March 11, 2008

British Rock

One of my “music buddies”, Darrin, often shares new music with me because we have similar tastes. But not all our tastes are the same! He recently wrote about British Rock and I thought I’d share his thoughts and then add my opinion. I’d love to hear your views of these bands too!

The Beatles

Darrin: They're the standard bearers. They took what they heard coming from across the pond, put their own stamp on it, perfected it, made it their own and became not only musical but also cultural icons. Their influence is undeniable.

Me: Ditto

Rolling Stones

Darrin: While appreciate the influence they've had on other bands, I've never really understood their appeal. I only own one of their albums (Beggars Banquet) and I do appreciate many of their singles, but all in all I think this is a band that for a long time has simply been famous for being famous, not because they're still actually any good-- seeing the Stones live today is kind of like seeing Sinatra long after he'd lost his singing voice-- bragging rights and nothing more.

Me: The Rolling Stones were one of my favorites when I was a teen. If you listen to the deeper cuts on some of the old stuff you will hear great blues music. I still love all their music from “Beggar’s Banquet” to “Tattoo You”. After that they lost my interest. I think Mick Jagger is a great entertainer and love watching him no matter how old he is.

The Who

Darrin: I consider The Who's Next to be one of the greatest classic rock albums ever. I find it superior to Tommy, Quadrophenia, and just about everything else they ever recorded. It IS a masterpiece! I find these guys to be more talented than Led Zeppelin ever was.

Me: I agree about “Who’s Next”, excellent album and I saw them perform it live when it came out – one of the best shows ever. I don’t think they are more talented than Zeppelin. Since we are comparing the two I’d like to say that it was sad to see how easily The Who replaced Keith Moon after his death compared to Zeppelin who disbanded recognizing that one fourth of their band was gone. I think that showed a lot of respect for John Bonham and a lot of class for them as a band.

Led Zeppelin

Darrin: It often gets glossed over that Page & Plant were largely musical plagiarists. They were talented musicians, but much of their songwriting comprised of filching styles and even material from others-- sometimes giving credit where it was due-- sometimes not. The intro to Stairway to Heaven, for example, was taken from an instrumental piece by Spirit titled Taurus. I appreciate the impact these guys had on music and their musicianship but they lose boku points with me for their plagiarist tendencies.

Me: (It’s a good think I like Darrin so much – or his comments would tick me off!) I DISAGREE totally about Led Zeppelin. I don’t think they were plagiarists because all musicians are influenced by others. They took what they liked about other music and made it their own. I think they are the greatest rock band of all time because of their talent, their incredible ability to write moving music/lyrics, their presence on stage, and their great hair. (just kidding about the hair).


Pink Floyd

Darrin – The best British psychedelic band, arguably the best psychedelic band bar none when they started out. After the departure of the enigmatic and troubled Syd Barrett, their material grew much stronger and quite a bit more ambient. The partnership of David Gilmour and Roger Waters produced far stronger material than that of the troubled Barrett. However, given that much of their later material was done as a tribute to or in honor of Barrett, it could be argued that he remained a member of the band long after he left it.


David Bowie

Darrin left him off his list! I guess that pretty much gives his opinion of the fabulous Mr. Bowie. I LOVE David Bowie and have enjoyed watching his metamorphosis over the years, he was never afraid to be different and experiment. I first saw him live back in the late 70’s and could not believe my eyes when Ziggy Stardust emerged on stage. I’ve seen him several times since then, the last being after Heathen was releases. He’s high on my list of great music.


bob_vinyl said...

Hey, I'm largely in agreement with Darrin. I'm always glad to see someone question the Stones' greatness. They were a good band into the early 70s, but spotty to horrible since. they've now become a caricature of themselves.

I like the plagiarism angle on Zeppelin, but it does ignore than even more than great songs, they brought great performances. No one manages energy better than Zeppelin largely due to probably the best rhythm section in rock. Plus, like the Beatles, they expanded the nature of what a rock album could be. Even when they stole, they also synthesized.

Bowie has a remarkable ability to reinvent himself. Even when he fails, he still manages to get back up unscathed. I can't think of anyone with more musical personas over the years.

Bond said...

I think Darrin is being too hard on addition to Bob's comments, they crafted some incredible musical opus'

The Mad Hatter said...

Okay, possibly to the surprise of no one, I'm about to both weakly agree or spasm violently in my little lovely opines. First things first, from the academic side of my brain: there is an enormous difference between influence and plagiarism. Secondly, no matter what I'm about to say, I still enjoy some of these guys; I simply don't understand why they are so revered.

Beatles: these guys are overrated hacks. I think their reputation is cemented in zeitgeist and not any intrinsic musical value. Sure, I like the drugged later albums, but the iconic thing isn't deserved.

Stones: somewhat better musically, but mostly serve as the antithesis or foil to the Beatles. Take one away and you're nothing. Mick, yes, you're nothing.

Who: Who's Next is ridiculous. One of the best ever. That they did nothing even remotely good isn't to say they're bad, just that they lacked consistency i.e. the pompous rock operas. Otherwise, they're good in my book.

Zeppelin: Yes, it's true; they're dirty thieves. However, they shared the loot, and that's why I kinda like them. Well, that is until they started bringing me worthless junk from the houses of the holy.

Floyd: Which era? They rule. Simply. Don't argue. I'm not listening.

Bowie: Bowie is like that guy in high school that never fit in to any clique but everyone liked. He played Lacrosse, smoked weed, edited the school newspaper and delivered your morning paper. I dig him.

bob_vinyl said...

Hatter, it was the Beatles who turned that little R&B/C&W hybrid called rock n roll into what we now know as rock. Their songwriting is a lot more innovative than just getting away from the I-IV-V chord progressions. Without the work they did to expand what we know as rock, there would have been no Pink Floyd. We certainly couldn't rely on the Stones to have done that.

Barbara said...

I LOVE IT! I had a feeling my shy readers may speak up on this post :)

I love hearing your thoughts even when they are clearly....wrong. Just kidding. If we all had the same opinions on thing can you IMAGINE how boring life would be!!!

Have to say the comment that really is ballsy is Hatter saying the Beatles are hacks! You guys are so fun!!!!!!!!

Great stuff here.

bob_vinyl said...

By "ballsy," do you mean incorrect?

Perplexio said...

At Barbara's urging I'll be posting my full list over on my Review Revue blog.

There are some bands/artists I touched on that she left off, which is cool-- our tastes are different and I respect that. And she touched on Bowie who was conspicuously absent from my list. I have nothing against Bowie-- I just don't listen to him. I don't actively like or dislike him.

Barbara said...

Bob - I meant he has guts speaking out against the very popular theory that The Beatles are "the greatest band ever". Which is not my theory but I still wouldn't go so far as to call them hacks :) Gotta love diverse opinions.

Darrin - I LOVED some of the bands you listed!!! Bad Co, T-Rex, King Crimson!!! I just didn't want the post to be too long and wanted to steer some people to your blog for the rest of those AWESOME groups.

Bobby said...

Several prominent rock critics (ironically enough) have systematically taken apart and shot holes in the plagiarism rap against Led Zeppelin. Beyond not properly crediting a few early tracks (almost all of which are musically unrecognizable from the original), the charge is bogus. Led Zeppelin's brilliant and enduring body of work along with hundreds of jaw dropping and yet to be equaled, dynamically powerful live shows is all that is needed to crown them the greatest rock band in history.

bob_vinyl said...

Bobby, you mean after the Beatles, right?

Barbara said...

Bobby - THANKS for setting the record straight! LZ Rocks on Forever :)

Bob - Do you have a "favorite" Beatle?

The Mad Hatter said...


Yeah, I love diversity in opinion. Even though Bob is more "ballsy" than a rolling stone, the continuous back and forth bicker banter makes for some fun jibes, and you always learn something to boot. Otherwise, bah Beatles. I'm just bitter because Paul is still riding his coattails from the 60s. Yuck Starbucks.


I agree and disagree. I-IV are amazing, but my wife, who has this preposterous love of everything Zep, has 2 or 3 CDs consisting of their original roots, and let me tell ya, it's extremely obvious where Zep got their licks from.



David Amulet said...

Nice comments--I agree with pieces from both of your takes on the bands. I'd say that calling a band out for being more plagarism-oriented than other bands--a fair point--does not diminish their importance or quality. Both can be true.

I'd love to see both of you offer thoughts on other British classic rock bands of the late 60s/70s, including Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Genesis, and Yes.

Barbara said...

Hatter - Your wife has excellent taste (I am referring to LZ but I yeah, yeah in husbands too!)

David, Darrin actually did have more than just the one's here listed but I chose only the cream of the crop. BUT we have been reminded that we both left of QUEEN and are disappointed in ourselves for doing so.

I will to his blog and leave my opinions. He included one of my very favorites:

Bad Co (at least their first album was great!)

Fusion 45 said...

Pink Floyd is the most over-rated, navel-gazing twist of self-indulgence ever. And, I'm generally not a negative guy. If Led Zeppelin gets held to the fire over their influences (or plagiarism, as you say), then you have to throw everyone from Elvis to Coldplay (and even the beloved Beatles) into the dumper ('cuz ain't none of us without the influence of what came before).

Fusion 45

Bruce said...

I was in my early teens when the British Invasion began, and of course, I was a huge Beatles fan. In fact, John Lennon was one of my childhood idols. They were the standard-bearers for everything that came after them, and to call them hacks is just pure folly.

The Stones, on the other hand, are not the icons they're made out to be. With the exception of a handful of songs, I've seen no redeeming qualities in their music.
Zeppelin- eh... I've never been a big fan. Their music is ok, but I've heard better.

The Who and Pink Floyd- speaking of better music...
I was a late comer to these two bands(post Syd Barrett in regards to Floyd), but I was immediately caught up in their music. David Gilmour's solo at the end of "Comfortably Numb" is arguably the greatest guitar solo ever, IMO. "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall" are two of the greatest albums, in any genre, of all time; end of story.
It's hard to describe my attraction to The Who, because the first few times I saw or heard them, I didn't care for them. Then all of a sudden, something clicked, and I became a big fan. The fact that they "so easily" replaced Keith Moon, while Zep decided to call it quits after Bonham's death, does nothing to diminish them in my eyes, and I feel the same about Zeppelin. Different bands react different ways. AC/DC went out and found Brian Johnson after Bon Scott's death, and I don't think they missed a beat. Def Leppard, on the other hand, never thought of replacing Rick Allen, and when he discovered he could play with just the one arm, they told him, just let us know when you're ready.

David Bowie was an acquired taste for me, and there were times that I could take him, and other times when I thought his music was pure drivel.

hallga77 said...

You Both Left The Kinks Off Your List!

Barbara - Layla said...

Fusion, so your not a big fan of Floyd I see? :) Thanks for sharing your opinion. Just for the record I am not the one who accused LZ of plagiarisms, all bands are influenced by all sorts of things.

Bruce, Great comment. I admit that my feelings about LZ not replacing JB (who died on my 20th birthday by the way) are very emotional ones, but guess what, I am woman - most of my opinions are based on emotion and I am not ashamed of that, its just who I am. As for Floyd - I agreeeeeee I love them too. No other music has ever evoked the feelings I get when I listen to them (again...its all about the feelings for me - but that does mean I don't recognize talent)

Hey Hall, I know The Kinks were left off, its not intended to be an all inclusive list. BTW, I just named one of my new pets "Lola"

The Mad Hatter said...

Bruce, Fusion, everyone,

I know I deserve the back ire, because I insist more on my mouth than my brain, but really, I resolutely refuse to apologise for my Beatles comments. I like, not love, their later stuff -- but come on, the emperor has no clothes. Waters' Wall eventually fell down; I'm afraid the one erected by the Fab Four will not. Oh well. Suum cuique; that's why our country is great.

musicobsessive said...

One aspect that no one has commented on - and that is with the exception of the Beatles who got out when things were going horribly pear-shaped all the rest have hung around for FAR TOO LONG. Why are they ruining their legacy with this blatent money grabbing (Yes I'm looking at you Jagger)? All the bands in the list were influential once upon a time to a greater or lesser extent. I'd have more respect if they kept it that way. Frankly, I'm sick of seeing them pitch up at any charity gig and going through the motions.

Barbara - Layla said...


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. All opinions are welcome here.

Sam Bhattacharya said...

I think that not only were these the best British rock bands. But they were also among the best rock bands of all time. Music would never be the same again.

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