fellas at the time. Upon listening to the first couple of tracks, you realize that it is opening up in a calm environment but slowly progressing towards a shady and swampy era. Guitar relationships and distortions create a strange and yet original effect. I swear these instruments literally sound as if spiders or creatures from the deep are awakening and actually crawling all over the strings and amplifiers. The sound and tone of Spiderland is slowly building towards a climax with heartache and bruises along the way until it reaches it’s energizing finale. Most certainly, the final track entitled, “Good Morning Captain,” is the album at its peak. It is their most well known composition too. Every time I hear it, I get chills thinking about the loss of friends in a terrible event. The combination of a two guitar approach with creepy narration (no singing) create beautiful  and near perfect ambiance. All of this brings us to the final explosion, with a fierce scream of “I’m in hell, I’m in hell, I miss you…”

The recording, in general, makes the listener aware of difference in our world. The band creates an extremely depressing atmosphere with subtle guitar riffs. The sound is trembling, tense and nerve racking. I feel like I am getting close to the edge but not quite going over. It is mind blowing to grasp that four young kids had an amazing visionary construction of rock, opening doors to bands like Helmet, Tool and well much of the post-rock scene. I implore all grunge enthusiasts out there to find your way to a mom and pop record shop. While you’re there, grab a copy of Slint’s Spiderland on cd, vinyl or even on a cassette tape. Play it loud too. This is going to resonate with you for a long time.


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Why Bother With The Box Set? Discovery That Is…

415389138Well I don’t know where to begin with the babble on Pink Floyd. I absolutely love this band. Ever since I was a kid in the 80’s, I was exposed to them. My dad played the records and eventually got the Shine On Box Set in the early 90’s. Very cool box set! It didn’t have the entire collection of their albums but it captured the highlights. I was awakened from whatever slumber I was trapped inside when I listened to this box set and was reading the really cool book that was included. My dad and I had a bond where we’d listen to the music while working in the garage, painting in the family room or driving around in his truck. I was hooked. Then just before I went into college, the 2 of us went to Soldier Field in Chicago and saw Pink Floyd perform one of their last live concerts ever! It was quite an awesome experience.

So throughout the years I began to collect more of their music and read about them and what not. I have all of their stuff on cd or mp3 formats in one way or another. I know that four years ago a box set came out called “Oh By The Way.” Now the “Discovery” one just came out. I’m not saying that new fans or complete fanatics shouldn’t go buy these, but for me, personally, I don’t see the big deal. They probably turned the volume up “one louder.” So what? I have ears and a powerful stereo to enjoy the ones I already have. Also, I will take convenience over quality of “so called” painstaking box sets. Actually they are releasing all 14 albums individually right now in box form and sort of a 2 fold method. One is the Immersions where it is captured in these huge mini-box set releases. (Cash Cow….excuse for all of this stuff? hmmmm) Also then there are the “Experience” versions. THOSE I would consider because they, for one, are cheaper if purchased individually, on occasion. They are usually two discs. One is the original remaster plus live and bonus features. Those are worth it.

The box set “Discovery” is just the studio albums with virtually no new artwork and little cardboard sleeves to wonderfully ruin the discs.  Also no bonus features or a book or anything. Kinda cheesy if you ask me. So I am a traditionalist. I will still go to record shows and look for vinyl and collect artworks. I definitely love surround sound and what not. I just don’t see the big deal in these new box sets. That includes, Oh By The Way, Discovery and the individual Immersion ones. I will say that the “Experience” version of  the individual albums are the ones to look into. At least you can pick these up at your convenience. Besides, convenience is what benefits us all in different ways. I like buying physical cds but I also like to download music too.

Bands like Pink Floyd are kind of worth doing both. I think owning all of the albums is a good thing if done so carefully. Box Sets….hmmm? Shine On was the best one. Sure it came out in 92-93 I think but for what it was…the artwork, the books, the selections and the originality of it all made it the best “box set.” But in general….choose what you like is what I am saying. The new box set for me is just a way to make money and there is no big difference unless you are tripping on acid or something. lol. Anyway “Shine On” or choose “Any Colour You Like!”

Peace Out…C-Note

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Movie Soundtrack Pick of the Week

694876075So when I saw the movie Ghost World,  I just had to grab a hold of the soundtrack. Truly one of those rare cd’s you buy and never get tired of listening to it. I haven’t stopped playing it for the past few weeks. This is one soundtrack that has awakened me into a whole new world of music, considering I have listened to and know a lot about tons of music. The old blues, ragtime and jazz can be found on here. As soon as I brought this home late at night, turned on “Devil in My Woman” by Skip James, I actually got goosebumps listening to it. Amazing soulful eerie music flowed through my bones. I had never heard this before and yet it moved me like nothing else I had been introduced to in a long time. Its an incredible song. And of course, I’m now searching for more music like this. And basically the whole thing is just perfect from beginning to end. The theme song from Ghost World is a pretty nice composition. Brilliance comes in many forms. This was a nice treat for my ears and still is. As a member of the MTV generation on his quest to find music that trumps the mediocre junk out there today, this soundtrack is a breath of fresh air. It joins the ranks of one of my all-time favorite soundtracks. Watching the movie is also an interesting experience. I would go into more details regarding that but this is a music site. You’ll just have to watch it to find out more. All in all I would say…..Wonderful!