I’ve always wanted to write a blog post with my unpopular opinions and hot takes on classic rock, but never got around to it because my main focus is writing deep dive posts, but since the holidays are coming up and I really want to take it easy since I never really got much time off since I couldn’t holiday because of current events, I wanted to write some filler/fun blog posts that are shorter and more fun to read.
These confessions and hot takes are going to be some of my more controversial/polarising opinions, and these will mainly focus on the music, not the people behind it. With that said, let’s go!
1. The Beatles were not the best live band of the 60s.
People love to ask me if I could see any rock band in concert, which one would I pick? As much as I love them and I will always acknowledge their influence in who I am and why I’m so obsessed with classic rock, I wouldn’t choose to go to a Beatles concert! If we were to compare them to their 60s contemporaries, I’d say The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Who were much much better live. It’s really easy to see the difference in the 1965 NME Poll Winners concert (The Stones and The Animals performed, but The Who weren’t famous yet at this time). The Beatles were an amazing studio band and so innovative and have the most consistently good discography of any classic rock band, in my opinion, but as a live band, not the best. They were solid, but their live performances don’t energise me like The Stones, Animals, or Who.
2. The Rolling Stones come across as kinda insecure.
To piggyback on the last confession, I love The Rolling Stones (I’m quite proud of the fact my first name is the title of a Rolling Stones song) and they’re an excellent live band, but reading about how The Stones thought of or did to other bands, wow. The competition was tough in the 60s and that was a really good thing because it drove the musicians to be better and try to top the other musicians.
The Rolling Stones are the first band you think of when it comes to British R&B, but British R&B was more than that! You had Blues Incorporated, The All Stars, Graham Bond Organisation, The Who, The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, Moody Blues, and The Pretty Things. And sadly not all the Rolling Stones got the credit they deserved! Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts deserve a lot more credit! Rolling Stones weren’t just Mick and Keith.
I can think of a few occasions where the Rolling Stones were not so great to other bands. Like when they tried to get The Pretty Things banned from Ready Steady Go, because they were their toughest competition. Or when they didn’t release The Rock and Roll Circus until the 90s possibly because The Who’s performance upstaged theirs. Or when Steve Marriott tried out for the band and Mick Jagger didn’t like that he upstaged him. Imagine that, Rolling Stones with Steve Marriott!
3. I wouldn’t want to be at Woodstock.
I’ve written about Woodstock before and it seems like every classic rock fan wants to be at Woodstock. Well, not me and it’s not because I’m scared of large crowds because of coronavirus. I like going to concerts just fine, but I can only handle so much. I lived in Chicago for years, but I never once went to Lollapalooza. I don’t like festivals! There’s usually only a few bands I like and then I don’t really care about the rest. Even in the classic rock era where I like basically everyone on the festival lineups, I’d personally rather go to a couple concerts of bands I really like and listen to longer sets. At festivals, the sets are always shorter than a proper concert! Quality over quantity for me!
Also, let’s not forget that Woodstock had a lot of logistical problems. Not enough food or toilets. Too crowded. And where would I sleep? I’m gonna sound like a spoilt brat, but I don’t want to go camping and get all muddy and deal with my hair being frizzy because of all the rain.
The only festival I’d maybe have an interest in is Monterey. I think that lineup was better than Woodstock, but even then, I think there are other places I’d rather be in the 60s like the Marquee Club in London or the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
4. I don’t want to be a groupie.
When you’re a female classic rock fan, everyone makes the assumption that you find the rock stars hot and that’s why you like the music. Do you think that women don’t have ears? We love the music! And yes, I happen to find a lot of classic rockers attractive back in the day, but I’m gonna be honest, I wouldn’t want to be a groupie or even a rock star wife or girlfriend! I never understood the appeal of hooking up with people. I catch feelings and I can’t imagine being with someone for one night and then goodbye and they forget about you and move on. Celebrities often cheat on their SOs and a lot of their marriages end in divorce. No thanks!
Personally if I could spend a day with my favourite rock stars, I’d rather go for lunch, talk about music, take pictures together, and go shopping for cool clothes and records.
5. I don’t usually like live albums
I hardly ever listen to live albums. There are a few good live albums out there, but I really don’t listen to them much. When I do my Listen to This, Not That series where I deep dive into classic rocker discographies, I always skip the live albums. Part of it is an efficiency thing, and part of it is I want to hear new material. I get used to the studio version and hearing live versions isn’t the same to me and something sounds off, and no this isn’t shading their performance skills or anything. Perhaps one day I might share a list of live albums that I like – live albums for people who don’t like live albums.
There are some occasions though where the live version beats the studio version. Like Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” live at the Budokan! That’s the superior version!
And I can’t talk about superior live versions without talking about Peter Frampton! Play the studio version of “Do You Feel Like We Do”, said no one ever!
6. The 80s were a better time for pop music than rock music
If you’ve been following me for a long time, you’ll know that my favourite decade for music are the 60s and 70s. Over time, I’ve opened my mind to other decades of music and there’s a lot of great stuff in the 50s and 80s, but I still am iffy about the 90s (except for Britpop, I really like Britpop). In my opinion, the 80s were a solid decade for music, but not rock music. I personally like the pop music from the time period better than the rock music. To me, a lot more innovation and interesting material. Probably doesn’t help that my favourite bands’ peaks were in the previous decades, and by the 80s they were basically dinosaurs, and a musician can only make great music for so long. And that a lot of band members I like didn’t even make it to the 80s.
7. The best era of Queen was their early years.
I’m really looking forward to writing the Listen to This, Not That for Queen because I’ve been waiting to write that and I really want to share my opinions. But I’ll give you a sneak preview of what you can look forward to me writing about, I think Queen’s best work is their early albums: from Queen I to A Night At The Opera. After that, I don’t enjoy the albums as a whole as much (too commercial sounding), but there are still great singles after that, but once I do a deep dive into the discography, I’ll see if my mind changes! My favourite Queen albums are Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack and they don’t get enough radio airplay (unless it’s “Seven Seas of Rhye” and “Killer Queen”), but maybe that’s why I like those albums and maybe they wouldn’t have the same magic if they were overexposed. Queen II is brilliant and Sheer Heart Attack has so many good songs on it. While we’re still talking about Queen, I love the song “Back Chat” and I don’t think that Hot Space was that bad of an album.
8. I prefer Buddy Holly to Elvis.
I don’t hate Elvis, but I’m not as big of a fan of his work as most classic rock fans are. I prefer Buddy Holly and I think he was more talented. I really like when musicians write their own music and play their own instruments. One of the things I do wonder is what would have become of Buddy Holly had he made it to the 60s. Would he have worked with The Beatles? That would have been cool to see!
9. Prog > Punk
I don’t hate punk rock, but I like progressive rock a lot more, which is funny because I love psychedelic rock and garage rock and all the protopunk kind of stuff with the fuzzy guitars and power chords. One of the things I appreciate most about music is musicians who are total masters of their craft and have such incredible technical skills and you get that a lot more in progressive rock. Guitarists like Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, David Gilmour, and Alex Lifeson. Bassists like Geddy Lee and Chris Squire. Drummers like Alan White, Bill Bruford, and Neil Peart. Keyboard players like Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, and Keith Emerson. I like how I can zone out and relax to long prog rock songs and how prog rock has a lot more variety: classical, jazzy, metal, ambient, new age, folk, you name it. Maybe because I love writing long blog posts, I love prog rock. Who knows?
10. I don’t care about new music from classic rockers.
You’d think because I’m a big classic rock fan, I’d want to keep up to date on what new music old classic rockers are releasing and I’d be excited about it. Well, that’s definitely not me! I like to listen to classic rockers’ work from their peak years. When I want to listen to something new, I want to see fresh faces, new names, new approaches to rock music. I want to give new musicians a chance. The old classic rockers already had their time, I want to see something new! The new music I listen to mostly is classic rock-ish but with a modern spin. That’s what I like to hear. Too often when classic rockers make new music, it’s either the same stuff they made 50 years ago rehashed or something so out there and different from their usual that I’m like what even is this? If it’s the latter, I give the musician credit for trying something new. If it’s the former, why bother? Why not listen to the classics instead of these mediocre rehashings of old music? It’s different though if they release unreleased tracks from back in the day, those are fun to hear, but otherwise, if I’m listening to new music, I want to hear something else!
So these were my 10 unpopular classic rock fan confessions. What are your unpopular classic rock opinions? Share them in the comments section below!
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