Posts Tagged ‘Sex Pistols’

It’s always fun to see what other folks include on their “desert island discs,” so here you go. Since most such lists are for single genres and usually encompass ten discs, I’ve allowed myself more leeway here — listing all types of pop music — and am listing 25 discs, which seems fair given that they cover the following genres (jazz, blues, soul, funk, country, latin jazz, rock, and punk). I’m cheating by adding a list of “honorable mentions.” Whatever. Here ya go: my desert island discs, in no particular order:\

Desert Island Discs

  • James Brown Live at the Apollo (1960) — the seminal early funk disc. If you only listen to one cut off this, check out “I’ll Go Crazy.”
  • Kutche, by Saib Khaled and Safy Boutella — the best Rai disc. Incredibly good musicianship combined with intricate syncopation. Nothing else in the genre comes close.
  • La Cuna, by Ray Barretto — not for Afro-Cuban purists, this disc features a mix of genres (latin jazz, latin rock, funk, soul) with amazingly good musicianship by some of the best musicians of the late ’70s and early ’80s (including Barretto, Steve Gadd, John Tropea, and Joe Farrell). The next time you’re impressed by some guitarist playing fast scalar passages, listen to Tropea’s solo on “The Old Mountain.” That’ll put it in perspective.
  • Songs for a Tailor, by Jack Bruce. Impressively inventive song writing, and better than competent execution.
  • Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.  The best, most driving rock album of the ’70s.
  • The Harder They Come soundtrack. Pretty much every great tune from this mind-numbingly boring, awful genre on a pair of discs. Huge fun and great lyrics.
  • Repo Man soundtrack. Minus the Sex Pistols, the best punk from the early ’80s all in one place. Iggy Pop’s title track is a gem.
  • The Sermon, by Jimmy Smith. My favorite type of music — hard-driving blues-jazz with great solos (especially those by Smith and guitarist Kenny Burrell).
  • Jacaranda, by Luiz Bonfa. Not available on CD, this ’70s Brazilian-jazz-rock album features great songwriting and very good musicianship. Not for those who expect sambas or bossas.
  • Tied to the Tracks, by Treat Her Right. A great, hard-driving blues-rock album by the forerunner to Morphine. The lyrics are twisted, the harp playing is mind boggling, and this disc is better than anything by Morphine.
  • Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis. Beautifully executed, the perfect background for a 3:00 am beer out on the patio.
  • Everlastin’ Tears, by Willie Edwards. Great contemporary blues. Edwards got totally screwed with this one, signing away the rights to all the songs to the producer. I can’t re-record any of this shit without dealing with the vampire who’s sucked Willie dry.
  • Are You Experienced?, by Jim Hendrix. Need I say more?
  • Strange Days, by the Doors. Every song is great, including two hard-to-play masterpieces, “Love Me Two Times” and “Moonlight Drive.”
  • Inner Mounting Flame, by Mahavishnu Orchestra. Great musicianship and proof that odd-time and compound-meter songs can drive. A whole lot of fun.
  • Are We Not Men?, by Devo. The best and by far funniest new-wave album. Contains the best cover ever recorded: Devo’s version of “Satisfaction.”
  • The Last Real Texas Blues Band, by Doug Sahm. Great, greasy R&B — a reminder of an era.
  • Sugar Thieves Live. Both a wonderful contemporary blues band and a throwback to classic material.
  • Losin’ Hand, by Al Perry and the Cattle. Well produced and very funny alt-country.
  • Ah Um, by Charlie Mingus. Probably the best, most intricate blues-jazz album ever recorded.
  • That’s The Way I Feel (Thelonious Monk tribute by various artists.) An absolutely fantastic, mind-boggling, at times hilarious (via Todd Rundgren!) tribute to the greatest jazz composer who ever lived (and, yeah, I’m counting Duke).
  • Bringing It All Back Home, by Bob Dylan. The first album that helped me focus my rage at the atrocities being committed to others and to me by the government and the corporations.
  • Barbeque Dog, by Ronald Shannon Jackson. A brutal, dissonant LP with one of the cuts simultaneously in different keys. Thirty years on, it sounds fresh.
  • How Shall the Wolf Survive?, by Los Lobos.  The first album by my favorite live band. A whole lotta fun, with uncomfortable things to think about.
  • Exile on Main Street, by the Rolling Stones. Not their best LP by a long shot, but the one I want to hear after having a few beers.

Honorable Mentions

  • Revolver, by the Beatles (best songwriters of the 20th century)
  • Abbey Road, by the Beatles. (see above)
  • The Doors (eponymous album).
  • L.A. Woman, by The Doors. Like so many other albums of this time, the first side was great and the second side sucked.
  • Beggar’s Banquet, by the Rolling Stones.
  • Let It Bleed, by the Rolling Stones.
  • Battered Ornaments (eponymous)
  • Harmony Row, by Jack Bruce. Damn near as good as “Songs for a Tailor” — the songs he saved up while being the bassist in Cream.
  • Thousands on a Raft, by Pete Brown. Fun stuff by Cream’s lyricist.
  • Raw Sienna, by Savoy Brown. Kim Simmonds’ attempt to match the Beatles. Not anywhere close to successful there, but a very good album in its own way.
  • Science Fiction, by Ornette Coleman.
  • Guitars Cadilacs, by Dwight Yoakam. Best country album of the ’80s.
  • In a Silent Way, Miles Davis.
  • Jack Johnson, Miles Davis.
  • Bitches Brew, Miles Davis.
  • On the Corner, Miles Davis. A great early genre-bending LP.
  • Jerry Reed’s Greatest Hits, most of the soundtrack from Jerry’s by-far best album, Smoky and Bandit II, plus the novelty hits (“Amos Mose,” etc.)
  • Junior High, Junior Brown. Huge tongue-in-cheek fun from maybe the best current guitar player.
  • Gravity, by James Brown. The best funk album of the ’80s.
  • L.A. is My Lady, by Frank Sinatra. I still can’t decide whether this is deliberate or inadvertent self-parody. Fun either way.
  • Birds of Fire, Mahavishnu Orchestra.
  • Treat Her Right (eponymous album). Contains a fantastic cover of Harlan Howard’s “Everglades.”


A few years ago I gave away about 3,000 LPs to three friends and KXCI after realizing that I slapped an LP on the turntable about once every six months. That left me with (now) about 700 CDs.

Here’s what, over the following years, I find myself listening to. I’m not saying this is the best material in any of these genres — far from it — it’s just stuff I like and listen to repeatedly.

Check it out, you might like some of it:


  • The Doors, L.A. Woman — probably because I love playing Doors covers in bands.
  • Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks — when this came out in the ’70s it was the world’s greatest head cleaner.
  • Devo, Are We Not Men? — very funny, musically inventive, and contains the world’s best cover ever (“Satisfaction”)
  • Repo Man soundtrack. Absolutely great, the best of punk. My ex-GF/ex-wife saw the movie with me when it came out, and as we were walking out of the theater, after listening to me and the rest of the audience bust a gut over the horrors it contained, she said to me, “You Americans are sick!” (She was a colombiana — and she was right.)
  • Dead Kennedys, Too Drunk to Fuck (EP). Funny, explicit, and surprisingly hard to play up to speed.
  • Treat Her Right, Tied to the Tracks and the eponymous album. These guys later became Morphine, which IMO was a step down.
  • Jonny Chingas, Greatest Hits. A lot of very funny, pretty good stuff musically, including Se me paro (“I have a hard on”), and an indication of how much wonderful material this guy might have come up with if he hadn’t been killed in a drive-by. More enjoyable if you understand Spanish.


  • Willie Edwards, Everlastin’ Tears. The best blues album you’ve never heard — it sold about a thousand copies.
  • Doug Sahm, The Last Real Texas Blues Band. Yep, the same guy from the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. (And, yep, that’s how they spell it.) Greasy r&b-oriented blues. The final cut, “T-Bone Shuffle,” has probably the world’s greatest walking bass line.
  • Sugar Thieves Live. The material is wonderful and this has two, count ’em two, great vocalists, either of whom could easily front a band. Absolutely killer.
  • Pinche Blues Band, Postal. My old band. I’m partial.
  • Randy Garibay, Barbacoa Blues. A great melding of Mexican/latin music and blues.


  • Charlie Mingus, Ah Um. If you don’t like this, you’re dead.
  • Misc. Artists, That’s The Way I feel. An ’80s compilation of Thelonious Monk tunes featuring everybody under the sun. Lots of great stuff, including a wonderful cut by (yes!) Todd Rundgren.
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and On The Corner. Kind of Blue is probably the best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer or a glass of wine at 3:00 a.m. On The Corner is a tremendous, ahead-of-its-time genre bender.
  • Jimmy Smith, The Sermon. One of the finest blues-jazz LPs ever, featuring B3 master Jimmy Smith, an incredible guitar solo by Kenny Burrell, and a couple of great sax solos.


  • Ray Barretto, La Cuna. Not for purists, but a wonderful Afro-Cuban CD featuring exceptional musicianship.
  • Luiz Bonfa, Jacaranda. Not sambas, but basically latin rock. Lots of great tunes and very good musicianship.


  • Al Perry and the Cattle, Losin’ Hand. Good songwriting, good musicianship, and very funny.
  • Junior Brown, Junior High. This is just a five-song EP, but if you’re going to have one Junior Brown album, this is it. Features his best version of “Highway Patrol.” (I think it’s also on three of his other CDs.)
  • Jerry Reed, Smokey and the Bandit II soundtrack. Jerry Reed was a terrible actor but a funny guy and one of the best guitarists ever.


  • James Brown, Live at the Apollo. The seminal funk album. “I’ll go crazy” is worth the price of admission.


  • Cheb Khaled and Safy Boutella, Kutche. Best rai album ever, with very good musicianship.
  • The Harder They Come soundtrack. Incredibly, this contains almost every reggae track worth listening to. (Yep, there ain’t a lot of ’em.)


  • Bela Bartok, Fourth String Quartet. Written in 1927, this is still in all likelihood the best string quartet ever written. In parts, it’s rock and roll-like.
  • Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time. Written in a POW camp in the early ’40s, this is probably the second best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer at 3:00 a.m.

Zeke Bob says, “check it out.”


Cover of "The Bassist's Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco(Excerpted from The Bassist’s Bible: How to Play Every Bass Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, with some additional information taken from The Drummer’s Bible: How to Play Every Drum Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, by Mick Berry and Jason Gianni)
The Punk attitude/musical approach surfaced in the mid to late 1960s in, arguably, UK Rock n’ Roll groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Kinks. In the United States, around the same time, proto-Punk groups included The MC5, The Stooges (fronted by Iggy Pop), and the lesser known The Count Five. Other less directly related U.S. groups of the time included The Seeds, the Velvet Underground, and Blue Cheer. In the early 1970s, The New York Dolls of the short-lived “Glam” Punk movement continued the trend. By the mid-1970s, the Ramones were playing high energy music which concentrated on rebellious posturing, both musically and lyrically.

In 1977, the British group The Sex Pistols won worldwide recognition with their pivotal album, “Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols.” This album firmly established the Punk genre and—hearkening back to The MC5—brought to it overt political content. At the same time, the even more political The Clash debuted with their influential, eponymous “garage-sound” album, “The Clash.”

The rebellious style of the Sex Pistols and The Clash gave rise to countless other UK and North American groups in the next wave of Punk known as “Hardcore,” with bands such as the very political (anarchist) Dead Kennedys, MDC, The Germs, Circle Jerks, and Black Flag leading the pack.

In the 1980s, Punk entered the mainstream through groups like Generation X and the still active, more polished-sounding The Clash. Perhaps, paradoxically, because of this mainstream acceptance, the musical momentum of Punk soon dissipated, despite the 1984 hit movie Repo Man and its popular, all-Punk soundtrack. In spite of its musical eclipse in the mid-1980s, the Punk subculture continued to flourish throughout the decade, providing Punk bands with a supportive (in spirit, if not financially) audience.

Punk music and spirit had a great resurgence in the early and mid 1990s with “Grunge” music and the success of the Seattle sensation, Nirvana. Grunge is to be (slightly) distinguished from Punk in that Grunge bands sometimes employ quiet acoustic passages interspersed with loud, Punk-style sections in their songs, often in a formulaic manner (brilliantly parodied by the Austin Lounge Lizards in their “Grunge Song”). Punk music thrives today through popular bands such as Green Day and Blink 182. A more recent Punk trend is “Garage,” with the most prominent bands being The Hives, The Vines, The Strokes, and the White Stripes (unique in this genre, as they have no bassist). Other notable modern Punk bands include Social Distortion, Jimmy Eat World, Rise Against, Voodoo Glow Skulls, My Chemical Romance, NOFX, Yellow Card, Bad Religion, Fall Out Boy, Alkaline Trio, and You Me At Six.

Musically, Punk is a relatively simple style featuring stripped-down instrumentation — generally bass, drums, one or two overdriven electric guitars, and a lead singer (almost always with no back-up vocals) —and rhythmically and harmonically simple songs which are generally played fast and at ear-splitting volume. (The dynamic range in Punk songs varies normally, if it varies at all, from very loud to unbearably loud.) As defiance is its defining attitude, Punk lyrics usually deal with despair, anger, teenage angst, aggression, and politics. When they are employed, background vocals are often sung in unison with the lead vocal or limited to shouting.

As Punk music and culture had little or no initial support (and outright resistance from) the music industry, Punk musicians developed a do-it-yourself approach, which manifested itself in “indie” record companies, fanzines, self-promotions, tours set up by the bands themselves, and mail-order record sales (the latter as early as 1979).

In keeping with this approach, Punk musicians, bassists included, typically avoid and even shun formal musical training (like early Surf bassists), prefering to learn their instruments by playing in a band. As attitude is respected more than technique, Punk bassists are often less familiar with music than either their drummers or guitarists.

Though many abhor technical expertise, most Punk musicians take great pride in their music’s execution. Playing bass in this aggressive, loud style can take huge amounts of endurance and concentration.

For info on the Punk attitude, see The Philosophy of Punk, by Craig O’Hara. The following quotation from Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong serves as a wonderful example of the Punk attitude: “Punk is not just the sound, the music. Punk is a lifestyle. There are a lot of bands around who claim to be Punk and they only play the music; they have no clue what it’s all about. It’s a lifestyle I chose for myself.”

In the film Punk Attitude, by Don Letts, Roberta Bailey, CBGB scene photographer, describes the punk scene: “You didn’t have to wait to start doing something. If you wanted to do it you could try doing it.” Later in the same movie, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders describes the beginnings of the English Punk bands: “That was the beauty of that scene. Everyone got a band together. And everyone was in a band.”

Discussing the early bands’ musical maturation and their breaking away or moving on from Punk, she says: “Punk inherently was going to have a short life-span because the beauty of Punk music, anyway, was that no one could really play very good. And what happens is that if you get into music, and you actually like playing and you want to make music your life . . . if you wanted to pursue that, inevitably you got better at your craft.”

Contrary to Hynde’s statement, Punk hasn’t been short lived.