Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the CSN pod

Results: Despite some informed debate as to whether or not Bob Marley truly belongs in a Tournament of “Rock,” the godfather of reggae nonetheless outdistanced his challengers by a significant margin. He now moves on to the Great 48. The numbers: Bob Marley/Wailers 64%; Thin Lizzy 18%; Joe Jackson 11%; Joe Walsh 4%; Luke Haines/Auteurs/Baader Meinhoff/BBR 4%.

Up next, our search for the greatest band of all time moves to the Red Rocks region, where #10 seed CSN squares off with one of the more intriguing sets of competitors we’ve seen to date.

Let us know which band you think deserves to advance by voting below.

<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=””>opinion</a>)</span><br />

The poll closes at midnight Tuesday.

29 replies »

  1. I expect CSN to win, and they’re certainly worthy. But I didn’t become such a huge fan of Karl Wallinger for no reason at all. Put simply, he’s the closest thing the world has seen to John Lennon, and record-for-record he’s one of the best of all time.

    So I voted World Party and I stand by that vote. I do, however, anticipate that I will be standing more or less by myself.

  2. You know I like World Party ever since you introduced them to me, so you’ll get no argument from me. But this is supposed to be about legends, right? And I bet that most people don’t remember WP except for, maybe, Put a Message in the Box. Granted, that says way more about the muzak biz than it does about his talent. Which begs the question. Except for the rare exceptions like Green Day and The Killers, will true talent today EVER reach legendary status in today’s “music” biz?

  3. Mike: I fear the answer is no. Which is a damned shame, because there are a number of bands establishing themselves today that I think will eventually deserve a place in the pantheon. But we have evolved to a place where mass awareness is just about impossible for the truly talented (if only we could get Jon Crosby on American Idol, huh?)…

    Now, THIS contest is called Legends, but there are a number of criteria. None of those criteria is “everybody agrees that they’re the best.” I don’t particularly want voters registering their guess as to what other people think. We have an informed crowd around here, and if they think conventional wisdom is wrong (which they seem to do on a regular basis), that’s the vote we’re looking for.

  4. I think if we do this bracket again in 20 years DMB destroys everyone. I hate DMB with a passion, but those dudes can play. They also have an audience that is more annoying the U2 fans, which is quite a feat. CSN has more “classics”, but I’m not sure their music has actually aged well. Yarbirds sound like a band in their era, and although that band spawned greatness, I don’t feel that they’re good enough to win here. Blondie is interesting, and one of my favorites on this list, but not better then most on this list. Not much to say about World Party. The funny thing is as I was listening to these bands the one that I enjoyed listening to the most was Hall and Oates. However I had to sell my soul and go with DMB.

  5. By “those dudes can play,” I assume you mean “those dudes, except for Matthews.”

    And as I’ve always said, I don’t care how well you play if what you’re playing is unlistenable.

  6. Well, this one’s tough. I throw Blondie out immediately–more affectation than talent, and one good song does not a legend make. Afraid I don’t know enough World Party to decide. DMB is ok, but nothing really memorable there. I know lots of people love them, including my kids, but there’s nothing really distinctive about them–I’d take Moe or Widespread Panic in a match-up any day. Which leaves CSN, Yardbirds and Hall & Oates. There was a time when I thought Stills was about the best songwriter around, but he hasn’t written a good song for decades, and he wrote better songs for Buffalo Springfield than he did for CSN. Yes, yes, I know, Woodstock and all, but I saw them at Glastonbury this year, and Stills can play a good guitar, but it’s still just going through the motions. Crosby is still a misogynist jerk. Yes, they deserve a place among the legends, but for a band that’s still touring, you’d think something good would have come out of he past two or three decades. If Buffalo Springfield is in this thing, they’ll get my vote, not these guys. Hall & Oates were the real thing for a longer period of time–genuine rock music to dance to that wasn’t disco, and fine musicians. But typecast, sadly. Still eminently listenable, though, and they meant it, which is more than I can say for Blondie or CSN. Which eaves the Yardbirds, who burned brightly for a couple of years, and then crashed. But during those years they schooled Clapton, Page and Beck, all of whom–well, particularly Page and Beck–especially Beck, as I think about it–went on to do great things for a much longer period of time. Of this group, the one I still listen to with any regularity is Beck–which means the Yardbirds.

  7. D: You’re the guitarist so I’ll take your word on it. But I’ve personally never seen or heard him do anything that I haven’t heard a LOT of other people do a LOT better. (And I have seen him live, believe it or not.)

  8. It’s the weird chords he uses. A lot of it gets lost with the other instruments around him. I was trying to find something online with just him playing, but I couldn’t stomach all the DMB fans recording themselves.

  9. That vote hurt. I don’t even want to say which one I voted for because of the shame.

    @Elaine – Who taught Gentle Ben in the center there to play guitar? He was pretty good.

  10. Having been raised by folkies during just the right time period, i’m pretty familiar with CS&N…maybe that’s where the contempt comes from. If there’s going to be a lengthy debate about Bob Marley being, or not being, rock then i wonder why we’re not having the same discussion about CS&N?

    No matter how fine the musicianship of the DMB may be, i can’t separate the band from the douchenozzle, pseudo-hippy-on-the-weekend-fratboy-during-the-week-phenomenon of the late 90’s. Riding the hippy chic trend straight to the top of the elevator charts does not, imo, a legend make.

    Blondie, well…. I’d never heard of World Party until this, and while i’ve been enjoying it, i guess i can’t say “legend” (but that may be my fault). Hall & Oates, there’s a lot there underneath “yet another band kind of ruined by the advent of MTV”.

    But i’ll give it to the Yardbirds. The Blues to Rock transition may be most evident in them. The careers that the band launched. Simply covering Mayall’s “I’m Your Witchdoctor” might be enough for my vote.

  11. Dowson: Yes, NY is definitely in the tourney. It made sense to us to split the two since CSN was quite significant without NY and he had his greatest successes, arguably, on his own.

  12. I read these comments with a mixture of bemusement and consternation. This is a diverse (Sam’s
    “intriguing” sounds like adspeak to me) pod. Here are my takes and how I voted.

    1) Blondie – I always saw Debbie Harry as a step back for women in rock – compare her to Grace Slick, Janis, or Joni…well, actually, don’t. Not fair to her.

    2) Hall and Oates – loved the early work – hated the “MTV” stuff that made them rich. But there are more important artists here….

    3) World Party – Love ’em – absolutely love ’em. See above comment about H&O’s status and apply to WP….

    4) Dave Matthews Band – DM CAN play guitar, Sam – but they’ve been done since CRASH – and 2 albums of jam band is not enough – or too much, actually….

    5) Yardbirds – wufnik, The Yardbirds matter BECAUSE of Clapton, Page, and Beck, not the other way round. A great band, but more because of the tensions over their identity among band members. And I don’t see sufficient explanation of why Clapton, Page, and Beck all did greater work AFTER they left the Yardbirds….

    6) CSN – I voted for CSN. Three members of important ’60’s groups (It’s a shame too many “cool” people who are too young to remember denigrate groups like The Hollies) create a sound that is instantly recognizable and damned near impossible to replicate. Stills was/is a brilliant guitarist and all three are wonderful songwriters – Neil was a bonus, but they didn’t need him.

    And as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Boomers’ finest hour, here they are at their best:

    • Three members of important ’60’s groups (It’s a shame too many “cool” people who are too young to remember denigrate groups like The Hollies) create a sound that is instantly recognizable and damned near impossible to replicate.

      You say this as though CSN hadn’t just waxed one of the greatest talents alive in World Party. As if Verve had taken more than a vote or two off of Zappa and Van Halen. As if anybody could pick Luke Haines out of a lineup. As if CCR hadn’t beaten four really good bands that are all more recent. As if anybody would know My Bloody Valentine if the band were taking turns chewing on their crotches. As if we didn’t have all these people who’ve never even HEARD of The Church. As if Joan Jett somehow were more deserving than Lush. As if … well, you get the idea.

      Frankly, the temerity of the younger cool people strikes me as far less a problem than the multiplicity of factors that have rendered the greatest bands of the last generation damned near anonymous.

  13. Jim Bishop–apparently I expressed myself badly here re the Yardbitrds–I tend to agree with you here. And good point about why they all did greater work after leaving. Although “greater” here clearly means something different for Page and, particularly, Beck than it does for Clapton, who is pretty much doing the same thing now he was doing then. Well, you hope people will evolve musically, and sometimes they do. On CSN, well, yes, they were wonderful songwriters, but, except for Nash, haven’t progressed one bit, or even matched their output of four decades ago, sadly. Someone who, whatever their merits, simply have not evolved as musicians or as a group, and for whom something heavy back then was a Joni Mitchell song. But I would have voted for them if the Yardbirds hadn’t been in here. Stills is a very good guitarist, and I’ve always thought a better lead guitar than Young– but I’ll reserve “brilliant” for Beck, Akkerman and Richard Thomspon.

  14. Haven’t heard World Party in years, but voted for them. Yardbirds were great, of course, but, as Jim says, the band was eclipsed by the members’ later work. Wufnik mentions Richard Thompson — hope he shows up in the 48.

  15. Hi, wufnik – it’s Jim Booth, not Jim Bishop (although I loved his books on the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations as a kid – maybe you did, too)….

    I still say the sum of CSN is greater than the sum of The Yardbirds. And as for Stills – I still say great guitarist – listen to him on the album “Super Session” with Bloomfield and Kooper. Or on “Black Queen” from the first solo album – or on “Bluebird.” Or on “Rock and Roll Woman.” Or on “Wooden Ships.” Well, I digress…. Much better guitarist than Young, I agree….

    It seems fashionable these days to crack on Clapton. I’m not sure why – true, Zep was a wonder, but Page since? See what I mean…? And Clapton never claimed to be anything but a blues guitarist. I think if anything, he’s limited himself because of his dedication to that ethos. Clapton seems to have been at his best when pushed by someone – witness the brilliance of his playing on “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” And his work with Harrison. And his work with BB King….

    Now if you want to argue that of the trinity Beck is consistently the greatest over the longest time, my ears are wide open…. 😉 Probably the most under-appreciated guitarist in rock….

    Jan Akkerman – yes, great guitar player… Others like Richard Thompson more than I – I lean toward Leo Kottke and John Fahey…but I wouldn’t deny his instrumental brilliance….

  16. Sam, Sam, Sam….

    My, you’re worked up….. Maybe we should have done a classic rock/modern rock dichotomy.

    The other big issue you’re railing about has to do with changes in the culture that mere rock music can not overcome. The shift of music from an artist dominated medium as it was in the ’60’s and ’70’s back to a management/executive dominated medium during the 80’s to the present combined with the splintering of mass media, while it offers opportunities also, as we know has diminished the ability of artists to break through not only the noise (about which you yourself have had much to say) but the demographic targeting that has continued to skew younger and younger (see your own post of the Craig Ferguson rant).

    So we get Jonas Brothers because record execs see both artist and audience as factors in the money making equation that they can control.

    And great artists such as those you’ve been ranting about get shorter shrift than they should.

    CSN, CCR, and other classic rock acts have probably won through in this tourney because Boomers and Millenials know these acts – Boomers though life experience, Millenials through their Boomer parents. I had a Millenial wait on me yesterday at the UPS store where I was duplicating some show posters. She wanted to check out our band because we play classic rock – and “that’s all I listen to, thanks to Mom and Dad….”

    Rave on John Donne, as a great artist once said….

  17. Jim: I understand all this, and you’re right. But to some degree your comment here rebuts your earlier one. Them darned kids today DO know a bit about older bands, but way too many people think no new music has been made since Bonzo died. In some cases this is slothfulness but in most cases it’s broader industry dynamics, as you say (you may recall the detailed letter I wrote many years ago to Ogi Overman, the columnist at Triad Style, who was arguing that there just wasn’t any good music any more; well, if all you listen to is Rock 92, you might conclude that).

    All I’m saying is that we have multiple problems here, and I see the one you mention as being far less a concern than the fact that nobody knows Karl Wallinger. I expect to further prove this point as more and more incredible post-70s artists fall by the wayside – and as I have to hear challenges to their place in the tournament and to their seeds. Refer to the last seeding doc you have and remember I said this when we get to the Fillmore 8 seed pod (and probably the #7, as well).

  18. Well, can I vote for CSN in the next round? Long live CSN!!!!!! Especially the energizer Nash-ie.