RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By


Powered by Blogger

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Top 10 Most Influential Metal Bands of All Time

This is a list of the most influential metal bands. If it were the best bands list, it would be very different. All bands here deserve props for what they did and should never be forgotten through the music made today. Narrowing down the selections was difficult and I almost feel like I cheated Metallica, but I think if they had stayed true to their original sound, they would have had a much greater impact.
Napalm Death
Napalm Death are the creators of grindcore. On top of that they influenced all sorts of death and doom metal bands around their time. They have had great members in their band, some of whom found success over the years in bands like Cathedral and Carcass.
4524C43F8Afb93D6D6701447Ff87402A Full
Death was one of the original death metal bands. Late guitarist Chuck Schuldiner was often considered the “Father of Death Metal.” It is no surprise that they paved the way for bands like Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death.
Slayer 02
Slayer is one of the big four that founded thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth. Other bands even created the genre speed metal around Slayer. With insane riffs and songs like Raining Blood, Seasons in the Abyss, Angel of Death, and Black Magic, it is obvious why they are on the list.
Manowar are power metal. Often singing about fantasy and looking the part of the warriors they claim to be. You can see lyrical similarities with current day power metal bands such as Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, and Dragonforce.
Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost is an incredibly influential gothic metal band. It is hard to say that they aren’t influential considering all of the covers of their songs that bands have done. They helped create that gloomy sound that metal has become so accustomed to.

Venom 007
Another founder of death/black metal. They directly influenced Slayer and bands of that ilk. They were not afraid to depict Satan in their music and that helped contribute to their fame. Although not a widely known band, their sound and depictions of religion are seen throughout metal today.
The Ace of Spades, Overkill, and Bomber. Need I say more? Lemmy’s gritty vocals and wild bass playing were unheard of at the time. It is very hard to say that Motorhead did not impact the world of metal.
Iron Maiden
The NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) has by far the greatest impact and was the start of metal. Iron Maiden helped lead the pack with wailing vocals, catchy and memorable songs and also helped led the way for power metal with its lyrical content. Still going strong today, any band looking for influence cannot cancel out Iron Maiden.
Judas Priest
Another band out of the NWOBHM, they started with two guitarists in the band and high pitched vocals. Songs like Painkiller, You’ve got another thing comin’, and Breaking the Law have become timeless classics. Judas Priest is arguably one of the best bands to ever sport metal as their genre.
Black Sabbath
Jeffhibbardinter I00000E
As soon as you read the topic I’m sure you knew that this would be the number one. The very first metal band, it’s only fair to give them the top spot. They started everything. You hear a riff or sound a guitar makes, it evolved from Black Sabbath. Thrash sounds are apparent in Symptom of the Universe and epic tones are present in Iron Man and War Pigs. The lyrical ideals of Geezer Butler were amazing and opened the eyes of the people.
Contributor: Vakattack91


Top 10 Pink Floyd Songs

Pink Floyd – one of music’s most successful acts – they have sold over 200 million albums around the world. They are considered to be a British progressive rock band, gaining early recognition for their psychedelic or space rock music. This is a list of their ten greatest songs.
On the Turning Away
David Gilmour/Anthony Moore
In 1985, Roger Waters left Pink Floyd and declared the band dead. Two years later, David Gilmour and Nick Mason released A Momentary Lapse of Reason and proved him wrong. Although the album is arguably worse than anything else in the Floyd catalog, the songs “Learning to Fly”, “On the Turning Away”, and “Sorrow” stand as some of the best of the post-Waters Floyd. This performance is from the Pink Floyd concert film Delicate Sound of Thunder.
Us and Them
Roger Waters/Richard Wright
Richard Wright’s mesmerizing keyboard work and Roger Waters’ though-provoking lyrics both shape this great song from the Floyd’s greatest hit, Dark Side of the Moon. The melody was originally born from the Pink Floyd recording sessions for the film Zabriskie Point, but the film’s director rejected it. This performance is from Roger Waters’ Live Earth performance.
The Gnome
Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett’s music, both with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, is characterized by entrancing and often surreal lyrics. “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn is no different. “The Gnome” is a Tolkinsian tale about a little man who enjoys drinking wine and sleeping. This is the album version with random footage of the late Syd Barrett.
Atom Heart Mother
Ron Geesin/David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Richard Wright/Roger Waters
Atom Heart Mother is a very eclectic album featuring a very avant-garde symphony/rock suite, three songs by Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and David Gilmour respectively, and “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”. The title track is the second-longest song the Floyd have ever recorded, clocking in at 23 minutes and 44 seconds. This performance is from the Bath Festival in June 1970.
Fat Old Sun
David Gilmour
“Fat Old Sun” remains one of David Gilmour’s best songwriting efforts. This performance is from the DVD David Gilmour in Concert.

Jugband Blues
Syd Barrett
During the recording of Saucerful of Secrets, Syd Barrett became more and more disconnected from his bandmates and the world in general. Every theory on Syd’s mental breakout has been posited, from LSD to drugs and epilepsy. This song is seen by many as a self-assessment by Barrett. Barrett was dropped from the band soon after, replaced with his friend David Gilmour.
David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Roger Waters/Richard Wright
Another of Pink Floyd’s “epics”, “Echoes” pushed the space-rock tendencies of Pink Floyd to their max. The “whale” sound effects would later be recycled into “Is There Anybody Out There?” from The Wall. This performance is from David Gilmour’s live DVD Remember That Night.
Roger Waters/David Gilmour
Animals, while not as well known as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, is every bit as good as its brothers. This album introduced the pig, who’d be present at every subsequent PF tour. This version is from Roger Waters’ live DVD In the Flesh Live.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
David Gilmour/Richard Wright/Roger Waters
Shine on You Crazy Diamond is the Pink Floyd’s tribute to their fallen leader, Syd Barrett. The nine-part, 26-minute song is perhaps the greatest collaboration of Gilmour, Waters, and Wright. This performance is from the Pink Floyd DVD Pulse.
Wish You Were Here
Roger Waters/David Gilmour
This short, acoustic, poignant song by Roger Waters and David Gilmour lends its name to the album, which also features “Shine On”, “Welcome to the Machine”, and “Have a Cigar”. This performance is from Live 8, which was a moving time for Floydians everywhere. After 20 years of animosity, Roger Waters and his former bandmates finally shared a stage together.
Contributor: CBorne


Top 10 Greatest Operas

I, like JFrater, am a lover of opera and have performed in a few as well. Here is my list of the 10 best operas of all time. The items are picked through online voting and my own personal preferences, here ya go! [JFrater would like to publicly protest the exclusion of any 20th Century operas, but defers to the wisdom of the contributor.]
Jacopo Peri
This one is on the list only because it is the first opera ever written! Though almost none of it survives today, I believe the first of anything should be on a list! (Many historians, and JFrater, believe Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th century “Ordo virtutum” is the first opera, but it is not known if it was ever staged, Daphne was). The clip above is not from Daphne, but Peri’s music is very hard to find, so this is a clip of a counter-tenor singing an excerpt from Invocazione di Orfeo.
Der Freischütz
Carl Maria von Weber
This, although not well known or well liked, is one of my favorite German operas. Inspired by German folk music and the romantic ideals of the day. It is the story of a man who sells his soul to the Devil so he can shoot straighter and win the heart of a woman. But, as in many cases, he dies. The Wolf Glen Scene is very creepy and awesome.
The Barber of Seville
Gioacchino Rossini
From Largo al Factotum to the amazing overture, it has one of the most recognizable first 10 minutes of any opera. This is about a man named Count Almaviva trying to win the heart of a beautiful girl, with the help of Figaro, the local barber.
Madame Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini
The story takes place in Japan in the 1890′s. Tamaki Miura became famous for her part in this opera! This is about a young Geisha woman named Butterfly and her love triangle with Lt. Pinkerton and Suzuki.
Don Giovanni
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This is a two act opera based on Don Juan. Motzart is famous for having both comedy and dramatics in his operas and this is no different. It also contains one of my favorite operatic scenes where Don Giovanni doesn’t repent for his sins and is sent to hell, great part!

La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
This story follows the courtesan Violletta and her love of a man named Alfredo. She has Tuberculosis and is dying. Sadly, as in most operas, she dies and it takes a long time. She dies in the arms of her love Alfredo. Some very beautiful and amazing arias throughout this work. Fantastic!
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Richard Wagner
This is technically more than one opera, but has been shoved together as one. It is the longest opera ever written. The four operas are called:
Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
As you will see in the clip above, the Ring Cycle contains some of the greatest and most well known of Wagner’s music.
The Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Part two of the three part series of Figaro (leading off with Rossini’s Barber of Seville or #9). This opera takes place entirely in one day in Count Almaviva’s Palace. It is famous for its mistaken identities and wonderful comedy woven throughout the opera, and of course the overture.
Georges Bizet
The opera of Carmen the Gypsy girl and her love of Don Jose. Like most operas, the love doesn’t last long and they start fighting and Carmen is killed in the end. Famous for its overture, the Song of the Toreador, and Habanera!
La Boheme
Giacomo Puccini
It is the most performed and most well liked opera of this and probobly any time! It is the inspiration for the musical “Rent!” and is similar in many ways, except they don’t have AIDS they have TB, well Mimi does and she of course dies.
Feel free all of you opera lovers to start arguing and I’m sure there will be a blood bath over this one. Sadly for some, I couldn’t find a good recording sorry, but I hope this suffices.
Contributor: Schiesl


Top 10 Guitarists You Don’t Know

We have a few pretty good guitarists and musicians that frequent the List Universe, so I am expecting this list to garner a lot of interest – and maybe even some criticism. Here is a list of the ten best guitarists you probably don’t know.
Michael Lee Firkins
Michael is a shredder with soul. He was one of Mike Varney’s group of technique-obsessed monsters at Shrapnel Records. He has this really cool country-blues thing going on as well. Here he is live doing “Runaway Train”.
Emily Remler
Emily Remler is known in Jazz circles, and was actually a friend is my old jazz teacher here in Kansas City. Her thing was straight tradition Wes-influenced jazz and she was great at it. Unfortunately, she died of an overdose far too young at the age of 32. This is from one of her instructional videos, John Coletrane’s “Afro Blue”.
Dave Hole
Dave is from Perth, Australia. His first record that I was aware of was “Ticket To Chicago” recorded live in Chicago. He plays slide in the unusual over-the-neck way that Danny Gatton used to. He demonstrates it brilliantly here on “I’m A King Bee”.
Rory Block
Rory is a great blues guitarist. All that I know about her is from having seen her picture along with Artie Traum in one of Stefan Grossman’s instructional books. The pics were from the 60/70s, so she has been around awhile, and is very respected in blues circles. Here is a kickass version of “Crossroads Blues” by Robert Johnson.
Oz Noy
Oz is a guitarist from Israel, now living in New York. He is a very well-established studio player who has worked with, among others, Anton Fig & Will Lee from David Letterman’s show band. I think he has a really original sound. Here he is with Adam Nussbaum & Bann playing “Way Out Willy”.

Scotty Anderson
Scotty is one of those players that makes your jaw drop. If you have been looking for the logical heir to Chet Atkins, here he is. In this clip you hear him playing a jazz standard, “Caravan”.
Jennifer Batten
Jennifer was an instructor at Guitar Institute of Technology on L.A., then went on to play in Michael Jackson’s touring band for a hot minute. She is one of the best-ever exponents of the 2-hand tapping style. Here’s an impossible-sounding “Fight Of The Bumblebee”.
Reverend Gary Davis

Here is the all-time king of ragtime guitar. The Rev. Gary played on the streets of New York for decades, then was noted instructor Stefan Grossman’s teacher in the 60s. Stefan used to go to Gary’s house for lessons. The tune he’s playing here is “Slow Drag/Cincinnati Flow Rag”.
Shawn Lane
Hailed by many as the world’s fastest guitar player, Shawn was a working musician from his early teens with Black Oak Arkansas, followed by many years in obscurity playing in local Memphis bands to feed his family, then to his most successful gig with Jonas Hellborg. Shawn was exploring traditional indian music shortly before he died of a lung ailment at around age 40. Here is his “savitri” which must have been recorded shortly before his death. It is really weird and cool.
Allan Holdsworth!
That’s right, the greatest electric guitar player of all time. There has never been a player who combines great technique with artistic integrity and commitment to vision the way Allen does. I think that history will definitely give him the crown of All Time Greatest. The tune he is playing here with his band is “Three Sheets To The Wind”.
Contributor: Moe Shinola


10 Nearly Forgotten Number One Songs

As the decades pass, some songs increase in popularity when they reach new listeners via concerts, advertising, or movie soundtracks. Others aren’t readily available commercially, and thus become nearly forgotten.
This list is of outstanding songs many casual listeners will not be familiar with, and placed #1 on the Billboard US Hot 100 chart. Please feel free to post how many of the selections you have heard along with your comments.
(An explanation: I based this list on an American chart only because my knowledge of the music history of other countries is not adequate enough to do otherwise.)
Songs are arranged by date, most recent first.
Close to You
October 6, 1990 #1 for 1 week
London-born Maxi Priest (Max Elliot) hit the scene in the late 1980′s and was a success with his smooth blend of R&B, dance, and reggae music. This song, off his fourth album Bonafide, stands out as a genuine “love-making” song. Granted, not up to a Barry White level, though all but the most puritan will likely want to “get it on”. Max is still creating good music, including “That Girl”, (although extra vocals by reggae artist Shaggy hurt the song, IMO). He will be taking over the lead singing duties for the group UB40 (one of my favorites); coincidentally, UB40 was previously the only UK reggae artist to have a US #1 hit.
Trivia: The priest character in the comedy “South Park”, Father Maxi, is named after this artist.
Wishing Well
May 7, 1988 #1 for 1 week
Terence Trent D’arby blasted onto radio with his sizzling debut Introducing the Hardline in 1987. With a powerful, unique voice, Terence prompted more than a few critics to make comparisons to Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson. Unfortunately, his arrogance and pretentiousness would set back a promising career. His follow-up album was self-indulgent and in cohesive, and though he attempted to return to the mainstream with later albums, he found once you alienate your fans, it can be difficult to win them back. His latest albums are available only through his website, under his new name Sananda Maitreya, which he chose after experiencing a series of dreams.
Trivia: A soldier in the US Army, Terence went AWOL (he was performing in clubs while stationed in Germany) and was court-martialed and discharged in 1983.
96 Tears
October 29, 1966 #1 for 1 week
Perhaps too well-known a song to be listed here, I choose to invoke list-writer’s prerogative to include one of my favorite songs. Question Mark (or ?) and the Mysterians made their ‘mark’ on music with an early punk rock ode to a lover. Legend says that lead singer ? (Rudy Martinez) wrote the song initially as a poem titled “Too many teardrops”. When presented to the band, one member suggested the song be called “69 Tears” (wink, wink), though the band eventually agreed on a less suggestive title. The Wikipedia entry says the legend is false, but several fan sites I found state the tale as fact. ? was and is an outrageous personality, having made claims about living on Mars and seeing visions that he will be performing this song until the year 10,000!
Trivia: In January 2007, ?’s Michigan home burnt down destroying all his memorabilia and also taking the lives of six pets. Benefits have been held but ? is still without a proper home.
Eve of Destruction
September 25, 1965 #1 for 1 week
A great song with a great back story. Barry McGuire, broke after quitting folk group The New Christy Minstrels earlier in the year, was recruited by top producer Lou Adler to record some new tracks. In the studio and searching for something original, Barry pulled from his pocket a crumpled piece of paper with lyrics that band mate Phil Sloan (and possibly Barry; his official site is unclear on this) had wrote. He smoothed out the lyrics for himself, wrote the notes on paper from some carryout dinner bags for the band, and then started recording. Getting late, they recorded one take, (with Barry losing his place at one point), and decided to redo the vocals later. The next day, a music promoter would inadvertently take “Eve” to the birthday party of the daughter of a Los Angeles radio station executive. The kids loved the song and the promoter told Adler. Unable to find his lead singer, he made a master of what he had, to send to the station. Only four days after being recorded, Barry McGuire would have a song playing on LA’s top rock station.
Trivia: “Eve” would be used as a protest song during the Vietnam War era, though Barry had not envisioned it as such. The song’s popularity would lead to hate mail and an FBI file for him. He still performs it today, updating the lyrics for today’s events.
Deep Purple
November 16, 1963 #1 for 1 week
Brother and sister Nino Tempo and April Stevens did a cover version of the popular song that was initially conceived as a piano composition in 1933. The piece’s popularity lead to lyrics in 1939, which then lead to hit versions by artists such as big band group The Larry Clinton Orchestra and doo-wop group The Dominoes. In the second half of this version, April speaks the lyrics softly prior to Nino singing them; apparently he forgot the words and was being prompted by April. Of course, the producer left her helping in, despite a mild protest by Nino. A gentle, sweet song about an old flame they just don’t make anymore.
Trivia: Another brother and sister act, Donny and Marie Osmond would cover the song in 1976, hitting the top 20. IMHO, this might be the most lightweight singing I’ve ever heard!

June 15, 1963 #1 for 3 weeks
Here’s a song you have heard many times…sort of. A hit in his native Japan in 1961, Kyu Sakamoto sang “Ue o muite arukō”, a song about a painful break-up. It would reach the UK in 1963, through a instrumental version by Kenny Ball and the Jazzmen. Their record label Pye Records gave the song an easier to pronounce title, and this name would stick when Kyu’s version would make it to the UK and US later that year. Many artists would cover the song either through the music only or by making up their own lyrics. The most notable was by A Taste of Honey in 1981; the lyrics written by their singer Janice Marie Johnson (“It’s all because of you, I’m feeling sad and blue…”) would become a standard of sorts for future versions. The Japanese lyrics are entirely different; “I look up when I walk, so tears won’t fall”. As usually is the case, the original is the best. Kyu’s voice stands along side Perry Como and Andy Williams as the best of the era.
Trivia: Sadly, Kyu Sakamato was among 520 people who perished in the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 in 1985.
December 22, 1962 #1 for 3 weeks
A trippy mix of space-age effects and distortions using an electronic instrument called the clavioline. Unique and imaginative (and unable to write music or play an instrument!) producer Joe Meek wrote this song and named it after a recently launched AT&T communications satellite. He hired club/house band The Tornadoes to record it, and then added more effects afterwards. The song was an immediate hit; however, due to a plagiarism lawsuit by French composer Jean Ledrut (eventually ruled in Meek’s favor), Meek would see no royalties in his lifetime. Meek was a flamboyant personality dealing with paranoia, a obsession with the occult, and his homosexuality. There have been many songs, a play, and a major movie later this year with Kevin Spacey (not as Meek) about his life.
Trivia: Meek was also obsessed with Buddy Holly, and would eventually kill himself and his landlady eight years to the day of Holly’s death.
Quarter to Three
June 26, 1961 #1 for 2 weeks
From a small record label in Norfolk, Virginia came a big dance hit by Gary U.S. Bonds. This is a raucous, high energy dance track that fits right in with current tracks by OutKast and The Black Eyed Peas. Born Gary Anderson, he would be renamed by his producer as a gimmick; they would send out demos labeled “Buy U.S. Bonds”, (government bonds were a popular investment at the time). It worked, now Gary U.S. Bonds is recognized as a beloved performer on the nostalgia concert circuit. He will be touring the eastern US this summer.
Trivia: Bruce Springsteen is a huge fan and has performed “Quarter to Three” at many of his concerts. He also produced a successful comeback album for Bonds in 1981.
Rock and Roll Waltz
February 18, 1956 #1 for 1 week
I am unsure whether this song was meant to be an attempt to acknowledge the rock and roll revolution, or to mock it. Either way, the second-best selling single of 1956, had Kay Starr’s lovely, deep voice going for it. She is not often remembered because much of her career she had been at Capitol Records, behind big-name talent like Jo Stafford and Peggy Lee. It was a move to RCA that lead to this hit. Kay has been recording as recently as 2001, at age 78!, on a Tony Bennett album.
Trivia: Kay lost her voice in 1945 due to pneumonia and nodes on her vocal cords. Rather than undergo surgery, she chose to not speak for six months! This changed her voice considerably, but certainly not for the worst.
The Thing
December 2, 1950 #1 for 4 weeks
It is amazing how much musical tastes change. A song like this would never work today, but at the time it was immensely popular, and was recorded by several artists at the same time as this Phil Harris version. It’s corny, sure, but I bet you’ll be tapping bump-ba-bump by the end of the song!
Trivia: Phil Harris was a popular all-around entertainer and would voice “Baloo” in the Disney feature The Jungle Book.


10 Memorable Rock Performances

A rock performance can be memorable by sheer entertainment and talent but also because of controversy surrounding it. Here is my take on ten (maybe even the top ten) rock performances of all time. I know my list is very classic rock orientated so I am eager to see what other users would add from different genres. Maybe even share performances you’ve seen first hand!
The Who
“My Generation” on Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967)
The Who rose to fame with a pioneering instrument destruction stage show. One infamous performance occurred on television in 1967. The drummer, Keith Moon, overloaded his bass drum with explosives which were detonated during the finale of “My Generation.” As a result, guest Bette Davsis fainted, guitarist Pete Townshend’s hair was set on fire, and there is a legend that he received permanent damage to his hearing.
The Doors
“Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show (1967)
At this point in time, The Doors had already earned a reputation as a rebellious live act and Jim Morrison was a popular sex symbol. The band was approached by CBS reps before their live performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” The censors demanded that Morrison change the lyrics to the song from “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to “Girl, we couldn’t get much better.” The band agreed but Morrison sang the original line on live television with no delay. Ed Sullivan was furious and refused to shake the band members’ hands while also stating they would never be invited on the show again. Morrison’s reply? “So what. We just did the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’”
The Sex Pistols
Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall (1976)
Called “The Gig That Changed the World” because it inspired a generation to make their own music and arguably change the world with the power of punk. The Sex Pistols emerged as a response to what was perceived to be the “increasingly safe and bloated” progressive rock and manufactured pop music of the mid-1970s. The gig is shrouded in myth and legend because only 42 people were in attendance but hundreds claim that they were there. But the people who were there formed legendary bands such as Joy Division, The Smiths, The Fall, and The Buzzcocks.
“All Apologies” MTV Unplugged (1993)
This show is so memorable in big part because it was one of the last televised performances by Kurt Cobain. It was recorded five months prior to his death in 1994. The set list consisted of several covers and lesser known originals; the only hit they played was “Come As You Are.” Many critics hailed the band’s performance because of their display that they could transcend the grunge stereotype which made them famous. This song’s performance is so eerie because of Cobain’s suicide and the lyrics in the song which seem to stem from the pain the singer was experiencing.
The Rolling Stones
“Sympathy For The Devil” Altamont (1969)
The Altamont Free Concert was headlined and organized by the Rolling Stones and featured other acts such as: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. During the Rolling Stone’s performance of “Sympathy For The Devil,” a young man named Meredith Hunter was stabbed and beaten to death by the Hell’s Angels. They were hired by the band to handle security for a mere $500 and free beer. Various news agencies reported the event as a “drug induced riot” and the Stones continued while Hunter was attacked in order to prevent a possible riot. Many critics called this event the “Death of Woodstock Nation.”

Pink Floyd
“Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” The Wall Tour (1980)
Pink Floyd was, and still is, one of rock music’s most successful acts. They are very well-known for their elaborate live shows which brought psychedelia to the UK in the 1960’s. They were the first band to incorporate light shows and photo effects into their live performances, creating a precedent which still cannot be matched to this day. This tour celebrated the release of their album “The Wall,” which eventually was certified 23x platinum. What made this tour so special was that there were only 31 shows in 4 cities in 1980 and 1981. Many consider this tour to be one of the most celebrated stage shows in rock history.
Jimi Hendrix
“Star Spangled Banner” Woodstock (1969)
Despite there being several famous acts playing at the festival, Hendrix was considered to be the festival’s main attraction as the headliner. His two-hour long set (the longest of his career) was cursed with technical difficulties ranging from microphone troubles to a snapped guitar string during the performance of the song “Red House.” Even with all the problems, Hendrix delivered a historical performance with his solo improvisation of the “Star Spangled Banner,” which was played loudly and sharply with stimulated sounds of war from his guitar. Some viewed his rendition as anti-American while others felt it was Hendrix’s statement about the unrest in U.S. society. Whatever his reasoning may be, this act became a defining moment of the 60s.
“Bohemian Rhapsody/Radio Ga Ga” Wembley Stadium (1985)
Freddie Mercury will always be one of the best and most charismatic live performers in rock history. His upbeat and commanding presence is unmatchable. The band is noted for its musical diversity, multi-layered arrangements, vocal harmonies and incorporation of audience participation into their live performances. This medley was performed in front of an audience of 75,000 people for the annual Live Aid festival at Wembley Stadium. A poll taken by the BBC in 2005 named this as the top live performance of all time. Watching Freddie Mercury get the entire audience to clap in unison is mesmerizing.
Elvis Presley
“Hound Dog” The Milton Berle Show (1956)
At the beginning of his career, Elvis’ performances were badly received by both critics and guests (mostly an older, more conservative audience). The controversy would soon get worse after this June 5th presentation of “Hound Dog.” Elvis performed without his guitar and stirred the audience with his vigorous leg shaking and hip thrusts. Forty million people tuned in and the critics were relentless the next day. Elvis was linked with juvenile delinquency and deemed “a no-talent performer.” Others said the dancing was “vulgar” and “obscene” because of its strong sexual connotations. Elvis would later be filmed only from the waist up on the “Ed Sullivan Show” a few months later. Despite the controversy, Elvis quickly became a sex symbol and Rock ‘n Roll genius which would propel him to “The King” status he still holds to this day.
The Beatles
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand” The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)
Some say that during the Beatles first American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, normal activities in America came to a standstill watching their performance. Still reeling in shock at the assassination of President Kennedy a few months prior, Americans were overjoyed by the atmosphere created when the four guys from Liverpool came on their black-and-white televisions. Before this program, Beatlemania had already swept Europe and the band was weary if they would be able to make it in America. This performance sealed the deal for the quartet and lead to a simultaneous transformation of rock music and youth culture. Sullivan received the biggest ratings of his career and this performance was one of the most watched programs in the history of television.
Contributor: deedee0323


Top 10 Stunning 20th Century Operas

Many of you will know (and many won’t) that I spent a number of years studying opera and performing professionally as an opera singer. In my years in the field I was always most moved by classical music of the 20th century. It is a shame to know that so many people are unaware of the fact the classical composition continued well beyond Mozart and right up to the times in which we currently live. In order to share some of the most beautiful music of the modern times which I came across in my studies, I have put together this list of the top 10 modern operas. Be sure to listen all the way through each clip.
1984, Philip Glass
Philip Glass is a prolific American composer who writes in the minimalist style. This opera is the third in his trilogy which comprises the lives of Einstein, Gandhi, and Akhnaten. Whilst the music is incredibly repetitive, the more you concentrate the more you hear subtle changes which, in a sense is an aural illusion, leads you to hear other melodies floating out. Glass has written an immense amount of music for films, including the score for Kundun and The Hours.
Duke Bluebeard’s Castle
1911, Bela Bartok
Duke Bluebeard’s Castle retells the story of the Gilles de Rais – a monstrous serial murderer from the middle ages in France. The story in the opera is considerably different from the true story, but Bartok manages to fill every bar with menace and horror. This is about as close to a horror movie as you will ever get with opera. I was honored to play the part of Duke Bluebeard alongside the talented singer Ellen Watts and it took me many months to return to normal life after spending so much time entrenched in this dark music.
Nixon in China
1987, John Adams
I hope that this entry will make readers smile – it seems so strange to see an airplane on stage and people singing about how they enjoyed their flight. John Adams is a master of minimalism and he has written a number of operas based on modern events. This is probably his greatest work and no doubt the one he will be most well remembered for. Adams is an American composer.
The Rake’s Progress
1951, Igor Stravinsky
Be sure to listen beyond the recit to hear the beautiful aria sung very well here by Dawn Upshaw. This opera has the very typical thin “classical period” feel that much of Stravinsky’s later works had. Despite the thin nature of the music, his extraordinary talent for harmony makes it a stunning and rich opera; in my mind, perhaps the greatest of the 20th century.
Life with an Idiot
1992, Alfred Schnittke
Unfortunately I could not find a clip from Life with an Idiot, but I was able to find a great recording from the Faust Cantata by Schnittke. The Cantata was later extended in to a full length opera – his second. In this clip we hear the typical style of Schnittke – using instruments such as electric guitars, and jazz drums. Schnittke was a brilliant orchestrator and it is clear in this clip and in his opera Life with an Idiot. If you like 20th century music, or are just curious, you can not go wrong buying CDs by this astounding composer.

The Light Operas
1998, Karlheinz Stockhausen
The clip above is the Helicopter String Quartet, the third scene of Mittwoch aus Licht (“Wednesday from Light”). Stockhausen wrote this monumental series of seven operas (one for each day of the week – lasting over 29 hours) based on three counterpointed main melodies. This quartet is probably the most controversial piece written by Stockhausen and while it seems shocking at first, when you get to know his music you can appreciate it much more. I recommend Monday from Light as a good primer to Stockhausen’s opera style. You may be a little surprised to hear that there is no vocal music at all here – Stockhausen took opera to a whole new level in which instruments could also be used as voices alone.
Porgy and Bess
1935, George Gershwin
Here we see Leontyne Price sing Summertime. You will probably not hear a better version of this song. I do not generally consider this a piece of high classical opera, but it has such widespread popularity that it deserves a place on this list.
1937, Alban Berg
Berg was part of the second Viennese school along with Schoenberg (his tutor) and Anton Webern. While the three composers all worked a great deal with serial compositions (the concept of mathematically determined music based on a strict set of rules) – Berg was the one who really managed to produce beautiful flowing melodies from it. In this shocking opera in the third scene we see the meeting of the main characters with Jack the Ripper. Above we have the first scene.
Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
1934, Dmitri Shostakovich
When this opera was first performed, it was banned by the Communist government who referred to it as “Chaos instead of Music”. The story tells of Katerina Izmailova who has an affair and ultimately ends up in Siberia. It is a chilling tale with equally chilling and emotional music. A must see/hear for any opera buff – even those who don’t appreciate 20th century music will like this.
Turn of the Screw
1954, Benjamin Britten
My first choice for Britten was Billy Budd (having sung the role of Billy I am biased) – but I simply could not find a clip on youtube. Instead I have chosen Turn of the Screw which is probably Britten’s best known opera. Benjamin Britten is undoubtedly Britain’s most brilliant vocal composer of the 20th century.
The Tender Land
1954, Aaron Copland
Stunningly beautiful is the best way to describe this opera by American Composer Aaron Copland. In this recording we hear Dawn Upshaw (ignore the image in the clip). This opera is based on the lives of a family in the Midwest of the United States – devised by Copland after viewing photographs of families suffering through the depression.


Top 15 Power Trios

The power trio is a rock and roll band format popularized in the 1960s. The traditional power trio has a lineup of guitar, bass and drums, leaving out the rhythm guitar or keyboard often featured in other rock music. In more recent years, the term has become generally applied to any sort of three-person band [Wikipedia]. This is a list of the top 15 power trios!
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s hard not to have a strong opinion of Primus and Les Claypool’s groundbreaking bass styles.
Violent Femmes
Formed in 1980, the Femmes’ self-titled album brought Folk-Punk to new heights.
The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Peaches! Ninjas! Life is good.
Blue Cheer
While not as widely known as many of the groups listed here, their influence can be felt throughout the world of Heavy Metal. Way before their time.
The tragic death of Lead singer/guitarist Bradley Nowell came just as Sublime started to break into mainstream radio. With an enduring hard-core fan base, one can only wonder how far Sublime could have gone, if Nowell hadn’t fallen victim to his frequent drug abuse.
One of the most recent additions to the power-trio family, this Australian trio has quickly made a name for themselves by blending styles ranging from Black Sabbath, The Who, David Bowie and The Doors among others. They also seem to be popping up on just about every 3rd TV commercial and movie soundtrack these days…
The “other” Rush. This Canadian power-trio had several hits during the 80′s, but perhaps is best-known for having the “most-recognized-as-underrated-best-guitarist”, Rik Emmet.
Green Day
Green Day achieved a marketing miracle by rising to the top of the charts during the 1990′s “grunge” era, and returning as a powerhouse in the early 2000′s, appealing to a whole new generation.

Lemmys gruff voice, thumping bass and “Fast” Eddie Clarke’s screaming guitar have influenced just about every metal band ever created since “Ace of Spades” was released in 1980.
While most of their songs were simple, power chord riffs with minimal leads, Kurt Cobain and Co. are credited with bringing Grunge to the masses.
ZZ Top
The boys from Texas have been at it for almost 40 years, putting out hit after hit while never straying too far from their blues-rock base camp.
The Police
From the first moment Sting belted out “Roooooxannne!” The Police were destined for superstardom. Thankfully, Mr. Sumner has awakend from his new-age induced tantric coma, and rumors of a new album are brewing.
Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce pretty much helped define what a power trio should be with a string of hits and an influence that still grabs young’uns by the naughty bits.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
No one can argue the influence Hedrix had on the electric guitar, but he accomplished his amazing guitar wizardry while simultneously singing and under the influence of some incredibly heavy drugs. Along with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix turned the world of music upside down with his debut album “Are You Experienced?” in 1967. The world would never be the same.
Rush redefined the term Power Trio by making more music that anyone ever thought possible with just 3 people onstage. All musical virtuosi on their respective instruments, yet somehow still managing to get together and turn into a whole greater than the sum of it’s parts. Hands down, the Mac Daddy of all power trios.


Another 20 Beautiful Songs of the 80s

This list follows on from the Top 20 Most Beautiful Songs of the 80s. As I promised on the first installment, the second installment would follow shortly after. Many thanks to Randall who obviously spent hours putting this entire list together! If you are going to complain about an omission, be sure to check the first list in case your song is there. Onwards!
20. A Slow Song Joe Jackson
I desperately wanted to include Joe Jackson’s “Steppin Out” on this list, but in keeping to my rule of one song per artist, I felt I had no choice but to choose “A Slow Song” instead, as it’s such a movingly beautiful ballad. There is no better slow song for closing out the night at the club. Trust me, I know.
19. Evangeline The Icicle Works
You’ll know these guys from their bigger hit from 82, “Whisper to a Scream,” but this song, from 86, has a gorgeous, soaring chorus that was top form for this group—they never did better.
18. Under the Milky Way The Church
Oh yeah. From the height of Shoegazing, from the ultimate Shoegazing band, one of the most haunting tunes from the mid-80s, or the whole decade for that matter.
17. Verdi Cries 10,000 Maniacs
Okay. First, I CHALLENGE you to find a prettier song. Go ahead. Try. It all works in this one… Natalie’s beautiful, strange voice, the poetic lyrics, the piano, the images it paints in your mind of a holiday in Italy. This may have been the one that made me fall madly in love with Natalie Merchant, my fellow upstate-New Yorker. And I still think this is her best.
I Could only find a live version of this from 2005, but it’s still good.
16. The Metro Berlin
Ah… supremely sexy Teri Nunn… total pretty-boy John Crawford. Quintessential overly-coiffed, overly made-up, it’s-all-about-how-we-look California New Wave.
15. Time (Clock of the Heart) Culture Club
I was never a fan of Culture Club. Had nothing to do with Boy George’s cross-dressing persona, I just found them a bit facile and was put off by the way they were hugely overplayed on the radio and on MTV in the early days. But with distance their songs are impressively arranged and immensely likeable.
14. Souvenir Orchestral Maneouvers in the Dark (OMD)
A band with many a pretty tune under its belt, OMD’s souvenir is, I think, their most haunting (and in a way simplest) melody. Gentle synth dancing along a quiet beat, vocals in a sort of distant echo, this song always reminded me of lying in the grass on a summer day, staring up at the empty blue sky.
13. Precious to Me Phil Seymour
A protégé of Nick Lowe’s (or something like that) Phil Seymour was a one-hit wonder (if this could be called a “hit” – I don’t think it charted very high) who, if I recall correctly, died at a young age. A grad of Dwight Twilley’s band, Phil had that gentle “country-ish” song similar to Lowe’s. This is his prettiest. [JFrater: excuse the video clip - it is the only embedable one I could find. Music starts around 00:28]
12. 2000 Miles The Pretenders
Come on, you all know this one. The only Christmas song on my list, and one of only two or three decent Christmas songs to come out of the 80s, and my personal pick as the best of them. First time I heard this song was literally on a snowy night in 1983 – my girlfriend of the time and I were in my car, getting ready to go inside a bar (ah, the days when the drinking age was 18) and this came on. Instant inspiration for making out. This is the kind of song that makes you want to rock your head from side to side.
11. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now The Smiths
Very difficult to pick a single “most beautiful” Smiths tune, but I finally got it down to this one and “Half a Person,” and then closed my eyes and picked one at random. And here we are. Morrissey’s fantastic drama-voice, Johnny Marr’s great guitar.

10. Greetings to the New Brunette Billy Bragg
Now bear with me on this one. Billy Bragg surely has one of the ugliest voices (and ugliest mugs) in modern music. And at first listen this song doesn’t seem all that pretty, with Bragg’s off-key, warbled refrain of “Shirley!” But listen to the lyrics coupled with the gentle melody that trips along. This is a poignant, beautiful little tune from 1986 that was big on college radio at the time. A pretty, non-sappy love song about growing up and getting older and living with failure.
9. Fall on Me REM
I had to stick to my rule of one song per group, but this was especially hard. Finally, though, I had to exclude REM’s Nightswimming since it wasn’t technically 80s. But Fall on Me is beautiful in its own right—a lilting, soaring song that carries you down the road on hot, summer days.
8. Lonely in Your Nightmare – Duran Duran
From Duran Duran’s greatest album, “Rio” (one of the greatest LPs of the 80s) and one of several haunting songs they produced.
7. Only You Yaz
Memories, memories in this song. I went out with several girls in college, but there was… one… well, you know what I mean. I still see her dark, dark hair and her big brown eyes, and yeah, I feel old now, and I still miss her… but the memories make me smile, too. Only You is one of the soundtrack selections to a young relationship. Could work for anybody. I recommend it.
6. See You Depeche Mode
Maybe a breakup sequel to “Only You.” But in any case one of DM’s best. Which is saying a lot. I was tempted to include others of theirs… several. But this is still the prettiest song they ever put out, I think. Not the best—just the prettiest.
5. Little Red Corvette Prince
Come on. The coolest and best make-out song ever. Another steamy, summer-evening song.
For some reason I couldn’t find the song on YouTube. Maybe Prince is angry again. Silly Prince.
4. Vienna Ultravox
Just HAD to include it for its cheesy Eurotrash moodiness. I had a friend in college who was mad for Ultravox and other Eurodisco stuff. Some stick with you, some don’t. This one always stuck with me for some unknown reason.
3. Depending on You Rain Parade
The Rain Parade were, to me, the best of the Paisley Underground groups, though some would hand that crown to The Dream Syndicate. In any case, this gem from 1985 had me the first time I heard it. Haunting and icy cool.
Unfortunately could only find a live version.
2. Oh Lamour Erasure
Erasure were the height of Eurodisco/synth. You weren’t supposed to take this music seriously—you were just supposed to LOOK serious when you were dancing to it.
1. Bizarre Love Triangle New Order
REALLY tough choice because there are so many great and beautiful New Order tunes. But this, perhaps their best known is still the tops, I think. The refrain makes it… “Everytime I see you falling, I get down on my knees and pray…”
Contributor: Randall


Top 10 Little Known Influential Musicians

This is a list of artists who have influenced fellow artists profoundly in one shape or form and who have pioneered in their own way a part of music. Think of them as musician’s musicians. So, here are the top 10:
10. Richie Havens Jan 1941
Richie1 R2 C2
Havens is a folk singer/guitartist best known for his performance at the original Woodstock. He is also known for his unusual method of using open D tuning and fretting all strings which creates an intense rhythmic style. Also heard on some song recordings is a unique drumming sound which is actually his foot tapping. He had moderate fame when he reached the Billboard charts in the 70’s but until then had maintained a fairly local success within his Greenwich Village scene. He rarely wrote his own songs, but is known for the distinctive interpretations of songs that is uniquely his.
9. Ian Curtis July 1956 May 1980
Ian Curtis Control B
Vocalist and genius lyricist of Joy Division, Curtis committed suicide in 1980. The suicide was thought to be related to combination of anxiety over an upcoming North American tour the band was embarking on as well as his severe epilepsy. His on stage seizures were often mistaken for an erratic style of dance which resulted in Curtis having to be carried off stage at some performances. His legacy has grown and continues to grow World wide since his death.
8. Vini Reilly (Gerard Vincent Reilly) Aug 1953
Vin Contact
Reilly was a guitarist, singer and “Durutti Column” post-punk pioneer. He worked with Morrissey on his groundbreaking first album “Viva Hate” (1988). He also worked with John Cooper Clarke, Pauline Murray, Anne Clark, The Wake, Richard Jobson, Quando Quango, and more. He has been very influential in the musical movement now known as “chill-out electronica”.
7. Gram Parsons Nov 1946 – Sept 1973
Gram Parsons
Parsons was rated 87th on the Rolling Stones List of Greatest Artists of All Time. He was a pioneer of the 70’s rock movement in such bands as International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. He was best known for his “anticipation” recordings of the rock country movement of the 70’s. He has a self described style of “Cosmic American Music”. He died of a drug overdose.
6. Jeff Buckley Nov 1966 – May 1997
Raised as Scotty Moorhead, Buckley was an acclaimed American Singer, songwriter and guitarist. Known for his ethereal singing voice, he was considered to be one of the most promising artists of his generation, especially after the release of his critically acclaimed 1994 debut album Grace. At the height of his popularity Buckley drowned during an evening swim in 1997. There was speculation of suicide as he had taken prescription drugs for his bi-polar disorder before the swim. His work and style continue to be highly regarded by critics and fellow musicians

5. Anton Newcombe Aug 1967
Newcombe was a multi instrumental musician and founder of the moderately successful “Brian Jonestown Massacre”. Unfortunately, his heroine addiction fueled his paranoid tendencies and erratic behavior both on and off stage. He would sometimes berate his band mates and destroy instruments in fits of rage. He proclaims to be versed with 80 or so instruments including guitar, sitar, upright bass, bagpipes, mandolin, lute, piano, organ, accordion, drums, and more. The band went their separate ways after Newcombe failed to produce a highly anticipated and hyped album that he obsessed over, so much so that he insisted they built a studio in his home so he could record at his leisure. He has since toured with a bevy of bands and claims to be sober as of 1999.
4. Dock Boggs Feb 1898 – Feb 1971
Boggs was a singer, songwriter, and banjo master who played in the style of old time mountain music and blues. He developed a 3 finger method of picking on the banjo which allowed for single note runs, much like guitarists. He recorded in 1927 with Brunswick music but didn’t record again until Mike Seeger rediscovered him in the 1960’s.
3. Townes Van Zandt Mar 1944 – Jan 1997
Townes was a musician’s musician in his time, though a virtual unknown until after his death. He was a Country Folk-Rock performer and poet with a style often referred to as “Out-law Country”. Being a heavy drinker, he lived a reclusive life during the 70’s in a cabin in Tennessee making music. He Died on New Year’s Eve 1997 due to complications from heart surgery. He has left a legacy of music that to this is day held sacred and performed by a bevy of musicians such as Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, My Morning Jacket, and even the Meat Puppets.
2. Moondog: Louis Thomas Hardin May 1916 – Sept 1999
A blind homeless by choice, Hardin was an American composer who invented several instruments. He was also known as a poet and cosmologist. Eccentric at best, he went so far as to wear clothing that only he made and interpreted to be in the likeness of the Norse God Thor. It wasn’t until his later years that he began to be recognized as a musical genius and innovator. He was known for 20 years of 30 that he lived in New York as the “The Viking of 6th Ave”.
1. Daniel Johnston Jan 1961
800Px-Daniel Johnston At Emos 1
The bizarre and heart breaking story of Daniel Johnston is one recently made popular by the documentary “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” which is about his music and art, as well as his fight with mental illness. His songs poignantly display childlike wonder and hope, infused with darker themes. He had never recorded inside a studio until recent coercing because of his growing popularity and until then his method had been to simply record into a boombox. Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain was sometimes seen wearing a T-Shirt with the cover of a Daniel Johnston tape, the words “Hi, how are you?” and a quirky drawing. Johnston still produces art and music and is often called “genius” and “brilliant”.
Contributor: Satori


Top 20 Most Beautiful Songs of the 80s

Everyone knows the 80s as the decade of greed and silly fashions, of Reaganites and Thatcherites… and above all, of the decade of New Wave and Post-Punk music. Music with lots of synth and drum machines, jangly guitars and House beats. Party music, dance music. Fun music. Both the decade and the music are near to my heart, since I was there as an adult to appreciate it. I was 15 in 1980 and so had lived through my childhood and first half of adolescence in the 70s, a decade of malaise and atrocious fashions and godawful music (but not all bad, since the 70s had Bubblegum, Punk, and early New Wave) and so my generation was ready for a big change, OUR chance to overturn the flabby hippie aesthetic that had run for too long and was worn out, old, and charmless. So we chopped and moussed our hair into spikes and slashed shapes, adapted early late 50s/early 60s clothes to our needs, took on a cheesy, the-future-is-neon-bizarro attitude, put on our skinny ties and wayfairers, and went out to mock the world and DANCE.
Poison 80Sbighair
And so our music became the soundtrack of a party… silly, upbeat, and ultimately disposable. The appropriate response to a Cold War world that was surely doomed.
But such music isn’t what you think of when you think “beautiful.” And yet… there were some beautiful songs in the 80s. So many, in fact, that this list was very hard to write. Odd at first glance because we also remember the 80s as a decade of truly atrocious ballads and “power-ballads” produced by hair bands and past-their-prime types… I have gleefully ignored these as beneath contempt, and instead have largely eschewed the ballad for simple, straightforward songs. Some are balladic, some are nothing of the sort. But all of them, in my opinion, are “beautiful” in one way or another—whether it’s the melody or simply the overall feel of the song.
This list is really in no particular order until the very end. I DO think my last 4 picks ARE truly the most beautiful songs from the 80s… the others you can take as you like. And please remember, this is not a list of the BEST songs of the 80s… merely the most beautiful.
Any why is it so long? Well first because I’m a long-winded jerk. Second because I couldn’t bear to trim the list down – it was originally at 50, but I couldn’t cut it anymore. Thirdly because that’s how good the music from the 80s was.
20. Just Like Heaven The Cure
OH YES. So, in 1986 I’m in my third year of college and have known about the Cure for years… since back in high school, when they did “Boys Don’t Cry.” But one day this girl I knew came running up to me (I swear, I remember this, it really did happen) and is all excited and insists I listen to the new Cure LP, “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me” with her. I was unnerved when I saw it was a double album—a rarity in the 80s. But an hour or so later, I was amazed. Almost the greatest f**kin’ album I’d heard up until then. And this was the best song on it.
19. Head Over Heels Tears for Fears
This song holds no particular memories for me, though I loved it when it came out. To me it’s just a great and really lovely song.
18. Here’s Where the Story Ends The Sundays
It was the tail end of the 80s (1989) but then out came this gem, my pick for one of the most beautiful songs of the entire decade, and for the 90s as well, in fact. (It carried on the college radio charts well into 92 I think). Harriet was one of the prettiest singers in Alternative music, too… had a huge crush on her.
17. Life in a Northern Town Dream Academy
As I recall, the only hit they had in the US, but a great one. In a strange way, one of the last English New Wave songs to hit these shores… I distinctly remember that just about this time things were starting to turn—jangle-pop was starting to take over, and post-punk music was moving underground again, to become “alternative.”
16. Pearly Dew Drops Cocteau Twins
Another band where it’s hard to pick a single “beautiful” song, since Cocteau Twins were masters of the haunting, chant-like melody. But for me this is their best. Ethereal, vaguely Celtic, the song sweeps you along like a dream.
15. I Melt With You Modern English
I’m pretty sure this song would be tops on my list of the Best Songs of the 80s, and I’m even sure I’d place it near the top list of Best Songs of All Time. You all know it, you can all sing along. But it’s not just a great, rocking tune, it’s gorgeous as well. In its construction, arrangement, riffs and vocals, it’s damn near perfect. Also, a hell of a date song. And a hell of a song to dance to, with all its kinetic energy and drama.
14. Inside Out Mighty Lemon Drops
A lesser-known group (at least in the States) from the late 80s, these guys were just fantastic. Just groove along to this song. If it doesn’t infect you, you’re dead.
13. Hold Me Now Thompson Twins
One of the very top New Wave songs from the early 80s… I can’t say enough about this song. The vocal is fantastic, delivered with an effortless poignancy… the beat is great, the chorus is sweepingly beautiful. First heard it in college, in a ratty old pub just off-campus where, in keeping with the times, the management had stuck an incongruous TV up on a shelf overlooking the tables… tuned permanently to MTV.
12. There is Always Something There to Remind Me Naked Eyes
Yup, the ultimate post-break-up song. I’ve been there. Beautiful little tune. Pinnacle of New Wave.
11. In Your Eyes Peter Gabriel
Everyone knows this one from “Say Anything,” with John Cusack. I had to include it, though I was tempted to give the space to Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill”—but “In Your Eyes” is really the more beautiful song, and one of the best and most memorable of the 80s.

10. It Must Be Love Madness
Okay…. Not so much beautiful as touchingly charming, I had to include a Madness tune, and I chose this one. Strangely enough I’d totally forgotten this song, and then years later, in the late 90s, I was dating a woman from the UK, and she gave me a homemade tape with a lot of love songs on it, and this one was one of them… so it’s also here as a tip to my personal memories.
9. Voices Carry Til Tuesday
Aimee Mann back in the day. Great song, great video. Love how she breaks free at the end.
8. Smalltown Boy Bronski Beat
Fantastic vocal, great synths… like the background music to a dream… riding and flowing along in a way that reminds you of being half-awake on a long journey.
7. Cath The Bluebells
This song just can’t help making you smile. The harmonica, the wind-up chorus, all catchy and bouncy… hell of a song.
6. Don’t Dream it’s Over Crowded House
This one’s for Jamie, though it’s not a token Kiwi inclusion. What a pretty song. It just floats along, carrying you with it. I loved Split Enz when I was in college and was happy, at the time, to know that the Finns had carried on. This is one of their best and certainly one of their prettiest.
5. Our Lips are Sealed Go Gos
Okay… so you might be thinking, “this is a beautiful song?” But it is. Listen to it. Listen to the lyric. Think about it. When I was 18, I had this great girlfriend, all dark hair and beautiful brown eyes, and this was a shared favorite. We’d request it from club DJs, and then head out to spin around on the dance floor together, and no matter how crowded the place was, it was just us. One of the best relationship songs ever.
4. Ghost in You The Psychedelic Furs
Now we’re getting serious. From one of my absolute most favorite groups from the 80s, a song that made my jaw drop the first time I heard it. The song that made me drive out immediately to a local record store so I could buy the album, which I then proceeded to wear out. If you don’t agree that this is one of the prettiest songs you’ve ever heard… well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Unfortunately this one also cuts out at the end.
3. Lay Me Down Connells
Sing to me sweetley as I turn sour
Lay me down, remembering
That the wind and the rain
Played a part in that dreadful hour
And so as I pass, I too feel the power
Laying here under the trees
Where three days before
I danced in a summer shower
And she said “There, look through the trees,
The sun always shines, always on time,
Dare, rest on your knees
And in a prayer, follow me there.”
Softly I slumber as I turn to powder
Blowing out over the sea
The wind and the rain billow me
Though I’m no longer fire
A bird is alone as the wind takes me higher
Now I don’t know where I am
The bird can’t hear me
As I shout out even louder
Sadly, this song seems to be unavailable on YouTube or any place similar. I’ll therefore send Jamie an MP3 to post here tomorrow. In it’s place, the lyrics. Trust me, when you hear the lyrics coupled with the music, you’ll know why this song is here.
The Connells were a North Carolina band similar to REM, in the jangle pop mode… they’re still together, but hit their peak in the 80s and early 90s. Known for their big college radio hit “74/75.” But this song… whoa. An amazing ballad that bowls me over everytime I hear it.
2. True Spandau Ballet
Well we all know this one. Absolutely, unquestionably gorgeous tune from a band that… I never much cared for otherwise. Along with Duran Duran and a few others like ABC, these guys formed the brief “New Romantic” subset of New Wave. What that was is hard to put into words. It was part the smooth, vaguely jazzy R&B thing, part the look, part the production. But in any case, these guys never did better than this, their huge smash.
Personal memory for me—the aforementioned dark-haired girlfriend from college—this was “our” song. (Twee, I know, but we were 18, come on). I also associate this song with snow—as I recall it charted big in the winter of 83.
1. Time after Time Cyndi Lauper
This is it. In my humble opinion, this is one of the most beautiful ballads ever written, and without question the most beautiful song from the 1980s. Touching, sad, emotional without being manipulative—I think this song is absolutely perfect and I have never heard a cover version that matches up to Cyndi’s original. This was her apex.
Contributor: Randall