5 Things Friday: Favorite Bands

Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice. Photo: Clockenflap.

I listen to a lot of music. My taste is all over the map. I generally lean in favor of heavy guitar, but if you look at this list there are several bands here that don’t feature the guitar. I like melodic stuff. If it doesn’t have a good melody I probably won’t care for it. There are exceptions, like some Beastie Boys or some Clash stuff, but overall, I have to have a good melody. I like Classical, Rock, a little bit of Country, and a lot of Alternative Rock. I enjoy the Blues and a dabble of Reggae and Pop, as well.

When I went to make this list it, on the first blush I noticed something. My first list covered a period of almost 50 years. I decided to go with it and it works out like this:

  1. Early 70s – Bread – They are probably the band you don’t know, but if you heard one of their songs you would immediately recognize it. I absolutely love David Gates. His melodic pop songs are what made this band a hit back in the early 70s.

Their top ten songs are all fantastic:

Everything I Own                    Make it with you

Guitar Man                              If

Diary                                        Baby – I’m a want you

Aubrey                                     Lost Without Your Love

It Doesn’t Matter to Me           Sweet Surrender

Go find them online. I think they will surprise you.

  1. Late 70s to early 80s – The Police – They are legendary. The made great music for only 5 years, from 78-83. Sting has had a long career afterward, but they made an indelible mark on the music scene and then stopped when they were on top. They were my favorite band when I was in high school.
  2. Early 80s to 90s – U2 – I can still remember the first time I heard one of their songs. I was a freshman in college and was in a dance club in Denver when the video for Sunday Bloody Sunday appeared on the huge wall display over the dance floor. I went back and found all of their albums and then followed them through the years with each release. They made a big switch when I was in pilot training with The Joshua Tree, and initially I didn’t like it, but after listening to it more I began to appreciate it. Under a Blood Red Sky is bittersweet for me, as I had tickets to that concert and ended up not being able to go. I did catch them live in the late 80s and it was epic. Of course, they are still making music, but the early stuff is the stuff I really love.
  3. 00s – Alter Bridge – I was sad when it looked like Creed was done. But the lead guitarist, Mark Tremonti is a workhorse and a prolific songwriter and took the original lineup from Creed and found a new lead singer, Miles Kennedy from the Mayfield Four. Much to Tremonti’s surprise, Kennedy was also a world class guitarist. Their stuff is serious rock and on the heavy side. Their ballads are fantastic, too. My favorite album is Blackbird, there is not a bad song on this album. I can put their stuff on endless loop and listen all day. They have a new album coming out in October for my birthday!
  4. 10s – Wolf Alice – I think I was listening to the alternative rock station on my cable television My Choice, when I first heard them. I went immediately to the internet and started searching for them. They are very young and fresh and the talk of the British rock scene. They have an eclectic rock vibe and a very distinctive sound. Ellie Roswell and Joff Oddie started as an acoustic duo then added a bassist and drummer and went electric and found their sound. Visions of Life won the Mercury Prize last year for best British Album. It is cool and breezy and wonderful. It also will rock your ass off. Here is one of my favorites: Mona Lisa Smile

 

Who are your favorites?

Transported to 1986 by a Song

gradbushMusic has this magical quality of being able to transport you to a place and time. I was driving home on Monday, listening to the 80s channel on Sirius/XM and they were recounting the top songs from this week in 1986. Number three was Highway to the Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. It stirred up some memories. It was a beautiful afternoon and combined with the music I was transported back in time. Life seemed so full of promise and possibility.

For me the summer of 1986 was what my old roommate called the “god summer.” The summer after graduation from the US Air Force Academy. I felt invincible and immortal. When you are that age you don’t think about mortality or danger in the same way you do at 55. I was all of 21 years old, fit, and I still had a full head of hair, and I was about to embark on an Air Force career as a pilot. At least that was the plan.

Several months earlier Top Gun had been released. It was only a few short weeks from graduation and my friends and I all knew we were going to be flying jets in a few months. It had a huge emotional impact on us all. We wanted to be fighter pilots. A few of us actually made it.

Un2016-09-14 21.59.17dergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is a special thing. They say you can teach a monkey to fly if you have enough bananas. The trick for the Air Force version is pacing. You have to stay on their timeline. But some parts of it were incredibly cool. It’s hard to describe the feeling of walking off the flightline in your G-suit, carrying your helmet, after a T-38 sortie that went well. I felt like Maverick or Iceman. I even had a callsign: Woodrow. Then I went out and drove my motorcycle home. Almost cliché. But it was real.

I have to admit, up to this point in my life I had been successful at everything I had put my mind to. Somewhere near the midpoint I was struck with a crisis of confidence. I was deeply concerned that I might not make it through. It was a real ego check. It was a struggle every day. The first half of the program it was a minimum of twelve-hour days, and often multiple sorties, and any downtime was filled to the brim with studying. Instruments and procedures and systems. By the end of the steaming hot Mississippi day I was ready to let it all go. I don’t have the mentality to do the same thing for that long, which only made it harder.

It wasn’t all work, though. Work hard play harder. Weekends were filled with lots of beer and dancing. I actually had a radio show at the local college radio station on Saturday evenings with my best friend. After the show we would find a party. That lasted until summer hit its stride and we didn’t want to leave the pool to go turn vinyl.

We were so young.

It’s interesting looking back a little more than thirty years and seeing how much time I wasted. I wasted it having fun for the most part, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking my off time was spent productively. My advice to myself at that age, or anyone at that age, would be to find something you are passionate about, no matter what it is, and throw yourself whole hog into doing it. It took me a long time to figure out what that was, not that I was trying all that hard to figure it out.

If you haven’t seen it yet, they are making a sequel to Top Gun. Here is the trailer: Top Gun: Maverick. It looks on first blush to be a cheesy rehash of all the cool stuff from the original.

I don’t care. Take my money.

I will love this movie regardless.

While listening to Highway to the Danger Zone, it was mentioned that Kenny Loggins confirmed it will be in the new movie. The song itself is a little bittersweet for me. A few of the guys that I was a year behind at the Academy were graduating UPT that following summer. We were all in the same cadet squadron when I was a freshman and they were sophomores. They were all good guys and had a house on the edge of town with a pool. They had some epic parties. The one I remember best was the one after their assignment night. Pete got an F-15 and he played Highway to the Danger Zone over and over. He flew fighters for several years until his commitment was up and then got out of the Air Force. Sometime later he decided to rejoin and I don’t have the details, but he had a fatal crash in the jet.

I will always remember 22-year-old Pete, so excited to fly the F-15, screaming the lyrics to Highway to the Danger Zone and dancing around his house.

I graduated from pilot training in the fall of 1987 and ended up staying in the Air Force

DSC_1051
After my last flight

for thirty-two years as a pilot. Not a fighter pilot. I ended up in the KC-135 Stratotanker. I still teach younger pilots how to fly it.

I wonder how things would have changed if I had devoted myself to something at an earlier age, whether it might have been art or writing. Even gaming, but with a different tact, actually making something or writing articles about it for magazines.

Water under the bridge, but it was nice to reflect on that summer. I have no real regrets. Life is good and only getting better.

Primal Alt Rock Favorites

I love teh 80s
“I ♥ 80s” by Kwintin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s alt rock and 1st Wave alt rock lately and I decided to create a list of my favorite early alt rock bands or songs. Some of these bands were basically one hit wonders and some of them turned into superstars, and some are still actively making new music and touring. I’ve seen other similar lists with other bands, but those other bands simply never struck a chord with me. There might even be a few on here you haven’t heard.

I ended up with 67. Why 67? Well, this is how many I found that met my criteria, of being considered alt rock by someone or on a band comparison to someone else on this list, was before 1995 and wasn’t obviously conventional pop. Some of these songs border on pop or more conventional rock. It was hard to differentiate where to draw the line. Many of these bands have multiple songs that I dig, but I just picked one that I really love by that band. The first on this list is a perfect example. Continue reading “Primal Alt Rock Favorites”

Riding the 1st Wave

48101-godfathersI was in the car the other day, listening to Siruis/XM radio, channel 33, 1st Wave, which I adore. The song that come on the radio was “Birth, School, Work, Death” by The Godfathers. It brought back some good memories. I used to own that album on cassette. Here is the YouTube video: Birth School Work Death

I was really into music in the mid-80s, I even DJed for a brief time in the spring and summer of 1987. It was the end of the first wave of alternative rock, but there was still great music coming out. This album was just one example. Continue reading “Riding the 1st Wave”