Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A - Z Music Challenge

Boy, you guys are mellow. 😁  Most of the posts about Chris The Collector's A to Z Music Challenge are chock full of alternative bands.  I'm not knocking anyone for that, it's just that my "formative years" in music were the mid-1980's so the typical live performance included guitar solos in every song and looked more like this:

I've delved into Motown, Top 40, country, and other things at certain points, but Heavy Metal is supreme, and really all I like any more.  The Sirius/XM stations I sit on 90% of the time are the ones between Octane and Turbo, including Hair Nation and Ozzy's Boneyard.  So that's where most of my choices will be.  I'll give a main selection and one or more honorable mentions.  Not going to link to songs or videos.  You're welcome to look those up on your own, but I like graphics, so I downloaded all the band logos.

  Basically Creed with another singer, these guys are way
ahead of Aerosmith, and I consistently like more of their songs than Alice In Chains.

Runner Up - Audioslave.  Chris Cornell was great, but I don't like everything he did.  Tom Morello is a freaking genius.

The son of Led Zeppelin drummer John, Jason Bonham's band right at the end of the metal era really could have been big.  They're on my heavy play rotation these days, but only have one album I think.  Boston probably should be here, but I've heard 'em a million times.

Runners Up - Bonfire, an apparent European sensation, have a ton of albums but I've only heard a few of them.  The couple I own are killer. 
The BulletBoys were another latecomer, and have a rather unique style.  Their rendition of The Color of Money from the O'Jays is great.

Another band on my recent heavy play list is The Cult.  Their stuff rocks, but is also super melodic and the guitar work is amazing.  And Ian Astbury has such a distinctive voice.

Runner Up -  Creed.  Best concert I ever saw was Creed and 3 Doors Down.  Just a killer rock show.  They were one of my top 5 favorites, but then Scott Stapp just got weird after a while and they were horrible.


Dokken is my first favorite rock band.  Their songs just sound like I expect hard rock to sound.  Cymbal crashes at just the right time, harmonies, riffs, and everything.  If I was in a band or wrote metal music, it would sound like Dokken.  It's hard to explain...

Runner Up - Ronnie James Dio is the ultimate metal god.  If he didn't share the same letter as my personal favorite band, he'd be a featured listing.  He has some great classic tracks with Black Sabbath and Rainbow as well.

Love Evanescence, and not just because Amy Lee is gorgeous, but she's one of the most incredible voices in the world.  They are probably the newest band on my list.

Runner Up - Gotta mention Sheena Easton as my first favorite musician - ever.  And she (had?) a powerful voice too.  Her version of Wind Beneath My Wings puts Bette Midler to shame in my book.

There aren't many F's in this list, at least in this genre.  The late Fast Eddie Clarke handled the guitars for this bluesy group.  They're just off the beaten path of mainstream hard rock.  Sorry, I just don't like the Foo Fighters.

Godsmack are another of my top 5 favorites of all time.  They came after the fall of 80's metal and reaffirmed my love for heavy rock.  Initially called an "industrial noise band", but they're freakin' metal.  Check out their YouTube videos of the drum battles in their live show.

Gotta go with Ann & Nancy here.  They didn't like the way they were objectified in the 90's, and I can understand that.  But the music they produced with those next few albums is their best, I think.  The earlier mellow stuff is classic as well, but the later songs are really well written and they rock when they want to.
Runners Up - Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) and Hellyeah are two artists I am just getting into.  The duet between Hale and Amy Lee - Break In - is amazing.

One of the most epic and enduring metal bands of all time.  These guys might seem at first glance to have a dozen guys on guitar.  They just keep going decade after decade, producing their style of music and playing all over the world - in their own airliner piloted by the lead singer Bruce Dickinson - not played by Christopher Walken.

Although Rob Halford's vocals aren't what they used to be, and the lineup has changed in recent years, these guys are still going strong too.  I consider them to be on the Mt. Rushmore of metal bands.  There aren't many better.  So many albums with so many killer songs.

There are several valid choices here, but even though I'm not the most rabid Kiss fan, I gotta give 'em credit for inspiring my metal fandom in general.  I was into Sheena Easton and Huey Lewis, etc., but then when I heard their first album without the makeup (yes, it was that late in their careers), I was amazed music could sound like that.  And it's been in my blood ever since.
Runners Up - I'm probably stretching a bit to suggest I'd put Krokus or Korn toward the top of my fave list, but there are so many K's I felt compelled to put some here.  I don't own any Korn albums, but won't turn the channel when they come on the radio.

A bit of a departure here, as the obvious choice is Zeppelin.  But if both come on the radio, I'm more excited to hear most LP songs than Led Zep, just because they've been played for so long.  Chester was amazing and unique, and was appreciated so much, it's agonizing to think he felt different.  The touch of hip-hop in their stuff is all you'll see in this list.  I remember sitting among some school friends and one girl being amazed that I knew every word of In The End.
Runners Up - Like I said, Led Zeppelin are the gods of classic rock, but just so familiar.  I own the box set and everthing, but LP is just a bit cooler right now. 
Lamb of God are intense, so I enjoy them in small doses.  They're much more than just the extreme vocals of Randy Blythe, they're a very tight musical group.

This is the biggest no-brainer on this list.  I wasn't always a fan, though.  It took the Black album to draw me in, and then I discovered the awesomeness of Fade To Black, One, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) among many others retroactively.  Still not much for the real early stuff when the recording quality and Hetfield's vocals weren't great.  But they're the masters, hands down.

Runner Up - Dave Mustaine's follow-up project after he was 'released' from Metallica.  The first group I liked beyond the basic glam/hair metal.  They kinda scared me initially, but I adapted after a while and own most all their albums.

Believe it or not, the letter N was the toughest choice for me.  Since I hold Nirvana responsible for the decline of metal's popularity, (and I only like a few songs), they won't be seen here.  Night Ranger had a nice sound that I like better than the singer's next project - Damn Yankees, but Sister Christian is just overplayed...

Another no-brainer, but there aren't that many O's anyway.  This guy fronted the band that set the stage for all metal that followed.  A lot of Black Sabbath's catalog (which I somehow own digitally) is just now growing on me, especially from the farewell concert.  But Ozzy has been a master of killer songs for a long time.  Again, I didn't get into him until he was a few albums in and then filled in with more of the older stuff - the Randy Rhoades years.  Ozzy's new album, a collaboration with modern artists, doesn't quite hold the same appeal.  The family tv show was interesting, but if you don't know his music, you're missing the really deep stuff.

Another departure from the metal train, but how can you refuse such mind-blowing artistry?  I love David Gilmour's work with them.  Never cared much for Roger Waters' style and bizarreness.  Everything from Wish You Were Here on is fantastic.  The Wall is OK...

Just got into Pantera a little while ago.  Such a shame to lose so many of these guys.  It must be very entertaining to hang out with Phil Anselmo, but it's probably intimidating too.  The guy is intense.  And awesome.

Yeah, I know the obvious choice would be the shorter version of this name.  But again, another one of my all-time favorites outranks the legendary artist.  A secondary version of this outfit is still producting good tunes, but it's a shame that the singer Geoff Tate and the other guys just can't seem to work things out.  His voice is definitely one of the most recognizable in the genre.  The original Operation:Mindcrime is outstanding.

Well, maybe there is another instance of an act with some hip-hop influences showing up on this list.  Though Zack de la Rocha's ferocity overshadows that quality, and the aforementioned Tom Morello's ability to make guitars produce the craziest sounds rules over all of it.  Renegades of Funk was the name of my first (and best) fantasy football team, which meant they automatically had a theme song.

Wasn't gonna go with this band here, since there are probably the most choices for one letter, but ya gotta give it to Sebastian Bach for his vocal range.  The guy can just wail.  Maybe not like that dude from Steeheart, but they don't have the body of work that Skid Row does.  Wasted Time is one of the greatest metal songs.  And check out In a Darkened Room, Quicksand Jesus, and I Remember You.
Runner Up - It's not because of a dedication to the Christian faith, but more the musical sound and great vocal range (that hasn't aged very much through the years) of Michael Sweet (who is definitely not Ted Cruz..?).  The positive message and attitude was a bonus, but these dudes cranked it up too. 

Ever since his testimony in front of the PMRC, Dee Snider has been one of the most entertaining characters in hard rock and metal.  They're songs are occasionally goofy, and their videos campy but fun, but their overall catalog is definitely respectable.  And they did Christmas specials.

Runner Up - Chuck Billy has one of the mellower but most powerful voices.  I only have and like a couple albums, but The Ritual is in my top 10.

I've only heard a few songs from YouTube from this band, and an interview with their singer, but so far I'm impressed with both the intricate musicianship and Brittney Slayes' soaring vocals.  (Doesn't hurt that she's a sweetheart either). 

Plus, U2 is OK, but I'm just not that big a fan.

Can you believe Sammy Hagar is in his 70's?  He's just the happiest guy in show biz.  Was never a fan of David Lee Roth, even though my cousin is in two of his solo music videos:

Sammy Hagar was by far the best frontman with them.  No bad albums from that bunch.  RIP Eddie.  I remember sitting in my basement listening to the For Unlawful... album cranked up, and was dozing off when the intro to The Dream Is Over jolted me awake.

Runner Up - Vandenberg was pretty obscure in the greater metal scene, but the namesake lead guitarist ended up with Whitesnake later on.  The singer's distinctive voice and their musical versatility made me a fan.  Incorporating spanish guitars and other diverse instruments into driving rock songs made them memorable.

Speaking of which, Whitesnake went way beyond Tawny Kitaen on the hood of a Jaguar back in the day (though ya can't knock them for that either).  Very blues influenced, but maybe not the most complex songwriting, this band endures.  David Coverdale just has the coolest speaking voice on the planet, much less a good singing voice.  

Another quality band with a great artist out front who took his own life.  Jani Lane and the band were kinda typecast for their most shallow song Cherry Pie, when they did so many other much better works.  Lane's range was superior to a lot of rock singers and his ballads were consistently great.  Check out I Saw Red.

OK so I cheated on this one.  King's X singer and bassist Doug Pinnick turned 70 in 2020, but looks like he's only been on the road for a few years after college.  Can't say I'm a fanclub founder, but their stuff comes on the radio a lot and has moved up my "chart" steadily.

Y&T would fit here, but I only know a few songs, and I actually saw Yes live in the late 80's while I was in college.  Can't say I listen to them much now, but 90125 was an automatic buy when it came out.  Another epic artist in the same vein (almost) as Pink Floyd, these guys are on another plane creatively for sure.  Like Floydian, I enjoy the haromines and melodies more than the psychodelic elements.

And finally....  A popular choice of course.  I was at a convention for a business venture (not sure why), and stepped into a hotel elevator in Buffalo one day and Frank & Dusty were standing in there with female companion.  I was so awestruck, I wasn't able to ask them to autograph the book I was carrying, but it was probably a relief to them.  I have Eliminator and Afterburner, and their Greatest Hits CDs.

Most of this stuff exists as physical CDs that are still in my living room, and as I said, play virtually through Sirius/XM radio and now Amazon music.  Anything I don't have, Alexa now does.  I have a few dozen mp3s somewhere, but never developed an iTunes library or anything digital.  My phone has like twelve songs on it that I never play.  As with my tastes in rock, my music media are old school as well.  Hope you found something you like that you didn't know about before.  Some of this list I discovered from reaction videos on YouTube, like Jamel AKA Jamal, The Charismatic Voice, and Katrinka, to name a few.


  1. Wow. Shots fired in your Van Halen write-up.

  2. I forgot about Creed! I really liked them at first, too. I agree about Amy Lee's voice; it's beautiful. Metal's not my thing, though, so I would pass on most of these. I enjoyed reading your list because it's so different from mine (and others).

  3. I try to like heavy metal, but I just can't take the screaming. If there's some artistry and intelligence to it, like Queensryche, I can get behind it. I do follow some youtube stuff where most of the people are into heavy metal. They'll mention Dokken or somebody who they really worship and I figure I'll give it a try and it's -- nope.

  4. Great heavy music. Check out Texas Hippie Coalition album "Rollin'" & Monster Magnet "Power trip". Sorry David Lee Roth singing "Runnin' With the Devil" is classic Van Halen. Keep rockin'.

  5. Yeah, I think our car ride together would have to be done in silence! Actually, I do like a few of the bands you mentioned but only in small doses (or only very specific songs). Fun to see a list with a different bunch of artists on it though!

  6. The cult is so great. I wish I had seen ian astbury when he played with the surviving members of the doors. I don't have albums of many of these bands other than the cult, but I do listen to iron maidens wasted years from time to time.

  7. Ah, you had me teased. You spoke heavy metal, but it's the lighter side of it. Okay, so I grew up on these bands so there's that and many are still in my rotation. But I lean on the heavier side where Testament and Megadeth are a baseline and go from there. But I'll say this, anyone who mentions Mindcrime get my absolute props. It is desert island album #1.

  8. Metallica is hands down my favorite hard rock band... and Fade to Black is my favorite song from them. I started listening to them in high school. And Justice for All was my first album. It didn't take me long to dive into Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and Kill 'Em All. The Black album was the last CD of theirs that I bought.

  9. Great list of bands! I'll admit my list will include a lot of that 90's alternative, but I can easily appreciate those heavy bands from the 70's and 80's. Stryper's Michael Sweet is an underrated vocalist - no one could hold a note as long as he could!

  10. These are much more my style than most of the other blogger choices. I'd disagree with a few - I'd certainly take Alice in Chains over a band that sounds like Creed. Would have to put Black Sabbath for the B's. Dio over Dokken but it's close, love both. H I'd go with Hammerfall or even Helloween before yours. Agree with your M's and T's but Motorhead and Type O Negative deserve honorable mentions. And even though I love metal I also love Nirvana, I'm fine with them coexisting. White Zombie over your W's. But probably would synch up with all the rest of your letters.

  11. That's cool about your hot cousin!

    Dig several of these, but like gcrl, I think The Cult is the band on your list I'm most on board with. Loved them since "Fire Woman" was all over MTV, and eventually went back and checked out everything.

    I'm looking forward to when my 1991 MusiCards blog hits the rock section so I have a good excuse to check out some of the 80s metal bands I missed.

  12. Looks like we have quite a bit in common, musically speaking. Though I can't get down with Rage, Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello both annoy me greatly.

  13. Ooooh a metal lis. Very nice. Not sure how I missed this one but I was a bit of a hard rock kid in the early '90s. GNR, Metallic, some Megadeth. Rage Against The Machine blew me away. "Freedom" was unlike anything I'd ever heard, and I didn't even understand the meaning when I was 12.

    Linkin Park is more typical of my musical taste these days, though Led Zeppelin are one of the few "classic" rock acts that I really like.