Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Janis Joplin pod

Results: This was one of those pods where the seed never had a chance. It was nip and tuck the whole way, and in the end ZZ Top eased away for a narrow victory. The numbers: ZZ Top 39%; Pearl Jam 30%; Genesis 16%; #11 Oasis 7%; Garbage 7%; Sheryl Crow 2%. The lil’ ol’ band from Tejas advances to the Great 48.

Our tournament to determine the greatest band of all time now moves to the Budokan region, where one of the most dynamic female rock vocalists in history defends against a pack of competitors that seems guaranteed to spark outrage among the voters. Let the conniptions commence.

<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=””>polling</a&gt;)</span><br />

Listen and vote, and feel free to vent your spleen offer a comment in the box below. Polls close sometime Wednesday morning.

21 replies »

  1. Huge respect for Janis Joplin. Like Wayne Kramer’s albums of recent years a lot. But had to go with one of my all-time favorites, Stevie Ray.

  2. Catherine Wheel and SRV in same one, noooooooooooooooooo…

    Had to go with my boy Stevie Ray. I NEVER get tired of hearing him. “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” is still one of the most badassest moments in rock, but my absolute favorite blues performance by anyone (and I LOVE blues) is “Ain’t Gone ‘n’ Give Up on Love.” Blues isn”t exactly supposed to give you goose bumps, that one does it to me every time.

  3. Not a big fan of the blues, however SRV makes it interesting. When I listen to what he does it’s one of those head shaking, eyes closed in disbelief moments. I’ll vote for him here. he’s also a huge influence, although sometimes I think people throw his name out there because they have to.

    Janis may be a huge influence, but her instrument is her voice, and there’s already been a few others on this list that have been better.

    MC5 is a pretty fun band and within the industry a larger influence then most would know, however they’re up against SRV.

    Paul will get his moment later, although “Band on the Run” may be one of the coolest, ballsiest, and greatest rock tunes ever.

  4. I ended up choosing Vaughn over Seger. I never could understand the hubbub over Joplin though. Sure, she’s got good pipes, but I never thought they matched her reputation.

  5. Stevie and Janis in the same pod?!?! AAARRRRGGGG!!! This is the hardest choice yet! Though this is probably the second pod where all of them should advance.

  6. Another amazing pod…

    I know how everyone expects me to vote, but I’ll comment anyway:

    1) Bob Seger – Bob is very good – but classic rock radio ruined him, Heart, and some other very good groups for me forever….

    2) Catherine Wheel – Sam’s a big fan, I think they’re good – but they’re not important enough to advance…

    3) MC5/Wayne Kramer – The whole punk thing owes MC5 a great debt…there, I’ve covered them in glory….

    4) Stevie Ray – great, great guitar player – but basically a re-interpreter….

    This brings it down to Janis and Sir Paul. I think Janis should probably win this pod given the short shrift women have received in this contest. And Janis is the greatest female singer of classic rock.

    That said, I think all of pop – power pop, dance pop, punk pop – all of it – owes Paul McCartney. Some, probably most, of this august group of writers and readers may think of that as a bad thing, but it’s not.

    So I’m agonizing….

  7. Yes, but… Paul’s solo career on its own merits … what? Some good work with Wings, no doubt (BAND ON THE RUN remains one of my favorite records ever). But also some of the most inexcusably bad tripe we’ve ever been subjected to.

    Without The Beatles there’d never have been a Wings or a Macca solo career, I don’t think. He needed Lennon to called bullshit on him every five minutes. So I’d say save your Macca worship until the Fabs show up. If they show up.

    I also say you’re badly underrating Catherine Wheel. But why not. I mean, if you weren’t a big name by 1976 or so you can’t possibly be any good, or so the voting seems to be telling us….

  8. 1) I kind of expected people to lash out at me for daring to question Joplin, but no one but Jim has defended her here in the comments (she’s doing just fine in the voting I’ve noticed). So, I’ll ask again, and I’m being sincere – What’s the big deal about Joplin? She hasn’t exactly led the way for women rockers; they’re still a heavy minority. She didn’t introduce a new sound. She didn’t reinvent an existing sound. She didn’t have a long career. She didn’t introduce some technological innovation with her music. I don’t think anyone considers her the best rocker of her era – her contemporaries were amazing, so that’s no slight against her.

    Why is she so loved by the music community? Please, educate me.

    2) In regards to Sam’s 1976 comment: I don’t want to accuse Scrogue’s readers and contributors of being old fogeys. Instead, I’m going to link the voting record thus far to the word Legends in the title. The word implies an almost God-like reverence, which is hard to tie to bands that were recently or still are active. Thirty years from now, Green Day could be considered rock legends. For now they’ll have to settle for just being the biggest band on the planet. I wasn’t around in 1972, but I wonder, did people consider The Beatles to be The Greatest Band Evar!!1! then? Perhaps our relative proximity in time is lessening our reverence of them.

    It’s that, or you’re all just a bunch of old fogies.

    • Jebus, Tom, you’re killing me.

      First, I’m sorry I ever freakin’ HEARD the word “Legends,” let alone used it as the tag to distinguish this ToR from the others. Can we let go of the marketing hook and evaluate the bands on their merits?

      Second, how much damned time do we need to acknowledge greatness? Well, there are a lot of bands out there now that I think will be deserving of the accolade someday (maybe The Killers or Interpol, for instance, or Franz). But yeah, it’s way too early to tell. (That’s going to be a really fun ToR, too, when we get to it.)

      But “still active” is the killer for you, huh? Well, U2 is still active, as is REM, and for that matter I guess the same can be said for The Stones and McCartney and Van Morrison and Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. Let’s look at REM, for instance. Their last great record was AUTOMATIC (some folks would include ACCELERATE here, but I just can’t make that case), which was around 1993 or so, I think. By that time they’d done MURMUR, RECKONING, FABLES, LIFE’S RICH PAGEANT, DOCUMENT and GREEN. How many years do you think you need, because I could have cast my ballot then and there.

      How about U2, another band that didn’t get started until the ’80s? Let’s see, BOY, OCTOBER, WAR, UNFORGETTABLE FIRE, LIVE, JOSHUA TREE, ACHTUNG BABY – that was the first ten years or so. After that, you couldn’t have declared them epic?

      You’re right in that we need a certain amount of time to form a valid judgment. But it’s also true that there comes a time when you know what you need to know. There’s not a band in this tournament that we don’t have enough evidence to make a call on.

      Of course, if you want to be Captain Caution, go for it. I guess the jury’s still out on Mozart, too, huh?

  9. Tom, I think your right on about Janis, I never “got’ it, and it seems like shes someone who’s name automatically comes up in a conversation like this, and I never knew why. I knew there would be a lot of SRV and Janis love here, and in fact I even voted for SRV although I don’t think I would in another pod.

  10. I’ll try to keep this short, Tom, Darrell, and Sam:

    1) Joplin – she WAS and IS the greatest female singer of the classic rock era – that’s enough, I think to merit her serious consideration – and the voters seem to think along those lines, too.

    2) Catherine Wheel – just because YOU really love a band, Sam, it doesn’t mean that everyone else must feel the same – we’ve had this argument so many times (Guns and Roses comes to mind immediately) – jury’s still out to some degree on CW – we’ll see….

    3) Macca – Just because I really love a band, Sam, doesn’t mean everyone else must feel the same – we’ve had this argument so many times (The Hollies come to mind immediately) – I think MCCARTNEY, RAM, FLOWERS IN THE DIRT, RUN, DEVIL, RUN, DRIVING RAIN, CHAOS AND CREATION…, and MEMORY ALMOST FULL are all excellent to superior efforts – but that’s just me…. and for Wings, RED ROSE SPEEDWAY, VENUS AND MARS, AND LONDON TOWN are excellent to superior efforts (BotR is one of the greatest albums of classic rock, so there) – but that’s just me…again….

    4)SRV – As I said, great, great guitar player – but there are others of the same ilk – Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes…so while I respect SRV’s talent, not an innovative leader in the field for me….

    As for the proclivity for rock pre-1976 – modern rock has NEVER, repeat NEVER been given a fair chance compared to classic rock. I wish I could change that – if anyone’s got ideas, I’m willing to help any way I can….

  11. The deal about Joplin was, before her, white women didn’t sing like black women. White women sang like white women–Grace Slick comes to mind.

    And I take note of the complaint that some of us regard the post-1976 era with some disdain. Guilty. Well, not disdain–that’s too strong a term. It’s not that there weren’t good bands post-1976, or great rock and roll. There are plenty of good, even great, bands since then (and I would include Catherine Wheel in this group). The issue for some of us is that they’re mostly derivative–what’s been done since 1976 that wasn’t done before 1976? Well, hip-hop, I guess–but even here, there were Gene McDaniels and The Last Poets back then too. So maybe not even hip-hop. There have been clear advances in studio technology, of course, and this has opened up some interesting avenues. But in terms of the basic styles of rock that we have now, are there any that weren’t around before 1976? I’m probably not the one to answer this–Green Day (whom I like) is pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the past ten years. Ami I missing anything?

    Of course, you can turn this around in some cases, like McCartney. Has he done anything as a soloist that matched what he did with Lennon? Not too my mind, although some of what he did was pretty catchy. This is ditto for Lennon, too–nothing he did post-Beatles matched what he did when McCartney was around (cue angry rants offstage).

  12. “Joplin – she WAS and IS the greatest female singer of the classic rock era – that’s enough, I think to merit her serious consideration – and the voters seem to think along those lines, too.”

    Well since most of the great female singers actually qualify as a different genre I may give this argument to you. If this was the “legends of pop”, we’d have a different story. However that being said, if she’s the only one in a group that is so minute, how great is she really? Without a doubt I’m the greatest guitar player in my family, that’s becasue no one else plays.

  13. Wufnik: I’d argue that it’s very hard to point to a pre-1976 link to what Catherine Wheel. To be sure, they didn’t just make it all up themselves, and the whole spectrum of noisy rock looks to Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine for its cue. No way of ignoring the importance of VU (and even The Beach Boys) in suggesting how a bit of discordance might alter the musical landscape, and the fact that they themselves cover Floyd is also instructive.

    So sure – everybody has influences. But if you were being really dismissive (which you aren’t, but let’s pretend) what pre-76 bands could you point to and say “oh, Catherine Wheel is just rehashing what ________ did”?

    CW and that first Verve record, they were really doing something innovative, and it’s frustrating to see them not get their due. I mean, if we’re going to make this kind of argument about CW, then I guess we have to look at Howlin’ Wolf and disqualify the Stones, huh?

    • Let’s see, stuff that came after 1976 that was new (some of it may or may not qualify as R&R, but it all comes out of R&R, IMO):
      punk, goth, and industrial come immediately to mind. Punk may or may not have started before 76 (I don’t know enough R&R history to say, but it’s close), but goth and industrial both are later inventions, and IMO neither is derivative of what came before them.

      Well, not derivative of anything I’m familiar with, anyway.

  14. Sam, Brian–later. England’s up 1-0 over Croatia. Gotta game to watch. But Alice Cooper comes to mind for goth, and MC5, actually, for punk.

  15. 5-1, and Beckham just came on with ten minutes left. Seems well in hand.

    There’s a conceptual issue here. At what point did rick get genres? Like punk? There were lots of bands in the 1960s playing what would later be called punk. The Standells for a start, and The Stooges, and MC5. It just wasn’t called punk then. And goth was around then too–I remember seeing some genuinely dreadful goth bands in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, with all the affectations. The Boston Band Ultimate Spinach was often called psychedelic, but it was really goth in their shows. It just didn’t have a label. No one was making these kinds of distinctions then. Part of he joy of the 1960s was that it was easy for anyone to try to do everythihng. Check out the Love Da Capo album and try to figure out how many genres are on that one album. So when people say Punk, it sort of depends when they were born, I guess. Some people think of loud angry bands. I think of loud angry songs played by bands who played other stuff as well, along with a couple of bands who played nothing but. The fact that there is now a rock “genre” called “industrial” with its own Wikipedia entry speaks volumes about what went wrong with the music.

    England is now in the world cup finals. 8-0 under Capello.

    As far as Catherine Wheel goes, I’m sure I could put together a chain from the Beatles to them, but what’s the point. They were a great band, and great bands have their own uniqueness, which they come by themselves. I’ll never forget the look on my daughter’s face when I gave her the first album for Xmas one year. Clearly, I had crossed the line. Never did that again.