Often irascible and difficult, sometimes just plain rude, Ginger Baker wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with, assuming most accounts are to be believed. As if often the case, with such difficulty came genuine brilliance. Few could deny that Ginger was one of the finest drummers who ever lived.
Ric Ocasek was a legend. As a songwriter, his pop melodies were among the best. The way he blended alternative ideas with timeless power pop sensibilities marked him out as not only a great songwriter, but a master arranger. The very fact that tunes like ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’ and ‘It’s Candy-O’ became fixtures on oldies radio stations despite carrying the kind of vocal that was…quirky, to say the least, speaks volumes about his talent.
When most people think of Dr. John, first, they’ll think of his 1968 album ‘Gris Gris’ – a groundbreaking work melding voodoo blues, deep psychedelia and a touch of New Orleans jazz – or his popular ‘Right Place, Wrong Time’ single which showed a love of funk that fit the early 70s perfectly. Maybe they’ll think about his appearance at The Band’s Last Waltz, where he was invited to sing ‘Such A Night’, captured on celluloid for future generations to discover.
The ska revival of the early 80s brought some great and timeless music, but The Beat’s debut album and associated singles were among the finest slabs of vinyl to emerge from the scene. Part of The Beat’s enduring charm came from great chorus hooks, but for many, the real energy and brilliance came from Ranking Roger.
When people talk about British punk, first, they’ll invariably mention Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash. The breakthrough of a whole new wave of alternative music was never limited to the London suburbs, of course, and Manchester’s Buzzcocks were at the forefront of a whole musical revolution.