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Pickled Priest Mini-Project #1: Our Favorite Artists A to Z

Sometimes when I'm trying to get to sleep at night, I'll assign myself a mini-project to mull over in my mind. This helps to push the real-life issues and concerns of the day to the backburner. Since the projects are pretty low stakes stuff I usually drift off before I even finish. Recent examples: "Favorite words from A to Z" and "Favorite bands that have a number in their name somewhere." That said, sometimes this approach can backfire and have the opposite impact on my ability to sleep. So it was with "Favorite Musical Artists A to Z." I should know myself better by now, I guess. There was no way this could be a casual project for me even if it seems pretty benign on the surface. I tend to take things like this very seriously so my brain starts racing as it considers the many potential options and the rationale for each choice. Needless to say, instead of calm there is angst. So now it's a fucking post. In the spirit of the original concept, I'm gonna make this quick because that's all it deserves. I hope this will settle the matter and help me get to sleep earlier tonight. In theory.


Bonus Project: Since most of the artists chosen here naturally skew to the long-established type, I've decided to follow this post with another more modern version of the same list to follow shortly thereafter. I'm my own worst enemy.

Note: The "Angst Quotient" addresses the sleep-deprivation level the choice has caused. No jazz or classical included for sanity reasons. We encourage you to complete your own "superior" version at home.





Rationale: I had the Allmans in this slot for a long while, but our love of volume eventually made the decision for us. Everyone needs to let it rip once in a while.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: The Allman Brothers



Rationale: Some fab B bands and artists up for consideration here, but let's face it, nobody else stood a chance.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Booker T and the MGs, David Bowie, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, William Bell




Rationale: The first of several impossible choices. Cash had a "dead period," CCR was basically two years of concentrated production, CSNY was also short-lived, and the Clash a blitzkrieg of greatness and a quick fade-out. Nick Cave almost pulled the biggest upset in A to Z history and snubbing Ray Charles isn't a genius move either. So I rationalized myself down to Sam Cooke, one of my favorite singers of all time, and Leonard Cohen, an artist that is more important and useful to my life right now. He's as close to a spirit guide as you can get basically. You see where I ended up, of course, but on any given day, the logic changes.

Angst Quotient: Extremely High

Also Considered: Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Clash, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds




Rationale: The easiest decision, and not just because there weren't a ton of worthy D artists. It wouldn't have mattered and never will.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Nobody




Rationale: Jeff Lynne and the boys clearly got robbed blind here by a Priest, so perhaps an insurrection is merited. I won't even resist. I don't shit on the Eagles like some do, but they don't have enough songs I cherish and too many I merely tolerate. So I went with my boyhood favorites, ELP, often voted by idiots as among the worst bands ever. I was a drummer fanatic back then (and still am) and Palmer was to my 70s what Neil Peart was to my 80s. I seriously adored Emerson's wild Moog and keyboard excursions and classical set pieces, as well as the guitar and pure vocals of Lake. They don't get any respect, but I'll love these drama kings forever.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: Electric Light Orchestra, The Eagles




Rationale: There were no bad choices in the final three, each top-billed in their own genre, but we default to the Queen, who reigns justifiably over the amazingly talented F-troop. In the end, selecting the greatest singer of all-time was a no-brainer.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Fleetwood Mac, Funkadelic



Rationale: We swing Memphis over Detroit nine times out of ten when it comes to soul music and in this battle between each city's resident love man, we stand in the corner with Pope Al Green and the Hi Rhythm Section.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Gang of Four, Marvin Gaye, Peter Gabriel, Nanci Griffith



Rationale: As the H-train came into the station and artists started to disembark, I knew I had a big problem on my hands. Holly, a pioneer. Hendrix, a pioneer. Hooker, a pioneer. And the Hüskers, one of my favorite rock bands of all-time. In the end, my love of classic blues won out, thanks to my all-time favorite singer in the genre. An untouchable force of nature.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: Buddy Holly, Hüsker Dü, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, John Hiatt, PJ Harvey



Rationale: The only active artist to make the BIG LIST, Isbell benefits from being born with the right last name. Not an extreme amount of competition, but it's a tribute to his songwriting brilliance that he toppled the influential Isleys, the band I had slated here for quite some time until I started looking at his growing list of timeless songs. Iggy & the Stooges, while great, was only short lived in this incarnation, so he was eliminated from contention.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Iggy & the Stooges, The Isley Brothers



Rationale: One of the letters that kept me up for a while. There's no easy choice; each has a strong case to make. In the end, I revised my original choice, Mr. John, and replaced him with Jethro Tull, mainly because I was lying to myself. On top of that, I'm too old to rock and roll, but much too young to die. I don't give two shits about the Hall of Fame, but if it is going to exist it shouldn't without one of the most original bands of all-time, Jethro Tull. Let Ian Anderson have his day in the sun and... PUT JETHRO TULL IN THE MOTHERFUCKING HALL OF FAME ALREADY!!!!

Angst Quotient: High

Also Considered: Etta James, Elton John, Billy Joel

Not Considered: Michael Jackson



Rationale: The Kinks were the only real choice. They are one of those bands I love more and more as the years pass. I rank them with the greatest bands of all-time with no hesitancy. But my first love was Kiss, and I frequently post about them, so how could I turn my back on them? In the end, songs trumped sentiment.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: Kiss




Rationale: Blowout alert! No other band was given serious consideration for obvious reasons.

Angst Quotient: Rock bottom

Also Considered: Little Richard, Los Lobos



Rationale: A personal favorite from early on, maker of two of my three favorite records of all-time, Astral Weeks and Moondance, and other classic albums and songs over a long period of time. Yes, an insufferable crabass bitch, but this boy is in a class by himself musically. Moderate angst because Joni is in the house and Muddy and Bob are icons within their genre. There's no way to lose in M-Land, but Van's the man.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: Joni Mitchell, John Mellencamp, Muddy Waters, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Motörhead



Rationale: Hello, Newman. One of America's finest and most revered songwriters, Randy Newman was never in jeopardy of losing his N spot to a grunge band, a pop band, a glam band, or a punk band. Just too great a songwriter and singer.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: The New Pornographers, New York Dolls, Nirvana, Naked Raygun




Rationale: There's no way anybody will ever take this spot from one of the greatest voices in the history of rock & roll. It just won't happen. There has never been anyone like him and there never will be again.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Sinead O'Connor




Rationale: One of thee loaded letters, P was perhaps the toughest decision of them all for me. First off, you either pick or ignore the King. Second, you either give Tom Petty his just due or apologize profusely for the snub. John Prine was just happy to be nominated, of course. And Prince? He wouldn't show up to accept his accolade anyway. Chrissie would tell us to "Fuck Off." Pixies knew it wouldn't go their way in the end anyway. Instead, I've chosen a true favorite, by definition, which is what this list is all about. He's made five of my favorite records ever and I even like his "bad" records and most of his stuff from later years. We just click, is all. Maybe because he's a sarcastic, soul-loving sonofabitch like me.

Angst Quotient: Very High

Also Considered: Tom Petty, Elvis Presley, John Prine, Pixies, Pretenders, Prince, Wilson Pickett




Rationale: They would've been in contention no matter what they called themselves, but when they took a Q name, they probably didn't even think that 99% of all human beings would pick them in a list such as this. With the exception of some family members of Quarterflash and a few die-hard Queensrÿche apologists.

Angst Quotient: Extremely Low

Also Considered: Yeah, right.




Rationale: Otis is simply the man who fuels our baseline passion for music here at Pickled Priest. His voice is our gold standard, pure and raw the way it was meant to be. My son was named after him and so was one of my dogs. My other son was born on his birthday. He was the first dance at my wedding. He'll be the last song I hear if people comply with the provisions of my extremely complicated and demanding will. There was never another choice for us, despite the fact the letter R is absolutely loaded with amazing options, including, but not limited to, the world's greatest rock and roll band.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: A little band called The Rolling Stones, punk icons the Ramones, Pickled Priest favorites the Replacements, and that lil old band from Athens, R.E.M. Hell, even Rush had an outside chance. Oh, and Bonnie Raitt. And Roxy Music. Fuck this project.




Rationale: A loaded category, but the Boss is our all-time favorite artist, one we've seen live many times than any other band for good reason. The selection, despite a deep pool of candidates, was never in doubt.

Angst Quotient: Very Low

Also Considered: Bob Seger, The Smiths, Nina Simone, Simon & Garfunkel, Sam & Dave, The Stooges, The Saints, The Silos, Social Distortion, Steely Dan, The Staple Singers




Rationale: Simply the most captivatingly strange band of all-time. Something completely different, which makes them stand out from any crowd.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: The queen of Memphis soul, Carla Thomas. An icon of British folk, Richard Thompson (including Linda), and the almighty Temptations




Rationale: We needed to stiff U2 somehow someway and we thank UFO for stepping up to give us a legitimate reason. Strangers in the Night alone makes them the captains of the U-Boat. It's a record we've listened to 100X more than all of U2's records combined.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Uncle Tupelo, The Undertones




Rationale: The only time in history where a battle of the bands has come down to VU vs. VH that's for sure. If not for the later-period Sammy Hagar VH a possible upset might've happened, although there's really no use in comparing the two in any world.

Angst Quotient: Moderate

Also Considered: Van Halen



Rationale: One of my first loves and one of the most enduring. Their spot is secure: Not to be taken away.

Angst Quotient: Extremely Low

Also Considered: Hank Williams, Stevie Wonder, Tom Waits, Wire




Rationale: The greatest single-letter band of all time (extra credit in this assignment) is also one of the best band names of all-time (#5 on our Top 50 List). The stand-alone X is simply the most imposing and sinister letter of the alphabet. And we're thankful it wasn't wasted on a shitty band, instead chosen by one of our favorites.

Angst Quotient: Extremely Low

Also Considered: X-Ray Spex

Not Considered: XTC




Rationale: Neil's selection was one of the easiest on the list. Yes will serve as an alternate if Neil can't fulfill his obligations.

Angst Quotient: Extremely Low

Also Considered: Yes




Rationale: Warren is everything Pickled Priest wants from a songwriter in one complete, demented, humorous package.

Angst Quotient: Low

Also Considered: Frank Zappa, ZZ Top


That's all you get. Anything more would elevate this project above its worth and intent. A "Mini-Project" must remain just that. I was only doing it to put an end to the pre-bedtime static anyway. Once published, I now expect the lambs to be silenced forever.


The Priest


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