Topics: Sonic Youth, The Clash, The Ramones, David Bowie
Illustrations by Greg Chinn at The Local Brand Co.
In 1990, the Beat’s Greg Chinn was studying at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena when Sonic Youth’s Goo album hit the airwaves. The gritty, gorgeous, smart record hit Greg hard and both their sound and aesthetic resonated with him (“Kool Thing” is still one of his favorite songs). It continues to influence Greg’s work. Raymond Pettibon’s iconic cover art continues to capture the public imagination, and so does the band.
Our Clay Steakley was 10 years old when a cousin gave him the newly released Clash album, Combat Rock, for Christmas. Technically, she gave it to a different cousin who didn’t want it, and Clay got it as a regift. Anyway, the record kicked Clay in the gut with its ethos, sound, swagger and wide-ranging genre experimentation. As it was for many others, Combat Rock was the gateway drug to London Calling, and that was that. Strummer, Simenon, Jones and Headon were the working class heroes for a generation of rockers.
A seminal band and as world-renowned for their haircuts and motorcycle jackets as their dizzying bursts of brief, rapid-fire songs, the Ramones are the grandaddies of American punk rock. Their simple songs with their wry blend of anger and humor, paid as much homage to doo-wop and rockabilly as they did the Stooges. From “Blitzkreig Bop” to “I Wanna Be Sedated,” their decades of four-on-the-floor, straightforward music was the bedrock of punk.
From his 1967 debut to 2016’s stunning Blackstar, David Bowie was always innovative, always daring and always relevant. From his explosion to fame in the early 1970s with records like Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (which Clay Steakley will tell you with certainty is the greatest rock record of all time), through the dazzling, dark Berlin trilogy and on into his tongue-in-cheek pop of the 1980s, and his renaissance of the 1990s–2000s, Bowie never disappointed. He may have confused, startled, alienated or outright shocked, but never, ever disappointed. He was perhaps the most visionary rock artist of the last 40 years.