Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The Final Installment: Top 10 Is Complete! It is now safe for me to fly and end up stranded on a tropical island with a CD player and unlimited batteries forever.

Roxy Music - If There is Something - Viva! Live Roxy Music

First of all, this Roxy Music live album should be the only live album they ever released, because it rules, and their other ones, well, I think they leave something to be desired. There is an every and crispness to these performances that I don't hear on later live albums. It's sort of amazing, they never really had a full time bass player. Between live preformaces and studio sessions, they had more than 10 different bass players play with them (maybe you don't think that's amazing, but bass players are much more important than a lot of people realize).

I think that Bryan Ferry is one of those guys who is polarizing to a lot of music fans - you either really like him or you really do not like him. There is a certain pretentiousness about him that can be off-putting - he doesn't seem like the kind of guy you would want to sit down and have a beer with. (Isn't it amazing the traits that we assign to rock stars, I mean, I don't know the guy, but I am willing to state publicly that I would not have a beer with him. Talk about judging a book by its cover!) But he has a cool voice, a good look, he is very sure of himselg, and he likes what he is doing. When he let's it fly at the end of this one, it's sweeping and glorious, and he takes you with him - right back - when you were young.

Phil Manzanera had a great look in the 70's, with long hair and outrageous outfits. He was more than serviceable on guitar as well, although Ferry wrote almost all of their music. Basically, you look at him and say, "well, let me guess. This is where British art-rock came from right?"

This song in particular shows a lot of what makes Roxy Music so great, and powerful live performers in the 70's. Nice long solos help build from a simple beginning. By the time the guitar solo and violin solos come, it's a completely different song. Then, in the final section. Ferry really lets us have it. What a joy.

The posted video here is from The Old Grey Whistle Test, which is must viewing for anyone who likes 70's and 80's live performaces. Just look at him in this video - Ferry's look is no less than 10 years ahead of its time. And is that Brain Eno on keys? Oh my.

I also have to mention that they were #98 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest bands ever. I am sorry, but that is just plain wrong. It makes me crazy to think about it.

Last, and not least...

U2 - Walk On - from America: A Tribute to Heroes

There was no way U2 was not going to make this list. I consider them the best band of all time. We can argue about it forever if you want, but that's how I think of them. They have produced 3 of the 10 albums of all-time: The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby! and All That You Can't Leave Behind. That's remarkable, to have created truly seminal albums THREE TIMES in their career. And my absolute favorite show I have ever seen in person was not Phish, but U2, at Target Center in 2001. We were behind the stage, and paid $55 per ticket, but they made it worth every single penny. For three hours I was in almost total and complete ecstasy. They know how to give a live performace.

There's a lot of good stuff on the Tribute to Heroes discs. Mariah Carey singing America the Beautiful with Willie Nelson still gives poor Willie nightmares I am sure. Neil Young's Imagine performance was also amazing. But the best performance of all was U2, in a studio by themselves, singing their signature single of that time, Walk On. (They were closing most shows with it at the time, with PEACE written in many different languages spinning around the arena. U2 walks the line between awesome and lame, emotional and cheese, more than any other band I know. They often cross over it, but most of the time they are right on it, and the results are beautiful).

From the beginning softly spoken words "I'm sick of hearing/ again and again/ that there's never gonna be/ peace on earth", and his "Goodnight from London" (always reminds me that there was no flying still at the end of that week), you know they are not going to mail in this performace. And while they stay under control the whole time, I think you can see some strain on their faces, even these guys (Edge is possibly the coolest individual of all-time). There are so many lines that get me in this one, like, "we're packing a suitcase for a place/ none of us has been/ a place that has to be believed/ to be seen". Then in the end his promise: "See you when I get home!" Well, it sends the softer ones among us to the brink of emotional release. Even to this day. It's an amazing performace, and it's connection to 9/11 makes it that much more poignant, without taking emotional advantage. A few months later, they performed at halftime of the Super Bowl, another incredible scene. That might be the best Super Bowl halftime ever (although if you put a gun to my head, I would probably say Prince in 2007 was the best ever, I mean, he was able to make it rain in Miami for the love og God. Who else could do that?)

That's it! The List is complete! Here is the final tally:

  1. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks

  2. Bad Religion - Skyscraper

  3. The Velvet Underground - Heroin

  4. Phish - Harry Hood (live)

  5. Felix Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in e minor

  6. Coldplay - The Hardest Part

  7. Neil Young w/ The Band - Helpless (live)

  8. Dave Matthews Band - Seek Up (live)

  9. Roxy Music - If There is Something (live)

  10. U2 - Walk On - (live)

Four songs that start with H. 5 songs that feature a violin/viola at some point. 5 LIVE recordings. I didn't set out to make that happen, it just did, but I guess it is not THAT surprising. I might have to publish the list of songs that came close but fell short. And I'll burn mp3 discs for anyone who wants one!

1 comment:

ArtShare said...

Good list ya' got there! I actually don't know quite a handful of those songs so I'll look forward to a listening, drinking beer session soon. You have a new nudger yet?!