Yeah, afraid not lads
The debate has been raging for months and years and will go on literally until the end of time, but I’ve finally cracked it – I’ve compiled a list of the Top 20 Great British Bands of all time… according to me. It was a painful, emotional and often unnerving experience, as I watched groups that I adore trundle along the imaginary conveyor belt in my mind, only to clumsily fall off like overfilled cardboard boxes right at the very end. Amongst them The Rah Band who could boogie with the best of them at one point, Dexys Midnight Runners who were consistently excellent, Massive Attack who provided anthems for 1990s dope smokers, The Jam, The Smiths, New Order. Loose Ends. The Shadows. Average White Band. I secretly like Duran Duran and The Pasedenas. Even Wham! One of my guilty pleasures is Young Guns by Wham! I fucking love that track. But in the end I got there. You won’t find Coldplay, Keane, Radiohead, Blur or Oasis in this list. Basically because I don’t like those groups. Neither will you find Queen on account of me not standing them, which is unusual…
1. Small Faces
The greatest band of them all for so many reasons. They dressed in fine outfits made from continental thread, they weren’t alarmingly tall which is neither here nor there, but most importantly they made great tunes, made even better on account of Steve Marriott having the howliest British rock roar of all time. When Marriott eventually flounced off, they famously dropped the Small and employed a guy with a dreadful cough called Rod Stewart.
2. The Beatles
Everyone likes The Beatles. Everyone. Even people who go on about how much they hate The Beatles secretly get home every night and dance naked in front of a mirror to Twist and Shout or Hey Jude. They’re just really bloody excellent, even Ringo who had a foghorn voice and was hilariously considered the twelfth best drummer in the band. Both Revolver and Rubber Soul would make my all-time top 100 albums list. The below track, however, features on neither of those records.
3. The Specials
For those who don’t remember 2-Tone, it involved wearing clothes that were a touch too tight and running on the spot to reggae played a touch too fast. So in short, it was fucking amazing, and of the swathes of bands that bum rushed the charts this one was the best. Their presence here means there’s no room for Madness, The Selecter, or Bad Manners. Although there never would have been room for Bad Manners anyway. No offense.
4. The Kinks
The quintessential English band, that’s what everyone says about The Kinks. They’d sing about things like sipping a cup of tea and bonking the vicar’s wife, or about a buxom man-women they met in a seedy Soho coffee shop. All with a wry smile, a cheeky wink, and a fist punched into the crease in their forearm accompanied by a big chorus of “phwoooar look at the arse on that!”. Without them we wouldn’t have bands like Blur, which may or may not be a good thing. It would mean no almighty cheese prick Alex James. Yeah, perhaps we hate The Kinks. Actually no, we love them. Sorry.
5. Black Sabbath
Before he married a frumpy lady in a floor length Laura Ashley frock who was the opposite of his usual crumpet called Sharon Arden, Ozzy Osbourne was in a band called Black Sabbath, and they were really really fucking loud. So loud your ears would actually grow skin over them during the course of an album. So loud that voices in your head would start to exist just to tell them to stop. So loud that you wouldn’t hear an explosion unless it was actually in your face. So loud that they keep other heavy rock bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden and the Zep out of the top 20. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, because the Zep were AMAZING and should definitely be on this list. And yet they’re not.
6. The Rolling Stones
Old Rubber-Face and the girls have been around so long and now look so old and decrepit like a collection of line drawings wearing suits that it’s hard to remember that when they were younger they were great looking like hot European chicks and innovative like serious German scientists. They were dangerous innovators and over the years they have produced some outstanding music moments.
7. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Don’t be fooled by the strange pissing noises and the fact these guys look precisely like glue sniffers, they’re the real deal. They’re artistes, which is French for artists. They’re also Scotiche, which is French for Scottish. The below clip comes with an introduction from the original Pixie Geldof – Paula Yates.
As funk bands go, the US had it nailed, but Cymande could go toe to toe with any one of them in the 1970s. Formed in London in 1971, they’re still going, and if you listen to this stuff for long enough your trousers morph into flared jeans and some wicked sideburns just appear from nowhere.
9. The Who
If it’s a loud 1960s mod band with buckets of attitude you’re after, try The Who. If you’re looking for solid 1970s rock featuring a man who was separated at birth from Kevin Keegs, try The Who. In the mood for a rock opera?…. you’re probably starting to get the gist of this. Like it when songs start all teasingly slow and then suddenly feature aggressive guitar licks and mad drum skills? I’m doing it again aren’t I?
10. The Style Council
The debate will rage until the planet finally explodes itself on account of global warming, but who is better, The Jam or The Style Council? Both Paul Weller groups, they divide people. One were all jackets and haircuts, the other soft synths, a bit of sax, and men looking like they’d oiled up and recreated Brideshead Revisited. In my case, I like to take The Jam from October to March, then from April to September I prefer The Style Council. At the moment, I’m in an April kind of mood what with it actually being April, so you do the math(s).
11. The Coral
Merseyside has a great tradition in churning out fantastic pop groups, and these cheeky chappies follow in a great tradition that follows The Beatles, The Farm, The Boo Radley’s and Cast. Yes, most of the bands just mentioned are utter shit. That was the joke. These guys aren’t though, hence why they keep The Zutons, The Las and all manner of other floppy haircuts in tight jeans out of this line up.
12. Gang of Four
Time was when you could go for a job interview in a stuffy office working for THE MAN during the afternoon, then head off to perform your political socialist mantras on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the evening without bothering to change outfits. Above are post-punkers Gang of Four. A band that keeps Orange Juice, The Pop Group and Magazine out of the running for reasons of being ever so slightly better.
13. Soul II Soul
Jazzie B is the only human being who has ever dared to pick up a keyboard/guitar without looking like the world’s most stupid prick. Hence Soul II Soul keeps Young Disciples, Freeez, and Loose Ends out of the running. Just.
14. The Clash
Probably three of the greatest front men of all time stuck into a single band, Jones, Simonon and Strummer were like three Springsteens, only not quite so palatable in a good way. The Clash were also the pick of the 1970s British punk bands, so they keep The Damned and the Sex Pistols off the list.
15. Arctic Monkeys
Definitely the most current band on the list, Arctic Monkeys are continuing the trend of nifty bands coming out of the Northern city of Sheffield, which is famous for making steel and generally being an incredibly depressing place for everyone involved – ABC, Pulp, Heaven 17, The Human League. Of that lot, these guys are possibly the best. They can’t quite beat local legend Joe Cocker though. Not yet.
As a band, Aswad were far better than their international saccharine smash Don’t Turn Around would have you believe. An excellent, excellent reggae group, with an occasional singing drummer thrown in to boost them up to Warp Factor A Million on the Wicked-o-Metre. They keep UB40 out of the Top 20.
17. The Slits
Long before The Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, The Sundays, The Mondays, Little Mix and One Direction girl groups were already going super strong in the UK. Look at The Slits – below in 1979. Their lead singer Ari Up invented a revolutionary one-legged dance, which she’d occasionally practice in one of London’s many parks.
18. The Stone Roses
For a strange period in the 1990s, everyone thought it was cool to talk in a Manchester accent and walk around like a really arrogant version of Charlie Chaplin with their feet pointing in opposite directions. That was entirely thanks to the Madchester explosion that started when these guys detonated a pop-funk-dance-rock bomb and ended when the shaved gorillas in Oasis started throwing their weight around because they’d just that minute taken a bunch of coke. Oasis didn’t make the list.
19. Echo and the Bunnymen
Although as a child the bitter disappointment of not seeing a rabbit on guitar or a big brown hare on drums would have me shouting and throwing bricks at the TV whenever these guys were on Top of the Pops, you just can’t fault them as a band. They’ve got all the ingredients: a guy on guitar, someone singing, a bloke playing bass, a wild feral animal smashing around on the drums. They keep The Smiths and The Cure out of the running.
20. Public Image Ltd
Johhny Rotten’s second most famous band, but my favourite of the two – they had a slightly less shouty thing happening, and proved once and for all that Rotten really can’t sing. Not that it matters.
It’s a wonderful day for birthdays, with literally too many to choose from. Nicole Richie, Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Ricki Lake. But in the end we went with Liam Gallagher, Bill Murray, Leonard Cohen, and Larry Hagman – all celebrating today, with cakes, jelly, and tears. Should be wonderful. Hence we thought we’d get a bumper gift for all of them to share, and after much discussion it boiled down to a toss up between Paris Hilton, or a funny montage of guys looking for dates, which we were alerted to by Interestment Family member Spencer. In the end we got them both. Happy Birthday chaps!
Yeah man, stop crying your heart out…
Whether we have been victims of some kind of taste bypass, we’re not sure, but here in the magnificent Interestment offices, Oasis have never quite dunked our onions. They’re all just a bit whiney and dull for our tastes, the music equivalent of being stuck down a well with a nervous statistician. And yet, we are fully aware that much of the country has a massive man-crush on these shaved gorillas with their nonsense music, that’s why whenever they play at Knebworth or Wembley, entire towns in middle England drain for the day, and tickets exchange hands for crazy prices. So, to help everyone through the inevitable grieving process, we thought we’d make a small list of reasons to be really happy…
1. We won’t have to endure any more songs in which the word “shine” is mispronounced “sheee-yine”.
2. As the spotlight fades, we will be spared the horrendous pap shots of Liam Gallagher striding around Waitrose, yet still attempting to look edgy.
3. Their album names have always resembled the results of a sixth-form students think tank – Definitely, Maybe, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, Dig Out Your Soul, the abominable Heathen Chemistry. It was only a matter of time before they named an LP Vibegeist. No one needs that.
4. These men were getting old, threatening to morph into the next Rolling Stones, and frankly, there’s only room on the circuit for one decrepit mob of ex-druggies gingerly strumming their old hits.
5. A generation of youngsters will be spared the temptation to waddle around school like Charlie Chaplin with a nasal Manchester accent, going “our kid” this and “mad for it” that as an homage.
6. Noel can now go away and for a supergroup with Bono, Chris Martin, and The Edge. We can then ignore them until they get the message.
Robot Jox, 1989
You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but Patsy Kensit turns 40 today – she looks more like 38. Anyway, it’s great news, and we knew straight away that we’d need to go present shopping. But what could we possibly get for the woman who has enjoyed the high life for so long? She’s already done excellent things, like had sex with Liam Gallagher from Oasis, and one of the Kemps. She even married the guy from Simple Minds. This was going to be tough. After much talk, and some hysterical weeping, it boiled down to a toss up between a great big yellow hat, or a clip of a brilliant film about robots. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Ms Kensit!
Band mistakes itself for God
It’s no secret that a bit of success and celebrity can send a man bonkers. Will Smith appears to think of himself as Jesus, as does Tom Cruise, and for a short window in the late 90s and early 2000s, the bozos that made up Oasis were equally convinced of their own divinity. As album covers go, this one pretty much told the whole story. Their fourth, and probably most pompous, offering, it featured a Noel’s-eye-view looking over New York’s iconic cityscape, as if they were indeed kings of the world. The previous three records had found them, in order: sprawling in a luxury lounge (Definitely Maybe), strutting confidentally down a Soho street (… Morning Glory), and rockstar posturing outside a stately home (Be Here Now). One fears that had this album not brought them tumbling from the shoulders of giants, the next one would have featured them actually having dinner at God’s house.
Hear a cut from the album after the jump…