Monday, July 26, 2010


84. The Stooges

The Stooges were the punk godfathers. Their sound was the basic stuff of hard rock.

Iggy Pop would snarl and whoop through songs in such a way that you were either instantly turned off or inspired to whoop and holler along with. Years before the British punk invasion the Stooges contained all of the energy and ferocity that movement would cherish and blast to the forefront of rock.

Key track: Penetration, 1973, which growls with raw power.

83. Les Paul

Les Paul's work will always be more influential as an inventor than as a performer. He created the solid body guitar and multi-tracking. For those, alone, he rivals in innovation behind-the-scenes icons Scratch Perry or Phil Spector.

Yet his guitar development was backed by playing power. Early success was found recording with Mary Ford, and later he was a revered soloist. It's not surprising that his work has left a legacy of great electric guitar.

Key track: Vaya Con Dios, 1953, which exemplifies his hit-making collaboration with Mary Ford.

82. Booker T. and the MGs

Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and dozens of artists were backed by Booker T and the MGs. They were the Memphis sound.

Arguably one of the finest backing bands ever Booker T. and the MGs enjoyed success in their own right and refined a bit of American sound that is instantly recognizable. Blending blues bars and soul the four-part integrated band created a pallet from which many would draw.

Key track: Green Onions, 1962, which was their biggest hit, and typifies their style.

81. Roy Orbison

Orbison was the last of the early rockers. His sound is pre-invasion. His ballads are not lyrically magical, but they didn't need to be: his voice was remarkable.

While his leather and shades made him look like the early rockers, he definitely didn't sound like them. No one else but the Righteous Brothers could pull off his high-vibrato aches. Unlike the Righteous Brothers, though, Orbison's songs aren't covered in a veneer of smugness.

Key track: Crying, 1961, which should give you chills.

80. Beastie Boys

"Helloooo Brooklyn!" the Beasties cry out on Paul's Boutique. In the late 1980s the Beasties were one of the best. Which is saying something, considering the competition.

They could be serious or playful, and had lyrical rhyming prowess backed by punk sensibilities. They opened the color barrier of hip hop for some pale imitations early on, and then for actual talents like Eminem in the late 90s and beyond. Whatever they were singing they brought full energy to it.

Key track: High Plains Drifter, 1989, which showcases their street cred.

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