KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

NO GUILT, JUST PLEASURE – Artists You Might Not Expect Me To Like

I’ve never been a fan of the term “guilty pleasure” even though I understand the concept behind it. When it comes to music, you can only admit to enjoying certain artists or songs that are deemed “uncool” or “cheesy” by using those two words or appreciating them ironically. Perhaps I was guilty (no pun intended) of using that term when I was younger, but for most of my adult life I’ve unapologetically enjoyed many such artists even when certain friends rolled their eyes at me.
Not Guilty RoadsignOf course, one person’s guilty pleasure is another’s favorite, and you should never have to justify your enjoyment of anything for fear of being mocked…even though you should always be prepared for it. I consider myself fortunate that I’ve always absorbed various styles & genres like a sponge, and I’m constantly seeking out new & previously-undiscovered music, so I never place limits on what I might like or dislike. In this post I’ve highlighted several examples of artists that you might not expect me to like, and in some cases even I’m perplexed by how much I enjoy them. Feel free to mock me for some or all of my choices, but I’m proud to consider myself a fan with absolutely no guilt.

Artist: SPANDAU BALLET
In 1983, when Spandau Ballet hit the airwaves in the U.S. with their now-ubiquitous hit single “True” from the album of the same name, my favorite artists were Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Rainbow, Triumph, The Cars, Pretenders and many other rock & new wave bands (and 3+ decades later that’s still the case with most of them). Why would I want to listen to this Spandau Ballet Photo (circa 1983)slick British pop band that looked like a lounge act in their video? That was also the year I got my first record store job and this album was in heavy rotation. It didn’t take long for the songs to grow on me and I quickly realized that lead singer Tony Hadley possessed one of the purest voices I had ever heard. I followed their career right through their split at the end of the decade, and I even purchased later solo albums by Hadley and main songwriter Gary Kemp. I could never put my finger on why I love this band so much, but all these years later I’m still thrilled whenever I hear songs like “Gold,” “Only When You Leave,” “How Many Lies,” “Highly Strung” and “Through The Barricades.” It’s possible that my gateway to their smooth, sophisticated “New Romantic” sound was Joe Jackson’s fifth album, Night And Day. I had been a fan right from the start, and his ever-changing music helped me to open my ears at an early age. Regardless of the reason, I’m proud to be a “Fandau.”

Artist: HANSON
What’s that? Rich likes the “MMMBop” kids? When that song took over radio & MTV in 1997 I was as dismissive as any non-teenybopper. Sure, every generation needs their Monkees and Menudo, but even I had to acknowledge that it was pretty cool to see Hanson Photo (circa 2004)three young siblings singing, playing instruments and writing or co-writing their own songs (it’s the same reason I always rooted for Debbie Gibson even though I was never a fan). Three years later, with the release of This Time Around featuring appearances from respected musicians John Popper (from Blues Traveler) and Jonny Lang, I started taking them more seriously. They’ve subsequently released several more albums on their own independent label, and fans of melodic power pop would find a lot to like on those records. Perhaps the Blues Brothers-inspired video for “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’,” which is embedded below, will convince some skeptics. Singer/keyboardist Taylor Hanson increased his musical credibility with the one-off supergroup Tinted Windows (previously featured in my One And Done series) which included Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick). Hanson is the reason I no longer dismiss teen idols, since they could potentially grow up to become legitimate artists. Sure, most of them won’t, but now I know it’s possible.

Artist: CULTURE CLUB
I like Culture Club but not nearly as much as Spandau Ballet. They both burst onto the scene at around the same time and their music shared a similar sensibility. What set Culture Club apart, of course, was the flamboyant presence of lead singer Boy George. As a heterosexual teenager in 1982, a cross-dressing lead singer was not Culture Club Photo (circa 1983)likely to get a positive reaction from me, and “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” was a little too effeminate for my tastes (although I’ve since come around to it, mostly thanks to the Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer). Then they won me over with the gorgeous follow-up single, “Time (Clock Of The Heart),” and I became even more of a fan thanks to three singles from their second album: “Karma Chameleon,” “It’s A Miracle” and “Miss Me Blind.” By the next album I began losing interest (probably at the same time the band did as well), and I currently own only a single best-of CD that’s split between Culture Club and Boy George singles. They’re certainly more of a “compilation” artist for me, but those early singles are great examples of ‘80s pop at its finest, and Boy George is a much better singer than he’s given credit for.

Artist: BARRY MANILOW
Barry Manilow is another of my “compilation” artists. I don’t need to own each of his albums, but his 1978 Greatest Hits collection, which gathers together 19 of his best-loved songs, captures every Barry Manilow - Greatest HitsManilow song I could ever want to hear. “Weekend In New England” and “Mandy” are surely two of the best pop ballads of the ‘70s, “Copacabana” is pure, silly fun, “Ready To Take A Chance Again” will always transport me back to seeing the Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn movie Foul Play multiple times, and the version of “Daybreak” he performed on his TV special (joined by children, senior citizens and animated wildlife) is one of the most bizarre & unintentionally hilarious videos I’ve ever seen. I don’t consider myself a “Fanilow” but I’m happy to have this one CD in my collection.

Artist: PETER CETERA
For many years, Peter Cetera has been one of my favorite singers. Beginning with his groundbreaking work as a member of Chicago from the late-‘60s through the early-‘80s, his unmistakable vocals have constantly brought a smile to my face. For some reason Chicago gets very little respect from critics & many rock fans, probably because they ended up having so many hugely successful hits with sappy ballads, but just based on the records they released Peter Cetera - World Falling Downduring their first decade they should be a lock for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Instead, the average fan seems to have forgotten how original they were, as they straddled the line between FM (album tracks) and AM (hit singles) radio. As a solo artist, Cetera gets even less respect, and in many ways I can understand why. ‘80s hits like “Glory Of Love” (from The Karate Kid, Part II) and the Amy Grant duet “Next Time I Fall In Love” are middle-of-the-road pop…yet his vocals make them special for me. It’s a cliché, but I could literally listen to him singing names from the phone book and still enjoy it. I know I won’t convince anyone of his greatness, but his 1981 self-titled debut solo album contained the non-ballad Rock radio hit “Living In The Limelight,” and his 1992 album World Falling Down deserves to be mentioned among the great breakup records of all time.

Artist: ALANIS MORISSETTE
When Alanis Morissette became an instant megastar thanks to 1995’s uber-platinum Jagged Little Pill and its 6 hit singles, I was 29 and not really interested in an “angry young woman” yelling about her ex-boyfriend. At least that was my initial reaction to “You Oughta Know.” Her music was everywhere and I couldn’t care less…Alanis Morissette - Under Rug Sweptuntil I heard the refrain “It’s like raaaiiinnn…on your wedding day” blasting from a co-worker’s radio. When I learned it was her #1 single “Ironic,” I decided I should give the album a shot, and I was amazed at how much I got into it. Her songwriting partnership with producer Glen Ballard resulted in an album that works from start to finish, and it holds up two decades later. She has continued to release excellent records since then, several of them as strong as Jagged Little Pill (most notably 2002’s Under Rug Swept) and I’ve marveled at the consistency of her songs (even after she & Ballard went their separate ways) and the way she handled her lightning-fast rise to fame with grace & humility.

Artist: THE CARPENTERS
I was very young during the heyday of The Carpenters throughout the early- to mid-‘70s but their music was everywhere, including my sister’s record player. They were as uncool as it gets and I had a sense of that even back then. Of course, as I got older I started to appreciate some of their songs, and around 20 years ago I picked up the Carpenters Collection CD from Time-Life and reassessed their The Carpenters - Collectionmusic. The first thing that struck me was Karen Carpenter’s pure, heartbreaking voice, which never involved vocal histrionics or unnecessary embellishments. She simply sang what the song required, and her brother Richard consistently wrote some good ones for her to sing. Yes, they’re often mushy & sentimental, but her yearning vocals never fail to draw me in to even the sappiest song. 1970’s pop doesn’t get much better than “Rainy Days And Mondays,” “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” “Superstar” and the song that always makes me think of my sister, “Top Of The World.” The Carpenters get bonus points for releasing two excellent Christmas albums that get played in my house every year during the holidays.

Artist: HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS
Here’s an artist that’s been inextricably tied to a decade that many music fans don’t take seriously. Between their multi-platinum albums Sports and Fore! (in 1983 & 1986, respectively), as well as the #1 theme song from 1985’s Back To The Future (“The Power Of Love”), most people probably think of Huey Lewis & The News as a relic from that plastic decade, but I strongly disagree. These guys have roots going back into the ‘70s, with ties to Thin Lizzy and Elvis Costello, and their first two albums are fun & quirky new wave gems Huey Lewis & The News Photo (mid-'80s)just waiting to be rediscovered. Their instrumental prowess is always impressive (especially drummer Bill Gibson) and they have to be one of the best vocal bands of their (or any) era. Just listen to their a capella song “Naturally” for proof. The records they released after their commercial peak were jam-packed with should-have-been hits and album tracks that took them into diverse musical terrain. Most importantly, Huey’s voice is a joy to hear. It’s somehow rough-as-sandpaper and smooth-as-honey at the same time, and his love of singing (and harmonica playing) comes through in every note. I hope the hipsters eventually come around and make Huey Lewis & The News cool for the first time but, whether or not that ever happens, I will continue to profess my love for their entire discography.

I hope I haven’t lost anyone’s respect after these admissions of not-guilty-at-all pleasures. I’m sure many of my readers listen to certain artists that they’re too timid too admit, and I encourage everyone to proudly acknowledge them…consequences be damned. Please share names in the Comments section. Of the artists discussed above, I’ve already seen two of them in concert, and I will be seeing two others over the next couple of months. Can you guess which ones?

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82 comments on “NO GUILT, JUST PLEASURE – Artists You Might Not Expect Me To Like

  1. mikeladano
    March 23, 2015

    Respect GAINED!

    I’ve spoken with you about Hanson before. Others I’ve spoken to have backed up what you’ve said.They’ve certainly worked with some respected names!

    Huey Lewis, I always thought he was cool honestly.

    Like

    • Thanks, Mike. Hanson’s transition from teenybopper boy band to legitimate artists took a few years and some key collaborators. I don’t think they’ll ever fully escape “MMMBop” but hopefully one of these days they’ll break through the mainstream again.

      A lot of people loved Huey back in the ’80s, but either they were never considered cool or the people who liked them were uncool. I’ve had plenty of friends mock me for loving them but I think they’re great.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ianbalentine
    March 23, 2015

    I’m with Mike on the Hansen and especially the Huey Lewis! I have a TON of bands I get teased about liking quite a bit (Supertramp, Alan Parsons, etc etc etc). I used to get teased about being a mega Queen fan, but time has a way of changing people’s opinions. I think most of these so-called guilty pleasures are called as such because of narrow minded critics who think all true artists need to look like Elvis Costello circa 1977.

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    • Thanks for the feedback, Ian. I could write a separate post explaining how being a progressive rock fan from the ’80s through the early-’00s was a lonely existence. I’m so glad it’s become more accepted in recent years, and all the bands you mentioned have proven to be inspirations for many current artists. Good point about critics & Elvis Costello, which I think is a reference to an old David Lee Roth quote, right?

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  3. ianbalentine
    March 23, 2015

    Yes, indeed it is!

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  4. Bill Van Orden
    March 23, 2015

    You picked some GOODuns, Rich…. The HANSON BOYS can actually PLAY and aren’t FAKING IT AT ALL…..Even WEIRD AL directed a few of their videos. Huey Lewis STILL bangs out a great show…. I’ve seen them live TWICE and the bar band vibe still sits with the boys VERY well…. Bill V ….closet Fanilow.

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    • Thanks for the feedback, Bill. It’s been hard finding people in our age group who will admit to liking Hanson, but they have grown into a very impressive musical unit. Didn’t realize they had a connection with Weird Al. Nice. As for Huey, that band is (and has always been) fantastic. All of their radio hits were great, and their albums are full of undiscovered gems. Nice to know you’re a Fanilow (who’s now out of that closet).

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  5. stephen1001
    March 23, 2015

    Nice idea for a post Rich – I was really impressed with the Carpenters’ CLose to you!

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  6. Danica Piche
    March 23, 2015

    Hi Rich, great list! I didn’t appreciate Huey Lewis & the News until I saw them live. They’re wonderfully talented.

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    • Thanks for checking this out, Danica. I’m glad Huey & the boys won you over in concert. They are all world class musicians and the songs speak for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Danica Piche
        March 23, 2015

        I saw them fairly recently and I recommend their shows. Huey himself either has a great sense of humor or he’s cranky. The audience went nuts for the horn section and Huey exclaimed, “What?? They’re just HORNS!” The girls clustered around the stage said or did something possibly inappropriate, and Huey replied, “I don’t even know you!!” It was altogether a great performance.

        I’ll guess that you’re seeing Huey & TN and Barry Manilow over the next couple of months.

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      • That’s an interesting story, Danica. I have to imagine that Huey was just goofing around, since he seems to love every moment that he’s on stage.

        Good guesses about who I’ll be seeing, but both are incorrect. However, I have seen Huey & The News in the past…around 1990 or ’91, I believe…and they were fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Daddydinorawk
    March 24, 2015

    I had Manilow records in the 70’s. yes its true. I also had Earth, Wind and Fire and Billy Joel and Bob Welch and the Bee Gees. Something about that Pop music sound back then appeals to a little boy. I grew up and listened to different more subtle, less poppy music later on, but I always love a good well crafted pop tune. I can’t get to it now, but occasionally a Manilow song will pop into my conscious and its impossible to not feel nostalgic. That Chevy chase flick is a classic. 🙂 and of course when a Bee Gees song comes on the radio I’m all over it. hah

    Culture Club, if I wasn’t hip to what they were trying to go for at the time but Time, Miss Me Blind and Miracle are just great tunes no matter how you want it to shake out.

    Huey Lewis was a band I always liked later on, though I wont call myself a fan nowadays. He did come up with some great stuff and I probably loved the Sports album. In 6th grade it was all about Sports, Big Bam Boom Seven and the ragged Tiger. 😉 What a weird kid I was. In about 2001 or 2002I was working for Bill Graham Productions and I got to work a Huey Lewis show, he was playing with a full horn section and man they just killed!!!

    I think at this stage in the game most of us of a certain age are way past the guilty pleasure thing, though occasionally a really bad current pop tune will come on the radio and I will admit to liking it, but I wouldn’t necessarily seek out a full release.

    I’m not going into it, I have yet to fully assimilate any songs by contemporary bands but my Shazam app will give me away. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of those ’70s artists you mentioned, Manilow was always considered the cheesiest even at the time. Because the Bee Gees had been around for a while they probably got a little more respect during their disco era, but what a quick fall from grace after that era came to a close. Few people (certainly in America) admitted to liking them throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s. I’m glad they’ve been reappraised in recent years and have become acceptable again. EW&F and Billy Joel always had too many great songs that were loved by fans & critics alike, so I can’t imagine them ever being someone’s not-guilty pleasure.

      Wow, in 6th grade you were into a lot of hugely produced albums, although I can’t see how Sports would fit in with those Duran Duran and Hall & Oates albums. Glad you got to work on a Huey show. I’ve been fortunate to play with a horn section several times and it’s always a thrill to be drumming behind them. Just being in proximity of a horn section is a joy to behold.

      I’m sure there are plenty of potential guilty pleasures out there today, but I wonder if anyone in their musically formative years even cares anymore. With Spotify and iTunes playlists, most people probably just skip from one song/band/era to another without concern for “cool” status. In some ways that’s a good thing, but I’m still glad I grew up when I did. I think there’s just too much to absorb nowadays.

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  8. Phillip Helbig
    March 24, 2015

    I guess “guilty pleasure” depends somewhat on the definition. At some point, some transform into bands one actually likes. I’ll own up to Foreigner, Alphaville, Camouflage, Petula Clark. Iron Maiden and Abba have made the transition. 🙂

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    • Interesting choices, Phillip. I suppose there are people who consider ’70s AOR bands like Foreigner and Journey to be a little cheesy, and there was a time that “real” rock fans looked down on them, but at this point many of those bands have stood the test of time. ABBA is a great example of a group that no self-respecting rock fan would have admitted to liking during their heyday, but now everyone loves at least some of their songs. Maiden, on the other hand, could never be anyone’s guilty pleasure. They’ve been legit since their first album.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 24, 2015

        I agree with respect to the music. However, the goofy image has always put me off a bit. By the way, I recently saw the Iron Maidens in concert. Worth a listen—and a look!

        This year there is another Music From the Beast festival (see my comments from a few months ago). Blaze will be back, so I’m looking forward to his set. You really should check out his Maiden albums. I’m glad that Paul Di’Anno won’t be back. Otherwise many from last year. I’ve seen Dutch/English Iron Maiden acoustic cover band a few times. Singer Damien Wilson is really special. He isn’t a Bruce clone by any means, but can really sing the songs. I also have a ticket to an upcoming solo concert, where he is in singer-songwriter mode. Versatile bloke. Maiden should really ask him to pick up the torch if Bruce retires.

        I never thought I would find myself comparing Rush to Journey or Foreigner (or Styx or REO Speedwagon), but there is a similar phenomenon here. I believe it was at their induction into the Rock’n’Roll hall of fame that someone asked “When did Rush become cool?”

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      • Those Maiden-related shows sound like fun. I don’t get out to many shows anymore so I doubt I will be seeing The Iron Maidens, but it’s good to know that these shows are taking place.

        Good point about that Rush comment. Musically they may be different from those other bands we’ve mentioned, but for many years none of them were considered cool and now many of them are. The transition for Rush has been very satisfying, because women always loved Foreigner or Styx or Journey, but Rush was a guy’s band. That’s no longer the case.

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  9. Matt Phillips
    March 24, 2015

    Hi Rich. You had me at Alanis and Culture Club… Huey and The Carpenters have their good moments too though. The latter’s ‘Goodbye To Love’ always pleases me when it comes on the radio and features one of the great guitar solos, just to get very muso for a minute…

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    • Alright Matt, I’m glad we agree about Alanis and Culture Club. And “Goodbye To Love” is one of The Carpenters’ best. I love when a pop song has “muso” elements that the average fan might not think about. Thanks for pointing that out.

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  10. Deke
    March 24, 2015

    Great post Rich! You even included a name drop for Triumph! Huey Lewis I respect more now than back than man that band can play.

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    • Thanks, Derek. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing Triumph mentioned here. And thanks for acknowledging the musicianship in Huey Lewis & The News. I think it was their song “Heart And Soul” that first made me realize how special they were.

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  11. Seems like a good time for me to come out of the closet and admit that I think ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls is a fantastic song and I find myself having it stuck in my head so often that it’s not even funny anymore.

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    • Hi Ovidiu. For some reason your comment on this post slipped through the cracks until today. Sorry about that. I know what you mean about songs like “Wannabe” getting stuck in your head. If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t own any Spice Girls albums or choose to listen to them, but if you hear one of their songs playing and it’s catchy, you find yourself marveling at how good it is. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve had that reaction to several Backstreet Boys songs.

      I hope you’ve got some good songs stuck in your head today. The kind of songs you don’t mind playing over & over.

      Cheers!
      Rich

      Liked by 1 person

  12. J.
    March 24, 2015

    Great post, Rich – a really great idea, too.

    I have to admit to being tempted to explore some of Hanson’s stuff following the Tinted Windows album. I also quite like some of Alanis’ stuff, so good to see her get a wee mention.

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback, J. Hanson might not be for everyone but if you like melodic power-pop with hints of soul and tight harmonies, they’re as good as anyone. Glad I’m not the only one who still admits to enjoying Alanis. A lot of people write her off as an overplayed ’90s artist but she’s so much more than that.

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      • J.
        March 24, 2015

        I think it’s interesting that a lot of those ‘angst artists’ from the 90s get written off. Alanis had her faor share of angry / bitter mainstream numbers, but there was always something a little deeper. Particularly post Jagged Little Pill. I’m really quite fond of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie – that’s a fairly remarkable album.

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      • I agree about “Supposed Former…” It’s a fantastic record that was never going to live up to the success of its predecessor. It might have been a little too long, if I remember correctly, but I loved the fact that she & Ballard didn’t just repeat the formula. There was also the backlash against her physical appearance in the “Thank You” video. She has handled her entire career with class and I will always root for her.

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      • J.
        March 24, 2015

        There’s a lot of album there to listen to. It runs over an hour easily, and looking at it there just to confirm … 17 songs. I can’t say that it ever meanders, though. I think that says an awfy lot. I think it was brave move to make that album; she could easily have gone in the studio and knocked out another angst album. Good on her. I’m with you in rooting for her …

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      • My only complaint about certain albums from that era was that artists felt the need to fill up each CD with as much music as possible. Metallica released a couple of 79+ minute discs. Those are the equivalent of double albums from the ’70s, and artists should only do those sporadically. I’m a big proponent of shorter records. To me the ultimate running time is 35 to 45 minutes. However, I agree that Alanis’ album doesn’t lose steam. It just might have had a bigger impact if it was tightened up a bit.

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      • J.
        March 24, 2015

        Agree with you on the running times. I can go beyond 50 minutes for a special album, but too many artists embraced the CD running time without really having the material. Just cause they could. Most of my favourite albums run for 45 – 50 minutes. Only a few go beyond 50 …

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      • Of course, I’m a huge prog rock fan, and many of my favorite albums are two discs of 60+ minutes. It’s like listening to a quadruple album and I love it. When it comes to song-based artists, though, I prefer brevity.

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      • J.
        March 24, 2015

        I tend to think if you see an album with 16 or 17 songs chances are there will be some filler. Which of course means the album isn’t as good as it could have been. Anything that you can fit on one LP is perfect.

        I guess with prog you’d still be looking at 10 songs over the course of those 2 hours!

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      • I have a 2-CD prog album where the first song on disc 1 is 59 minutes long…and it’s followed by a couple of other songs and another 75 minute disc. It’s certainly a time commitment to listen to it but very enjoyable.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 25, 2015

        “I have a 2-CD prog album where the first song on disc 1 is 59 minutes long…and it’s followed by a couple of other songs and another 75 minute disc.”

        Rich, the teeming millions need to know! Which album is that!

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      • Phillip, I was referring to The Flower Kings’ magnificent 1999 album, Flower Power. The opening track, Garden Of Dreams, clocks in at 59:57 over the course of 18 sections, and it’s followed by three other tracks for a total of 68:41 on Disc 1. Disc 2 features 10 “shorter” tracks (4 of them are over 8 minutes) and the running time of that disc is 73:38. Needless to say that was a lot of music to devour, and it followed their previous double album by less than 2 years.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 25, 2015

        “Phillip, I was referring to The Flower Kings’ magnificent 1999 album, Flower Power.”

        They are high on my list of bands to investigate.

        Once, while travelling to a ski holiday with my son (who, at least then, listened to almost only hiphop), I put on Rush’s Moving Pictures in the car but, not wanting to demand too much of him, started with “The Camera Eye”. After a few minutes, he said “Now she finally starts to sing!” Now that’s what I call prog!

        It looks like I will start up my blog this summer. Maybe I’ll post my list of bands to check out and ask for comments.

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      • That’s a great Rush story, Phillip. How old was your son at the time?

        Glad you’ll finally be starting your own blog. Have you figured out what format it will take? Or will you just be posting whatever pops into your head?

        The Flower Kings are great. I first got into them around ’96 or ’97 and have scooped up anything they’ve released, as well as most of their side projects.

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    • Phillip Helbig
      March 26, 2015

      “That’s a great Rush story, Phillip. How old was your son at the time?”

      He must have been about 12 then.

      “Glad you’ll finally be starting your own blog. Have you figured out what format it will take? Or will you just be posting whatever pops into your head?”

      I’ll probably write my own blog software. This will take a bit longer (maybe) than using some prefab stuff, but will allow me more control. I’ve been running my own web server for more than 20 years!

      I’ll talk about things interesting to me and to enough other people to make posting worthwhile, probably concentrating on music, cosmology, language, current events, politics, etc. 🙂

      I’ll probably start writing posts this weekend, but not putting anything up until it gets up and running in the summer. Then, when I don’t have much time, I could post a pre-written post to fill the gap and give the teeming millions what they want! Maybe my first one will be about seeing John Illsley last night, and listening to the first Leonard Cohen album on the way there and the third Deep Purple album on the way back (and knowing that I am the only person in the world who has ever done that). Somewhat surprisingly, Illsley played a song by Leonard Cohen! I was going to write that it was one of his newer songs, but then I realized that it is almost 30 years old. (It was “First We Take Manhattan”.)

      “The Flower Kings are great. I first got into them around ’96 or ’97 and have scooped up anything they’ve released, as well as most of their side projects.”

      Most of the bands on my list of bands to check out are from the progressive/hardrock/metal area. A very large number are, like the Flower Kings, Swedish.

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      • Phillip, I really like the idea of you telling personal stories related to your musical excursions, and tying in the music you play to & from a show is an excellent concept.

        Sweden has been a breeding ground for some amazing prog bands over the last couple of decades. In addition to The Flower Kings, I’m also a big fan of Beardfish, Moon Safari, Anglagard, Anekdoten, A.C.T, Opeth, Pain Of Salvation and several others I can’t remember right now.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 27, 2015

        “Sweden has been a breeding ground for some amazing prog bands over the last couple of decades. In addition to The Flower Kings, I’m also a big fan of Beardfish”

        Last year I saw Beardfish opening for Flying Colors! (Some people in Flying Colors are in Transatlantic with Roine Stolt from the Flower Kings; it’s a small world.)

        I think all of the other band are on my list!

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      • How were Beardfish live? Their records are great and I have some live performances on a DVD, but I’m wondering how they came across in person, especially if you didn’t know their music. I love Flying Colors, although I initially wasn’t impressed by their debut because I was expecting another prog extravaganza like Transatlantic. After a few listens I came around and now I’m a huge fan.

        Discovering The Flower Kings in the mid-’90s really opened me up to a lot of groups in their wake, thanks to Roine Stolt’s participation. Not only are both his solo albums fantastic (well, three since “The Flower King” was officially a solo album), but he’s also done great work with The Tangent, Agents Of Mercy, Karmakanic and the reunited Kaipa (Stolt’s ’70s prog band).

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 30, 2015

        “How were Beardfish live?”

        Technically very good, a good show, appropriate amount of humour. A band who are serious about what they do while at the same time not taking themselves too seriously. However, not really my cup of tea. A bit too jazzy.

        I hadn’t heard anything by either band before, but had read about them, and they both seemed like something I should like. Of course I had read about all in Flying Colors, and seen some of them in various other bands.

        I often go to concerts where I haven’t heard anything by the band in question, at least if I think there is a chance that I will like it. Even if I don’t, it’s rarely a wasted evening.

        The latest example of this: Steven Wilson last Saturday. He played his new album in sequence with a few older songs thrown in. Technically top-notch. A very good show. Even humour. And, very important, exactly the right volume. What is the point of playing so loudly that people wear earplugs? (In addition, this distorts the sound.) However, the music didn’t bowl me over. For want a better term, I would say that it was too proggy. Yes, I like prog, which to me is something like Tull’s A Passion Play. It wasn’t the progginess itself which was the problem, but more the fact that I felt that some of it was just prog, prog for the sake of prog, so to speak. I admire virtuosity, but never for its own sake. The song has to move me as well. Of course, at this level, it is a matter of taste. Post-Blaze Maiden is a good example of quite complex music but where the elements of what makes a good song are not lost.

        Wednesday: Blues Pills. Wednesday a week later: The Australian Pink Floyd Show. The Friday after that: Ian Anderson with an orchestra.

        I already have tickets for at least another dozen concerts this year. I’m particularly looking forward to David Gilmour and Fleetwood Mac (in Rumours formation, with Christine McVie).

        Yes, I must start my blog soon. I trust you will drop by regularly.

        Like

      • I will be seeing Steven Wilson this May in New York City. I’ve seen him a few times with Porcupine Tree but never as a solo act. I’m not sure anything could be “too prog” for me, but I understand the concept of displaying chops for no sake other than to show off. I much prefer memorable songs, and if they’ve got great musicianship then I’m even happier (my recent blog series on Toto is a perfect example of that).

        One thing to keep in mind when you’re seeing anything other than a pop band in concert is that sometimes the songs that have the biggest impact on you don’t get through until you’ve heard them multiple times. For prog bands that’s especially true, and the latest Steven Wilson album is a concept album that I’m still wrapping my head around after 4 or 5 listens. His previous album (The Raven That Refused To Sing) was insanely complex yet somehow instantly accessible.

        I borrowed the Blaze-era Maiden albums from a friend and made digital copies, so whenever I get around to a Maiden series here I will include them.

        Of course I will be visiting your blog regularly. I look forward to it.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        March 30, 2015

        ” I understand the concept of displaying chops for no sake other than to show off. I much prefer memorable songs, and if they’ve got great musicianship then I’m even happier”

        I agree. However, maybe this didn’t come out properly. I don’t think that they were trying to show off their chops (which of course they have). It’s just that, for me personally, I noticed mostly the chops, because the music and lyrics didn’t really move me. Of course, this is stuff which might need more than one listen.

        Maybe a good comparison is Yes or post-Lake King Crimson. Certainly good musicians, and certainly in it mainly for the music, but it just doesn’t impact on me in the same way as do Tull, Floyd, Rush, or even, say, Heep or (some) Kansas.

        “One thing to keep in mind when you’re seeing anything other than a pop band in concert is that sometimes the songs that have the biggest impact on you don’t get through until you’ve heard them multiple times.”

        Certainly true. I remember that for years I thought Stormwatch was not a good Tull album, but now I really like it. (Among other things, I really like the bass on this album, especially that which is played by Ian Anderson, who isn’t even a bass player—John Glascock became ill, so Ian played on most of the songs, and Pegg did the tour and then joined.)

        “His previous album (The Raven That Refused To Sing) was insanely complex yet somehow instantly accessible.”

        That might be worth a listen. He remarked at the concert that that was more traditional prog, whereas the new one incorporated some newer elements.

        “I borrowed the Blaze-era Maiden albums from a friend and made digital copies, so whenever I get around to a Maiden series here I will include them.”

        I listened to both today and yesterday. I do prefer Bruce’s voice slightly, but Blaze is not a bad singer. I think the songs are perhaps a bit more accessible than on the post-Blaze albums. I also think the guitar sound is better than on other Maiden albums (not that it is actually bad anywhere). I think that the pre-Blaze Maiden songs were a bit more differentiated, i.e. one could recognize it immediately from the first couple of bars even after hearing it just once or twice. This changed with the Blaze albums, and carried on after Bruce came back. Not surprising, really, since Blaze wrote very little of these albums.

        “Of course I will be visiting your blog regularly. I look forward to it.”

        That gives me some more motivation to actually get it going. I have a hugely rich and varied life outside of the blogosphere as well, so it’s just a matter of finding time. As Steven Covey said (no idea who he was; I just know him from this aphorism): the problem is not prioritizing your schedule, but scheduling your priorities. 🙂

        Like

      • Phillip, I played both Blaze-era Maiden albums this week. They’re both good but his voice isn’t as distinctive as either of his predecessors. You made a great point about the difference between the pre-Blaze material and everything after that. My biggest complaint about the albums they’ve released since reuniting with Bruce is that many of the songs are unnecessarily repetitive. A number of them are 5, 6, 7 minutes or more but they would have a much bigger impact at 4 minutes. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I really delve into their catalog for a blog series, but that’s how I’ve felt as each album has been released.

        Not that you need my advice regarding blogging, but I will pass along one observation. It’s great to get feedback from others who are passionate about the topics you discuss, and it’s fun for a while to look at the stats (page views, click-throughs, etc), but in the end it’s all about sharing things you’re interested in, regardless of comments, likes, etc (for me, at least). There are plenty of people out there just creating content to boost their numbers, but I tend to be drawn to others who focus on quality over quantity.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        April 1, 2015

        I see where you’re coming from about post-Blaze Maiden. (Actually, “The Angel and the Gambler” on Virtual XI is too long and repetitive as well.) I’m not sure if this is a big disadvantage, though. (There are also some short songs on the newer albums, and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” from their classic phase is quite long.)

        I couldn’t agree more about blogging. As I said, I’ll probably write my own blogging software (a small step since I’ve been running my own web server for 20 years) which will be back-to-basics style with no social-media interaction. I remember when the problem was too little information; now it’s too much. I promise to keep the signal-to-noise ratio high and avoid stuff like just linking to other blog posts (unless there is a very good reason to do so). And there will be no photos of cats, funny or otherwise. 🙂

        Like

      • Of course, as a prog & jazz fan, I love long songs. They just need to go somewhere. Some bands think that repeating a chorus or a riff ad infinitum makes a song more powerful, but if it doesn’t transport you to different places then they’re wasting our time. Metallica often succumbed to that in their later years. As for Maiden, “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” is an example of an epic that takes you on a journey. I couldn’t imagine it being condensed into a 4-minute track. That’s not the case with much of the material on their last several albums.

        Thank you in advance to avoiding cat videos/photos on your blog. I’m eager to see how you set it up.

        Like

  13. John
    March 24, 2015

    interesting list. Peter Cetera one of my all time favorites. I liked most others on list to varying degrees. The Carpenters back in the mid 70’s was the first “concert” my parents took me to as an early teenager (the cars the first concert I attended on my own).

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback, John. That’s a lot of C’s on your list: Cetera, Carpenters, Cars. Although I never saw The Carpenters, The Cars were one of my first concerts back in 1980, I believe, on the Panorama tour. They were a dull live band but I’m still glad I got to see them. I’ve seen Chicago without Cetera but I’ll finally get to see PC himself in a couple of months. Needless to say I’m very excited about that.

      Like

  14. 80smetalman
    March 24, 2015

    Very good post and in some ways very brave! You are absolutely right though, no one should have to justify their musical tastes. While there are a few names on your list I wouldn’t bother with there are definitely some others I would. I have always liked Alanis Morrisette and I found The Carpenters okay. As for Huey Lewis and the News, I saw them open for 38 Special in 1984 and they were very good.

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback. Not sure how brave I was here. I just wanted to point out that I wanted to point out that it’s okay to like any music that brings you pleasure…and you should be proud to admit it. Glad you had a chance to enjoy Huey & The News in concert during their commercial peak. That must have been a great show with .38 Special, another under-appreciate band.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Danica Piche
    March 24, 2015

    Hi again Rich, I was giving my selection a bit of thought as I have a lot to choose from! Until the other day. I was introduced to The Cramps’ “psychotic hillbilly” (ianbalentine) “industrial grade sleaze” (1537) music (?). I love it, much to my dismay, lol. The Cramps blow my previous list to pieces. So that’s it: The Cramps. I blame ianbalentine :).

    Like

    • Hi Danica. I only know a couple of Cramps songs from compilations. Nothing I heard made me interested in hearing more, but I know that could always change down the road. Not sure if they would be considered a guilty or not-guilty pleasure, since one of the important aspects of that concept is the derision you face from other music fans. I think The Cramps are one of those bands that people either consider cool or don’t know at all. It’s not like admitting to owning the entire Kenny G catalog. Haha.

      Ian has been very influential to both of us. I’ve checked out a few artists because of him (Robyn Hitchcock and Super Furry Animals, to name just two), and eventually it’ll cost me a lot of money as I work my way through their albums.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Danica Piche
        March 25, 2015

        Disqualified for coolness? That hadn’t occurred to me. Okay, I heart disco! Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Village People, Thelma Houston, Player, Chic, The Trammps, Lipps Inc, A Taste of Honey, Groove Thing….

        Liked by 1 person

      • How often do you get to be disqualified for coolness? Consider it a major victory. Haha. Your love of disco would have been considered a not-guilty pleasure in the immediate post-disco era. I lived through the “Disco Sucks” years and even wore a “Death Before Disco” pin on my denim jacket throughout high school, and that music was really frowned on by the rock community. Now it’s all a big melting pot, and I’m proud to admit loving disco. Chic was in their own class, but my favorite song from those years is Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Danica Piche
        March 25, 2015

        It’s got to be a first! The backlash against disco is interesting, from a cultural perspective. It was so popular and then suffered a seemingly-swift death knell. Do you know why?
        Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” is fantastic! Nice choice.
        You’re full of surprises, Rich :).

        Like

      • Aaaaahhh no, not the dreaded disco! I can just about stomach Chic, Donna Summer and Dr Buzzard’s but that’s about it…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh well, I guess not all of us have come around to appreciating disco, Matt. Considering all the “pre-programmed electronic disco” (thank you, Elwood Blues) that arrived after the death of the initial disco boom, where machines created robotic rhythms that lacked any kind of real groove, I grew to appreciate the actual musicianship involved in many of those ’70s disco records.

        Like

      • I can appreciate lots of things about disco music (string arrangements, great vocals) but that mechanized groove, whether electronic or acoustic, just grinds me down, man! I think the artists I mentioned brought a lot of interesting harmony and/or a bit more ‘air’ in the grooves than a lot of other ‘disco’ artists…

        Like

      • I know what you mean about the “mechanized groove,” Matt, but I find that most disco recordings from the ’70s have real drummers and an actual groove, even if the kick-drum & snare keep a steady beat. In many ways it’s hypnotic, and when I’m in the right mood I really enjoy that kind of music. Just don’t travel back to 1980 and tell the 14-year-old version of me. He would be terribly disappointed in his middle-aged self.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Danica Piche
        March 25, 2015

        Haha — sorry, Matt :).

        Like

      • In the Comments section of a post about not-guilty pleasures, there’s no need to apologize for liking or disliking anything…or for bringing up an often-reviled genre.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of people have suggested that homophobia was behind the swift decline of disco. Even though that could have been a contributing factor, was it the lack of homophobia that propelled it to become such a popular genre in the first place? Of course not. I think the market got saturated and the general public moved on, although the vitriol directed at disco by so many rock fans suggests there were other reasons. Eventually disco morphed into other forms of dance music, most of which I’ve never come around to because they don’t involve real musicians playing actual instruments. When you hear dance records from the ’70s, there’s almost always a super-tight rhythm section laying down the groove.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. ianbalentine
    March 26, 2015

    Hey Rich _ I nominated you for a blogger award. Danica got me involved it it, and I don’t see how it can be a bad thing to get your blog’s address in the hands of more people, so…if you can accept it, great, and thanks!
    https://the80sdidntsuck.wordpress.com

    Like

    • Thanks Ian. I really appreciate the support & kind words, but I have to respectfully decline. I barely have the time to listen, research & write my blog posts (once a week seems to be my maximum) and spend time reading & commenting on my favorite blogs (yours included, of course). I like to shine a spotlight on my favorites whenever I can but I won’t be able to participate with this award. When I have some time later today I’ll check out some of the other blogs you mentioned in your post. I’m sure they’re all high quality and worth visiting.

      Thanks again.
      Best wishes,
      Rich

      Liked by 1 person

  17. galley99
    March 29, 2015

    The only Peter Cetera I have is his debut, which was released by Wounded Bird.

    Like

    • Cetera’s debut wasn’t indicative of his later solo material, especially the minor hit single “Living In The Limelight.” I always wished he rocked a little harder from time to time on his other albums, but since he didn’t that might have been a big reason for rock fans not embracing his discography. The self-titled debut was the only solo album he released while he was still a member of Chicago. One small correction: it was originally released on Full Moon/Warner Brothers (the same label that Chicago had just signed with in 1981) and was reissued in 2004 on Wounded Bird.

      Like

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  22. Kevin
    October 27, 2016

    Guilty pleasures can be so good! I am not a fan of any of the artists you mentioned, but I don’t think of guilty pleasures in terms of bands, just songs. For instance, I am not a Carpenters fan, but I LOVE ” We’ve Only Just Begun.”

    Off the top of my head, here are 10 of my favorite GP’s. See if you agree with any of these, or if any make you cringe.

    Looking Glass – Brandi You’re A Fine Girl. (I think it’s the best one-hit wonder, ever)
    Nicolette Larson – Lotta Love (may not qualify, as it was written by Neil Young, but her version is pretty schmaltzy – I love it).
    Michael Johnson – Bluer Than Blue
    Kenny Loggins – This Is It
    Dolly Pardon – Here You Come Again
    Bee Gees – Love So Right
    Taste Of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie
    Emotions – Best Of My Love (maybe my favorite disco song of all time)
    Go West – We Close Our Eyes
    Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

    Like

    • I guess the term “guilty pleasure” could be applied to many things, and you’re right that it can be as much about a song, album or artist. I like most of the songs you mentioned and consider a number of them legitimate songs/artists who wouldn’t be frowned upon by anyone I know. I really like Go West (“King Of Wishful Thinking” is a particular favorite, along with the song you mentioned). As for disco, I liked it initially (when I was a pre-teen), then joined the “disco sucks” crowd when it was fashionable, but as an open-minded music lover & musician I came around to it big-time as an adult. Cheryl Lynn’s “To Be Real” might be my favorite disco song but there are many other contenders. How do you feel about disco songs by rock bands?

      Like

      • Kevin
        October 28, 2016

        I was a part of the “disco sucks” movement. It wasn’t cool to be a Who fan and like disco, too. But…I would secretly listen to some of my older sister’s disco records when no one was around. Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” and Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” come to mind. I liked Chic a lot.

        As far as rock bands doing disco; I’m thinking Kiss, The Stones, Rod Stewart. I wasn’t a fan of any of those attempts. The first time I heard the chorus to Yes’ “Leave It” I thought it sounded very disco-y and it made me a little uncomfortable! It’s great, though.

        Like

      • I was wary of rock bands “going disco,” like the artists you mentioned, but in many ways those songs were the gateway to the real thing for me. For the most part the rockers just dabbled in it, with one or two songs, which kept things from getting out of hand.

        Like

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