Nov 022012

WANTED: Bassist with good hair. No poseurs!

Some nerdboy with a thing for Pete Quaife‘s hairdo is bound to disagree, but driving into work this morning it occurred to me that The Kinks achieved a legendary body of work without having any particularly influential musician. Any musician with an ounce of taste will rave about songwriting and the songs, but beside Dave Davies‘ freakout solos on a couple of early singles, who ever thinks of any member of that band in a “Musicians’ Musician” type of way? Who’s ever posted an add seeking a musician with a description of the musical style of a member of The Kinks?

Sure,  a case can be made for the influence of Ray Davies‘ fey vocal delivery, but has Ray ever made a “Top 100 Vocalists in Rock” list? Highly doubtful.

In no way do I mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with this thought, mind you, but I was wondering if any other legendary bands were composed of musicians who didn’t particularly influence future generations of musicians, you know, real musicians who practice, buy special gear, and shit like that.


  28 Responses to “Legendary Bands Lacking Particularly Influential Musicians”

  1. bostonhistorian

    And let’s face it: Dave Davies ripped off his freakout solos from the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”, the solo of which is simply a more scattered version of the solo in the Wailers version. Is Creedence a legendary band? Could you even tell if another band were influenced by Creedence?

  2. CCR is an EXCELLENT example of what I’m seeking!

  3. misterioso

    Mod, you’re making my argument about the totally overrated, largely bullshit notion of influence being any measure of anything worthwhile. I understand, of course, that you are not making a value judgement here, and my ire is not directed at you, but rather at anyone who would feel the need to discuss the greatness of, say, Face to Face or Something Else in terms of its influence, rather than the sheer brilliance and beauty of the records themselves. As if, somehow, that were not sufficient.

  4. I’m by no means legendary except in my own mind, but I certainly am influenced not only by the Kinks’ songwriting chops, but Dave Davies’ guitar playing, back-up singing, and certainly Mick Avory’s drumming. In fact, an argument could be made (and mind you, I am not sure that I’m making it here) that if Quaife had been more of a hotshot, that the music as a whole would’ve suffered. That they are not perfect, but rather imperfect in all the right ways is perfect, if you get what I’m getting at. As to what makes something perfectly imperfect, that is a topic worthy of some RTH lab investigation.

  5. Yes, we agree on your notion, misterioso. I’m glad I could return the favor and get you steamed about something. This topic, however, interested me, because I was thinking that there are “legendary” bands with even less-accomplished musicians (chops-wise) who are yet more influential as musicians. Think of Johnny Ramone and the two Ramones drummers, for instance.

  6. misterioso

    Ok, but unless you are trying to get me going, don’t tell me to think of the Ramones. A good case of (undeniable) influence being no measure of anything except…influence.

  7. alexmagic

    Some nerdboy with a thing for Pete Quaife‘s hairdo is bound to disagree

    Why you gotta go after Oats like that, Mod?

    I’m with folks above on both the idea that “influence” is overrated (outside of “Hall of Fame” discussion) and that Avory is a great drummer, especially on Arthur, where he’s the band’s MVP. But you’re probably right that the Kinks aren’t “instrumentally influential” with the exception of Dave’s sound on the early songs.

    That said, the You Really Got Me/All Day riff is kind of monumentally influential, right? Like, I’d enshrine that in a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame before a lot of actual bands.

    To your point, though, Ray’s skills as an A1, top-level songwriter is what makes the Kinks, and he is indeed pretty directly influential at the head of more than a few rock subgenres.

  8. People are getting at possibly a more positive way of asking this question, which could be stated, “Which legendary bands have attained their status primarily through the ‘purity’ of their music?” One thing the Kinks and CCR have in common, for instance, beside a lack of individually influential musicians is a lack of especially cool style, celebrity, and backstory, other than the bickering brother aspect. Just another way of thinking of this, but I am wondering what other bands succeeded to this degree without containing even one “ace” or “influential” musician. The Edge in U2, for instance, may or may not be technically brilliant, but he’s highly influential.

  9. mockcarr

    Do any new wave or punk bands do this AT ALL, while being legendary? The whole point was to not be competent.

  10. BigSteve

    The Beach Boys’ vocal sound may be influential, but no one thinks of them as instrumentalists, do they?

  11. Along with the Ramones (highly influential guitar and drum style) there were punk bands like Television (guitar geeks haven) and the Sex Pistols (Steve Jones’ guitar sound), for starters. The Attractions were 3 deep in Musicians’ Musicians. I’ve gotta run, but I’m glad this discussion is picking up some interest. More from me later.

  12. I even forget that they play instruments. Well, on the early records they didn’t play much, did they? Good one.

  13. alexmagic

    The Voidoids had Quine, too, right?

  14. Beach Boys came immediately to mind due to a concert version of “Barbara Ann” I occasionally hear. Dennis is so manically out-of-time on his fills that I’m dumbstruck the Boys keep the vocals in rhythm and on time. I feel it sort of validates them as they continue to keep it together in spite of the drumming.


  15. cliff sovinsanity

    Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

    Certainly the sound of the band is very influential from Bon Jovi to The Hold Steady, but no individual members (despite their obvious talents) is often cited as an influence.

    On The Kinks question, I think Ray Davies as a whole (writing, vocalization,guitar playing and general attitude) is influential oft copied (early Paul Weller, Blur, Pulp). But could this apply, to Bruce as well??

  16. ladymisskirroyale

    Legendary does not equal influential? Doesn’t a legend influence people? I’m still a bit confused on the concept. Mod, perhaps tell us more band who you were thinking of.

    If I somewhat grasping the concept correctly, I would nominate The Go-Betweens (of course). They had a very distinctive sound (legendary, especially now that Grant McLennan has died) but so lacked influence that “influential” labels, such as Postcard, signed them, released a single, and then forgot to pay them or clarify their future contracts. In their later reincarnation in the early 00’s, they snagged ex-members of Sleater-Kinney, released several records and toured. They were Big in Australia…need I say more?

  17. Yes, that was the next example I had in mind before I had to hit the road.

  18. Springsteen and His E Street Band are a great example! Who grows up thinking, “I want to play like Gary Tallent!”

    Ray’s “total package” doesn’t count. I’m talking about individual musicians and the reach of their individual musicianship within their respective bands.

  19. It’s about individual musicians and the influence of their individual musician style, ladymiss. And this thread is about legendary, titanic bands who reached that status without holding specific appeal to “musicians’ musicians.” There are lots of bands at the Go-Betweens’ level who reached that level without influential musicians (and by that, I mean the people actually playing instruments – sorry, vocalists). Had they been a lot more successful, sure, they would have been a good example.

  20. After the 60’s giants, I think you’d come up with more great bands in total than influential/notable musicians in those bands. Who was the standout in Crazy Horse, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, The Clash, The Replacements, Nirvana, …? I think it would be harder to identify guys like the Edge or Jonny Greenwood who are considered influential musicians in their bands.

    I think we had an old thread after Quaife’s death that discussed his memorable bass parts. And Roy Bittan, the keyboardist for the E St Band is a pretty highly sought session player.

  21. cliff sovinsanity

    I would say Joe Perry had a big influence on some of the hair bands of the 80’s that were more blues orientated rather than pop-metal. I’m thinking Faster Pussycat, Great White, Warrant. Also, the early Black Crowes took a lot cues from Perry.

    Thin Lizzy – double guitar solos. Were they the first?? I know the guy from Metal Evolution claims it was Judas Priest (not!).

    Nirvana – I’m thinking Kurt Cobain clones like Silverchair, and Seven Mary Three. (ugh!).

  22. k., there’s no Crazy Horse without Neil Young, who’s musical influence is undeniable.

    Aerosmith? Isn’t Joe Perry next to Jimmy Page in influence over hard-rock guitarists to follow? I was never in that scene, but I imagine a young Slash spent months learning every classic Perry lick.

    Maybe I’m like Tvox regarding the Kinks, but I know for a fact that a quintet of old friends and musicians in Philadelphia has spent the last 30+ years studying the moves of Topper Headon and Mick Jones in the Clash.

    I don’t understand enough about how Nirvana’s music and what followed in the band’s wake functioned. They may be a good one. I don’t know that any one of the 3 musicians had an especially distinctive style.

    The Replacements may be a good one too, unless other shitty hardcore guitarists actually modeled their playing after Bob Stinson:)

  23. ladymisskirroyale

    What? Having one of the Top 30 Australian Songs of All Time doesn’t count as influential and titanic (in Australia)?

  24. bostonhistorian

    I love the T.A.M.I. show clips of the Beach Boys because the look on Dennis Wilson’s face says “Holy crap! I get to actually play live and I’m gonna hit each and every one of these drums no matter what song we’re supposed to be playing….”

  25. bostonhistorian

    I don’t think Topper Headon gets enough credit for the way his versatility let the Clash play in so many styles. I don’t think they could have done the London Calling LP with a different drummer.

  26. BigSteve

    I believe the Allman Bros. did the twin lead guitar thing before Thin Lizzy did.

  27. Good responses there. I was just rattling off some mega bands who didn’t seem to have a single acclaimed “musician”. I think there are a lot of heavy guitarists who rate in front of Joe Perry. I left Neil out of Crazy Horse but that is not entirely fair. Good point about Topper Headon, Terry Chimes was no equal plus Mick Jones was more of a brilliant arranger than a player. And the less said about the Cobain clones the better.

  28. jeangray

    Jimmy Page played the guitar riff on “You Really Got Me.”

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