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If I had to pick only one of those bands entire body of work to listen I would go with Los Lobos for the total package including a nice pinch of diversity.
I know the Band were groundbreakers but just not that interesting anymore to me.
TP&THs had their moments and a really good lead guitarist but I can only handle so much of them at a time. Full Moon Fever is a great album.
I've seen from your posts in the past that you seem to place a lot of weight on the musical opinions of other famous musicians. To me, no matter who they are, it is still just another person with their personal preference. There is no 'BEST" band, only our personal favorites who make the music that resonates with us most profoundly and gives us joy or makes us feel.
That said, this is America, and in the USA, everything must be a contest, and there MUST be a number 1, a winner. That's probably one of the most unattractive things about American culture, even though I think that overall it's pretty great.
When Tom Petty first came on the scene with Damn the Torpedoes, I really liked him. As his style matured, I started to like him less and I lost interest, although I have a lot of respect for the way Mike Campbell plays guitar. Overall, to me they were a good band, certainly musically competent, with some memorable songs, but I wouldn't personally consider them to be "great".
Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives - Souls' Chapel is an amazing album. I've only heard it digital but that will probably change soon.
Best band in the world .... ahhhh spectacular harmonies a great listen but "best in the world" I'm not convinced. I don't really have an alternative suggestion so I'll let you have it until I can think of one.
I know when I make my own statements (as apposed to Marty making his), I should use the term "my favorite" instead of "the best". But to tell you the truth, I choose to do that for a reason: I do it when I feel to do so is the only way I can make the point I am trying to make as dramatically as possible. Often because I am attempting to help others appreciate about an artist/band that which has so far eluded them. Artists/bands whom, I believe, deserve more appreciation (and, okay, success) than they have enjoyed.
When I see The Rolling Stones routinely referred to as "The Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band In The World" (a phrase created, by the way, by their publicist!), repeated mindlessly simply because it’s the "common wisdom", I see red. I’ve seen The Stones live, and they were terr-i-ble.
I saw Tom and his band live, and to my tastes they were kind of pedestrian, like a hometown band whose members you know. Nothing special at all. But then I’ve seen a lot of really, really great bands and solo artists, and have rather high standards (if I do say so myself ;-) . Marty does too, and I have no idea why he holds TP & THB in such high regard. But when I don’t understand something, I consider that a failing on my part.
Now Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives: THERE is a great band! NRBQ’s live shows are legendary, and deservedly so. Awesome! Dave Edmunds, my ex’s (26 years together) favorite live show of all-time. Rockpile (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner, Terry Williams)---the greatest Super Group of them all (oops, there I go again). Of course Edmunds and Rockpile are from the UK, so are ineligible for Marty’s list. ;-)
Another pertinent comparison: I heard the debut album by The Dwight Twilley Band (Sincerely), and was flabbergasted! What a great, great album, instantly in my all-time Top 10. I then saw them on a coupla TV shows, lip-syncing to a recording. Interestingly, Tom Petty, whose own debut had just had been released, was "playing" bass in the band (the original Twilley band had no permanent bassist). I bought the Petty album, and was, frankly, rather underwhelmed. The second I liked even less.
Yet Petty & THB developed into major Rock Stars, and Twilley, after one solo hit ("Girls", I think) after drummer/singer Phil Seymour left the group, faded into obscurity. For those who like Tom Campbell’s guitar playing, give a listen to Bill Pitcock IV on Sincerely (and it’s follow-up, Twilley Don’t Mind). No comparison. For you guitarists: except for Ry Cooder, the greatest tone I’ve heard live was that of Pitcock. A Gibson ES335 plugged into a pair of blackface Deluxe Reverb’s, an MXR digital delay in line between the two amps. Rock ’n’ Roll, baby!
But what makes a band great? Here’s another interesting and instructive comparison: Both The Band and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers toured with Dylan, and live recordings of some shows were released on albums. Compare the two. Both bands are playing similar music, in some cases the same songs. Which band do you think is "better"? Feel free to answer below. ;-)
Marty can be effusive in his praise of other artists.
I remember seeing him introduce Steve Earle on one of Marty's shows. Steve was just over his heroin addiction and had put on a LOT of weight. He was huge (not important but it was just a shock to me). Marty went on and on requesting a warm reception for his good friend Steve, repeating several times that Steve was a close friend of his. Steve just stood there with his pants hanging about halfway down his butt looking at Marty like he was nuts. I assume that was because he and Marty were probably not good friends and maybe had never met before the show.
It was just a funny moment to me but it does illustrate the point that Marty can get a little carried away in his praise of other musicians and that may be what happened with Tom Petty. Naming his own band The Fabulous Superlatives is another example.
We all know that there is no one best band, but we all have probably used the term at one time or another.
Yeah @fuzztone, and NRBQ live are just incredible. Terry Adams’ piano and clavinet playing on stage, as well as Al Anderson’s guitar playing and Joey Spampinato’s bass playing (Keith Richard’s choice as Bill Wyman’s replacement in The Stones. Joey turned him down, choosing to remain in the true greatest Rock ’n’ Roll band in the world ;-) is about as amazing as any musician I’ve ever seen, and I saw Hendrix twice ;-) .
And then there’s the songs; Anderson left the band to concentrate full time on songwriting, relocating to Nashville. NRBQ have gone through three line-ups over their long history---dating back to 1968! (Terry Adams being the sole constant), and have made a LOT of albums. I have ’em all.
"I know when I make my own statements (as apposed to Marty making his), I should use the term "my favorite" instead of "the best". But to tell you the truth, I choose to do that for a reason: I do it when I feel to do so is the only way I can make the point I am trying to make as dramatically as possible"
Well, OK-- at least you're aware of what you're doing. But there is so much hyperbole tossed around online and so many posters actually seem to believe that 1) if they like something it must therefore be "great" and 2) that art is a competition, like sports, that whenever I see such language used, I automatically assume the poster is just another aesthetically naive individual and move on. Others will no doubt respond differently.
"...this is America, and in the USA, everything must be a contest, and there MUST be a number 1, a winner. That's probably one of the most unattractive things about American culture..."
So true, unfortunately and the stubborn persistence of this cultural attitude is evidenced by the "Best Of" category in this very forum!
As to Marty Stuart's assertion, well, that's a matter of taste. If one is going to hold up Tom Petty, then why not J. C. Mellancamp? Seems to me, JCM is every bit as good a songwriter as TP. And it seems to me that it could be argued that neither is a better songwriter than Springsteen.
For the record, none of them are favorites of mine. I don't have a horse in this race. My point is that I don't see, from a critical standpoint, how M. Stuart's assertion holds up, except as an expression of his admiration for T. Petty.
... which brings us ful circle, back to the tendency for us to automatically conflate what we like with what is "good"...
Even though he isn't a showboat, Marty Stuart knows his way around a Telecaster and mandolin.
I remember a friend really into Tom Petty when he was still playing the local LA clubs-1976? Always reminding me to see him next show. Saw them on the "You're Gonna Get It" tour 1978, also my favorite TP album.
IMO, TP & the HB's were on the top of their game first 4-5 albums. I lost interest after "Damn the Torpedoes."
"The BEST?" Marty Stuart must have some secret LP's that were never released to the general public.
" Both The Band and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers toured with Dylan, and live recordings of some shows were released on albums. Compare the two. Both bands are playing similar music, in some cases the same songs. Which band do you think is "better"? Feel free to answer below."
I'd argue that these two bands had quite different perspectives.
Tom Petty was very journalistic-- he reported on his direct experience of the nitty gritty school of hard knocks. He reported from deep within the belly of the beast and was able to make the listener feel they werer right there with him. He was a great, visceral communicator of what was happening in the moment.
By contrast, as I see it, The Band viewed American culture as if from a mountain top and they seemed more interested in what might be termed a mythical dimension of America. Robbie Robertson's lyrics have more of the sense of a great novelist who creates and manipulates characters. It strikes me as a more "literary" approach. To what degree this might've been influenced by the fact he's Canadian is a question I'll leave for the more erudite to debate.
My 2 cents...
Excellent insights into the lyrics of J.R. Robertson, @stuartk!
Speaking of the American aspect: One reason I hold The Band in much higher regard than TP & THB is because of the depth of their musical roots. Organist Garth Hudson is a profound musician with an encyclopedic knowledge and appreciation of American Jazz and European Classical musics. Drummer/singer Levon Helm is deeply rooted in Blues and Hillbilly, having grown up listening to both musics on the radio in Arkansas. His first pro gig was as drummer in 50's Rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins band (the source of course for The Band's first name, The Hawks.)---Robertson's too. Bassist/singer Rick Danko loved traditional Country/Hillbilly, hearing it on The Grand Old Opry way up in Canada. Pianist/singer Richard Manuel had one of the greatest voices in the entire history of Rock 'n' Roll, deeply influenced by Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, and the other 50's black singers.
Not to downplay the talents of TP & THB, but to me they sound far less "substantial". They sound like a "suburban" group to me---the sound of which I am very familiar, if you know what I mean. Individually, they are rather ordinary. Pianist Benmont Tench has almost no style, nothing that makes his playing special .Reminds me of Paul Shaffer ;-) . The bassist and drummer, although sufficient, again: no distinctive style, no personality. Guitarist Mike Campbell is not bad, though I don't much care for his tone (too "thick", too distorted.). And Tom? I really don't like his voice, and the way he writes his songs in keys which require him to strain to reach the highest notes in the song melodies. And he sounds entirely too "white" for my tastes; not much soul or depth.
But that's just me. Sorry for sounding so negative, it's all good. I would say there is no bad music, but then there's Black Sabbath. ;-)
Thanks for your kind words. In retrospect, I believe I presented the differences in too much of a black-and-white fashion. After all, every songwriter has to have a "journalistic" eye for detail as well as a sense of how the present moment relates to larger themes. This doesn't mean I've changed my mind about my basic premise, though.
Thanks for the positive affirmation. Although I personally prefer the Band's music to T. Petty's, I've never really thought very deeply about why that might be. I'd tend to agree that The Band's traditional influences were much more evident-- whether this means that T. Petty lacked such a foundation, I cannot say. T. Petty pretty much sounds to me like a Rock guy, through and through, whereas The Band sound like many older styles mixed up and fltered through a Country/Blues/Jazz sensibility. They sound like they have very deep roots that go way back before Rock-- perhaps this is my way of expressing something akin to your comments about T. Petty being "less substantial".
Like anyone else, I have my prejudices and they no doubt prevent me from appreciating aspects of T. Petty that might be obvious to his fans. I've never owned any T. Petty albums but The Band's "brown album" has been a steady companion since the mid 70's, so I'm far from objective!
Agree @stuartk. It just occurred to me that another element to remember is that The Band are actually from a generation before Petty and his guys---The Band of the 50’s, Petty of the 60’s. That was one reason Petty seemed out of place to me in The Travelling Wilburys; Tom seemed like a kid in a group of adults.
By the time of Petty’s debut, I had already followed the musical path back to the origins of what lead to Rock ’n’ Roll: The Carter Family in Hillbilly---onward to Hank Williams and the other late-40’s/early-50’s Hillbilly singers (including Lefty Frizzell, whose "Long Black Veil" The Band included on Music From Big Pink), and the Jump Blues of the 40’s and early-50’s (Joe Turner, Louis Jordan, Big Jay McNeely), from which Elvis "borrowed" much of his early sound and style.
And you’re right---The Band’s music reveals all those influences, and more. Petty & THB sound like they had heard nothing before The British Invasion---very shallow roots. I don’t know what it was like in Florida (Petty’s stomping grounds), but in the Bay Area (mine), Roots music was what all serious musicians were diving into.
Jerry Garcia was playing Bluegrass in Palo Alto (just a few miles north on the El Camino Real from my hometown of Cupertino) before forming a Rock band, his future-buddy David Grisman doing the same in Mill Valley (across the bay from San Francisco). In the early-70’s we had Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, Asleep At The Wheel, The Electric Flag (with Mike Bloomfield), Charlie Musselwhite (with the great Robben Ford on guitar. He later worked with Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, and George Harrison, and was in The Yellowjackets. Damn!), Maria Muldaur, and so many more superior artists.
After hearing all them live in clubs and on record (plus all the bands and artists Bill Graham brought into The Fillmore Auditorium and Winterland---Albert King and other such masters), Petty seemed like a light-weight! Yet, to me, Twilley doesn’t. He has a distinct-1950’s influence evident in his music that is absent in Petty’s. Perhaps it’s just that I’m more fond of 50’s music, Petty of 60’s.
Wow-- you were certainly in the right place at the right time!
I grew up in NY state and Woodstock was close by, but I was just a little too young (in jr. H. S.) at the time.
The father of one of my classmates was an MD and he had the disctinction of treating Henmdrix for something (don't recall what) before his performance.
You make an excellent point about the generation gap-- that explains a lot.
Can't say I'm a big Tom Petty fan, but the man and the band are extremely well respected by other musicians. They have contributed to a wide range of other artists' recordings. Additionally, longevity (or should I say survival) at the top of the rock heap is not to be underrated. Petty and the Heartbreakers did that for three decades. I prefer the Blasters, Little Feat, Parliment/Funkadelics or Los Lobos, but that's just my personal taste.
One thing that caught me interest in Petty as a person was the whole "Southern Accents" record and tour. It was a quasi-concept album about Petty's vision of the South. The tour prominently featured the Confederate battle flag and people coming to his concerts wore it, displayed it and waved it too. Petty later came to regret his use of the flag and then actually asked his fans to not bring it to his concerts. Here's a link to an article about this.
... and of course, there have always been players who've had a more scholarly/musicological bent-- Bloomfield and Garcia, for example.
I've seen R. Ford a half dozen times. The only time I saw J. Mitchell was when I lived in Santa Barbara-- I saw the show with Metheny, Brecker, et al that was released as "Shadows and Light". Never saw Albert but saw Freddie and BB. Saw the Dead just a few times-- '73, '74, '77, '78 and a couple times in the eighties in Maine (don't recall the years). I was fortunate that Santa Barbara in the mid-70's was a paradise for live music. Everything from Leo Kotke to Ravi Shankar to Otis Rush to Oregon to Les McCann, Return to Forever, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Bill Evans (the piano player), Jean Luc Ponty, Pat Metheny, Emmy Lou Harris. . . the list goes on and on.
I'm not familiar with D. Twilley's music. I was born in '56 and when I think of "50's music" I tend to think of Sha Na Na type stuff.
@onhwy61: The Blasters---now we’re talkin’! I saw them live many times, including in the mid-80’s when they backed Big Joe Turner on his last appearance in L.A., at Club Lingerie on Sunset Blvd.. Little Richard’s tenor sax man Lee Allen was in the band then, as was of course Blasters lead guitarist and songwriter Dave Alvin. The last time I saw them was in 2003, at an outdoor Rockabilly festival held in SoCal , complete with a Vintage Car show. Lots of pompadours (on the guys), short bangs (on the gals)---Rockabilly chicks are SO hot ;-) , tats, piercings, and cuffed jeans were plentiful amongst the audience members. I performed on a smaller stage in an instrumental trio at that show prior to The Blasters set.
And Los Lobos: Also in the mid-80’s I went to see Peter Case’s pre-solo career group The Plimsouls at a tiny "club" on Ventura Blvd. named The Garage (it was an actual garage, a converted car repair shop). My gal and I got there in time to hear the opening act---whose name was unfamiliar to me---start their set. As soon as they did. she and I looked at each other in utter disbelief, our mouths agape. They were INCREDIBLE! It was of course Los Lobos, of whom I became an instant fan. By the way, their upcoming new album---due out shortly---is a tribute to THEIR roots. Can’t wait to hear it!
Speaking of a roots-tribute album: The Band’s 1973 album Moondog Matinee is comprised of recordings of songs they had performed in their early-60’s live shows, when they were named The Hawks. An "oldies" album unlike any you’ve heard before or since. Even after becoming The Band, they continued to perform Little Richard’s "Slippin’ And Slidin’’’ and Marvin Gaye’s "Baby Don’t Do It" (an incredible version opens their great live album Rock Of Ages) in their live shows. Can you picture Tom Petty singing either of those songs? ;-)
But hey, a favorite artist of mine---Lucinda Williams---thinks highly enough of Petty to record an album of his songs.
Ummm, look it has validity and don’t get me wrong, I was a massive early days supporter of Tom and the band, so early that I saw them play to 200 people audiences and personally met the band a few times along the way. Ironically, they were probably even better early days than they were 10 years later. Don’t get me wrong they were never positioned as some super group, but thankfully they did ultimately receive the audience they always deserved. Tom was as prolific as anyone on the songwriting side. The band is clearly missing their fearless leader. Best ever? Certainly near the top, but I think as a contemporary of the era, Springsteen and E Street probably cross the line before Tom. That does not diminish my love for Petty & Co.
"And Los Lobos: Also in the mid-80’s I went to see Peter Case’s pre-solo career group The Plimsouls at a tiny "club" on Ventura Blvd. named The Garage (it was an actual garage, a converted car repair shop). My gal and I got there in time to hear the opening act---whose name was unfamiliar to me---start their set. As soon as they did. she and I looked at each other in utter disbelief, our mouths agape. They were INCREDIBLE! It was of course Los Lobos, of whom I became an instant fan"
I saw Los Lobos on their "Will the Wolf Survive" tour at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. What particularly shocked me was what great Blues players Rosas and Hidalgo were.
Brunswick is the only town I know of named after a bowling ball.
Petty wrote amazing simple songs that just worked and the Heartbreakers were great. But best band? As Zappa said (about guitar players, but still...), "It's not a pushup contest." I was and still am a The Band fan, and when they were past their prime I (and lots of fellow musicians I knew in the 70s) sort of transferred my "fave" label to Little Feat as a live act for sure, as Lowell George was astonishing as an all around singer-producer-guitar player...Steely Dan were amazing but they toured rarely back then, and sort of weren't a band per se after a few albums...Los Lobos kill me, and certainly deserve props as a great American band.
@bdp24. I appreciate your vast knowledge of music/bands. A previous thread you contributed to caused me to listen to Buddy Miller, rhonda Vincent and many Others. Marty Stuart is a very good band. Recently listened to early Joni Mitchell. Great minimalist recordings and superlative song writing. Thank you and lucky to have streaming or would never heard this. Favorite Tom Petty song is Breakdown. Now i will explore Los Lobos.
what a lovely thread this turned into….
one thing about Tom is he had a way with what I call the relationship hook…
Don't Do Me like that…
Lots of great bands, Feat a fave of mine….
EJ, speaking of top ten, what are they ? Bring them when you visit. “ I know a little place outside of town, they just might have some wine”..
I am a big Petty fan. I wasn’t an early fan due to my age, but I jumped on when I was in high school - around the Full Moon Fever time. That said, I think what makes him and the Heartbreakers special is that they are simply a pure rock and roll band and most importantly they didn’t try to do too much - just well executed rock and roll. Someone above said they are simple songs and I would agree and view that as a compliment.
Also I think the Heartbreakers are underrated.
We talk about synergy when we talk about our audio systems. I think that also applies to TPHB.
Greatest rock and roll band every produced by the U.S. - I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Who cares he left his mark.
This is a great video of him with Garry Shandling. The only bad thing about this video is watching him chain smoke and knowing that it likely contributed to his passing.
Petty is for sure in my top 5.
"That said, I think what makes him and the Heartbreakers special is that they are simply a pure rock and roll band and most importantly they didn’t try to do too much - just well executed rock and roll".
This strikes me as a fair/accurate assessment. There's nothing wrong with playing to your strengths and that's what they did.
I'm 65. "Break Down" didn't come out until I was out of HS and beginning to explore Jazz. Therefore, I probably wasn't as open to TP as I would've been, had I been a few years younger when they came onto the scene.
I lived in Glendale for three months in '74. . . that was enough for me!
However, later on I did find something to appreciate in Reseda-- "I and Joy's Bagels". I'd often travel from Santa Barbra to Riverside County to visit friends and always made a point of stopping at IAJ's hole-in-the-wall bakery to pick up a couple dozen on my way south.
Chuck Berry’s music is very simple, but kills me. Johnny Cashes too. I REALLY dislike music intentionally made to sound complicated, like Prog.
A song can be simple, but great none-the-less. Two songs can be very similar in construction, the only difference between them being their chord progressions. One great, one pedestrian.
I did a Google search and apparently I and Joy was bought out in 1995 and then, at some point, they closed.
Too bad... it's not easy to find authentic bagels.
I was a bagel baker for awhile and learned the traditional ways...
Ironically, my years of baking eventually made me allergic to gluten and yeast.
So far, at least, frequent listening to music has not had an analogous effect!
When I was 17 I became attracted to Jazz by and for the advanced chops of the musicians (when you’re young, guys who play things which are physically difficult to perform---as opposed to things which sound "good", and/or serve the music---are considered to be better musicians than those who don’t.).
So when Jazz-influenced players appeared in Rock ’n’ Roll in 1967 and 8 (okay, Earl Palmer and Jim Keltner were originally Jazzers, but they didn’t play Rock ’n’ Roll in that style), I initially got into the music they made. I went to The original Fillmore Auditorium to see and hear The Nice, Keith Emerson’s pre-ELP band. That phase of my musical path was short lived, cured by The Band. ;-) Somewhat ironic, as organist Garth Hudson was very Jazz-influenced, loving Bill Evans and other instrument masters of the genre.
But Prog bands, they make music which assumes complicated song structures and hard-to-physically perform instrument parts are ends unto themselves. And the music is made as, it sounds to me, a form of bragging: see how good I/we am/are? At the risk of drawing the ire of perhaps some (or even many) here, I must disclose that I feel the same about the music of Frank Zappa. Sorry. ;-)
Watching Mazzie’s new YouTube video tonight (the topic of which is examples of the Gospel influence in white Rock ’n’ Roll---yet he neglected to cite Elvis!) made me realize I had neglected to acknowledge one of the greatest-of-them-all American Rock ’n’ Roll bands: Derek & The Dominos!
Eric Clapton is of course not American, but imho anyone could have been the guitarist/singer in that band, the rhythm section being as good as it was. Organist/singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle (Mazzy mis-pronounces Radle as Raddle, with a short "a".), and drummer extraordinaire Jim Gordon---a band as good as good gets. Those three plus Clapton were not only Derek & The Dominos, but also the core band on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album.
That’s how Derek & The Dominos came to be; George had met Bobby when he (George) and Clapton went on the road with Delaney & Bonnie (that’s right---George Harrison was briefly a member of D & B’s band!). Bobby was the organist/singer in the band, and apparently George liked what he heard, ’cause when George was ready to make his ATMP album, he asked Eric and Bobby to put together a band for the recordings.
I’ve extolled the talent of Jim Gordon before, and Mazzie agrees with me (as does Bobby Whitlock). Mazzie in the video, speaking of a number of the albums of Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, and Joe Cocker, all of which contain the playing of Whitlock, Radle, and Gordon:
"One of the most amazing rhythm sections. One of the tightest bands ever in Rock ’n’ Roll, and has that really great, great Soul sound. The drummer is Jim Gordon. Jim Gordon is arguably---probably---the best driving force drummer in Rock ’n’ Roll, in terms of he’s got the greatest groove in Rock ’n’ Roll. If you want that driving groove, Jim Gordon was the guy."
Well, along with Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals), Earl Palmer (New Orleans), Kenny Buttrey (Nashville), Jim Keltner (Tulsa), and a few other Southern boys. ;-)