Readers’ Top 10 for 2013: The Beatles, Peter Banks, the Band, Adrian Belew, Carcass, Led Zeppelin

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Never mind that our readers’ top pick for 2013 was actually published on December 27, 2011. It’s part of a trend involving a certain mop-topped bunch.

In fact, a Something Else! listing of those moments when the Beatles dared disappoint finds itself atop this particular poll — based on original-content page views over the past calendar year — for the second straight time.

That, however, is not all. Readers also flocked to Kit O’Toole’s in-depth analysis of “The End,” from the Fab Four’s swansong studio effort, Abbey Road. And to our companion-piece examination of those times that the solo Beatles didn’t quite measure up, too. (Sorry, Macca!)

Elsewhere, our appreciation piece on Peter Banks, written the awful night of the original Yes guitarist’s passing at just 65, became a rallying point for fans. We also caught up with Adrian Belew, just as he left Nine Inch Nails to focus on a fascinating new solo effort.

Fred Phillips found a surprising favorite in the new album from Carcass, even as we started a series of (OK, very entertaining) arguments over Mark Saleski’s picks for top guitarists.

You grabbed the popcorn for a sitdown with Jordan Richardson’s creep-fest list of greatest vampire flicks, and delved deeper with Nick DeRiso into the Band’s seminal “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Then, there was the time we picked our least-favorite Led Zeppelin songs — and included one particular fan-favorite ballad among our unlucky five …

No. 10: GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE LED ZEPPELIN, WELL, SUCKED: It’s become fashionable to like Led Zeppelin again, after the release of their 2007 partial reunion concert. Luckily, Celebration Day doesn’t include any of these duds. Looking back, it seems for every “Black Dog,” Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham (replaced by son Jason in the newly issued project) would unleash a “Hot Dog.” For every “Ramble On,” there was, alas, a “Bring It On Home.” For every “Whole Lotta Love,” you had an “All My Love.” — Nick DeRiso

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Exploring five oft-overlooked deep cuts from the solo careers of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Robert Planty and John Paul Jones.]

No. 9: GIMME FIVE: SOLO BEATLES RECORDS THAT, WELL, SUCKED: For all of the promise that greeted their time apart — we’ll get four Beatles albums a year now! — the reality was far different as Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison embarked on solo careers. You’ll notice that fewer Lennon recordings appear on our list than do those from McCartney or Harrison, because it seems even his failures were more interesting than theirs. You also might expect most of our entries to have come from the 1980s, a largely bereft period for many of their generation, but our list is actually evenly divided between that decade and the 1970s. — Nick DeRiso

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Joey Molland discusses working with John Lennon and George Harrison on early-1970s solo projects, as well as some of Badfinger’s most memorable moments.]

No. 8: CARCASS – SURGICAL STEEL (2013): The first record since 1996 from reunited English death metal legends Carcass, Surgical Steel is probably one of the most anticipated of the year for many metal fans. I can’t really say that I was among them. Death metal, in general, is a hard sell for me. So, I was pretty damned surprised by what I found. It’s that rare death metal record that I can’t get enough of. It achieves the perfect blend of harshness and melody for my ears. — Fred Phillips

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Join Fred Phillips as he explores the country-fried rock of Hank Williams III, Blackberry Smoke, David Allan Coe, Powder Mill, Chris Knight and others.]

No. 7: DEEP BEATLES: “THE END,” FROM ABBEY ROAD (1969): The final section of the Abbey Road medley also symbolizes the Beatles winding down their careers. With this track, the Beatles went out at the top of their game, providing fans with a perfect summary of the 1960s spirit. “The End” found a perfect place in the medley, too, and not simply because it signals the apparent end of Abbey Road. After the angst expressed in “Carry That Weight” and the “You Never Give Me Your Money” reprise, “The End” injects pure adrenaline and joy into the proceedings. — Kit O’Toole

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: S. Victor Aaron, Nick DeRiso, Kit O’Toole and Beverly Paterson take a second, deeper look into the Beatles’ timeless swansong, ‘Abbey Road.’]

No. 6: MOVIES THAT, WELL SUCK: TOP 10 VAMPIRE FILMS: Vampires have admittedly had a bad run as of late, with the original mythology of these creatures of the night having sunken into downright pathetic territory — mind-numbing hunks who twinkle when sunlight hits and have little to worry about beyond convincing a panting high school student to finally show some emotion. The good news is that the cinematic vampire wasn’t always represented in such meatless and bloodless fashion. Dating back to the birth of the medium, the blood-sucking garlic-haters have been epitomized in a swarm of quenching ways by a flock of tremendous performers and filmmakers. — Jordan Richardson

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No. 5: SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: ADRIAN BELEW ON HIS AMAZING NEW SOLO VENTURE: Adrian Belew’s recent exit from Nine Inch Nails has allowed him to return to a solo experiment that’s been years in the making: The appropriately named FLUX, an ever-changing interactive musical experience that taps into the long-time former King Crimson guitarist’s adventuresome muse. “FLUX is music that is never the same twice,” Belew exclusively tells Something Else!, in his first in-depth interview on the project. — Nick DeRiso

[ONE TRACK MIND: Do-anything guitarist Adrian Belew discusses a key song from King Crimson’s ‘Thrak,’ the solo novelty hit “Oh Daddy” and his underrated work with the Bears.]

No. 4: MARK SALESKI’S TOP 10 GUITARISTS: After reading Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Top 100 guitarists, I felt the need to chime in. Not that there’s a problem with the list or anything. Well … OK, there is a problem. There’s a problem with any list that attempts to rank players as if one is ‘better’ than another. Does it really matter how ‘skillful’ a player is if they don’t do anything interesting with that talent? So that’s what the players on my list have in common. — Mark Saleski

[ONE TRACK MIND: Guitarist Bill Frisell joined us for a rangy discussion on his John Lennon tribute project, working with legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter … and Madonna?]

No. 3: ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: THE BAND, “THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN” (1969): This Civil War song doesn’t pick sides; instead, Levon Helm’s delicately poignant vocal completely animates the Robbie Robertson lyric — stripping bare the awful costs of these kind of conflicts. Virgil Kane, another version of the itinerant grower Helm would more fully explore in 2007’s Dirt Farmer, survived a battle to defend the Danville railway — a supply line to Tennessee — but can’t get past the things that were lost along the way: A brother, a sense of purpose, maybe his whole world. In this way, no matter where your family stood in this conflagration of states, the track’s larger message hits home. — Nick DeRiso

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: In a free-form chat, we talked to Garth Hudson about the earliest days of the Band, losing its three vocalists and the wonders of the Lowrey organ.]

No. 2: ORIGINAL YES GUITARIST PETER BANKS (1947-2013): AN APPRECIATION: We took an early look back at the career of Peter Banks, on the evening that the original guitarist for progressive rock legends Yes passed away. Banks, 65, played on the first two albums by Yes, suggested the name and even created the band’s first logo. He was the initial Yes member to be fired, starting a long string of ugly departures, and he is now the first to pass. Having first played with stalwart bassist Chris Squire when they were in the Syn — a precursor to Yes — Banks later founded Flash. — Nick DeRiso

[BEYOND THE BEATLES’ HITS: Think you know the Fab Four? Kit O’Toole’s ‘Deep Beatles’ series takes you into some undiscovered corners of the group’s ageless musical legacy.]

No. 1: GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE THE BEATLES, WELL, SUCKED: Major discovery — Beatles songs themed on the word “long” are bad karma, as our heavily debated list includes both the perfectly titled “Long, Long, Long” and treacly “Long and Winding Road.” We called the latter, in a point of deep contention for many Beatles fans, “this syrupy ballad.” Even at three-and-a-half minutes, it seemed to be overly long and, yes, winding. Well, to us, anyway. Click through the title below to join in the conversation. — S. Victor Aaron and Nick DeRiso

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