Friday, May 16, 2014

Discuss: Musical Geniuses


Doug: It would be a nice "add" to the conversation to also discuss some producers whom you feel fall into this "genius" category.


Edo Bosnar said...

A few that pop to mind immediately, and who have been discussed here recently:

Paul McCartney - singer, songwriter/composer, arranger, producer and he can play about a gazillion instruments, well.

Prince - again, singer, songwriter, producer and a damn good guitar player.

And one who often gets, I think, unfairly overlooked in discussions like these: the late, great Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy fame. Besides having what I consider the perfect voice for a (male) rock singer, and being a top-flight bass player, he was a damn good songwriter (writing the words and music to pretty much every single Thin Lizzy song) and producer.

By the way, I hate to be negative, but I've never really understood the fuss over Brian Wilson. And I'll pre-empt anyone who mentions "Pet Sounds" - never been overly impressed by it.

Fred W. Hill said...

Pete Townshend's favorite mad rock genius. I became a bit of a Who fanatic after seeing their film "The Kids Are Alright" at a drive-in in 1979 and they're certainly in my rock trinity, along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The concept, part, of coming up with a musical note that would make people disappear behind what eventually became the album Who's Next and a whole bunch of singles and other album tracks was certainly mad but it resulted in a lot of magnificent music.
I was never much into the Beach Boys, but before his madness incapacitated him, Brian Wilson also came up with a lot of great music, with "Good Vibrations" being one of the all time classic singles and Pet Sounds a great album. Another mad genius who short-circuited himself too soon was Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, architect of several wonderful psychedelic singles and the album Piper at the Gates of Dawn. For the record, I've never taken LSD or anything harder than weed, and that very rarely, and don't even drink alcoholic beverages all that much, but I still love psychedelic music, and Piper is one of my favorite albums. Of course, I love the post-Barrett Floyd too, with all their studio albums in my collection. I've heard so many times, "oh, you've got to be high to understand/ appreciate Pink Floyd" which I say is utter bunk!
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, time to get to work. :)

Humanbelly said...

I'm going to cause some forehead-slapping and eye-rolling by tossing Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart into the ring. I'm by no means a classical music buff-- but when it comes to music my ear likes, these three stand out in that realm, w/ the advantage very much going to Wolfie. The complex and dramatic interplay of instruments and voices that he could carry in his mind's ear while working at his keyboard is almost impossible to believe. . . and it was clearly second nature to him. And it was obviously only enhanced by his instinctive ear for a great tuneful "hook". I think he likely would have dominated the pop-music field regardless of what era he had been born in. Rock music, Broadway musicals, film scores-- the venues would have been his for the taking.

Hey, and let me put in a word on my wife's behalf for the late Stevie Ray Vaughn. His hard-driving blues genre is not my personal cup of tea. . . but man, there is NO denying the astonishing level of his talent.


Anonymous said...

I really love when we get into music topics but I always remind myself to slow down, think and then type. When I forget this advice, I find myself with the sharpest knife at a gun fight.

Roy Thomas Baker - formed so much of what we know as rock in the 70s and 80s. From "It's All Right Now" through "Lights" and on to "Let The Good Times Roll" and who will ever forget "momma, just killed a man, put a gun against his head......" . (Points off for Chinese Democracy)

Berry Gordy - he was is and will always be Mr Motown. 'Nuff said. (Points off for Rockwell)

Miles Davis - he was Bop, he was Cool, he was hot, until the day he died, the best at what he did. He could seemingly do no wrong. (Points off!?! Get out of here)

This is a flat out fudge, Elton John/Bernie Taupin - I have to include both because where does one end and the other begin. Tiny Dancer, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. (Points off for I'm Still Standing, once it gets in your head it never leaves)

Terry Kath - gone too soon. He was the perfect balance to everything that was Chicago. 25 or 6 to 4? Honestly, Nuff Said!!!
(Points off for dying)

And last, but certainly not least, Neil Peart - No Peart No Rush. That's the whole argument right there.

I couldn't find a complete argument for Brian May of Queen, I'll leave Jimmy Page to youse other guys and throw out The Edge and see where he lands.

The Prowler (turning it up to ten and letting that sucker blast)

Abe Lucas said...

I'm not a Rock music fan like everyone else here, so I'll submit a Jazz artist for the forum's approval.

Miles Davis pioneered at least five different styles of jazz, which earned him the moniker of "The Picasso of Jazz":

Cool, or "West Coast"- a mellower, smoother sound which was the opposite of East Coast Bebop.

Hard Bop- a more soulful, emotional approach to the often technical Bebop.

Modal Jazz- improvising on scales instead of chords thereby giving the musician greater freedom in what he could play.

Jazz/Rock Fusion- Jazz meets Rock rhythm sections, which set the tone for Jazz in the late '60s-early '70s.

Jazz/Rap Fusion- Not my cup of tea at all but Miles did it at the very end of his fifty-year career.

Heck, he was also an accomplished painter. GENIUS.

david_b said...

Edo, I'd like to post-empt your pre-empt on Mr. Wilson. It wasn't so much that we were impressed but that the other industry movers-shakers (especially McCartney) was impressed with it. The album struck a chord, while it wasn't all that great for listeners, it resonated more culturally as the years went by, in my humble opinion. I see Wilson as a tortured artist much like Barrett, much how Townsend may have been for a spell in the early 70s but luckily didn't end up that way.

For producers, I'd definitely call out Quincy Jones for his post-motown sound on the Jackson productions among others.

I'd list the guys from Abba as well. The superb crafting of their pop hits looks so effortless, yet possess such great hooks and clean production style. Dittos towards Richard Carpenter as well. Awesome orchestral sounds to emit out of small AM transistor radios and still sound good..? Richard had such a great touch as writer and producer.

Fred, I'm a huge psychedelic fan myself, also without the intake of substances.

Paul Simon, as I've heralded so many times, is unmatched in songwriting. I'd choose him over Macca and so many other.

Sonny Bono. That man knew a good tin pan ally song and new how to polish it for mass consumption. He had faith in Cher's ability to go far, she owes everything to him. Period.

Humanbelly said...

Say, as we talk about producers, wouldn't we be remiss if we left out George Martin? Perhaps not a musical genius, per se-- but certainly a musical producing-type genius, yes? So many little things on the Beatles' recordings were directly attributable to tweaks and details and even direct contributions by Sir George M.


crowdaddy said...

Frank Zappa.

Anonymous said...

The Prowler said....

Phil Spector

Anonymous said...

Yeah gotta agree with Edo - Prince ain't my musical cup of tea but from what I've heard the guy is a freakin' musical genius.

Clive Davis stands out as one of the best producers ever, if only for introducing the world to the magical voice of Whitney Houston.

- Mike 'tone deaf' from Trinidad & Tobago.

david_b said...

Crowdaddy, great call on Zappa. Gawd, how could I of all folks forget him. Been traveling from WI to MI on one of the great lake ferries today.

Graham said...

Three that come to mind for me, besides a lot of the names already mentioned (Miles Davis...."Well, I changed music five or six times." Definitely the understatement of all time).....

Jimi Hendrix - simply changed the way rock, blues, and jazz guitarists approached their instrument.

Stevie Wonder - influenced scores of R&B artists from the late 60's to the late 70's. Cut at least three of the finest R&B albums ever in a five-year span.

James Brown, Sly Stone, George Clinton - the Three Kings of Funk influenced the sounds of rock, pop, and R&B with their creativity in funk music.

Graham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edo Bosnar said...

Didn't know we were venturing out of the realm of rock (why shouldn't we though?), so in that case I wholeheartedly agree about Miles Davis.
I feel a bit remiss about not mentioning Zappa as well. Guess he's one of those "goes without saying" choices, so it went without saying...

Fred W. Hill said...

For some odd reason when I first glanced at the topic I thought Doug was asking about MAD musical geniuses! But heck, so many geniuses are touched with a bit of madness. I'll echo Hb's callout for George Martin -- he may not have been a genius as a songwriter, but he added so much to what Lennon & McCartney did write and did help flesh out their musical ideas and make even the most far out of them come to life.

Dr. Oyola said...

Definitely Prince. Definitely. Anyone wants to hear some of his best out there stuff, I recommend The Rainbow Children - a bizarre concept album that is an amalgam of jazz, rock and r&B and gospel that is fused together by spiritual themes that create a bizarre ancient world based on Jehovah's Witness and Egyptian theology. It was not a popular album, but man alive. . . I came to really dig it, even if I don't agree with its religiosity. I also think the 1999 album in his electro/new wave phase is an underrated record.

As for others: Stevie Wonder, yes.

Miles Davis, of course - but my personal favorite genius was another deeply spiritual musician genius: John Coltrane - there is even a Church of John Coltrane in San Francisco.

Oh and I might throw in Brian Eno.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

i love pete townsend but musical genius? i won't quibble. he did great work. sticking to popular music, i think brian wilson fits the bill. stevie wonder. lennon & mccartney get the nod. todd rundgren?

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