So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.
Leave it to a mostly Canadian band — with the most basic, universal moniker — to lay down one of the most influential and sophisticated cornerstones in American folk, blues, and roots rock 'n' roll. The Band, a group that strove to embrace freedom, empathy, human rights activism and inclusiveness, is one of our FUV Essentials.
FUV Essentials: The Band (illustration by Andy Friedman)
The spring of 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero," his first single for Stiff Records. Nearly 25 albums later (not counting his collaborative releases with The Roots, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint and others), Costello's cerebral, crafty lyrics, whiplashed pop rage, acerbic humor, reedy croon and ferocious bark have traveled a full spectrum of love and life conflicts.
Elvis Costello (illustration by Andy Friedman)
For her irresistible sing-along voice, for her lyrical prowess, and for her natural independence, Natalie Merchant is an FUV Essentials artist.
Natalie Merchant (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (original photo by Danny Clinch, PR)
FUV Essentials artist Van Morrison has a brand new album called Keep Me Singing, his 36th studio release. It marks another chapter in the five-decade career of this Northern Irish singer, songwriter, and soul man.
Van Morrison (illustration by Andy Friedman)
It's been 25 years since Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" erupted with volcanic rage on radios and MTV in the prehistoric, pre-internet Nineties, altering the trajectory of American music. The lead single from the band's second album, Nevermind, which was released on September 24, 1991, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became the mainstream manifesto of grunge, Seattle's fiery, flannel-cloaked scene of rock 'n' roll angst, anger, isolation, and too many drugs.
Nirvana (illustration by Andy Friedman)