Five Reasons Ted Nugent Should Be Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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You know how much I love the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you ever get a chance to visit it, do it! My advice is to take a day to go through everything in the place. It is a Hard Rock Cafe on steroids. Everywhere you look, you see something on display that will trigger a memory. I remember seeing a concert outfit that Jimi Hendrix wore and not believing how small he must have been. At the time that I went, back in the early 2000s, the Hall had a special display honoring John Lennon, so imagine my reaction to seeing actual handwritten lyrics to his immortal song “Imagine”. And, I remember the somber feeling I felt when I saw the glasses he was wearing when he was assassinated. It was arranged with the other objects Yoko Ono used in the photographs she took of those glasses for the cover of her album that was being produced the night Lennon was gunned down. That album, released in 1981, was called Season of Glass, which happens to be a very good album.

For the past several years, metal impresario Eddie Trunk has rightfully been calling for the induction of more metal artists. And, when he starts name-dropping various artists, I always agree with him when he begins his rant with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Motorhead. And, I can get behind his choices of Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. And, although I understand his backing of Ronnie James Dio, arguably the greatest metal singer of all-time, outside of Heaven and Hell, the line-up of Black Sabbath that was popular in the early Eighties, Dio’s other bands, Dio and the original Rainbow, were simply okay. So, for Dio to be inducted, it was have to be one of those special inductions for major contributions to music.

But, there is one artist on Mr. Trunk’s list that always causes me pause when the artist’s name is mentioned – Ted Nugent. So, this morning I researched this topic. Now, as a middle school student who had just entered his teens, I enjoyed Ted’s Free for All, Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo! albums. At least, until I went to my first concert on August 1, 1979. I was 16 at the time and only had my driver’s license for five months. So, one of my buddies on the basketball team and I got tickets to see Ted headline the concert with AC/DC, with original lead singer Bon Scott, and a newer German band called Scorpions the opening act. As I had stated before, the price of my ticket was $7.50.

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What I witnessed that day was something else. Before the concert, my buddy and I went into a restroom, only to be offered a multitude of illegal pharmaceuticals, all of which we passed on. Next, we grabbed a couple of seats next to some other guys from our high school. The Scorpions were first on the stage. All I remember about their set was that one guy was bald on top and had let the rest of his hair grown really long, making him look like Riff Raff in Rocky Horror come to life. After their brief set, AC/DC came out and blew the crowd away. I was a fan of the band before their set, but I walked away an even bigger fan. Little did I realize how good AC/DC was in concert, although I had all of their albums up to that point, including their great live album, You Got Blood If You Want It – Live! So the bar was set pretty high for the Motor City Madman.

Boy, was I disappointed. Ted was simply a one-trick pony. His songs all seemed to blend into one boring song. And for all the notoriety about his guitar playing prowess, I found his solos to be similar in sound and execution from one song to the next. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I knew, exactly at that moment that I was no longer a fan of Ted Nugent. I decided that very night that the only albums of his I would ever need in my collection would be Double Live Gonzo! and a greatest hits package, if he would ever have one. I found his caveman antics on stage to be very insulting to my intelligence. This was one lukewarm Ted Nugent fan who had been turned off.

In my research, I discovered that Ted Nugent had only one Top 40 hit song as a solo artist, and that song was 1977’s “Cat Scratch Fever”, and it only peaked at number 30. His other Top 40 hits were with his original Sixties garage band, The Amboy Dukes, who took the classic drug song (though Ted, ever the anti-drug and alcohol rocker claims the song’s drug references went over his head, which totally contradicts his claim to be an alpha male in all areas including intelligence…oops!) “Journey to the Center of the Mind”, which peaked at number 16. His other Top 40 hits came from his sell-out supergroup band Damn Yankees, whom he teamed with Styx’ Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger’s Jack Blades. “High Enough” peaked at number 3 in 1990, becoming Ted’s only Top 10 hit. The other hit, “Where You Goin’ Now” from Damn Yankees’ second album Don’t Tread peaked at number 20.

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Then, since Nugent has always been considered an album artist, I decided to look at the chart performances of his albums. The Amboy Dukes’ first album, The Amboy Dukes, is considered a near classic album across the board, but only peaked at number 173; whereas, the band’s follow-up, Journey to the Center of the Mind, peaked at 16 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. If you look at Nugent’s solo career, his chart performance peaked in the mid-Seventies through the early-Eighties. During that time, Nugent had four Top 20 albums: Cat Scratch Fever (#17, 1977), Double Live Gonzo! (#13, 1978), State of Shock (#18, 1979) and Scream Dream (#13, 1980). Finally, let’s consider his work with Damn Yankees, who only stuck together long enough to record two albums. And, only the their first album, the eponymous titled album hit the Top 20, peaking in 1990 at number 13. Which means that Ted Nugent has zero Top 10 albums OR singles, a paltry six Top 20 albums and one Top 30 hit (“Cat Scratch Fever” peaked at #30 in 1977). Since stats are used to help determine the worthiness of a rock star to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, Ted is lacking in that category.

When it comes to influence, Nugent casts a large shadow in the hard rock and heavy metal worlds, but that is as far as his influence extends. Very few punks, soul masters and prog rockers name Nugent as an influence. Finally, Rolling Stone magazine left him off their Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

So, with all of this data at my fingertips, I have decided to give you my Top 5 Reasons Ted Nugent Should Be in the RRHOF.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

That’s right! I have nothing. And, I did not even consider his political views in this analysis. Ted Nugent does NOT belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he has been letting his mouth do the talking for him to be inducted because he knows deep in his heart that the stats are not on his side.

We are now less than a month away from the Hall announcing their list of artists who are under consideration for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And, I guarantee that Ted Nugent will not be on that list. And, it is not some sort of retribution for his stated politics that will keep in out of the Hall. Sorry, Ted, David Crosby was correct. You are just not good enough.

Remember, this is the opinion of one man. I do not claim to know everything. I just looked at the stats. Now, someone better nominate The Jam/The Style Council/Paul Weller and/or Joy Division/New Order for the Hall. Those artists are much more deserving!

Who do you want to be nominated for the RRHOF? Let me know in the comment section! Until tomorrow, keep on rockin’ in the free world!

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How About One More Trip on ELO’s Spaceship? The ELO Album Catalog Ranked Worst to Best

9.26 Electric_Light_Orchestra_(logo_-_1976)

Back in the late-Sixties and early-Seventies, singers/guitarists/musical visionaries Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, along with drummer Bev Bevan were in a popular English band called The Move. The band were fairly big in their native England but had relatively little success in the States. That’s when the three decided to leave The Move in order to start a new band that they called the Electric Light Orchestra.

And, like I stated yesterday, the trio’s intention was for this new band to become everything The Beatles were at the time they recorded their LSD-dripping psychedelia ode to Lewis Carroll called “I Am the Walrus”. These three blokes felt this type of musical amalgamation would take place between the string section of an orchestra within the context of a rock song. And, this sound, the sound popularized by the Electric Light Orchestra, was the sound of a very successful band throughout the Seventies and into the Eighties.

9.26 Elo_part_ii

Unfortunately, the volatile Roy Wood, left ELO after the first album was released and as the second album was being recorded. Wood went on to form the English glam band Wizzard. In doing so, the rights to the band name, Electric Light Orchestra were transferred to Lynne and Bevan. From the second album on, these two were the only constants, though keyboardist Richard Tandy and bassist Kelly Groucutt joined later on. Now, this agreement between Lynne and Bevan came to a head in the late-Eighties when Bevan wanted the band to record new material and tour, and Lynne, who was a hot, in-demand producer, thanks to his highly successful productions on George Harrison big 1987 comeback album Cloud Nine and Tom Petty’s 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever.

9.27 ELO Part Two band pic

So, Bevan hired a group of musicians, including a future Power Pop legend and all-around ELO fan, Parthenon Huxley (also known as P. Hux), in Jeff Lynne’s spot in the line-up. The group adopted the moniker Electric Light Orchestra Part II (or ELO II), in an attempt to make it clear that the band does NOT include Lynne. ELO II recorded two studio albums and released a live album between the years 1990 through 1997. However, Lynne and Bevan came to a financial agreement that gave Lynne the ELO name in all of it forms, while Bevan was allowed to call his band The Orchestra, who released their final album in 2002 entitled No Rewind. And Lynne released a new ELO album titled Zoom in 2001.

9.27 Electric_Light_Orchestra_Part_Two_album_cover9.27 ELO part 2 - Moment of Truth

In the meantime, the Electric Light Orchestra’s influence was being acknowledged by a multitude of newer artists, most surprisingly by EDM masters Daft Punk. In 2001, a tribute album called Lynne Me Your Ears: A Tribute to the Music of Jeff Lynne was produced by Not Lame Recording Company and its owner Bruce Bodeen. The double-CD collection involved cover versions of mostly ELO songs by power pop bands of the day. It is an excellent collection of Lynne’s music re-imagined by some of the best power poppers of the day. Two other tribute albums were released in the first decade of the new millennium: one by P. Hux, Homemade Spaceship in 2005 and the other by a group called L.E.O., who released an ELO-influenced album Alpacas Orgling. In all three cases, we are given insight into how ELO’s magic is extending to people in the 21st century.

9.27 lynne me your ears
Lynne Me Your Ears

 

9.27 The_Orchestra_-_No_Rewind_(Original_Cover)9.27 P. Hux - Homemade Spaceship

 

9.27 L.E.O. - Alpacas Orgling
L.E.O.’s Alpacas Orgling

Today, I am going to rank all of the Jeff Lynne-led Electric Light Orchestra albums from worst to best. So, let’s keep this ELO party moving right along!

14. Balance of Power (1986). This was the sound of Jeff Lynne simply trying to complete a contract. This is a boring album made by a bored musician who would rather be producing other artist’s new albums.

13. ELO II (1972). The sophomore jinx reared its ugly head on this, the band’s second album. This album was the sound of Jeff Lynne wondering what to do with this band after Roy Wood left.

12. Alone in the Universe (2015). Technically, this album is attributed to Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Technically, this a Lynne solo album, but when you are the sole songwriter of the band to begin with, then it is difficult to separate the band from the man. Still, for either Lynne or ELO, this album is weak.

11. On the Third Day (1973). This is the sound of a band who is gathering confidence and the songwriting reflects that growth.

10. Xanadu OST (1980). Yes, the movie sucked! And, this soundtrack is one half Olivia Newton-John’s voice singing over ELO’s music, as Lynne produced the album. But, the ELO side of the album is outstanding!

9. Discovery (1979). Sure, there were several hit songs from this album, but ELO doing disco was just shameful. C’mon Jeff, leave the disco to the dance experts!

8. No Answer (1972). Known as Electric Light Orchestra here in the States, the debut was an exciting blend of the classical music and rock music. However, the sound still has Beatles reference all over the album. The band has yet to find its own unique sound.

7. Secret Messages (1983). Allegedly, Jeff Lynne envisioned this album as a double album, but was told by his label to cut it down to a single album. ELO fans all over have been petitioning Jeff Lynne and his former CBS label Legacy division to finally release the original double album. So far, it seems Lynne is only interested in this album’s current form, which just sounds incomplete.

6. Zoom (2001). Once again, this is essentially a Jeff Lynne solo album, but it is a great comeback album for Electric Light Orchestra. This was the band’s first album of new material in 15 years. Now, it is simply overlooked.

9.27 ELO_Eldorado

5. Eldorado (1974). This album represents my actual entry into the world of the Electric Light Orchestra on the back of their brilliant John Lennon-esque single “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”.

9.27 ELO_Face_The_Music_album_cover

4. Face the Music (1975). How you forget an album that has two hit songs as good as “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic”? You can’t once you’ve heard it.

9.29 ELO_Time_expanded_album_cover

3. Time (1981). This is absolutely the most underrated album in the Electric Light Orchestra’s catalog. It continues to be my “go to” album of theirs. Maybe, it’s because I saw many of these songs come to life in concert or maybe its just that good? In the words of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the first Michael Keaton Batman movie, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it!”

9.27 ELO Out of the Blue

2. Out of the Blue (1977). Who but Jeff Lynne could create a double album concept record about the weather? I assert that no one could! I vacillate between this album and the one at number one as ELO’s most fully realized album statement, though Time continues to rise, it will never rise to the level of these top two albums. Any album that has “Mr. Blue Sky” on it HAS to be good.

9.27 ELO_A_New_World_Record

1. A New World Record (1976). Back in the mid-Seventies, albums rarely had three Top 40 hits on them, but this album did: “Telephone Line”, “Livin’ Thing” and “Do Ya”. And, had it been released in the Eighties, this album may have squeezed out a couple more hit songs. That’s how deep this album is.

9.27 Jeff-Lynnes-ELO-at-Wembley-Stadium-Nick-Bennett-The-Upcoming-7-1000x600
Jeff Lynne’s ELO

And, this wraps up my little two-day celebration of the music of the Electric Light Orchestra, including the music associated with the spin-off Electric Light Orchestra Part Two, now known as The Orchestra. Additionally, I have given you the titles of some tribute albums as well. The tribute albums may cost you a pretty penny. Or you can simply stick to the original sound and vision for your post-“I Am the Walrus” Beatles sound.

Two more days and the weekend will be here! Rock on, Garth!

Beatles Imitators? ELO Has Their Own Sound

9.26 Electric Light Orchestra 1975
Electric Light Orchestra, circa 1975

A few months back, I wrote that if the Electric Light Orchestra were finally elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then by extension, the Traveling Wilburys Eighties supergroup of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, the mastermind behind ELO, would all be Hall of Famers separately. As you know, ELO was inducted this past spring, thus completing that supergroup’s separate membership in the Hall. Now, do I think the group will be inducted? Probably not, although they did create two absolutely enjoyable albums. I really think the voters should focus on more deserving artists who stuck to their main artistic vision, and not reward a hobby, albeit a hobby that was this good, with a place in the Hall of Fame.

9.26 Electric_Light_Orchestra_(logo_-_1973-76)
The original logo

Now, to be perfectly honest, I was born to parents who were a just a bit too old for rock & roll music, and I was the older of their two offspring. So, I discovered the Electric Light Orchestra when they had a radio hit with their cover of the Chuck Berry hit “Roll Over Beethoven”. Then, a year or so later, I fell in love with the song “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”, so I began to read up about the band, this Electric Light Orchestra. It was through those articles in Creem, Circus and Hit Parader magazines that leader Jeff Lynne’s group vision was to pick up where The Beatles had left off with “I Am the Walrus”. The significance of that sentence was so vital in my development as a rock music lover. ELO lead me to The Beatles! Because of that one fact that Jeff Lynne said about ELO picking up where The Beatles had left off with “I Am the Walrus” kickstarted my whole inquiry into The Beatles. Who knows how I would have discovered The Beatles otherwise?

9.26 Electric_Light_Orchestra_(logo_-_1976)
The ELO logo since 1976

Still, I developed a love for the Electric Light Orchestra. I remember seeing them on TV a couple of times in the mid-Seventies. The first time was on some awards program that could have been either the Grammys or the American Music Awards. Whatever, I was fascinated by a rock band that was augmented with a string section that were not hired hands but actual members of the band. Then, I remember seeing ELO perform on Midnight Special one night after a basketball game, which was a pretty good way for me to unwind.

9.26 ELO 11.7.1981 concert ticket
Not my ticket stub, but it is from the concert I went to

When I got to college, it seemed as though the Electric Light Orchestra’s status as a top hitmaker and major tour attraction was waning. Still, I had promised my younger brother, who is three-and-a-half years younger age-wise and four years behind me grade-wise, that I would take him to ELO whenever they would play around central Indiana. It was shortly after I moved on campus at Ball State University that I heard ELO was having a concert with Daryl Hall and John Oates as the opening act down at Indiana University on a Friday night. That the concert was ended up being my brother’s first concert, and what a concert it was. That night cemented a life-long commitment as a fan of both artists.

9.26 Electric Light Orchestra in concert 1978
ELO in concert in the late-Seventies

In the past, I have celebrated the exploits of Daryl Hall and John Oates. So, today, I celebrate the music of the Electric Light Orchestra by listing My 25 Favorite Songs by the Electric Light Orchestra. Let the countdown begin!

25. “The Diary of Horace Wimp” (Discovery, 1979)

24. “Rockaria!” (A New World Record, 1976)

23. “Calling America” (Balance of Power, 1986)

22. “Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)” (Xanadu OST, 1980)

21. “Confusion”/”Last Train to London” (Discovery, 1979)

20. “I’m Alive” (Xanadu OST, 1980)

19. “All Over the World” (Xanadu OST, 1980)

18. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King” (Secret Messages, 1983)

17. “Do Ya” (A New World Record, 1976)

16. “Roll Over Beethoven” (ELO II, 1972)

15. “Fire on High” (Eldorado, 1974)

14. “10538 Overture” (No Answer, 1972)

13. “Hold on Tight” (Time, 1981)

12. “Shine a Little Love” (Discovery, 1979)

11. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” (Out of the Blue, 1977)

10. “Turn to Stone” (Out of the Blue, 1977)

9. “Showdown” (On the Third Day, 1973)

8. “Twilight” (Time, 1981)

7. “Livin’ Thing” (A New World Record, 1976)

6. “Telephone Line” (A New World Record, 1976)

5. “Evil Woman” (Face the Music, 1975)

4. “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Discovery, 1979)

3. “Strange Magic” (Face the Music, 1975)

2. “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” (Eldorado, 1974)

1. “Mr. Blue Sky” (Out of the Blue, 1977)

9.26 ELO in concert now
ELO today

Now, that’s a formidable Top 25! Whew! Thank God for the vision of Jeff Lynne, or else we would not have these beautiful songs. Now, go back and listen to those songs. Try to hear just which Beatles song Mr. Lynne is referencing in each particular song of his. It is amazing that you can hear The Beatles’ influence, and how each ELO song jumps off from “I Am the Walrus”.

One last thing, which has nothing to do with ELO. Over the weekend, we lost another great soul singer who found a sip of success late in his life, Mr. Charles Bradley. His last three albums, along with the albums that the late Sharon Jones, kept old Sixties and Seventies Stax-style soul music alive here in the 21st century. Unfortunately for soul lovers like me, we are losing this types of wonderful big-voiced singers who started in the church. Currently, there have been many new retro-soul artists, like Leon Bridges and Mayer Hawthorne, but there is no replacing the type of soul singer that we have lost recently. As I have said before, Heaven’s choir just got another beautiful voice. RIP Charles Bradley!

See you all tomorrow!

It’s EDM, Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed!

9.25 LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem, who just release their new album American Dreams, played on SNL last spring.

Happy Monday all! I’ve been experiencing my usual periodic leap in pain, which seems to happen every four to six months. I am not sure why, but it may have to do with medicine tolerance a little bit, along with a little lost tolerance by my body. When I was a runner, I always felt like the key to my success was my ability to ignore pain. But, this chronic pain thing is way more than my ability to absorb a little athletic pain for a win. The type of pain I deal with is not the “take two aspirin and lay down for five minutes and everything will be hunky dory pain. No, my pain, like I have said a million times on here, begins with the sensation of what my body used to feel like after a 15 kilometer run, then go play three hours of non-stop basketball, followed by another 5 kilometer run, ending with a line of ten people each taking five swats with a baseball bat at my legs. Not much fun, though I try to stay positive, it’s not always the case. So, then I take a moment on my blog to bitch a little bit.

9.25 Kraftwerk robots
Kraftwerk, the Godfathers of EDM, are shown here as their famous robot counterparts.

There! My bitching is done. Let’s get on with today’s topic. I thought today, in honor of the long-awaited (according to Son #1) LCD Soundsystem being released a couple of weeks ago. Periodically, I go through a quick week during which I (1) attempt to get hooked on electronic dance music (EDM) or (2) attempt to learn the history of EDM. From my research, the synthesizer had its beginnings in the Fifties, along with the computer. But, also like the computer, this “musical” instrument did not take off until the 1970s. Throughout the Seventies, I remember reading that the synthesizer would be the musical instrument of the future. Well, this is true to a certain extent, as well as false, as it is not nearly as ubiquitous as once predicted. According to very astute rock critics (Bob Lefsetz being one), EDM is where all the musical innovations are occurring today. And, he may even be correct about that.

9.25 Devo band
Synth-pioneers Devo

If you know anything about rock music history, you know that The Who’s Pete Townshend was fiddling about with synthesizers in the early Seventies, as evident by the use of synthesizer in The Who’s famous song “Baba O’Riley”. At the same time, Stevie Wonder was playing around with synthesizers during his classic run of albums of the Seventies until in the Eighties, that was all he was playing. But, throughout Europe, musicians were experimenting with synthesizers, especially in Germany. The Kraut Rock movement began with synthesizer bands like Tangerine Dream, Can, Neu! and the godfathers of EDM, Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk was so influential that they have been sighted as an influence on everyone from the synth-pop bands of the Eighties to Prince to Afrika Bambaataa, the DJ who pioneered the electronic sound of hip hop in the Eighties.

9.25 Suicide band
Synth-Punks Suicide

Although much of the disco music from Europe was using synthesizers, like with Silver Convention’s huge hit “Fly Robin Fly”, American artists were slow to integrate synthesizers into their sounds, let alone base a whole song on the machine. That is, until Donna Summer first hooked up with electronic whiz and music producer Giorgio Moroder, which lead to “I Feel Love”, the first real big EDM hit in the States. This was followed by more disco hits by Summer from her Bad Girls masterpiece. And, around the turn of the Eighties, we had the first Minneapolis Sound hit song with Lipps Inc.’s number one hit “Funky Town”. After that song, the public was ready for Prince.

9.25 Afrika Bambaataa
Afrika Bambaataa, the electro hip hop pioneer

Also, during the punk era, some punk bands were also synthesizer bands, like Suicide, Killing Joke and Devo. And, as punk switched to new wave, so did synthesizer bands. Those Synth-Pop bands that were popular in the Eighties included New Order, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Soft Cell, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and seemingly millions of others. Throughout the Eighties, the synthesizer was everywhere, including in bands that had more to due with a burgeoning metal sound called Industrial, of which Nine Inch Nails and Ministry are great examples.

9.25 The Human League
Synth-pop hitmakers The Human League

Finally, EDM began making in-roads in Europe. Artists such as The Orb, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and even Madonna joined the fray. Finally, as EDM began selling in the States, artists like Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem were leading the way. And, throughout this development, the sound of the synthesizer became less and less mechanized and “icy”, as engineers and programmers began to tune their instruments to make warmer sounding music. And, now, this instrument has become integrated with a computer making it a highly resourceful instrument, with its ability to replicate any sound it hears.

9.25 Daft Punk
My personal EDM favorite, Daft Punk

So, today, I give to you a list of My 40 Favorite EDM Artists in Rock History.

  1. Afrika Bambaataa
  2. Brian Eno
  3. Chvrches
  4. Daft Punk
  5. David Bowie
  6. Depeche Mode
  7. Devo
  8. Eurythmics
  9. Gary Numan
  10. Giorgio Moroder
  11. Hot Chip
  12. Howard Jones
  13. Jean Michael Jarre
  14. Kraftwerk
  15. Kylie Minogue
  16. La Roux
  17. Lady Gaga
  18. LCD Soundsystem
  19. I.A.
  20. Madonna
  21. MGMT
  22. Ministry
  23. Moby
  24. New Order
  25. Nine Inch Nails
  26. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  27. Pet Shop Boys
  28. Prince
  29. Santigold
  30. Sparks
  31. Stevie Wonder
  32. Suicide
  33. Tangerine Dream
  34. The Chemical Brothers
  35. The Human League
  36. The KLF
  37. The Prodigy
  38. Thomas Dolby
  39. Ultravox
  40. Yazoo

This list was created by a man who has limited knowledge of the genre, but, at least, I am familiar with all of these artists. A couple of important EDM artists that did not make the list include Can, Neu!, Soft Cell, DJ Shadow, Fatboy Slim, Information Society, Animal Collective, Simple Minds, Muse, to name but a few. Let me know which favorite EDM artist I left off.

Nothing Better Than a Top 25 Songs List for Madonna

9.22 Madonna in the 2010s
Eat your heart out! Madonna in the 2010s.

Happy Friday folks! I trust everyone is ready for the weekend. And, in my mind, what better to prepare for the weekend than spending a little time with the music of Madonna. I have been a fan ever since I heard “Holiday” blasting across the dancefloor at some night club back in my college days during the winter of 1983/1984. The bass/drum combo was in such a funky pocket that dancing to that song was magical. And, I am a straight man who loved to dance.

9.22 Madonna - Live Aid
The day Madonna took over the world, at Live Aid 1985.

So, I actually went out and bought the 45 single of that song. Of course, I integrated “Holiday” into my DJ playlist and dance mixtapes I created for people. The song was truly one of the better dance singles for its time. Then, a short time later, I learned of Madonna releasing her debut album, so I purchased it. Upon my first listen, I discovered two things. First, this new artist Madonna might be on to something great, but only time would tell. In retrospect, I was right, but I never dreamed that she would become THE female rock icon/example that she has become. Although many great female singers came before her, and of the singers, a majority of the were icons of the race and women’s struggles of the Sixties and Seventies. But, Madonna became ground zero for strong women to maintain a strong image who use their sexuality only to further empower themselves. If there was no Madonna, then there would be no Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or any of the other strong females pop stars who are out there lately.

9.22 madonna in the 80s
Madonna in the 1980s.

The second thing I realized was that Madonna joined Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s and Stevie Nicks as my female rock star crushes. Oh well, a man can dream, can’t he? And, I understand the sexist statement of turning this woman into objects and the narrow minded connotations that come with it, but those women are the most attractive to me. Oh, wait a second! Can I throw all three women from Bananarama into my star crush list? I’m a slow learner.

9.22 madonna in the 90s
Madonna in the 1990s.

Enough of that fanboy stuff. I need to get back on track. Let’s talk about Madonna’s music. The woman has spent the better part of the Eighties and Nineties and the start of the 2000s at the forefront of dance/rock music and sweet, sincere heartfelt ballads. Of course, eventually, one must leave the dance innovations to the younger crowd, but Madonna continues to innovate in the studio, but not to the degree with which she did from her first single until her brilliant 2000 album Music and the other released songs from that session.

9.22 Madonna in the 2000s
Madonna in the 2000s.

Madonna has be brilliant in the changes she has utilized from album to album, much like David Bowie once did, and Lady Gaga now does. The thing that I still awaiting from Madonna is for her to do an acoustic/Stevie Nicks type of album. She has given us small glimpses of this type of singing with her hits like “Live to Tell” or “This Used to Be My Playground”. I think something along those lines would be an awesome turn for Madonna. Or, how about an acoustic dance album? I would simply love to hear Madonna take on the rock world.

9.22 madonna super bowl with nicki minaj and mia
Nicki Minaj, Madonna & M.I.A. at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Still, Madonna has given us plenty of great and fascinating music over the four decades she has been in the game. So, allow me to give you My 25 Favorite Songs by Madonna.

25. “This Used to Be My Playground” (1992)

24. “Secret” (1994)

23. “Angel” (1984)

22. “Bitch I’m Madonna” (2015)

21. “Lucky Star” (1983)

20. “4 Minutes (Feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)” (2008)

19. “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986)

18. “Take a Bow” (1994)

17. “Holiday” (1983)

16. Justify My Love” (1990)

15. “Express Yourself” (1989)

14. “Burning Up” (1983)

13. “Material Girl” (1984)

12. “Ray of Light” (1998)

11. “Hung Up” (2005)

10. “Vogue” (1990)

9. “Beautiful Stranger” (1999)

8. “Live to Tell” (1986)

7. “Crazy for You” (1985)

6. “Dress You Up” (1984)

5. “Music” (2000)

4. “Like a Virgin” (1984)

3. “Like a Prayer” (1989)

2. “Borderline” (1983)

1. “Into the Groove” (1985)

9.22 Madonna at Super Bowl
Madonna during her best T. Rex imitation during the Super Bowl Half-Time Show in Indianapolis.

Now, that’s a packed Top 25! Let me know which Madonna songs you would have put on this list! And, one last thing: Have a great weekend! See you again on Monday!

Do You Want Some New Music That Will Remind You of the Old Days? Give DREAMCAR a Ride

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Do you ever get a hankering for Eighties new wave music? If you like me, sometimes that particular genre of rock music just hits the spot like Kentucky Fried Chicken’s chicken nuggets used to do after a night of partying in the Eighties. Believe it or not, we are in the middle of something called the new wave revival, which means they are new artists putting their own 21st century spin on a brand of music associated with the early days of MTV.

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Now, if you are a fan of A Flock of Seagulls, Ultravox, The Fixx or any of those other bands that rocked our worlds back during the height of new wave, then you might be interested in this latest so-called “supergroup” that has formed called DREAMCAR. Earlier this Spring, DREAMCAR released their eponymous debut album to some high expectations since the quartet includes the three musicians of No Doubt (bassist Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young) along with the lead singer of the California punk/new wave revivalist band AFI, Davey Havok. I got this album in the middle of the summer and have been playing off and on ever since. And the first thing the album does is transport my mind back to my sophomore year in college when it seemed as though new wave was everywhere, on the radio, on MTV, used in TV ads or as TV show themes or in movie soundtracks.

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Like I said, this is a new wave revivalist album, so DREAMCAR has taken the sounds on which the foursome was weaned and created something new and fresh. Now, that Eighties-era synthesizer sound and drum machine use have been toned down, with 21st century guitar and vocal treatments ruling the day. But, for some reason the whole thing works.

Now, as you can imagine, a band throwing themselves into this type of music will drawn comparisons to The Killers, The Hives or Franz Ferdinand. Of those three, The Killers work best for me; however, the songwriting is much better and way more consistent than The Killers have been since their first album, Hot Fuss. For me, as an aging Gen X-er who lived through the original new wave era, hears more direct references to the music of yore in DREAMCAR’s music than what The Killers and the others do.

What makes this band’s music more authentic new wave music than other newer bands is that the three musicians from No Doubt came of age playing all of those 80s new wave hits from Duran Duran and ABC to Wall of Voodoo and Modern English. Then, vocalist Davey Havok has a unique set of pipes that allows him to vacillate from sounding like all of those David Bowie/Bryan Ferry imitators that fronted many of those great one-hit wonders from the early Eighties. And, this authenticity is what separates DREAMCAR from the other wannabes out there.

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The album kicks off with a song that I swore was The Fixx backing the singer from Planet P Project. The song is “After I Confessed”, and it is a strong way to kick off the album. Now, it’s no “London Calling” or “Welcome to the Working Week”, but it’s better than any of The Fixx’s opening salvos to any album in their catalog. The pay-off comes with the very next song, “Kill for Candy”. This song begins with a guitar lick straight off an Ultravox or A Flock of Seagulls’ album. Plus, the echo used on the lead vocals during the verses totally takes me in the Wayback Machine back to the days when I was just a skinny lad.

And, the Eighties musical references keep running throughout this album, all the while the band makes the whole thing their own. To be honest, I read a couple of reviews of the album before I started this. Most of the time, the young reviewers told the reader that musical starting point with DREAMCAR was The Cars. Sorry, guys, but The Cars are NOT even in the mix. This is a good that makes you hear different musical references all the while they are making their very own, unique musical statement.

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In all honesty, ironically enough, this album reminds of No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom album from the mid-Nineties that is now considered a masterpiece. I remember listening to it over and over again, just to discover all of their early Eighties musical references while knowing full well that No Doubt was a fully realized band with its own musical vision. Well, the same goes for DREAMCAR the album and band.

Take a listen to the thrilling sound of the band using a Bow Wow Wow/Adam & the Ants-type drumbeat opening to the song “All of the Dead Girls”. Subject matter aside, this song constantly puts a smile on my face, and, if I were able to, I would be dancing through the house as I blared it from my stereo. Even when drummer Adrian Young uses a funky drumbeat straight from the current decade, as in the moody song “Slip on the Moon”, the rest of the band stirs the song back into Eighties anthem mode and makes a stadium anthem out of thin air. Remember, that the current trend in modern music is to make dance music first and rocking out is an afterthought. But, DREAMCAR flips this notion on its head to put rocking out at the forefront of these danceable tunes.

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Keep this in mind: DREAMCAR is NO Sha-Na-Na. Sha-Na-Na simply covered Fifties songs and created their own songs like their were written and recorded in the Fifties. Whereas DREAMCAR makes modern music that has Eighties new wave references running through their veins all the while not being an Eighties cover band. This band is for real is all I can say. I hope the members commit more time and energy to this project because it is worth their while. Hey No Doubt guys! Dump Gwen and carry on as DREAMCAR! At least Havok shares your vision for a great band, while Gwen is simply bent on being a celebrity.

This Seems Like a Perfect Day for Some Elton John

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I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not hear Elton John on the radio. I can honestly say that I remember hearing “Your Song” being played on AM radio stations from Indianapolis AND even the little local station. Of course, when I discovered FM radio in the early 1970s, Elton was a major star on those station’s playlists. And, one of the first truly rock artists’ albums I received as a gift was Sir Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Plus, I have a couple of 45s (remember those?) that Elton released on his original label MCA and on his own label Rocket Man.

And, I distinctly remember the buzz on the bus the day Elton was to play on the old Friday night TV rock show Midnight Special. You see, the school bus hierarchy had an unwritten law that the high school kids rode in the back, with the middle school kids in the middle rows and us elementary kids in the front. But, for some reason, the high school kids always wanted me to be in the back with them. It probably was an effort to keep me from flapping my jaw constantly, or maybe it was to honor my eidetic memory, especially with sports stats and music information. Honestly, it was for the former. Anyway, I remember the rumor being that Elton was going to wear special high soled shoes that were clear with gold fish swimming in them. And, since Elton was a flamboyant dresser, I was intrigued with his image every bit as with his music. With no disrespect to the man, at the time, he was like a living and breathing cartoon character, and I loved him for that!

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By the time I reached middle school, Elton John’s popularity had peaked. No other artist was his equal at the time, though Stevie Wonder was close. That was until that infamous Rolling Stone interview in which he admitted that he was bisexual. Maybe it was my naivety or because I grew up around homosexuals while my mother was working on her masters degree in art education, but I honestly saw nothing wrong with the lifestyle. The gay men and women in mom’s classes were always nice to me, although I did sense that something was different between myself and them, as a kid, I could care less.

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But, all of a sudden, people who were in my life were getting rid of their Elton John records, posters and memorabilia. I wish I had had the foresight to have latched onto much of that stuff and kept it. But, as they say, hindsight is always 20/20. Still, I did not understand how one minute you could love a person’s music and the next you hate it AND him. So, being the type of person that I am, I continued to listen to Elton through that bigoted phase that the public was going through. But, as we now know, Elton is held in high esteem throughout the world for his philanthropy and his music catalog. The world has come a long way with regards to race and sexual orientation, but we still have a long way to go. Remember Jesus instructed us that he was the new covenant and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And, since when I point a finger at others, I always notice that there are three pointing back at me, I will try not to judge others when I have my own issues that keep me from being perfect.

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Okay, so enough of my soapbox! Sorry guys, allow me to get back on track here. Next to The Beatles, individually or together, Elvis Presley or The Stones, Elton probably has as many hits as the next person(s) in line. So, to honor one of the all-time greats in the history of rock music, as well as one of the few rock artists that I would pick to have a theoretical lunch with, let’s look at My 25 Favorite Songs by him. So, on with the countdown!

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25. “Candle in the Wind” (1973). Technically, I could have picked any version, including Elton’s version in honor of Princess Diana, but I still prefer the original.

24. “Little Jeannie” (1980). This was a hit during that time of the interview backlash. But, he was proving to everyone that he still had his talent, no matter how much booze it was floating in.

23. “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” (1976). This is a great song that I will forever associate with my parents’ divorce, which is a very unfortunate thing all the way around.

22. “Island Girl” (1975). Hey Bondo! Remember playing Rock of the Westies and KISS Alive! all night New Year’s Eve 1975? And, how many “radio programs” did we rock that night.

21. “Mama Can’t Buy Me Love” (1979). Elton proved that he was a human jukebox when he did this disco song. This man is so talented that it’s not funny.

20. “Levon” (1971). Elton had so many hits on his first Greatest Hits album that this early hit had to wait for the second edition to be immortalized.

19. “Honky Cat” (1972). How did a song this good end up so low on my list? Because the man has that many great songs!

18. “Pinball Wizard” (1976). Yes, the movie version of The Who’s Tommy was a total freak-out. But, who does not remember the sight of Elton John performing this song with those crazy huge Doc Martin boots? That image is burnt into my memory forever.

17. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (1975). Elton John took a cut from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper that was for all purposes a John Lennon song written about a painting a young Julian Lennon did, and not an acid trip as commonly thought. Or, is it? Regardless, Elton took the song to Number One.

16. “The Bitch Is Back” (1974). At the time, I didn’t realize Elton was giving us a clue as to his sexuality in the song. But, like I said, who cares. I just loved that I could “sing” the B-word around my parents without many repercussions. I still love that!

15. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” [with Kiki Dee] (1976). I remember singing that song with Lori Dunwiddie in the back of the bus as a middle schooler. I took Elton’s part, if it wasn’t obvious.

14. “Daniel” (1973). This song is one of the 45s I own. I have always been a sucker for lyrical melancholia. This song took on greater meaning when I learned that it was an anti-Vietnam song.

13. “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” (2002). Since the beginning of the 21st century, Elton John has been on a creative roll. He has reached back to his glory days for inspiration and his newest albums have all been terrific. But this haunting song about his past is absolutely a timeless masterpiece that will only grow in significance in his total catalog as the years pass.

12. “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” (1982). At the times of the release of this song, I was writing my research paper for my second college English course on John Lennon. To me, this was the first tribute song for the late Lennon that actually conjured up the sound of Lennon’s music and lyrics. Leave it to Elton and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin to nail this song.

11. “Rocket Man” (1972). Please forget President Trump’s use of the title for his nefarious reasons and remember what a great song this is! This is the blood relative of Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.

10. “Crocodile Rock” (1973). I was influenced to check out my mom’s 45 collection after hearing this song. “Crocodile Rock” hearkened back to the Fifties music Elton and Bernie grew up on.

9. “Philadelphia Freedom” (1976). This song was written as per request of tennis great Billie Jean King’s request that Elton write a song about her Philadelphia Freedom professional tennis team. And, of course, this song rocketed to number one during the bicentennial birthday fever this country had at the time.

8. “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” (1973). Here we have arguably Elton’s hardest rocking song in his repertoire. This song is still fun to hear!

7. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973). Like I alluded to earlier, I have always been drawn to songs that have a melancholia theme or those that depict depression, since I have been battling that darkness all my life. And no one, and I really mean no one does it like Elton, since he too battles that dark side as well. For that, I feel a kinship with John and Taupin.

6. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (1974). We are traveling through some of Elton’s darkest songs right now, so it should be obvious to all why I love this song.

5. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” (1975). When I first heard this song, I KNEW their were others like me who felt the world’s problems so intensely without the ability to do anything about it. And, this song literally has saved many times during those moments of dark turns in myself.

4. “Your Song” (1971). I really don’t care who inspired this song because the lyrics of love are so universal that it does not matter to whom Elton may be singing. Plus, the words are totally Taupin’s. None of this matters since the outcome is a near perfect love song.

3. “Bennie and the Jets” (1974). Think about this for a moment. Elton was so big at the time that this song was a hit on the R&B chart! He was so funky on this song that Soul Train’s audience was shocked to see it was a white man who did this song when he performed it on the show over forty years ago. Plus, the song has probably the most misquoted lyrics of any song ever! How can you beat those two factoids?

2. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” (1983). Are you kidding me? This song is so perfect that I am without words to describe it.

1. “Tiny Dancer” (1972). What can you say about a song that is used in one of the most perfectly realized scenes in movie history? The movie is Almost Famous, and the scene is when the band is on the bus with everyone pissed at each other, and this song comes on the radio, showing each person that it’s the music that holds them together. No other song could be used to the same effect in that scene, because there are few songs that make you forget about your differences and show you the commonality you all have is the love of music. How perfect is that?

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Well, fans, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed it enough to go put on some Elton John on your source of choice and blast it out! Until tomorrow, keep on rockin’ in the free world!