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View Full Version : Styx. REO Speedwagon. Toto. ELO. What ARE these people?


Loopydude
05-25-2004, 10:43 PM
Styx. REO Speedwagon. Toto. ELO. What ARE these people?

The title says it all. How to catagorize these bands and others of their ilk. They're certainly not Metal. They sure as hell don't have the hips to be Disco. I don't think they collectively have quite the pretentious wanking bombast to qualify as Prog (though some teeter dangerously on that edge at times). They're not "Rock" like an Aerosmith or an AC/DC is rawk. I'll be damned if they're "alternative" to anything. Punk? HAH! New Wave? No way!

So what are they? I know there's something that binds these bands together. It's a distinctive flavor or cheeze. It's reeking and spreadable and comes in a can. It's found at many parties, and goes well with "crackers". But what is it? What...is...it?

pepperlandgirl
05-25-2004, 10:47 PM
Corporate Rock, maybe?

GuanoLad
05-25-2004, 10:51 PM
Elevator Muzak in potentia.

Jonathan Chance
05-25-2004, 10:57 PM
I dislike the phrase 'Corporate Rock' because, except for Toto, the bands named really did grow up just like most bands do (Toto being a collection of studio musicians who got together and made things work...kinda like the Eagles).

Call them 'Semi-generic White Male Midwest Stadium Rock' if you need something.

1. Rock and Roll with a slight hard edge.
2. Prone to anthemic songs (for good concert singalong potential)
3. Mostly non-offensive and non-challenging lyrics
4. Overly prone to taking it too seriously
5. Semi-bland image

Other strong contenders

Journey
Night Ranger
Loverboy (but they were Canadian)
Et al...

I once heard a review of bands like this defined as 'Clever Guy Rock'. Music by guys who majored in the liberal arts and considered themselves 'well read'.

Snooooopy
05-25-2004, 11:01 PM
Wimp Rock.

Loopydude
05-25-2004, 11:14 PM
It's really hard to pin down, isnt it?

Anthem Rock? Nah...that'd be a euphamism at best.

Man, there's gotta be some word or words that fit. I mean, you say "Punk" or "Metal" or "Disco" or "Goth" and it just kinda grabs that genre gestalt by the balls and makes it all so clear at an almost subconscious level. You know what Hip Hop is, even if you can't define it, beyond repeating the name. I know Styx is something. I know REO Speedwagon has a fitting label. Something less inoccuous than "wimp rock", as that term, while accurate, fails to really convey the unironic depths of cheese that these bands dove headlong into while practicing their art. There must be some fitting descriptor, though damned if I can think of what it is.

Mr. Blue Sky
05-25-2004, 11:23 PM
An "expert" on 70's music (whose name I've thankfully forgotten) gave a lecture last year and referred to ELO as "art rock" and dismissed their entire body of work because of "Don't Bring Me Down".


Groups like Yes, King Crimson, and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis are "art rock".

I'm a big ELO fan (duh!) and the closest I could get a category would be "melodic pop".

They got high praise from John Lennon (who called them the "Son of the Beatles") and Paul McCartney (who said, "Who needs a Beatles reunion when you have ELO.").

Styx had its moments until Dennis DeYoung went all showy with Kilroy Was Here. I liked Tommy Shaws' assessment on the stage show (paraphrased), "We didn't want sing songs about some fucking robots".

REO Speedwagon was actually Journey before Journey became Journey. The lead singer had that psychotic "I have seen the light" look in his eyes.

Toto was also Journey even while Journey was Journey. Mostly forgettable.

Cisco
05-25-2004, 11:29 PM
I always think of Journey, Foreigner, Boston, and Kansas (and wasn't there another city/state named band?) in this same way. They might even be in the same category as the OP but: what the hell are they? :confused:

KGS
05-25-2004, 11:36 PM
Arena Rock. That's what it's called, arena rock. So called because the music's best played in a huge, 70's style arena, so you're too far away to notice how ugly the band members are. :) Funny, I thought everyone called it that.

"Corporate Rock" is a disparaging term. Although in Vh1's Behind the Music, Tommy Shaw of Styx said that while he bristled at the term "corporate rock", he had to admit that the band was run like a corporation -- meetings for this, meetings for that, giving cocaine to D.J.'s so they'd play their singles, etc.

Other arena rock bands: Boston, Foreigner, Supertramp, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Black Oak Arkansas, Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Triumph, UFO.

AncientHumanoid
05-25-2004, 11:50 PM
Though not pop as in Top 40 Pop, we always called them "Pop Rock."

Now, they're Classic Rock and even Easy Listening. Ew...

Some of them had some pretty good stuff for a while, too. It wasn't all cheeze.

Tuckerfan
05-26-2004, 12:53 AM
Though not pop as in Top 40 Pop, we always called them "Pop Rock."

Now, they're Classic Rock and even Easy Listening. Ew...

Some of them had some pretty good stuff for a while, too. It wasn't all cheeze.
Yet, you wouldn't know it by the crap which gets played on most radio stations catering to fans of these bands. No, seriously, I like some of these bands, but it kills me to hear the same fargin' songs by them played over and over on the "classic rock" radio station, meanwhile, they happily play commercials advertising the band's upcoming concert supporting their latest album, which the radio station can't be bothered to play. :mad:

Just Ed
05-26-2004, 01:19 AM
"Arena Rock" fits, as KGS noted above. Another term that might be used is from the days when the format now known as "classic rock" was cutting its teeth, and called the playlist "AOR", or Album Oriented Rock.

SanguineSpider
05-26-2004, 01:51 AM
Journey RAWKS!!!

Suburban Plankton
05-26-2004, 02:06 AM
I think "Art Rock" is the best descriptor. Styx and ELO definitely fall into that category, as do Yes, ELP, Kansas, and a number of others.

I think Toto and REO Speedwagon are not quite pretentious enough, and are closer to "Pop Rock". Journey, Foreigner, et. al. are too commercial for "Art Rock", and today simply fall under the generic "Classic Rock" descriptor (as do all of the other bands I'v mentioned).

On a side note, I have coined the term "Adult Rock" for bands like Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan. I have since noticed that the music industry was already using that term do describe a not-quite-entirely-dissimilar type of music, but I don't care.

Walloon
05-26-2004, 02:34 AM
I like only one REO Speedwagon song, but that one I love — Roll With the Changes. In all seriousness it may be one of my favorite songs of all time.

Dogzilla
05-26-2004, 08:28 AM
The only thing I have to add here is this: I noticed, just from reading this thread, that each of the bands mentioned here have maybe one song that stands the test of time. Everything else sounds horrible in retrospect.

I think this is what sets these bands apart from those classic rock musicians whose music does stand up to age, i.e. Led Zepplin for example. I firmly believe that there is a Led Zepplin song for any occasion and you could sit down and listen to any Zepplin album right this minute and still find relevance in there somewhere.

Journey? Um. No. Not relevant at all anymore.

As for REO Speedwagon... I like "Ridin' The Storm Out." I listen to it every time a hurricane is coming my way!

WordMan
05-26-2004, 08:29 AM
Back in the day, those bands were called Arena Rock, AOR Rock or Corporate Rock in my high school (I know, hard to believe that high school kids read enough Rolling Stone to know about "AOR"). For those of us on the fringe - who were mainstream enough to like the harder songs from these bands, but hated the wimpy stuff - we lumped them all together and called them:

StyxJourneyREO and everybody knew we referred to the whole group.

"I mean, I like some StyxJourneyREO songs, but the ballads just suck, man!"

Evil Death
05-26-2004, 08:43 AM
"Arena Rock" fits, as KGS noted above. Another term that might be used is from the days when the format now known as "classic rock" was cutting its teeth, and called the playlist "AOR", or Album Oriented Rock.

I've heard them put into the category of MOR, which probably fits better as several of the OP's bands had multiple hit singles. AOR is stuff like Led Zeppelin and early Genesis.

Ponder Stibbons
05-26-2004, 10:01 AM
The term I've always used has been "Schlock Rock", implying a certain blah-ness and sacharinne-ness. But that doesn't necessarily mean I think all of these guys are bad; while I'll admit Journey has a certain "schlockiness" to them, Steve Perry had a voice that took them to a level above all the rest. And I also like Boston just because they were good enough to produce tight well-produced pop-songs, even if they really didn't have anything remarkable about them.

Nonsuch
05-26-2004, 10:34 AM
I believe arena rock is the most accepted term, though the recently-coined butt rock might also work.

Jurph
05-26-2004, 10:44 AM
...Boston, and Kansas ... in this same way. They might even be in the same category as the OP but: what the hell are they? :confused:

Nitpick - is Boston really in this category, or do you mean Chicago? I always though Boston kicked more ass than the other groups mentioned in this thread. I'm fully prepared to admit that they may just be the best of a bad genre, but I can't just let you guys lump them in with the group that sings,

"Heard it from a friend, who...
heard it from a friend, who...
heard it from another you'd been messin' around..."

Because OH. MY. GOD. Worst song evar. And I do mean EVAR.

ultrafilter
05-26-2004, 10:59 AM
I don't like the term arena rock because it really doesn't describe what the music sounds like, which is the only thing I'm really interested in.

Loopydude
05-26-2004, 11:26 AM
"Arena Rock"...I likes it.

Perhaps there are subgenres? Like "Arena Art Rock"?

Uncommon Sense
05-26-2004, 11:33 AM
I always think of Journey, Foreigner, Boston, and Kansas (and wasn't there another city/state named band?) in this same way. They might even be in the same category as the OP but: what the hell are they? :confused:

Chicago.

RogueRacer
05-26-2004, 11:41 AM
Nitpick - is Boston really in this category, or do you mean Chicago? I always though Boston kicked more ass than the other groups mentioned in this thread. I'm fully prepared to admit that they may just be the best of a bad genre, but I can't just let you guys lump them in with the group that sings... Yes, Boston is definitely in this class. Granted, REO does sing some crap, but Boston is just generic rock melodies with no heart.

I don't think anyone mentioned Cheap Trick, who also belongs with this group. Some of the bands like Cheap Trick and REO can be called Midwestern Rock. I've also heard the term Blue Collar Rock which I think is fairly fitting. Still, it's all really just generic classic rock in the end.

Kalhoun
05-26-2004, 11:44 AM
I'd call 'em "Pop Rock." Radio-friendly, a little rock-y with just enough pop to shoo me away.

ultrafilter
05-26-2004, 11:45 AM
Perhaps there are subgenres? Like "Arena Art Rock"?

What's the difference in sound between art rock and arena art rock?

vibrotronica
05-26-2004, 12:07 PM
The lead singer had that psychotic "I have seen the light" look in his eyes.
That would be the cocaine.

ruadh
05-26-2004, 12:40 PM
I believe arena rock is the most accepted term, though the recently-coined butt rock might also work.

"Butt rock" ain't that recent, I remember using it in 1993-94 or so.

"Dinosaur rock" was how I always described OP-type bands.

Mal Adroit
05-26-2004, 12:53 PM
I don't think anyone mentioned Cheap Trick, who also belongs with this group.

Gahh. Mention you Cheap Trick in the same breath with these Cheesy Poof ballad boys?! (Okay, not ELO.)


(And I guess Trick had one or two power ballads.)


(But still.)


(It's just wrong.) ;)

Duke
05-26-2004, 01:01 PM
"Stadium rock" (kind of like "arena rock") was what we called it in high school.

I've always thought that the term "art rock" was better reserved for bands like Rush or Yes....bands that had a trace of prog rock in their sound.

Cheap Trick is power pop, as are Badfinger and The Beatles. Classic rock is all of the above and the kitchen sink.

Mal Adroit
05-26-2004, 01:08 PM
Cheap Trick is power pop.

Thought that was The Knack.

*head explodes*

Duke
05-26-2004, 01:16 PM
Them too...yeah, it's confusing. It's funny to listen to power pop devotees argue about what "is" and "isn't" power pop. Then again, try defining any rock music genre--the big arguments I remember from my HS days in the 80's were about who was and wasn't "metal."

ruadh
05-26-2004, 01:25 PM
Yeah, I remember reading an interview with Loverboy in which they described themselves as "heavy metal" ... followed shortly by several letters to the editor from real metalheads saying "you've got to be kidding", or words to that effect :)

RogueRacer
05-26-2004, 01:44 PM
Gahh. Mention you Cheap Trick in the same breath with these Cheesy Poof ballad boys?! (Okay, not ELO.)


(And I guess Trick had one or two power ballads.)


(But still.)


(It's just wrong.) ;)Hey! I love Cheap Trick, but do I need to remind you of Busted? I also rank REO as one of my favorite live bands of all time. Being from the Midwest myself, I do sort of identify with their origins. Cheap Trick formed in Rockford, IL. REO formed in Champaign, IL. I believe Styx claims Chicago.

Reloy3
05-26-2004, 01:44 PM
Hey - I like most of these groups - own their albums, have fond memories associated with them, etc.

so - back off man :D

Wolfian
05-26-2004, 02:05 PM
Nitpick - is Boston really in this category, or do you mean Chicago? I always though Boston kicked more ass than the other groups mentioned in this thread. I'm fully prepared to admit that they may just be the best of a bad genre, but I can't just let you guys lump them in with the group that sings,

"Heard it from a friend, who...
heard it from a friend, who...
heard it from another you'd been messin' around..."

Because OH. MY. GOD. Worst song evar. And I do mean EVAR.

Hey, Chicago had its good points, though that song is inexcusable. Beginnings, Saturday in the Park, Colour my World. Just buy a best of album and forget about everything after the 80s.

mbacko1
05-26-2004, 02:06 PM
OK, I'll admit to liking songs from these bands. What is interesting is that I think a number of these bands fall into this "arena rock" label because at one point they were radio staples and now in today's world where they have become "classic rock" which only plays their 2 or 3 most popular songs they become bands that can be easily dismissed.

For the longest time I thought Chicago only had one interesting album Chicago Transit Authority, their first album. I figured that most of the rest of their songs were sappy ballads because that is all I heard on the radio. Recently I purchased some of their early albums (before Terry Kath died) and there is some really great blues and jazz influenced rock music.

Styx still puts on a great live show, and they have some great rock songs, "Blue Collar Man", "Too Much Time on My Hands", and "Renegade" to name a few. I have to admit that "Babe" is such a sappy song.

I think a few other bands would fall into this category. Asia is one, the John Wetton (ex-King Crimson) led supergroup, Foreigner, Bad Company, and Boston. I think Rush teeters on the edge of Arena Rock. They are a bit too straight-up rock to fall into Art-Rock, though I guess 2112 would qualify.

As someone posted, there is no really great way to pin a band under a genre label. They usually have at least one or two songs minimum that don't fit in the genre.

Mike

Futile Gesture
05-26-2004, 02:28 PM
Would some one please tell me what is it with the American obsession to compartmentalize all music and bands into little neat boxes?? :confused:

My Winamp has I don't know how many daft sub-categorises of music to tag MP3s. I use about 5, tops.

ultrafilter
05-26-2004, 02:35 PM
Would some one please tell me what is it with the American obsession to compartmentalize all music and bands into little neat boxes?? :confused:

My Winamp has I don't know how many daft sub-categorises of music to tag MP3s. I use about 5, tops.

If you use any genre tags, you're compartmentalizing. We just take it a little further than you do.

I don't think there's anything uniquely American about it. When you listen to a lot of music, you tend to notice similar styles. If you give a style a name, then when someone asks you what a particular song/album/artist sounds like, you can just mention that name, instead of going through a laundry list of songs/albums/artists that sound similar.

If you ask me what Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk sounds like, I can either tell you that it's progressive second wave black metal, or I can tell you that it sounds like music from Bathory, Mayhem, and Grieg. Which one is more descriptive?

Thudlow Boink
05-26-2004, 02:50 PM
During their heyday (late 70s-early 80s) I would have simply called them "mainstream rock"; but yeah, "Arena Rock" works for me. (I'm not sure ELO fits in with most of the rest of these bands, which are basic guitar-with-keyboards rock.) They were slickly-produced (no rough edges), radio-friendly, and had a high level of craftsmanship (as opposed to artistry)—and there's nothing wrong with any of this, though their detractors often disparage them for it. Their songs run the gamut from the more melodic end of Hard Rock to at least the less wimpy part of Soft Rock—and without the danceability of Pop, the energy and attitude of Punk, or the soul of R&B. I listened to this stuff when I was in high school, and liked a fair amount of it, and I'm not ashamed to say I still listen to Styx, REO, Journey, et al occasionally. But yes, the worst of this stuff is cheezy and overplayed.

And Dennis DeYoung (of Styx) is the love child of Art Rock and Barry Manilow. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Ike Witt
05-26-2004, 02:55 PM
Monsters of easy listening?

Spoke
05-26-2004, 02:56 PM
I just popped in to say that ELO does not belong on the list. It is a different sort of critter, more of a studio creation. More to the point, I like ELO, and these other bands are crap.

The arena rock list would include:

REO Speedwagon
Toto
Kansas
Journey
Boston
Foreigner
Styx
Rush (IMO)
Asia

The common element is that they all suck.

Hmm. A lot of these bands seem to hail from the Midwest or from Boston, two areas which (judging by the music they produce) must be entirely devoid of soul.

Hey, It's That Guy!
05-26-2004, 02:58 PM
Of all of those mentioned, Styx is the only one I really dig. They're so melodramatic, which is what I love about them. Ever since I saw their concert film "Caught In the Act," which is the "Kilroy Was Here" stage show, I've been a fan. Of course, even I won't deny "Lady" is grating cheese (as opposed to grated cheese).

The other bands have a few really solid anthems among them, and I've always thought Kansas had some pretty strong musicians in the group. I usually refer to the lot of them as "arena rock," and sometimes "progressive rock" (along with bands like Yes, ELO, and ELP.) But I'd sooner classify Styx with two other favorites of mine who pour on the melodrama: Queen and Meat Loaf.

And even though nobody mentioned them, I'd consider the great Roxy Music to be "art rock." Although art rock eventually runs into progressive rock, and that's a whole other debate.

Mal Adroit
05-26-2004, 03:03 PM
Would some one please tell me what is it with the American obsession to compartmentalize all music and bands into little neat boxes??

Okay, if you wanna get nationalistic (and silly): why are Brits incapable of pronouncing the word "boogie" in way that doesn't make me giggle?

Booh-gee. Booooo-gee. :p


(btw, you're right. I myself am a categorizing fiend.)

ruadh
05-26-2004, 03:04 PM
Would some one please tell me what is it with the American obsession to compartmentalize all music and bands into little neat boxes??

It's hardly exclusively American. I used to read a lot of the British music press and it was done all the time there ("shoegaze", "lo-fi", "baggy" to name but a few, and probably date myself at the same time).

I Love Me, Vol. I
05-26-2004, 03:09 PM
So what is the difference between "Art Rock" and "Prog Rock"?

RogueRacer
05-26-2004, 03:18 PM
I just popped in to say that ELO does not belong on the list. It is a different sort of critter, more of a studio creation. More to the point, I like ELO, and these other bands are crap.
Sticks and stones, Love.

I agree that ELO doesn't really belong depending on how you catagorize the bands. They have a sound that brings a lot of mixing boards to mind. As far as level of suckiness, I guess that's all in the listener. Personally, ELO pales in comparison to some of the rest.

How about .38 Special? They sort of have their own sub-category of Southern Rock, but I would still consider them to be a stadium band as well.

Mal Adroit
05-26-2004, 03:45 PM
For the longest time I thought Chicago only had one interesting album Chicago Transit Authority, their first album. I figured that most of the rest of their songs were sappy ballads because that is all I heard on the radio. Recently I purchased some of their early albums (before Terry Kath died) and there is some really great blues and jazz influenced rock music.


Terry Kath was an amazing player and singer. Early Chicago is actually quite good- the same albums that featured A.M. staples like "Just You and Me" and "Feeling Stronger Every Day," also boasted great, great R & B-type songs- "State of the Union," "Rediscovery," "Mississippi Delta City Blues," "What's This World Comin To," etc. It was only once they entered the '80s that Peter Cetera's ballads took real dominance over the other guys' songs. But by then Robert Lamm and James Pankow were pretty well tapped, anyway. And of course, Kath was dead.

mbacko1
05-26-2004, 03:48 PM
Warning, art-rock and prog-rock can overlap!!!
Since I listen to a lot of this music

Art-rock is rock music which is performed with a theatrical stage show and usually involves a theme or concept album. This would be David Bowie, Genesis, Yes, 2112 era Rush, Mr. Roboto Styx, possibly even Kiss, though I would consider them more "hard-rock".

Prog-rock or progressive rock is music that pushes the envelop of its time. It is thought to have begun in the late 1960s and includes bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, Camel, Gong, etc. These bands strove to push the concepts of what rock music entailed. During the mid-1970s when a number of these bands became mainstream, prog-rock also adopted the second definition, "bands that sound like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, Camel, Gong, etc." This is not to be confused with Neo-prog.

Neo-Prog are bands that started off sounding like Prog-rock bands but started after 1980. Marillion, Iluvatar, Glass Hammer, Halloween fall into this category.

There is also progressive music which came out in the 1980s and included bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, etc.

There is also progressive-metal which are heavier 1980s and later bands that take elements from prog-rock bands and metal bands and blend them. Iron Maiden, Fate's Warning, King Diamond, Merciful Fate, Dream Theater, and Queensryche fit into this mold.

Anybody confused yet?

SkipMagic
05-26-2004, 04:02 PM
Terry Kath was an amazing player and singer. Early Chicago is actually quite good- the same albums that featured A.M. staples like "Just You and Me" and "Feeling Stronger Every Day," also boasted great, great R & B-type songs- "State of the Union," "Rediscovery," "Mississippi Delta City Blues," "What's This World Comin To," etc. It was only once they entered the '80s that Peter Cetera's ballads took real dominance over the other guys' songs. But by then Robert Lamm and James Pankow were pretty well tapped, anyway. And of course, Kath was dead.
Chicago is also an extremely prolific and versatile group which has changed with the times. Aerosmith, for example, has pretty much always sounded the same (although I haven't heard their newest album)--not that their sound is bad or that it doesn't work for them. Chicago, however, has experimented with many genres and, after the failure of their 21 album (and past their big-band era Night & Day release) they moved away from the familiar '80s and '90s pop and tried to come back with their unreleased Stone of Sisyphus. (Of which, thanks to the internet, I have a copy.) I don't actually like Stone of Sisyphus, but at least it was notably different from their '80s and '90s releases.

Their Chicago Transit Authority and II albums are examples of great musical work.

Loopydude
05-26-2004, 04:12 PM
Yeah, maybe ELO doesn't belong. Yet I hear tunes like "Don't Break Me Down" and "Strange Magic", and somehow they weirdly fit, in my mind.

Arena Rock or Anthem Rock has gotta be it. Maybe Anthemic Arena Rock, if you really want to be pedantic.

There is heavy cross-pollenation with the Prog and Art movements, to the point that it's confusing. One thing Prog and Art have in common is self-consciousness. THAT's what makes it annoying. All concept and technique, no soul whatsoever.

I've been scratching my head wondering if and where Pink Floyd might fit in here. I don't think they really belong in this constellation of stars at all, except for some parts of The Wall and pretty much all of The Final Cut. Maybe a smidgen of Animals.

Loopydude
05-26-2004, 04:15 PM
I should qualify that statement by saying the Floyd started to sound like Arena Art towards the end. I could never put them side-by-side with REO Speedwagon. Roger Waters brought them dangerously close to sounding like a depressed and angry Styx by Final Cut, though.

Then there's Post-Waters Floyd, which is pretty much Arena Rock, isn't it...sad.

Jurph
05-26-2004, 04:19 PM
I've been scratching my head wondering if and where Pink Floyd might fit in here. I don't think they really belong in this constellation of stars at all, except for some parts of The Wall and pretty much all of The Final Cut. Maybe a smidgen of Animals.

I always mentally shelve them with Prog-Rock and Art-Rock. Their albums were always albums -- not just a collection of singles -- and the album covers always pretty much screamed out to me "These guys think they're really transcending something! Look out!"

Add to that the way their music drones on through awkward ethereal chord changes, and I can't really get behind calling them "Classic Rock" unless you're just talking about a time period.

bigdfrombigd
05-26-2004, 04:29 PM
Gosh, this brings back memories of high school and concerts when tickets cost around $5.00. I'm so old :( I love all those old bands. Does anyone remember Starz or Legs Diamond?

Phèdre nó Delaunay
05-26-2004, 04:41 PM
Good grief, I think every single band from the late 70s-early 80s has been mentioned in this thread. At least every band that wasn't disco.

Spoke
05-26-2004, 05:38 PM
I've got it! The common thread!

There's a line in a Harry Chapin song of yore where an old black man tells a young kid learning to play the guitar, "Slow down son! That ain't no damn typewriter you're playin'. You got to caress it like a woman..."

All the cited bands play their guitars like typewriters.

No soul.

Mr. Blue Sky
05-26-2004, 07:25 PM
I wouldn't call ELO arena rock. Due to the complexity of their studio stuff (and, yes, Jeff did go overboard a lot), live concerts weren't all that great. I've picked up a few, uh, unofficial concerts and they leave much to be desired.

The main problem was amplifying the strings so that they are on the same level as the electric instruments.

Jeff and company should have stayed in the studio.

bdandhr
05-26-2004, 08:11 PM
As long as there are songs from every group, and I have to say that all of the above have songs I truly enjoy listening to, who the heck needs to care about "semantics?" I understand trying to "segregate" your music because my daughter, who is 25 years younger than I doesn't always appreciate my choices, but sheesh!

Has anyone tried to include the Bay City Rollers in the mix?

Sorry, but I gotta say, Boston has been a long-time fav of mine!!!

Mr. Blue Sky
05-26-2004, 08:23 PM
Has anyone tried to include the Bay City Rollers in the mix?



Bubble-gum or teeny bopper music.

Green Bean
05-26-2004, 08:37 PM
It's Arena Rock.

ELO does fall squarely in the Arena Rock category. They're by far the best quality band in the genre, but they're definitely in it. I think they could fairly also be called art rock, but I'd say that their Arena-ness supersedes their art-ness, if only by a slim margin.

To address Mr. Blue Sky's point: The things that define Arena Rock don't necessarily have to do with the sound of their shows.

Some common features of Arena Rock:

--Big, complex songs. The songs are often longer than 4 minutes, and may include either orchestral instruments or lots of multi-layered synthesizer. The songs are supposed to be grand and impressive. Sometimes they just sound melodramatic and cheesy.

--The bands usually have more than 4 members. The You need a big band to make big songs, right?

--The bands use a lot of synthesizer. Seems like they always have some guy with a multi-sided, multi-tiered synthesizer extravaganza.

--The bands are white males. Obviously, rock is a male-dominated form, but Arena rock bands don't even have female singers. And rock is mostly white. But non-whites are practically nonexisisent in Arena rock.

--Really bad hair. Big huge ugly mops of curly hair. Sometimes accessorized with tinted aviator-style glasses.

--Related to the bad hair--non-sexual front men. The classic classic rock bands often featured a sexualized and showy front man. Jagger, Daltrey, Plant. This tradition has continued ever since. Many rock bands don't have such a frongt man, but none of the arena rock bands do. It's not just that it was out of style at the time--plenty of rock bands that were contemporaries of the arena rock bands had 'em--Van Halen, Aerosmith, AC/DC.

--The songs frequently deal with highfalutin' and/or pseudo-intellectual subject matter--myths, legends, the passage of time. All we are is dust in the wind...

--They died with the coming of MTV.

I'm sure there are more common features. Those are just off the top of my head.


And FWIW, I didn't know that it was shameful to like Arena Rock. I love it. I don't think I could listen to the albums of most of the bands, but I love the hits. It is pure unadulterated cheesy fun.

Come to think of it, Blue Oyster Cult could be classed as an Arena Rock band. They're definitely metal, but they do meet the Arena Rock critera. They sure have the big melodramatic song thing going on. I don't know if it's apparent if you just know them from their hits (more cowbell!) but if you listen to their albums, they are so completely and hilariously melodramatic that I expect Cheez Wiz to come flying out of the speakers. The golden age of leather? Nosferatu? The last man on earth standing on a beach? Ha! I love Blue Oyster Cult.

I see bdandhr's comment on preview--We do this because it's fun. We don't do it because we think it's necessary for Og's sake!

And the Bay City Rollers? They're Arena Rock Wannabes. And that's pathetic.

Sam Stone
05-26-2004, 08:57 PM
I think "Progressive Rock" fits ELO, Boston, Yes, Supertramp, Kansas, Procul Harem, and bands of that ilk. Some are better than others, but they all share complex arrangements, unique instruments (orchestras, string sections, etc).

ELO, by the way, was miles better than Journey or Styx. Listen to "Eldorado" sometime. A concept album that worked. Their early stuff still stands the test of time. I'm not a huge fan, but I can recognize the quality.

Journey and Foreigner are Stadium Rock, or just pop. Neither band was anything special, although both had absolutely monster albums near the same time (Journey's 'Escape' and Foreigner's "4" were both huge, huge successes, and both are good albums).

Toto is in somewhat of a different category. In terms of musicianship, they are near the top of the class. Almost all of them were highly sought-after session musicians. Their music ran the gamut from very good to crap.

bdandhr
05-26-2004, 09:27 PM
I wasn't mentioning the Bay City Rollers for any reason but to toss their name in this proverbial "hat."

I apologize for having not read this thread as closely as it called for, but having grown up in the era of most of these band's wide airplay, I have to admit that I like most of them and their music and own several of their CD's. I appreciate the individuality that I feel each brings into the mix, although I will admit some of the results are predictable. But what would a band be if one didn't recognize them right off because of their sound?

I also want to throw out there that any band a person has experienced in concert has possibly much more than just their "sound" to cause a person to favoritize them.....

Mr. Blue Sky
05-26-2004, 09:33 PM
But what would a band be if one didn't recognize them right off because of their sound?



That was a problem for the hair-metal bands in the 80's. They sounded and looked alike.

Paraphrased (from the Simpsons?)

"We're Poison."
"I thought we were Whitesnake."
"The drum head says we're Ratt."

Walloon
05-26-2004, 09:48 PM
The word "cheese" in this thread is hereby put on moratorium due to overuse.

(And why would you use a word like "cheese" to describe something bad??? Do you hate the food?)

Diogenes the Cynic
05-26-2004, 10:06 PM
I remember calling stuff like ELO "Art Rock" or "Pomp Rock" back in the day. There may be a bit of a distinction between "art" and "pomp," though. I think "art" rock took itself a little more seriously while "pomp" rock had a bit of campiness to to it- a not-quite-serious pretension.

Queen- a band that amazingly seems to have escaped mention in this thread- was probably the greatest art/pomp band ever (IMO).

Club 33
05-27-2004, 12:03 AM
I dislike the phrase 'Corporate Rock' because, except for Toto, the bands named really did grow up just like most bands do (Toto being a collection of studio musicians who got together and made things work...kinda like the Eagles).


Actually, that isn't accurate.

Three of the members of Toto are brothers. (keys, bass, and drums). The guitarist, Steve Lukather, went to the same high school as the Porcaro brothers and they had all been playing together since their early teens. They weren't just a bunch of studio musicians thrown together to make a buck.

Having said that, Sam Stone is absolutely correct that a few of them were heavily in demand session players. Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro are considered some of the best studio musicians that there ever were and each contributed to many more popular songs than you would imagine. Sadly, Jeff passed away a few years ago. His dad, Joe Porcaro, (one of my teachers) is still very active in the studio scene. He is playing orchestral percussion on many of the movies that you have probably seen.

Anyway, sorry for the nitpicky hijack but I wanted to offer the Straight Dope. :)

todd33rpm
05-27-2004, 08:06 AM
"What are these people?"

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Manos may have the last word on that.

(Paraphrasing to the best of my memory:)


JOEL: Hell works better when it's subtle. For example, what do you think of Adolf Hitler?

CROW: Naturally, I hate him.

JOEL: Okay, now, what do you think of the rock band Styx?

CROW: Well, they had a couple of good songs...hey, wait a minute!


Hell Rock. Let's call it Hell Rock.

mbacko1
05-27-2004, 08:34 AM
I've got it! The common thread!

There's a line in a Harry Chapin song of yore where an old black man tells a young kid learning to play the guitar, "Slow down son! That ain't no damn typewriter you're playin'. You got to caress it like a woman..."

All the cited bands play their guitars like typewriters.

No soul.

Sorry, Terry Kath from Chicago had soul. Anybody who Hendrix said "He's better than me" about is a great guitarist.

Mal Adroit
05-27-2004, 08:42 AM
The word "cheese" in this thread is hereby put on moratorium due to overuse.

I agree. As a deragatory adjective in general, the word's become a cringe-inducer. Like hearing a white woman in her 50's describe something as "funky." :o

Mr. Miskatonic
05-27-2004, 09:04 AM
"What are these people?"

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Manos may have the last word on that.

ObsessiveMST3Kfan: That was from Teenager from Outer Space.

"Evil is much worse when it works in subtle ways!"

Wolfian
05-27-2004, 10:54 AM
ObsessiveMST3Kfan: That was from Teenager from Outer Space.

"Evil is much worse when it works in subtle ways!"

[Homer as Ulysses on the River Styx as "Lady" plays in the background]Oh, this really is Hades![/HAUORSLPB]

todd33rpm
05-27-2004, 11:00 AM
Ha HA! I'm more obsessed! MORE, I TELL YOU, MORE!!!

Sorry...I actually meant Eegah!. That's where the whole "subtle forms of hell" discussion I was thinking about took place, in a host segment.

Green Cymbeline
05-27-2004, 12:17 PM
This thread has really got me thinking that I really like most of these bands, but I don't have any of their albums. I bet there's one of those compilation CDs out there with all these bands. However, I was thinking I'd like to make one of my own...

So, help me out here...what would your ultimate compliation CD of all these bands be? Make it maybe 20-25 songs.

Diceman
05-27-2004, 01:00 PM
I've the heard the term "hair band" used to describe these groups, but that refers to their look, not their sound.

Part of the problem with naming this genre, as others have mentioned, is that most of the music was rather generic. I just call it "70's/80's Rock."

ELO and Pink Floyd are definitely Art Rock bands, however.

Phèdre nó Delaunay
05-27-2004, 01:49 PM
Part of the problem with naming this genre, as others have mentioned, is that most of the music was rather generic.

You know this is a good point. But I think it's mostly because music wasn't as compartmentalized back in those days. Today just about every radio station plays some subset of popular music...adult contemporary, soft rock, hard rock, metal, classic rock, alternative rock, hip-hop, etc. But back in those days, you didn't have so much of that.

Walloon
05-27-2004, 03:10 PM
So, help me out here...what would your ultimate compliation CD of all these bands be? Make it maybe 20-25 songs.

Eight-Track Breakout

1. REO Speedwagon, Ridin' the Storm Out
2. Toto, Rosanna
3. Grand Funk Railroad, We're an American Band
4. Grand Funk Railroad, Some Kind of Wonderful
5. Supertramp, Goodbye Stranger
6. Boston, More Than a Feeling
7. Journey, Don't Stop Believin'
8. Electric Light Orchestra, El Dorado
9. Electric Light Orchestra, Don't Bring Me Down
10. Boston, Get Organ-ized
11. Styx, Too Much Time on My Hands
12. Electric Light Orchestra, Can't Get It Out of My Head
13. Foreigner, Cold as Ice
14. Foreigner, Dirty White Boy
15. Boston, Foreplay/Long Time
16. Kansas, Dust in the Wind
17. Kansas, Carry On, My Wayward Son
18. Electric Light Orchestra, Mr. Blue Sky
19. Supertramp, Take the Long Way Home
20. REO Speedwagon, Roll With the Changes

Long live '70s rock! :cool:

Green Cymbeline
05-27-2004, 03:39 PM
Thanks Walloon!

Keep 'em coming guys...what are the best songs by the groups mentioned in the thread?

Kings_Gambit1
05-27-2004, 03:46 PM
My first concert was Styx/REO Speedwagon in '82. It was awful, just awful!

Having said that, I still love "Arena Rock", "Dinosaur Rock", "AOR Rock", or whatever you want to call it.

Heck, I still think Boston's first album, and Forgeigner 4 are some of the best albums ever made!

vl_mungo
05-27-2004, 04:59 PM
I saw Styx in 1980, it's the only time I've ever fallen asleep at a show. The last thing I remember is Tommy Shaw playing acoustic guitar. I also saw Nazareth about the same time. They were pretty good.

I make some pretty serious distinctions between...
what I consider MOR (crappy, sappy, music to take valium and do the dishes to)
Journey
REO Speedwagon
Chicago
Night Ranger
Styx
Air Supply
Bon Jovi
Toto
Pablo Cruise

Hard Rock... bands I thought were heavy when I was 12
Boston
Loverboy
Foreigner
Survivor
Def Leppard
Dokken
Aldo Nova

Art Rock - bands I used to smoke pot and listen to when I was 13
ELO
Queen
Pink Floyd
Yes

HellifIknow - they're lame, but don't seem to fit comfortably in the other categories
Eagles
Kansas

RogueRacer
05-27-2004, 05:19 PM
Ok, I'll play. Some of you will probably cry, "foul", though. I'm going to use a few that weren't listed.

1. Roll With the Changes, REO Speedwagon
2. She's Tight, Cheap Trick
3. Blue Collar Man, Styx
4. My Kinda Lover, Billy Squier
5. Any Way You Want It, Journey
6. Double Vision, Foreigner
7. Shake It Up, Cars
8. Fantasy Girl, .38 Special
9. Point of Know Return, Kansas
10. Dream Police, Cheap Trick
11. Urgent, Foreigner
12. More Than a Feeling, Boston
13. Caught Up In You, .38 Special
14. Think I'm In Love, Eddie Money
15. Riding the Storm Out, REO Speedwagon

That's just 15, but that's about all that will fit on a CD. There are tons of good songs by these people, but a lot of them were so overplayed that I couldn't put them on a CD for my car.

Zebra
05-27-2004, 11:58 PM
Well some of these bands used synthesizers to create a mock symphonic sound. The Beatles (George Martin) used actual orchestras but by the late ‘70s early ‘80s synthesizers were available to have a keyboard player create something like that. Styx, Kansas, ELO, all created this sort of sound.


So maybe you could call it synth-rock.

Rex Fenestrarum
05-28-2004, 12:47 AM
Lisa: "I've never heard of these bands, Mom. What kind of music do they play?"
Bart: "Crap rock?"
Marge: "No ..."
Homer: "Wuss rock?"
Marge: "That's it."

Starving Artist
05-28-2004, 12:49 AM
Hey, Chicago had its good points, though that song is inexcusable. Beginnings, Saturday in the Park, Colour my World. Just buy a best of album and forget about everything after the 80s.Good news, Wolfian. I think Jurph's post might have made it look like "Take It On The Run" was by Chicago, but I don't think so. The only version I've ever known of was by REO Speedwagon.

Loopydude
05-28-2004, 12:22 PM
7. Shake It Up, Cars


Nooo nononono no no NO.

Wolfian
05-28-2004, 12:37 PM
Good news, Wolfian. I think Jurph's post might have made it look like "Take It On The Run" was by Chicago, but I don't think so. The only version I've ever known of was by REO Speedwagon.

That doesn't excuse the rap album. :shudder:

RogueRacer
05-28-2004, 02:21 PM
Nooo nononono no no NO.Bah! Pick another Cars song then. I picked that one because they aren't quite in the same mold as these other bands, but that song is close. If I was actually burning this CD, they would be on there, but it would probably be a different song.

I was kind of thinking about some Jackson Browne too, but I figured I would get clobbered for going too far off the path.

For the record, I lean towards older metal. CD's reached their peak for me with the Black Metallica release. I like some new stuff. I don't really know the names of a lot of it, but I like Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin (obligatory BB plug) and others. Which brings up another question. Would Creed (which I admit I like **duck**) be considered the modern equivalent of the bands in this thread? If not, who would be?

As far as the compilation goes, hell, add another Cheap Trick song. You can't go wrong there! :)

Kings_Gambit1
05-28-2004, 02:42 PM
Would Creed (which I admit I like **duck**) be considered the modern equivalent of the bands in this thread? If not, who would be?:)

Most of the above mentioned bands are still touring! :eek: Since the lineups of each band, usually, has changed quite a bit, in a weird way, they are the modern equivalent of their former selves! :D

Honestly, I don't think there are any modern bands that are comparable to these lovable dinosaurs. They are bands from a point in time that can never, and should never, be reproduced.

Plus, this type of music is not very popular with the youth of today (or for the last 10-15 years for that matter). New bands coming out with this type of music would have a very, very hard time "making it". ;)

RogueRacer
05-28-2004, 02:54 PM
I think you missed my question just a little or I didn't word it right. :smack:

I guess my question is more like, what bands will be in this category in 20 years? Put another way, which current band is on the same path that these bands were on 20 years ago?

Kings_Gambit1
05-28-2004, 03:17 PM
I think you missed my question just a little or I didn't word it right. :smack:

I guess my question is more like, what bands will be in this category in 20 years? Put another way, which current band is on the same path that these bands were on 20 years ago?

If you are not referring to their musical style, I'm not sure what you mean. What exactly do you mean by "on the same path that these bands where on" and "in this category"?

In a general sense, I think a lot of today's bands will be "on the same path".....and "category": A 20+ year career with 1 or 2 really good albums, and 8 + really crappy albums. 5+ lineup changes (with 1 or 2 unfortunate deaths), including 3 or 4 different lead singers. Lots of drugs and alchohol. Lots of groupies. And just when you thought the group was gone for good.....BAM! A "Behind the Music" special is released, which is immediately followed by a new album and tour.

;)

RogueRacer
05-28-2004, 03:41 PM
If you are not referring to their musical style, I'm not sure what you mean. What exactly do you mean by "on the same path that these bands where on" and "in this category"?
I guess I was going more for rock bands that in 20 years people will look back and say, "you know, I like those old songs but they sure are cheesy*."

Really though, it's a heck of a testiment to these bands that we are talking about them 20 years after their peak. Most of them are still touring. The last time I saw both REO and Cheap Trick, they still sounded good. I've heard the same thing about Styx when they did a summer concert here (I missed the show). Kids who weren't born when they were popular even liked them.


* - sorry Walloon

PunditLisa
05-28-2004, 03:47 PM
The term would be Innocuous Rock in that the music was amped, but you could sing the lyrics in front of your mother.

I cannot believe anyone would put The Eagles into the same category as REO Speedwagon. Don Henley could father my children. Hey, there's no shame in taking Viagra!

Now excuse me while I go listen to "Journey, Live" and recapture my youth.

cmkeller
05-28-2004, 03:56 PM
The term I've always used has been "Schlock Rock",

You might want to consider a different term. Schlock Rock (http://www.schlockrock.com) is actually the name of a Jewish band which takes pop and rock songs and makes Jewish-oriented parodies of them.

They're OK, but they're no Country Yossi and the Shteeble-Hoppers. ;j

Shoeless
05-28-2004, 04:47 PM
For the longest time I thought Chicago only had one interesting album Chicago Transit Authority, their first album. I figured that most of the rest of their songs were sappy ballads because that is all I heard on the radio. Recently I purchased some of their early albums (before Terry Kath died) and there is some really great blues and jazz influenced rock music.

This is one of the qualities I noticed immediately about nearly all the bands listed in the OP. Their early albums are really interesting, and then at some point they went corporate or otherwise "jumped the shark" (for lack of a better term) and their later work simply pales in comparison. Journey started out as a spinoff from Santana, and if you listen to any of the pre-Steve Perry albums, they have a definite Santana flavor. Same with the first few Kansas, Styx, or ELO albums, there's some really good stuff in there.

Yookeroo
05-28-2004, 10:12 PM
Neither Cheap Trick nor the Cars belong in this classification.

Ace_Face
05-28-2004, 11:10 PM
crock