This page is where I’ll try to post random songs I like, most of which aren’t the obvious songs you usually hear on the radio. The goal is to post at least one song per week, but we’ll see…I think a youtube link along with my “favorite youtube comment” worked well for my favorite youtube videos feature, so we’ll try that again here but with my own comments as well.
October 20, 2019
This post is a continuation of the prior post about epic southern rock songs. The first entry I probably should’ve fit into the last past, the next ones are from more recent spiritual successors of those bands. No comments this time other than that The Black Crowes’ song in particular may be my all time favorite cover song (though the original Velvet Underground version is great as well).
The Marshall Tucker Band: 24 Hours At A Time (from the 1974 live album Where We All Belong)
The Black Crowes: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Cabin Fever DVD 2009)
September 28, 2019
5 Great Epic Seventies Southern Rock Songs
Time for a block of ’70s southern rock. These are 5 of the best epic southern rock songs ever.
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Free Bird
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. There’s a reason this is the song that everyone wants to hear, and the live One More From The Road rendition is the best version.
Allman Brothers Band: Whipping Post
The studio version is fantastic, but this At Fillmore East live version takes it up several notches, though parts of this 23-minute version are only mildly related to its studio counterpart. The incomparable Duane Allman solos first before the also-great Dickey Betts delivers one of his very best; things then quiet down as the soulful guitar and keyboards are utterly gorgeous. Man, this section has nothing to do with the original “Whipping Post” (Dickey’s solo starting around the 14-minute mark is some of the most beautiful, emotional guitar playing you’ll ever hear), but the whole band is then unleashed as the recognizable part of the song comes back before it fades out slowly, blissfully, for a full five minutes. Simply incredible.
Favorite youtube comment: This is without doubt, the greatest 23 minutes in history.
The Outlaws: Green Grass and High Tides
The band’s magnum opus, this song is often compared to “Free Bird,” and it’s almost as great. I’ve included the studio version from their self-titled debut album but I also highly recommend their stellar 21-minute rendition from their live album Bring It Back Alive.
Favorite youtube comment: Back in the ’70s, we didn’t belong to gangs, we just smoked weed and listened to gangs of guitars. It simplified life.
Molly Hatchet: Fall Of The Peacemakers
Although sometimes unfairly dismissed as a poor man’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet was a very good band in their own right. Although “Flirtin’ With Disaster” is their most famous song, and for good reason, I’d argue that this soulful, expansive guitar epic is their best song.
Favorite youtube comment: John Lennon, Dr. King, President Kennedy, yes it’s all there. But the fact that the words fit into today’s world….amazing. Timeless songs are just that, timeless. This is one of them.
Blackfoot: Highway Song
Simply put, this song is their “Free Bird” (group leader Rickey Medlocke even reprises their “what song do you want to hear?” intro), “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Fall Of The Peacemakers,” etc., and it holds its own with any of the aforementioned epics, whether during its soulful ballad verses, its singable chorus, or its extended guitar jams. From their Highway Song – Live album.
September 2, 2019
No comments this time. Yeah I know that some people might consider a couple these to be more hard rock than heavy metal, but all of these songs are certainly heavy in their own way.
10. Pantera – Cemetery Gates
9. Ozzy Osbourne – You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll
8. Judas Priest – Beyond The Realms Of Death
7. Black Sabbath – War Pigs
6. Agalloch – In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion
5. Megadeth – Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
4. Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be Thy Name
3. Rainbow – Stargazer
2. Deep Purple – Child In Time
1. Metallica – Fade To Black
July 29, 2019
Genesis + Assorted Offshoots
I’m currently reviewing the band Genesis and its various assorted offshoot artists for my next book update. Here are some deep tracks I dig. No youtube comments this time, and my own comments will be very brief (as usual, the quality of the songs themselves should be self-explanatory!).
These first three songs are well-known to any fans of Peter Gabriel/prog era Genesis, but it’s not like you’ll ever hear them on the radio or anything. They’re some of my favorite songs from that particular era.
The Musical Box – I’m including the superior, harder rocking version from Genesis Live (though the original on Nursery Cryme is excellent as well). The vocal climax at the end in particular is scintillating.
Time Table – I love Gabriel’s vocals on this truly deep cut, though I seem to rate this song way higher than most people (who are wrong, naturally!). From the fantastic Foxtrot.
Firth Of Fifth – There’s a lot I like about this song, but above all else I consider Steve Hackett’s guitar solo to be among the best in rock history. From my favorite Genesis album, Selling England By The Pound.
You Might Recall – Later on, when Genesis was a trio they recorded this outstanding ballad (with one of Phil Collins’ best vocals), which was originally included but subsequently pulled from the studio side of their Three Sides Live album. This song, which I might recall actually hearing on the radio back in the day, is way too good to be homeless.
Anthony Phillips: God If I Saw Her Now – Genesis’ first guitarist is long forgotten by most, but this conflicted ballad from his first solo record (The Geese & The Ghost), sung by Phil Collins with Viv McCauliffe, is extremely moving to me.
After leaving Genesis, where he was too often underutilized, Hackett struck out on his own with some outstanding stuff. I’m especially fond of his first (Voyage Of The Acolyte) and third (Spectral Mornings) solo albums.
Shadow Of The Hierophant – The epic 12-minute finale from Voyage Of The Acolyte features excellent vocals from Sally Oldfield (Michael’s sister), probably Hackett’s finest guitar solo on the album, and a supremely powerful buildup.
Every Day – An excellent pop song (the first half) and also an amazing guitar song (the second half).
Spectral Mornings – More guitar magic from Hackett on this inspired instrumental, which ends the Spectral Mornings album as spectacularly as “Every Day” had started it.
How Can I? and Icarus Ascending – Hackett’s second album Please Don’t Touch has its problems and is a step down from his first and third albums, but it’s still a good album overall, and I’m especially fond of the two songs sung by Woodstock legend Ritchie Havens.
July 10, 2019
Punk Inspired Indie Rock
Here’s a block of great punk infused indie rock songs from this past decade. What they all have in common is an incredible intensity and an earnest energy. The vocals may not be pretty in some cases, but emotion is paramount, and a couple of them are quite ambitious, one even approaching 9 minutes in length.
We’ll start with two shorter ones and then the pair of epics. I’m only posting youtube comments this time.
Fucked Up: Queen Of Hearts (watch the video for this one)
Favorite youtube comments: I never knew that all I needed in life to be happy was a gaggle of Canadian children screaming at each other about love.
Punk songs should be taught in all schools…
Japandroids: The House That Heaven Built
Favorite youtube comments: I got a speeding ticket to this song.
This song makes me feel alive.
Cloud Nothings: Wasted Days
Favorite youtube comments: The screams at the end of this song contain not one single ounce of bullshit. I’m so glad there’s still guitar music being made with this much gusto.
I thought I would be more than this. Didn’t we all.
Titus Andronicus: A More Perfect Union
Favorite youtube comments (the first one is about the overall album in general which is terrific): I feel bad for the people who can’t get over this guy’s voice. There’s so much in this album. The drumming is fantastic, the guitars are fantastic. The big moments are massive and the build up to those moments is put together really well. These guitarists use feedback so well. There’s so much energy and rage in all of these songs. Makes you want to get in a bar fight or something. It’s just so ambitious. They could have made another shitty indie album with catchy little choruses, instead they tried to make an absolute beast of an album, and they totally succeeded IMO. This one’s a total blast from front to back. The songs are all tied together with a strong lyrical concept about struggling to find success/accept failure within yourself. This album gets better every time you listen to it, and that’s what makes it so great.
4:12 shit just got Irish
They played this at my funeral in 1863. I’m back.
June 20, 2019
This latest block of recommended songs features several krautrock bands. (No youtube comments this time).
Amon Duul II – Soap Shop Rock: I’ll just quote what I wrote about this near 14-minute, four-part song in my review of their Yeti album in my book The Story Of Rock and Soul Music: Album Reviews and Lists: “Featuring great heavy riffs (especially for 1970), an unstoppable forward drive, and repetitive drone grooves that likely influenced the later likes of Stereolab, this song also features wild male vocals and haunting, ethereal female vocals from Renate Knaup. Peter Leopold’s drums simply pummel, while Chris Karrer and John Weinzierl deliver excellent guitar work throughout. Other notable attributes of this strange, atmospheric, and flat-out rocking song are its gothic chants, spiraling guitar parts, chaotic yet mesmerizing jam sections, and exotic violin, and though perhaps the song is a tad overlong it nevertheless is an utter masterpiece of hard rock muscle intermingled with intoxicating atmospherics.”
Can – Future Days: Can was probably the best krautrock band, and this spacey, ethereal groover is simply one of the greatest chill out songs ever.
Neu! – Hallogallo: Again from my book: “Motorik. The pulsating, metronomic groove laid down by so many krautrock (or krautrock influenced) bands is said to have originated with this album, specifically with the intoxicating leadoff track, “Hallogallo,” which features some neat little synth and guitar flourishes along with its hypnotic groove. This is music that was tailor made for a long car drive, and though it’s basically background music, it’s really good background music that builds nicely and ends all too soon after 10 minutes. But by then the band, comprised of ex-Kraftwerk members Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, had arguably laid down the most influential groove since Bo Diddley established his much-copied beat.”
Faust – It’s A Bit Of A Pain: This is part beautiful pop song and part dissonant noise, with a wonderfully insane guitar solo topping it off (darn this solo should’ve been included in my 100 greatest underrated guitar solos list). It’s a crazy mix but it somehow works.
Popol Vuh – Oh Wie Nah Ist Der Weg Hinab: There’s definitely some Pink Floyd-like guitar on this initially ominous but then beautifully soaring instrumental track.
The following two songs aren’t from krautrock bands, but these bands either influenced (The Velvet Underground) or were influenced (Stereolab) by krautrock.
The Velvet Undergound – Ocean: My favorite song from their excellent 1969: The Velvet Underground Live album, I love the way this one just builds and builds, especially the second half of the song on which drummer Maureen Tucker is at her absolute best.
Stereolab – Tone Burst: Whereas the previous songs are mostly from the early ’70s, this one is from many years later, in 1993. It’s my favorite Stereolab song due to its gorgeous ringing organ riff, fabulous guitar feedback, and Laetitia Sadier’s sexily cooed vocals.
June 6, 2019
The 13th Floor Elevators & Rock Erickson
This installment will feature some songs from the late great Roky Erickson, the legendary cult figure who passed away last week (RIP).
We’ll start with a few selections from psychedelic pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators.
You’re Gonna Miss Me: Their most famous song (in large part due to its inclusion on Lenny’s Kaye’s classic psychedelic/garage rock collection Nuggets) sounds to me like a demented update of Van Morrison/Them’s “Gloria.” Fantastic wildman vocals from Roky and Tommy Hall’s manic electric jug gives this hard rocking song a unique flavor.
Splash 1 (Now I’m Home): A really good, surprisingly straightforward folk rock song. Like the prior song, this one can be found on The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (released in 1966, supposedly this is the first album with the word “psychedelic” in its title).
Slip Inside This House: The best-known (largely due to Primal Scream’s dance-y remake many years later) and best song from the best Elevators’ album, Easter Everywhere, this is an epic 8-minute psych-jam on which Hall’s electric jug is again omnipresent.
Roky had some well-documented mental issues after the Elevators (his name is often brought up when ’60s “acid casualties” are mentioned), but he still somehow managed intermittent recordings over the years, my favorite of which are the songs he recorded backed by the Aliens and produced by CCR bassist Stu Cook. The following selections are from The Evil One (1981), which can be heard in its entirety here. I’ll just include the first two songs, which are arguably his best-known solo songs, and which show off his offbeat horror-themed lyrics, great vocals, and his fine backing band.
Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer): Hard-driving garage rock with great vocals.
I Walk With A Zombie: A charmingly catchy and melodic psych-ballad.
One more, this one is more power pop, which is fitting given one of my prior entries.
Starry Eyes: Gotta love the fragile ache in his voice here. From Don’t Slander Me (1986).
May 16, 2019
Here’s a block of Fleetwood Mac. They have a long, crazy, convoluted band history, with many different lineups, but the two lineups that mattered the most were the Peter Green/Danny Kirwan era, and of course the famous Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks lineup. In between, the Kirwan/Bob Welch era is underrated as well. No youtube comments this time.
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown): Famously covered by Judas Priest. Yes, early ’70s Fleetwood Mac could be quite heavy. And the Green/Kirwan band were truly great and could really stretch out live; as shown on this version from Live in Boston.
Man Of The World: A serious contender for “saddest song ever.”
My Dream: Although Green was an acknowledged guitar master, Kirwan was also a great guitar player, as shown on this beautiful instrumental from the stellar Then Play On album.
Hypnotized: This jazzy, atmospheric tune is arguably the best song from the Kirwan/Welch era. So tasty…From Mystery To Me.
Rhiannon: The more modest hit studio version is great too in its own way, but this more rocking live version with the intense ending blows it to bits. Stevie is in fantastic form here. There are a lot of great live versions of this on youtube as well. From Fleetwood Mac Live.
I’m So Afraid: Similarly, the studio version of this song simply can’t compare. Killer guitar from Lindsey Buckingham on this highlight from their live The Dance comeback album in 1997.
Silver Springs: Also from The Dance, and also arguably the definitive version. Hard to believe that this breakup ballad was left off of Rumours (which was near-perfect without it anyway, but still…). It was cool when this version became a belated but deserved hit 20 years later.
May 9, 2019
Boz Scaggs (with Duane Allman)
Below are what I consider to be the two best tracks from Boz Scaggs’ self-titled album from 1969. “Finding Her” is gorgeously laid-back and atmospheric and features the impeccably tasty guitar playing of Duane Allman. An even better (and better known) showcase for Boz and especially Duane is the slowly smoldering 12+ minute blues epic “Loan Me A Dime.”
April 22, 2019
Here’s a few ’90s alternative/metal songs that I fondly remember, though you rarely hear any of them these days.
This is probably the best known song of this bunch. Helmet were a “next big thing” band in the early ’90s who won a bidding war from Interscope, and then proceeded to release some high quality albums. I’m pretty sure that this was their biggest hit, highlighted by killer riffs, though they were too uncompromising and heavy to ever achieve Nirvana-like status (which was the goal from Interscope’s perspective, one would presume).
Favorite youtube comment: “That drummer looks like a regular guy. If you, like, saw these guys on the street, you wouldn’t even know they were cool.” Beavis and Butthead
The riffs at the beginning of this one sounds a lot like “Unsung,” but the rest of the song is very different. It’s a simple but highly moving and sad song about a man and his love for his dog. As someone who recently suffered the loss of a beloved dog (RIP dear Tucker), this one hits me hard. (P.S. “Couldn’t Know” was another fondly remembered (again at least by me) minor radio track from the same album (1993’s Dragline).
Favorite youtube comment: Jessie is the coolest song ever about the love of a dog.
A soaring alternative/grunge epic that I used to hear on the radio but rarely if ever do anymore. Fans of Jane’s Addiction (producer Dave Jerden worked with both bands), Smashing Pumpkins, and the like should enjoy this one, which is easy to sing along with and air guitar to.
Favorite youtube comment: Wow, this band has been lost to 90’s history! Too bad, this song is awesome!!!
Maids Of Gravity: Only Dreaming
Like “Dig” this one’s not even on Spotify, but anyway I discovered this one via one of the free CDs that were included with long-defunct, fondly remembered (at least by me!) Huh magazine in the mid-’90s. This one has a bit of a dreampop/shoegazer vibe, and it’s a melodic and catchy winner, simple as that.
Favorite youtube comment (this is a reply to a prior youtube comment; see I’m not the only one!): I’d come across it same way but it was some compilation called “Huh”. Best 99 cents ever, even like 25 years later.
March 28, 2019
Today we pay tribute to some recently deceased musicians, Peter Tork from The Monkees, “The King Of The Surf Guitar” Dick Dale, and cult musician Scott Walker.
The Monkees: Shades Of Gray
Peter sings co-lead with Davy Jones on this lovely and affecting Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil written number from their 1967 Headquarters album.
Favorite youtube comment: Great poignant song. Love Peter’s vocals on the 2nd verse and the haunting echo. The Monkees were a huge part of my youth growing up in the ’60s. RIP Peter Tork, and also to Davy Jones.
Dick Dale: Miserlou
Obviously this one was given brand new life via its prominence in the movie Pulp Fiction, but Dale’s most famous song remains one of the all-time great rock instrumentals.
Favorite youtube comment: Everything about this song screams “Badass.”
The Walker Brothers: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore
Scott Walker had an interesting and wide-ranging career to say the least (David Bowie and Radiohead were big fans, for starters). This early song when he was with The Walker Brothers was actually a #1 hit in the U.K., but though according to Wikipedia it hit #13 on the U.S. charts as well, it should be much better known here. It’s “Wall Of Sound” and soulful vocals (both Scott on lead and his “brothers” on harmonies) remind me of prime Righteous Brothers, and this fantastic song should be every bit as big here as “Unchained Melody.” Simply put, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” is one of the greatest songs of all-time.
Favorite youtube comment: Another hero gone. I guess that when you love music from a certain era, it’s inevitable that some of your heroes will go. The music though – and that voice – will never die. Sleep tight Scott.
March 11, 2019
Tom Petty (with Mudcrutch and The Hearbreakers)
Mudcrutch was Tom Petty’s “other” band, though it also featured the two most prominent Heartbreakers in guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench. This 15-minute live rendition expands on the studio version (which was only 9 and a half minutes long), and it contains a beautifully dreamy melody. But what really makes it stand out is the superb jamming, where Campbell in particular channels his inner Duane Allman and/or Jerry Garcia. Mostly laid-back yet also rocking when called for, this is timeless stuff that really makes me wish we could’ve gotten more albums out of Tom Petty (RIP) and his stellar collaborators.
The Wild One, Forever
Tom Petty is best known for his many classic hit singles (most featured on his massive selling Greatest Hits album), but he had many fine deep album cuts too. My favorite non-hit of his is probably this fantastic song from the first self-titled Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album (also home to his greatest hit, “American Girl”). I just find this tune about a fleeting but memorable fling to be deeply affecting, in large part because it features one of Petty’s best, most emotional vocals ever. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Forever…
February 27, 2019
Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets are two of my all-time favorite albums. However, like most longtime Metallica fans, the Load/Reload albums weren’t my favorites, in fact I hated them at the time. I still think they’re very flawed (for reasons I’ve outlined in detail in my book), but I’ve grown to like some of the individual songs from those albums a lot. “The Outlaw Torn” and “Low Man’s Lyric” are my favorite songs from each album. The “Outlaw Torn” is a massive bluesy epic that just has such a great jam-based vibe to it; my favorite parts are the wild guitar solo and the extended outro groove that I wish would be even longer (though this version is longer than the actual version on Load, which as the last song had to be cut 1 minute to fit within the 80 minute CD time limit. A better idea would’ve been to cut some of the filler tracks, but I digress…). As for “Low Man’s Lyric” off of Reload, this is one of the most atypical songs they’ve ever done (after all a hurdy gurdy is the primary instrument!), and in my opinion this sad, beautiful song is the best non-metal track they’ve ever done, and it’s one of my favorite songs by them, period. p.s. No youtube comments this time.
February 20, 2019
King Crimson: Epitaph
My comment: This is probably my favorite epic progressive rock ballad. There’s just such an overall grandness and sadness that permeates this track, the instrumentation (mellotron, guitars, drums, etc.) is lovely and perfect, and the incredibly powerful vocal by Greg Lake is among my all-time favorites. (P.S. No youtube comments this time as most aren’t in English.)
February 9, 2019
Bruce Springsteen (and the E Street Band)
All together now: BROOOOCE!!!
This week we’re picking several Bruce Springsteen “deep tracks.” These are not songs you will hear on the radio but they are some of my all-time favorite songs. I’m going to skip my own commentary and just post my favorite youtube comments this time.
Favorite youtube comment: Some of the greatest street poetry ever. Complex composition too . But melodic, like a pocket symphony. Recorded by a young and hungry band.
Racing In The Street (’78)
Favorite youtube comment(s): I’m glad I found THIS version. It is without a doubt, hands down much more HEART FELT than the studio version.
One of the most emotionally powerful songs I have ever heard! Simply astounding!
It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City (live Hammerstein Odeon ’75)
Favorite youtube comment: One of the best rock and roll songs ever written. Sax of the 50’s, great lyrics, soulfull melody, beautiful piano, great singing, a lastly great dual hard rocking guitars, for me this doesn’t get much better. It has a little bit of everything. Just pure Rock and Roll.
Drive All Night
Favorite youtube comment: I’m 51 yrs old. Found my 20 yr old son with headphones on, crying. This was the song in his ears. He later ripped it, and sent the mp3 to his girl. Generational impact folks..
Favorite youtube comment(s): This is one of Bruce Springsteen’s finest songs [from one of his finest albums]. It has pathos, drama, poetry, and the sadness that only family ties can generate. It covers the same theme as the famous taxicab “I coulda been a contender” scene in On the Waterfront, but in a very distinctive idiom. Thank you for posting it–along with the album’s cover art.
One of the Boss’s best tracks ever. You can feel the storytellers’ emotions and you can tell that in spite of everything, he still loves his brother.
New York City Serenade
Favorite youtube comment(s): So walk tall, or baby don’t walk at all.
Side “B” of this album (Rosalita, New York Serenade, Incident on 57th St) is simply on another level.
When I started college, I started dating this guy, a couple years older than I was. We dated for a few years and broke up a little more than 5 years ago now. This is his absolute favorite song and sometimes I listen to it and wonder if maybe he’s listening to it too, a half a world away.
This album was released in 73 that would’ve made Bruce about 24. So he had to have written this song when he was like 22 or 23. How does a kid of that age write something like this? This is Shakespeare.
February 3, 2019
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives: The Passover
My comment: This song, the fitting finale to their 2009 double album Communion, is right up my alley, being a soulful, spiritual slow builder with an epic sing along chorus. In reading the lyrics they’re not especially profound, but when hearing the lyrics along with the music and the harmonized vocals they sound incredibly profound. This is passionate, life-affirming stuff, enough so that when the song ends I tend to hit repeat and listen to it all over again!
Favorite (only) youtube comment: Typical. I discover an amazing band after they break up. TSOOL rule!
January 15, 2019
The La’s: Looking Glass
My comment: The La’s’ perfect power pop gem “There She Goes” is at least semi-famous, but this epic album closer from the band’s lone (if cherished) self-titled album is also fantastic, from its gorgeously atmospheric beginnings through to its explosive drum-fueled finale.
Favorite youtube comment: Can’t believe the press still hasn’t caught up all these years. This song should be in the top of “greatest songs of all time” publications. Yeah, I know that those lists can be kind of stupid, but at least people get to know great music because of them. And this is the sort of music everyone ought to hear. It just doesn’t feel right when you get your breath taken away every time you hear this song while knowing that so few know of it. What I’ve said of this song goes the same for the band’s sole album.
January 3, 2019
Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev
First of all, a belated Happy New Year to anyone who is reading this page!
For this installment I’m picking two of my favorite alternative rock songs from the early ’90s.
Flaming Lips: There You Are
My comment: This song just has a fragile simplicity and beauty that I’ve always found extremely affecting (p.s. my apologies for the foul language).
Favorite youtube comment: This song passed me by for years, I had played this album many times but it was only years later that I woke from a dream with this song in my head, it took me a while to search my mind to identify it, what haunting power songs have!
Mercury Rev: Frittering
My comment: When Flaming Lips guitarist Jonathan Donahue formed his own band, Mercury Rev, they immediately released the wonderfully strange (and often flat-out wonderful) Yerself Is Steam. My favorite song from that album is this unutterably sad yet absolutely superb epic, whose slowly churning melody builds to an inexorable power. Quite simply, this is one of my favorite songs ever, from its distant megaphone-like vocals, church-y organ, and ear-splittingly loud yet easily discernible, wonderful melodies. (P.S. There are several youtube comments I like for this song, so again I’ll suggest reading them rather than picking one.)
December 11, 2018
The Waterboys: Too Close To Heaven
My comment: There aren’t too many artists/songs that approach the mystical, almost religious-like spiritual intensity and beauty of Van The Man (see prior entry) at his best, but this epic song has many of the same qualities that Van conjured on exceptional albums like Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece. This is just an extremely moving and lovely piece of music.
Favorite youtube comment: There are many good ones so I suggest reading through them.
December 1, 2018
Van Morrison: Madame George
My comment: With this week marking the 50 year anniversary of the release of Van Morrison’s greatest album, the sublime, mystical, moving Astral Weeks, it makes sense to make this week’s song pick that album’s most sublime, mystical, moving song, “Madame George.”
Favorite youtube comment: I’ll never be intelligent enough to describe the quality of this song.
November 18, 2018
With a career spanning box set having just been released, it seems like a good time to select some of my favorite deep tracks from the late great Chris Cornell. The first song is from Temple Of The Dog and the next three from his greatest band Soundgarden.
Times Of Trouble
Favorite youtube comment: Most underrated, underplayed rock album of 20th century. A once in a lifetime conglomeration of the best of the era that offered us this timeless monument of musical sculpture, dedicated to one lost way too soon.
My comment: Most fans know “Hunger Strike,” “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” and maybe even the guitar epic “Reach Down,” but this ballad is another gem from the excellent one-off Temple Of The Dog album.
Nothing To Say
Favorite youtube comment: Truly a song that defined the unique classification of “grunge” and a top 10 Soundgarden track IMO. RIP Chris… your pipes were one of a kind and we all will miss your talent. 😦
My comment: Other than to note that this early Soundgarden song is very Sabbath-ish, I have nothing to add (or nothing to say, har har) except just listen to those vocals…wow….
Favorite youtube comment: “Candles burnin’ yesterday/Somebody’s best friend died.” RIP Chris.
My comment: This is probably my favorite Soundgarden song. The drums are awesome, the riffs killer, and Cornell is just unbelievably powerful here.
A Thousand Days Before
Favorite youtube comment: This is an amazing video, I think they should use this for THE video.
My comment: This is a very cool homemade video for what I feel was the best song from Soundgarden’s strong comeback album King Animal. Damn his vocal at around the 3:40 mark is just incredible.
November 10, 2018
The Records: Starry Eyes
My comment: Possibly the greatest power pop song of them all (along with the previously mentioned “Shake Some Action” and a few others I’d put in the mix that I hope to get to later on). The brisk beats, the catchy vocals (which are so sugary sweet that you almost miss the bitterness in the lyrics), the impeccable guitar tone, it’s just sheer pop rock perfection.
Favorite youtube comment(s): This takes me straight back to being 17, putting my records on in my bedroom and leaping around like a marmoset. This is just awesome. I never could get disco, who could listen to that when you had soaring, glorious jangly guitar fuelled choruses like this to dance to.
October 27, 2018
Tony Joe White: Willie and Laura Mae Jones
My comment: With the passing of Tony Joe White the other day, it seems only fitting to feature a song of his. Best known for “Polk Salad Annie” (covered by Elvis Presley) and “Rainy Night In Georgia” (a big hit for Brook Benton in 1970), Tony Joe White was a born Southern storyteller whose laid-back “swamp rock” sound was uniquely his own. This nostalgic song is an excellent example of his talents (I especially like the way it builds towards the end).
Favorite youtube comment(s): A sad little short story within a song…
Love this guy’s voice and accent, makes me want to go deep down south…
Tony Joe White …. an artist who can show you what life is about …. his melodies, his lyrics, his singing, his guitar playing, his mouth harp, his voice …. this man knows what life and music is about!!!
October 20, 2018
Their classic first album August & Everything After tends to overshadow most of what they’ve done since, but the Counting Crows have continued to be a productive and in my opinion highly underrated band since then. These are two of my favorite “deep tracks” from them (the first from Recovering The Satellites, the second from Hard Candy, respectively).
Favorite youtube comment: This is another one where many of the comments are worth reading and are often quite touching. The following comment sums it up succinctly and well, so I have nothing more to add: Beautiful song, delivered with feeling
My comment: This one doesn’t have any youtube comments that are especially interesting, so I’ll just add that I love the way that this song builds, with some prominent guitar playing – the solo begins at 2:23, and if you’ve seen them live like I have several times you’ll know that the band behind group leader Adam Duritz is comprised of excellent musicians, including several guitar players – and that hair raising falsetto there towards the end (4:22).
October 13, 2018
It’s been quite a year for John Prine, who had his highest charting album (The Tree Of Forgiveness hit #5 on the U.S. charts) and just this past week received a surprising nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. So, this seem like a good time to spotlight Prine with two of his greatest songs from his most highly acclaimed album, his solo self-titled debut from 1971. These deeply moving tunes are two of the best songs about (i.e. against) war/drugs (“Sam Stone”) and loneliness/aging (“Hello In There”) ever written.
Note: To show the class of these songs, read the youtube comments (I can’t just pick one). Unlike most youtube videos where I can pick out a few good ones, with these videos there are many worth reading, and which further my appreciation for both of these masterful songs.
October 6, 2018
20/20: Tell Me Why (Can’t Understand You)
Favorite youtube comment(s): This should have been a huge hit. So much better than the Knack….Power pop perfection
My comment: I don’t have much more to add other than I’ve long loved this song, from the underrated new wave/power popsters 20/20, whose self-titled debut album from 1979 in particular is a gem, led by this song and the more famous “Yellow Pills” (another must-hear).
September 27, 2018
One of my favorite bands, The Rascals’ definitive takes on “blue-eyed soul” epitomized the best days of summer. Their Time Piece: The Rascals Greatest Hits collection is essential listening, but below are some of my favorite Rascals deep cuts that aren’t on that collection.
Baby Let’s Wait
Favorite youtube comment: This song reminds me of being so in love with my first girlfriend in junior high, the ultimate slow dance song, love the organ
My comment: Felix Cavaliere rightfully gets most of the plaudits for the band’s excellent vocals (and his Hammond organ on this is excellent as per usual), but the more boyish Eddie Brigati was a great singer as well, as shown on this outstanding track from their first album, The Young Rascals (they were originally called that until a later name change to simply The Rascals).
What Is The Reason
Favorite youtube comment: 1minute 59 seconds Dino!!!
My comment: This song from their Collections album (not a compilation as you might think based on its title) recalls Motown and Phil Spector but is also pure Rascals; it’s hard to even imagine later groups like Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes existing without songs such as this. The tambourine is a nice touch, Cornish adds a stinging guitar solo, Felix Cavaliere’s vocals are predictably soulful, and Eddie Brigati/Gene Cornish join in on a catchy chorus. Plus, Dino Dinelli is simply one of the greatest rock drummers ever, and the fadeout drum ending here is incredible.
Favorite youtube comment: N/A
My comment: Yet another classic example of old school Rascals blue-eyed soul, from their Freedom Suite album.
Temptation’s ’bout To Get Me
Favorite youtube comment: I love that the credits list 3 bass players, but not Felix Cavaliere on lead vocals and keyboards.
My comment: Yet ANOTHER classic example of old school Rascals blue-eyed soul, this time from their See album, this one is actually a cover originally done by The Knight Brothers.
September 20, 2018
David Crosby was the least commercial writer among Crosby, Stills & Nash, but at his atmospheric best he may have been the most interesting. Here are two of my favorites from him.
The Byrds: Everybody’s Been Burned
Favorite youtube comment: Over 50 years later and this song is still as deep and pure as ever. It never gets old. Amazing
My comment: Easily one of my favorite Byrds songs, before his CSN days, this beautiful track is the very definition of “haunting.” The song is simple yet so effective (and affecting), with Crosby’s gorgeous lead vocals and Roger McGuinn’s luminous, intoxicating guitar leading the way.
David Crosby: Laughing
Favorite youtube comment: This album is one of the Gems in my collection ! I have spent many a Sunday morning bathed in it’s beauty.
My comment: David Crosby’s first and best solo album, 1971’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, is definitely what I’d call a “mood album.” Featuring Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, this tuneful ballad embodies the ethereal, dream-like ambiance of the album and is one of its signature songs.
September 13, 2018
Barbara Lewis: Hello Stranger
Favorite youtube comment: I miss living in a time where a song like this could be a hit…
My comment: Pretty keyboards, doo-wop backing by the Dells, and Lewis’ lovely, lilting lead vocal leading into a low-key yet hooky chorus (“ooh, it seems like a mighty long time”); why don’t they make songs such as this slyly seductive stunner any more?
September 7, 2018
Indigo Girls: Romeo and Juliet
Favorite youtube comment: When we made love, you used to cry…..
My comment: Mark Knopfler wrote a great song, and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls took it to another level entirely with the intensity of her vocals in this great studio rendition. Some people may find her performance to be a bit over the top, but that’s what I like about it, the sheer unfettered emotion she exudes, which is almost Janis Joplin-like in its intensity.
August 31, 2018
Favorite youtube comment: A song for those moments when you find yourself at 3 a.m. with a whiskey in your hand wondering where it all went wrong.
My comment: The youtube comment says it well, but I’ll just add that this song has one of my favorite intros ever. I could listen to that Hammond organ intro on a loop all day long.
August 23, 2018
For this week’s edition, we’ll post 3 great songs from underrated the cult heroes Flamin’ Groovies.
My comment: There are a few links for this song on youtube, but either I had a problem with the video or it didn’t have any youtube comments that were that interesting, so for this one I’m just going to say that the album Teenage Head is one of the best “Stones-y” albums out there, and this intense finale is my favorite song on it. In particular I really like the way the song builds/grooves on the back end. (P.S. Always loved the no-nonsense album cover too.)
Shake Some Action
Favorite youtube comment: What a brilliant track. It’s a perfect rock and roll song that couldn’t be improved in any way.
My comment: This is indeed power pop perfection. Everything is great, the memorable lyrics, the jangly guitars and overall melody, the catchy chorus; this song just embodies great rock music and makes me feel good and sounds fresh every time I listen to it.
You Tore Me Down
Favorite youtube comment: Really makes me wonder how bands like this slip through the cracks; or rather the grooves as it were.
My comment: Another song from the Shake Some Action album. This later version of the band was much different than the earlier Roy Looney led version of the band. Now led by Cyril Jordan and singer Chris Wilson, this version is likewise not the most original band around (which doesn’t mean that they weren’t very good), except the template is now the early Beatles rather than the Stones. This gorgeous, melancholic tune sounds like something the Fab Four might’ve done in 1964. (P.S. This cover version by Yo La Tengo is also great.)
August 17, 2018
Jerry Butler & The Impressions: For Your Previous Love
Favorite youtube comment: This is beyond a doubt one of the most touching, heart wrenching, intimate, absolutely beautiful songs ever recorded. If you do not feel anything when you hear this, then you are dead.
My comment: Roger Daltrey once sang “it’s the singer not the song,” and Jerry Butler & The Impressions prove it on this classic love ballad. The song is simple, with a lone guitar, some piano, a slow steady beat, loads of echo, and a few well-chosen words, but what elevates the song into the soul pantheon is Butler’s towering lead vocal. His deep, sonorous baritone is simply spectacular, and the Impressions’ haunting backing harmonies hit the spot as well.