Rock Music – What makes a great song, band or performer?

This is what I think – in the end it all comes down to personal taste.

Opher's World

What is quite clear is that it is not all about talent or ability. Some of the best Rock songs have been very basic, not requiring any great virtuosity, such as ‘Louie Louie’ by the Kingsmen.
Some artists, like Joe Satriani, are so incredibly talented and so technically proficient on the guitar that you can marvel at their skill in much the same way as you would any classical musician yet I find them uninspiring.
The best Rock guitarist I have ever seen (and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Keith Cross, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossof, Dave Gilmour and Jack White up close) without a doubt is Jimi Hendrix. Nobody come close. The sounds and melody that Jimi could squeeze out of a guitar were extraordinary. He could make it talk with his elbow better than most good guitarists could with their…

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21 thoughts on “Rock Music – What makes a great song, band or performer?

  1. Why include Jack White – he’s abysmal.
    The best true Rock guitar player if you really have to name one, is none of the above.
    Hendrix wasn’t strictly Rock.
    Ritchie Blackmore by a country mile.

    1. I put Jack White in because I like the sound he makes. I use a very broad definition of Rock – basically anything from Blues, Folk, Reggae, Country and R&B that I happen to like. It’s a hybrid and it all feeds in.
      I like Ritchie Blackmore but if he was playing down the end of my road and Hendrix was playing in Barcelona there would be no contest.

      1. That’s too broad. You’d could just about include Tiny Tim and his ukulele, too then. When I read Rock, I think Rock, not Country anything and certainly never Reggae.
        Real Rock is people like Wayne Kramer, Tommy Bolin, Eddie Van Halen, Rick Derringer, Tom Scholz, Ronnie Montrose, Dick Dale – they Rock!

      2. I like it broad. That encompasses everything I like under a broad heading – but it’s just a label. Who cares? If you like it – it rocks.

      3. Ah, I see. So that’s why I write the occasional articles for a few music mags. I guess I’m accurate on the remit asked.

  2. As to your original question. What makes a great band – it’s got to be the rhythm section hasn’t it? Without that engine working on all 6 it’s just a solo act with some support. That’s why I always thought stuff like Eagles was criminally awful because the drummer was dreadful. Whoever thought a rock band could have a singing drummer anyway! Seriously?

    1. Well if it hasn’t got a sound foundation it can’t function well.
      I agree – I can’t stand the Eagles. They were far too crap. The Band did OK on some things with Levon Helm though.

      1. Not too fond of them either. Over-rated, dull, 2 terrible singers who they let sing, The only band I ever heard whose albums were repeatedly worse than the one before etc.

      2. I liked Big Pink and a few of their other tracks – Levon’s voice is very appealing – though I could not see why Clapton threw out Cream and said this was the second coming. I preferred Dylan with the Butterfield backing. The advent of Americana was not any forward step from the West Coast Acid Rock. It was just that the Acid scene had burnt itself out, as far as I could see, and the Band filled the vacuum.

      3. Helm wasn’t for me either – hated his singing.
        The late 60s US was pretty crap compared to what was coming from UK. By 1970 there was virtually nothing left and UK hard rock just totally fried their weak little sounding bands right off the stage.

      4. It didn’t last long. Most of them only had an album or two in them. But for a year the West Coast burned – Country Joe, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Mothers, Captain Beefheart, Quicksilver, Jefferson, Grateful Dead, Big brother – one of my favourite periods.

      5. Extract Zappa and Beefheart and it’s just pretty much electric country music. I just thought the Airplane and Big Brother both had dreadful guitar players who were always so out of tune. All their live recordings shout this out.
        UK had far superior players in their bands, Family, Pretty Things, Move, Procol Harum – what a drummer!. Too many to mention.

      6. You didn’t like Robbie Krieger and Barry Melton then? I thought they brought something new. Then there was Zoot Horn Rollo!. Then Stills and Young, Cipollina.
        There was a bit of a ramshackle feel to the airplane but I quite liked that. It was the spirit of community at the time – not just the music.
        I thought that it the feel of the time.
        In Britain we had a tighter R&B/Jazz based sound which I think led to that solid rhythm section. In the States it was more Folk and Country for the SF bands. Doors and Beefheart were more R&B – LA – a harder sound.

      7. I didn’t say that – Krieger & Melton were both very good and didn’t suffer from that out-of-tune thing.
        I thought Airplane songs were generally pretty tiresome, just a hodge-podge of bits and pieces stuck together. I’m sure they represented the scene of then, but I find it impossible to listen to them now. As musicians they weren’t much.
        Country Joe started off well, but really lacked core musician creativity and bogged themselves down with “Fish Cheer” etc. Fun for 2 minutes, but every gig?

        Beefheart & Zappa bands had a far higher standard of musicianship.

      8. I would largely agree with that – though I do like a handful of Jefferson songs a great deal. Zappa and Beefheart certainly put together great bands. I remember Roy playing me We’re Only In It For The Money on a great professional Reel To Reel machine that he had and remarking that they were probably the best band in the world at that time.
        I loved first two albums of Country Joe but they fizzled out and ran out of ideas.
        Loved the first 3 Love albums, Buffalos Happy Trails, Doors Strange Days and Nosby Crills and Stash. Then there was Notorious Byrd Brothers. 67/68 was great for West Coast.
        The English scene with Hendrix, Cream. Fleetwwood Mac, Traffic, Floyd and co was just as good.
        I had a great time those years!

  3. I see no mention of Mark Knopfler, so I had to add my two cents worth. Give him a listen. Not just the Dire Straits stuff, but his solo work. He’s become more prolific with age. Amazing guitar. Plays right-handed even though he’s left-handed. And he doesn’t use a guitar pick.

    1. Hi Mick – yes I do like Mark Knopfler both in and out of Dire Straits! I just saw his brother David play solo! He was good too but not quite as good!!
      Thanks for the comment!!

      1. You’re welcome. I saw MK in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago. Great show. I’m always looking forward to his new music. I hope his brother is well. I remember him as an original member of Dire Straits.

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