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“Dolby’s Top 10 ‘Random Musicians’ of All Time”

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10 David Essex
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It’s music. You can do whatever you want. But what does it all MEAN? These problems were clearly at the forefront of David Essex’ mind in 1973, when he hired Jeff Wayne to initiate the spellbinding, self-defeating mania of Rock on, and said album’s famous titled track. With production nods to the Beatles — vocal dissipations which blend seamlessly into twisted, screeching strings, but the “soul” of R&B and blues, Essex emitted a bizarre, almost atonal stream of consciousness (but in which the bass plays a key role in the chordal infrastructure) rant which shall remain firmly entrenched in our psyches for as long as images of beautiful women are.
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9 All of the background vocalists on Counting Crows’ August and Everything after
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I’m going to make a semi-definitive statement here and say that you can tell a great power pop album by how many backing vocalists it has on it. Think Weezer’s green album, the last song “O Girlfriend” et. al. (in which the guitar solo charmingly mimics the major verse melody)… and then here on this classic album we have the likes of “Rain King,” in which the harmonies seem to rain down from the heavens.
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8 Stone Gossard (rhythm guitarist in Pearl Jam)
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Actually I considered putting Brendan O’Brien on this list: and it must be Gossard who wielded the most professional rapport with the producer, because he wrote “Satan’s Bed,” and he wrote “Rival.” Each of these two tracks features a weird sound effect thing at the beginning, and this sort of thing was O’Brien’s satanistic handiwork. Whether it was riffs or chord progressions, this was the primary dark mind in Pearl Jam’s innards, originally a comedic smarta** who would cite Monty Python and who almost got knocked out by eventual fellow bandmate Jeff Ament when he first met him. [1]
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7 T-Bone Burnett
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The ’90’s… what were they? Cafe lattes, Beavis & Butthead, grunge, and… that old lonesome sound, that old lonesome feelin’? Yup, and all thanks to this guy. “Alternative rock” embeds nicely within the larger ’90’s scheme of things as a placid, radio friendly but still melodically fertile alternative to unpalatable grunge and hip-hop. Burnett’s production work on Counting Crows’ August and Everything after and The Wallflowers’ Bringing down the Horse, while spanning the two American coasts, simultaneously grafted an appropriate platform for voiced, melodic loneliness, rendered aurally and brilliantly complete with Hammond Organ. Fastball, too, would copy, and none too regrettably.
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6 Carl Barat (guitarist/singer in The Libertines)
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At some point they won me over: Dirty Pretty Things were actually better than The Libertines, and it might have been when Carl Barat said something about a “rudimentary crack whore,” or it might not have. Either way, this band rocked with the blistering moxie of the ‘tines all the way, but scaled down the lyrical bombast and pomposity perhaps a bit in favor of earnest observations for the everyman: “If you want playboys / Every small town is teeming with them”. And so we rock.
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5 The dude who said all this crap about theremin patches on logicprohelp.com
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I literally hadn’t heard, or read, the word “sine” since 10th grade geometry class, and he’s giving this graphic detail about how to switch a standard synth into “theremin” setting, on a modular synthesizer, the different modules referred to as “patches” when materialized according to one particular instrument sound. The theremin is an electrically controlled musical instrument invented by the Russian Leon Theremin, and is played without physical contact, rather just by moving the hands around its proximity. [2] It was used heavily in the 2000’s decade, both in the indie world and by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on By the Way.
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4 Eric Axelrod (bassist in The Dismemberment Plan)
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Dude, indie! Except there’s nothing high and lonesome or jangly about the Plan, they’re basically just a punk band that’s way BETTER than punk, carrying nonetheless the spirit and confrontational truth-bearing on up through their very recent album track “White Collar White Trash.” Their best moment, though, was the somewhat David Essex-like nihilism of “What Do You Want Me to Say?”, and Axelrod’s bassline is just so disarmingly errant, just another cocksure strutter born to rock. Turn the page.
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3 Dean Felber (backing vocals on Hootie & the Blowfish’s “I’m Going Home”)
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Resident beekeeper’s music.
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2 Vinnie Fiorello (drummer in Less than Jake)
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None of these ska bands could have functioned without exceptional drummers — not The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, not Fishbone, not Reel Big Fish (who might be my favorite just for the hilarious band pictures in the liner notes of Turn the Radio off). Somehow though it’s LTJ who set the most blistering speed of all, playing with a tightness for which “superhuman” is probably an understatement, letting one melodic craft segue seamlessly into the next on classic album Losing Streak, all with Chris Demakes’ awe-inspiringly honest real-life accounts narrating the whole thing. “It’s meant to be listened to in one… sitting as though it were a book or a movie.” [3]
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1 Ruth Underwood [percussionist in The Mothers of Invention (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, etc.)]
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Septuplets. Are you scared yet? Yeah, I don’t blame you. Ruth Underwood’s influence stretched at very least out to Hot Rats, for which her brother Ian takes over piano and sax duties, this being mind you an album which does feature the xylophone, Underwood’s original canvas of choice. Ruth herself appears on the bout of stylistic acrobatics which is “St. Alphonso’s Pancake Breakfast,” making it all sound easy, of course, as was her trademark.
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[1] And as always thank you Cameron Crowe’s unforgettable, indefatigable Pearl Jam Twenty.
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[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theremin
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[3] This proviso is actually generated in the liner notes to Lou Reed’s 1987 sonic sensation New York, and I must say it’s pretty applicable to that as well.

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