U.K.’s Evening Standard Has A Go At 25 Best U.S. Rock Bands Of All Time

Oh those Brits, always keeping a critical eye on the goings on in the former colonies. Maybe I’m being a little too sensitive, but I always sense a whiff of condescension whenever British publications discuss American Rock, and who could blame them if they felt that way? There’s no denying that British bands led the way for the Rock Revolution of the 1960s, and also for the Punk/New Wave revolution of the Seventies and Eighties. Together that’s a big chunk of Rock history the Brits can rightfully feel a little smug about, even though it is also true that British influence on Rock has waned a bit in the past 20, 25 years or so.

In any case London’s Evening Standard has just published a list of The 25 Greatest American Rock Bands Of All Time, and I’d have to say it’s not a bad list as these things go. The stipulation for this particular list was that it had to be a collective band and not a solo artist fronting a band, so that removed Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty from consideration, three of the greatest Rockers of all time. Given that proviso, here’s what they came up with:

25. Red Hot Chili Peppers
24. Foo Fighters
23. Crosby Stills & Nash
22. The Doors
21. Van Halen
20. Blondie
19. The Byrds
18. The Velvet Underground
17. The Pixies
16. The Band
15. The Strokes
14. Pearl Jam
13. Metallica
12. Steely Dan
11. Talking Heads
10. Rage Against The Machine
9. Bon Jovi
8. Fleetwood Mac
7. The Ramones
6. Guns N’ Roses
5. R.E.M.
4. The Eagles
3. Aerosmith
2. The Beach Boys
1. Nirvana

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The problem with a list like this is that it doesn’t make clear what they mean by “greatest.” Does it mean most important, or most influential, or most popular, or all of those? Because when they talk about the top 10 on this list they refer frequently to record sales, which is not always an accurate reflection of greatness. And yet they rightly include The Pixies and the Velvet Underground, who weren’t exactly record-selling juggernauts. In the end it always comes down to the personal opinion of the listmaker, so let’s throw our two cents into the ring.

To me the most notable omissions are The Lovin’ Spoonful and the Grateful Dead, no list of greatest American bands should be without these two. I would delete Blondie and add Green Day, which was a leading American Rock band for almost 10 years. The Band doesn’t belong on this list because they were four-fifths Canadian, and I personally don’t think either RATM oor Bon Jovi belong on the list at all. I would put both Steely Dan and Talking Heads in the top 5, and move Aerosmith and G’N’R down the list a bit. That leaves one more open spot. Should it be Allman Brothers? Weezer? Devo? Jefferson Airplane/Starship? Wilco? I can’t decide. Who do YOU think should or shouldn’t be on this list?

4 comments to “U.K.’s Evening Standard Has A Go At 25 Best U.S. Rock Bands Of All Time”
  1. What a joke. Nirvana number 1? Your age is showing. And Rage Against the Machine and Foo Fighters but no Grateful Dead? Gimme a break.

  2. Creedence Clearwater Revival: about the only band that might legitimately outrank the Beach Boys on such a list, and where are they . . . #26?

    • spot on, Birt – CCR’s is an egregious omission. When I saw the headline I expected CCR to be #1, and no worse than #5. Utter nonsense that they’re not near the very top of the list. And…Fleetwood Mac is not an American band.

  3. The Replacements, NRBQ, The Everly Brothers, CCR, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers arent a band?, SPringsteen and the E st band arent a band?

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