14. Tom Waits [UPDATE: moved to number 15.]
Tom Waits is an acquired taste for some, but regardless of his more abrasive presentation since the late seventies, he has been a source of inspiration for countless artists and has been covered by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to the unfortunate thing that was Scarlett Johansson’s debut record. His unique style of storytelling and experimental production make him an intriguing and always reinvigorating voice in the music world. His persona is commanding in every sense. Not only this, but the man’s longevity makes him an enduring legend. One is not compelled to say, ‘I loved his stuff from ’79-’81, then from ’99-’01.’ He just doesn’t stop making high quality records. Waits’ album Swordfishtrombones (1983) can be found on my Top 50 Albums list.
‘Heartattack And Vine’ live from his amazing 1980 album of the same name:
‘Chocolate Jesus’ from his 1999 album Mule Variations, live on Late Night with David Letterman:
13. The Beach Boys [UPDATE: moved to number 12.]
The Beach Boys seem to have always been second best to The Beatles (‘What’s wrong with second best?‘). It was always a back and forth between the two. Part of me is tempted to switch the two, but I do love The Beatles just that wee bit more (hinting at a Beatles placement in the very near future) and that’s probably primarily due to the presence of the late great George Harrison. Still, it must be said that The Beach Boys are nothing short of a phenomenal group. Where I criticise The Beach Boys’ earlier material I do the same for The Beatles’, but I must hand it to The Beach Boys that they were better pop writers than even The Beatles. The bigger Brian Wilson’s ambitions were the more I fall in love with The Beach Boys and that ambition is owed, in part, to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. Two of The Beach Boys’ records can be found on my Top 50 Albums list: Pet Sounds (1968) and Surf’s Up (1971).
‘Good Vibrations’ from Smiley Smile (1967), live on The Midnight Special in 1979 (it could certainly do without this audience, but look at Dennis owning on the drums):
‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice‘ from Pet Sounds.
Brian Wilson performs ‘Surf’s Up‘ from the album of the same name.