posted at 12/20/2012 2:06 PM EST
I'm not the biggest fan of labels, either, but we're talking a grand total of two (2) categories here and what makes a logical point of reference. It's certainly no more arbitrary that grouping by decade or even country of origin.
But I think it matters in terms of trying to understand where music and art are derived from. It doesn't appear out of thin air. There are influences, and today's bands have made their own recipes from ingredients they like that came before them. We can certainly debate how important it is, but not whether it exists.
And the thing is, some influences are fairly easy to spot, but others are not. Most people know Aerosmith, but only a handful might know Blodwyn Pig, a major influence. The latter is clearly classic rock, but Aerosmith is both classic and modern, because they're still around. Can we say that 'classic' Aerosmith had more of an influence than "modern" Aerosmith? Maybe.
I often read how a newer band has "classic rock sensibilities". I've used the term myself, but now I wonder if it means anything, or if it's just another lazy concoction of the rock media. Also of note, the term "jam band", which didn't really exist until the 90s but was then applied retroactively to groups like Traffic, the Dead and Allmans.
Public Enemy will soon be inducted into the HoF. They would seem to fit a "classic hip-hop" niche, but "Fear Of A Black Planet" (awesome) came out in 1990. So, is 1990 now in the "classic" era...? That would make The Black Crowes' debut "classic rock" (derivative though it may be)
One of the lists posted mentioned "comebacks". Well, what if they never left? If we never missed them, were they really gone...?