Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Old bands that are actually good.

This list was much more difficult to assemble than the last one (the one where I dump on every important band in rock music). I suppose that's due to about 75% of music being medicore-to-absolute-garbage and me being jaded and cynical (am I too young for that?). Looking over this list, I think it says that I am definitely a fan of sort of stripped-down rock and roll type music. Nothing too fancy, rather things that are immediate and fun, though not lacking in memorable riffs, and compositions that are interesting enough. I don't know why I just seem to like this stuff better than whiny blues vocals courtesy of Robert Plant or Kurt Cobain's retarded lyrics. Things are just as they are sometimes when it comes to liking and disliking stuff.

Bob Dylan

I actually have a Dylan album in my iTunes (Blood On The Tracks) and have listened to it many times. I wouldn't mind buying another one, or several more. I'm not about to turn into some Dylan super-fan and attempt to collect the complete discography, but I don't think I'd turn off or complain about hearing a Bob Dylan song if it comes on the radio or something. I'm sure he's made plenty of uninteresting music, the guy's a dinosaur and has more albums than a shoe store has shoes, so probability dictates that something must not be so good. I'll just avoid that album(s).

the Rolling Stones

How is it possible to hate the Rolling Stones? Do they just have too much rock and roll swagger? Have they written too may excellent rock and roll gems? I don't know what could drive someone to dislike this band. Everyone knows they haven't made any interesting music for a few decades, but no one cares. The Stones can rest on their laurels all they want, 'cause those laurels are pretty awesome. Truth be told, I only own a few singles by the band, but that's probably due to such a vast catalogue. I wouldn't mind owning a few albums at least, but it's not a really high priority for me. I'm fairly content to listen to the hits and some random other songs that I know and like for the time being.

Iron Maiden

Another band whose albums I have yet to purchase. I'll admit that Iron Maiden is not a band that I fully take seriously, but how can you? The sometimes over-the-top vocals, the fantasy lyrics, the guitar solos, etc. make Maiden easy fodder for mocking (especially in this decade, where artiness and ultra-seriousness in metal is common). But the fact that they've always had a certain edginess and ruggedness draws me to this band. As polished and accomplished and even proggy/tech-y as their music can be, their music manages to not lose the rock and roll edge. And every now and then, it's good to just listen to something fun and less intellectual.

the Clash

I've heard London Calling a few times, but I'm not a serious adherent to the Clash. There's some great songs, and overall, it's a pleasant album, but not necessarily something I'm a huge fan of. They make this list mostly because I like them and have respect for them. I'd put a few songs of theirs in my iTunes, but I'm not about to purchase the complete discography. I'd probably buy Joe Strummer's solo stuff instead. The Clash was and continues to be an important band in rock and especially punk history, but that doesn't matter unless their music is good and luckily, it is.


This band's music (both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras) is too much fun. There's too many random AC/DC songs/hits that I like. It's all just straight-up rock and roll, no pretense, nothing arty, no embellishments, and it's been that way since forever. I would buy a few albums from this band, but not all of it is necessary since the band has barely changed at all since their inception (gross generalization much?). I really don't have a preference for either vocalist, though I'm actually more familiar with Johnson-era stuff. I don't know if I'd ever go see them live, if presented with the opportunity. I've never been to a stadium-style show and I'm afraid it would lose the atmosphere and intimacy of a club/bar-type show. Though maybe AC/DC's rock power could fill a stadium well? I'd hope so.

So, what is it that makes me enjoy these dinosaur bands vs. the host of others that I don't like (some of which are dinosaurs and some of which aren't)? Aside from just subjectivity, I'm sure it comes down to my "musical upbringing." I've heard stories of people listening to Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or whatever when they were in high school or as some bonding experience with a family member, and I don't share that experience. I don't relate to the almost stereotype of having a group of friends who got you into "classic rock," which ended up shaping your musical views for the rest of your life. Growing up, I was listening to punk of various sorts and then ended up branching off into a bunch of different genres (it's punk to like new and different things!), most notably, metal. My whole musical taste is at least partially shaped and informed by punk. When I go back and listen to these bands that are often labeled as founders and innovators in rock, I'm not impressed or interested perhaps because the punk aesthetic makes me think they sound inauthentic, bloated, and bombastic, something I've come to realize I really don't like in music in general. So I guess, really, that the punk roots shaped my taste, being sort of my main basis or criteria to judge or compare music and my sense of subjectivity to music is derived from these roots (still doesn't explain my dislike for Sonic Youth!). Will I ever end up liking the bands I trashed in the last post? Who knows. Maybe it'll never happen.

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