Monday, July 26, 2010


89. Pete Seeger

Seeger was a peacenik before there were peaceniks. His simple songs were charged with hope and reflection.

As one of the leaders of the folk revival Seeger had a nice track record working with the Weavers when the 1960s began to echo messages he'd been singing for decades. His cheery tunes, like 'The Hammer Song' and 'Turn, Turn, Turn', were meat and potatoes for a vast army of folkies.

Key track: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, 1955, which is typically aimed at poignancy.

88. Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR's music is straight from the swamps. Which is interesting, since the band wasn't. Yet they succeeded in creating an electric swamp rock and highway sound.

CCR could do both laid-back 'keepin' it easy' and politically-charged songs. Equally at home rebranding blues standards and writing new material they have long since become radio standards with their catchy songs powered by striking guitar.

Key track: Fortunate Son, 1969, which is less swampy but a more recognizable hit.

87. Fats Waller

Waller's piano pieces were the perfect stuff for showbiz. In Stormy Weather he rightfully performs alongside Cab Calloway and Lena Horne. His songs have become standards, recorded countless times.

His songs typify a unique slice of Tin Pan Alley tunes. He was so popularly successful that Al Capone's men kidnapped him to play for Scarface's birthday. He helped usher in a new piano jazz sound.

Key track: Ain't Misbehavin', 1929, which, like Waller, is slick and winking.

86. Prince

Prince is inherently 80s. He continued recording in the 90s, sure. But for roughly a decade he was one of the most interesting Pop/R&B artists.

Purple Rain was a smash hit that proved that Prince could write infectious tunes backed with sonic muscle. Later, Sign O the Times showed that Prince could be as versatile as he wanted. His songs, seemingly effortlessly, went from dirty sex to high-minded religious contemplation. Yet it all seemed to be a fitting blend.

Key track: When Doves Cry, 1984, which, as all commentators are quick to point out, has no bass line.

85. Albert King

King didn't become popular until mid-life, in the 1960s. He served as an inspiration for dozens of musicians with his blues in the midst of the heady psychedelic movement.

Had King released only one album, Born Under a Bad Sign, his reputation would probably have been secured. His ability to remind rockers of the Southern blues undoubtedly helped in the formation of blues rock.

Key track: Born Under a Bad Sign, 1967, which is King's signature.

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