Tuesday, May 22, 2007

THE BYRDS... The Great American band of the 1960s?

Well, frankly, yes! In a never-ending pursuit to keep ourselves amused throughout the workday, my working colleague and I have attempted to answer such a question: Who were The Great American Band Of The 1960s? Who gave the world a catalogue of great depth and breadth? Who pioneered? Who influenced many who followed? Who spewed forth a bevy of sounds which bespoke a certain A-grade consistency? My workmate did not hesitate and spluttered forth but three words: Creedence Clearwater Revival. He may just have a point: the first 5 albums - all spat out within a four-year time frame, are pure genius, though their oft-hailed meisterwerk, Cosmo's Factory (my fave is its predecessor, Willie And The Poor Boys), was released in 1970, and for some reason I still consider CCR as more of a '70s outfit. So, we threw a few more names about: Velvets, The Doors, Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band.... but I settled on one: The Byrds. There's that 5-year, 6-album run you can't ignore: Mr. Tambourine Man, Turn! Turn! Turn!, 5th Dimension, Younger Than Yesterday, The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, a catalogue which sees them effortlessly transforming and metamorphising from folk-rock through to psychedelia through to cosmic-rock right on through to country-rock. That's a whole lot of hyphens and a whole lot of good music.

The can of worms was opened and then shut again, if only because there was work to be done and we realised we could waste time and discuss this kind of anal-retentive bulltwang 'til the company goes bankrupt. But then I lay awake at night, pondering....: who was The Great British Band Of The 1960s? Was it The Beatles or The 'Stones? And what about the '70s and '80s? Was the Amercian contingent a battle between the Stooges and Ramones? Did the British counterpart have to be a band post-'76? I mean, Never Mind The Bollocks is one of the greatest albums ever made, but it's still just one album. The Sex Pistols changed British music forever, but where's the 5-album run to brag about? What about pre-punk? Led Zep's output from 1970-'75 is pretty near flawless, though their actual influence - think of the millions of bozos who actually like them - has been largely negative. And the '80s? A Black Flag/Minutemen split. No contest there. But Ol' Blighty? Did they actually have any rock bands in the '80s? I'm giving it to The Fall: 1980-'86 was their peak. You see, that's why I have this blog: to air these kinds of important issues to the public.


Dan said...

I can't imagine your 'co-worker' taking kindly to the Doors suggestion, if it's who I think it is..

Mrow said...

Any votes cast for THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE? But . . I suppose them guys were actually international (to say nothing of interplanetary).

Dave said...

Hey Dan,

The Doors were MY suggestion! We were just throwing names around, and I don't think that naming the Doors is really that much of a stretch. They did some great things. Oh yeah, there's the Beach Boys, too...
Hendrix Experience was offered, too, but are they British or American?

Jan said...

Did Blighty have any rockbands in the 80s???? Try Motorhead, Discharge and the Smiths for starters. All great bands with far-reaching influence. And all better than the Fall for my money. I know its hard to get around the whole poncey Smiths-fanboy thing, but once you strip that away the band is actually really good.

But enough of this trainspotting nonesense and lets get down to the REAL heavyweight title fight: who were the greatest Scandinavian band of the 80s?

Bathory, Candlemass, the early incarnations of the (true) Mayhem, Terveet Kadet, Kukl....the contenders are many. Langers lets hear your vote.

Karl said...

I'd be throwing the Beach Boys into the USA mix, & I reckon the Kinks should definitely figure in Britain. Then there was the Small Faces. A handful of great albums & they bit the dust before they could produce anything substandard.

80s America. Hmmm. With you on Flag & the Minutemen but how about Husker Du? Another SST band funnily enough. Later albums a lot weaker, but so were Black Flag's. I could throw in some Touch & Go bands but I don't know if they stand the test of time those three do. Of course there's the Gun Club. The later albums may not measure up to the first two, but I reckon (unlike some) they're still pretty strong. The more I think about it, the more I think JLP's lot are the ones.

England in the 80s? Now that's tough. Spacemen 3? Funnily enough, there wasn't a lot out of there at that time I listened to so maybe it ain't that tough afterall. Spacemen 3 will get my vote. Those albums are still highly listenable so they'd be the ones. Then again, Jan mentioned Motorhead & I'd be loathe to leave them out…

Dave said...

Jan, you know I love Discharge, but they're hardly The Great UK Band Of The 1980s. I mean, sheez, you might as well mention Napalm Death. The Smiths I hate. You know it, I know it. They might've had a sizeable influence on every bed-wetting Limey nancyboy to hit strings ever since, not to mention the mascara/tattoo emo crowd, though they blow dogs. Motorhead could just be the pick.
As for Scandinavian bands... you can kill your own time on that one!
Karl, I was thinking Husker Du, too, but I didn't want to receive a caning for being (yet again) too SST-centric. I mean, Sonic Youth wouldn't've been a bad choice either.
I was considering Spacemen 3, too, but, as much as I love 'em, they didn't really record a whole lot of "proper" records, and really, their music was pretty derivative, even though it was great.

Mrow said...

And what of Australia? Here's one yanks picks:

70's - ACfuckingDC

Karl said...

Dave, here's one for 80s USA that I'm suprised I didn't think of. The Replacements. Hell, I even like their later albums AND the Westerberg solo stuff.

Nazz Nomad said...

Aerosmith was the American band of the 70's.
Van Halen was the American band of the first half of the 80's, umtil David Lee Roty left. The second half of the 80's was REM.

Not that any of em are my favorite bands... I preferred The Ramones in the 70's and Husker Du/The Replacements in the 80's.

Jan said...

And continuing the theme of great Aussie bands:

90s - Disembowelment

Dave said...

Easybeats, AC/DC, Birthday Party... a good call on all accounts.

Not a big fan of the Replacements, and their later stuff - not to mention Westerberg's solo material - is so fucking lame it's shadowed their finer moments. Still, I really like "Let It Be" and even "Tim" (my fave), but they're not records I'm crazy about. Replacements: good but not great. Sorry, I'm putting them in the second-string basket.
Jan, I say this as a fan and friend of the people in Whitehorse: I don't think even they would consider themselves the "definitive" Australian rock band of the '00s. And exactly how many Australian bands have you seen/heard in the last 7 years, anyway??

Jan said...

How many Australian bands have I seen and heard in the last 7 years?.....Enough!!

Actually I wouldn't give two hoots whether or not the guys in Whitehorse consider themselves the "definitive" Aussie band of this decade. This whole thread as obviously subjective, and as a subjective matter the Whitehorse gigs I saw in 2005 knocked my socks off to a far greater extent than any other Aussie band this decade. And I have no doubt I have heard far more Australian bands this decade than you think I have.

Anyway, lets have your take on Disembowelment. The 90s were probably the worst decade for Australian music since the 50s, and these guys tower above the turgid mass of crap that paraded itself as "indie", "alternative" or "punk" during those times. With no live gigs (as far as I know) and only 1 album they left an international legacy that dwarfs their contemporaries, and yet still remain shrouded in obscurity (the sleeve notes on the Relapse re-issue offered only a tantalising glimpse).

I'm still dreaming that one day somebody will do a full-length MOJO-style retrospective on these guys, but in the meantime I'd lvoe to hear the Lex Dev verdict. Go on....I defy you to write them off!

Dave said...

OK Jan, but you still didn't answer the question of how many Australian bands you've seen in the 21st century... 2? 3?!
Before I drop dead I will check out Disembowelment, but let's be serious, it hurts you and me to say it, but the most influential Australian bands of the '90s were probably something like the Meanies or Spiderbait... but I'm giving it to the Powder Monkeys.