Friday the 13th doesn’t have to be scary with the Friday Five over at IckMusic.
Dream Theater - “Ytse Jam” (When Dream And Day Unite, 1989)
Excellent instrumental from Dream Theater version 1. The title is “Majesty” spelled backwards and alludes to the band’s name in its previous incarnation. The album as a whole has not aged well in places, but in others, it remains an excellent showcase of the band’s songwriting and playing prowess.
Alice in Chains - “Nutshell” (Unplugged, 1996)
This album which was recorded as part of MTV’s Unplugged series is probably my favorite from this “grunge” band, with “Nutshell” being one of the best performances from the set. Known more for his chunky guitar riffs than for his acoustic work, Jerry Cantrell shows just how well-rounded he is, providing his usual excellent harmony vocals behind Layne Staley’s unique—though sometimes annoying—voice. I think the songs benefit from the laid-back acoustic arrangements here, and given that AIC had not performed together as a band for nearly three years, they are amazingly tight. Unfortunately this would become one of Staley’s last shows prior to sliding into deep depression and his eventual overdose in 2002, giving many of the songs a weight and somberness in hindsight that they may not have carried at the time.
Caedmon’s Call - “Thousand Miles” (Back Home, 2003)
I’m not sure why iTunes keeps picking Caedmon’s Call, and this album specifically, from my library for Friday Fives, but in the case of this song, I don’t mind one bit.
Iron Maiden - “Moonchild” (Flight 666: The Original Soundtrack, 2009)
Another live cut from Flight 666, this time an often forgotten Maiden gem that popped up in my Friday Five for August 26, 2011. “Moonchild” is from a Puerto Rican show on the tour, and the crowd there is as wild as the South American audiences. And frontman Bruce Dickinson hams it up as usual. Maiden is such a tight unit, and you would be hard-pressed to find a better live metal band.
Mae - “Release Me” (Singularity, 2007)
I am pretty open about my love of this band on my blog, which may seem odd to many given my metalhead and snobbish musical tendencies, but I just can’t help it. I love just about everything Dave Elkins and company have ever put out, and this song and the album it comes from are no exception.