Doc’s Fave Music & Movies Decade Of The 2010s – Part 1

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For the January and February 2020 posts, we will dig in to the decade from 2010 – 2019 in movies and music that appealed to an aging white baby boomer.  Keeping that in mind, don’t expect to see any Beyonce or Kanye.  Your Dentist plans to drill down on the top 50 songs that filled the hole in his musical soul along with 25 albums and a like number of movies.  This month we will go through songs 26 – 50 plus list the movies that moved me while next month we hit songs 1 – 25 as well as albums.  I admit to being a big kid at heart so most of the films will be kid candy or quirky movies that don’t take themselves too seriously (with some exceptions).  Personal opinions are always in flux so please don’t sweat it if the order of the albums and songs might end up being slightly at odds with old year-end lists for fave music.  My second born, Hilary, gifted me a book by Daniel J. Levitin titled This Is Your Brain On Music-The Science Of A Human Obsession (thanks H).  In that book, Levitin explains why my fave lists of music tend to recall music from 40-50 years ago.  “…most people have formed their tastes by the age of 18 or 20…people tend to become less open to new experiences as they age.  The types of sounds, rhythms, and musical textures we find pleasing are generally extensions of previous positive experiences we’ve had with music in our lives.”  So there you go – my dopamine fix generally comes from 3 chord rock and roll, Beatley pop and progressive rock (especially when a mellotron is being played).

Doc’s 25 Fave Moving Pictures 2010-2019

1.Lincoln (2012) – Steven Spielberg did a masterful job of covering the final four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life with a Tony Kushner screenplay loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s classic book Team Of Rivals.  Daniel Day-Lewis deservedly won the acting Oscar while the movie should have won for best picture but lost to the highly fictionalized Argo which I felt was a mistake.

2. Paddington (2015) – never having been a big fan of the Paddington Bear kids books by Michael Bond, it was a pleasant surprise how sweet and humorous this mix of live action and animation was.

3.The Lego Movie (2014) – Lego building blocks were not a toy of interest to your Dentist so this movie was a total surprise with just enough quirky oddness to keep the interest piqued.  A fun animated movie featuring the song “Everything Is Awesome”.

4.Ant-Man (2015) – your blogger is not a fan of the rash of superhero films unless they have a silly streak.  Someone whose superpower is they can become an ant is dopey to begin with plus it is a fun well-written movie with good actors including Michael Douglas.

5.Hugo (2011) – without my pal Mr. D in DC, I wouldn’t have known about this smart Martin Scorsese film that takes place largely in a Paris train station in 1931.  It is mainly about the relationship of a boy and Georges Méliès, a then largely forgotten groundbreaking early silent film maker.  It rightly was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and managed to win 5 of them.

6.Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) – see the Ant-Man review.  The best part of the movie is the relationships that develop between the principals not unlike the first Star Wars main cast.

7.Paddington 2 (2017) – sequels can be a let-down so it was heartening how funny and sweet this movie was (actually making me like Hugh Grant as an actor – at least in this film – someone I usually can’t bear).

8.Thor Ragnorok (2017) – having never seen the previous serious Thor movies I can’t compare this to them, but this was silly and had me laughing nearly from the beginning.  The characters interact well and don’t let the plot get in the way of a fun film.

9.Wreck-It Ralph (2012) – Disney nailed it with a great movie about a video-game bad guy who rebels and goes in search of a game he can be a hero in.  Didn’t much like the sequel, sadly.

10.Isle Of Dogs (2018) – in the vein of the quirky stop motion Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), this Wes Anderson movie feels odd and often makes you ponder just what the heck in going on.  The story is about a dystopian future in Japan where dogs are banished.

11.The King’s Speech (2010) – the story is based on the true events of England around the beginnings of WWII when Edward abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.  George VI was elevated to King at that point and suffered from a stutter.  The main thrust of the movie is his work to overcome his defect with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue.  Colin Firth as George VI won the Oscar for best actor and the film also won for best picture that year (among other awards).

12.Rango (2011) – I love movies where I can’t figure out what the heck is going on and the opening sequence of this show about a chameleon filled the bill.  Directed by Gore Verbinski who did the first 3 Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, it won the Oscar for best animated film.

13.Despicable Me (2010) – I went into this film not wanting to like it, but fell in love with the Minions.  Gru and the girls were icing on the cake, but give me more little yellow guys (with better stories than the sequels that were simply ok).

14.How To Train Your Dragon (2010) – much the same as the above film I wanted to hate it but ended up loving it. The relationship between the dragon and Hiccup was a winner though Toy Story 3 won the Oscar.

15.Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) – the characters from the first movie in this franchise continued to interact well in this funny sequel.  There will obviously be a third one judging by the cliffhanger ending.

16.Toy Story 4 (2019) – nearly as good as the first 2 Pixar animations about Woody and Buzz plus friends, it ends in such a way that you have to figure there won’t be a #5 but who knows.

17.The Sapphires (2013) – loosely based on a true story, the film follows 4 indigenous Aussie girls who form a singing group in 1968 and perform for the troops in Vietnam.

18.The Big Sick (2017) – this was a huge surprise that I wouldn’t have seen had we not been flying for 9 1/2 hours each way to London.  The movie is about the real life romance between comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his now wife.  With Ray Romano and Holly Hunter in the cast you knew it was good.

19.Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – while not quite as good as the first GOTG, the chemistry of the cast pulls you through the slow parts.

20.The Martian (2015) – director Ridley Scott knows sci-fi having given us Alien and Blade Runner.  This movie doesn’t feel like fiction, crafting a plausible way to survive on an alien planet when a crew member is accidently left behind.  While nominated for 7 Academy Awards it was shut out.

21.Eddie The Eagle (2016) – this film is about Michael Edwards a novice who in 1988 became the first British ski jumper at the Olympics since 1928 (though he was terrible).  Schmaltzy and sweet with a fine cast including Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken.

22.Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Tom Hanks is good in just about every movie he does (and I would love to talk to him about music – especially The Dave Clark 5).  Here he portrays Walt Disney in his somewhat fictionalized negotiations with author P. L. Travers trying to bring Mary Poppins to the screen.

23.The Sessions (2012) – again a movie I didn’t expect to like, it is based on the true life story of a paralyzed poet with polio attempting to lose his virginity by hiring a sex surrogate.  Actress Helen Hunt was brave in taking on the role of the surrogate and was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination though she didn’t win.

24.The Jungle Book (2016) – well I have to admit that I never much liked the original Disney animated film from 1967 – guess I felt too hip as a high schooler back in the psychedelic era.   Generally the live action remakes of Disney classics feel like a money grab, but this one actually worked.  It looked fabulous and felt real.

25.War Horse (2011) – another Steven Spielberg movie, this time dealing with a horse during WWI and how it manages to survive being on the front lines and eventually is reunited with its original owner.  While it didn’t win any, the film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards.

Doc’s 50 Fave Songs 2010-2019 (#26-50)

26.Dragonette – Live In This City (2012) – definitely a guilty pleasure with girly vocals and a churning beat – from their third album Bodyparts.  They are from Toronto.

27.Enya – Echoes In Rain (2015) – if you have heard any of Irish singer Enya Brennan’s songs you know them all – growly vocals, heavy guitars and… okay maybe not.  Mellow layered lush harmonies and synths dominate.  A catchy song from her Dark Sky album (a hit in Belgium of all places).

28.The Mavericks – As Long As There’s Loving Tonight (2013) – Tex-Mex, Latino, Country, Rockabilly?  These guys are one of my fave bands especially in concert.  After an 8 year lay-off, Raul Malo and co. came together again for the acclaimed In Time record.  For some reason only live versions are available on youtube.

29.The Primitives – Petals (2014) – rockin’ girly-pop from the Spin-O-Rama CD.  They are best remembered for 1988’s “Crash”.

30.Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers – Best Love (2011) – we always knew comedian Steve Martin was a virtuoso banjo player, but who knew Paul McCartney could do Americana?  A nice gentle swinging track from the excellent album Rare Bird Alert.

31.Men Without Hats – Everybody Knows (2012) – if you recall Ivan Doroschuk’s  band it is because of “The Safety Dance” or “Pop Goes The World”.  After a long hiatus, Ivan released the Love In The Age Of War CD which sounded just like the old music – ’80s synth-pop.

32.Walk The Moon – Shut Up & Dance (2014) – this catchy modern dance track is from the Ohio band’s album Talking Is Hard.  It was a huge hit everywhere from Poland to Israel.

33.Collective Soul – Right As Rain (2019) – Ed Roland’s band is consistently good at releasing rockin’ guitar pop with catchy hooks.  This is from their most recent album Blood.

34.Chris Hillman – Here She Comes Again (2017) – the late lamented Tom Petty helped Hillman record the fine Bidin’ My Time album.  This was an old previously unrecorded song Hillman had written with his old Byrds bandmate Roger McGuinn.

35.Edenbridge – On The Other Side (2019) – metallic folk with hammered dulcimer and hammered guitar chords.  From the female led Austrian symphonic metal band’s Dynamind album.

36.New Politics – Harlem (2013) – electronic punk from the Danish band’s A Bad Girl In Harlem CD.

37.Lenny Kravitz – 5 More Days ‘Til Summer (2018) –  retro pop from his 11th album Raise Vibration.

38.Fitz & The Tantrums – Handclap (2017) – moronically catchy modern dance track from their self-titled third album.

39.Kim Wilde – Pop Don’t Stop (2018) – after a long layoff, it was great to see English pop singer Wilde and her brother Ricky release Here Come The Aliens.  You remember her from “Kids In America”.

40.The Rolling Stones – Doom & Gloom (2012) – classic 3-chord rockin’ riffage from Mick, Keith and co.  The song was from their compilation album Grrr! and was used in the newest Avengers movie.

41.Keane – The Way I Feel (2019) – intelligent pop from the English keyboard-fueled band’s recent album Cause & Effect.

42.The Feeling Rescue (2013) – this British pop band has too much of a old-style sound to crack the U.S. (think ’70s Supertramp).  Their 4th album Boy Cried Wolf was about the lead singer’s relationship break-up with his partner.

43.Mayer Hawthorne – Hooked (2011) – oh my does this ever sound like a classic R&B groover from the ’60s.  Andrew Mayer Cohen is in the sway of Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson, etc.  This song is on his 2nd record How Do You Do.

44.The Click Five – I Quit! I Quit! I Quit! – (2011) – power pop wasn’t the style of the 2010’s so it makes sense that The Click Five did indeed quit as a band – too bad as they were good.  This was on their TCV album.

45.Paul McCartney – New (2013) – Paul had an up and down decade releasing some great music like this (from his New album) and some awful music (Kisses On The BottomEgypt Station).

46.Green Day – Carpe Diem (2012) – for some reason Billy Joe Armstrong and his punk compadres decided to release three okay new albums from September to December of 2012 when one great one would have been smarter.  This was on !Uno!.

47.Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care Of Our Own (2012) – just like “Born In The U.S.A.” the lyric was meant as irony but of course could be a patriotic flag waver if you want it to be.  This is on his Wrecking Ball album.

48.Ocean Colour Scene – Just A Little Bit Of Love (2010) – this power ballad is on the British band’s 9th album Saturday.  OCS is a guitar pop band that has never found any success in the U.S., but have charted 17 top 40 singles in the U.K.

49.Gotye – I Feel Better (2011) – in the U.S. Belgium born Aussie Wouter De Backer (Gotye) is mostly known for his big hit “Somebody That I Used to Know”, but on the album it came from (Making Mirrors) can be found this driving old-style R&B track.  Another Belgium hit.

50.Ringo Starr – Walk With You (2010) – okay so sue me, but this is a sentimental closer to our list from the Y Not album.  Van Dyke Parks (Beach Boys Smile) supplied the lyrics about friendship and when old Beatles Paul and Ringo sing the chorus together it still brings a catch to the old Dentist’s throat.

Twenty Fave American Bands


Independence Day celebrates the July 4th, 1776 ratification (by Congress) of our nation’s  formal Declaration of Independence.  While caught up in the recent patriotic fervor of our 2017 celebration, your Rock N Roll Dentist was moved to pen a list of his favorite American bands (three or more members).  It’s hard to figure these sorts of lists out criteria-wise.  Do you rate a band that only stuck around for a few great albums then broke as high as a band that also put out a few great albums but then kept pumping out records well after they should have given up the ghost?  These sorts of lists always feel like personal puffery so please forgive me especially if I have omitted one of your faves – if anything, please feel free to comment and submit your additions.  Sorry, but the Electric Flag (seen above) didn’t make it.  Oh and if you are looking for the Monkees, forget it as Davy Jones was British and I really couldn’t include them on this list of All-Americans.

1.Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Back in 1978, their classic 2nd album You’re Gonna Get It moved me to visit my local vinyl emporium (Underground Records on Pearl perhaps?) after hearing “Listen To Her Heart” on the radio.  It sounded a lot like a snottier version of the Searchers (clear chiming 12 string guitar over a great tune) – something sorely missing from the disco-drunk music scene of the late 70s.  To rock starved ears they filled the bill, but could they keep it going?  Well, here it is over 40 years after their debut and they don’t show any signs of slowing down with their 13th studio album Hypnotic Eye (2014) debuting on the charts at #1.  The team of TP on vocals + rhythm guitar and Mike Campbell on lead guitar is as potent as ever with original keyboardist Benmont Tench and bassist Ron Blair.  The late Howie Epstein was a fine Heartbreaker bassist as well who formed a great rhythm section with the much missed Stan Lynch on drums and backing vocals.  The volatile Lynch left in 1994 to be replaced by Steve Ferrone who is an able replacement but doesn’t have the distinctively loping behind the beat style Stan brought.  Their 1979 album Damn The Torpedoes was their breakout album with great songs like “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That”.  My personal favorite Petty song is “The Waiting” from the 1981 LP Hard Promises.

2.Creedence Clearwater Revival

Their 1968 debut single, a remake of “Susie Q” by Dale Hawkins, got played on Denver’s first underground radio station KMYR – all 8 minutes and 37 seconds.  It was a strange amalgam with classic screaming rock vocals over a nearly metronomic rock backing that gave in to a psychedelic guitar/vocal workout before returning to its roots.  Frankly, I wasn’t ready for it or their first album – but boy did that change in 1969 when John Fogerty and company pumped out three classic albums – 3 in 1 year!!  Bayou Country, Green River + Willy & The Poor Boys were loaded with rock and roll classics like “Born On The Bayou”, “Green River”, “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary”.  By July of 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory, CCR were America’s biggest band.  John’s late brother Tom Fogerty played rhythm guitar while the able rhythm section was Stu Cook on bass and the undervalued Doug Clifford slammin’ the drums.  John Fogerty, however, was the MVP writing, producing, playing guitar and possessing one of the greatest swamp rock vocals of all-time (chooglin’ from California – go figure).  In addition to playing his music in college, I also adopted Fogerty’s look of lumberjack shirts and jeans not to mention his mop of Prince Valiant hair and long-sideburns (where did all that hair go!?).  One more pretty good album and another not so good album then it was all over in 1972.  While the passing of Tom and the acrimony with Stu and Doug means no CCR reunion, at least John Fogerty has embraced his legacy and still sounds and looks great in concert.  John (if you are reading this – unlikely) why don’t you write an update on your character Jody as I would like to know what he’s been up to since he fell out of his tractor on “It Came Out Of The Sky” and he went to the rodeo on “Almost Saturday Night”.   You can’t beat “Travelin’ Band” from the classic Cosmo’s Factory for 2:07 of rock and roll maniac energy on a vinyl record.

3.Los Straitjackets

Oh my – I can hear many heads being scratched.  Who are these guys?  Well kids, they happen to be one of the coolest and rockin’est instrumental combos to grace a stage plus they have pumped out just south of 20 albums if spiffy rock and roll since their 1995 debut The Utterly Fantastic And Totally Unbelievable Sound Of…  If that isn’t enough, who can resist the mysterioso wrestling masks not to mention on-stage choreography on classics like “Itchy Chicken” (cool cheesy instro choreography at that – not pre-packaged lip-synced dance a la Madonna and her more modern ilk)?  Danny Amis of the Raybeats (way ahead of their time) and rockabilly Eddie Angel (the Neanderthals – great band) formed the original guitar core with Amis spouting fake-o Mexican jive on stage (they’re as Mexican as Jose Jimenez after all – look him up if you don’t remember Bill Dana).  Scott Esbeck gave way to the winged Pete Curry on bass in ’99 while an assortment of drummers (Jimmy Lester and Jason Smay) have lead to Chris Sprague.  When Amis became ill in 2010, Greg Townson from the Hi-Risers (another great band) came on board and has given a nice kick to the sound now that Amis is back.  On stage nifty originals like “Lonely Apache” stand next to classics like “The Munsters Theme” and Duane Eddy’s “Yep”.   They have a history of teaming up at times with vocalists including, recently, Nick Lowe leading to their newest record – an instrumental tribute to Lowe’s music called What’s So Funny About Peace, Love & Los Straitjackets.  Go see them in concert now!  They do a killer “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.

4.Paul Revere & The Raiders

When rock and roll was a fresh music style to this brand new teenager in 1965, my parents signed up for the Columbia Record Club (remember those, baby boomers?).  They got something like 10 records for a penny (give or take) as an intro offer and gave the catalog to me to pick out two albums of my own.  Thanks to mom and dad’s largesse I got to drive them crazy repeating over and over Do The Freddie (Freddie & The Dreamers – my first concert too) and Just Like Us! by the very sharp looking Paul Revere & The Raiders who also rocked like mad.  I suspect my first exposure to the Raiders was similar to other teens of my era – Dick Clarks’ after-school music TV show Where The Action Is.  They seemed to be having a great time while wearing revolutionary war costumes and pumping out covers of the day’s rock and roll hits.  They followed that formula on their LP adding the singles “Steppin’ Out” and “Just Like Me” – two garage rock classics.  Who knew that they had already put out over a dozen records since 1960 in a frat rock style (unless you had bought their early chart instrumental “Like Long Hair”).  That classic line-up of Revere on Vox organ, Mike Smith on drums, Phil “Fang” Volk on bass, Drake Levin on guitar and the pony-tailed and leather lunged Mark Lindsay on vocals and sax was the band I remember (though on-line they list around 30 members over the years).   I saw them at my 2nd ever concert (at the echoy Denver Coliseum) after Jim Valley had replaced Levin.  For a time I forsook them as being too pop (Hendrix called), but couldn’t resist tasty radio hits like “Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon” and “Too Much Talk” and returned to buy all their albums.  Sadly three of that classic line-up are gone (including Revere), but Lindsay occasionally performs and records (saw him a few years back and he could still rock).  That they are not in the rock and roll hall of fame is a total travesty.  “Hungry” is classic rock and roll.

5.The Beach Boys

With guitarist Al Jardine having a brief desire to study Dentistry, it’s easy to see why your kindly Rock N Roll Dentist is in the thrall of these guys (not to mention I have always loved those striped shirts).  Some 56 years after they formed literally as a garage band, there is still a version lead by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston on the road plus another version in all but name lead by Brian Wilson and Jardine.  While they have recorded something like 29 studio albums and a pile of live records, we think mainly of their output of the 60s when they went toe to toe with every style of music and came out on top.  Heck, they didn’t even have a #1 single till the British Invasion swept many U.S. acts off the charts yet they managed three during the Beatles’ heyday – “I Get Around”, “Help Me Rhonda” and “Good Vibrations”.  Brian combined the great harmonies of the 4 Freshmen with the wall of sound a la Phil Spector plus he threw in a dose of Chuck Berry rock and roll for good measure and came up with the classic Beach Boys sound of summer.  Brian’s genius for pop hits gave way to amazing studio productions that he heard in his head an translated to beautiful art with Pet Sounds and Smile.  When Brian and the big hits faded, it gave his late brothers Dennis (drums) and Carl (guitar) a chance to shine.  Frankly there aren’t many bands who could sing as well as the former Pendletones then you add in the songwriting and you come up with nearly 60 chart singles.  The Mike Love helmed version scored an unexpected #1 in 1988’s “Kokomo” that doesn’t sound out of place with their classics of two decades previous.   When former guitarist David Marks and the rest of the living originals toured in 2012, they stopped at Red Rocks Amphitheater for an outstanding show that was non-stop hits – over 50 of them.  No other American band could top that.  My favorite hit by them is a great cover of “Sloop John B”.


No fan of what we now call power pop music should be without at least a Raspberries greatest hits album.  Since they only recorded four albums between 1972 and 1974 (the Raspberries, Fresh, Side 2, Starting Over), it is smarter to just buy their whole discography.  Dave Smalley, Jim Bonfanti and Wally Bryson came out of the Ohio band The Choir (“It’s Cold Outside”) and added Eric Carmen of rival band Cyrus Erie in the 1970.   Their self-titled debut on Capitol (combining some Beach Boys with Badfinger and the Who soundwise) came with a scratch & sniff fruit scented sticker on the cover – my copy still has that odor.  Their sound   While Smalley and Bryson both sang and wrote, it was Carmen’s smokin’ rock and roll voice plus his catchy songs (“Go All The Way”, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”, “Tonight”) that bore chart fruit.  Acrimony lead to Smalley and Bonfanti leaving before the final excellent album on which Scott McCarl and Michael McBride replaced them.  After a strong Carmen solo career (“All By Myself”, “Make Me Lose Control”) I was lucky enough to see one of their rare reunion shows at Denver’s Fiddler’s Green in 2005.  Sadly they didn’t record any new material, but they did release an outstanding live album in Live On Sunset Strip.  Their quintessential hit has to be “I Wanna Be With You” from Fresh.

7.Cheap Trick

This band from Illinois seemed to take over the style Raspberries and have kept it going through 18 studio albums and induction in to the rock and roll hall of fame last year.  They are a 40+ year tribute to perseverance with very few changes (music and personnel-wise).  Power Pop bands seem to be the offspring of the Beatles and the Who with other smart Anglophile references of their own.  In Cheap Trick’s case, over the years they have added some Roy Wood (The Move, ELO, Wizzard) in the form of “Brontosaurus” (at least the riff) and “California Man”.  The Move classic “Blackberry Way” is covered on the deluxe edition of Trick’s newest album We’re All Alright!.  They showed another of their influences with the strong tribute to the Beatles in 2009’s Sgt. Pepper Live.  Singer Robin Zander still has a great set of pipes while unlikely guitar god Rick Nielson lugs around some of the coolest guitars ever seen on a stage.  He also can send a guitar pick soaring through the audience for several rows with one landing in my souvenirs following a Fiddler’s Green concert purely by luck.  Original bassist Tom Petersson left for a time then returned while drummer Bun E. Carlos (Brad Carlson) was replaced by Nielson’s son Daxx in 2010.  Their second album (1977’s In Color) is the one that first grabbed me with great songs like “Come On, Come On” and “So Good To See You”, but didn’t take off in the U.S. till a live-in-Japan “I Want You To Want Me” became a surprise hit.  Over the years they have had hits like “Surrender” and “The Flame”, but my fave will always be “Dream Police” from the album of the same name.

8.The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Though not as flash a guitarist as his sorely missed younger brother Stevie Ray, the cool Jimmie Vaughan was the first of the two to strike pay-dirt when he teamed with singer and harp player extraordinaire Kim Wilson.  From ’76 to ’90 those two led one of the best swampy blues rock outfits in the country while selling few records.  In ’86 with drummer Fran Christina and bassist Preston Hubbard, they finally hit it big with “Tuff Enuff” which was of a piece with all their other fine records including “The Crawl” from 1980’s What’s The Word and “I Believe I’m In Love” from Butt Rockin’ the following year.  Since Vaughan left in 1990, Wilson has nested with a flight of fine players (including the late great Nick Curran on guitar) and continues to keep the Austin sound alive in concert.  My fave T-birds track is 1989’s “Powerful Stuff” from that same album.

9.The Doors

It’s interesting how the mythology of singer Jim Morrison has kept the legend of the Doors going over 46 years after his death, but if the music wasn’t there no one would really care.  If they had only released their 1967 self-titled opener, that might still be enough to get them on this list.  Robby Krieger’s “Light My Fire” was the song that drew us all in, but “Break On Through”, “Soul Kitchen”, “Crystal Ship” and the powerful “The End” kept us there.  John Densmore’s whip-crack drumming and Ray Manzarek’s keyboards all fit with the enigma that was Morrison to create one of the more unique sounding bands of the rock era.  They weren’t heavy but they rocked on songs like “Hello, I Love You” and “Roadhouse Blues” (Waiting For The Wind and Morrison Hotel respectively) – but how do you classify songs like “Horse Latitudes” (Strange Days) or “Runnin’ Blue” (The Soft Parade)?  Their last album (1971’s L A Woman) is nearly the equal of their debut.  Frankly they should have broken up after Morrison’s passing July 3, 1971 but instead they released two easily forgotten albums before mercifully closing in ’73.  I would love to know if Robby and I share any common ancestors, but from pictures it appears we shared a love for Gibson SG guitars (which I too played through my Vox amp back in the day).  I guess my favorite Doors song is “Twentieth Century Fox” off The Doors.

10.Huey Lewis & The News

In my music life, it seems there are certain bands that everybody seems to like at a certain time.  Santana in college and Fleetwood Mac later.  These guys were in that category in the early 80s when they could do no wrong.  They came out of the 70s Bay area music scene being mostly an amalgam of Soundhole and Clover (who backed Elvis Costello early on).  The original six have stayed amazingly stable over the years with only guitarist Chris Hayes and bassist Mario Cippolina departing.  What remains from that band are Bill Gibson (drums), Sean Hopper (keys), Johnny Colla (sax/guitar) and Huey Lewis (harp/vocals).  They struggled for a time till 1982’s Picture This with “Do You Believe In Love”.  Their next record Sports is the one that really spread the word far and wide with hits like “Heart & Soul”, “I Want A New Drug”, “If This Is It” and “The Heart Of Rock & Roll”.  Placing their leader and their song “The Power Of Love” in the movie Back To The Future kept things rolling till the 1986 album Fore! which sported “Hip To Be Square”, “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Stuck With You”.  Their everyman image seemed to be tailormade for heavy MTV rotation as well.  Since then they have had a few lesser chart hits (though still good musically) and continue to crop up every so often in concert.  If I want to play a News track it is generally “Workin’ For A Living” from Picture This.

11.The Lovin’ Spoonful

From mid-1965 to early 1969 these guys charted 14 singles on the Hot 100 which is pretty darn good, but that they charted top 10 with seven consecutive singles is a feat only matched in the 60s by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.  The stretch from “Do You Believe In Magic” to “Nashville Cats” was remarkable with great material like “Daydream” and “Summer In The City”.  Coming out of N.Y.’s folk scene, we had never seen any band that had someone like John Sebastian happily singing while playing the electrified autoharp.  We CERTAINLY had never seen a band with someone like Canadian Zal Yanovsky with his cowboy hat and crazy persona (sorta like a template for one of the Monkees in ’66).  Quiet Steve Boone on bass and occasional singer Joe Butler on drums rounded out the original four.  My favorite LP of theirs is the 1966 album Daydream (their 2nd) with great album cuts like “Let The Boy Rock And Roll”, “Jug Band Music” and “There She Is”.  The original band only recorded three albums and two soundtracks before Yanovsky left to be replaced by Jerry Yester in 1967.  Their sound was less ‘good-time music’ by this time and more guitar pop though “She Is Still A Mystery” and “Six O’Clock” are great singles (the album Everything Playing was only okay).  After Sebastian split in ’68 they still managed a decent swansong LP in Revelation: Revolution ’69 with Butler singing lead on the excellent singles “Me About You” and “Never Goin’ Back”.  The original four had an odd reunion playing music in a cameo appearance in the Paul Simon movie  One Trick Pony (1980) and then finally at the rock and roll hall of fame induction in 2000.  With Yanovsky’s death and Sebastian’s vocal problems, Boone, Butler and Yester continue to perform under the old name.  I saw Sebastian a couple of years ago and even if his voice isn’t up to par, his stories and quick wit are.  “Rain On The Roof” remains my fave track by them.

12.The Smithereens

Keepers of the power pop flame, the Smithereens are a band that found success a bit later than most.  At the time of their excellent 1986 debut album Especially For You, singer/guitarist Pat DiNizio was 31 while high school buddies John Babjak (guitar), Dennis Diken (drums) and Mike Mesaros (bass) were nearly 29.  From New Jersey, these guys were fighting an uphill battle to get on the charts with great pop tunes like “A Girl Like You” and “Blood & Roses”, but their lack of chart success had nothing to do with lack of quality.  In addition to their original albums, they have recorded their version of the Who’s Tommy and two albums of Beatles tributes not to mention an excellent Christmas album.  Mesaros left in 2006 to be replaced by Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion and are still outstanding in concert as a recent Denver show proved (though I worry about DiNizio who no longer plays guitar as he had little use of his arms it seems since an accident).  You can’t beat the song “Top Of The Pops” from their ’91 album Blow Up.

13.Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Admittedly the music has to start with Springsteen’s songs, but frankly it has been the six to ten headed monster that is the E Street Band that in my mind has made that music special.  It has been sort of like seeing Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound come to life in a different context then he would have imagined.  Max Weinberg’s power drumming in team with bassist Gary Tallent then Roy Bittan and Danny Federici on dueling keys formed the core.  The Boss fronted first Miami Steve Van Zandt then Nils Lofgren and now both in a guitar army with wife Patti Scialfa at times joining in.  Oh, and you can’t overlook the big man – Clarence Clemons on master blaster sax and percussion.  Soozie Tyrell came in on violin in 2002.  In it’s prime they were a formidable force on stage and on record.  Forming in 1972, members came and went before finding the core that mostly still remains.  They hit their stride with the 1975 album Born To Run carrying through great albums like The River in 1980 and the  ’84 LP Born In The USA.  The 40 track box Live: 1975-85 neatly summarized the band after which Bruce put the full act on hiatus recording a series of personal albums only reconvening off and on for various projects till a true reunion tour in 1999.  Federici and Clemons have since passed, but they finally go recognized as the E Street Band were inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2014 by Bruce himself.  My favorite song by them could be “Glory Days” which has a bright classic rock sound rife with cheesy organ.

 14.The Ventures

That it took the best selling instrumental band of all time (over 100 million records) till 2008 to finally get in to the rock and roll hall of fame tells you volumes about how little many regard instrumentals, but this writer loves this kind of music.  Northwestern guitarists Don Wilson and the late Bob Bogle became the Ventures in 1959.  A version of the band continues to this day mainly touring Japan where they apparently still appreciate instros.   With Nokie Edwards on bass and Howie Johnson on drums they had a hit in 1960 with Colorado guitarist Johnny Smith’s jazz standard “Walk, Don’t Run” done in a rocked up manner.  For many, their story would end with their other big hit “Hawaii Five-O” in 1969 but there is a lot of great music in between those records and since.  Nokie Edwards was also a skilled lead guitarist so he and Bogle switched instruments while Johnson was replaced in ’63 by one of the finest drummers of early rock in the late Mel Taylor.  During the 60s the band pumped out a series of excellent albums every few months that included instrumental versions of many of the hits of the day (such as “Secret Agent Man” that was better than the vocal version frankly) plus covers of other band’s hits – often better than the original (“Out Of Limits” from The Ventures In Space Jan. ’64 and “No Matter What Shape” Feb. ’66 Where The Action Is just to name two).  In their career they have released over 60 studio albums plus countless more live records.  Looking at their classic live videos you can see many of the same moves that Los Straitjackets still do on stage – the synchronized turning of the guitarists for instance.  When Mel died in ’96, his son Leon took over with the band hardly skipping a beat.  Mel’s drum workout “The Creeper” ( from their album Walk, Don’t Run ’64) remains my favorite Ventures track likely because my pal Dan Campbell and I used to play this – me on guitar and DC on pounding skins.

15.The Turtles

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman have to be the most unlikely looking rock stars ever – sort of overweight and sort of goofy looking, but they sang like angels and had a sense of humor that always tickled me (except in their scatological era with Frank Zappa).  As Flo and Eddie they still front a version of the Turtles keeping alive all the great late 60s pop hits they pumped out – “Happy Together”, “You Baby”, “She’s My Girl”, etc.  That last abbreviation reminds me that their composition “Elenore” may be the only chart hit to include the work etcetera.  Lesser songs by them are still great pop – “Guide For The Married Man” and “Can I Get To Know You Better” come to mind.  Their crowning achievement for me was the Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands LP from 1968 on which they managed to lampoon several different music styles while putting out a good record (surf music in “Surfer Dan”, heavy rock in “Buzzsaw” and the aforementioned “Elenore”).  Al Nichol on guitar, Johnny Barbata on drums and Jim Pons and bass where the band at that point.  At various times I have listed “You Know What I Mean” from the Golden Hits album as my all-time favorite song.


For good reason, many liken these guys to the Rolling Stones – classic blues based rock and roll and a big-lipped singer (Steven Tyler) paired with a classic riffing guitarist (Joe Perry).  Add in the other three backing musicians (Joey Kramer on drums, Tom Hamilton on bass and Brad Whitford on guitar) and you have just about the only 46 year old classic rock band still made up of all originals.  “Dream On”, “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” are standards by now.  Their issues with drugs are well documented.  That they beat the odds and regrouped to even bigger success is amazing – “Angel”, “Janie’s Got A Gun”, “Love In An Elevator” on and on.  While it wasn’t a huge success, I think their best album is their 14th studio album – 2004’s Honkin’ On Bobo which is 12 trax of classic blues just like the Stones did in 2016 on Blue & Lonesome.  The use of 1987’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” (Permanent Vacation) on Disney’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster ride cemented it as my favorite song by them.

17.Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids

Okay, I am biased as they are from Colorado and I became friends with them in the course of writing a magazine article about the band years ago (thanks again to manager Scott O’Malley for the access).  I don’t care how much I liked them as people, however, if the music wasn’t in the grooves than they wouldn’t be on this list.  I refer you to my Jan. 2016 blog post for a thorough band history.  I can still remember reading a review of their self-titled debut Epic album in a 1973 issue of Phonograph Record Magazine and being intrigued by their wit and devotion to classic rock and roll.  They came to fame playing the high school band in American Graffiti  and kept it up on TV in Happy Days.  Sadly three of the guys in this picture are deceased (Sam McFadin, Kris Moe and Linn Phillips III), but a fine version of the band still hits the sheds on occasion with original bassist Warren “Butch” Knight and longtime sax player Dwight Bement.  They are also known for the single “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)” that featured Wolfman Jack.  “Good Times Rock And Roll” from the Sons Of The Beaches album (1975) is one of my all-time favorite songs as it speaks to my love of music while rockin’ up a storm.

18.Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

By 1962 when he released “The Lonely Bull”, Herb Alpert had already tried a lot of different roles in music from songwriter and producer for Jan & Dean (“Baby Talk”) to performer under the name Dore Alpert (“Tell It To The Birds”).  This nice Jewish trumpet player hit the big time, however, when he created a new genre of instrumental hits in a Mexican vein.  On Top 40 radio back in the 60s, the charts weren’t just rock and roll and a kid like me got exposed to country and pop hits as well.  Some of that stuff was pretty good and bridged the generation gap between parent and kid.  The TJB were the only group I liked that my dad liked as well so I was allowed to go see them in Fort Collins at Moby Gym at a fine concert.  The TJB I saw in concert were not the TJB I heard on records, however, as Alpert mostly used the guys known as the Wrecking Crew as they knew the studio better.  At their peak in 1966, they had five albums in the Billboard top 20 and at one time they had four in the top 10.  Their two best records were released in 1965 – Going Places (“Spanish Flea” and “Tijuana Taxi”) and Whipped Cream & Other Delights that had a cover remembered fondly by young boys (and their dads) but was pretty tame by today’s standards.  From that latter album, the songs “Whipped Cream” and “Lollipops & Roses” were used on the TV show The Dating Game as intro music.  Alpert finally got a #1 in 1968 with the vocal “This Guy’s In Love With You” and got another with the instrumental “Rise” in 1979 making him the only artist to have a vocal and an instrumental #1 hit.  I guess my favorite song by them was “The Magic Trumpet” from the ’66 album What Now My Love which was a Bert Kaempfert tune so leaned more to Deutschland than Mexico.

 19.The Byrds

As can be seen from this picture, the early Byrds were heavily influenced by the look of the Beatles which is not surprising given that folkies Jim (late Roger) McGuinn and David Crosby switched to the use of 12 string guitars on folkish rock in 1964 after watching the movie A Hard Day’s Night.   McGuinn and Gene Clark had already been playing some Beatles covers at the Troubadour in L.A. (later joined by Crosby).  They added Michael Clarke as a drummer who was a novice at best, but looked the part.  Later came a country mandolin player in Chris Hillman who took up the bass and this version released the folk rock #1 hits “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” and “Mr. Tambourine Man”.  That latter cover of a Bob Dylan song was their first single and used mostly members of the Wrecking Crew on backing as producer Terry Melcher didn’t think the band was competent enough yet to record (save McGuinn’s 12 string).  Clark was the first to leave beginning a series of line-up changes seen till the group broke up in 1973.  Singles like “Eight Miles High” and “My Back Pages” came out in ’66 and ’67 leading to my favorite Byrds album in Jan. 1968 The Notorious Byrd Brothers which was not a huge chart success but featured great songs like “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born To Follow” which showed them leaning towards country.  McGuinn and short time member Gram Parsons took the Byrds heavily in to country for the Aug. ’68 album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo which was a pretty radical move for its time (country was seen as music of straight people who supported the war and had short hair).  With a totally new Byrds, McGuinn dove head first from then on in to a country/rock amalgam on excellent records like Ballad Of Easy Rider (1969) and Untitled (1970).  The original band reunited briefly in ’72-73 for a weak album (Byrds) and did reunite off and on over the years (both Clark and Clarke are now deceased).  McGuinn seems content anymore to play as a solo act and release covers of folk songs.  Gene Clarke’s song “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” from their debut 1965 album Mr. Tambourine Man remains my favorite song by them.

 20.Z Z Top

From 1971 till today the three man team of Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass) and Frank Beard (drums) have pumped out nasty Texas blues rock and made long beards synonymous with hot cars and leggy women.  They took a bit to grow on me as their early stuff just on London Records just seemed like mostly southern boogie rock – a genre I don’t much like.  I did buy the singles “La Grange” (’73) and “Tush” (’75) but it was a switch to Warner Brothers that got me on board as it seemed to bring out the humor and rumble on songs like “Cheap Sunglasses” and “She Loves My Automobile” from the ’79 LP Deguello.  Between 1983 and 1990 they seemed tailor-made for MTV with a series of story videos to go with their best singles “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, “Pressure” and “Legs” notably from the classic Eliminator album.  Afterburner and Recycler continued in that vein with songs like “Sleeping Bag” and “Doubleback”.  Releases since have been sparse and less produced but still good bluesy guitar based rock up to 2012’s La Futura.  Concert has been the best way to appreciate the band as they burn pretty good for a three-piece yet still retain their senses of humor (choreographed stage moves, fuzzy covers on the guitar bodies and even moving sidewalks for the guys on stage on one tour – a tip of the hat to Gibbons’ old psychedelic band The Moving Sidewalks).  Every time I hear “Sharp Dressed Man” from Eliminator I have to crank up the car radio and bask in the fuzzy guitar glory.

Honorable Mention – The Wrecking Crew

Though not a band per se, this fluctuating aggregation of talented musicians were the uncredited (at the time) players behind countless many of the hits we loved in our youth.  They played on The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra sessions – Crystals (Phil Spector) and Simon and Garfunkel records.  On and on – the list is staggering and they would really have to be the #1 hit making band on this list.  Their legacy is best appreciated by watching the 2008 documentary The Wrecking Crew put together by Denny Tedesco the son of the late Tommy who played guitar in the band – listen to the flamenco flourishes on the Gary Lewis & The Playboys album version of “Sure Gonna Miss Her”.