Lee Hazlewood came to be known as a songwriter for, and vocalist with, the wonderful Nancy Sinatra. But he was far, far more than that. Listening to his solo material, it’s hard not to be won over by the deadpan idiosyncrasies that pervade his songs and delivery. Wry humour, outright quirkiness, and a wistful sense of loss are Lee’s calling cards. A wonderful musician, the leading light of “Cowboy Psychedelia”. But most importantly, he’s utterly, unapologetically himself.
Formed in 1976 by guitar maestro Andy Gill, vocalist Jon King, drummer Hugo Burnham, and bassist Dave Allen, Gang of Four produced some of the most crucial music of the late 70s-early 80s. Acerbic, satirical lyrics that were extremely socially aware were the group’s calling card, as was Gill’s formidable guitar work. The rhythm section generally laid down hard funk grooves, yet the music was spare, angular, jagged. A critical assemblage.
The Australian-born Nick Cave delivers his poetic, visionary compositions with mind-boggling intensity and fervor. Bad Seeds Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, and others support Mr. Cave in his oft-times dark, tormented sojourn through the hinterlands. These performances are fierce, cathartic, electric.
One of the premier pure shooters we’ve ever encountered, Purvis Short was quite capable of finding creative ways to score, as well. He averaged a healthy 28.0 ppg in 1984-85. It always seemed so easy, almost casual. A vastly undervalued star. And, as far as sheer beauty is concerned, his silky-smooth, high-arcing jumper is at or near the top of the heap.
Vocalist/keyboardist Burton Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman led the Canadian band The Guess Who to legend and lore by the late sixties. Personnel changes ensued, with Bachman leaving to form BTO, and Cummings pursued a solo career. The band, though, touched the skies during their heyday. Randy Bachman’s composing and guitar skills were instrumental. Cummings leaves a legacy as one of the greatest vocalists ever to walk the earth.
In closing…the development of the BTO hit You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet deserves a read. Here.
The Lovin’ Spoonful, led by John Sebastian, and guitarist Zal Yanovsky, was formed in 1965, and produced a cavalcade of very distinctive hits until their 1969 breakup. Sebastian, though, carried on, and had more magic up his sleeve. A great composer, performer, and person.
The serial predator and killer Martin Vanger appears in both the American and Swedish iterations of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He is equally disquieting in both. Peter Haber portrays Vanger in the 2009 Swedish release, and Stellan Skarsgård does the honors for the 2011 American film. Both performances are brilliant, and chilling.
Jim Brown is the consensus pick of most experts as the greatest running back in NFL history. I, myself, never witnessed Brown work his magic on Sundays; for those players, see Vol 1 and 2 of The Great Running Backs. Brown gets one of his own. A remarkable blend of power, speed, desire, and elusiveness was #32.
Sanders and Sayers could both cut full-speed on a dime. Human highlight reels, and 2 of the 4 greatest backs I’ve ever seen. See Vol. 1.
Badfinger, a Welsh/English group primarily known for their early 70s work, were led by Pete Ham, and featured also Tom Evans and Joey Molland. A truly great, and too-oft forgotten band.