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Columns > Dan Greenhaus

Published: 2006/04/16
by Dan Greenhaus

Five Bands You Dont Listen To Nearly Enough

1.Rush Ever so slightly edging out Bryan Adams as Canadas greatest contribution to music, Rush have spend the better part of forty years defining and redefining progressive rock, all the while taking the genre to heights few had seen before or since. Their influence is as far reaching as it is prevalent, and can be found in more bands than I care to detail. With the release of their self titled debut album, the band immediately established themselves as musical forces, but it wasnt until their second album and the addition of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart that the band really took off. By their fourth album 2112 the bands individual talents had gelled, representing the pinnacle of the earliest period in Rushs career. The 70s and 80s saw the band release a string of stellar albums including A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, Power Windows and Moving Pictures the latter of which remains an essential album to own up until this very day, if only for the instrumental gem YYZ.
2.A Tribe Called Quest Weve all gone through that phase where every time you got in your car you put on Tribe. Or every time you had people over to the apartment, the mix you made was 75% Low End Theory. But for someone reason, at least with the people I know, Tribe seems to have fallen by the wayside as weve gotten older. Looking back through their catalog, its hard to see why. Whether its the lyrical craftsmanship of Peoples Instinctive Travels or the jazzy underpinnings of Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, it took Tribe only three albums to establish their place in raps pantheon of greats. While their later material wasnt necessarily on the same level of the first three releases, Tribes material has stood the test of time and is well worth revisiting if you havent in some time.
3.Mahavishnu Orchestra – Founded by guitar great John McLaughlin and drummer Billy Cobham (and including Jan Hammer on keys), the original lineup produced the two phenomenal albums The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire. The title song on the latter features some of the most interesting, distorted and exploratory lead work one can find in fusion (with all due respect to Robert Fripp and Al DiMeola), representing a small example of the power of McLaughlins guitar playing. Magnificently blending a variety of styles, including Indian influences, into what would become fusion, the original lineup of the Orchestra set the standard for a style of music that very much laid the groundwork for todays jambands. While the original lineup disbanded after the aforementioned two albums, McLaughlin continued the Orchestra with other members and all subsequent albums are worth listening to if only to hear one of the greatest guitar players to have ever walked the earth. The jambands we all love today would be much advised to study One Word off Birds of Fire and take notes.
4.The Police – Often dismissed by some as a pop band and thus not worth listening to, The Police crafted some of the best songs of the last thirty years, and did it without sacrificing the musicality that would become as important to their success as Stings lyrics. Andy Summers guitar playing on early hits such as This Beds Too Big Without You was as influential as any from the era, as any number of No Doubt-ish bands of today cite him as crucial to their sound. Not to be out done, both Stings bass playing and Stuart Copelands drumming were ever bit as intricate, as the unified whole of their reggae influenced sound fortified the band was one of the best to come out of the 80s. And while their popular songs such as Roxanne, King of Pain, Message In A Bottle and Cant Stand Losing You speak for themselves, lesser known songs such as Dead End Job, Low Life, Voices Inside My Head and Miss Grandenko prove that the bands depth extends further than the pop songs you think define the band, but only serve to scratch the surface. The band culminated with 1983s Sychronicity (named the 50th greatest album of all time by VH1) and is absolutely worth owning if only for the title song.
5.Santana Okay, Supernatural is too poppy even for me. As is its follow up Shaman, but its clear Santana isnt on this list for those two albums. Hes on it for Santana, Abraxas and III, the latter of which saw the addition of Neil Schon, a teenage guitar phenom who would eventually leave the band with keyboardist Greg Rolie and form Journey. Yes, Journey. That aside, the first three Santana albums feature musicianship of the highest caliber, with very few songs ever touching the power of Soul Sacrifice, Incident at Neshabur or Jungle Strut. Ironically though, Santanas guitar playing may have never reached the heights he achieved on Europa from 1990s Amigos. Often overlooked by some because of the played out nature of the hits, the album cuts from the first three albums reward anyone who takes the time to dig deeper.

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