I admit it – I’m a music snob. Especially when it comes to the many genres of rock n’ roll. So, whenever I read a site or mag’s list of the greatest songs of all-time pertaining to a certain rock style, I immediately begin pondering, “Which songs are missing? Which songs stink to high heaven? What changes would I have made download lagu?”
As I’m no stranger to “best of” lists (having assembled quite a few over the years for quite a few different outlets I write for), I finally came to a realization – the time is now right for me to start making my own lists and issue them as Kindle-only books. So, I present to you the first entry in what I plan to be an ongoing series (for how long, who knows?), entitled Greg Prato Presents…The 100 Greatest Songs of Heavy Metal.
The set-up is simple. We start at the bottom and work our way to the top of the heap – with little old me offering my two cents as to why the tune is worthy, a quote from either the artist or a renowned name, a recommendation of three additional first-rate tracks by the artist, and then, a link to listen to the tune.
Shortly after the arrival of drummer Neil Peart in 1974, Rush found their niche – prog metal. But when the trio’s original time keeper, John Rutsey, was still a member, Rush was much more Zeppelin-esque – as evidenced by this heavy duty rocker. And while the band was never bashful of offering up extended compositions (“2112,” anyone?), not many were elongated primarily via jamming – which was what makes “Working Man” work, man.
“‘Working Man’ was written in the early 1970s when we were 17 years old. Influenced by our love for Cream, it became one of our longer jam songs and an opportunity to stretch out and exhaust our teenage fingers. Working kids, indeed!” –Alex Lifeson
The British ska revival yielded at least two great albums. I Just Can’t Stop It, the 1980 debut of the English Beat, features the irresistible “Mirror in the Bathroom” and style to burn. But The Specials came first, and their debut plays like a greatest hits. The best-known cut is “A Message to You Rudy,” and it’s gratifying to see 32 million views for the YouTube video. The album brims with great songs: Toots Hibbert’s “Monkey Man,” the originals “Concrete Jungle” and “Nite Klub” and, on my old U.S. vinyl copy, the band’s understated first single, “Gangsters.” Rowdy, bawdy and hilarious.
The Pretenders’ debut is a transatlantic triumph. Chrissie Hynde, an Ohio transplant, fell in with the London punk scene and eventually formed one of the finest post-punk bands on either shore, recruiting crack British sidemen. Like The Cars’ debut, Pretenders is a front-to-back classic. The big hit, “Brass in Pocket,” doesn’t arrive until midway through side two. The cover of Ray Davies’ “Stop Your Sobbing” is lovely but unnecessary: Hynde needed no help writing killer material. The excellent sequel, Pretenders II, features an even better Ray Davies cover, the exquisite “I Go to Sleep.”