Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Immortals List: #100-#81 Recap

Can you believe it, guys? It seems like we only just began our trip through Rolling Stone's list of "The Immortals", doesn't it?

Oh, right.

Fuck it, we're TWENTY entries in! Whoo!

When the once-illustrious publication in question chose, seemingly at random, the years 1953 as the moment that rock music "began", the list of artists chosen from the time period since was generally enjoyed as non-controversial nostalgia, and nothing that people would really get up in arms about. But if my trip through some of the greats (and some of the horrific misfires) has taught me anything, it's that...

Umm... Wait, what did we take from these legendary artists?

Shall we re-cap?

Beginning at the ending:

#100 - Lee “Scratch” Perry: Makes being high in Jamaica sound fucking awesome. Which, you know, it probably is.

#99 - Curtis Mayfield: Makes being an unheralded genius in a tumultuous era sound fucking awesome.

#98 - Roxy Music: Makes being really, really English sound fucking awesome.

#97 - Diana Ross and the Supremes: Makes being “kept” by Berry Gordy sound fucking awesome.

#96 - Martha and the Vandellas: Makes being a girl group sound fucking awesome and sort of noble.

#95 - Lynyrd Skynyrd: Makes being “Southern” sound fucking awesome. (This is the highest praise I have ever or will ever give this band.)

#94 - Nine Inch Nails: Makes being Trent Reznor sound fucking awesome. I guess.

#93 - Booker T. And The MGs: Makes being “Southern” sound way more fucking awesome than Lynyrd Skynyrd does. Because FUCK YOU, Lynyrd Skynyrd!

#92 - Guns N’ Roses: Makes the reasons that we know Los Angeles isn’t fucking awesome sound fucking awesome.

#91 - Ricky Nelson: Makes being a posthumously-appreciated child star sound fucking awesome.

#90 - Carlos Santana: Makes getting some Mexican food sound fucking awesome. Hey, you wanna go get some Mexican food?

#89 - The Yardbirds: Makes being capable of more sound fucking awesome.

#88 - Miles Davis: Makes being over the hill and still more interesting than anybody else in the world sound fucking awesome.

#87 - Gram Parsons: Makes being a trustafarian sound fucking awesome.

#86 - 2Pac Shakur: Makes dying young sound fucking awesome.

#85 - Black Sabbath: Makes faeries and mental instability sound fucking METAL.

#84 - James Taylor: Sucks.

#83 - N.W.A: Makes the 90s sound fucking awesome.

#82 - Eminem: Makes the early 2000s sound fucking awesome.

#81 - The Drifters: Makes being

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Immortals #81 - The Drifters

It goes like this: Brian Wilson heard "Be My Baby" ringing in his ears as he composed his teenage symphonies to God, and Phil Spector heard The Drifters when he composed "Be My Baby"...

The Drifters weren't necessarily the best of the early R&B groups, not any more than the Ronettes were the greatest of Spector's stable of "pet" production projects (The Crystals and especially Darlene Love spring to mind there), but they definitely deserve credit as largely responsible for their era's advancement of black American music into the dominant popular form of 20th century. Though the charts were littered with pop vocal groups in the 1950s, the Drifters' evolution of straightforward doo-wop into full-fledged orchestrations and overwhelming success and popularity influenced artists across many genres as that decade gave way to the 1960s.

There would arguably be no Wall of Sound without the Drifters', who also happened to serve as the penultimate production vehicle of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (whose shared denial of a place on the Immortals list is borderline criminal). There would also be no Motown without the blueprint set by Leiber and Stoller's efforts with the Drifters, which fused pre-soul rhythm and blues to lush pop arrangements, yet still remained, unmistakably, "rock and roll."

Wedding orchestral strings and brass to the fledgling sounds of young R&B hardly seems like a revolutionary act today, but it is also telling that seemingly every genre-of-the-moment now "matures" into replicating exactly that once it becomes sufficiently mainstream today.

Oh, and they might actually have been the best of the early R&B vocal groups to boot. More than enough reason to warrant inclusion on this list.

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