Dynamic Dynamite: Explosive Vocalists Who Changed Music Part II.
By Stevil, February 25th, 2017
|The Smiths performing with eyes-closed, as hideous Man U fans enter the showroom. Photo by Paul Slattery.|
Let's dive right in...
Steven Morrisey. Think punk rock featured nothing but screaming, domineering lunatics with odd taste and style? You would be correct. But Morrisey screams musical genius, and he showed the world that punk rock talent comes in many different packages, as he did through The Smiths, and now solo (with a backing band, of course). He's touched on sensitive subjects that leave fans feeling good despite the depressing nature of some of his most iconic tunes. I suppose you could say he offers closure for some who can't find it elsewhere, but he also propels fans forward. That's not to suggest he isn't beloved by fans who aren't suffering, though. He is, and I would argue he's been far more valuable to music than his tasteless, mononymous rival, Madonna. He's offered far more substance for young females as well, though that goes without saying. He's also more visually appealing to straight men, though that, too, goes without saying.
Shall I continue?
Greg Graffin. What Greg lacks in range, he's made up for in vocabulary and substance, as he has challenged listeners to think and invest in a good dictionary (and thesaurus). Then there's the multi-layered harmonies, which are just as brilliant as they are rare in punk rock, so there's that as well. And to the surprise of no one, Bad Religion has already eclipsed the record for most religious-themed songs, previously held by Michael W. Smith. But you would be wrong to assume that Greg's envy, or even jealously, of Michael had much to do with his determination. Not by a long shot! It was biological. I'll let you chew on that.
Tony Brandenburg. In 1984, West Berlin officially changed the name of the city's famous entrance, which is now known as Brandenburg Gate, to honor Tony's accomplishments. He was that good! This kid of the black hole could easily be the text book definition of a punk rock vocalist. Attitude? Check. Depth? Check. Delivery? Check. Checks? Nope, but this underpaid-savant from Adolescents and ADZ, who has shown more indecisiveness with a stage name than you would think was possible, has kept on goin' anyway. He could easily cash-in if he were to endorse Energizer batteries, but his stubbornness and loyalty remains with crap-ass Eveready for some reason. Fortunately for him, his microphones require neither.
Ian MacKaye. Without Ian, Straight Edge probably wouldn't exist, and an unknown number of kids would have found themselves in plenty of trouble, rather than having had fun while inflicting direct change upon their environment in a productive and constructive manner. One of the most important musicians and human beings in music without a doubt. Like many, I'm a Fugazi fan. But when I hear Minor Threat, I still feel a burst of adrenaline come over me. Few bands are capable of that, and though I've never had the pleasure of seeing Ian perform live (there's a story to that, but I'll save it for another time), I hold out hope that I might be able to do so if he ever plays São Paulo. The odds of me making it to DC are slim to none, as trips to Safeco Field, Europe, and Australia take precedent, and I have just enough dough for a return trip somewhere within the confines of São Paulo via subway. So yeah, traveling's not on the current agenda, but at least I can play some of Ian's masterpieces and let the music take my mind elsewhere.
Glenn Anzalone. Danzig may not be the most loving, friendly, or flattering name in music, but the brutality and shock he brought to punk rock with sheer talent was second to none, and his extraordinarily diverse list of influences help paint the picture. Misfits became one of the staples of punk rock, and Glenn's songwriting, as well as his delivery, gave us something never seen before: horror rock, and it was a welcomed alternative. You're going to hear me use the word "delivery" a lot more, so I advise you to put on Earth A.D. and think of your mailman.
Ok, just a few more...
|Leg-man João Gordo taking a routine practice lightheartedly. Nobody goes hungry with RDP. Photo from ihateflash.net.|
João Benedan. Fans of Alternative Tentacles, and literally, every single living Brazilian, know all about Ratos de Porão, and that João Gordo is the powerhouse behind this force from the land of Samba and atemoya. He's tackled more issues of injustice over the last 37 years than goals scored by Pelé, and he's done so with the hardest-hitting rock 'n roll band in the Southern Hemisphere. That fact that he dominates a hemisphere speaks volumes, as does he. As do I. He embodies--largely--the fighting spirit of Punk Rock and Hardcore in Brasil, which is uber-imperative, as the nation subsists through widespread corruption, violence, and unfathomable inflation at levels beyond imagination. When he's not on stage, you'll find him on one of the nations most popular TV shows speaking his mind (and performing), which goes to show just how well adored and respected he is, as he should be. He's also vegan, as am I, so give us both credit for having discipline--and good taste. You didn't think he actually ate that foot, did you? Worth noting, that's the mystery meat in traditional feijoada.
James Osterberg. Better known as Iggy Pop (only known as Iggy Pop), Iggy wrote the book on punk rock. In fact, he not only wrote the book, he is the book. I strongly advise picking up a copy from a local, independent book store. Fuck Amazon. And just how did Iggy achieve this status you ask? The Who was known for their frenzied stage presence as were a number of other acts. Iggy took the term to a whole nother level, putting on a display never seen before or since. For Pete's sake, he once rolled around shirtless in broken glass while performing! Think that can or ever will be replicated? No chance. But I hope people try, and then promptly share photos or video of their failed attempts to capture what only Iggy has. Don't ask who Pete is.
Kevin Marvelli. Somehow, Kevin managed to deliver a hardcore message through hardcore while maintaining a melodic overtone and delivery. Because of this, I tried--unsuccessfully--to dub 7 Seconds as "Popcore". But naturally, the delicious corn treat's similarity in pronunciation proved too confusing, leaving fans hungry, and the band having been pelted with cubes of butter and bags of rocksalt at shows (no joke). Part of the blame's on Kevin, as he insisted on playing movie theaters where the concessions were ridiculously overpriced. However, where the clever nickname failed--and it was clever, if I do say so myself (which I do)--the music persevered, and we've been rewarded with one great album after another ever since. Kevin Seven Seconds (few know that Seven is his actual middle-name) was nominated for a Grammy following the release of Walk Together, Rock Together, in 1985. I may be misremembering the facts, so don't read into this too deeply, but I believe he lost out to Bruce Springsteen that year. If you're curious, the term "popcore" has since been copied by a slew of poptards, but it really doesn't matter, and I'm not butter. I mean, bitter.
Keith Morris. With Black Flag, Circle Jerks, OFF!, and now Flag on his résumé, little needs to be said about the accomplishments and endeavors of Keith, but of course, I'll do so anyway. One of the first on the Southern California scene, along with a few others mentioned here and a handful of others I failed to cite and credit properly, Keith's responsible for having helped teens survive the dreadful 80's, though no medal for valor has ever been awarded for his services. He has been awarded a barrage of punk points as a result, but those have proven to be less valuable than food stamps. Sorry, Keith. But thanks for your efforts. I salute you.
This concludes Part II. Had enough? Tough, I'm just getting started. There will be a minimum of 3 more posts in this series, and I'm contemplating a fourth.