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Old 14.09.2002, 09:00   #1
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Post The 50 Greatest Bands of All Time

The 50 Greatest Bands of All Time 1-25
The band is back. During the past year or so, the pop world has completed a cycle that began in the mid-1990s. Back then, with grunge flannel on Macy's mannequins, the band model seemed a bit tired. Rappers, dancing teens, and DJs took over the pop charts, MTV, and magazines. Then, gradually, bands crept back. Groups like Creed, Incubus, System of a Down, and, most notably, Staind and Linkin Park have spent serious time in the Top 10. Once again, the band dynamic -- people interacting as musicians, friends, enemies, or fellow drug-addled lunatics -- is capturing our imagination. So here's our look at 50 great bands from the 1960s forward. To qualify, these groups had to have a roof-raising, history-changing sound, presence, or hairstyle. They also had to clearly influence today's music in undeniable ways. Finally, they had to be bands that we care about deeply. We hope you will, too

With John Lennon's legacy turned into an advertising fire sale, with Paul McCartney's 400 silly-ass love songs to wife Linda, with legions of baby-boom Beatlemaniacs still nattering on about "real music," why do these blokes remain so beloved? And why are they Spin's No. 1 band, more than 30 years after their last proper album? Well, check this scenario: Imagine if, over the course of about five years, 'N Sync (circa "Bye Bye Bye") evolved into Radiohead (circa The Bends), into the Chemical Brothers (circa Exit Planet Dust), and into Nirvana (circa In Utero). That was the Beatles from, say, 1964 to 1969. Their music didn't quite revolutionize the planet, but it blew up the world of pop culture and basically created the rock-band statutes that all musical youth end up following, sooner or later. (For instance, they're the reason your favorite band is so annoyingly anxious to "experiment" with its "sound.") They also made shaggy hair, acid-as-inspiration, and sampling (via the Mellotron) almost acceptable. And, oh yeah, they managed to break up before they started to **** (which cannot be said of most of their peers). After they disbanded, Lennon angrily sang, "I don't believe in Beatles," but the rest of us better recognize. P.S.: R.I.P., George. CHARLES AARON

Influenced: Beastie Boys, Blur, Oasis, the Chemical Brothers, Steve Earle, the Flaming Lips, Elliott Smith, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Jimi Hendrix, all boy bands -- oh, forget it: everyone!
Classic albums: Revolver (Capitol, 1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol, 1967)

Punk exists because of the false assumption that the Ramones can be imitated. "1-2-3-4!" Three chords. "Second verse, same as the first." Technically speaking, it's simple. Legend has it that in every city where the Ramones played in support of their 1976 debut, a handful of punk kids started up bands, thinking that they could do it, too. But the Ramones' loud-fast style masked a pop genius. Slow their tempos, and you've got Beach Boys melodies. Replace lyrics about sniffin' glue and eatin' refried beans, and you've got the Ronettes. Give everyone matching leather jackets, and you've got the punk rock Beatles. Just four lads from Queens who birthed thousands of bands, then blew each one away. Like sharks, they didn't evolve -- they didn't need to. MARC SPITZ

Influenced: Green Day, Blink-182, Sum-41, U2, the Offspring, Sleater-Kinney, the Donnas, Black Flag, the Clash, the Sex Pistols -- oh, forget it: everyone!
Classic album: Ramones (Sire, 1976)

At this point, if you're a male rock fan and don't know when to jump off the sofa and assume the air-guitar position for "Stairway to Heaven" (that's around the 6:20 mark on The Song Remains the Same), then you probably should be deported. An institution like the Catholic Church, Zeppelin had its tenets. John "Bonzo" Bonham's drumming on "When the Levee Breaks" was (and still is) rock's beating heart. Robert Plant's horny, blues-fairy voice screeched like a cat on a hot plate, and that was its mojo. Jimmy Page may have been a power-mad elf with a thing for the occult and young blonde waifs, but his guitar riffs were so majestic that he almost sounded like he was playing on top of a castle. Insane British degenerates the lot of them, but as a rock band, they proved a driving life-force for society's burned-out and shat-upon. C.A.

Influenced: Tool, Limp Bizkit, Tori Amos, P. Diddy, Pearl Jam, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, Jeff Buckley
Classic album: Led Zeppelin IV (1971, Atlantic)

For the time (1972 to '74) that vocalists/songwriters Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny "Wailer" Livingston rolled with the turbine-powered Barrett brothers rhythm section, the Wailers were the world's most spellbinding band -- posse deep with blue harmonies, ace melodies, political fire, and a spirit-stirring groove that made cinder blocks shimmy. The stunning Catch a Fire, the album that first converted pop fans to reggae, was released in Britain in 1973 (with some shady "rock" overdubs); and live, the band blew away any doubters. WILL HERMES

Influenced: Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean (the Fugees), Dave Matthews Band, Wu-Tang Clan, Rage Against the Machine, Rancid, Manu Chao, Macy Gray, the Clash
Classic album: Burnin' (Tuff Gong/Island, 1973)

In January 1992, three flannel-wearing dirtballs from the Pacific Northwest ousted the King of Pop at No. 1 on Billboard's pop albums chart. Who could've known it would be an amp-shattering coup d'etat? As "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became a radio anthem, rock began to shed its glossy skin and come of age all over again. An impassioned but self-loathing frontman, Kurt Cobain didn't survive to see the slew of bands flailing in Nirvana's fuzz-filled wake. But his raw nerve of a voice rewrote rock angst in permanent black marker. CARYN GANZ

Influenced: The Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Everclear, Bush, Foo Fighters, Staind, At the Drive-In, Hole, Garbage, Nickelback, Silverchair, so-called Generation X
Classic album: Nevermind (Geffen, 1991)

The most deliriously dead-on funk band ever to land a spaceship onstage (Parliament) and the most raggedly powerful punk-metal band (Funkadelic) ever to **** your soul, P-Funk were two sides of mystic mastermind George Clinton's brain, off -- and on -- drugs. It was Bernie Worrell's classical keyboard rapture and Eddie Hazel's guitar-antihero tragedy. It was bassist Bootsy Collins humpin' the groove in a superfly spacesuit. It was Clinton, the mad ringmaster, somehow finding the funk amid dozens of iconoclastic crazies. The collective's influence is staggering. Remove the P-Funk samples from Dr. Dre's The Chronic, and you've got a roomful of fake pimps smoking the recording budget. C.A.

Influenced: OutKast, Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Detroit techno, Prince, Afrika Bambaataa and Zulu Nation, De La Soul, Fishbone
Classic album: Parliament -- Mothership Connection (Casablanca, 1976); Funkadelic -- Maggot Brain (Westbound, 1971)


Why do punks still write anarchist slogans on their jeans? Why do white people pretend to like dub? Why did rock music stay alive past 1976? The Clash were probably the second most ambitious rock band in history (after those Beatles guys), using punk's DIY spirit to embrace as many sounds, emotions, and ideas as humanly possible -- from flamethrowing rebel rock to blues-talkin' reggae, from street angst to global leftism. Songwriters/guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon, and drummers Topper Headon and Terry Chimes (who replaced each other three times) turned rage into religion. The world gave them rubble, and they built a church. JON DOLAN

Influenced: System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, Bad Religion, the Offspring, Rancid, Sublime
Classic album: London Calling (Epic, 1979)

With hype man Flavor Flav's huge clock necklace announcing that P.E. really knew the time and were maybe even holding it hostage, this posse of Long Island college men caught late-'80s hip-hop as it reached awkward adolescence and shot it up with searing politics and rapid-fire funk. Barking ministerial rhymes over urgently dense, air-raiding sound collages (care of the Bomb Squad production team), Chuck D fought a loud and proud campaign against racism, the media, and his own comrades-in-arms. C.G.

Influenced: N.W.A/Dr. Dre, Rage Against the Machine, the Chemical Brothers, DJ Shadow, Dead Prez, Tricky, the Coup
Classic album: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam, 1988)

There was a time -- most of us weren't there -- when it made perfect sense to call the Rolling Stones "The World's Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band" (and if they'd dropped a good album in the past 20 years of trying, they'd be much higher on this list). Nobody played rhythmic lead guitar better than Keith Richards, at least while wearing a scarf and smoking a fag. Mick Jagger had lips and hips and a knack for spitting words that made everybody feel dirty and violated but like it. Drummer Charlie Watts fronted like a jazz cat, convincingly. Back when white boys wanted to rock the blues, the Stones swung fabulously, with reverence and nastiness, structure and chaos. And when the '60s and '70s got ugly, they leered and rubbed it in our faces. They also refined the use of models as mandatory arm candy. NICK SCOBY

Influenced: Aerosmith, Black Crowes, Stone Temple Pilots, Buckcherry, Liz Phair, Ryan Adams, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Classic album: Exile on Main St. (Virgin, 1972)

Like many great rock phenomena, the Beastie Boys began as comedy. Inspired by Run-D.M.C.'s beats and New York City's early-'80s culture mash, three haute-bohemian defectors from the Manhattan punk scene -- Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and rubber-faced Adam "King Ad-Rock" Horovitz -- kicked it like Long Island burnouts in Kangol. Hip-hop beats plus metal guitars? Snotty raps by smartass white boys? Now it seems almost inevitable. But as devised by producer/guru Rick Rubin in 1986, it was astonishing. The Boys' debut full-length, Licensed to Ill, became Billboard's first No. 1 rap album on the strength of the single "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)," an "anthem" whose irony disintegrated upon hitting the airwaves. From then on, Beastie echoes were hardwired into every attempt by a white person to bust a rhyme or freak a beat. Licensed became the most influential rock record of the past 15 years. Feuding with their label, the Beasties later fled to Los Angeles, exploring sampladelia with the Dust Brothers on 1989's genius Paul's Boutique. By 1992's Check Your Head, they were no longer rap or rock but curators of world youth culture. Going Buddhist and promoting political causes, they invented an entirely new persona: the engaged post-wiseass. CHRIS NORRIS

Influenced: Eminem, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Sum-41, skaters, snowboarders, Jackass, etc.
Classic album: Licensed to Ill (Def Jam/Columbia, 1986)

If you're a goth, a junkie, a chain-smoking stand-up comedian, a wearer of sunglasses at nightЙLou Reed and John Cale circa 1967 are the guys you wanna be: wired on cool, miserable on cool, scared to death of cool on Sunday morning. If you only stared at their photos, you might imagine the music was cold and jaded (especially when German chanteuse Nico was out front), but you can't be New York City's coolest without having a hopelessly romantic side. For every dope-and-drone guitar epic ("Heroin" or "Sister Ray"), there's the heartbreaking "Pale Blue Eyes" (which inspired an entire subgenre of sleepy-eyed indie-rockers) or the darkly wistful "Candy Says." And, like the best writers, they were also funny as **** (check out "The Gift," which ain't about Christmas). M.S.

Influenced: Sonic Youth, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Strokes, R.E.M., Pavement, Low, Luna, Mazzy Star
Classic album: The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve, 1967)

There is funky, and then there is the Family Stone. So sweet were their melodies and sunny their spirit that it's easy to forget how deep in the world of dark stankiness this crew dwelled. With a sexually and racially integrated band, Sly Stone played the utopian bandleader/keyboardist, and along with slap-bass pioneer Larry Graham, he forged scores of phat and twitchy tracks ("Dance to the Music," "I Want to Take You Higher"). Then came 1971, when a disgusted and confused Sly strafed his own music, lobbing bombs at Nixon, Vietnam, and his naive audience. C.N.

Influenced: Prince, OutKast, Curtis Mayfield, Miles Davis
Classic album: There's a Riot Goin' On (Epic, 1971)

Alternately the world's most sincere and insincere rock stars, Ireland's U2 went from flag-waving Christians to America-fixated artistes to stardom-mocking, stadium-rocking provocateurs. During recent years, Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton, just into their 40s, reminded youngsters what a rock band looks, acts, and sounds like, embracing the original passion that made millions want to follow. ANDREW BEAUJON

Influenced: Negativland, the 1980s
Classic album: The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987)

With their matching red Adidas tracksuits, shell-toes, and black fedoras (!), Queens strivers Joey Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (D.M.C.) were the first rappers to consciously "keep it real." Before them, you could do skits in a pirate outfit and get over. But after, the look became "real B-boy." Run-D.M.C. sounded B-boy, too, trading blustery syllables like brothers battling on either side of your head, while a drum machine seemed to malfunction, hard. Their "Rock Box" video aired on MTV in 1984 (a hip-hop first), with Afro'd Eddie Martinez on metal-wailin' guitar. People called rap the "new rock," especially when the fellas skunked Aerosmith on the Top 10 cover of "Walk This Way." They were right. C.A.

Influenced: Beastie Boys, Aerosmith, L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, N.W.A, Korn, all rap-rock, all Adidas-wearers
Classic album: Raising Hell (Profile, 1986)

On 1995's The Bends, Radiohead were a compelling young Britpop band, but with follow-up OK Computer, they spooked rock fans into a new level of obsession. The album's brooding minor chords and white-noise buzz grew more claustrophobic with each track, even as Thom Yorke's personal-yet-impersonal lyrics made songs about car crashes and crushed insects somehow moving. Newer bands began to cop Radiohead's paranoid but confessional, slurry but catchy approach. In response, they sighed deeply and recorded Kid A, somehow transforming glitchy prog rock into classic pop. JENNY WILLIAMS

Influenced: Travis, Sigur R—s, Coldplay, Clinic, JJ72, Doves, Elbow, Wes Borland (formerly of Limp Bizkit)
Classic album: OK Computer (Capitol, 1997)

Jimi Hendrix is the ultimate guitar god -- a SeattleРviaРSouthern chitlin' circuit blues master who could sing like a soul man and transform Stratocaster feedback into a symbol of sexual abandon or crushing despair. With only three studio albums, the Experience (Noel Redding, bass, Mitch Mitchell, drums) followed him like exuberant jazzheads, tracking Hendrix's restless mind wherever it convulsed and blasting rock apart in the process. All other guitarists warm themselves next to his fire. DAVID J. PRINCE

Influenced: Lenny Kravitz, OutKast, Trey Anastasio, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Miles Davis, the Temptations
Classic album: Are You Experienced (Reprise, 1967)

The world's greatest punk-rock jam band, and more. While former art critic/bassist Kim Gordon's come-hither sneer set the stage for a generation of riot grrrls, her hubby, Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo tortured their weirdly tuned guitars, and drummer Steve Shelley grounded the noise with a backbeat that was just as powerful and imaginative. Maybe they weren't on bad drugs, but their music sure sounded like it. Sonic Youth defined the twisted sound of downtown Manhattan, clanging damaged truth and confessing satanic majesty. Later, as thirtysomethings with bills to pay, they signed to a major label and opened the floodgates for other underground bands, and grunge poured forth. W.H.

Influenced: What we once referred to as "alternative rock"
Classic album: Daydream Nation (Enigma, 1988)

"Sink the Pink," "Love at First Feel," "Given the Dog a Bone." Omitting anything remotely clever from their double entendres, AC/DC cleared a path straight from "Good Golly Miss Molly" to "I wanna **** you like an animal!" Bon Scott's pub wail and Angus Young's randy schoolboy riffs tempted many imitators, but AC/DC had big balls to fill. When Scott passed out forever in 1980, Brian Johnson (and his cap) moved in with impossible ease and gave gravelly voice to the eternally nasty Back in Black (still issued to strippers at orientation). So, from those about to dance to those about to rock, we salute you (cue cannon fire!). M.S.

Influenced: Every hair-metal band that ever existed
Classic album: High Voltage (Atco, 1976)

Like most "godfathers of punk," Iggy Stooge (later Pop) was a wired **** -up liable to bring his whole crew down in the broken glass with him. But his cohorts, especially guitarist Ron Asheton, framed Iggy's self-destruction in such pointedly blasted, assembly-line riffage that the whole thing ended up as classic Detroit folk art: auto-plant noise and Motown shimmy, meth jitters and wah-wah groove -- the blueprint for everything fast, sexy, and grungy to come. C.N.

Influenced: Jane's Addiction, Sex Pistols, Royal Trux, Birthday Party, P-Funk, any band that asks fans to throw things at them
Classic album: Fun House (Elektra, 1970)

Sweaty T-shirts, punk attitude, and rap-style reality were not heavy-metal hallmarks when this unpretty quartet showed up. Playing crazy-fast and precise, Metallica became the world's leading hard-rock manufacturer -- replacing dragon-slayer fantasias with epic reports on madness, drug addiction, and military brutality. With their chunk-chunk grandeur, snarling singer/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, and blistering guitarist Kirk Hammett landed metal's ultimate tribute: Beavis' T-shirt. C.N.

Influenced: Slipknot, Papa Roach, the Smashing Pumpkins, DJ Shadow, Static-X, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden
Classic album: Master of Puppets (Elektra, 1986)

The pinnacle of wistful, bitter pop, the Smiths formed in industrial Manchester, England, during the early 1980s. Johnny Marr's louder-than-bombs guitar orchestras and Morrissey's wonderfully stricken, Oscar WildeРdamaged lyrics touched a nerve that still quivers today in every emo band, every ridiculously self-conscious singer, and every bridge-cable-taut rhythm section. A.B.

Influenced: Radiohead, Moby, Belle and Sebastian
Classic album: The Queen Is Dead (Rough Trade/Sire, 1986)

It's not often that an artist takes naked hero worship -- borrowed clothes, riffs, mannerisms, and attitude -- and turns it into something exciting. Those who can, like Oasis, owe a debt to Patti Smith, rock's original fetishist. A poet and rock critic from New Jersey, Smith didn't keep her crushes -- the poet Rimbaud, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan -- confined to a shrine; she became the shrine. Her tough-nut band, led by guitarist Lenny Kaye, recorded a masterpiece debut, Horses, and two other almost-greats (Radio Ethiopia, Easter). Then, after inspiring a generation of tomboy rockers (male and female), Smith chose motherhood over rock. M.S.

Influenced: R.E.M., Hole, Garbage, Fiona Apple, Pretenders
Classic album: Horses (Arista, 1975)

With a name that's still unspoken by most reasonable people (that's Niggaz With Attitude, kids!), Ice Cube rapping devilish pulp fiction, and producer Dr. Dre kicking the wickedly funky tracks, N.W.A caused even the hardest New York City MC to blush and cower. The L.A. crew answered racism and poverty by verbally shotgunning police and claiming that life ain't nothing but bitches and money. They dropped West Coast gang mythology into America's front yard, then left it there to breed. Ever since, it's been nuthin' but a "gangsta" thing. C.A.

Influenced: Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, M.O.P., P. Diddy, the Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Axl Rose, Geto Boys
Classic album: Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless/ Priority, 1988)

For 30 years, Kraftwerk have cast themselves as nattily dressed robots, melding man with machine, pioneering the use of drum machines, synthesizers, and digital gadgetry. They put the bleep into hip-hop ("Planet Rock"), paved the way for new wave, and invented modern techno (at least technically). Any German intellectuals who can cause an entire region of America (the South) to devise a genre of music honoring our most exceptional body part (the booty) should be celebrated. D.J.P.

Influenced: Daft Punk, Radiohead, Richie Hawtin, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, Juan Atkins, Devo, Carl Craig, Mouse on Mars, the Residents
Classic album: Trans-Europe Express (Capitol, 1977)

If you think that the Sex Pistols "couldn't play" and therefore weren't a "great band," then go stick pins in your Sid Vicious voodoo doll. The fact remains that singer/trickster Johnny Rotten ripped a hole in the middle of the 1970s and howled nasty realness out the other side. And whoever played on their first (and only real) album quaked like a double-shot of Quadrophenia. C.A.

Influenced: Bands since 1976 that intentionally try to scandalize and "scam" the media, bands that spit
Classic album: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (Warner Bros., 1977)

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