Tuesday, July 27, 2010


74. The Supremes

The Supremes, with lead Diana Ross, were one of the reasons Motown was the hit factory. They weren't particularly adept musicians: but you can scarcely find an oldies station that doesn't regularly feature them.

Queen's songs always had a great unique beat: with The Supremes each song has a stellar unique intro. Within two seconds you can identify it, and choose whether or not you want to stick around and sing along. The songs (so many songs!) have become part of the American Songbook, and are likely to remain so for a long time.

Key track: You Keep Me Hangin' On, 1966, which showcases the Supremes at their height.

73. Scott Joplin

Joplin created rags. His 'Maple Leaf Rag' is now confirmed as the biggest hit of ragtime.

Joplin's ragtime tunes were created at just the right time: thanks to the invention of mass production. Joplin ended up writing over 40 rags, and set the tone for where up-tempo music was headed in the rest of the century. His work crops up in so many places and is so easily recognized that 20th century music would be unidentifiable without him.

Key track: The Entertainer, 1902, which is easily Joplin's most identifiable tune.


72. Nina Simone

Nina Simone inspired so many people, not just musicians, that her legacy will probably only rise with the years. 10,000 people paid tribute to her on Human Kindness Day.

Simone's jazz/gospel/soul songs were incredible performed live. In studio her music still thrived. She brought a consciousness to her music that blatantly inspired the likes of Aretha Franklin and others. Whether listening to her civil rights songs of her later years or her early set of standards, Simone is likely to inspire.

Key track: To Be Young, Gifted and Black, 1970, which tries to get the message across simply.


71. Otis Redding

Redding's reputation is still strong. Otis Blue is still regarded as a classic.

Redding, however, was not exactly an original artist: his songs were almost always covers. His style and singing were 'adapted' from others, especially Sam Cooke's live performances. He was undoubtedly talented, and with more time he might've developed more. As is his career is notable, and his reputation, for now, is secure.

Key track: Dock of the Bay, 1967, which is the most original thing Redding ever did.

70. Joan Baez

Joni Mitchell gave people flack for calling her the female Bob Dylan. Joan Baez is the American Joni Mitchell.

To be fair Baez was an original songsmith. Her songs, being topical, were great stuff for the folk revival. Her voice is distinct and moving. Still, I find it difficult to disentangle her from the rest of it. Even her biggest hit is about it all.

Key track: Diamonds and Rust, 1975, which details Baez's experiences with Bob Dylan.

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