Yesterday I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and once again the Guardians of the Galaxy did what they do best: put together a kickass soundtrack. The best song they have playing in their adventures this time around is Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” which prompts man-hunk Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord to declare Cooke one of the greatest singers of all time. I agree, and this song is a major reason why:
Props also to Lou Rawls who sang the backing vocals and would go on to release his own version later.
In keeping with the music spirit, today I will be continuing the closer look at artists listed on Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s T-shirt at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that I started two weeks ago. This post will peruse some featured discography of those listed in the seventh-twelfth lines of Ament’s torso top. Once again, feel free to dig deeper into all of these acts. Who knows? You just might find your new favorite song or artist.
Love – These Los Angeles guys are known to get trippy from time to time, but they always stay chill. Their best known is probably “Alone Again Or”.
Lenny Kravitz – This guitar guru is one of the first artists I ever liked. Growing up in the 1990s I heard a lot of music that derived from rock and roll, but Lenny Kravitz rose above the rest by tapping into the hard and heavy roots of garage rock while infusing his own stylings. He managed to produce music that blended powerchords with ’90s pop, and he definitely influenced the music culture of rock and beyond. I like a lot of his stuff, including “Dig In”, “Again”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”, and his cover of “American Woman”, but his best still remains “Fly Away”.
The Cult – These Brits added to a rich alternative hard rock atmosphere in the U.K. during the ’80s and ’90s and still perform today. They nabbed a few hits, but none so deservingly notable than “She Sells Sanctuary”. Trust me, you’ve heard it before.
Dinosaur Jr. – They are not actually young dinosaurs, but don’t let that disappoint you because they had to change their name from its original Dinosaur because they were sued by a supergroup made of rockstars from other bands. They still aren’t actual dinosaurs of any age, but they did make “Feel the Pain” which is not at all painful to listen to.
King Diamond – Named after the stage name of their lead singer who seems to have done the juggalo makeup thing first, this Danish heavy metal band has a bit of a Metallica vibe. Try “Welcome Home” on for size.
Minor Threat – This D.C. group shows that punk is for Americans too. Take a listen to “I Don’t Wanna Hear It”.
Minutemen – More proof that Americans can play punk rock, these guys were known for playing on the cheap, which inadvertently led to them helping usher in alternative rock. Take a taste of “This Ain’t No Picnic”.
Misfits – This U.S. punk group has a little more metal in them, which you can hear even in the doowoppy “Saturday Night”.
The Monkees – The fabricated American answer to The Beatles in many respects, The Monkees were an odd creation of entertainment marketing. The four man band was formed as the focus of a television show about band trying to hit the big time. Funny thing is, they actually did. So much so that they continued to be a band years after the show ended. However, their greatest achievement was undoubtedly surpassing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in sales for a time in the late 1960s.
The Monkees scored some memorable hits like “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville”, but my favorite is “I’m a Believer”.
Motorhead – No offense to The Monkees and the aforementioned punk groups, but let’s get back to the heavy metal sound of hard rock and roll. Motorhead is one of the best of these from the U.K. or anywhere yet to be placed in their rightful spot in the Rock Hall. With the gruff vocals of leadman Lemmy Kilmister powered out hits like “Overkill”, “We Are the Road Crew”, and “The Game”, but you can always count on their best to be at the top of the deck:
Mountain – Let’s keep the hard stuff out and roll on down the steep peak that is Mountain. Formed in New York in 1969 (giggle), these rockers brought their big guns to Woodstock and the avalanche that ensued laid the groundwork for heavy metal bands of the future. I’m sure you remember this one from Guitar Hero:
Always a trusty cure for fevers that need more cowbell.
Mudhoney – The Seattle Sound was a major movement in American music in the late 1980s and early 1990s helping to from grunge and hard alternative rock. Acts like Nirvana and Jeff Ament’s own Pearl Jam may have been the biggest to come out of the Emerald City (no, really, that’s its nickname), but plenty of other groups helped make that sound happen, and Ament and his buddies clearly remember the influence of Mudhoney. Take a dose of “Touch Me I’m Sick” and call me in the morning.
Nick Cave – The man at the front of The Bad Seeds, Cave is known as the “Prince of Darkness” of rock and roll because of his often occult subject matter. If you feel like crawling down into the depths to take a listen might I recommend “Red Right Hand”?
Nina Simone – Ooh yeah, sing that soulful music, Nina! This bluesy, jazzy stuff has got me “Feeling Good”, how about you?
Nine Inch Nails – Trent Reznor started his band in Cleveland, and it seems that it’s going to end up there in the not too distance future. Reznor is and always has been the primary producer of NIN’s work which is the epitome of industrial rock. It takes an acquired taste or at least the right mood to dig through Reznor’s library for those of us who aren’t David Fincher, but it can be rewarding. Still, my favorites are a little more well known like “Closer”, “Head Like a Hole”, and “The Hand That Feeds”, yet the soft strings and devastating lyrics and finish of “Hurt” will always be his best.
PJ Harvey – Polly Jean Harvey is her full name, and she has performed with a few bands, including the aforementioned Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but her own act is the best example of her musical mojo. Try on “Dress” and see how it fits you.
Richard Hell – Another punk rocker who is on track for inclusion thanks to his song “Blank Generation”, which he made with his band The Voidoids, being selected as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
T. Rex – Just as is the case with Dinosaur Jr., none of these guys are actually dinosaurs, however, they did make “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, so that’s gotta count for something.
Roxy Music – Remember Brian Eno (old sourpuss) from a couple weeks ago? He played synthesizer in the original lineup for Roxy Music! And they made some fun songs with an eclectic electric feel that helped shape many genres. My favorite is one that still gets a good amount of radio playtime:
Judas Priest – These guys are in for sure and it shouldn’t be long, especially since they have been on the ballot before. Not to mention a litany of hits such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Painkiller”. My favorite is “Living After Midnight”.
The Sonics – This ’60s garage rock band made a name for themselves with a selection of inventive covers on songs like “Have Love, Will Travel”, “Louie, Louie”, “Night Time is the Right Time”, “Walking the Dog”, and “I’m a Man”, but they rollicked plenty with their own jams too. The Sonics have served as inspiration for many famous acts as from Bruce Springsteen to Jack White, and undoubtedly many garage and grunge rock performers to follow will also cite them as an influence. Try some of their stuff like “Strychnine”, “Psycho”, “The Witch”. My favorite of theirs is “Maintaining My Cool”.
Soundgarden – Another fellow of Pearl Jam from the Seattle Sound grunge movement, Soundgarden is driven by frontman Chris Cornell whose vocals and lyrics are an excellent compliment to any rock act. Soundgarden has many well known songs like “Fell on Black Days”, “Spoonman”, “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Blow Up the Outside World”, however, their best is the surreal, non-sequitur nonsense of angst that is “Black Hole Sun” with a music video to match:
The tuning of the sixth string doesn’t seem to be the only thing dropped in that song….
Steppenwolf – One of the most incredible omissions to date, Steppenwolf is hugely influential as one of the premiere hard rock bands of the 1960s. Hits like “Magic Carpet Ride”, “The Pusher”, “Rock Me”, and “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” pushed the bounds of rock and roll with power, psychedelia, and all around top quality lyrics, vocals, and music. John Kay has been at the forefront of the band from its rise in the late ’60s to the present, and Steppenwolf has been at the forefront of rock and roll influence for the same timespan, and looks to be forever, so their inclusion is going to come, hopefully sooner than later because Steppenwolf is the most deserving of all the acts on Ament’s shirt. Look no further than the fact that they created the term “heavy metal” in what is often considered the first heavy metal song, their immortal “Born to Be Wild”
The Damned – We finish today’s post by moving from the first heavy metal song to the first album releasing British punk band. The Damned churned out Damned Damned Damned in 1977, but they sent this shot to the airwaves the previous year:
“New Rose” is another of the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs the Shaped Rock and Roll, and The Damned are another band that will be in there someday.
Thanks for reading and listening again! Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unless something crazy happens in the next week, part three of this Jeff Ament’s shirt study will continue next Monday.
Keep rockin’ that roll,