On the opposite spectrum from yesterday’s list, today I want to point out a few artists, songs or albums that I really feel should have made an appearance in the Rock Band series. Some of these may have shown up in the competing Guitar Hero franchise, but never in Harmonix’s Rock Band, which I felt ended up being the superior product. I tried to not have any repeats, as well as hitting a few different genres and tones. Otherwise it would just be the list of metal acts that needed to be in Rock Band.
10. GALLOWS – GREY BRITAIN
Starting off with a killer hardcore punk band out of England, Gallows is one of those bands that appeared on Guitar Hero 3, with their hit In the Belly of a Shark. Despite that game’s success, Gallows never appeared on another rhythm game. Instead of sticking with Shark’s album, Orchestra of Wolves, I went instead with the follow up concept album Grey Britain. Dark, really heavy at times, and full of intense riffing, it’s an album that would have translated perfect to the Rock Band formula. It would have had to be censored pretty heavily – which is one point I hope Harmonix can work around with the updated parental controls – but I still think it would have been really fun to play through.
9. JETHRO TULL – TEACHER/LOCOMOTIVE BREATH/BUNGLE IN THE JUNGLE
Aqualung and Hymn 43 both showed up on the setlist during Rock Band 2‘s lifespan, but there are a few other tracks from the English band that I would have liked to play. A little heavier than most other rock choices from that time, Teacher and Bungle in the Jungle both feature some really solid guitar work, as well as killer vocals; while Locomotive Breath would take great advantage of Rock Band 3‘s keyboards to set the stage for the song. Based on how Harmonix used to release tracks each week in 3-packs, this would be a great 3-pack of Jethro Tull songs.
8. ELTON JOHN – BENNIE AND THE JETS/GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD/CROCODILE ROCK
There were a couple songs by the flamboyant piano player that came out, including one on the downloadable game Rock Band Blitz, but three of his biggest hits never materialized. Each is a classic rock staple in their own right, and thanks to Rock Band 3 adding in a keyboard, playing his music would have been a no-brainer. Each song’s tone is different enough to appeal to a pretty wide audience, not just Elton John fans. Guitar players might not be shredding as much as usual, but keyboardists and singers could really shine with these three tunes.
7.BAD BRAINS OR BLACK FLAG
It’s a little hard to pick one of these seminal hardcore punk bands to point out as needing to be on the game. Either choice would be perfect – Bad Brains gives you a little more variety in their music as they feature a strong reggae influence; while Black Flag provides nothing but punk, played at top speed. There’s nothing super complicated musically going on – just riffing at mach speed, which challenges each instrument. Beyond that, it’s always good to expose a new audience to the bands that really formed their genres, and Bad Brains and Black Flag are two of the most important punk bands ever.
6. SHADOWS FALL – THE ART OF BALANCE/THE WAR WITHIN
Shadows Fall is one of the better metalcore bands to emerge from that genre’s explosion back in the mid-to-early 2000s. Either of these classic albums would have fit perfectly on the game, each filled with superior riffs, solos and drum work. The War Within’s The Light that Blinds actually appeared on Guitar Hero 2 as a bonus track, and was one of my favorite tracks to play on the game. Seeing Harmonix take a full Shadows Fall album and give it the treatment would have been really awesome.
It’s really hard to specifically point to one or two songs that really shine and deserved to be on the game – instead I would have loved to see a bigger sampler pack. With three full albums of songs to pick from, there are a number of potential winners. Thunderhorse was also a bonus track on Guitar Hero 2, but was only the promotional single version – the actual album cut is longer and has more guitar work going on. Add in songs like Murmaider, Crush the Industry, Murmaider II: The Water God, and Skyhunter, and I think you’ve got a pretty solid DLC pack right there.
4. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
The Boss has never really appeared too much on rhythm games – only a few songs on Guitar Hero World Tour as DLC if memory serves – and never on Rock Band. With a career as long as Bruce’s there’s plenty of classic songs to choose from, any of which would fit superbly in the Rock Band formula. From guitar rockers like Born to Run or Born in the USA, to more synth songs like Dancing in the Dark – to even softer songs like The Ghost of Tom Joad – there’s really no end of songs that could be picked.
3. ERIC CLAPTON/CREAM/DEREK AND THE DOMINOES
Another guitar god that never showed up on the Rock Band setlist, despite being in a number of classic bands, Clapton has a huge discography of songs that would translate perfect. From his time in Cream we would be able to rock through Sunshine of Your Love or White Room, each classic rock staples that still get plenty of air time. Derek and the Dominoes gave us one of the greatest guitar riffs ever in Layla – and the full song, complete with its somewhat over the top outro, would be perfect for the Rock Band 3 full band. Clapton’s solo work could have given us songs like Cocaine or Crossroads to play through – each fantastic examples of his guitar work.
2. METALLICA – MASTER OF PUPPETS/RIDE THE LIGHTNING/KILL ‘EM ALL/…AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
This pick is more of acknowledging what could have been, based around what actually was. Metallica signed a deal with Activision back while Guitar Hero was still going strong and released a full game based entirely around their career. As such, we never really got the chance to see Metallica songs show up on Rock Band after that point – the most we got was five songs total – Enter Sandman and Battery were on discs, and a three pack that launched the weekly DLC. Each of their first four albums are guitar masterpieces, with tons of riffs that would be a blast. In particular, if I had to pick only one, I would go with what I think is the best heavy metal album ever – Master of Puppets. I say that because it’s really a perfect album – there isn’t a weak song on there. We already had Battery after all – playing the whole album would have been so killer – tons of hard riffs to learn, solos that would shred your fingers, drums that would give you the fittest legs in the land and bass lines from one of the best bassists ever.
1. LED ZEPPELIN
What should really come as no surprise, since fans have been clamoring for it since Guitar Hero, seeing Led Zeppelin make an appearance of any sort in Rock Band would have been perfection. There’s the obvious choices like Stairway to Heaven, Rock ‘N Roll, Immigrant Song and Kashmir, but the list really could go on for ages. Houses of the Holy, Ramble On, Communication Breakdown, Moby Dick…it just doesn’t end. Each song is tailor made for guitar, drums, bass and vocals – the meat and potatoes of hard rock. Every instrument would be challenged, thanks to the incredible musicianship of the four members. Singers would be trying to keep pace with Robert Plant, bassists with John Paul Jones, guitarists with the legendary Jimmy Page and drummers with the unbelievable John Bonham. It’s a no-brainer that just never panned out.
This is another list, much like yesterday that really could keep going. I could point to songs like Monochrome by Helmet, albums like Appetite for Destruction by Guns ‘N Roses or artists like Pink Floyd and still miss perfect choices for the game. It’s reasons like this that really make me think that there’s going to be a Rock Band 4 eventually. Hopefully Harmonix can take advantage of the new generations parental controls to allow for full, uncut versions of songs as well. It’s something we have to wait and see happen, but I hate that part.