My Top Ten Bands (Music Monday #3)

This week I haven’t bought any new albums, so I thought I’d do something a little differently – list my favourite bands/artists (a list that changes regularly, although these top ten are becoming fairly permanent).

10. David Gray

It’s amazing to think that the folk/pop musician and singer David Gray had, at one point, planned to quit music. Back in 1998 he released his fourth album, White Ladder, which ended with the song “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”, a song he intended to be his farewell to the music industry. This album also contained the songs “This Year’s Love”, “Sail Away”, “Please Forgive Me” and “Babylon”, all of which helped him break the music market on the international stage, and kept him in the business after all (thank goodness). My favourite album of his? Life In Slow Motion, without a doubt – one of the most powerful albums I have ever heard.

9. Dave Matthews Band

DMB is an American rock band with a core group consisting of the usual vocals, guitars, bass and drums, but also the use of saxophones and violins which allows for more flexibility with the sound between genres. Though they’re not as huge here in Australia, in America they have five albums which have debuted at number one, and their worldwide album sales exceed 30 million. They are particularly known for their amazing live performances, which usually feature improvised renditions of their songs. My favourite album of theirs will always be their 1996 effort, Crash, which was my introduction to the band as a young teenager.

Listen to a live version of “So Much To Say” off my favourite album here:

8. Jack Johnson

This once pro surfer and now chilled out singer/songwriter has been contributing to the world of music for over a decade, and the world is a better place for it. Although many will argue his albums sound the same (which they do, though they change incrementally each time around), as far as I’m concerned this is no bad thing – I know what I’m getting with Jack Johnson, and I know I’ll like what I hear. Whether my future family like it or not, this will be my “beach” and probably my “holiday” music for the rest of my life, in much the same way that The Beach Boys would accompany family holidays when I was a child.

“You and Your Heart” is off his latest album:

7. Porcupine Tree

This band is considered to be one of the most important bands in the recent prog-rock scene. The band’s frontman, Steven Wilson, is also responsible for several other bands, including Blackfield, No-Man, one half of Storm Corrosion, and also as a solo artist. Porcupine Tree grew slowly, from bizarre, trippy psychedelia in the early 90s, to the heavier sounds in the early 00s for which they started to become well known. My favourite album by this incredibly talented and intelligent band is a tie between In Absentia and Fear of a Blank Planet.

Listen to one of my favourite PT songs, “Time Flies” (though a shortened version, but still great – it has an awesome clip):

6. Rufus Wainwright

Rufus is one of those artists who is impossible to define. His music is a complex mix of classical and pop music, and his voice is just simply huge in every way imaginable. One of the most talented songwriters around, and one who is looked up to by many other musicians, he has a habit of changing directions between albums quite dramatically – his recent upbeat pop album was preceded by a dark, brooding album which featured only his vocals and piano. My favourites albums include this piano album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu and also Want One and Poses.

Check out the first single off his latest album, “Out Of The Game”:

5. Crowded House

Crowded House were started back in the mid 80s by Neil Finn, one of New Zealand’s most beloved songwriters, when his older brother Tim’s band Split Enz broke up. Due to their upbeat, catchy songwriting style, they became hugely successful in New Zealand, Australia, and other parts of the world too, including the UK. They released four amazing albums between 1986 and 1993, and in 1996 performed their “Farewell To The World” concert on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. In recent years they reformed and released more albums, but for me my favourite will always be 1991’s Woodface, the only CH album to also feature older brother Tim, who co-wrote many of the songs with Neil.

Listen to their classic 1986 hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, and just try and tell me it’s not a beautiful song:

4. Ben Folds

Back in the early to mid 90s, Ben Folds and two friends wanted to form a band that rocked, but used piano instead of a guitar. Ben Folds Five was soon formed and built up a cult status, before going on to score a major radio hit with the rather depressing song Brick. After BFF broke up at the turn of the century, Ben Folds went on to release several solo albums, and has built up an enormous fan base over all these years, and now, excitingly, he has reformed BFF with the original two other members, and no doubt the new album will be blistering, to say the least. My favourite albums of his? Whatever and Ever Amen by BFF, and Songs For Silverman as a solo artist.

Listen to the new BFF song off the upcoming album (and get up and dance if necessary…I did a bit):

3. Pink Floyd

Do I really need to introduce this band? Probably not. Pink Floyd are one of the best selling and most influential rock bands of all time, perhaps most famous for their classic albums Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall. They also had number one hits in four separate decades, and survived a change of their frontman twice, from Syd Barrett to Roger Waters in the 60s, and then to David Gilmour in the 80s. For me my favourite album will always be Wish You Were Here, with the song of the same name and also the epic 9-part Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

My favourite Pink Floyd song, however, is “Us And Them” – listen to it in its entirety here and you’ll see why:

2. Led Zeppelin

Really these last two bands are tied for first spot – I struggle to pick between them. Again, LedZep need no introduction. Throughout the late 60s and early 70s they sold out stadiums around the world, sold millions upon millions of albums, wrote immortal songs such as “Stairway To Heaven”, “The Immigrant Song” and “Whole Lotta Love”, and even secured the record for the loudest ever concert (laws were passed after this regarding concert volumes). Yet for me, I have always loved the lesser-known music by this band, too, such as the folkier second half of Led Zeppelin III, the bluesier moments of their first two albums, the odd ventures into reggae and funk music on later albums. I think only when you listen to the band’s full catalogue can you truly appreciate what an awesome band they were.

The song to link to here is obvious – a fantastic live performance of “Stairway To Heaven”:

1. The Beatles

It might not be the most original answer, but for me it still holds true. I love The Beatles, and I think there’s a good reason why 50 years after they first started releasing music, we are still listening to them. They permanently changed the music landscape, influencing songwriters to this very day, and in their relatively short lifespan of 8 years they released 13 albums which changed dramatically from the pop songs of their early days to the increasingly experimental rock of their final years. Although I love many of their albums, my favourite album by them is (and always will be) Abbey Road. If you haven’t listened to this album before, go listen to it right this moment. Seriously.

For the final song, I’ve chosen “Come Together”:

What are some of your favourite bands? Do they change much as time passes?

20 thoughts on “My Top Ten Bands (Music Monday #3)

  1. Well I was surprised that I actually knew some of these and actually had copies of some. David Grey, Rufus Wainwright, I enjoy Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and I have a copy of everything by the Beatles and some of John Lennon’s own stuff – mind you as a teenager in Liverpool in the sixties, why wouldn’t I. 🙂

    • I think I do have that kind of music collection where there is a little something for everybody. Whenever somebody looks through my whole collection I always say to them “if you can’t find at least one thing you like, you probably don’t like music in general.” Interestingly though I have noticed not as much variance in my top 10 – there’s a couple of bands that stand out but most have similarities.
      I think every band I named, I own every album by, come to think of it. In the case of Led Zeppelin I also own every solo album Robert Plant (the singer) has released since, and with The Beatles I own everything by Paul and George and a few of John’s albums (though not all of them, I must confess). I’m a bit obsessive with music – once I like a band I have to listen to everything by them.
      I’m a bit jealous of the fact you were a teenage Liverpudlian back in the 60s. That would have been amazing. 😀

  2. I absolutely love Pink Floyd! I’m on a Pink Floyd music listening spree at the moment., I saw The Wall performed by Roger Waters on the weekend at the Rogers Centre. OMG! Have you seen it live before? If you haven’t you MUST invest money into some tickets and see that production. I’ve seen him perform twice now and it was an amazing experience both times.

    • Ahhh awesome! My parents saw The Wall recently, but I must admit I haven’t seen it live myself. I have heard it’s amazing though. I would love to see David Gilmour live too – overall, across the whole Pink Floyd catalogue, I actually prefer the stuff Gilmour wrote (or co-wrote back in the 70s), and his solo album from a few years back (On An Island) was mind-blowingly good. You don’t get bands like the Floyd anymore! 😛

    • Sadly, I am yet to see DMB or Rufus Wainwright live. DMB has only been to Australia a couple of times and I missed them both times, and Rufus seems to come on an almost yearly basis now (he must have a cult following here that I’m not aware of haha), but every time he comes, I happen to have no money to spare. He’s coming in a couple of months but pretty sure the shows are already sold out. One day…
      Ben Folds I have seen, luckily (mind, he has always come to Australia a lot – one of his wives back in the early 00s was an Aussie too, the one whom Way To Normal was about, essentially). I saw him back in 2006 at the Sydney Opera House, with the Sydney Symphony – that was an amazing show, one of my favourite concerts ever! 🙂

      • The one concert I went to had Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, and Ben Lee all together. I can’t remember who the official headliner was because I think Folds and Wainwright took turns. It was brilliant. I’ve seen DMB a couple times. They always put on a good show.

        • Ohhhhh you went to that concert, that would have been amazing! I’ve heard that live clip of Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright singing Careless Whisper, I laughed when I read Ben Folds explaining that he was singing into a microphone but Rufus wasn’t, because Rufus’ voice is just so…big!
          Very jealous you’ve seen Rufus and DMB! Would love to see Ben Folds again too….if Ben Folds Five tour with their new album I am so going!

  3. I’m going to have to agree with your top three. The only two bands that can possibly compete with my Pink Floyd obsession would have to be The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. And you’re right about Led Zepp – I love Tangerine, and Ramble On, and What Is And What Should Never Be a whole lot more than I like Whole Lotta Love. And I can never get tired of bopping my head to Rock & Roll!
    I’m going to just comment on your top three, because otherwise this will turn into a comment almost as long as your post. 😛

    • Well that is pretty cool we agree on those three bands then! 😀 I love Ramble On too, and That’s The Way, and I used to be able to play Gallow’s Pole on the guitar actually. And Bron-y-aur Stomp (don’t think I spelt that right), such a fun song! 😀
      Hahaha yeah this post was very long, possibly the longest post I have yet written, in fact.

      • Aaah! I love all of them, too! I don’t think I’d ever be able to pick a favourite. And after thinking about it for a day, I think I’d switch The Beatles for Pink Floyd. Floyd and Led Zepp are tied for first place for me. Well, I say that now.

        That’s the thing, though. I have new favourite bands, and newer new favourite bands, and newer-than-that favourite bands, but if I had to consider every band that I’ve called my favourite, and tally them all up, these three would always come out on top. No matter how many amazing bands I keep discovering.

        Music demands long posts, don’t you think? Just look at the comments on your Music Listening page. I think when crazy music people get together, the discussion is a lot more animated than if it was, say, crazy book people getting together. I don’t know. So, it’s okay!

        I’m not a huge Dave Matthews Band fan, but I do like So Much To Say. And..Crush, was it called?
        You already know how I feel about Porcupine Tree. And I agree with your Porcupine Tree-Pink Floyd comparison. In fact, when someone first played The Sky Moves Sideways (I love love love this piece. Did you know he composed it all by himself? And then the rest of the band walked in and he was all chilled out, like – “Oh, no big deal. I compose 20-minute master-pieces everyday.” Which, to be fair, he probably does. Forget I said that.), I thought it was actually Floyd! And I said, “Hey! I haven’t heard this before! Was this their earlier stuff? This is awesome!”

        I apologise for how long and convoluted that sentence is. Sorry. Crazy music person talk. 😛

        • Ah, interesting. I guess the thing for me with Pink Floyd is that I don’t love all their albums. For example, I think The Final Cut is just awful, and was Roger Waters basically thinking he could repeat the same format as The Wall, but it came out as boring (which might be why A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the next album and the first without Waters, was so good and did so well commercially). The first Pink Floyd album (chronologically speaking) that I really love is Meddle (their 6th, I think). I just love Echoes, and One Of These Days, both amazing songs. But in comparison, I love all of Led Zeppelin’s albums – the only album that clearly wasn’t as good, in my opinion, is Presence. Just didn’t grab me as much (but I love some of the songs on it).
          I agree, I think for me most of my top ten artists/bands won’t change, no matter how many new artists I discover. The top three definitely won’t, I know that for sure.
          I do know what you mean, I think it’s easier to become obsessive with music than with books. I mean, a look at my collections indicates that – about 400ish books, but way over 1000 cds. I love both, but yeah…my music love probably has eaten away at more of my money, over time 😛
          Yeah, DMB had a song called Crush. Their albums change a lot in style and sound, but they’re not for everyone I guess. I like most of their stuff, I think as a teen they showed me what cool things you could do with music just by changing the traditional line up of instruments in what is essentially a rock band.
          I love The Sky Moves Sideways, I’ve been listening to that album a bit recently actually. But yeah, that was back in 1995, just before PT got onto a bigger label. Out of their old stuff, that is my fave album by miles! But it shows how even then Steven Wilson was very switched on! 🙂
          That’s okay about your convoluted sentences…it’s nice to talk to someone who gets so excited about music! 😛

  4. This is the first I’ve heard of David Gray or Ben Folds, but of course I know Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and the Beatles. I found David’s song a little melancholy but Ben’s was very kicky, making me want to get up and dance.

    I’ve also heard of the Dave Matthew’s Band and love the Sax in it, too. I love the ocean visuals in Jack Johnson’s video and ‘Time Flies’ seems to be my theme song these days! 🙂 I had to laugh to hear Rufus Wainright’s voice coming out of Helena Bonham!

    I’m sure I’ve heard ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, although I didn’t know that it was Crowded House from New Zealand who sang it.

    Pink Floyd was the first concert my hubby had ever been to and we only got to go because his best friend had tickets and ended up in the hospital the weekend they came to town. He used to listen to their albums as a kid so was stoked when he was actually able to see them in person (even though we were in the ‘nose bleed’ section and needed binoculars if we wanted to see them up-close!) Their laser light show was awesome, though.

    I’ve always liked ‘Stairway to Heaven’ although I didn’t realize Led Zeppelin had sung such a variety of styles. I’ll have to go check them out better.

    The Beatles are one of my all-time favourites, although when I first saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show, I wasn’t too impressed. Mind you, I was only about 6 at the time. (Gosh, did I just reveal that? Yikes!)

    Thanks for sharing these videos. I learned some things and they also brought back some memories. 🙂

    • David Gray’s music generally is melancholy, but there’s a beauty to it that just blows me away sometimes. Ben’s music goes both ways – it can be very melancholy, but it more often is very energetic and often the lyrics are quite witty as well.
      I find with any band that has a saxophone in it, I am automatically drawn in (perhaps because my Dad plays), so that was a big drawcard for DMB. Although I love that Time Flies song by Porcupine Tree, I have recently noticed substantial similarities between that and a particular Pink Floyd, but then PT have always admitted that the Floyd were one of their main influences, which is no bad thing in itself. I am very jealous by the way that you have seen Pink Floyd – I would love to see them live, as they put on amazing shows. 🙂
      Crowded House sung a lot of big songs, but I don’t know how big those songs were overseas – perhaps their other big hit was “Better Be Home Soon”. The Finn Brothers I have seen many many times – in the form of Crowded House (well, Neil in that case), Split Enz, as solo artists, and also together as The Finn Brothers (under which label they have released two albums). No matter what band/guise I see them in, they are always amazing, and their songs are the sort that the crowds always know all the words to, which makes it very special to see them I think.
      I would have loved to have been around when The Beatles were together (and alive, for that matter). I still would like to see McCartney live if I ever got the chance – at least he’s still kicking on and playing and releasing albums, even though he has just turned 70. He could still have a lot left in him yet.
      Glad you enjoyed the post and videos! It’s always nice to share music I think! 🙂

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    • Hahahaha good to hear! It always makes me happy to know there’s so many people out there who still love some of these classic bands, regardless of their thoughts of modern music! 🙂

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