When you hear “Great Britain”, what do you think of? Right- annoying accents, tea, foppish men, bad teeth, awful food, rain, the Queen, and… oh yeah, great music. Yesterday, there was a trend on Twitter with the hash tag #BestBritishBandsEver, and I spewed out a few tweets about it without putting much thought into my selections.
Solo artists are out, since it says “Bands” right in the hash tag, so sorry Elton John and Eric Clapton, you’re not going to be on this list.
The contenders- these are bands that I think are particularly noteworthy due to longevity, influence, originality, record sales, and/or just being fucking great to listen to. If you think I missed one that should be considered, you’re wrong. This is the definitive list! (Take your Arctic Monkeys and let them play with The Sex Pistols- they’re not getting on my list.)
Without further ado, here they in alphabetical order: Average White Band, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Cream, The Dave Clark Five, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Depeche Mode (strictly because of album sales), Dire Straits, Dragonforce, Duran Duran, Electric Light Orchestra, The Eurthymics, Genesis, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Motörhead, Pet Shop Boys, Pink Floyd, The Police, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.
I’ve isolated the top ten, and here they are, Casey Kasem countdown style. Read this in his voice; it will be much better that way.
Coming in at number 10 is Pink Floyd- The Wall, Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, all great albums. They could be higher on the list, but the Roger Waters – David Gilmour split means they didn’t put out as much great work as they could have.
Continuing on, number 9 is Queen- Freddie Mercury’s untimely death cut short the career of one of the greatest lead singers in rock history. We all wanted more, but we’ll have to live with what we were able to get from them during his 18 year tenure with the band.
Number 8 is the metal pioneer Motörhead- Lemmy Kilmister is among the coolest men to ever live. His mole is cooler than you are. His band took the best elements of punk, fused it with the blues rock core that was British heavy metal, and gave birth to what would go on to become thrash metal.
Our number 7 band is the Beatles- while their peak may have been better than some bands that rank higher, they were only around for 9 years, and the first half of that was spent with boring typical 60s music. Once they came out with Help!, the expanded their sound and went on to create Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is an incredible work of art. Are the hugely influential? Yes. But unfortunately they influenced a bunch of crap like Coldplay and Oasis.
Coming in at number 6 is Iron Maiden- they went from a good metal band to a great one when they added Bruce Dickinson as their front man. Their stage shows are AMAZING and are not to be missed. Two Minutes to Midnight and 666 are anthems that will live on for decades, and The Trooper and Aces High are the best British patriotic songs played by any of the bands on this list.
Number 5 is who? The Who. Who? Yes, The Who. From rock operas to rock anthems, they have done amazing work with concept albums, and influenced the sound of all of the bands on this list. They were blues rock pioneers that still sell out arenas around the world. Kieth Moon remains as one of the all time great rock drummers, and his death is the one by which all other rock deaths are judged.
Continuing on at number 4 is The Rolling Stones- Mick Jagger has learned to make cool trump singing ability, and have it work. I don’t care if he did have sex with David Bowie, he’s damn cool in my book. He even makes you want to listen to ballads, which normally would require some actual singing talent.
Our number 3 band is Led Zeppelin- they took old blues songs, played with them a bit, and put out the great album Led Zeppelin IV. John Bonham is in the discussion when considering who the greatest rock drummer of all time is, and who doesn’t love Moby Dick when watching The Song Remains the Same? Sure, drinking 40 shots of vodka in less than 24 hours was a bad idea, but probably not quite as bad as Keith Moon taking 32 pills when 6 of them were enough to kill you.
Our number 2 band is Black Sabbath- they had two great eras with Ozzy and Dio, and even have a surprisingly good album with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan singing. Tony Iommi invented heavy metal, and as such created the greatest rock music sound in history.
And finally, number 1 is Average White Band- what, was there ever any doubt? I have their logo tattooed on my shoulder, of course I’m going to name them number one! They’re one of the greatest soul bands of all time, and they have entertained me for thousands of hours. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs from the underrated Warmer Communications album. Listen to how they find a nice slow groove, use the horns to mimic the sound of traffic, and the interplay between Hamish Stewart and Alan Gorrie trading verses. Here is Big City Lights by Average White Band.