Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Telegraph has published a list of the Top 10 all-time American Rock bands - here's my infinitely superior version

Little Feat
The Telegraph list (here) includes some odd choices. The Band - perhaps the greatest North American rock band of all time - were 80% Canadian, as the Telegraph admits; Bruce Springsteen isn’t a band; Jimi Hendrix wasn’t a band (and if he was, two-thirds of it was British); R.E.M produced some good stuff but (to my ears at least) were more New Wave pop than rock; The Ramones were fun, but they were a punk outfit, and extremely limited; Metallica were after my time (and, apart from their version of “Whiskey in the Jar”, I haven’t liked anything of theirs I’ve heard)...

...Nirvana were also after my time, and, while I love a few of their tracks, I’ve never quite recovered from this Chris Morris parody; Aerosmith – some good stuff, but they’re more of an accomplished Stones tribute act (only with even bigger lips) than a truly original band in their own right.

I’ll give them Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who initially struck me as Dylan and Byrds rip-off merchants, but who I’ve grown to appreciate over the years. And The Doors, of course (I know this will annoy at least one of my regular visitors, but I’ve admitted my partiality to this band on several occasions, despite the fact that Jim Morrison was a pretentious, drunken nob).

Leaving those aside, here – for the handful of you who actually care about this sort of stuff – is the alternative Grønmark Blog list of genuinely great – and genuinely American – rock bands (heavily weighted in favour of the Sixties and Seventies, because I’m like well old innit):

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival
The compiler of the Telegraph list must be either under 45 or deaf (or both) to have left out this fabulous outfit. I suggest he (or she) starts by listening to a greatest hits compilation album, and then posts an apology.

2. Little Feat
I’ll admit to not getting Little Feat when they first appeared on the scene. It wasn’t until the ‘90s that the scales fell from my ears. “Oh Atlanta”, “Fat Man in the Bathtub”, “Dixie Chicken” – for goodness’ sake! (Maybe the compiler just doesn’t like Southerners.)

3. The Allman Brothers Band
No, the compiler really doesn’t like Southerners.

4. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
As this lot hailed from Detroit, maybe the compiler doesn’t like Frozen Northerners either.

5. ZZ Top
A "dads' favourite", I know, but that alone can’t explain their exclusion. Maybe it's because they’re from Texas?

6. Buffalo Springfield
They were gone in the blink of an eye, but for sheer talent, originality and influence, they deserve to be on the list. Yes, there’s a heavy country tine, but they could rock when required. (I could have gone for CSN & Y, but while Stills and Young rocked as individuals, the band rarely did).

7. J. Geils Band
Too bluesy? Who cares?

8. The Grateful Dead
Too country? Too folk? Certainly, they were more convincing as the ultimate eclectic, rootsy Americana outfit, but they've afforded me so much aural pleasure over the years (?), I insist on including the befuddled old hippies.

9. Steve Miller Band
American. Rocked. Brilliant. Lots of hits. Filled stadiums. What’s the problem?

10. The Byrds
Yes, they had their heyday in the ‘60s, but for several years they were American Rock, albeit heavily folk and country-tinged – and they could rock with the best.

Lynyrd Skynyrd almost made the cut – and probably deserved to for “Sweet Home Alabama” alone – but I just don’t rate enough of their stuff. Ditto Blue Oyster Cult and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. The Box Tops tempted me. As did Blondie, the Flamin' Groovies, Eagles and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - but, for various reasons, none of them quite fit the bill.


  1. If the compiler doesn't like Southerners he shouldn't be putting together a list of rocknroll groups.

    Of course, there's no explaining the existence of the rocknroll hall of fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

    F****** Bruce Springsteen...troubadour of the rust belt proletariat...what a fu**** bore...and he never shuts up.

    I guess "groups" exclude individuals.

    I'm going to address this nonsense on my own blog.

    *&&^%ing Bruce Springsteen.

    1. At varous times I've almost liked Springsteen, but then worthinees and politics and SIGNIFICANCE rear their heads and I switch off - it's like we're all having to pay for him feeling guilty about him not being an unemployed steel worker stuck in some no-hope dump. He really needs to get over being talented, rich and successful. All that "Bruuuuuce" and "The Boss" stuff bore me too.

    2. I've fired the first of 10 salvos. would be a welcome addition at Mental Hygiene...just send me an email and i'll send you an invite.

  2. No "Canned Heat" or "Lovin' Spoonful" ? Always had a soft spot for the B52s. Apropos of nothing at all, I caught an appearance of our very own Freddie and the Dreamers on the Ed Sullivan Show on BBC4 the other night and felt a deep sense of shame.

  3. I've always been a admirer of both Canned Heat and John Sebastian's outfit (apart from the wanky guitarist who insisted on painfully unfunny "clowning" whenever they were on camera). I considered both for inclusion, but one was a pure rhythm 'n' blues act and the other were more pop folk/country - albeit bloody good at it.

    How Freddie Garrity did not regularly get his head stoved in for being the most annoying human being on the planet is a mystery - although, obviously, his recordings heavily influenced Led Zeppelin and convinced The Stones to go for a rootsier approach.

    I, too, have been watching the Ed Sullivan compilations, but I have tio fast forward through the bits where he has post-performance "chats" with embarrassed performers ("Sooo, where are you off to next?"). There's a horrifying sequence where he greets Jerry Lee Lewis by grappling with him, forcing his head down and mussing his hair up. I'm impressed that The Killer didn't just rip the old berk's throat out.

    1. Gronmark speaks for ageing Hipsters the world over with a list that should have the shamed Telegraph correspondent immediately seeking a transfer to the paper's gardening supplement.. It's great to see the Springfield and the underrated Steve Miller Band - great guitarist- recognised.

      And e.f., you have articulated what I have always felt about Springsteen and now I know it's not just because I'm English and don"t have a blue collar. Leave aside the fact that he has the most dull, humourless fans in the world. It's the music and the voice. There's a sort of bombastic pomposity about him and his vibrato, the absence of light and shade in the over- arrangements, the right on themes and the triumph of sweat over subtlety in his live performance. I think he's a bit of a phoney.

      "Hey Bruce, there's only four tunes on the album that sound like future crowd-rousing classics. We need another anthem or two"

      "OK. Give me 5 minutes. I was thinking of covering the working man's struggle against the system, for a change. Shall I sing them in my wobbly, sincere voice and throw in a few 'Wo Wo Hos' at the end, after Clarence's obligatory sax solo?".

      "Yep. Great. Worked the last fourteen times."

    2. You've got him dead. Ha...f***** saaaax.

      There's nothing wrong with your English ears or my Southern ones...Bruce is what we all hate most about America...loud, obnoxious, moralizing, wanna be tough guyz from the East Coast...:). are also welcome at Mental Hygeine.

      efredbar at yahoo mail

    3. Why thank you sir.

      Interesting clip of the Springfield which gives a couple of clues as to why sadly they only lasted a couple of years. After about 20 seconds of Mr Soul, Stephen Stills sees from the studio monitor that the camera's close-up on Neil Young means that he is out of shot. Cue small figure in large hat clutching a Gretsch White Falcon, shuffling across the stage to get in the frame, illustrating a clash of egos which would lead to the demise of the group and subsequently a couple of others in which the two of them played.

      After about a minute or so of wondering why there is no bass player, you notice a figure sitting down with his back to the camera. It's a roadie subbing for bassist Bruce Palmer who has been busted for marijuana possession and deported back to Canada. Ego, drugs, musical differences…a familiar tale. It's a shame. Buffalo Springfield was a more interesting group that the mega-successful CSNY and deserves its place in the Gronners Hall of Fame.

      I might have made a case for the Eagles instead of the Grateful Dead but Henley and Frey are such arses that I won't.