Friday, May 13, 2011

1-2-3 Quibble Power Activate

I ignored my preamble for one post and took a detour away from popular and unpopular music.  I just wanted to provide a little background on the 1-2-3 concept.  There's a 1-2-3 for classic rock that I think it's pretty easy to rank.  The Beatles are #1.  Maybe you love the Beatles.  Maybe you're a contrarian and you don't, but deal with it.  They're #1.  The Stones are #2.  Due to longevity and continued touring, they might even challenge for #1, but they made too many bad records on their way to achieving that longevity, so they can't be #1.  They're a clear #2 (not #1, but way closer to being #1 than anyone else who isn't #1).  Led Zeppelin is #3.  If it was a rock list or a hard rock list, they could be #1, but in classic rock, they're #3.  The Who isn't too far behind at #4, but they're behind by enough that it's a rock solid (no pun intended) 1-2-3.  There may be no other genre for which I feel so totally comfortable unilaterally saying it's 1-2-3 and that's how it is.

I actually like The Who better than Led Zeppelin, and I like The Kinks better than both of them, but this isn't the who-Dave-likes-best list.  It's not even a "best" list or a "top" list.  It's just a simple 1-2-3.  I refuse to state the criteria because it's so self evident to me that they are 1-2-3 for the classic rock genre.  Who could possibly disagree? disagrees.  They have a top 50.  They've got the Beatles at #1 (thank goodness) with the Stones at #4 and Led Zeppelin at #5.  Pink Floyd is #2 on their list.  Now, Pink Floyd was my favorite band for some portion of high school and they definitely make the top 10, but #2?  They could make a list of the top 3 art rock bands, but I think you need more hits (more FM radio hits) to be in the top 3 on the classic rock band list.  Do they get some kind of bump for one of the awful records they made in the 90s that I've never heard but know for absolute certain is absolutely awful?

I made a top 10 for myself a while ago, but I've misplaced it.  I found that I only really felt strongly about the top 3; however, I did notice something about my list that is true of the list as well.  The UK and the West Coast make up the whole top 10.  Actually, for, it's just California and the UK.  My list had the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the top 10, and they don't make this top 50, maybe because Jimi was just a guy and they didn't count the Experience as a band.  Anyway, Jimi's why I say West Coast versus just California, but the point is where's the East Coast?  Where's the South and the Midwest?

On the list, the East Coast shows up first at #13 with Boston and then at #17 with Aerosmith.  Aerosmith would have been way before Boston on my list, but #17 sounds fair for them.  New York makes the list for the first time at #19 with Blood, Sweat, and Tears, a band that I respect, but who could not have possible even had a chance at my top 50.  ZZ Top at #21 brings the South into the mix just a bit before the Allman Brothers at #23.  The midwest doesn't show up until #33 with Styx.  I would have given the nod to Bob Seger or Chicago ahead of Styx.  I think I would have even given the nod to Kansas ahead of Styx.  And don't talk to me about the Stooges and the MC5.  This is a classic rock list, not a proto-punk list.  And what was thinking putting the Sex Pistols on their list at #46 (ahead of Lynyrd Skynyrd at #47)?  Am I crazy?  Do I have no idea what Classic Rock is?

In summary:

1) Picking 1-2-3 here was much easier than getting past #3.
2) got the top 3 wrong and got a bunch of other stuff wrong too.
3) Folk Rock must have smacked down Classic Rock in the East until the mid 70s.

This is, I believe, my most quibble-friendly post to date.  Go at it.  Make me proud.


  1. I think the list uses a lot of sales data that doesn't necessarily reflect how truly "classic" the classic rock is but also gets hampered by the widely varying international success of these bands.

    I agree that it's crazy to have Pink Floyd rank so high (most overrated band ever?) but also The Dead because I think a lot of rock fans young and old think they're a total joke. Jefferson Airplane, to me, gets to sneak in because of their incredible celebrity around the time of the summer of love (`67), but their output is incredibly patchy and they turned to total suckitude by the time they were called just "Starship."

    Dave Clark Five seems to sneak in the back door but I'm not sure how they got on over Paul Revere, Herman's Hermits and the like.

  2. I think a rank-size rule might explain why it is easy to identify the top 3 of something and then gets murky after that.

  3. 1. Wow, I didn't know was still around. I assumed it burst in one of the dot com bubbles.

    2. It's weak to have "The Very Very Best of..." be listed as the essential album for so many of these bands.

  4. ...especially so because Classic Rock guide Dave White himself states that:

    "Classic rock describes entire albums, whereas the oldies genre encompasses primarily pop singles that were commercially successful."