Tuesday, July 27, 2010


59. The Doors

Jim Morrison fancied himself a poet. Thankfully he had a powerful band backing him.

The Doors were eerie. They weren't upsetting like the punks or N.W.A.: they were profoundly disquieting. They had a particular type of blues-infused sound that is immediately recognizable. Their songs were not radio-friendly and made no effort to be. The fact they got airplay anyway opened new...

Key track: Light My Fire, 1967, which is one of their catchiest tunes showcasing the full band's potential.


58. Thelonious Monk

"Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs and Monk wrote about 70."

Monk created an improvisational piano style now taken for granted not only in jazz, but in many areas of music. His concert with Coltrane at Carnegie Hall is one of the most enjoyable jazz performances. He helped create bop, but was so unique that few can follow, though many have tried. Equally at home with silence and thunder, Monk's legacy will not soon be lost.

Key track: Monk's Mood, 1956(?), which clearly illustrates his piano prowess.


57. The Ramones

Punk was, admittedly, perfected by the Clash and Sex Pistols. The Ramones started it, though.

"We didn't write a positive song until 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue'" said Dee Dee. Their teen blahs never quite took off. They didn't chart like they wanted. In retrospect their popularity surpasses that of their heyday. But give credit where it's due: the Ramones brought back the teens in leather coats. This time around, though, they were edgier still.

Key track: Blitzkrieg Bop, 1976, which is typically raucous and two minutes long.


54. Professor Longhair

The Professor was a real weirdo at the piano. Honestly, 'Tipitina' sort of sounds like a cat is being strangled.

His music, though, was an uptempo gumbo of New Orleans piano. His rhumba is the basic backbone of all New Orleans piano: and that is quite enough legacy in itself. If that weren't enough his 'Go to the Mardi Gras' is the official tune of the celebration. Considering the importance of Louisiana in music, Longhair's importance to Louisiana musn't be overlooked.

Key track: Mardi Gras in New Orleans, 1949, which was the first song he wanted to record.


55. Philip Glass

Considering he is one of the main proponents of the style it's interesting that Glass avoids the term 'minimalist'.

The second-half of the 20th century saw a very definite move towards minimalism in classical music. This was not always an audience-friendly development: Glass' pieces were the stuff of many a raised eyebrow. If there weren't so many following in his footsteps it would be easier to shake him off.

Key track: Train 1, 1976, which has Glass taking a stab at opera.


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