Good bands from the other side of the pond

By now, most of you should know how I feel about the Beatles.

What you may not know is that I am a fan of an awful lot of British bands and their music. I am also a big fan of Scottish and Irish bands and solo artists, but that is for another day.

Today, I will stick with English bands for the most part.

After the Beatles, I would have to say Led Zeppelin is the British band I listen to the most.

Even though Led Zeppelin was sued successfully by Willie Dixon over copyright infringement for some songs from the band’s second LP, in my opinion, Led Zeppelin was the next best to the Beatles to ever come out of Britain.

I know a lot of you Rolling Stones fans out there won’t agree, but I think the Stones lost a lot more than just a band member when Brian Jones died.

The Stones’ music just wasn’t the same and, to me, not nearly as good as it was before Jones’ death.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Rolling Stones, just not quite as much as the Beatles or Led Zeppelin.

And there are a number of other bands from across the pond of which I am fond:

The Animals for grit and get-down-in-the-dirt rootsy blues rock.

The first version of Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green’s incredible blues guitar anchoring great “white boy blues” songs that are very easy to listen to.

Cream, which featured Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker and their unique take on the blues.

Clapton and Peter Green both played in the great John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, as have many other great guitar players, and all were better for it.

Another favorite band of mine has always been the Kinks, with its uniquely twisted sense of humor and Ray Davies’ incredible ability to write a song about almost anything.

The Who is a band I have always admired for its no frills, in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll with no apologies. “Who’s Next” is still one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll albums of all time.

Pink Floyd and its out-of-this-world psychedelic sound that eventually evolved into three masterpieces in a row in “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” (my favorite Floyd recording) and “The Wall.”

Jethro Tull, in my opinion, is the most underrated band to ever come out of Britain. Just listen to any of its first seven albums for all of the proof you need about the band’s musical ability.

Donovan is another artist I don’t think gets enough credit for his contribution to music. We sure do move a lot of his vinyl at the store, so the listeners know.

Now, let’s go back to Led Zeppelin.

Even though the band was considered the greatest hard rock band ever, a lot of their music was played on acoustic instruments. They were, like Cream and the Animals along with John Mayall, partly responsible for raising the blues music awareness of the American listener, which was a good thing.

After its second album, Led Zeppelin moved a bit away from the blues to where its third album is mostly acoustic with gems such as “Gallows Pole,” “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” “That’s the Way” and “Tangerine.”

Of course, “Stairway to Heaven” is the centerpiece of Led Zeppelin’s classic fourth album, but if you were to remove it from the album it would still be a great recording.

In my opinion, “Battle of Evermore” and “Going To California” are two of the greatest folk rock ballads ever written.


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