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.
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.
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 that was to be plagued by tragedy.
Mr. Harry Nilsson was unquestionably one of the premier songwriters of his generation. Witty, trenchant lyrics, frequently concerning isolation, accompanied wonderful melodies. When asked who his favourite American band was, John Lennon unhesitatingly replied “Nilsson”. As did Paul McCartney, for that matter.
Iconic singer-songwriter Emitt Rhodes died today. He left behind some of the most memorable music of his era, and on the recorded versions, he oft-times played every instrument. He will be missed.
Gifted with one of the most magnificent voices ever to be heard, Linda Ronstadt knew how to use it, as well. A vibrant performer with great presence, as is well-documented in the above vids. Can’t fault her material, either; she covered the likes of Emitt Rhodes, Warren Zevon, and Buddy Holly, to name just a few. A remarkable vocalist.
Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees created some of the most mesmerizing music of their era. Generally described as Post-punk or Goth, they really defied such categorizations. Either that, or they *defined* them. But, let’s not argue. The “Revolver” video is from the Peter Cook show of the same name; the tune is Hong Kong Garden.