A lot of people were excited when David Bowie announced his first album in a decade. So I asked Pierre Robert, WMMR’s veteran rock-and-roll DJ of 31 years, for his top ten list of bands that need to come out of retirement. Here, Pierre Robert’s ranking of the bands he wants to hear from one more time.
#10: Flock of Seagulls
“I love those 80s bands like Flock of Seagulls. So dreamy and drifty.”
Seen Them Live?: “Never. They were playing one night at the East Side Club*, but I was doing the overnight show, and I couldn’t make it.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You).
Philly Fact: After playing JFK stadium in 1982 with Genesis, Blondie, and Elvis Costello, Flock of Seagulls relocated from the UK to our fair city. The band’s subsequent release was a total failure, and they quickly moved back to their homeland.
#9: Stray Cats
“They had a great sound. They took the 50s sound and reinvented it. For a 3-piece, they had a cool, hip swagger about them that I liked.”
Seen Them Live?: “At least once or twice, probably at the East Side Club*.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Stray Cat Strut.
Philly Fact: Brian Setzer and his Stray Cats played Philadelphia (and New York) in their early days but never saw much success. It wasn’t until the band fled to England in 1980 that their sound caught on.
#8: Midnight Oil
“They had a great energy and did a lot of environmental work, which I really liked. I remember they did a protest in front of the Exxon building in New York after the Exxon-Valdez spill, and they played a spontaneous concert. I thought that was the coolest thing.”
Seen Them Live?: “Never. I wish.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: The Dead Heart.
Philly Fact: Tom Moon, then a music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, reviewed the band’s 1990 Spectrum show, writing, “Performing for 90 minutes in front of about 4,000 enthusiastic fans, Midnight Oil created and sustained an awe-inspiring intensity that turned its activist songs into a form of righteous – but not self-righteous – soul music.”
#7: Dire Straits
“Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing takes me somewhere else, and I love his voice as well. His solo stuff is cool, but it’s not quite as cool as they were.”
Seen Them Live?: “A couple of times. Mann Music Center and the Spectrum.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Sultans of Swing.
Philly Fact: Sailing to Philadelphia was the second solo album by Dire Straits guitarist and vocalist Mark Knopfler. The title track was a duet with James Taylor. It had more to do with the Mason-Dixon Line than with Philly as we know it, but still…
#6: Van Halen
“A complete fantasy, but I want to see the original David Lee Roth lineup followed by the original Sammy Hagar lineup all in one evening and then a combined set with Dave and Sammy singing. But it doesn’t stand a chance of happening. Van Halen is as dysfunctional a rock family as there is.”
Seen Them Live?: “I’ve seen Van Halen live with both lead singers and then also Dave and Sammy Hagar solo as well.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Right Now (Sammy era) and Hot for Teacher (Dave era).
Philly Fact: Comcast-Spectacor Vice President of Public Relations Ike Richman has seen Van Halen 63 times.
#5: Talking Heads
“So many great songs. Brilliant!”
Seen Them Live?: “During the Stop Making Sense tour at the Mann Center. Early 80s.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Once In a Lifetime.
Philly Fact: Before he won the Oscar for Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks, director Jonathan Demme filmed the 1984 Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sense.
#4: The Kinks
“Why the Kinks aren’t uttered in the same breath as the Beatles, the Who and the Stones just eludes me, because the Kinks are just incredible. Ray Davies is one of rock’s most fascinating characters and one of the greatest storytellers out there.”
Seen Them Live?: “The Tower, Mann, TLA, and Spectrum.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: You Really Got Me.
Philly Fact: Kinks leader Ray Davies had to cancel his 2010 solo stop at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall due to illness. Six months prior, Ray’s brother and Kinks co-founder Dave Davies had to cancel an area concert, also due to illness.
#3: Rod Stewart and the Faces
“It was Rod Stewart at his best, his least fluffy. I love Rod, but his style now is too laid back, but reuniting with the Faces would kick him in his ass. That band was loose and funky and raw.”
Seen Them Live?: “At the Cow Palace in San Francisco.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Stay With Me.
Philly Fact: The mean average of StubHub tickets to Stewart’s April 12th appearance at the Wells Fargo Center with Steve Winwood is about $500. (Don’t worry: the median average is much lower.)
#2: Pink Floyd
“I want to see Roger Waters with David Gilmour. They reunited at Live 8. It was so cool and sublime.”
Seen Them Live?: “I’ve seen Gilmour solo. And I’ve seen Waters on his solo tours, and I saw him do The Wall in Berlin–the Hooters were on that show, so I went over–and I saw him do it again at the ballpark in 2012, which had to have been the best show of the year. Waters is the shit. But I’d love to see him play with Gilmour.”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Money.
Philly Fact: Roger Waters told Rolling Stone that the song “Comfortably Numb” was based on a Philadelphia doctor who shot him up with tranquilizers before a Philly show.
“This would be a one-off show, and it would actually be a giant reunion of Crosby Stills Nash & Young preceded by three smaller reunions: The Hollies with Graham Nash; the Byrds with David Crosby; and Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Neil Young. Graham Nash told me that doing a tour like that was a fantasy of his.”
Seen Them Live?: “A zillion times!”
Pierre’s Essential Song: Teach Your Children.
Philly Fact: In 2012, CSN (no Y this time) opened their 70-city tour at the Tower Theater.
* The East Side Club was an underground (both literally and figuratively) music venue at 12th and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia that later became a gay club called Kurt’s.