Record Store Geek

Arena Rock's 10 Greatest Bands

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Why Do You Think They Fill Arenas, Jack?

I didn't give a shit. In a land of counter-culture behavior, I considered myself a rebel. No tattoos. No piercings. No Depeche Mode. Not a whole lot of hipness in general.

So I battled my comrades. I stuck up for arena rock. And I gleefully took the free tickets and the meet-and-greets that those elitist rascals didn't want.

And time went by...

And here we are, 20-odd years later, and what can I tell you, my hipster friend? A great deal of that shit still holds up.

Not all of it, mind you.

Not even within the discographies of the genre's champions -- almost all of whom "jumped the shark" (it's a Fonzi-related term, look it up) with some sort of terrible album or barf-inducing, big-selling ballad.

But plenty of it.

In fact, there's still so much of the arena rock that holds up for me, I had a hard time whittling down the list of the 10 All-Time Arena Rock Bands.

But I managed, and here it is. Complete with a deep-cut Spotify playlist, a guide to each artist's three essential albums, and the song/album that (may have) caused the group to jump the shark.

Because I'm "hear" to guide you through the music of the past, my little puppies.

Record Store Geek: Arena Rock's 10 Greatest Bands

If you've read my stuff before (thanks), then you know I always have a few list qualifiers.

To make this list:

  • You can't be a legendary heavyweight. That means no Zeppelin, Stones, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Queen, or Who.

  • You have to have started in the 1970s. That leaves out Santana, Steve Miller Band, Chicago, Grand Funk, and Bob Seger.

  • You can't be widely or critically accepted. This means the (bullshit) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has deemed you worthy, or that you have a truly sustained recording career. This eliminates Rush, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen, Little Feat, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

  • You have to have been able to fill an arena. Which leaves out bands (that I still love) like Head East, Nazareth, April Wine, Foghat, Heart, Scorpions, and Triumph (all of whom could fill the barn as a pairing, but not alone).

  • You have to have at least three albums I can I can still put on. Montrose, Kansas, and The Guess Who, along with countless others, bite the dust on this one.

Here they are, in no particular order (except for the albums recommendations).

Note: There are a couple exceptions to the rules (I'm rebelling against myself).

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Steve Wiley
Contact: Steve Wiley