Friday, June 01, 2007

The Greatest Hard Rock Songs?

Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze 1967: Hendrix showcased some of the most serious rock guitar chops of all time, etching his place as one of the greatest in rock history and Purple Haze is his most recognizable piece of work, carried by a dissonance heretofore unheard of, coupled with ambiguous lyrical content that may or may not refer to a hallucinogenic experience. Hendrix said it was about love and inspired by a dream but he was probably on drugs when he said that. (credit: CP)

The Beatles, Helter Skelter 1968: Inspired by a desire to out heavy The Who's "I Can See For Miles", at the time of its release Helter Skelter was a stunning experiment in heaviosity. You can practically hear the blisters growing on Ringo's fingers as he smashes the skins. Totally raucous. Many believe this was the absolute beginning of metal. (credit: CP)

Black Sabbath, Paranoid 1970: The bassline is practically hypnotic and Ozzy's quintessential metallic vocal timbre set the standard for a slew of singers to come but they never really get it quite right do they? Plus, it's about being insane and hard rock is as much about craziness as it is about darkness, sex and mystic lands. (credit: CP)

Led Zeppelin, Black Dog 1971: Where would the rock world be without the Black Dog riff?? This is a complex piece of work, the start and stop a capella verses, the crazy time changes – just try dancing to it. Definitive and, unlike a fair chunk of Zeppelin's work, not overrated and overplayed. (credit: CP)

Heart, Barracuda 1977: There is virtually no better example of the metal gallop than Barracuda. This is a satisfyingly crunchy number and Ann Wilson's vocals positively soar. The Wilson sisters had the chops to rival any man in the rock world and were pretty much the only women doing it, which makes them extra awesome. (credit: SonyBMG)

AC/DC, Highway to Hell 1979: It's almost impossible to choose the definitive AC/DC track but Highway makes this list due to the references to Hell and the road leading to it, the exact one Bon Scott travelled just six months after the album of the same name became AC/DC's first million seller. Scott was found dead of acute alcohol poisoning in the back of a friend's car. Without Hell there would be no metal. (credit: CP)

Guns N' Roses, Sweet Child O' Mine 1987: Unarguably one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time, sung by one of the most charismatic front men of the era. This ode to the eyes of Erin Everly combined the poetry of the power ballad with the genius of Slash and a driving, singalong bridge to become an instant classic. Just add a kilt and some of Axl's signature dance moves. (credit: CP)

Metallica, Enter Sandman 1991: Hardcore speed metal fans, who believe this is exactly where Metallica went wrong, will disagree and think we are totally insane for including this but Sandman is one catchy tune man. A simplification of the Metallica sound, this is headbangin' hard, ominous AND infectious, which is basically the trifecta right there. (credit: CP)

Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit 1991: The song that changed the face of hard rock forever. Lo-fi verses alternated with crashing hard choruses. It was fuzzy, distorted, spacey, hauntingly melodic and totally punk rock. You couldn’t understand most of what Kurt was saying but you knew he was mad about something and that was good enough. Here we are NOW! ENTERTAIN US! YESSSSS! (credit: CP)

White Stripes, Seven Nation Army 2003: Another one of those memorable guitar lines, though this one is cleverly disguised as a bass. Those tricky White Stripes, always fooling us with kinship claims and acoustic guitars. Following in the lo-fi footsteps of the original grunge artists, this new breed of rock manages to be minimalist and hard as rock at the same time. No small feat. (credit: CP)

  1. What order would you put them in? (As is they are in chronological order.)
  2. Which choices (if any) do you disagree with?
  3. What would you substitute those with?


Collin said...

Barradcuda by Heart is my fave, followed by Purple Haze. The rest could go in any order. No Pink Floyd on here? WTF?

Justin Evans said...

Ditto to Collin on the absence of Pink Floyd.

I mean, where is the "Interstellar Overdrive" or the "One of these Days" soessential to hard rock?

As for Jimi, I love all things Jimi, but I would go with "If 6 was 9" or "Voodoo Chile: Slight Return" over "Purple Haze."

To each his/her own, I s'pose.

Nick said...

Collin & Justin, I hear ya. I got this list from my IP homepage. I thought it was incomplete as a good case can be made for several other bands - ie. The Who, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Deep Purple etc..

sam of the ten thousand things said...

The notion of hard rock is a misty and elusive thing - such a thin line between hr and metal.

I would replace "Sandman" with "Master of Puppets" - but my favorite Metallica is "Nothing Else Matters". I would replace Zeppelin's "Black Dog" - amazing song - with "Achilles Last Stand".

I really don't seem to think of anything The Beatles did as hard rock - though that's one of my favorite bands.

Yes to the Black Sabbath and the Nirvana.

Replace the "Purple Haze" with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)".

I would add "Pushit" by Tool. Add "Long Snake Moan" by PJ Harvey. Add "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson. Add "Dead Skin Mask" by Slayer - though the last one is thrash and not hard rock.

It would be a stretch to get Pink Floyd on there - though I want them there. I'll go with "Money" and turn up the speakers.

Nick said...

I like your King Crimson choice. Personally, I really wanted Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" on the list, "Wild Side" by Motley Crue, "Baba O'Riley" by the Who, "Break on Through" by the Doors or "Brown Sugar" by the Stones. (Not necessarily in that order.) The list continues to grow...

Jilly said...

space truckin

Nick said...

Another good one. :-)

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Wrong Metallica song, probably the wrong Guns n' Roses song. The list seems to be suggesting influence and popularity as well as quality, so I'd go with "One" for Metallica (I'd pick "Battery" without the popularity/influence restriction) and "Welcome to the Jungle" (much more hard rock and just as popular) for GnR.

I agree with getting something by Tool on there--my pick would be "Forty Six & 2."

Also something by System of a Down, maybe "BYOB" or "Innervision" if you're looking for popularity with quality, or one of a dozen songs if you're willing to take album tracks.

Something by Rage Against the Machine, probably "Bulls on Parade," though "No Shelter" is my favorite song of theirs.

"Wish" by Nine Inch Nails.

"Give it Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Outshined" by Soundgarden

"Rearviewmirror" or "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam

"Turn on the News" by Husker Du (yeah, they aren't "hard rock" per se, but then neither are the White Stripes)

"Waiting Room" by Fugazi (see above)

"American Jesus" by Bad Religion

"Unsung" by Helmet

"Tommy the Cat" by Primus

"Epic" by Faith No More

"La Grange" by ZZ Top

"Lust for Life" or "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop

Aerosmith could be on there, though I don't especially care for them. Ditto Van Halen. Ditto Eric Clapton.

Nick said...

Some great choices, Steven, including:

Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam & Iggy Pop.

I'll try to hunt down "La Grange" by ZZ Top which I'm unfamiliar with. Thanks.