Hey Idiot-Boy: How could you leave these guys off your stupid list?

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sir-rocknuts-500How many of you Rocknutters have ever tried to put together a Top 100 list of your faves? Not that many? It is hard work, I’ll tell you. And you would think it most gratifying once all the fans weigh in, right? Well…

OK, so I did it as a challenge (Check out my list of the Top 100 rock bands of all time with explainers here) and I would have likely been disappointed if at least 99% of the rock fans who reviewed my Top 100 didn’t disagree with me. Using that metric as criteria, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I mean, who could agree on 100 artists, their two “representative” songs, the 30 runners-up and the next 100 or so rockers up for consideration? I am amazed that I generated any words of support at all.

And damn few, at that, if you followed all the bellowing and mewing and carping.

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Here’s the thing – If you “came of age” musically in the 90’s – for instance – your Top 100 types might be Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins; and you laugh scornfully at old bands like The Zombies or The Yardbirds or The Beach Boys. Mount Rushmore of Rock stalwarts such as Sam Cooke or Buddy Holly or even Elvis mean very little to you. Now, if you were a 60’s guy, you look at artists like The Band and The Doors and The Kinks or The Who as progenitors of ALL of that stuff fans were hearing in the 80’s and 90’s and beyond. It’s a timing thing and there’s no way around it. You wanna trash someone’s heroes just because they are twenty years younger than you? Sheesh…

One prime example: Aerosmith. They had a bunch of hits and good MOR rock but, man, if you were a Stones fan, how much does Steven Tyler ape Mick Jagger and how much does Joe Perry want to be the “other” glitter twin, Keith Richards? Does “Sweet Emotion” hold a candle to “Jumping Jack Flash”, grasshoppers? Well, it likely does if you hadn’t grown up with the Stones. A problem with growing up early in rock is that you just see too much new stuff as being derivative from days gone by. Is Muse trying to be Queen? And who does hip-hop want to be when they grow up?

Now, I do I feel badly that some worthy groups were excluded from my overly-ambitious list; and that some others should move up to a higher stature and some – upon reflection – should probably move down. Absolutely. And “reflection” is part of the exercise.  It was a heroic and quixotic first attempt for this site and mistakes were inherently baked into the process, I suppose. Not including Smashing Pumpkins or Nine Inch Nails at all were examples of admitted mistakes that were made.

The good news (?) is that I plan to revise this list annually with all your help and “compassionate” comments. Well, some of your comments were expressed quite vociferously a few days after my list was initially launched. And for the sake of fairness and justice and the American Way, I bring you now the long-form of some of the more printable comments and my (non-snarky) answers, when appropriate:

  • “I stopped at Coldplay. Quite possible the worst list in the history of lists. No Rush? No Chili Peppers? It’s a farce.” Sir Response: How did you know there was no Rush if you stopped at Coldplay? Hmmm…And The Peppers were on the list, just not Top 100.
  • “I didn’t agree with omitting bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tears for Fears but this wasn’t my list”. Sir Response: I love Death Cab and listen to Alice in Chains and like Soundgarden, but should I take off The Beatles or Tom Petty or Wilco or Nirvana for them?
  • “No Pearl Jam, no credibility. I “unbookmarked” the site.” Sir Response: Pearl Jam was in the “considered” pile. The final judgment was a bit arbitrary, by definition…
  • “This list for the most part is poor. I appreciate that music is personal preference but come on. Pearl Jam should be top ten.Forget the rock and roll; your taste isn’t the greatest. You had some other poor omissions. Rush, Dave Matthews , ZZ”  Sir Response: I disagree on Rush (obviously). The Dave Matthews “omission” was covered in my qualifiers about jam bands and ZZ Top was, indeed, considered.
  • “Happy to see Boston and Bon Jovi listed in the “Others the mainstream would consider”, which amounts to being called overrated, which both were. Sam Cooke in a rock n’ roll top 100? Not seeing that. The Cars and the Cure should be in there over Cooke. Joe Cocker not making it is strike three. The Top 100 is out. No Doobie Brothers? Strike Four. Maybe strike four and strike five. No Hollies? “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” alone makes them a qualifier. I will take a couple of strikes off for leaving freaking Billy Joel off. Albert King falling into the overrated category adds a strike back. The L’s take several strikes off. Recognizing the Libertines, Little Feat and Los Lobos while putting Huey Lewis on the overrated list makes the L’s the tightest letter on the top 100. Roy Orbison does not make the list. Nearly stopped reading right here. Pearl Jam not making it is another one that nearly sent me websurfing. No Rush, no Bonnie Raitt, no Leon Russell. You’re killin’ me. Boz Skaggs is NOT rock n’ roll. Neither are Simon and Garfunkle. Rod Stewart absolutely should be on there instead of either. Really well done with the list otherwise.” Sir Response: One of the best critiques and much of this stuff, I agree with. Some of the un-mentioned artists Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell and even Rod Steward were, indeed, mentioned…
  • “Here are some things I would have done different.

A: Aerosmith top 100. Alice in Chains in mainstream
B: Badfinger and Blind Faith top 100. Beck, Black Crowes, and Black Sabbath in mainstream. Great catch on Roy Buchanan. I would add Buffalo Springfield to under-appreciated.
C: CSNY top 100 as well as Cream. Great catch on Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. The Cult and Canned Heat to under-appreciated.
D: Dave Matthews Band mainstream. Derek and the Dominoes for under-appreciated as well as Dream Theater.
F: Funkadelic for under-appreciated
G: Great catch on Buddy Guy.
H: George Harrison to under-appreciated
I: Iron Butterfly for under-appreciated
J: Jane’s Addiction to under-appreciated. Tommy James for mainstream.
K: King Crimson in top 100. Lenny Kravitz and Kiss in mainstream
L: Loggins & Messina in under-appreciated
M: Megadeth and Yngwie Malmsteen in under-appreciated. Great catch on Mott the Hoople. Paul McCartney and Wings in Mainstream.
N: Nine Inch Nails for Runner up.
P: Pearl Jam in top 100
R: Rush top 100.
S: Rod Stewart/Faces top 100. Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Roses, Sweet, and Soundgarden for under-appreciated
T: Tool in top 100. Great catch with Television. Three Dog Night for mainstream. Traffic, Triumph, Ten Years After, Traveling Wilburys, and Them for under-appreciated.
V: Velvet Undergound/Lou Reed top 100
W: War for mainstream.”
Sir Response: Wow – you probably spent more time on this than I did!

  • “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and The Air That I Breathe are two of the greatest songs of all time. Love Graham Nash’s vocals; perfect light tenor.” Great feedback other than the fact that Nash wasn’t part of the Hollies for those two songs…
  • “I would give more love to David Grohl.” Sir Response: How do give a guy more love than to include him in Nirvana as Top 100 and Foo Fighters and himself as Top 100? I do love Dave Grohl…
  • “A good friend who died before his time was the biggest Stones fan I have ever seen. That is saying something as I am a huge fan myself. I had to give it to him though as he could tell you details from tours going back into the ’70’s. He would use the same word as you used for Aerosmith. He called them Stones posers and he grew up with Aerosmith.”
  • “No Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden, but we have Coldplay. This list is pretty lame.”
  • “No Pantera ‘Cemetery Gates’ or ‘Domination’ that list is a joke” Sir Response: I veered away from metal and explained that as a different kind of perspective – and list. Metallica got a shout out, though…
  • “Touch of Gray? Went to college with a few Deadheads and they used to say that was the moment the Dead sold out. No different than some of my high school friends who walked away from U2 for going mainstream with Joshua Tree.” Sir Response: I give you props for the Dead song but, man, there were hundreds to choose form. And I can’t figure out why either “Touch of Gray or “Joshua Tree” is a sell-out rather than an evolution…
  • “As for the list, it is what it is. No reason to get bent over someone getting left out of a list than only goes to 100. Sir R could probably do a top 50 by decade and still leave a bunch out.” Sir Response: Hey – I have a million ways to screw things like this up. Don’t limit me, man!
  • “Only in music can an artist create something brilliant and be accused of selling out, whether it’s through recording an album, like Metallica’s “Black Album” or the Grateful Dead’s “In the Dark” (which includes “Touch of Grey”) or reinventing their sound, like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Green Day. Most people on here like the Beatles (and those who don’t need their heads examined). One could argue their entire catalog was mainstream. Of course, the difference here is the Beatles continuously tried to reinvent themselves and the mainstream music fan was just along for the ride. A magical mystery tour per se. The point is, the Beatles are arguably the greatest, and most popular, rock and roll band of all time. Does this make them sell outs?”
  • “Re-reviewing your rock list – all playful jabs aside – I’m certainly impressed with the time and energy you must have devoted to this endeavor. My main issue is with what constitutes the genre of rock.  I like BB King (blues), Otis (R&B) & Thompson (folk) – but are they “rock” stars?” Sir Response: Who’s to say? Other than me, of course. And that’s the point in a way…
  • “I’m also pleased you included some personal fav’s as BRMC, Tool, Ben Harper and Arcade Fire as considerations. And despite their insipid lyrics – I still like Nickelback.”
  • “Sonic Youth was a tough omission. Don’t love them but they were “seminal”. Not so much for Yeasayer. I also don’t like the posturings of Jack White/White Stripes (kind of like John Mayer…) but an awful lot of the new musicians revere the guy. David Crosby is another species entirely.”
  • “3 songs from Procol Harem?” Sir Response: I guess you will really chafe when I publish my column calling them the greatest group of all time…
  • “Classics which arguably should be on every list – Steppenwolf “Born to be Wild”, CSNY “Woodstock”, Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Don McLean “American Pie”, Rod Stewart, Cream, Def Leppard, E Starr War, etc” Sir Response: This is a list of the artists and examples of their songs. It is not a list of the Top 100 songs. Plus, anything David Crosby with which is associated is docked at least a half star and CSN didn’t write “Woodstock” anyway…
  • “Totally missing artists – Queens of Stone Age, Survivor, Triumph, Three Dog Night,  Whitesnake, Traveling Wilbury’s, Nickelback (my guilty pleasure), Styx, and Alan Parsons” Sir Response: Survivor? Triumph? Nickelback? Styx? These are your Rolling Stones and Beatles? You and I need to talk…After all, I thought you were a Tool guy!
  • “Most over-rated bands of all time – Foos, Ramones, Velvet, Replacements, Sex Pistols, anything with Jack White” Sir Response: That’s another list for another time!…

Those comments are probably enough to assert that we all disagree (inevitably) and we all have strong feelings about the list because these artists are peculiarly important to us. As I have been described: “Frequently wrong but seldom in doubt”…

But since “Too much is never enough” here at Rocknuts, we finish me off by weighing in with the withering critiques of my List by our paid staff. OK, if they were paid a little more, they would probably be a little more respectful. But they aren’t and so they aren’t. But here they are in edited (for brevity) form:

Rich Karfilis

I knew Sir Rocknuts’ Top 100 Magna Carta was a good list when I saw Richard Thompson on it. I was tickled to see Ben Harper and Spoon and Eels and Nick Cave. There are probably around 60 artists on the list that I would include on my own list, but then again, there are at least 20 artists that surely would be on everyone’s list. Choosing to include the runners-up and honorable mentions was a nice hedge, and a nice touch, and several of my choices would have come from these categories. Sir Rock touched a lot of bases, and for that I genuflect grandly in his direction.

I don’t think you belong on a list like this unless you have an original, distinctive sound all your own. In my book this would disqualify bands like Meat Puppets, Social Distortion and Vanilla Fudge, and elevate artists like Beck, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Vampire Weekend. But that’s just me. To be honest I found Sir Rock’s qualifiers and disclaimers troublesome and confusing. How can you have Booker T. and Otis Redding on the list, but not Aretha or James Brown? How can you have Leonard Cohen but not Joni Mitchell? Does Leonard rock harder? And why the arbitrary ban on jam bands? Beyond Dave Matthews and maybe Phish, none of the others would qualify on the basis of importance and significance, would they?

Jordan Posner

Overall, Sir Rocknuts, your list is honorable. It’s well-balanced, fair, etc. If this were Game of Thrones (and everything is, really), your list would be one of the more honorable houses. Maybe House Tyrell or Stark. Ass-kissing aside, let’s talk glaring omissions.

This is a collection of stray thoughts that occurred to me as I was perusing the list. It is in no particular order (other than alphabetical) and contains no grand unifying theory (that we know of).

Even though I don’t absolutely love this band, a list of important rockers without Black Flag seems incomplete. If nothing else, Greg Ginn started SST records, which was one of the first significant “indie” labels. Husker Du, the Minutemen, and even Nirvana (briefly) called this label home.

Also, should we even mention the Beatles at this point? Declaring The Beatles the best rock band is like declaring oxygen the best breathable gas. No doy. I feel like using Frank Black/The Pixies as one entity kind of gives short shrift to Kim Deal’s input in the group. Plus, she is a Dayton, OH native. Just like me, and basically this website.

Why include Cracker, but not Camper Van Beethoven? This was David Lowry’s first band, and I personally think he should have stopped there. Also, where is Can? Such an important band in terms of krautrock, indie rock (say goodbye to Radiohead without them) but also a nice diversion from an American and Western-Europe-dominated field (German band, Japanese lead singer).

And Chicago is a “rock” band the same way The Eagles are a “good” band.

The omission of Fugazi baffles and frightens me. Is everything going to be okay? Oh, it’s alright, we got Frampton instead. The guy is basically a blond wig on a talkbox. And surely the Flaming Lips should be on here.

My distaste for John Mayer’s songs and singing style aside, the guy can play guitar, and I suppose he works primarily in the rock idiom. There is also a Welsh band called Mclusky that should probably be here.

Neutral Milk Hotel may very well have dropped the best album of the 90’s with In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, so I feel like they deserve to be on here (if for no other reason than) based on the merits of that. I also think Nine Inch Nails should be in consideration.

Pavement should be here. Period. Without them, you have no apathetic 90’s slacker rock that is secretly good. They wrote a melody that could leave you scratching your head and humming at the same time.

Sonic Youth is an incredibly important and influential band. They just called it quits recently, after 30 years and more than a few great records. They definitely use noise as one of their prominent instruments, but have enough melody going on that things can be accessible. If you’re a fan of the noisier Velvet Underground (stuff with John Cale, basically), an absolute must.

A year ago, I would have derided Steely Dan as “ponytail dad rock.” Now I get it. I’ve heard Aja.

There you have it! I think that the important thing here is that we are sparking discussion. Let’s keep it non-violent, everyone!

Conclusions

(Finally, and thank God for that…)

Here is what I am pondering at this point for my first revision of The List:

  • Artists that were completely left off that should have been on the list somewhere

Sonic Youth

Smashing Pumpkins

Nine Inch Nails

  • Others we should probably consider in greater depth…

Fugazi

Flaming Lips

Can

Black Flag

  • Artists people get really pissed about but they are probably wrong…

Neutral Milk Hotel

Whitesnake

Rush

Traveling Wilbury’s

Nickelback

Pantera

Alice in Chains

Pearl Jam

This whole follow-up could have been even longer but that’s enough already. Keep checking in on Rocknuts to see if I come to my senses (by your count, that is), sooner or later!

One comment on “Hey Idiot-Boy: How could you leave these guys off your stupid list?
  1. Pingback: Bowie song tops list of 100 greatest songs of all time? | Rocknuts

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