Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to the energy of rock music. My mind-opening moment was during my growing years when my uncle would blast their cassette stereo with strains from The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” tape. This was in the early 1980’s by the way and I wasn’t even 10 years old then. I became amazed, when I thought about it years later, how a 1967 Beatles album would still sound good, even after decades have passed.
That’s when I learned about other groups whose musical outputs eventually transcended time and still reached their listeners on a different level. This quality and talent separate the ordinary bands from the great ones. But ultimately it’s still a matter of taste. Everybody has their own list of favorites and here’s mine!
10. THE EAGLES
The first song I heard from this group is “Hotel California”. The highlight of the song is the guitar solo exchange at the song’s ending! I can’t forget the way the faces of Don Felder and Joe Walsh grimace and melt while playing their hearts’ out, in concert footages. I find it both hilarious and mesmerizing at the same time. It turned out that “Hotel California” is just one of their numerous hits. These guys are tremendously talented. Their vocal harmonies are dead-on accurate and pleasing to the ears.
Cream was one of the first supergroups and exploited the “power trio” format in a band. Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce are each immensely talented with their musical instruments. Their formula was based on the blues-rock genre. Each original and cover song is boosted with the group’s collective virtuosity. Clapton’s previous work with James Mayall’s Bluesbreakers was a perfect springboard to his shot to stardom with Cream, and at the time, his breathtaking guitar skills were highly-regarded that it was immortalized in a famous “Clapton is god” graffiti.
8. VAN HALEN
One of the most innovative guitar players in recent years, Eddie Van Halen spearheaded this rock juggernaut with his equally talented brother, Alex. Van Halen had two different vocalists, David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, that represented two different eras in the band growth over the years. Fans have been divided between the two, but I think it’s better to just accept each as a unique hue in Van Halen’s musical palette. Actually, there was a third vocalist, Gary Cherone but he was not as prominent as the other two.
7. DEEP PURPLE
My favorite album from the band is the classic “Machine Head”, which produce the immortal “Smoke On The Water” and anthemic “Highway Star”. Mark II lineup of the band is widely recognized as the best to have produced classic sound of the band, most notably Ritchie Blackmore’s classical/blues combo influence in the guitar solos. Later, the group became inclined to progressive rock in later years. Deep Purple songs continue to be a staple in classic rock stations to this day.
6. THIN LIZZY
The group had their first hit in 1973, with the Irish traditional song. “Whiskey In The Jar”. One of the proponents of the harmony of double lead guitars, Thin Lizzy was also the platform of enigmatic bassist/vocalist Phil Lynott for his engaging, story-telling songs. This group had, at one time, in it’s line-up one of my favorite guitarists, Gary Moore. However, the more memorable songs of the group were done with the twin guitar attack of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson.
5. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
The lineup of Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell followed, perhaps unintentionally, the power trio format initiated by Cream with just the basic guitar, bass and drums composition. As exceeding flamboyant and talented Hendrix was, Redding and Mitchell were not to be outdone and confidently held their own amidst the tumultuous performances conjured by the master guitarist. This collaboration produced the most of Hendrix’ classic hits such as “Purple Haze”, “Little Wing”, “Fire”, “Foxy Lady” and “Voodoo Child”.
I was exposed initially to AC/DC’s music during the Brian Johnson era, the “Back In Black” album specifically. The band had enjoyed considerable success during Bon Scott’s tenure, but gained even wider recognition after his untimely death. Some critics may dismiss AC/DC music as repetitive. For me however, it represents rock and roll at its raunchiest, complemented with a generous amount of rebellious attitude by guitar god Angus Young.
Once only known for the smash hit “More Than A Feeling”, I’ve came to know Boston as more than a one-hit wonder. In fact, all songs in their debut album “Boston” in 1976 were potential hits. Apparently, Tom Scholz, lead guitarist and band leader, made sure of that. Their sophomore effort “Don’t Look Back” was likewise as stimulating and melody-driven as the first one. Recent efforts however were not satisfying enough for me. The death of Brad Delp last year slammed the door for a reunion of the original lineup which produced the band’s trademark sound.
2. THE BEATLES
One can’t find any other band that’s more influential than the Fab Four. Although their longevity as a band (they were active from 1962 to 1970 only) wasn’t that much compared to other veteran bands whose careers spanned decades, the impact of their work is irrefutable. The bulk of material came from the potent songwriting tandem of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who produced multiple hit songs over the years. Even after the group disbanded in 1970, appreciation for their music has continued.
Brian May is the guy who inspired me to play lead guitar. When I first heard Bohemian Rhapsody, I’ve been hooked since. But this group isn’t just about May. From its inception 1970 until Freddie Mercury’s untimely demise in 1991, this four-piece of superbly talented individuals constantly provided the music world with strings of hits. They refused to have their music to be tied down to a specific genre, instead released diverse tunes that defy categorization. The huge turnout in the “Freddie Mercury Tribute” concert in 1992 is a proof of how much the tragic loss of Mercury affected their fans.