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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Do-Wa-Diddy, Diddy-Dum, Diddy-Doo's Eric Olsen runs a piece on today taking on the perenneal party argument question: "What Are The 10 Greatest Rock-And-Roll Bands In History?", along with the corollary: "10 Greatest Rock Songs". Most of his choices are informed, and really hard to argue with (is anyone between the ages of 40 and 60 going to take a contrary position to The Beatles being the greatest band ever? Hardly), and he informs each of his admittedly subjective picks with strong arguments in their favor.

Especially pleasing was his selection of The Ramones; the group that single-handedly invented punk rock years before Brit entrepreneur Malcolm MacLaren put together the short-lived phenomenon that was The Sex Pistols. Another surprise was his inclusion of Bob Marley and The Wailers. While I was never a big reggae fan (although I went through a brief Peter Tosh phase in the early '80's), it's a bold, insightful choice, seeing how Marley can rightfully be considered the fountainhead for popularizing this regional music form with a world-wide audience.

Some of Olsen's favorites, however, are arguable at least so long as we're being subjective here. I only had a brief infatuation with U-2 back in the mid '80's, and probably would have opted for REM over Bono & Co.; both bands are products of the post-punk art-music movement of the early '80's, spearheaded by bands like Talking Heads and Pere Ubu, and both bands have a proven longevity that matched their creative capacity.

Also, I may be one of the few native West Coasters who just never clicked with The Grateful Dead. While one certainly can't dismiss the band's overall contribution to pop music culture, I'd be hard pressed to name more than two or three songs that actually had any kind of significant impact outside of their rather narrow fan base; Truckin. is actually the only Dead title that comes immediately to mind.

Interestingly, one of my choices appears in the article's sidebar "Also Rans" poll. Between their 1965 debut and their final studio album, 1982's "It's Hard", Townshend, Daltrey, Entwistle and Moon were the perfect blending of The Rolling Stones' sexual swagger, filtered through The Beatles' somewhat bland boy-next-door image, coming out the other side as any parent's worst nightmare; the seemingly innocuous, pimple-ravished kid from down the block who suddenly shows up one night on a motorcycle to take your daughter God-knows-where. They represented every adult's most vile expectation of Reckless Youth, revelled in the image, and like all true pioneers pushed much farther to the edge than was good for them.

Sly And The Family Stone is, in my mind at least the only truly misplaced member of Olsen's group. While briefly popular in their day, it's hard to place their musical accomplishments higher than say, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Oyster Cult, The Clash, Public Enemy, The E Street Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, heck even Van Halen for that matter has a creative and performance longevity that far outstrips Sly and Co.

Then there are his song selections.

No "Louie, Louie"?

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" gets mention over "Twist & Shout"?

"Like A Rolling Stone" is a toss-up, but I probably would have picked "Subterranian Homesick Blues" (arguably the seminal rap song), if I was putting a Dylan song on my list.

Marvin Gaye is also a tough one to argue against, but I would think if you're going into Soul territory, you'd also have to seriously consider Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay", Smokey Robinson's "The Tears Of A Clown", or The Supremes' "Love Child" as worthy contenders.

And Puhleez! Don't even get me started on OutKast. Geez, why not just go with another "flavor of the month" band like Blink 182, Matchbox 20 or Korn, any one of them would do just as well. I'll take anything in the Who Discography over one of these, or perhaps even Rush, Motorhead, X -- I mean the possibilities are just endless!

But then, I'm sure you-all have your own opinions on the subject. We'll hash it out over beers the next time we meet.

Posted byCOMTE on 3:47 PM

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