Sunday, August 5, 2007

Top 5 Surviving Bands

This list is of the best bands that have carried on with good music after one or more of their founders left the band for one of a myriad of reasons (e.g. creative differences, solo ambitions, or death). To give you a good example of what I'm after, I'm not going to be listing Weezer on this list, as in my opinion, all their good music came before Matt Sharp left following Pinkerton. Similarly, the Who never recovered from losing Kieth Moon. For the sake of history, I'll also list who left the bands and why.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett, mental problems and drug use) - Pink Floyd is probably the oddest choice I could make, as a majority of their success (both commercially and artistically) comes from songs that were almost directly related to Syd Barrett. So, in essence, the Barrett split defined the band. The most notable of these songs, in my opinion, is the epic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond."

2. Duran Duran (Roger Taylor, retirement, and Andy Taylor, solo career) - In my opinion, the New Duran Duran trio made one of the best pop albums of the 90's in the form of The Wedding Album. Even though the rest of their work is sub-par when compared to before the split, "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World" are just too good, not to mention "Too Much Information." The band would reunite in 2005 for one album before Andy left again in 2006.

3. Genesis (Peter Gabriel, brilliant solo career, Steve Hackett, creative differences) - Really, though this band went through tons of lineup changes, there are two distinct eras - The one with Collins, Rutherford, and Banks, and the earlier one that also included Gabriel and Hackett. The five-member Genesis was extremely artistic, Theatrical Victorian Prog Rock, while the three-member Genesis was the band that produced great 80's pop (see Invisible Touch). Both were amazing, so the band deserves this spot.

4. Van Halen (David Lee Roth, solo career) - The reasons why Diamond Dave split are still debated, but Sammy Hagar took over and led the band (or followed Eddie Van Halen's lead) into more pop-oriented waters. The thing is, it was still good music. 5150 was the first Hagar album as well as their first #1 album, and deservedly so. Gary Cherone sucked, though.

5. AC/DC (Bon Scott, death) - After Brian Johnson joined, they released Back in Black partially in tribute to Bon scott, and that went on to be one of the best-selling albums of all time. However, nothing apart from "Thunderstruck" has really been too good since.

Honorable mentions: The Rolling Stones (I'm sure someone else will put them, so I wasn't worried), The Yardbirds, Smashing Pumpkins

Ryan's Top Five

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - This is the only band that came to mind at first, so I'll go with it. They lost Hillel Slovak and then went on to produce some of the best music of the (early-mid) 90s. Tory and I, I'm pretty sure, are maybe the only two people who like One Hot Minute more than Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

2. The Flaming Lips - Um, they had quite a few members over the years before they made their two best albums, The Soft Bulletin, and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

3. The Verve - Had a lot of turmoil before Urban Hymns, which, as I pointed previously, is one of the best albums of the 90s. Of course, they've never been as good since, but still. Actually, upon further review, the band broke up before this album, then guitarist Nick McCabe returned to record this album, and then they broke up again. So, I'm keeping it here, because the spirit of turmoil was so determined and admirable.

4. AC/DC - See Dan's entry, Back in Black was by far their best.

5. Pink Floyd - I slot them this low because I really like Syd Barrett's stuff.

I'm out.

Tim's Top 5:
1. Guided by Voices - (Tobin Sprout, Jim Pollard, Greg Demos, Jim McPherson...everyone who was ever in the band aside from Bob Pollard at some point...) This band went through dozens of lineups, but at the core, it remained solid, so that my favorite album of GbV's featured a lineup that would appear on no others (though Doug Gillard remained an integral part until the end).

2. The Ramones - (I can't go through the whole list, I'm not that much of a fan) There were eight of them, their music is, to me, relatively indistinguishable for most of their existence, I don't long for the presence of any particular members of the Ramones. This is all I have to say about the Ramones right now.

3. Pearl Jam - (a Spinal Tap-ish collection of drummers -- Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, Dave Abbruzzese, Jack Irons -- a popular mention on this list) - Granted, it's a drummer, few bands (Zeppelin, The Who) would have been brought down by the loss of a drummer. That said, it's also a ton of drummers. And it's had no impact. Ten is still Pearl Jam's worst album, Matt Cameron is their best drummer, although Jack Irons was certainly sufficient.

4. Oasis - (Tony McCarroll after Definitely Maybe, Bonehead and Guigsy after Be Here Now, Alan White after Heathen Chemistry) -- Again, two of these were drummers, but it counts. They're not a great band anymore, but their albums continue to be better than they'll get credit for from the jaded Americans who seem to have grown skeptical of British acts. Heathen Chemistry and Don't Believe the Truth are both far better than advertised, and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is a better album than anyone really remembers.

5. OK Go - (Andy Duncan, this is purely theoretical) Duncan left after they finished recording Oh No, so his replacement has not appeared on any albums, but they were good live after Duncan left, so I therefore can conclude that his loss will be negligible. I really have no contribution to offer to this Top 5 list whatsoever.

Frankly, I'd do far better with bands that utterly collapsed after a personnel shift (Chris Bell-less Big Star would top the list)

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