I am going to indulge myself a little bit and take you along on a magical mystery tour as we go on one of my flights of fancy. I am going to share my selections of my picks for the best musical group ever. The criteria I used are simply the black box calculus or intricate gears whirring in my head of what I like or don't like. It is not based on a music survey, music critic think tank, music sales, or any other such criteria.
Art is art. It is not an exact science. Haven't you ever seen some gobble-de goo painting sell for $20 million. You think to yourself, I could have created that by driving over paint cans on my way to work. Mozart died a pauper and Van Gogh never sold one painting while he was alive. The point is that you may disagree with some of my picks. However, you might also find some new artists to explore. You could also think about who you would pick for your best musical group ever.
Since this is my imaginary exercise, I am going to have unlimited constraints. This will be a big group. Let's start with vocals. To me, there is one person that stands head and shoulders above everyone else as a lead vocalist. John Lennon (Mind Games) has THE VOICE. Let's throw in another male lead vocalist - James Taylor. If you know James Taylor by just his hits you have heard on the radio, you are doing yourself a disservice. Check out his songs Millworker and The Frozen Man. James is also a very good acoustic guitar finger picker, so we will benefit from that as well. For our first female lead vocalist I pick Annie Lennox. I could listen to Annie sing all day long. She sings with fiery emotion and passion in a blending of such styles as blues, r&b, funk, and rock that is irresistible. One of her best albums is Bare. I also have to add Karen Carpenter (Superstar). A lot of singers sing one word and go crazy by embellishing it by adding multiple extra notes and moving around the scale. Karen Carpenter can sing one note very simply and completely melt me. Fleetwood Mac will be our background singers. I like the mix of male and female voices. The iconic Fleetwood Mac album is Rumours. Of course, all of our singers can sing harmony parts.
It's time for the rhythm section. Danny Seraphine will be our drummer. He was an original member of the band Chicago. The next time you hear an early Chicago song (Beginnings) pay special attention to the drums. You will be amazed. Michael Manring is our bass player. Michael who you say? Michael can make his bass sing the way David Gilmour's guitar sings. He is a session player who has played on hundreds of albums. He had a quickly forgotten album Unusual Weather (listen to the song Welcoming) he put out in the 80s. This is one of the best instrumental albums I have ever heard.
Okay, let's get to the guitars. Main guitar can be no other than Jimi Hendrix. About every time Jimi's fingers touched a guitar he was doing something that was extremely interesting and mesmerizing to listen to. He is farther ahead of other guitarists then Lennon is of other singers. If you want to explore Hendrix get Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix (listen to the song All Along the Watchtower). I will add two guitarists to complement Hendrix; Steve Howe of Yes, and Phil Keaggy. I pick these two for their depth of playing and because they play acoustic and electric. In Steve Howe's case, he will about play anything with strings on it. For Steve Howe, listen to Roundabout, or Starship Trooper. For the other guy, I can hear you asking Phil who? Phil Keaggy can tap, he can perform slap harmonics like Michael Hedges, and he can do whammy scoops like Joe Satriani (I wonder if it's vice versa). His playing is very smooth. Keaggy has an excellent all acoustic album called Beyond Nature (check out the song County Down). Oh yes, I also love the sound of slide guitar. I'm going to add Duane Allman on slide guitar. Listen to the song Statesboro Blues if you want to hear slide guitar perfection. Duane also plays the really high parts on Layla.
Now we move on to keyboards. On piano will be Elton John (Tiny Dancer). We will also benefit from his vocals. On Hammond B3 organ and synthesizers will be Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. Keith can rip it up like no one else. Lucky Man featured the first synthesizer solo in a hit song. If you are really daring, then check out the Emerson, Lake, & Palmer album Tarkus. I will add William Orbit as another synth player. I recommend William Orbit's album Hello Waveforms, especially the song Sea Green.