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The following are my top 10 favourite solo artists with a bunch of honourable mentions at the bottom. These 10 singers that I've chosen to be in my top ten are ones whose music I feel that I have grown up with as well as thoses whose songs have touched my heart. A lot of their music gives me a lot of good memories. This has a very simular format to my top 10 bands review that I wrote not so long before this review. So without further ado here are my top ten solo artists.
Genre: Soul, Pop and R&B
Favourite Album: Human Beings
First song heard: Crazy
Song that made me fall in love: Kiss From A Rose
Favourite song: Kiss From A Rose
Well known for being soulful with beautiful songs. I love the deep tone in his voice and the passion and emotion that come out through his voice works wonders. Kiss From A Rose is my favourite song, but he's also got a lot of other great tracks as well.
Genre: Pop with R&B, rock, jazz, hip-hop, dance and electronica influences
Favourite Album: Stripped
First Song Heard: Genie In A Bottle
Song that made me fall in love: What A Girl Wants
Favourite Song: Fighter
Sometimes she can go over the top and overdo things, but Christina is still one of the best for me. Stripped is my favourite album from her because of the variety of styles she worked in for that album. She has a strong vocal range, and when she does it right it comes off as very raw and beautiful. Not only do I like her voice, but I like how each of her albums have a different theme.
3) Siobhan Donaghy
Genre: Alternitive Pop with trip hop and indie influences
Favourite Album: Ghosts & Revolution in Me
First song heard: Overrated
Song that made me fall in love: Overrated
Favourite song: Ghosts
Known for being the first person to leave the Sugababes, she has two brilliant solo albums under her name. They may not be commercially successful and there are a lot of people who believe she should have charted a lot higher. She maintains the moodyness that people seemed to admire in the original sugababes in Revolution In Me while developing to be her own classy lady and giving her own special trademark in her second album, Ghost. Her vocals are very soft but can also show a strong egde.
4) Lady Gaga
Favourite Album: Red and Blue - EP
First Song Heard: Just Dance
Song that made me fall in love: Just Dance
Favourite Song:Love Game
Quickly standing out with astonishing fashion crazes and catchy dance tunes with strong influences from Madonna, Grace Jones, Björk, Kate Bush and David Bowie. She's a quirky soul, but I love her more for her personality than for her music. I think her old EP, Red And Blue is one of her best works to date because it's got a nice raw tone I like which is what sometimes her mainstream work can often lack.
Genre: Classical/Symphonic Metal
Favourite Album: What Lies Beneath
First Song Heard: I Walk Alone
Song that made me fall in love: Die Alive
Favourite Song:Rivers of Lust
Former lead singer of Nightwish stuck to her symphonic metal roots with My Winter Storm and What Lies Beneath. Her voice has constantly improved since leaving the group and her classical singing is much more crisp. The emotion she portays in her voice is brilliant and her personality on stage is sweet and humble.
Favourite Album: Tutto Pavarotti
First Song Heard: Nessun Dorma
Song that made me fall in love: Nessun Dorma
Favourite Song: Nessun Dorma
A very iconic opera singer. As well as the passion and power in his specactular voice, I think it's his smile that does it for me.
Favourite Album: Tasty
First Song Heard: Milkshake
Song that made me fall in love: Caught Out There
Favourite Song:Keep It Down
At times her voice is sweet and toneful, at others sharp and dynamic. Her music is very bipolar, but enjoyable. Her earlier songs had very strong R&B roots and in her recent album, Flesh Tone she moves towards a dance and electronica route.
Genre: New Wave
Favourite Album: Klaus Nomi
First Song Heard: Keys of Life
Song that made me fall in love: Wasting My Time
Favourite Song:The Cold Song
A very creative countertenor from Germany. I've only listened to his self titled debut, but I am planning on getting his other albums. I love his unique experimental approach to music, particually his blend of pop, rock, classical, new wave and theatrical music. Definatly ahead of his time.
9)"Weird Al" Yankovic
Favourite Album: Even Worse
First Song Heard: Fat
Song that made me fall in love: Fat
Favourite Song:Amish Paradise
"Weird Al" Yankovic is best known for making parodies of well known hits, but he also writes some of his own original songs that are sometimes in the style of anouther group or artist. He's a very clever artist and almost everytime his parodies and original songs work well. What makes the songs even funnier for me is that he has a decent voice. He featured on an old music program thing titled "Top 40 worst artists ever", I can't remember where it was from, but all I can say that I have been a fan of him ever since.
Genre: Pop, Dance and R&B
Favourite Album: History
First Song Heard: Billie Jean
Song that made me fall in love: Billie Jean and Thriller
Favourite Song:Earth Song
Widely known to many as The King Of Pop and the most successful entertainer of all time. His influence can be seen across many aspiring and established dance and music acts today and many more to come. His music was creative, bold and daring.
Sone honourable mentions go to Dave Gahan, James Blunt, Britney Spears, Ashley Breathe, Mariah Carey, Ashley Tisdale, Kate Bush, Koda Kumi, Hannah Fury, Beyoncé, Céline Dion, Shaggy, Gwen Stefani, Mutya Buena, Delta Goodrem, Peaches, Madonna, Avril Lavigne, Rhydian Roberts, Nelly Furtado, Emilie Autumn, Nicki Minaj, Tom Jones, Hilary Duff, Brandy, Lily Allen, Enya, Tracy Chapman, Jennifer Lopez, Gareth Gates, Björk, Darren Hayes, Kou Shibasaki, Elton John, Adele, Sarah Brightman, Amy Winehouse, Beth Ditto, Ozzy Osbourne and Louis Armstrong.
It really is a difficult job to list your favourite 10 artists and looking at a couple of reviews I'm not the only one with that problem.
Over the years one's taste in music can change and although this takes you in a different musical direction there always remains a soft spot for your former heroes. Then again, there are bands that you continue to listen to for years, like Hendrix, obviously no current output possible unfortunately but the old stuff still sounds great. As one reviewer rightly stated what if he were still with us and recorded rubbish? This does happen to a certain degree with bands you love but surely nobody can produce 100% all the time. I loved and saw the Beatles when I was in my early teens but these days I don't own anything by them.
Some of those I have also loved and still listen to include Neil Young, The Band, Eric Clapton, Cream, Robbie Robertson, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Nirvana, G n' R , Free (Bad Co & Paul Rodgers but not with Queen), Zep...
Anyway, here goes with my current Top Ten which will no doubt change as I get even older - but I promise I will never start listening to crooners!
1. Lynnyrd Skynnyrd.
Had to be in it - loved them since their first album back in the seventies. Although Freebird is the seminal song from this album I still love the entire album. Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday's Gone, Simple Man etc., all brilliant.
2. Steve Forbert.
Not appreciated enough in my opinion and only had one minor hit in1980 with Romeo's Tune which was from his second album Jack Rabbit Slim. His first album Alive on Arrival, released in1978, was my first introduction to him after seeing him on the BBC programme Sight & Sound and was recorded when he was only about 17 years old. When you listen to the songs you wonder how someone of that age could write such material. Outstanding tracks for me are, Goin' Down To Laurel, Thinkin', Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977, Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home and You Cannot Win (If You Do Not Play) but I like the entire album. To date I think he has recorded around 14 studio albums and 3 live albums. He was hailed as the new Dylan at the time which I think's bad news for any up and coming artist. He writes his own songs and plays acoustic & electric guitar and he's well worth checking out. Possibly the best introduction would be Live at the Bottom Line, recorded in 2000 at the Bottom Line, New York which was recorded with a band, The Live Squirrels.
3. John Hiatt
Another guy who writes and sings great songs but never gets the recognition he deserves. Loads of other artists have recorded his songs including Bonnie Raitt who had a hit with a song of his called Thing Called Love. He has also duetted with Loudon Wainright 111 and Roseanne Cash and his album Beneath This Gruff Exterior (2003) features a brilliant guitarist by the name of Sonny Landreth. Other favourite albums are Warming Up To The Ice Age (1985), Slow Turning (1988), Perfectly Good Guitar (1993), and Master of Disaster (2005), I think The Best of John Hiatt 1973-1998 is a good introduction to his music.
4. Green on Red
A defunct American bar band from the eighties featuring Dan Stuart (guitar & vocals), Chuck Prophet (guitar), Chris Cacavas (keyboards), Jack Waterson (bass) and Alex MacNicol (drums). Their brand of Country/Blues songs were mostly written by Stuart & Prophet and they were around from 1982 - 1992 during which there were a few changes in the line up with Prophet joining in 1985 this being around the time they came to my attention with albums Gas Food Lodging (1985), No Free Lunch (1985), The Killer Inside Me (1987), Here Come the Snakes (1988), This Time Around (1989), Scapegoats (1991), Too Much Fun (1992).
5. Drive-By Truckers.
A Southern Rock band from Athens Georgia with a current line up of:
Patterson Hood (vocals, guitar) Mike Cooley (vocals, guitar), Brad Morgan (drums), Shonna Tucker (vocals, bass), John Neff (guitar) & Jay Gonzalez (keyboards). Although I preferred the line up when Jason Isbel joined Hood and Cooley on guitar and vocals they're still an excellent band with that great dirty bar room sound.
6. John Martyn
What can I say about the late great John? The man seemed to have been around forever and made some superb music along the way. Born Iain David McGeachy, in John's music you could hear folk, rock, jazz and reggae, he could sound like an angel John or growl like an animal, listen to Johnny Too Bad for example.
His songs have been covered by Clapton to Taj Mahal with hundreds in between and there is a tribute album currently in the pipe line with many well known acts singing John's songs. Although widely known for the Nick Drake tribute 'Solid Air' John wrote many more memorable and beautiful songs. He also did cover versions such as Elmore James' 'The Sky is Crying', which was also covered by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and although I love Stevie's version when you hear John sing it there is so much feeling in his voice it is truly moving and also recorded a cover of the Billie Holiday song 'Strange Fruit'.
There are too many albums to list but his first was 'London Conversation' released in 1967 when he was 20 years old through to his 22nd studio album 'On The Cobbles', released in 2004 in addition to the multiple compilation and live albums. The 1992 album 'Couldn't Love You More' consisted of re-recorded versions of classic tracks with guest appearances including Phil Collins, David Gilmour.
I have seen John perform many times the last time being about 1993 at a pub in Northumberland and when he came off stage I offered him a swig of my pint which he duly did and said, "thanks mate".
Gone, but not forgotten RIP John.
7. Slaid Cleaves.
Another troubadour who goes unnoticed and in his own words: Grew up in Maine. Lives in Texas. Writes songs. Makes records. Travels around. Tries to be good.
Slaid's first album went to number 2 on the Gavin Americana radio chart in early 1997 and elicited the following review: "He's got a melodic sense to match his narrative skills and he draws as much from Rockabilly and Hank Williams as he does from Vintage Bob Dylan....his sharp perspectives and sharper hooks distinguish him almost as much as his name."
Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader (Critic's Choice).
Although his first recordings from 1990 were originally released on cassette only "The Promise / Looks Good From the Road" were reissued on CD in 1998. With "Life's Other Side" independently released in 1992 and reissued 1997 and "For the Brave and Free" independently released in 1993 and reissued on CD in 2001.
"Broke Down" was released in 2000 and spent 5 weeks at the top of the Americano Radio Chart followed with "Wishbones" in 2004. "Unsung" from 2006 is a collection of songs by unsigned singer/songwriters and there are some beautiful songs on all of these. "Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away" was released in 2009 but I prefer his other recordings to this one. That's just my taste.
Although I'm a headbanger by nature, this band can really get me jumping around! They are a British Folk/Rock band and although they haven't had the commercial success of the Levellers to me they are much better. In addition to writing their own songs they also do versions of traditional folk songs but their not a 'one finger in ear' band wearing woolly jumpers. With over thirty years behind them they are still going strong and have their own festival each year in Leicester.
9. Blue Oyster Cult.
If only for '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' from the album 'Agents of Fortune' one of my all time favourite songs but still a very good rock band.
10. Warren Zevon.
Warren was what I'd call a 'cult' artist who did not gain commercial success and is perhaps best known for his song 'Werewolves of London'. His opinions of life can be heard in his lyrics, composing songs that could be humorous, political and sometimes quite dark. His tracks
"Keep Me in Your Heart" and "Numb As a Statue" are featured in the 2009 Judd Appatow film "Funny People".
His first album release was in 1969 and altogether I think he recorded about 16 albums during his lifetime. Unfortunately Warren died of cancer in 2003 but in 2004 a tribute album was released 'Enjoy Every Sandwich -
The Songs of Warren' featuring the likes of Don Henley, Adam Sandler, Steve Earle, Jackson Browne with Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
1. MF Doom (aka King Geedorah, Madvillain, Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X, DOOM) - His flow and lyrics are like poetry2. Capdown - UK Ska-Core3. Remarc - Jungle Legend 4. NOFX - Godfathers of punk5. Foreign Beggars - UK Hip Hop6. Noisia - Drum and Bass like you've never heard before7. DJ Hazard - Knows how to DJ DnB properly8. Jurassic 5 - Smooth Hip hop with good vibes9. Dizzee Rascal - One of UK's best musical exports ever!10. Jamiroquai - Funky
I honestly didn't know where to start with this list. I had a clear idea of what my top 3 artists were but I had to sit and do some thinking about the other 7! This is just a personal list of mine, in no way am I saying these are the greatest artists of all time (that one's down to your own opinion), but these are the artists I enjoy most and greatly admire in order. Enjoy!
1. Michael Jackson - If you hadn't already guessed! I'm not going to go into too much detail on why I love this man because if I get started, I will ramble on forever. What appeals to me most about Michael is that I feel he is one of the very few artists that can cross over to so many different genres of music such as pop, rock, soul, RnB and pull it off perfectly. Not to mention the lyrical meaning and emotion that goes into each and every one of his songs. I also greatly admire Michaels humanitarian work; working with over 40 charities and donating $500 million overall just shows what a great human being this man is behind the media portrayal. His music career spanned over 4 generations and I'm pretty sure his music will never get old. There is much more as to why he is my favourite artist, but as I said above, I won't go too much into it for your own sake!
Favourite Michael Jackson song: Stranger in Moscow/Sunset Driver
Favourite Michael Jackson album: Bad
2. Prince - Another one of the great 80's icons! A little ironic since him and the one above this were considered rivals but what the heck. They are both brilliant. Despite his pretty ignorant attitude, I love everything Prince is about. I love his fashion (even the high heels), his music, his movie's and his whole persona. I don't appreciate his stubborn, childish attitude in most of his interviews, but I'm willing to look past that just because of the sheer brilliance of his music. 'Purple Rain' is also one of my favourite movies of all time (I can't say the same for 'Graffiti Bridge' sorry Prince!) I don't think Prince gets the recognition he deserves anymore which is unfortunate, but I'm glad to be very familiar with his music.
Favourite Prince Song: Little Red Corvette/Raspberry Beret
Favourite Prince Album: Purple Rain
3. The Cure - Robert Smith = So hopelessly underrated. I grew up on The Cure and the first song I ever heard was 'Inbetween Days' and I fell in love with the melody, as well as Robert! Every single song from The Cure is just magical to me; they all have beautiful lyrics, melodies and they bring back some great memories for me. Definitely my favourite band of all time without a doubt.
Favourite Cure song: Love Song/Friday I'm in Love
Favourite Cure album: Disintegration
4. Johnny Cash - I usually get a few funny looks when someone finds out I like Johnny Cash at my age! But there is something about Johnny's music that really draws me in. It is almost like in every song of his, there is a story behind it and they are always written in such detail. I feel Johnny is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and I admire him greatly.
Favourite Johnny Cash song: Hurt/Jackson
Favourite Johnny Cash album: I Walk the Line
5. Janet Jackson - Janet is undoubtedly my favourite female artist, and I believe she paved the way for artists like Beyonce and Rihanna. Like Michael, she is able to cross over from many different genres and pull it off. Not to mention her outstanding dancing skills (which sadly, are normally overlooked due to Michael's) and her acting skills. She also produced some of the greatest music videos around such as Rhythm Nation and Scream. To me, she is a musical icon.
Favourite Janet Jackson song: Let's Wait a While/Nasty
Favourite Janet Jackson album: Rhythm Nation 1814
6. Billy Ocean - Billy's music always has the power to lighten my day! Such an energetic soulful man with fun songs. He is one of my favourites from the 70's and I love the feel good vibe that comes with each and every one of his songs. A very underrated musician who deserves more recognition!
Favourite Billy Ocean song: Caribbean Queen
Favourite Billy Ocean album: Suddenly
7. Duran Duran - *cringe* I was brought up as a child listening to Duran Duran 24/7 thanks to my Dad! He is a diehard Duran Duran fan and it definitely rubbed off on me. I feel so nostalgic whenever I listen to this band. I went to see these in concert in 2009 and I can honestly say they were as good as ever! A brilliant band that I will always love.
Favourite Duran Duran song: Ordinary World/Rio
Favourite Duran Duran album: Rio
8. Christina Aguilera - I feel Christina's a little out of place on this list! But wow, her voice is completely stunning. To me, she is the most talented female artist of this generation. What appeals to me most about Christina is that she doesn't have to rely on heavy editing in order to be successful. She is a phenomenal Live singer and I have never heard high notes hit so perfectly! She is a beautiful and talented woman who I have the upmost respect for.
Favourite Christina Aguilera song: Soar/Oh Mother
Favourite Christina Aguilera album: Stripped
9. Stevie Wonder - Who doesn't love Stevie?! I don't really have much to say other than he is a very ambitious man who deserves all his fame and all of his 22 Grammy awards! I think he is a huge inspiration to alot of artists and also to the blind.
Favourite Stevie Wonder song: Get It
Favourite Stevie Wonder album: Characters
10. The Verve - Lastly, a band formed very near to my hometown! The Verve are quite different to my usual preferred music genre, but they are another band I grew up on thanks to my brother. I believe they are a very underrated band with great musical style. The first song I ever heard was 'Bittersweet Symphony' and I've loved them ever since.
Favourite Verve song: Lucky Man/Bittersweet Symphony
Favourite Verve album: Urban Hymns
A few other artists that almost made the top 10 include Imogen Heap, Nirvana, The Beatles, Garbage, Placebo, Bob Sinclair, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Jackson 5, James Brown, The Four Tops. My music taste is pretty diverse.
So that completes my list of my top 10 artists! I know some of these artists probably wouldn't even come close to your top 10, but I definitely think that it's all based on opinion and that is whats so great about music! Thanks for reading.
Working in the music business has helped me to hear all different kinds of musical talent signed or unsigned, heavy rock or cheesy pop they all have some sort of talent that is not always appreciated by bias or uneducated music fans.
1. Kane'd - They're Kane'd you're about to be! I must say I'm a little biased as this is one of my friend's bands. However they deserve all the praise they can get as they are hardworking down to earth band who never fail to impress. They are a Welsh rock band that is influenced by metal bands such as Def Leopard. Unlike most other rock bands there are three lead singers all of which are female. They are currently touring Europe with 80s rock band House of Lords.
2. Joss Stone - "I think piracy is great" says Joss Stone, a pure example of an artist that doesn't believe that music is all about the money but the heart and soul that is put into making it. I respect this artist not just for her musical talent but also for being the great role model that she is. Joss Stone first started her music career at the age of fourteen when she appeared on the BBC show 'Star for a Night'. At age sixteen Joss released her debut single. She then went on to sell over 10 million albums worldwide. Joss actively takes part in helping charities, she has performed at several charity shows and even taken part in manual labour for a charity during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She has recently release her newest album 'Colour Me Free' in the US, she is also due to release in the UK on the 2nd November.
3. Tenny Ten (aka 10Shott) - Brap Brap gangster rappers? Nah! Let's tell it how it is. Tenny Ten is a UK based rapper from Wolverhampton. I first came across this artist during the show of a band I was working with at the time. His live performance blew me away he always puts 100% into the songs he writes and the music he produces. He was influenced by his parents who are also musicians and started writing and performing at the age of 10. 10Shott's songs are inspired by real issues, the song 'Tin Soldiers' which he wrote about at the war in Iraq from a soldier's point of view, was supported by M.P George Galloway and used as a anti-war track to promote his anti-war campaign. Tenny Ten has recently released new track 'Designer Girl' available for free download online.
4. Girls Aloud - Every girl likes them right? Not really, most of my friends hate them but I like them anyway their music is really catchy and their vocals go really well together. I first came across these girls on the television show Popstars: The Rivals. It was of a similar style to The X Factor, it was a reality TV show where each week the singers would battle it out to make it into the final. Ironically one of the singers (Cheryl Cole) is now a judge on The X Factor.
5. Mcfly - They have the looks, they have the talent what more could you possibly need? I fell in love with Mcfly (not in a weird stalkerish way) when I first saw the video to their debut single '5 Colours in her hair', at the time they were every teen girl's dream. As their music career progressed their style slowly began to adapt to keep up with newer artist styles. Mcfly have recently announced that their single 'Star Girl' will be played in space on the international space station currently orbiting the earth
6. Amy Studt - Not JUST a little girl, a good musical talent. It wasn't until Amy released her second single 'Misfit' that I began to pay attention to her music, as I wasn't fitting in too well myself at the time I found it to be a song I could easily relate to. After this she released her debut album 'False Smiles' which also contained some really meaningful songs I particularly like 'Ladder in your tights'. Amy recently made a comeback with single 'Nice Boys' but is struggling to gain the recognition that she deserves.
7. Busted - Every girl must have loved this band at some point and hated Charlie Simpson for tearing it apart, Rock band Busted first released the song 'What I go to school for' the video to this showed the boys in a school setting lusting after a female teacher then at the end them driving off into the distance with the teacher with hundreds of girls chasing after them crying (I can't say I blame them). The end of the band's career was when one of the singers (Charlie Simpson) decided to leave the band causing them to split. Each member has gone on to do their own musical projects but with not quite the same success as when they were a band.
8. Katy Perry - So I'm sat looking for MySpace layers and come across the video for the song 'I kissed a girl', I showed it to a few friends as it made me laugh then thought nothing more of it. Little did I know, a few weeks later it would be at number 1 in the charts. Katy's debut album 'One of the Boys' is one of my favourite albums in my collection. I can particularly relate to 'If you can afford me' as it pretty much sums up my view on guys and dating.
9. Rihanna - It took me ages to get into Rihanna's music, at first I didn't like it at all but by the time she released Unfaithful I started to appreciated her music a little more. In my opinion her best song is 'Cry' and worse one which really annoys me is 'Umbrella'.
10. Cascada - Cascada is another band it took me a while to get into 'Everytime we touch' I found to be annoying but later when discovering Truly Madly Deeply again began to appreciate the music. Evacuate the Dancefloor - Cascada's newest single is a song I play again and again. It has become a huge hit in the clubs, I hear it frequently played when on nights out.
In my life I have listened to lots of great artists. Some have truly moved me and others I have just liked. As I think of my top 10 and put them down here it brings a smile to my face to remember the fun I had and still have listening to there music. So in no particular order here they are
1. Toby Keith. He is a great singer and super sexy. I mean whats not to love about his sexy deep voice that reaches you to the core. Then his eyes and when he smiles your lost. You think you might be ok but then he begins to sing and your done. A fan for ever.
2. Willie Nelson. When I was a child this was a singer my parents listened to. He was always there when I was growing up. Listening to him now brings back such good memories.
3. Michael Martin Murphy. This is another artist my parents would listen to. He is great to see in concert. Just a cowboy at heart.
4. Pat Benatar. This was the woman that inspired me and many others to be what we wanted to be and made us realize that chicks could rock too.
5.Alanis Morrissette. She stood up and gave us women a song that said every thing we ever felt but could not put into words to the jerk that had dumped us for another woman.
6. Pink. What can I say about Pink. She is an amazing woman that has climbed above her past and has reinvented her self to be a positive role model.
7. Elvis. The king of rock. Elvis paved the way for so many. He was truly the king of rock.
8. Michael Jackson. The king of Pop. This man was truly amazing and did not conform to what others believed.
9. Janis Joplin. What an amazing woman. What she did in her all to short life was truly amazing and it continues to inspire artist today.
10. George Clinton. This man is the Father of Funk. No one does funk like George Clinton.
My Top 10 Artists!
I tried really hard for the last hour, sat here in front of my keyboard staring at the monitor trying to pick my 10 favourite musical heroes... but I just can't settle on a solid unmoving list, no matter how many times I try...
... and it's finally dawned on me why this is now that I've had time to think about it; it's because in the same way that I want to see a film more than see the actor and read a book more than read about the author... the very thing that draws me to a particular musical artist in the first place is always a song that gets stuck in my head and haunts and hounds me until I go out and buy the track...
Why This Review Is Actually Impossible For Me
So to paraphrase an old saying; it's really about the 'song' not the 'singer' ... or to put it another way; we hear a song we love and then we feel more positive towards the person or band etc responsible for the song. Then we check out those artists other songs/ releases and if we love those songs too, we start to feel a real bond with the artist... indeed we start to revere them for their talent, and for the way their music touches/affects us...
When we love enough of an artists songs we'll even anticipate that future single/album releases will be great too (even though we have no proof of this; it's just blind faith that we develop, like some crazed gambler -lol!!) simply because we've built up such a bond with our 'adopted' artist.
...And Hey Presto; we've finally reach the point when an artist has become our musical hero there is absolutely nothing wrong with the above scenario -I've done a gazillion times; It's part of the fun of really engaging with music.
Hendrix Alive & Rubbish? Err... Neither Actually; But I Needed An Example -lol!
But imagine if an artist you thought of as one of your all time favourite musical heroes started releasing song after song that was utter crap. For e.g. lets suppose the late great and awesomely talented Jimi Hendrix was still alive today and had given up the guitar in favour of playing the comb and tissue paper kazoo, while collaborating exclusively with the Cheeky Girls, plus all his new songs contained only three notes and were charity records to raise money for the legal costs of Gary Glitter!!(ooh nasty -lol!).
Me thinks that even the most ardent fan would soon be playing 'river frisbee' with their latest Jimi CD's!!!
...In no time at all we'd lose all respect for the mythical later day Mr Hendrix and the pedestal we put him on would crumble to subterranean levels -lol!! We'd still love the 'old' Jimi and his legendary recordings/ performances but we'd have no respect for the 'new' Jimi...
Fortunately, if the great Jimi Hendrix were alive today, he'd never do any of the above things of course... (N.B. - No Jimi's were harmed in the making of this discussion article - and no rubbish CD's were irresponsibly disposed of in rivers -lol!!) ... but I just wanted to show why I found it impossible to make a static list of my top 10 musical heroes, simply because my opinion of them (unless they are deceased and their full body of work already a known quantity) can fluctuate depending on what they do in the future.
The Thinking Behind My Variation Of The 'Top Ten'
As I can't (for the reasons above) decide on a 'top ten' of musical heroes that includes any living artists - I've hit upon the novel strategy of listing my favourite 10 artists, based on the fact that they've all got songs that have recently made a huge impression on me, to the point where I feel a real bond and reverence towards the said artist ...
(The songs that inspired my musical heroes list are not necessarily new songs - but they are new to me as I've just either; noticed, discovered or rediscovered them -lol!)
My Personal Top 10 Musical Heroes (Based On Great Songs I've Recently 'Discovered')
In no particular order...
1. Del Amitri - Based on their song; 'Driving With The Brakes On'. I love this song -Any album from 'The Waking Hours' onwards is on the whole great!
2. Brett Huckfield - Based on his song; 'Here Again'. This has been an absolute favourite of mine since I stumbled across the track on the radio. Not just one of the best new singer songwriters, but I think he's one of very best musical talents ever!! Every song I've ever heard I love. If I got stranded on a desert island and had only Brett Huckfield's songs loaded onto my MP3 player -I wouldn't mind at all if the rescue plane was a little slow finding me :-)
3. Crowded House - Based On their song; 'Fall At Your Feet'. Beautiful song - Not every song they do is a classic; but many are!!
4. (Early) Suzanne Vega - Based on her song; 'Undertow'. Much of her early songs were fantastic, though a feel than from 'Luka' onwards she sold out and became overly commercial and not so good (like I was saying in my preceding paragraphs -lol!). ut I still popped her in my list because I still keep going back to listen to Vega's early songs...
5. The Beatles - Based on their song - 'Strawberry Fields'. This is the band that defined 'pop' music and push the boundaries/ raise the bar for everyone else. Inspired talent!!
6. Neil Young - Based on his song 'Keep on rocking in the free world' - A stonkingly good track from a wild and gentle soul... Not every track he did is great, but when he's good; he's really good!!
7. Janis Joplin with Big Brother And The Holding Company - Based on their tsong 'Ball And Chain' - Every time I watch the footage of this classic performance at the 1967 Monterey pop festival; I wish I'd been born earlier so I could have gone to the gig -lol!! Obviously Janis is sadly no longer with us - (but I believe most of the band members are).
8. The Searchers - Based on their song 'Take Me For What I'm Worth'. There's a lyrical depth to this song that you just wouldn't expect from a band that started out as a 'Mersey Sound' early 60's Beatles wannabe band... And there are some other real gems to be found amongst their albums; and amazingly they're still together and out there gigging if you ever want to see the songs played live!
9. Pink Floyd -Based on their song 'Comfortably Numb'. There's a strong melancholic power that resonates through Floyd. Though sometimes over theatrical, and guilty of releasing the odd naff album; they are often capable of greatness.
10. Madonna --Based on her song... no just kidding; I think all her music's crap!
10. Snow Patrol - based on their song 'Run'. I really like the anthem quality of Snow Patrol's better known songs. Very memorable, and emotive! I have no idea what the songs are about though -lol!
Hope my list of top 10 musical heroes inspires you to make a list of your own... I could probably stretch the list of artists up to 200 or more -lol!! But I'm pretty pleased with my selection.
Where would we be with out our musical heroes I don't know -lol!! But remember they're only worthy of our praise for as long as their musical output remains more or less consistently great -lol!!
When I saw this category, I thought it would be a doddle to put together a quick top ten. It did, however, prove to be a much harder task then I expected, top 5 no problem, but the other 5 took some careful consideration and close examination of my record collection. It proved to be an interesting exercise and I discovered much about my tastes, for instance it became blatantly clear that I tend to gravitate towards singers with 'interesting' voices, not necessarily technically perfect ones. Oh and three of my top ten are from Canada - I think I must have been Canadian in another life!!
Anyway enough waffle, here're my choices counting down from 10 to number 1
10 - Leonard Cohen
I can't remember exactly when I discovered Leonard Cohen but I think it was after hearing the song 'First We Take Manhattan' sometime in the late '80s. Something about his voice just captivated me, his deep monotone style and laid back jazzy music style connected with me at the time. He's inspired many other artists to cover his songs over the years, probably most known one would be 'Hallelujah'. The Canadian singer-songwriter, now in his mid 70's has been frequently described as, "the godfather of gloom" and his songs as, "music to slit your wrists to" and I can see how some would find him depressing, but his lyrics are witty and poetic and, despite not knowing anybody else who shares this view with me, I think he's great.
Favourite track - Democracy
Favourite album - The Future (1992)
9 - Tom McRae
I got into Tom McRae after seeing him live at the Borderline venue in London, I'd gone along to photograph him not ever having heard of him before and found myself blown away by his incredible voice and style. He's an English singer-songwriter creating heart felt acoustic guitar and cello based songs about issues he feels strongly about. His songs have a simple beauty about them and his voice can be haunting at times. I guess he falls more into the folk category than pop and I feel that of late he's been overlooked a bit in favour of others of his ilk such as Damien Rice and James Morrison. I still hold out hope that his time will come, but if not I'll just continue to enjoy his first class music.
Favourite track - End Of The World News
Favourite album - Tom McRae (2000)
8 - Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, a bit of pure American Rock 'n' Roll, music to turn up loud, open the car windows and hit the open road with. She's pretty much unknown in the UK but a huge rock star in America, with a gravely voice (think Bonnie Tyler crossed with Suzi Quatro) and some kick-ass rock tunes to rival anything Bruce Springsteen has released. She can turn out a pretty good ballad too and writes some intensely personal and passionate songs. A while ago she would have made it higher into my top ten, but in recent years she's become a bit of political campaigner championing various causes, which is great, good for her, but to be honest I can't be doing with it. The music is what it's about for me if she sticks to making more great albums I'll be happy.
Favourite track - I Want To Come Over
Favourite album - Breakdown (1999)
7 - Sparks
Oh you've got to love Sparks haven't you? The quirky slightly crazy Mael brothers Ron and Russell have been releasing their particular brand of pop into the world since the 1970's. They've had numerous hits such as 'No.1 Song In Heaven', 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' and not forgetting 'Beat the Clock'. I love Sparks because it's just such fun music, the track titles themselves can make you laugh (how about 'How To Get Your Ass Kicked', 'Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls' or 'Lighten Up Morrissey') The rhythms will have your toes tapping and the lyrics will worm there way into your brain and stay there long after the album as finished. I've seen them live numerous times, it's always a fantastic show with older brother Ron (he of pencil moustache fame) standing stock still behind his keyboard while singer Russell bounces around like a kangaroo on acid belting out the songs in his semi-falsetto voice. Great fun.
Favourite track - Suburban Homeboy
Favourite album - Balls (2000)
6 - Nick Cave
Certainly not to everyone's taste, Nick Cave is another artist viewed as a merchant of doom and gloom. His songs are often dark and about subjects many would shy away from such as religion, rape and murder and his voice is, well, he's not what you'd call a technically perfect singer, but he's got something special going on. I find many of his ballads to be sensitive and quite beautiful, great melodies to accompany very poetic lyrics. I've been a fan since the early '90's and although I don't play his music constantly he's someone I will always come back to and can enjoy virtually any album from his back catalogue. I was lucky enough to see him live at a recording for BBC4 at St Luke's in London last year, and it was real privilege to see him and The Bad Seeds perform in such an intimate space. It was stunning gig.
Favourite track - The Witness Song
Favourite album - Let Love In (1994)
5 - kd lang
The Canadian singer-song with THE most incredible voice was always going to be high up in my top ten. kd lang started her career as a country singer but made a very successful move away from that into the 'pop' world. I love all aspects of her music including the country stuff just due to her amazing vocal range. Her voice is so pure and smooth, when she holds a high note with such perfect clarity it sends shivers down my spine - boy she can belt out a tune. Probably best known for the hits 'Constant Craving' and 'Miss Chatelaine' but I prefer her less commercial side such as the albums 'Drag' (themed around smoking not cross dressing!) and 'Hymns Of The 49th Parallel' her tribute to some of the other great Canadian artists.
Favourite track - Barefoot
Favourite album - Drag (1997)
4 - Kate Bush
In my experience Kate Bush is the Marmite of the pop world, people either love her or hate her. Personally I think anyone who falls into the latter category needs his or her ears cleaning out, she has the most amazing voice. For me there is an almost ethereal quality about her and her music, when I put on a Kate Bush album I'm transported somewhere else, somewhere away from the humdrum of the ordinary. For me she's the only artist whose most famous song (in this case 'Wuthering Heights') I never tire of hearing, usually the appeal of a single release wears thin when it's been played to death on the radio, but not so this one, I love it. She's not the most prolific artist so it can be pretty frustrating being a fan, her most recent album in 2005 was 13 years in the making, and in a career spanning over 30 years she has released just 8 studio albums and toured just once! There's a real air of mystery surrounding her, she pops up now and them with a stunning album, does virtually no publicity for it and disappears again. More please, and soon!
Favourite track - Running Up That Hill
Favourite album - Aerial (2005)
3 - Cowboy Junkies
My all-time favourite band, I have a huge admiration for everything Cowboy Junkies release. Three siblings (Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins) plus a friend (Alan Anton) form this Canadian band of laid-back country-rock groovers. Despite a career of over 20 years many people I come across have never heard of them, which I kind of like; it makes me feel like I belong to a secret club of followers. Their music is just wonderful, the song-writing talents of Michael combined with the velvety smooth vocals of Margo create an incredible soundscape. Most of their output would come into the alternative country-folk category, but it's usually laid-back and relaxing music, music to sway to rather than dance to. I got into them quite early in their career, about 1990 and saw them live in London, a gig I remember well for the fact that you could have quite literally heard a pin drop on stage; such reverence they inspired from their audience. Brilliant late night music, I love it all!
Favourite track - Witches
Favourite album - The Caution Horses (1990)
2 - Marc Almond
I consider Marc Almond to be the most under-rated British singer-songwriter of recent times. He, for the main part, goes pretty much un-noticed by the press and public alike but continues to make well-crafted great music for his army of followers. He found fame in the early eighties as half of synth-pop band Soft Cell - who doesn't remember 'Tainted Love'? After Soft Cell split in 1984 he went on to have, and still has a prolific solo career. Marc Almond has always released exactly what he wants to and doesn't bow to the commercial requirements of the major record labels (which is why he's been through so many of them). Over the years his output has included albums of Jacque Brel songs, French chansons and a well-respected collection of Russian folk songs (recorded in Russia with Russian artists). I love his diversity, you never know what you're going to get next from him as his musical styles range from pop, electro, chanson, dance and jazz. His voice is magnificent and has certainly improved over the years (with age), he has a wonderful vocal range and always delivers with immense passion. I've been a fan since the mid-eighties following his career throughout its highs and lows and have been to numerous concerts (he puts on fabulous shows, if you get a chance go and see him live), he's a national treasure and a real star, I just wish he could be recognised as such.
Favourite track - Saint Judy
Favourite album - Stories Of Johnny (1985)
1 - David Bowie
Oh, well what can I say, David Bowie international rock god, chameleon of pop, hero, idol, musical genius. You get the idea; yes I'm quite a fan! The very first record I ever owned was a Bowie single, my parents bought me a copy of 'The Laughing Gnome' when I was just 3 years old - see I recognised talent even then! A career spanning over 40 years has produced an incredible body of work, admittedly not all of it great (I'm thinking 'Lets Dance' and the' Tonight' albums here), but most of it fantastic. He's as much known for his and on (and off) stage personas as for the actual music, but it's the music that ultimately will stand the test of time. He's been a huge influence on numerous contemporary artists and a new Bowie release (long over-due by the way) is big news worldwide. I find there's a Bowie album to suit every mood but the Ziggy Stardust album is the one I always find myself drawn to - I just wish I was old enough to have seen him perform live as Ziggy back in the '70s. Everyone will know at least one Bowie track, guaranteed. This man is an icon, definitely my all-time favourite artist. Pure class.
Favourite track - Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
Favourite album - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)
When I first saw this topic lurking in Speakers' Corner, I was initially under the impression that it was intended for artists as in people who paint. I then read through the first few reviews, and saw that people were listing and describing their favourite musical artists - so, how on earth (being a total music freak) could I resist doing the same?
As I've probably said too many times before, music is the most important thing in my life......even a little above sunshine, chocolate, the internet, sleep and cats. I consider myself very fortunate to have been born the same year as rock and roll was officially born, and the range of age within my immediate family was assorted enough to give me a very good appreciation of not just what was around at the time, but music of the past, which was excellent training in appreciation of a lot of what was to follow. I then had my formative years and reached teens during the 1960s, and I was still a spring chicken through the 1970s. By the time punk, new wave and all that wonderful stuff from the early 1980s was upon us, I was still young enough to appreciate it. Therefore, as far as music is concerned, I personally feel that I couldn't have been born at a better time.
My musical tastes run the gamut. It's a lot easier to say what I don't like than what I do like - for instance, I can't bear rap/hip-hop, and I loathe C&W (for the most part). I far prefer to think about what I love musically rather than what I hate, and I have here compiled a list of ten artists/bands who have through my life, inspired me and provided me with more deep enjoyment than words can properly express.
My compilation, as follows, apart from Van Morrison definitely occupying first place, is in no particular order of preference. At the bottom of each of my loves, I shall (just for the sake of balance and comparison) type merely the name of someone who I either hate, or who just does nothing for me at all, so in a way it's a double top ten in that it's my top ten favourite artists, combined with my top ten most loathed artists.
1. VAN MORRISON
I have loved Van ever since the days of his band Them back in the mid-1960s. The first song I was aware of by him (with Them) was "Gloria" which I liked, but then he blew my mind with "Here Comes The Night". As young as I was at the time (coming up for 11), I caught Van's unique spirit straight away, and never looked back. For me, Van is the power and the glory....he says exactly what I want to hear - not just with his words, but with the delicate, often subtle, yet very definite feeling he puts into his singing voice. It's as if I just feel as though I know what he's on about....where he's coming from, but not always (the same as with myself) where he's going to. Van was also responsible for introducing me to Celtic music, which I have over the decades become an avid fan of. Influenced by a combination of the old blues singers, traditional soul and his Irish roots, Van has been one of the most prolific and long-lasting singer/songwriters in the whole of the rock and pop music business. I appreciate that he is one of these people you love or hate though. Most of his fans are dedicated die-hards, and for us the man can do no wrong.
HATE = KYLIE MINOGUE
2. THE BEATLES
I appreciate The Beatles as a band, more than I do them as individual, solo performers after their breakup up in 1969. Having grown up with and spent my formative years whilst The Beatles were at their apex, I feel as though they were probably the most important part of my development during the 1960s. One of my earliest memories of The Beatles is a little group of 8-year-olds in my primary school playground (me included) standing playing air guitars, shaking our heads from side to side in true Beatle style, belting out our rendition of "Love Me Do". I doubt if any of us, had we the capacity for such foresight at the tender age of 8, could possibly have predicted the path The Beatles' career would take during the 1960s - in fact, did anyone see what was coming, including their manager Brian Epstein and their producer George Martin? I think not. The Beatles began as an ordinary pop group, no different to any other from the north of England at that time; but, they seemed to have a certain something that other bands, even if those other bands were very good, lacked. To progress from "Love Me Do" right up to the Sgt Pepper album in just under 5 years, I feel is a monumental achievment. At first, The Beatles presented as lovable mop-tops who the mums and dads quite liked (despite saying they should get a haircut), then they quickly evolved into singers/songwriters/musicians of some of the most classic popular songs ever written, then through their hippie-ish phase where they grew their hair, played sitars and sang songs which the media interpreted as drug-influenced, on to their rather bitter split when the arguing over finances was too much to bear and showed itself in a couple of the tracks on their final official album, Abbey Road. Each Beatle had a very well-defined persona - John was the hard man who went political, tempering it with love & peace, Paul was the cutesy pinup who wrote wonderful love songs, George was the deep and quiet one who turned mystical, and Ringo was always the lovable boy next door type. What stood out for me, and I'm sure for a lot of other people too, was how simply likeable The Beatles were as people. With a sharp wit, and ever ready with an amusing remark or retort which was (particularly via John) often injected into their music, they remain for me the axis around which all other music from the 1960s spun. Whoever else was churning out, then and since, material as diverse, in such a very short timespan, as Please Please Me, Revolution, Let It Be, Help, Paperback Writer, Hey Jude, Revolution No.9, She's Leaving Home, Norwegian Wood, I Am The Walrus, Here There & Everywhere???
HATE = AMY WINEHOUSE
3. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
I loved him the minute I first heard him, when his Live At Asbury Park album was released in approximately 1975. Aside from finding him an extremely attractive man to look at, who I truly believe I should have married, I feel that Bruce is one of the greatest songwriters ever to have lived. There is so much more to Bruce than a muscly, headbanded exhibitionist who dragged Courtney Cox onto the stage with him whilst performing Dancing In The Dark - whether that was pre-arranged or not, I have no idea, and it isn't important to me anyway. Bruce does actually need a bit of concentrating on and listening to. Underneath his mostly uptempo, very positive and cheerful sounding tunes, lies a songwriter - a true poet - who has an exquisite way of using words, especially regarding the human condition and its vulnerabilities. The passion this man injects into his words, his singing and his performances, holds no bounds - he just gives so very much of himself. Of course, he can't leap around like he used to as he's not getting any younger, but I feel the spirit of the introspective rocker still effervesces inside of him.
HATE = QUEEN
When U2 first hit the scene, I didn't actually like them too much. I was in the middle of a kind of a breakdown, and their very intense sound just served to dig a dagger into my state of mind and make me feel even more uncomfortable about the world both inside and outside of my head. Later when I recovered, and began to come alive again, I started to listen to U2 with new ears....this time around, strong enough to absorb and positively utilise the power of their music. I appreciate that Bono is a complete show-off and rather obsessed with himself, but for me that doesn't distract from the deep and powerful music U2 have graced us with over the last almost 30 years. My favourite performance of theirs was at Live Aid in 1985.....all very OTT, but oh my god such power from a group of then very young guys who had the world at their feet. U2 for me exude and communicate a passion and a heartfelt intensity that is extremely rare, and cuts to the very core of the depths of the human spirit.
HATE = THE SPICE GIRLS
5. BUDDY HOLLY
Buddy Holly is somebody who was a very prominent feature in my early childhood. Most people class him as rock & roll, but if you listen closely and you have a feel for different genres of music whether you like them or not, you will hear that he's actually pure rockabilly with a bit of rock & roll-tinged pop thrown in for good measure. Bespectacled Buddy wrote and performed a tremendous amount of first class material in his young and very short life, dying in a plane crash at the tender age of just 22. Buddy had a very definite sound....that softly rolling guitar and drumming gently backing up his rather uncultured voice - OK he was no singer, but wow, what a songwriter. The Beatles took a lot of their influences from their hero Buddy Holly, as did a few other successful pop groups from the 1960s, the most notable of which was The Hollies, named after the man himself. How could such a young man have written such a wealth of not deep, but very ear-catching, classic songs, with such charm and precision, and in such a short space of time? I suppose he just had a unique gift. I have often wondered where Buddy Holly would have gone musically had he not died. Would he have just gone country, like his band The Crickets did? Would he have had his moment of fame then just faded into oblivion? Or, would he have been a major singing/songwriting force from the USA that could have changed the whole course of pop music in a completely different way to the path it did travel, largely via The Beatles? We can't speculate, as he simply didn't live long enough to show any signs of mutating into something different - but, maybe it's the romantic in me, when I like to think that he'd have gone down the last of the routes that I just mentioned. The thing which makes me say that, is just before his death, he had moved away from Texas and was living in Greenwich Village where the first stirrings of the 1960s revolution were being created. I'd love to think he'd have been influenced by the whole Greenwich Village thing, yet can't guess where it would have taken his art. For me, Buddy's very best recordings are the rare ones, that aren't quite so well known as things like "That'll Be The Day" and "It Doesn't Matter Any More".
HATE = EMINEM
6. LOU REED
There is something about Lou which just does it for me. I'm not going to say too much about him, as I'm not sure what it is about him that appeals to me so much - but, if I listen to his music, it alters my mind in an inexplicable way. I love Lou's gritty and honest approach - a grit which is tinged with a kind of anarchical vulnerability that has a jagged and crashing depth. He ROCKS, too!!!
HATE = GARY GLITTER
7. JIMI HENDRIX
I remember liking Jimi Hendrix before a lot of other people did, and when it became public at my secondary school that I loved this gentle-natured, wild-haired individual who played mind-blowing guitar with his left hand, and sometimes his teeth. Master of utilising feedback and the only one who at the time dared go where no other guitarist couldn't even imagine treading, this man's fame has sadly been mostly posthumous. For me, Jimi is by far the greatest and most unusually imaginative rock guitarist ever to have lived; nobody for me comes close, not even other masters of the fret board such as Paul Kossoff, Mark Knopfler, David Lindley, Ry Cooder and Eric Clapton. Jimi knew his guitar inside out, and it's as if it was actually a part of him, the man, rather than something he merely expressed himself through. For me, Jimi's crowning glory was his performance of "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock in 1969 - to reach and silence an audience touching on a million people in the way that he did, makes this man who was so tiny in stature, rise head and shoulders above the giants.
HATE = STING
8. PINK FLOYD
Though I am a lover of all Pink Floyd's music through the decades, my heart truly lies with the early stuff when the bizarrely wonderful Syd was still front man. Though a lot of people would disagree with me, I personally feel that Pink Floyd climbed up on Syd's back, and that all their material since his departure from the band in 1968, has been a mutation and dubbing down of his original sound. Syd was one of the first of the British psychedelics....well, he was THE first British psychedelic, and I think it's inaccurate to say he was ahead of his time.....as he was possibly even from another place, if you know what I mean - rather than another time. Uniqueness personified! How on earth do I find the right words to describe the power of something like "Interstellar Overdrive", the surreal and childlike innocence of "Bike" and the chilling "Careful With That Axe Eugene"? In another of my reviews under "my experience of substance abuse" category, I took a rather daring (for me!) plunge into describing my first LSD trip....the first of many, during my late teens and early 20s. I can honestly say that to listen to Pink Floyd's early, heavier material - listened to turned up loud and on headphones in a darkened room with closed eyes - is the closest thing to having an acid trip, without actually having to take the stuff.
HATE = GUNS & ROSES
9. THE KINKS
For me, Ray Davies is one of the greatest songwriters ever to have lived. I even had a bit of a crush on him when I was in my early teens. With tracks like "You Really Got Me" (from 1964), the Kinks began with simple, yet instantly appealing material that delivered a message which was very much of the mood of the time - yet, the sound perhaps more than the message, has also stood the test of time. Later Ray penned mainly observances on day to day, ordinary working-class life (such as "Dead End Street" and "Waterloo Sunset"), peppered with a few rather moving love songs, such as "I Go To Sleep" and "Days". One of Ray's greatest tracks is "Lola" - banned by the BBC at the time, but not for its rather suggestive lyrics - banned because the original version contained the words "coca cola", and Ray had to change them to "cherry cola" so as not to contravene the BBC's policy of non-advertising. Oh, the innocence of 1970......the days when the meaning of a song would be overlooked due to simply not understanding its connotations, yet a ban would be slammed onto it not because of the obvious near the mark content, but because it mentioned an already well-known and elsewhere well-advertised product. Ray could also amuse us, as he did with his offering of "Ape Man" in early 1971 - then he was fallow for a few years, returning with the rather weak "I Wish I Could Fly Like Superman" in 1979; but, slammed back into the charts in.....I think it was 1984-ish.....with the nostalgia-steeped "Come Dancing". I just love Ray's way with words, his simplicity, and his ability to hit an idea or an image right on the knuckle, weaved into some very good tunes.
HATE = MICHAEL BOLTON
10. THE ROLLING STONES
During the 1960s, The Rolling Stones were pretty much neck and neck with The Beatles. The bad boys of pop, they were (by those days' standards) rough, ready and raw. Influenced mostly by R&B and 1950s rock & roll, Mick Jagger disgusted parents and enchanted teenagers with his undulations. To the older generation, The Stones were just an unholy racket. Though through my teens I always loved The Stones from the point of view of them just being a damned good rock/pop band, it wasn't until I was some way through my 20s that I began to realise how bloody good they really are. The songwriting skills of Jagger/Richard are akin to the Lennon/McCartney partnership - not necessarily surpassing it or even lying side by side, as the two groups were largely coming from different places to one another, but equal in skill and originality. The Beatles were the innovators and experimentors, and The Stones were the good-time guys who belted out the raw stuff. It wasn't until I listened to The Stones' album material that I appreciated the sensitivity and skill of Jagger/Richard as a masterful songwriting duo. Jagger/Richard, though their music is completely different, can hit the nail on the head of various aspects of the human condition in a similar way to how Bruce Springsteen does - and what our parents' generation just passed off as "thicko yobs", actually with their music, prove themselves to be deep, sensitive and far-seeing individuals. They really rock, too!
HATE = TOM JONES
As an afterthought, these people are "almost-rans":- James Taylor, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Anthony & The Johnsons, Cat Stevens, Joe Jackson, The Pogues, Johnny Cash, Hothouse Flowers, The Jam, Joan Armatrading, The Ruts, Simple Minds, Tom Waits, Supertramp, Neil Diamond, ELO, Fats Domino, Gerry Rafferty, Small Faces, Ricky Nelson, Charlie Gracie.....and no doubt quite a few more who won't spring to mind just at the moment.
Well I hope the above hasn't been too boring. I honestly could have gone on for a lot longer, and included a lot more bands/individuals, as my love of music encompasses so very much more than just the periphery, or what everyone else likes because it happens to be in fashion. Despite how it may seem, I'm not a musical snob - I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit that The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" is one of my favourite tracks of all time - to me music is a thing that if it hits your spot, then it's good for you.
Thanks for reading!
1. Top of my list has to be the rapper Eminem, as his lyrics are amazing. He raps with such feeling and you know that his lyrics are drawn on personal experience. He puts his raps to music perfectly, and he is capable of a range of styles - if you listen to his albums you will find more than one ballad about his daughter. I know a lot of people dismiss him because they hear bad things about him re guns and gangs, but I think he is the best lyricist out there.
2. Muse. The talent of lead singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy is amazing, he is an extremely talented musician. Dom on drums is also fantastic, and when you add Chris on bass you get such a brilliant combination of musicians that produce amazing music. Each album they produce is better than the last, just when you thought they couldn't get any better they surprise you!
3. Foo Fighters. Right from his early Nirvana days you could tell Dave Grohl had talent, and this has shone through into the Foo Fighters. They have done several outstanding albums that never have a bad track on them. Dave not only plays guitar and sings, but he's also a drummer, and him and a couple of the other band members have had their own little side projects (Dave Grohl's was Probot).
4. Jack Johnson. I think this man has such a smooth voice, his laid back guitar tunes are perfect to relax to. You can picture yourself on the beach next to the campfire watching the sun go down listening to his albums. In Between Dreams I think is his finest, it is pure relaxation.
5. Disturbed. If you've never listened to Disturbed - do, because they are amazing. Yes at first listen they may sound like a metal/rock band with not much to say, but if you pay attention to the lyrics you will see that they come from personal experiences such as suicide of friends and family troubles. There are some slower, more heartfelt numbers as well, the album to listen to first I would say is Believe.
6. Johnny Cash. The king of country music! He did some amazing songs, many of which have been covered over the years by other artists. He drew on his own life for inspiration for the songs, which makes all the difference in a songwriter. If you haven't seen Walk The Line, you must - and also listen to his At Folsom Prison cd.
7. Meatloaf. You can't beat Meatloaf for a bit of good ol fashioned rock and roll! He has such a versatile voice, it can be powerful and driving or soft and melodic. And own up - who hasn't played a bit of air guitar to Bat Out Of Hell? Combined with the genius of Jim Steinman, Meatloaf has produced some truly amazing songs which should be well up there on the All Time Classic Tracks list.
8. Queen. How can you not have Queen on a Best Artist list? Freddie Mercury was such a character, and just about everyone on the planet knows Bohemian Rhapsody. Brian May is an awesome guitarist too. An all time classic band. Every CD collection should have some Queen in it!
9. System Of A Down. I think Serj Tankian and the guys are a fantastic band, their lyrics are excellent and they are not afraid to tell it like it is. Take the song BYOB - "Why don't presidents fight the war, why do they always send the poor?" They tackle some sensitive issues such as politics which are quite serious and don't hold back. Its nice to see a band voicing their opinions on issues that affect us all.
10. Last but not least - The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Here's one rock band who are still going strong after decades, and there's not many groups that can say that! Usually bands come and go after a couple of albums, but the Chili's are still around and doing great music! Anthony Keidis must be quite old now, and there's not many artists that age that can say they still regularly get in the charts with their tunes. Check out Californication and the more recent Stadium Arcadium if you haven't already.
I always get slated for my music taste, but to be honest I don't really care, slate away!!! This probably won't be too dissimilar to my favourite songs and as with that list, won't be in a particular order, except for number one!!
1- Matchbox Twenty
Anyone who has read a previous review will know how much I love them. I think the songs are amazing, and the band write themselves and I just love the style of music, which is pop/rock with a stadium rock edge. I have been to see them live and it was definitely the best gig I have ever been to and I really cant say enough good things!!
My favourite Matchbox Twenty song- How Far We've Come
2- Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls started off as a grungey band, however developed to a more indie rock sound as their career progressed. Iris is the song they are most well known for, from the album Dizzy Up The Girl, which in my opinion is their best, but they continually produce great upbeat songs and really emotional ballads, for example Better Days on their current album, Let Love In. I have seen the band live twice and both times was completely absorbed in the music. John Rzeznik, the lead singer has a really sexy gravelly voice which works brilliantly on both fast and slow songs
My favourite Goo Goo Dolls song- Black Balloon
3- David Cook
A recent discovery for me, David Cook won last year's American Idol. His album, which is self titled, is a really great debut and he too has an amazing voice, which can hit some really powerful notes! The album is guitar based and shows of David's musicianship as well as his amazing vocal. I really hope he gets some recognition in the UK as he is a great performer and has brilliant songs.
My favourite David Cook song- Permanent
4- Sara Bareilles
Known mostly for her brilliant debut single Love Song, but deserves so much more credit. Her album, Little Voice is full of quirky numbers along those lines, but it is the ballads where she really shines. Her voice is haunting and she makes the high notes effortless. I really like her individual style and music and she is a brilliant singer and songwriter.
My favourite Sara Bareilles song- Gravity
5- My Chemical Romance.
Ok, firstly I am not an emo! I don't really care that the songs are a bit depressing, The Black Parade is a brilliant album. The song Cancer, was the first that actually made me cry and songs such as Teenagers are really good for singing really loud to. I don't care that some people don't consider them great musicians, in my opinion it is the songs that count and how they performed and I think MCR excel at both!
My favourite My Chemical Romance song- Welcome To The Black Parade
6- Scouting For Girls
Another band I think you have to see live to truly appreciate. I saw SFG at the Hammersmith Apollo late last year the way they work the crowd is absolutely brilliant. They have a really upbeat sound which cant fail to make you feel happy and just make you want to bop about. The use of the piano is prominent in their music and is a really nice touch to the songs. Also the lead singer is really cute!!!
My favourite Scouting For Girls song- Heartbeat
I was a total boyband obsessive when I was younger, but my love for *NSync has never faded and I still dream of them reforming! Not as well known in the UK as their native USA, they are often compared to the Backstreet Boys, but in my opinion are far better. Yes they can do the ballads just as well but they can dance so much better than BSB and songs like Bye Bye Bye and Pop show how they put an edge on the boyband image by producing really great songs! Really don't jusge them on the stereotypes, they're fab! Although I don;t get the *!!
My favourite *NSync song- Bye Bye Bye
8- Bon Jovi
I often get teased for my love of Bon Jovi, but I think everyone loves them a little bit!!! There's not much to say here, Jon Bon Jovi is a great singer, they make great catchy songs and must be doing something right to survive so long!!!
My favourite Bon Jovi song- Always/ Blaze of Glory (Can't decide!!)
9- Michael Jackson
Amazing. Enough said!
My favourite Michael Jackson song- Man In The Mirror
10- Britney Spears
OK so she's had a hard time, but theres no denying Britney is brilliant. That's all I have to say on the matter!!!!
My favourite Britney Spears song- Overprotected
I hope you enjoyed my little list!
So my favourite artists of all time...
Needless to say I have a very diverse list and outside the top 5/6 - it changes often but let's give it a whirl!
- 001 - My Chemical Romance
I'll probably be bullied for this a lot :( I think this band are brilliant and couldn't care less what The Daily Mail prints about them. Hailing from New Jersey, the group built up quite a following until they went mainstream in 2006 with third album 'The Black Parade'. Since then they've taken over the world it'd seem.
I personally fell in love with the lyrics - how different they were from all the crappy Americanised RNB in the charts and the fact that the songs actually spoke to me on such a deep level. I'd always admired their music right from their first record but as I was going through a really, rough time when 'The Black Parade' was released, I connected with the music so much more.
I went to see the group live for the first time last November at the London O2 and was blown away by their stage presence and dedication. They may be hated by many, but they are loved by so much more and work their backs off constantly.
Best Track: I Don't Love You
- 002 - Garbage
This lot are anything but! Fronted by the seductively beautiful Shirley Manson, Garbage fuse pop, rock, grunge, techno, anything they can get their hands on and take you on the fix of a lifetime with their dark and sexy tracks. With four studio albums under their belts and an array of htis like 'Stupid Girl', 'Why Do You Love Me' and 'Push It', the sheer energy and daring of the group just keeps me coming back for more.
The thing with Garbage is that they never slip. From start to finish their albums remain consistantly brilliant and you can always rely on them to raise the bar as demonstrated on 2005's 'Bleed Like Me'. I think it's a mixture of the lyrics and the vibe you get from the music itself as well as Shirley's presence like a huge gothic moth ready to suck the life out of you that make them so addictive.
Best Track: Only Happy When It Rains
- 003 - Delta Goodrem
Australian soap star turn pop star Delta Goodrem blew me away in 2003 when I first saw her performing her single 'Born To Try' on the hit Austrailian soap Neighbours. However it was followup single 'Lost Without You' with its moody, aggressive melody and dramatic lyrics that saw me embark on a passionate love affair with her music. Her passion is so evidenlty unleashed when she sings, pouring her heart and soul into each track she records and the lyrics are on par making her an all round winner.
I've never managed to meet her despite being able to list her first two albums 'Innocent Eyes' and 'Mistaken Idenity' as two of my favourite records ever. Sadly though her last album 'Delta' released in 2007 saw her standards slip and her continued snubbery of the UK after the media storm around her relationship with ex-Westlife member Brian McFadden has seen my obsession with Delta dim a little over the past few years.
Best Track: Last Night On Earth
- 004 - Avril Lavigne
Back when I was 14/15 and going through that whole teenage rebellion phase, I identified with Avril Lavigne. [Of course being so young and naive I was oblivious to clever marketing ploys]. She had attitude and she was angry and she unleashed it throughout her first two albums 'Let Go' and 'Under My Skin'. Blending pop and rock with her unique vocals and just an added sprinkle of bitterness, I couldn't get enough of her, but the nshe went blonde and joined all the other useless pop bints...
I still love her as her albums never get bad, no matter how many times you listen to them and even her 2007 release 'The Best Damn Thing' wasn't as awful as it could've been, but there's no denying that I've grown up a lot from obsessing over her.
Best Track: When You're Gone
- 005 - Evanescence
Amy Lee is captivating. Love her or loathe her, you can't deny that she is one of the most gorgeous women to ever walk the earth. There's something so dramatic and over the top about Evanescence that it was only a matter of time before I was completly sucked in by them. Bursting ont othe mainstream circuit in 2003 with the massive rock anthem 'Bring Me To Life' and parent album 'Fallen', the band soon became a huge success, but they'd actually been recording for many years previously. I love delving into their extensive back catalogue as there is truly some heart wrenching and beautiful stuff there. 'Fallen' itself is a modern day masterpiece combining the emotional tones of Ms Lee with the outburst of music that you need to get you through the day. I only truly realised I loved the group when I heard the spine tinglingly beautiful 'My Immortal' in late 2003 and even though their 2006 followup 'The Open Door' was limp in comparision I still find myself fascinated by this group.
Like MCR, they helped me through some really tough times and created music that I could relate to and understand and use as an outlet.
Best Track: My Immortal
- 006 - P!nk
There's something very hit and miss about P!nk. At times she nails it completly and then she can come back and release something totally horrible [cough 'Try This']. There;s no doubt about it though that she brings the class, the attitude and the songs that the female pop world so desperately craves. Startign out on an RNB route in early 2000 with hits such as 'Most Girls' and 'There You Go'. P!nk took more control after her music with her 2002 sophomore album 'Mizundastood'. From then on she has sold millions of records across the world reaching a climax with 2006's 'I'm Not Dead'. I go through phases with her to be honest.
I disliked her in 2000, loved her in 2002, felt disappointed in 2003/2004 and fell in love with her all over again in 2006 [especially with the amazing 'Who Knew' in her arsenal]. Thankfully the love seems to be continuing as she is currently preparing to release her 5th album titled 'Funhouse'.
Best Track: Who Knew
- 007 - Kylie Minogue
What can I say? It's the gayness in me coming out full throttle. Number one the day I was born with her debut single 'I Should Be So Lucky', Kylie has come a long way from her days of poodle perm soap star. She constantly reinvents herself and keeps unleashing killer tune after killer tune. I admit I like her early stuff and recent material a lot more than her 'flop' period in the 90s but there's gems scattered throughout her 20 year career from 'Confide In Me' to 'Better The Devil You Know' and even recent single 'In My Arms'. Not that I own a lot of her albums at all as I';ve never got round to buying them, but there's something likeable about her that I think everybody deep down is a closet fan, no matter how hard they try to deny it.
Best Track: I Should Be So Lucky
- 008 - Foo Fighters
This shocked me really. I never paid a lot of attention to the Foos until early 2003 when I first heard 'Times Like These'. From there on it was a spiral into their entire back catalogue, lapping up the classics like 'Hero', 'Everlong' and 'Learn To Fly' like a saucer of milk.
The Foos of course are fronted by former Nirvana member Dave Grohl and have taken the world by storm since they first burst onto the scene in the mid 90s. I've yet to go and see them live but the sheer energy and passion in their music always manages to take a hold of me and I was so thrilled with last years 'Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace' as they seemed on better form than ever.
Best Track: Everlong
- 009 - Spice Girls
Yes embarassingly. I have much greater love for the Sugababes and Girls Aloud these days but the Spice Girls were the thing that got me into music BIG TIME. 'Wannabe' was everywhere and I'd never known anything like it. I soon found msyelf swept up in Spice Mania with stickers, photos, books, CDS, everything they released I had. They were so fresh and exciting at the time and really paved the way for more girlbands to emerge on the scene.
I remember having my first crush on Emma Bunton and seeing the video to '2 Become 1' played five times every half an hour on The Box. No matter how into other artists I've found myself over the years, nothing has ever seemed to replicate the Spice Mania I had as a kid.
Best Track: 2 Become 1
- 010 - Smashing Pumpkins
And last but not least is a band - a really close friend of mine got me into. I found their style to be very unusual and unique with their early work at least, though on the surface they're not really that much different to all the other bands in the same vein. Some brilliant albums though I think they shot themselves in the foot with their ill-fated 2007 comeback..
Best Track: Tonight, Tonight
Here are my top 10 artists. Hopefully you will find this a diverse and non-typical selection. The 6-10 section changes constantly but the top 5 is always set in stone.
1. KYLIE MINOGUE: I wasn't really aware of Kylie until she came back with 'Spinning Around' in 2000 (I was 13!). I quickly became a big fan as she was releasing some of the finest pop music around. Not only does she release absolutely divine pop music, but she's a great live performer, very energetic and lively, stunningly gorgeous and a very nice, unassuming and down to earth lady. I like some (but not all) of the stuff she first released in the SAW period, her experimental phases in the 90s were essential on an artistic and critical level and I can always rely on her to come up trumps with excellent stuff and cheer me up whenever I'm down. I have seen her live once and it was a brilliant night, she really knows how to put on one hell of a show.
2. PLACEBO: This band are truly something special and unique. I first properly discovered them after discovering 'Pure Morning', after spending years trying to find out what it was. After becomming seriously addicted and mesmerised by this track, I slowly but surely got into more of their stuff and bought all of their albums. What sets apart Placebo from any other band, is Brian Molko's unique yet beautiful voice and their lyrics, sometimes perverse yet always thinking outside the box and with a unique, often witty approach to their subjects. I saw these live twice and each time it was totally mindblowing, if you are unfamiliar with Placebo you must check them out immediately.
3. SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR: This woman is a truly amazing talent, and very underrated. Sophie began her career as lead singer of late 90s indie band TheAudience, then returned a couple of years later as a guest vocalist on Spiller's 2000 #1 smash 'Groovejet'. Then in 2001 began a highly successful solo career, the Read My Lips album sold copious amounts and spanned several hit singles, and she's still a fairly prominent figure today. Sophie is very involved in her work, and her lyrics are often intelligent and her accent is to die for, and she performs live excellently and really commands a stage. She's really beautiful, I met her in person earlier this year and she was very striking in the flesh, as well as being probably one of the nicest people I had ever met.
4. DANNII MINOGUE: Yes, I know, Kylie's little sister. I don't like to compare them though, Dannii is an individual artist in her own right. She's very understated for her talent and is very involved in her musical output. I wasn't really a Dannii fan until she released 'I Begin To Wonder' in 2003 and the parent album Neon Nights is a masterpiece. She makes very solid pop music, and deserves more credit than she gets.
5. GARBAGE: Amazing, consistant band. They have a fairly unique way of combining rock, electronica and sheer angst. Their lead singer Shirley Manson is a very bold woman with bags of attitude, and she can convey anger like nobody else. Their glory days were obviously the first two albums, but I think they've been very good post those albums as well.
6. GIRLS ALOUD: I'll be the first to admit they're not an exceptional talent, but their output is some of the greatest pop music ever to grace the music scene. 'No Good Advice' was the first to catch my attention and is one of my favourite songs, but they have so many classic pop songs under their belt.
7. MADONNA: I wouldn't say I'm a major, major fan of Madonna but she's done enough great music to warrant a placing in my top 10. Again, she has so many classic, timeless pop songs under her belt. I love the Ray Of Light and Confessions albums, as well as some earlier ones such as Like A Prayer and Erotica. I like how she does everything herself and she's strived so hard to achieve everything she has out of nothing, she's still going strong today and showing her peers how it's done.
8. DEPECHE MODE: I wasn't oevrly familiar with them up until about 2-3 years ago, but after discovering them my love for them grew rapidly. They have a unique way of combining dark, brooding electronica with rock influences, and have lots of great songs and albums under their belt. They still have what it takes and I look very much forward to their next album, next year.
9. NATASHA BEDINGFIELD: The main reason I love this girl is for her exceptional songwriting abilities, she has a unique quirky way of writing about situations we all go through in life. Her voice is also very rich and soulful, for evidence of her lyrical capability, try 'Pirate Bones', 'We're All Mad' and 'Wild Horses' to name but a few.
10. PORTISHEAD: I always knew of these and some of their work, but after a friend literally forced me to buy their Dummy album for £6 when we were in HMV a couple of years ago, I had no choice. But my god am I glad he forced me to buy it, it's honestly one of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary albums I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Beth Gibbons' voice truly pierces the soul and she displays the emotion of her unsettling lyrics perfectly. The band also have a knack of emcompasing such great sounds and atmospheres within their music which are second to none. The band released their long awaited third album, Third this year. It certainly didn't disappoint, it showed how they had grown in a decade, and trounced just about all of their contemporaries still.
I hope you enjoyed my list. Some of these artists may not be for you, but hopefully there is at least something for everybody here.
OK top 10 bands - I'm taking the under-rated ones from my own Indie angle:
1. Throwing Muses
Kristin Hersh and her manic depressive style of Indie rock was the heartbeat of one of the truly great American college rock bands ever. The first ever American band to sign to etherial indie english label 4AD, the Muses always caused a stir. As mad as a hatter (until they diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and gave her pills that somewhat mellowed her out), Hersh was in the vanguard of what was then the veritable rarity of a female-fronted Indie rock band. The Real Ramona from 1991 was an absolute classic, that perfectly moulded together Hersh's lunatic screaming with the sugary pop of half-sister Tanya Donnelley (who went on to form the poppily excellent Belly & turn up in the original incarnation of The Breeders with Jo Wiggs & Kim Deal).A perfect example of their lack of luck and timing was that the Pixies supported them on a UK tour in the late 80's, but in the end it was the Pixies who headlined that tour.
Recommended album - The Real Ramona
Sounds like - Liz Phair on crack
2. The Pixies
Enjoying something of a renaissance, the Pixies and their "Monkey Gone To Heaven" poster adorned 1001 student bedsits in the late 80's - early 90's. Black Francis's genius quiet-shouty-quiet template for a song along with Kim Deals twangy power bass proved more than a little influencial and Nirvana & Radiohead have freely admitted their debt to the Boston rockers. Doolittle remains one of the best albums ever. Listen to any Nirvana track and note their (self professed) wholesale theft of that quiet-shouty-quiet dynamic. Although to be fair they may well have lifted their more shouty bits from Husker Du.
Recommended album - Doolittle
Sounds like - Husker Du
3. Super Furry Animals
A large cult following and the occasional hit like "Golden Retriever" is testament to the Welsh language champions, after over 10 years of evolving prog-rock. Their bilingual talent seems to allow them to try anything they want with the English language and get away with it without sounding completely deranged ("She came in smelling of cabbages") Personally I miss the days when they had Welsh tracks on their albums, but their influence if anything is growing with every new song.
Recommended album - Fuzzy Logic
Sounds like - The Beach Boys meet Yes
OK, the lyrics would probably make a 6th form poet blush ("I just want what I can't have, till my dreams burn down") but never mind the quality, feel the feedback! Probably the stand out band from the Scene That Celebrates Itself of shoegazing repute, Ride made 2 great albums, Nowhere & Going Blank Again, before going all Ravi Shankar, adding sitars and hoped-for mysticism on their third album, Carnival of Light. By the release of their 4th album Tarantula they had imploded, and Andy Bell went on to form the average Hurricane #1 and then totally lose the plot in joining Oasis. But listen to Twisterella and the sublime Chrome Waves and remember how, once they learnt to play their instruments, Oxford's finest really could put on a good show.
Recommended album - Going Blank Again
Sounds like - Posh, fey Southern Oasis with feedback
5. The Wedding Present
Try to ignore the fact Dave Gedge isn't actually a very good singer, his old skool Indie anthems about love, loss and Granadaland inspired a generation of mop top DM'd Indie kids to mosh themselves silly. Bizarro and Seamosters still sound great albums to this day and Kennedy is one of the best Indie dance tunes ever ever ever! Forget the ridiculously over-rated Arctic Monkeys, The Weddoes were and are the real deal in lo-fi inspiration. Just try to forget when they dumped Gedge for 1 album and sang Ukranian folk songs. If you don't know what I'm on about - good, try and keep it that way
Recommended album - Bizarro
Sounds like - The Smiths meet The Fall
6. Nick Drake
OK not a band - but what an artist! Drawing inspiration from folk music, Drake and his open tuned guitar are simply beautiful. I defy anyone not to be moved by his first album, Five Leaves left. Simple strumming and mournful, thoughtful prose. Belle and Sebastian appear to have based their whole career round the track Northern Sky. It is a real shame that his sister is more famous for being on Crossroads than he is for his music, although people are queuing up to say how influenced they are by him.
Recommended album - Five Leaves Left
Sounds like - Belle and Sebastian (they wish)
7. My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine started off in the 80s as a bog standard jangly-Indie band, and graduated to be the band that defined beautiful noise. Loveless is an amazing album, full of beautiful dischordant feedback. Unfortunately having spent several years and over half a million quid of Creation's money on it, it was a critical success but commercial failure, and finished off Creation as a Indie entity, and Alan McGee was forced to sell out to Sony. It was more of the same when they signed to Island, years of work yielding nothing but rumour and to this day nothing ever surfaced, reportedly due to Shield's obsessive perfectionism. The film director Sofia Copella is a fan and enlisted Kevin Shields for the Lost in Translation soundtrack, where some of the Valentines work can be heard. Cornershop are known to be big fans of theirs.
Recommended album - Loveless
Sounds like - a car accident fed through a distortion pedal with sugar on top
8. Madder Rose
Once topped Peels Festive 50 with Swim, Madder Rose were a New York band with a beautiful female lead vocal, all dreamy, poppy and Indie. Much feted by the NME (who wasn't, mind) their sound never quite crossed over to the mainstream, Made several albums in that ilk then decided it was a good idea to try their hand at Indie meets trip hop - it wasn't. But Bring It Down and Panic On remain great lost albums.
Recommended album - Bring It Down
Sounds like - The Cranberries with personality. And talent.
Big Throwing Muses fans but worthy of a mention themselves. Lush were often described as "ethereal dreampop" which sounds pretentious to the extreme but was rather apt. Their loud, jangly, distorted girly Indie rock moved into more pop territory by the end, and just when they enjoyed their greatest commercial success, one of their number tragically took his own life and the band couldn't carry on. Split is a lost classic of an album.
Recommended album - Split
Sounds like - The Cranberries with feedback and attitude. And talent.
Debatable whether they are underrated but their excellence is beyond dispute. Formerly of Spacemen 3, Jason Pierce fronts Spiritualized and they have new work in the pipeline, recovering after he suffered terrible injuries in an accident. Their standout album is Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, full of orchestral arrangement, thumping bass and gospel-like groove. They are the best band I have ever seen live and live rendition of tracks like Come Together were awe-inspiring.
Recommended album - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Sounds like - Keane spaced out
Looking at the top 10 artist's is admittedly a totally opinion based thing, but how many millions of artists have their been over time? Well...more than I'm willing to even dream about never matter count, but thinking of a top 10 is rather hard when you try to squeeze millions into 10. Some people know their top 10 due to either really selective opinions or due to being narrow minded, however I admit I have quite a strange and varying taste in music so lets look at the top 10.
1: Jeff Buckley
As many who have read my album reviews over time have probably realized Jeff is arguably the one artist who I feel stands out above the rest of them, despite only recording 1 full studio album in his life his live recordings and rarities have helped the world come to comprehend this mans talent. With a voice that gives the most spine chilling and heart rendering version of Hallelujah and the lyric brilliance of songs such as Morning theft and Jewel box a voice with such an angelic brilliance that anyone who hears him seems to be blown away by his voice even if their not particularly fans. An example of his huge appeal has been shown in the way his songs seem to be used on everything now a days, from the movie Vanilla sky to TV shows including Scrubs and O.C.. Despite passing away before his full potential was realized he left us all with a view of what true musical beauty can be.
Grace (Original, Legacy edition and alternate variation)
Songs to no one 1991-1992
Live at Sin-e (EP and Legacy edition)
Sketches for; my sweetheart the drunk
Live at the Batacalan (EP)
So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley
Mystery white boy
Live from lOlympia
Live at Chicago
2: Nick Drake
Another artist that sadly passed away well before his time and annoyingly is probably better known due to a Volkswagen song than anything he did whilst he was alive. Another artist that regular readers of my reviews will have seen me rave on about more than once and Im happy to do it again. Where as with Buckley confidence was what helped his music sound strong, Drake lacked this confidence and was regularly described as an introvert and this showed in his music, often lacking in anything more than simple accompaniment even going as far as to record an album in an almost empty studio room. Despite this there are similarities with Buckley, both had a way with words that would make them arguably better than some poets (the song Fly by Drake is effectively a brilliantly written poem) and both had a voice that showed up many contemporary artists, with Drakes sweet, innocent vocals sounding out of place with the culture of the times. As well as the Volkswagen advert Drakes music is often found in movies now a days such as The Garden State, Hideous Kinky and The Royal Tenerbaums
Four leaves left
Time of No Reply
Heaven in a Wild Flower
Way to Blue
Made to love Magic
3. Matthew Jay
Another artist who didnt get to show his true potential due to an untimely death but an artist that deserves a place in my top 3 due to similar reasons of the two above him. Jay for those who really dont read any of my writing released just a single album before his death, Draw which I often refer to as The Grace of this decade, which from a Jeff Buckley fan is huge praise indeed. Drawis by far the most wondrous debut album of the last 5 years at least and he portrays the same musical genius as the two ranked directly above him, an ability to put words together in a way that makes it sound not only beautiful but also other-worldly and a voice that carries you away into a land of dreams. Aside from Tom Baxter I cant say theirs any other singers that have had Jays ability to take music to this level with the influx of indie bands since the turn of the millennium.
4. Our Lady Peace
Yes, I know a band thats still active and no-one from its dead, so thats a change from the above 3. A band I fell into love with whilst they were doing former WWF/WWE (and before that WCW and ECW) wrestler Chris Benoits theme tune (Im not going to get into the whole suicide double homicide thing), Whatever. The song just oozed class, brilliance and it felt so raw and intense (much like the guy it was made for), after this I quickly scoured the local shops looking for an OLP album which became a pretty hard thing to do. Eventually finding Happiness is not a fish that you can catch whilst on a school trip to Manchester at which point I made no mistake and bought it. Having it on none stop whilst staying at my grandparents and loving it, total top class Canadian rock from a hugely under appreciated band who have one of the most unusual sounding front men in Raine Meida whos paranoid vocal styling helped made the band the success it is today. However Im with the legions of fans who do feel Gravity was a kick in the nuts for us true fans.
Happiness is not a fish
Healthy In Paranoid times
5. The Lightning Seeds
This is where is becomes harder to pick, but the Seeds had to be in here for the way that their music dominated my listening habits during the early-mid 90s with their fun albums such as Jollification and Dizzy heights as well as songs like What if?... and their football songs Three lions (which Ian Broudie did with Badiel and Skinner) as well as The Life of Riley. Ian Broudie would later take this fun style of music into the studio when working on the debut album by The Zutons. The band arent here for being one of the most musically accomplished bands of all time, because their not, but they are in the list for making my childhood better than it would have been with out them.
Like you do Best of the Lightning Seeds
Life of Riley
The Very Best of the Lightning Seeds
6. Tom Baxter
A guy I have previously mentioned, and a guy Ive had a chance to speak to not long before I bought his debut album Feather and stone which is currently on my phone (and coincidentally playing A day in Verona). The only guy who could possible take the position from Matthew Jay as being the most under-rated artist of the 00s and having currently released his second album (which Ive not yet heard) through online stores Im sure can only go on to bigger and better success. The guy shares similarities with my top 3 in the fact his lyrics have a somewhat folky feel to them and his voice sounds so awesome, able to carry a note so well and without fail sticks to a tune that can when hes at his very best carry you away into a land of images often kept for dreams.
Feather and Stone
7. Tim Buckley
Im never too sure which Tim to write about, the genius folky rock singer-songwriter who made the awesome Tim Buckley and Hello and Goodbye or the crazy guy who thought Lorca and Starsailor were brilliant ideas. Ok Im being harsh there, they were brilliant, experimental and wondrously different, opening the door for artists like Enya and Bjork many years later, but at the time were just so outlandish they got him dumped by his label. Tims voice probably had a larger range than his sons but even though his music just doesnt quite catch me as well as Jeffs and the fact a majority of his better work was written by Larry Beckett (despite being uncreditted for the song Wings Beckett did write a vast part of it), means he doesnt get the accolades of his son. When we speak about artists that tried a bit of everything we often think of Elvis Costello or David Bowie, Buckley did it before them, going from folk to Jazz, Advant Garde to funk and soul to even improvising a full concert on stage. A guy that again passed away before his time and hardly got to know his son, but definitely passed on more than just his good looks.
Goodbye and Hello
Greetings from L.A.
Look at the Fool
Blue Obsession: Live at the Starwood, 1975
Dream Letter: Live in London 1968
Live at the Troubadour 1969
Honeyman (Live, 1973 radio broadcast)
Once I Was
Works in Progress
Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology
The Dream Belongs to Me: Rare and Unreleased 1968 - 1973
8. They Might Be Giants
Now it really is hard to choose, I knew there was 5 or 6 that I definitely wanted on this list but now my poor head it starting to strain to think of many more stand out bands but TMBG are one of those bands that I just enjoy, no reasons needed really, so easy going, fun and quirky music. John and John have some how made a comedy music band last this long, that alone is enough to show just how great this band is. For those of you who have never heard of TMBG Id basically describe them as a relaxed, fun, quirky group whose music is the sort of thing youd expect to see on Animaniacs (IIRC Particle man once was). Birdhouse in your soul is about their only foray into the mainstream radio stations but their cult success has said everything that needs to be said about them.
They Might Be Giants
Long Tall Weekend
Here Come the ABCs
Here Come the 123s
Live!! New York City 10/14/94
Severe Tire Damage
The Spine Hits The Road
Don't Let's Start
Then: The Earlier Years
Best of the Early Years
They Got Lost
Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants
A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants
Venue Songs DVD/CD (A re-release of Venue Songs in a CD/DVD combo pack with bonus material)
Where do we start with Genesis? Well I guess that rather good pun fell on deaf ears, so Im sorry for that. Genesis are a band that I guess could claim to do what very few bands have been able to do, every member of genesis has either been in a band or done notable work away from the band before joining or after joining it. The most obvious of these is drummer (and later singer) Phil Collins who went onto chart huge success, but thats not to take away from Mike Rutherfords Mike and the Mechanics or Peter Gabriels solo work just to name a few. The band has been through progressive stages (The Lamb dies down on broadway) to more fundamentally pop inspired rock music such as And Then There Were Three. The band can probably claim to be Britain most talented band (or at least competitive with the likes of Pink Floyd), and theirs songs range from overly long operas to catchy pop rock shows their ability to change and stick to making fantastic music.
Im not going to list the albums as theres around 40 of them and I regret listing the ones for TMBG.
10. Camp Kill Yourself
The hardest choice of them all really, who could take the final slot on here well Ive gone with another semi-obscure choice, or rather a choice that would have been obscure had it not been for Bam Margeras public life. The band have been featured in Jackass, Viva La Bam, CKY DVDs and Tony Hawk Games among other forms of media. The band does hold up well on their own even with out Bams often circus like life. The band are a catchy rock band with easy to get into music and an often easy going sound with an ability to get brilliant riffs and oddly well conjured lyrics.
Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild
An Answer Can Be Found.