Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Metallica pod

UPDATE: Polls close Sunday (7/26) at midnight. As of Saturday night our seeded contestant is in trouble, as Metallica trails both Creedence Clearwater Revival and Talking Heads (and they’re just barely ahead of The Raspberries). If you haven’t yet voted in this round of the ultimate greatest band of all time tournament, listen and make your opinion known in the poll below.

One match, one upset. In our kick-off contest unseeded Frank Zappa defeated a talented pack headed by #12 Van Halen. Those results: Frank Zappa 41%, #12 Van Halen 28%, The Moody Blues 17%, The Verve 9%, and The Cure 4%. Zappa now moves on to the Great 48.

Our next face-off, which takes place in the Budokan bracket, features a wide range of styles and is headed up by Metallica, a band that invented a sub-genre.

<br /> <a href=”” mce_href=””>Which band/artist deserves to advance in the Tournament of Rock: Legends?</a><span style=”font-size:9px;” mce_style=”font-size:9px;”>(<a href=”” mce_href=””>survey</a>)</span><br />

28 replies »

  1. Considered in a vacuum it’s nearly impossible not to vote for Metallica. However, context is everything, and I’ll never be able, even if I live to be a million, to get past the band’s willingness to whore itself to the RIAA. Whatever they had done to move metal ahead, those actions more than set the entire industry back.

    I don’t expect that this will prove to be a majority opinion, but for now make mine a protest vote for The Raspberries.

  2. Damn, and I thought the last one was hard. Metallica, CCR, and Talking Heads (don’t know The Raspberries enough to say). Gotta think about this one a bit.

  3. I can’t really say right now which of the pods is, as they say in soccer, the Group of Death. There are several more lineups on the way that are just wicked (preview: we’ve done Oasis no favors). But this one is up there.

  4. As was with the case with the first ToR, some of the matchups were so wildly different that comparisons were difficult. Both pods to date have been tough for the same reason. Of course, just the fact that styles and eras are so intermixed forces voters to think outside their basic “this is what I like” boxes.

    Well done on that to both you and Jim.

  5. I voted CCR: If you bought each album as it came out, as I did, it’s impossible to overlook their impact. (Of course, I loved the Talking Heads.)

  6. No brainer on Talking Heads for me. But I guess it’s what you base your voting criteria on. Metallica has no doubt been a major influence on countless metal bands, but I still find their music unlistenable – and the bands they spawned even more so.

    With that said, Talking Heads never made a bad record – never. And they still hold up over 25-30 years. Never has a band been so daring to explore different musical influences and styles with reckless abandon. The 90s reunion minus David Byrne was unfortunate, but I would be willing to put the body of their 70s and 80s work up against anyone’s.

  7. Seth: I think I halfway see your point. I’ve always thought TH was overrated. Byrne was weird as hell and too many people figured that if they couldn’t understand him, he must be brilliant. It’s a shame Tom Wolfe never wrote a novel about him. He was sort of the Beck of his era.

    Of course, I’m mainly talking lyrically here. Musically I tend to agree with you (that’s the halfway part). Then again, after hearing some of his solo work and comparing it against Tom Tom Club, the reunion and Harrison’s solo work, I wonder if the other three weren’t more responsible for the sound than they get credit for. Hard to say.

    By the way, see if you can track down “Fake Talking Heads Song” by The Format. Very, VERY funny stuff….

  8. Interesting take on Byrne Sam. It’s funny, because being the age I am, I never really saw much of the initial reaction to the TH stuff. I’m old enough to remember the ‘Burning Down the House’ video on MTV, but beyond that I didn’t really get into them until I went exploring the music of the late 70s and 80s in High School, when no one was talking about them anymore. But having listent to TTC, and lots of Byrne solo stuff, none of it compares to what was created by the four of them. Though last year’s Byrne and Eno album is the best post-TH Byrne work to date.

    But, f you look at the bands influenced by TH – and I’m sure some of them will come up later in this competition – it might be a stretch to call them overrated. You mentioned Beck, who clearly was a listener. Radiohead too – hell they took their band name from a TH song name. All of the nu-new wave bands owe them a tip of the hat- Killers, Franz, etc., and much of what today passes as “indie” certainly has TH undertones.

    SO I guess it still goes back to that whole criteria thing. Is it just the quality of their work? Is it how many people they influenced? Is it the quality of the work they influenced? I guess we all have our ways of sorting these things out.

    Not lobbying so much as defending a position…

    • As I noted in the prologue to this contest, the ultimate band succeeds on ALL those criteria (and then) some. You’re right that TH has influenced some current bands (I think I hear it more with a FF than with the Killers, perhaps, but if we start wandering through the rest of the nu wave it’s easy to find groups that clearly think highly of the band). A lot of critics agree with you more than they do me, to be sure.

      The seeding committee took turns kicking Metallica in the nards when it was putting this pod together. I won’t be at all surprised to see TH pull the Zappa here….

  9. Dr. Slammy: Agreed about Metallica.
    CCR vs Metallica was too close to call for me anyway, and the RIAA nonsense was enough to swing it.

  10. As much as I like STP, CCR, and Talking Heads I had to choose Metallica. They are simply way to influential inside and outside the business. While I actually think that the RIAA thing and the doc “Some Kind of Monster” made them look like like bitches, their catalog is just so strong. I believe the main argument that Lars had was control of their stuff prior to release, this may have changed once people on the web jumped all over them, but actually most people in the business both famous and not agreed with this stance. It’s easy to hate them becasue they are unlucky enough to have the 2’d biggest douche band member of all time, Lars (Bono is #1), but albums like Master of Puppets speak for it’s self. In a genre where change is usually looked upon as bad, they are one of the rare metal bands that actually take risks, and yes sometimes they fail and lose fans becasue of it. I personally like this band, but If I didn’t i would still vote for them based on their almost unmatched worldwide influence.

  11. I’m a fan of CCR (despite John Foggerty’s asshattery) but this round goes to Metallica. I’m no metal head (I think I was the only dude in a collared shirt at one of their concerts in Buffalo), but I didn’t have to think about this one too long.

    @Darrell: Keep preaching the Gospel, brother.

  12. Well, as someone who thinks of Metallica as heavy metal with a bit of a sense of humor, and that’s it, and who always thought that TH, whatever their influence, was over-rated, I’m going with CCR, who I listened to incessantly back in the day. Showing my age, I know. Besides, I think the influence argument only goes so far. Metalica influenced lots of heavy metal bands, TH influenced Radiohead. So what? This is a good thing? (insert more rabble-rousing here). And a point of information, actually–given the surprise of the Zappa win, and the fact that as of right now CCR is tied with TH (with both ahead of Metallica), I’m just curious if we’re seeing a bit of an age bias in the results.

  13. Sam, unless U2 goes up against the Beatles they will get my vote here. I’m trying not to let my personal favorites get in the way of what I think. However that doesn’t mean I wont take a swipe or two at some of a bands more colorful members. I think I’m weighing the influence bands have on both musicians and regular folk a little more than most people here. Even with the last contest I went with VH slightly more because I think Eddie created a whole different style that inspired more people in and out of the industry. I can make the case for the greatness of every band on this current list of 5 (sans the Cranberries) but I don’t think that any band has inspired more people to play guitar (specifically heavier stuff) then Metallica. Just like I don’t think there’s any person who has inspired any more people to pick up the ax as Jimi. The Beatles and U2 lend their own influences that I’ll get into when there time comes up. It’s very important to gauge a bands greatness on how much they’ve inspired a genre or even a generation. The worst and best class I’ve ever taken was Critical Listening. At the same time it made me a better listener, it also made me hate some of my favorite music. Years later I would appreciate that class a lot more becasue it helped me strip any bias I had towards my favorite bands, a quality I think that is lacking with some people here.

    • Wuf: I wasn’t going to say anything. But based on what we saw in the first ToR and what we seem to be seeing so far in this one, I’m on the verge of concluding that there’s not only an age bias, but a fear of the dark. Metallica is in trouble and the two darkpop bands from ToR I simply got poleaxed.

      We may be in need of a mandatory primer session on darkpop around here. You know, something to introduce the geezers to music that’s been made since the Civil War.

      Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go pull on my asbestos thong….

      Darrell: That’s RASPberries, not CRANberries.

      • I love dark music, and Metallica is the only band I know of (well, major band anyway) who can get away with singing about Cthulhu (The Thing that Should Not Be, Master of Puppets). But given the competition and how much of CCR and STP I hear (probably indirectly) in Metallica, I couldn’t justify voting for them. Weird got my vote, but probably wouldn’t have if you’d put Devo in there instead of TH.

        We’ll see how this goes.

        I’ll happily help figuring a TOR – Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, BTW.

  14. Yeah I saw that after I posted it, either way I have not much to say about them.

  15. Sam–well, maybe, although I’m not sure I’m interested enough in the subtle differences between Metallica and Def Leppard and Whitesnake to want to sit through that session. And the people for whom this matters may not be huge readers of blogs. I’m not sure it’s fear of the dark either–lots of us like Jane’s Addiction and are just indifferent to Metallica. Maybe we just want our dark with a bit of irony. There’s no disputing that Metallica are very good indeed at what they do. When I want to blister some point, though, I’ll put on some Jan Akkerman. That’s the problem with letting us old farts vote in this thing

  16. Valid points all. We’ll know more once we get a few more pods under our belts. But right now I’m not optimistic about the chances of acts like NIN, to name one.

  17. Bleh. Agreed. If Metallica just hadn’t been such chumps, I could have given them my vote for this round. But tongue-kissing the RIAA is worse than baseballers on steroids in my book. It doesn’t invalidate Master of Puppets, … And Justice For All, or even the black album, but it sure does keep me from listening to them much.

    I had a hard time with CCR because they were so short-lived. They were huge for two or three years and then called it quits. Hell, that brief of a career would have kept Cam Neely out of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    I couldn’t vote for the Talking Heads in good conscience either. For as important as they were supposed to be, David Byrne just always seemed like a pretentious cokehead to me. His “man who fell to Earth and lived amongst the Bible Belt” persona just seemed uninteresting when it didn’t seem disingenuous. The rest of the band seemed interesting, but not in any legendary sense.

    This round felt too much like voting for the least of evils. I know the last few rounds won’t.

  18. Wow, Metallica got spanked. I don’t know how to feel about that. I haven’t much liked anything since “And Justice for All”, but they were the band of my teenage years.

    What always killed me about the RIAA stink was that Metallica would have been nothing without kids like me making copies of tapes and giving them to someone else to make another Metallica fan. As such, the douchebaggery always felt personal. That and i was pissed when i had to buy a new copy of “Kill ’em All” and found out that they stopped including “Am I Evil”.

  19. I think I agree with these votes. 1. CCR 2. The Talking Heads 3. Metallica. But I suppose I am biased because I don’t care much for heavy metal. I’ve never heard of The Rasberries and I don’t think STP is particularly legendary (although they were a pretty decent band.)