The invaluable Cody B, MOGger supreme, conducted a longish poll where we all voted for what he called “The Best American Band … Ever.” The rules were complicated, the vote calculations recognizable to fans of the old Pazz & Jops. I was lazy and did not participate in the nomination rounds, but I did finally wake up to cast a ballot in the finals.
A few choices from the final tally:
In the 41-50 range you can find everyone from Count Basie to Hendrix. I mention Hendrix because he was a victim of the process (some thought the Experience wasn’t a “band” as much as Jimi’s support, others thought the three of them weren’t “American”).
REM was #31, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys #40.
#21: The Roots. #30: Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
Duke Ellington’s Orchestra was #11, Bad Brains #20.
6 through 10: Creedence, James Brown & the Famous Flames, The Band, The Pixies, Zappa and the Mothers (I was sure sad to see that last one … should have handed out some of my negative votes).
The Beach Boys came in at #5 … I’ve always found them overrated, but this is no surprise.
The top four must say something about the demographics of the group, since they are all New York bands or close to it:
- #4: Bruce and the E Street Band
- #3: Talking Heads
- #2: The Ramones
- #1: The Velvet Underground
We were given 50 points to pass around, with 15 max for a single band. We could include write-ins (we were voting from a list constructed via the nominating rounds), but the most we could give them was 10. FWIW, here is how I parceled out my 50 points:
- Bruce and Velvets: 15 each
- Sleater-Kinney: 10 (write-in)
- Sly & the Family Stone: 6
- Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: 4 (write-in)