Sunday, May 30, 2021
Best Bands of the 1960s/1970s
Hey kids, how about a non-obituary post? Today we are going to pick the best band of the 1960s/1970s. (Hint: It’s the Beatles)
Disclaimer: These opinions are those of blog management, but are most likely correct. :)
What makes a band a “best band”? Popularity? Sure, but how about if the individual members are the best at what they do? I mean, Herman’s Hermits sure was popular at the time, and their songs are catchy, but are any of those 5 lads among the best at their individual task? Hardly.
Let’s look at the contenders (in no order):
The Rolling Stones
A big NO from this corner. Oh yes, they are the kings of longevity, and Mick Jagger may be the best “showman” (or is that Freddie Mercury?), but “singer”? No. Everyone else in the group is serviceable-to-competent at best (yes, that includes the overrated Keith Richards).
Now HERE is a serious contender. The band as a whole? Certainly. Jimmy Page? Top 5. John Bonham? Same. Robert Plant? He is arguably a top 5 vocalist. John Paul Jones? (Ahh… this band’s “Ringo”, but still a top ten bassist, and he plays keyboards too). Songwriting? Of course!
Like Led Zeppelin, most of these band members are top 5. Keith Moon and John Entwistle? Yes. Roger Daltrey? Certainly top 10 and maybe top 5. (Definitely top 1 in stage props!) Although not a top 5 guitarist, Pete Townshend is one of the best songwriters.
Everyone’s in the top 5 here (well, Eric Clapton is pretty darn close anyway). But as a “super group” this is the musical equivalent of an All-Star team, so comparisons to other bands may not be fair. (Heh heh, their advantage is they don’t have that 4th member to drag them down.)
I was just watching the “Highway Star” video on YouTube earlier this month (about 10 times), and everyone in this band is just amazing. Start with vocalist Ian Gillan (and his banshee screams), organist Jon Lord, and of course guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. After about my 3rd viewing, I was ready to anoint that as the best song ever. Ian Paice’s drums were crashing through the whole song, and bassist Roger Glover did a great job as well. This band is more than “Smoke on the Water”.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
With all due respect to Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, this band is pretty much a one-man show. Hendrix is certainly at the top of his game, and Mitchell is also one of the best, but the band was so short-lived (ok, so was Cream), and as I said, the non-Hendrix members were almost like session musicians. (So, no to this band.)
Freddie Mercury may just well be the best vocalist/showman ever, and Brian May’s guitar work is definitely distinctive. Drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon are good, but this band feels like a 2-man show to me.
They definitely benefited by being the first big rock band. Paul McCartney is surely a top 5 bassist and top 10 singer. John Lennon? He wasn’t necessarily a good guitar player, or even a good singer, but his songwriting was at the top. That Lennon and McCartney are the best songwriting team is certainly no newsflash, but look at their albums – there’s hardly any filler. How often when playing one of their CDs in the car do you hit the “skip” button? Almost never (outside of Revolution 9). George Harrison is a good guitar player, but you can’t put him in the top 5 (and probably not in the top 10). Ringo? He’s this band’s “Ringo”. I like Ringo, and he's a great guy and completely without ego (take some notes, Macca), but objectively, he was in the right place at the right time.
The Dave Clark Five
Mike Smith’s vocals and keyboard are the highlights of this group. Dave Clark’s thundering drum beat too. Denis Payton’s sax is another trademark here, but did this band have a guitar player or bassist? You can hardly tell by listening to the songs. They lead the “Number of times on the Ed Sullivan Show” sweepstakes (18), and I like a lot of their songs, but they just can’t compete with the bands listed above.
A rock band with horns? Is that done? I liked a lot of their early stuff, until they became the “Peter Cetera Easy-Listening Band”. From AXS TV and YouTube, I have recently come to appreciate guitarist Terry Kath’s contributions more.
So there’s 10 bands. Yes, the 1970s were glossed over somewhat, but I was intentionally focusing on the 1960s. I could have taken the time to write about Boston, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Kiss, Kansas, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, and Bad Company, but in the end they weren’t going to pass the “each member among the best at what they do” test anyway.
Feel free to comment on who should be in 2nd and 3rd place.