Arena Rock's 10 Greatest Bands

Arena Rock's 10 Greatest Bands
Steve Wiley

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. Biweekly, he shares stories of great music and whacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always-zany music biz.

When I was a young music fan, I just liked what I liked. I didn't know about critics, or cool, or cheesy. I didn't have any peer pressure or older siblings to guide me, I just listened to the radio. And I liked most of it.

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As I got older, I found myself drawn to upbeat music, to rock and roll. So my friends and I jammed it. We partied to it. We had a hell of a time, all the way through high school and college, with a soundtrack of that fine rock and roll.

Then I got to Phoenix in 1987, began working in the music industry, and I discovered that most of the stuff I just thought was rock and roll was not, er, well accepted by critics, or my new work peers. They called it "arena rock." They did not use those words positively.

And so began my defense of my beloved arena rockers, and it continues to this day -- in this blog.

What Do You Mean You Don't Like Boston?

What can I tell you? Back in my neck of the woods (Minot, North Dakota, in case you've never, gasp, read my ramblings before) we just weren't that tough on music. Rock music, at least.

If it sounded good and kept the keg party moving, it was good by us. We didn't read books about it, we just put it on and let it help rock us through our weekends of teenage debauchery.

So when I first started working in a record store, and my fellow assistant manager laid into Boston, and then tried to make me listen to Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" every night during the closing duties, I was shocked (although I've grown to love that song over the years) and more than a little defensive.

Are you fucking kidding me? Who doesn't like Boston?

I could understand if they didn't like Motley Crue, or Poison, or Bon Jovi, or any number of the fine-dressing boys on the burgeoning hair band scene. But how could they bust up on a complex, unique, hard-rockin' band like Boston?

My first album (Don't Look Back). My first concert (Bismarck, eigth grade, 1978). Sonic, driving, great vocals, double guitar attack -- what's not to love?

In record store land, a lot, apparently.

It wasn't just Boston. They hated 'em all. Shit, in those days, with alternative music totally finding its place and record store geeks flocking to it, I could barely find people to give it up for Led Zeppelin and The Stones, let alone Foreigner or Styx.

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