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Stars on 45?
All About Music
Member Name: IainWear
All About Music
Date: 03/08/04, updated on 03/08/04 (414 review reads)
Advantages: Longer than "November Rain"
Disadvantages: Less use than the Spice Girls
This challenge was initiated by competition_man. To participate simply think of your favourite artists/duos/groups etc., then choose your favourite track of theirs, then tell us your choices.
~ The Rules ~
Just three simple rules to adhere to:
1) Use all the letters of the alphabet.
2) Only one choice per letter, i.e. no listing close seconds.
3) Give reasons for your choices.
~ Hints ~
Using all the letters may seem an easy task, but believe me; you'll soon discover that some are considerably more difficult than others. Then of course you have the enviable task of choosing just one record.
So here are some hints to help you complete the challenge:
1) Solo artists, duos or groups are allowed - use them wisely. e.g.: Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores could come under L, R and/or C.
2) Album tracks as well as single releases are allowed, but not whole albums.
3) Proper names and stage names can be used. e.g.: Fredrick Bulsara = Freddie Mercury
Me being me, I thought I?d try something a little different from just picking 26 favourite songs from favoured artists for this one. After all, I?ve done quite a few album reviews over time, so you?ve got a fair idea of who my favourite bands are, and I?ve also completed both a Top 10 Albums and Singles, so you know what my favourite songs are. ?So?, I thought to myself, ?time for a little rock and roll education?.
What I?ve done here is select an act for every letter of the alphabet. I?ve tried to make them as obscure as I possibly can, and I?d be stunned to discover that I?m not the only person who has heard of all 26 acts. I?ve tried to avoid some of the more obvious parts of my own record collection (T will not be Thunder, for example)
in favour of other acts and, whilst some of them are still going, very few are either big names at all, or have left their better days behind them. And I hope there?s at least one new name for everyone in here somewhere?
A ? Alarm, the.
Formed in Wales in 1981, these guys were always pretty much a poor man?s version of U2. Sure, they had the same social conscience, and similar musical influences, but the politics were completely different ? U2?s largely concerning the conflicts in Ireland and the Alarm?s concentrating more on pit closures and unemployment in Wales. Probably one of the best examples of this was on ?A New South Wales?, from 1989?s ?Change? album, bemoaning the ?rape of the fair country? and featuring the Welsh Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Male voice choir. The album also featured ?Sold Me Down the River?, an impressive soft rock number that proved to be their biggest hit in the US, but failed to stop the band splitting up a couple of years later. However, various band members kept going and the band hit the news in February 2004 by releasing a single pretending to be by another band. Having not received major radio airplay for some years, it hit the Top 30 thus proving what we?ve all known for years ? modern music is all about image, not about how good the music is.
B ? Bowes and Morley
Oh come on! You didn?t seriously think I?d get through a whole music review without some reference to Thunder, did you? Bowes and Morley are Danny Bowes (vocals) and Luke Morley (lead guitar), who worked together on an album in 2002, following Thunder?s split in 1999 and Luke Morley?s subsequent solo album (2001?s ?El Gringo Retro?). It?s a combination between Luke Morley?s solo work, which had a little more
blues influence than Thunder?s all out pop-rock songs, but carries on in the direction Thunder appeared to be headed in with 1999?s ?Giving the Game Away?. For any Thunder fan, there are moments on their debut release (2002?s ?Moving Swiftly Along?) that bear comparison with much of Thunder back catalogue, with ?Freakshow? and ?Dancing the Night Away? certainly the stand out tracks. 2004?s ?Mo?s Barbeque? is a little less encouraging, being half a covers album and half original material, but their live version of Stevie Wonder?s ?Living in the City?, which appears on this album as a studio recording was one of the best covers I?ve heard in years.
C ? Contraband
No, not the new album by Velvet Revolver, but the band who, I believe, only ever released one album, 1991?s self titled effort. One of the least well known super groups, formed from members of Vixen, Ratt, LA Guns, MSG and Shark Island, they were certainly no Genesis. However, they still managed to produce a fairly decent soft rock album, offering a split between cover versions of old rock tunes and some original numbers. As with a number of rock bands of this era, they proved to be best at the overblown ballads, with ?Tonight You?re Mine? perhaps being the best of them. However, it does say a lot about the band that the stand out track is a cover of ?All the Way From Memphis?.
D ? Danger Danger
It can be argued that these guys truly put the ?cock? into ?cock rock?. OK, so AC/DC and Whitesnake were using filthy lyrics way before Danger Danger released 1991?s ?Screw It!?, but these guys were a lot more blatant about it. Song titles like ?Slipped Her the Big One?, ?Horny S.O.B.? and
?Yeah, You Want It!? don?t tend to leave you in much doubt as to the one track that this band?s mind is on. However, putting these things aside, both lead off single ?Monkey Business? and ?Crazy Nites? (no, not a cover of the Kiss song) were darn good pop-rock tracks and ?I Still Think About You? kept alive the long standing tradition of nauseating overblown soft rock ballads admirably.
E ? Electric Boys
With 1992?s ?Groovus Maximus?, Sweden?s funk rockers the Electric Boys quite possibly came out with one of the best ever album titles there has been. Given that they were around in the days that RHCP and Faith No More were giving rock music a funkier edge, I can?t understand why this band never had more success than they did. The title track and ?Knee Deep in You? were huge pounding bass driven funk rock tracks and lead single ?Mary in the Mystery World? has all that plus a little Beatles-esque edge that probably shouldn?t have worked but did. And in ?Dying to be Loved? and ?Bed of Roses?, the Electric Boys showed a tender, albeit slightly clichéd, side that should have won them more fans that it did.
F ? FM
Forget about Charlotte Church being ?The Voice of an Angel?, in British rock music that title goes to Steve Overland of FM. He had such a clear vocal delivery that he was selected to replace Michael Bolton as the singer of the Sunkist adverts way back when that was still a major brand and in the 1990?s, they were playing Wembley alongside Status Quo. What possibly let them down is that they were a little weedy, in truth. They cam up with some great hooks, but the evidence of ?Blood and Gasoline? and ?Closer to Heaven? (both from 19
92?s ?Aphrodisiac?) always suggested that they were better at ballads. Had they been around a more accomplished during the time that bands such as REO Speedwagon and Foreigner were selling huge amounts of albums about ten years earlier, they?d have been made. Ultimately, FM was a great band in the wrong decade.
G ? J Geils Band
Despite releasing 18 albums since 1970, there?s only one J Geils Band song that really sticks in the memory. ?Centerfold?, from 1981?s ?Freeze Frame? was helped largely by the lyrics and a video that caught the imagination of early MTV viewers, containing a quite large number of scantily clad young women. It?s a soft rock classic, with the synthesiser line and the accompanying whistling sticking in the memory, assuring the band a place on a huge number of soft rock compilations, if not one as many people?s favourite band.
H ? Hardline
With front man Neal Schon?s history including stints with Carlos Santana as well as working with a couple of AOR?s greats in Journey and Bad English, Hardline perhaps deserved to be better than they were. Unfortunately, like FM, they were a band out of time; with the debut album (1992?s ?Double Eclipse? coming about just as grunge was in the ascendancy. They did get a supporting slot on Extreme?s UK tour, but this was to be about as good as it got, as the single ?Hot Cherie?, despite being a very decent rock tune, didn?t get much attention and the band folded soon after, although they did record a second album ?II? without Neal Schon some ten years later.
I ? Idol, Billy
Have a look at all the pop-punk bands that are around at the moment. Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, maybe even Avril Lavigne to a less
er extent. They weren?t the first, not by a long way. That accolade goes to Billy Idol, who?s first attempts to break into the 1970?s punk scene with Generation X were derided for having too much of a pop edge. However, the 1980?s were kinder to his kind of music, and combined with some damn fine tunes like ?Mony Mony?, ?Rebel Yell? and ?White Wedding? he finally hit the big time. If pushed to select a favourite, I?ve always had a soft spot for ?To Be a Lover?, from 1986?s ?Whiplash Smile?. Better by far than any of the weak imitations around at the moment.
J ? Jones, Danko
Just in case you were worried that I?ve not listened to any new music in the last ten years, here?s Canada?s Danko Jones. Hearing ?Sound of Love? from 2002?s ?Born a Lion? on Kerrang, I was immediately impressed. He?s got a retro kind of sound that will not get too many sales but will impress fans of blues based rock music. If you like AC/DC, you?re liable to quite enjoy Dank Jones. He?s not got so many rough edges, but he?s got a lot of heart and quite a voice on him.
K ? Kiss of the Gypsy
OK, that?s enough modern stuff, let?s go back in time and back across the Atlantic again. Another band hampered by the advent of grunge and so subsequently ignored by the record buying public on the release of their eponymous 1992 debut album, purely because it didn?t fit in and wasn?t cool. ?From the Dirt? was a great pop rock track, incorporating more song titles in the lyrics than the England team managed in their press conferences during the 2002 World Cup. But the highlight, and the one thing that makes it even more criminal that the band were ignored was ?No Prize for the Loser?, a heartfelt ballad which managed to avoid the trad
itional excesses of pop-rock ballads and contained instead a lovely lyric and an almost gospel style backing.
L ? Lita Ford
Perhaps better known as part of The Runaways, a band who also included Joan Jett (of ?I Love Rock N Roll? fame) and quite possibly blazed a trail for subsequent female rock bands like Vixen and, more recently, the likes of the Donnas. However, since the band split, she?s still managed to have some success on her own in the pop-rock field, with a duet with Ozzy Osbourne and a fairly major hit with ?Kiss Me Deadly? being the highlights.
M ? Mr Big
Technically another super group, hence the name, this lot at least did better than Contraband, lasting for four fairly successful albums and actually scoring a UK Top 10 hit back in 1992 with ?To Be With You? (from the album ?Lean Into It?, at a time when acoustic soft rock ballads (Extreme?s ?More Than Words? was around the same time) were selling in large numbers. Mr Big were far more than just the one song, however, with ?Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy? featuring a drill solo (Paul Gilbert actually attaching picks to a drill and playing his guitar that way) and ?Green Tinted Sixties Mind?, which added a kind of ?Sgt Pepper? era Beatles touch to proceedings. They were never that good again, although a decent cover of Cat Steven?s ?Wild World? on 1993?s ?Bump Ahead? wasn?t too bad.
N ? Nelson
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson were AOR?s version of Bros. Twin brothers, with long blonde hair they look a little too much like the Olsen twins to really be taken seriously as a rock group and couldn?t be more different in appearance from their father, Rick Nelson
, who is perhaps best remembered for ?Hello Mary Lou?. But they were?just about. They just got into the AOR scene before it ended, with their 1990 debut ?After the Rain? and managed to get a No 1 in the US with ?(Can?t Live Without Your) Love and Affection? and have survived long enough to have had a greatest hits album released this year.
O ? Ozzy Osbourne
One of the more obvious choices in this list maybe, but Ozzy is enjoying something of a comeback in recent years, largely thanks to his family?s reality TV show ?The Osbournes?, which hit MTV a couple of years back. However, he has a huge legacy from his past, including stints as the lead singer of Black Sabbath and his on stage antics and numerous arrests for drink related behaviour, including attempting to murder his wife and for urinating on the Alamo in Texas. Recent family worries such as his wife?s battle with cancer and his son entering rehab (for many of the same things Ozzy was doing in the 60?s) as well as a serious quad-bike accident in December 2003 have presented Ozzy in a kinder light than most ever expected, proving that although he may have more money and bigger houses than the rest of us, he?s still pretty much a normal father.
P ? Poison
Another big name band, although not as big as they once were. Starting back in 1986, their wild hair, make up and catchy pop-rock tunes helped them fit in perfectly with the other acts of the time, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and the rest. However, as with a number of rock bands, it proved to be a ballad that became their biggest seller, with ?Every Rose Has it?s Thorn? (from 1988?s ?Open Up and Say?Aah?) selling in huge quantities and even featuring in ?Bill and Ted?s Bogus Journey? as being
the password for entry into heaven. The band has also stayed in the news and gossip columns, thanks to Bret Michaels dating Pamela Anderson and causing himself serious injury in a car crash. They?re still releasing albums and still touring, although the albums no longer appear to be getting a UK release.
Q ? Quireboys
It?s back to the best of British again, and why not? The Quireboys first hit in the mid 1980?s, proving a great success in a British rock scene boasting Def Leppard and Iron Maiden selling well in the US and Terraplane (soon to become Thunder) and the Little Angels cranking out some great pop-rock tunes. Combining rock and sleazy bar room blues, the Quireboys debut ?A Bit of What You Fancy? had a raw feel to it, led by Spike?s rough edged vocals and a generous use of honky-tonk style piano. Unfortunately, by the time the second album ?Bitter Sweet and Twisted? was released, they were behind the times, with grunge now being the main form of rock music. But after a few years apart they reformed in 2000 and featured on the 2002 Monster?s of Rock tour and have been lined up to support Whitesnake later this year. However, it?s the first album which holds their best music, with the banned ?Sex Party? alongside ?Hey You? and ?7 O?clock? and the ballad ?I Don?t Love You Anymore? being as good an example of British rock as you?ll find anywhere.
R ? Roth, David Lee
OK, this guy?s probably better known for his work as the lead singer of Van Halen, which was always problematic, largely due to both ?Diamond? Dave and Eddie Van Halen thinking they should be the main focal point of the band. However, he did manage to have some success as a singles artist, with a surpr
isingly accurate cover of the Beach Boys ?California Girls? (from 1985?s ?Crazy From the Heat?) and a video who?s voiceover I am convinced got Hugo Weaving his role in ?The Matrix? probably what he?ll end up being best remembered for.
S ? Stryper
This will surprise a few people who weren?t previously aware that Stryper are possibly the best selling Christian rock act, at least in terms of sales of a single album. I suspect that Petra might have higher total figures, but they released a lot more albums. Despite having been away for a number of years, a Stryper reunion in 1993, marking 20 years since they were first signed has proved pretty popular. Although Christian music generally seems to prove less popular than more mainstream equivalents (hence Evanescence trying to distance themselves from the scene recently) Stryper?s releases were as good as anything in the mid 1980?s rock scene, and their big ballad (even Christian rock bands have one!) ?Honestly? was one of the biggest songs on MTV for a while.
T ? Trixter
Another band out of time, and proof that I?ve always been several years behind on my musical choices. Like the Quireboys, they managed to get an album in before the end of the pop-rock era and just before grunge, but unlike the likes of Thunder, they didn?t have enough talent to keep in going through the leaner years. However, for a brief spell, they were one of the hottest rock acts in the US, with both ?Give it to me Good? and ?One in a Million? being the most requested MTV videos in 1990/1.
U ? Ugly Kid Joe
For a brief while in 1992, the title of Ugly Kind Joe?s album ?America?s Least Wanted? proved to be a lie, as they were hugely popular all over the place. The snee
ring skate rock of ?Everything About You? followed by ?Neighbour? and the ballad ?Cats in the Cradle? made them one of the few rock bands to succeed now that grunge was the main musical form. Unfortunately, the success went to their heads, and they had stopped playing their biggest hits as part of their live show as early as 1995. Apart from that, they really didn?t have anything good enough to make them worth supporting, although they still somehow managed a ?Very Best of? release in 1998.
V ? Vixen
Perhaps taking their lead from The Runaways, Vixen fitted perfectly into the soft rock scene of the late 1980?s. After all, most of the men had hair held up with huge amounts of hairspray and wore layers of make up, so why shouldn?t they? Unfortunately, they were a little too different to be successful and weren?t really good enough or powerful enough to show the world that women could compete in what was essentially a male industry and everything they tried had already been done better by Heart. That?s not to say they didn?t have some good moments, with ?Not a Minute Too Soon? (from 1990?s ?Rev It Up?) and ?Edge of a Broken Heart? (from 1988?s ?Vixen?) both proving to be rather good pop-rock songs.
W ? Warrant
Like Poison, another band that kept on going throughout the grunge era and managed to keep their fans by touring the US constantly. Indeed, they were on tour with Poison themselves in 2001. Another cock rock band which meant their pop-rock sound fitted into the mid and late 1980?s rock scene perfectly. It was their second album, 1990?s ?Cherry Pie? that bought them to my attention with the title track and ?You?re the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised? being out and out pop-rockers in the 1980?s tradition and ?Bed of Roses?
being the overblown ballad that all rock bands needed to have in their armoury back then. Perhaps one of the more amusing stories concerning Warrant was in 1993 when, in response to the band naming their third album ?Dog Eat Dog?, another band by that name retaliated by calling their album ?Warrant?.
X ? XYZ
It might seem like a tenuous link, but there really was a band called XYZ. They were a little more straightforward than a lot of the bands listed so far, being pretty much a straight rock act, with none of the bells and whistles that the glam and cock rock eras had. Needless to say, without that kind of attention getting stuff, they didn?t sell too well and the basic fact remained ? the music wasn?t as interesting either. Still, 1991?s ?Hungry? had a few decent tracks on it, with ?Face Down in the Gutter? and ?Whiskey on a Heartache? being fairly decent soft rock tunes.
Y ? Yankovic, Weird Al
I?ve long admired Weird Al more for his song writing ability than as a musician. More than anyone else, he?s got a talent for writing completely new songs around someone else?s music, and he?s got a talent for mimicry on the vocals that gets him as close to sounding like the original as is possible. In the 1980?s he spent a lot of time taking off (or parodying, as he calls it) Michael Jackson?s material, but has parodied everyone from Madonna and Billy Joel to Eminem and Nelly in his career. He?s also famous for his polka mixes, where he does a medley of (generally fairly recent) hits to a polka backing. However, my personal favourite of his will always be ?The Saga Begins?, telling the story of ?Star Wars: Episode 1? to the tune of ?American Pie?
Z ? ZZ Top
Few bands with long flowing beards have ever been
a success in the rock world. Long flowing hair, sure, but not beards. They?re just not cool. Unless, of course, you happen to be ZZ Top. They?ve been playing blues rock for more than 30 years, but they?re still instantly recognisable by their facial hair, which has barely changed in three decades. They?ll probably be best remembered for ?Sharp Dressed Man? and ?Legs?, of their cover of Elvis? ?Viva Las Vegas?, which combined their trademark sound but still managed to sound like an Elvis track.
Well, I hope someone learned something. I?ve learned not to do anything like this again.