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STAIRWAY TO HELL

OUR LIST OF THE MOST OVERPLAYED CLASSIC-ROCK SONGS OF ALL TIME.

The Winner. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (1987): Whining raised to an art form. You can stop looking now.

19. THE GRATEFUL DEAD. They're paunchy, they're tottering and they're using fewer narcotics than they did during their prime. Sounds like the classic-rock listener profile to us.

Runners-up. 3. "Uncle John's Band" (1970): The Dead try to harmonize. Scary. 2. "Casey Jones" (1970): Another salute to dope. Let Casey drive you to the Betty Ford Clinic. 1. "Touch of Grey" (1987): Their biggest hit--until they release "Touch of Formaldehyde," that is.

The Winner. "Truckin'" (1970): Jerry and crew don't play this one in concert much anymore. DJs, take the hint.

18. THE ROLLING STONES. The Stones have cranked out so many great tracks that it's difficult to choose among them. So classic-rock programmers don't. They choose only these.

Runners-up. 3. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (1969): But sometimes you get a little extra time in the lavatory. 2. "Gimme Shelter" (1969): Gimme a magazine. This could take a while. 1. "It's Only Rock `N Roll (But I Like It)" (1974): Better than Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," but only just.

The Winner. "Sympathy for the Devil" (1968): Also known as "The Newt Gingrich Story."

17. YES. The folks who love this band really, really love it. The only things they love more are their pocket protectors.

Runners-up. 3. "I've Seen All Good People" (1971): Who they define as "folks with pocket protectors." 2. "Close to the Edge" (1972): This one is so long you can cross several New England states befores it's over. 1. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (1983): The song that brought them into the Eighties. They've since slipped back a decade or two.

The Winner. "Roundabout" (1972): The symbol of Yes's quasi-classical snootiness. Artists or swillmeisters--you be the judge.

16. CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH. How's the ol' liver, Dave?
Runners-up. 3. "Teach Your Children" (with Neil Young, 1970): Here's one class they'll want to ditch. 2. "Our House" (with Neil Young, 1970): Squint just right and David Crosby looks exactly like Wilford Brimley. 1. "Marrakesh Express" (1969): The threesome's first smash. Couldn't they have stopped at one?

The Winner. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (1969): Written for Judy Collins, who, one hopes, was appalled by it.

15. BOSTON. Guitar nerd Tom Scholz has made one beloved recording and a slew of imitations of that one beloved recording. Guess which one gets played.

Runners-up. 3. "Peace of Mind" (1976): Off the first album. 2. "Foreplay/Long Time" (1976): Also off the first album. 1. "Let Me Take You Home Tonight" (1976): Which album? Duh.

The Winner. "More Than a Feeling" (1976): Yessir, the first album. It's more than a feeling, all right--it's nausea.

14. THE DOOBIE BROTHERS. With a name like theirs, they can rev up nostalgic potheads--the kind you see at Radio Shack looking wistfully at the alligator clips.

Runners-up. 3. "Black Water" (1975): The closest thing to bluegrass music in classic rock. 2. "Listen to the Music" (1972): Do so at your own risk. 1. "Long Train Runnin'" (1973): The perfect tune for any woman on a date with a motorcycle gang.

The Winner. "China Grove" (1973): It's about heroin, right? Oh, sorry, we were flashing back.

13. STEVE MILLER BAND. Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that Miller created a rash of hits. Hear them too often, though, and you'll wish that rash had been jock itch.

Runners-up. 3. "Rock'n Me" (1976): Sounds almost as good in its Muzak version. 2. "Take the Money and Run" (1976): An extremely subversive concept--a story song that really doesn't tell a story. 1. "The Joker" (1973): Gives cigarettes ("I'm a smoker") and marijuana ("I'm a toker") equal time. How egalitarian.

The Winner. "Fly Like an Eagle" (1976): Featuring a synthesized intro sure to hit home with you Emerson, Lake and Palmer diehards.

12. BOB SEGER. He says he likes that old time rock and roll. Talk about truth in advertising.

Runners-up. 3. "Like a Rock" (1986): A big favorite with anyone who's been suckered into buying a Chevy. 2. "Against the Wind" (1980): A tornado would be more entertaining. 1. "Night Moves" (1977): Makes losing your virginity seem totally dull. Don't believe it, kids.

The Winner. "Turn the Page" (Live version, 1976): A wealthy rock star whimpers about life on the road. Turn the stomach.

11. THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. The outfit that spawned the rise of Southern rock and inspired the neo-hippie movement. For these accomplishments, they deserve something special--like death by hanging.

Runners-up. 3. "Statesboro Blues" (1971): The dueling guitars. The barked vocals. The loosely structured arrangements. The horror. 2. "Mountain Jam" (1972): If you pass out during this live take, be reassured: It'll still be going when you come to. 1. "Whipping Post" (1971): Like being sentenced to thirty lashes.

The Winner. "Ramblin' Man" (1973): Dickey Betts at his peak. Which ain't saying a whole lot.

10. THE WHO. An act with loads of terrific songs. But only a chosen few meet classic-rock jocks' stringent standards.

Runners-up. 3. "I Can See for Miles" (1967): When Pete Townshend was just learning how to be long-winded. 2. "Behind Blue Eyes" (1971): Getting there--but still not as drawn out as... 1. "Baba O'Riley" (1971): Here we go! Pass the Charmin!

The Winner. "Won't Get Fooled Again" (1971): Yes, you will. Over and over again.

9. JETHRO TULL. When these codgers won a Grammy as best heavy-metal band a few years back, you could hear the laughter from sea to shining sea. Supporters find Ian Anderson's panting through his flute "ballsy."

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