Day 66: The Coronavirus Countdown - 100 Days of Great Music

There isn't much overlap between our two picks today - alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons and new wave/synth-pop legends Duran Duran. But the different ways in which they were critically received makes for an interesting comparison.

Parsons, for example, has always been the typical critical "darling" - revered by the music press while being virtually ignored by the record-buying public. Duran Duran, on the other hand, were mega-selling arena rock giants that were often dismissed by critics as creative lightweights - a studio creation whose success was built on their image and their appeal to teenaged girls rather than their music.

Fortunately for Duran Duran, their critical accolades these days are far more positive in retrospect, and artists like Justin Timberlake, Pink and Lady Gaga have name-checked them as influences.

But who influenced Duran Duran?

Certainly, they were influenced by the glam rock of acts like David Bowie, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll find a band called New York Dolls who were glam rock before glam rock even had a name. Their 1973 self-titled debut is your bonus pick of the day.

- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb


Duran Duran

Greatest (1998)

Why I Love It

About the time I was starting seventh grade at Burnet Junior High School in Austin, a band from England caught the attention of pretty much every girl at my school. Duran Duran burst onto the rock scene with not only the looks but the quality music to go along with them. They were a match made in MTV heaven. The first song I ever heard by the band was "Hungry Like the Wolf." I loved it immediately. And from then until I graduated from high school, I loved pretty much every single they released and became a big fan. I don't know if there is another band in rock and roll history that matches Duran Duran in the combination of style and substance. All 19 tracks on this compilation are fantastic and serve as a strong representation of why they are so great. Listening to this album never fails to take me back to growing up in the 1980s and brings a smile to my face. It was a tremendous decade for music, to which I credit my eclectic taste in music.

Album Highlights

"The Reflex," "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day

This is one of those bands where I instantly recognize the name, but would struggle to list five hits for you. It just never was in my wheelhouse, yet, listening to this collection here, it's also one of those bands where I recognize almost every one of those hits. It's a nostalgic trip back through the pop music of the '80s (and well into the '90s, too) that's worth your time.


Gram Parsons

Grievous Angel (1974)

Why I Love It

Yeah, okay, you get it, I'm a Gram Parsons fan.

I admit it. Gram Parsons' influence has been all over my list from The Byrds' "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" to the International Submarine Band's "Safe At Home" to The Flying Burrito Brothers' "The Gilded Palace of Sin" and now this - one of Gram's two solo albums released before his tragic death at the age of 26.

His legacy and his influence far exceed the success he enjoyed as an artist in his lifetime as he heralded as one of the founders of both "country-rock" and "alternative country" or Americana. It's certainly high praise, but this album stands as a landmark album in both of those genres. And you'll find evidence of Parsons' ongoing influence in other albums on my list like The Desert Rose Band, Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, Blue Rodeo and others.

Album Highlights

"Return Of The Grievous Angel," "I Can't Dance" and "Love Hurts"

Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day

We've talked a lot about Gram Parsons on this countdown for good reason. The guy was light years ahead of his time and basically created his own musical brand and style. This is a record that was underappreciated in its day. Thankfully, music historians and fans have gone back and realized the album's true greatness. Lyrically, this record amazes me. It's an extraordinarily likeable album that deserves the attention of any fan of great music.

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