Alien Ant Farm - "Death Day" (ANThology, 2001)
I’m pretty sure I acquired this album under dubious circumstances, and more than likely it was for the frantic, spastic cover of Michael Jackson’s "Smooth Criminal," because I can’t imagine a situation under which I would actually buy something like this. Surprisingly, I like quite a bit of the album. The musicianship is good, and most of the songs have a great groove. Unfortunately this is neither good, nor does it have a groove. Granted, I like the laid-back verse sections, but the chorus and the stupid lyrics absolutely kill it for me. Oh, and pun-ny or not, you don’t name an album Anthology unless it’s a greatest hits compilation. Sorry, but those are the rules.
Eureka Machines - "Wichita Lineman (Acoustic)" (Live Acoustic Sessions, 2013)
Not the greatest vocal performance for frontman Chris Catalyst but a great cover nonetheless of “the best song in the world” (as the liner notes put it) written by Jimmy Webb and first recorded and popularized by Glen Campbell. “I need you more than want you” is indeed a brilliant lyric. The Live Acoustic Session album has mysteriously disappeared from iTunes, but I have linked a video of Catalyst hamming it up at a solo, non-acoustic show before breaking into this song. And if you are not yet familiar with Eureka Machines (despite my singing their praises and begging and pleading you to give ‘em a listen), here’s a free download at their Bandcamp site. No excuses.
KISS - "Mr. Blackwell" (Music from “The Elder”, 1981)
Typical “guess the rhyme” tripe from Mr. Simmons and the much-maligned Elder project. The only thing salvageable here is this guitar solo, even though it doesn’t sound like it was played by Ace.
Spock’s Beard - "Freak Boy" (Snow, 2002)
Sort of a transition/linking song that helps flesh out the storyline on this double-disc concept album and Neal Morse’s last with the Beard. It’s a great album if you have the patience for it.
Ginger - "Mother City" (Valor del Corazón, 2006)
Ginger’s (he had not yet assumed the Wildheart surname) melodic ode to his adopted home city NYC from his first proper solo album (the Singles Club project that eventually led to the A Break in the Weather compilation doesn’t really count, does it!?). Stylistically, this double-album is all over the place (heck, there are like 6 genre shifts in “Drinking in the Daytime” alone), but in a good way as it saturated with pop-y, accessible melodies. If you are a fan of any of Ginger’s work, you’ll definitely find something to like in this.
King’s X - "Prisoner" (1992)
Live bootleg performance of one of my favorite King’s X tunes (from their often maligned, self-titled fourth album) featuring Dane Sonnier from Galactic Cowboys on acoustic guitar. Given drummer Jerry Gaskill’s second heart attack scare a couple of weeks ago, my having never seen King’s X live may go down as one of my great regrets in life.
Spock’s Beard - "Lay It Down" (Day for Night, 1999) Huge fan of this entire album. Neal Morse has a certain way of tugging at my heartstrings with his writing. This way-too-short “ballad” is part four (or IV) of a seven-part suite that closes out the album. Hey, what to you expect from one of the bands that sparked a mid-90s resurgence in prog rock?!
KISS - "Take Me" (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)
Great tune from one of my favorite early KISS albums that for some reason doesn’t really seem like a KISS album to me. I almost wish Eddie Kramer had produced the entire KISS catalog, as he seems to have had a hand in most of my favorite work from them.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "In My Ear" (Load and Clear)
“I never meant half the things I said to you. So you know there’s a half that might be true.” Just kidding. I mean everything I say here. Or do I?!
The Four Tops - "The Fool on the Hill" (La Musique de Paris Dernière, Volume 2, 2002)
I’m assuming this is the same version as the one that originally appeared in 1969 on The Four Tops Now!. A definite “Motown-y” take on a soon-to-be Beatles classic (it was only a couple years old at the time), but it almost has too much of a Motown Christmas feel to it for my liking.
The Cult - "Outlaw" (Electric, 1987)
Great example what has become classic Cult: a slinky guitar riff underneath a punchy start-top rhythm whilst Astbury inscrutably ad-libs over the top of the whole thing.
Transatlantic - "A Salty Dog" (The Whirlwind, 2009)
I love this “supergroup,” but I really had a hard time getting into this album. Despite that, this is a very good, almost note-for-note cover of the Procol Harum song from the limited edition bonus disc that also features covers of Genesis and Santana, as well as a Beatles/America mashup.
Cheap Trick - "Need Your Love" (Dream Police, 1979)
Being of a certain age, Dream Police was my introduction to Cheap Trick right after Budokan. Having already accepted the strangeness of KISS, the weird white police uniforms and quirkiness of Rick Nielsen did little to deter me from loving this album. This song didn’t hurt either.
Glen Phillips - "Better Off Here" (Glen Phillips (with Nickel Creek) Live at Joe’s Pub 8/18/2002)
I find very little to criticize or complain about when it comes to Glen Phillips, especially live Glen Phillips, where I think he truly shines. Funny that I’ve never actually seen him live, though.
Jonathan Coulton - "My Beige Bear" (The Aftermath, 2007)
Widely regarded as one of the first internet superstars and global ambassador of geek culture in the music world, Coulton is a wildly talented multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter. And though his lyrics often border on the nerdy side of things, the man can write a darn good pop song, as evidenced here. And I think I hear a ultra-distorted bass line in the background, so that gets extra points as far as I’m concerned.
Devo - "Cameo" (Something for Everyone (Deluxe Version), 2010)
Umm, OK. This is a quirky as it gets, folks.
Missing Persons - "Words" (Spring Session M, 1982)
“Do you hear me? Do you care?” 3 words for you: clear plastic bra. Amiright?! Gimmicks (and quirkiness) aside, Missing Persons actually had some decent songs.
Looks like today is Quirky Friday for me. Hope you have a quirky one, too!
The Beatles - “When I’m Sixy-Four” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
Queensrÿche - "You" (Hear in the Now Frontier, 1997)
I quite like the groove on this one. You know, this album really isn’t as bad as everyone made out back in the day. Sure, it’s Gen X, Alternative Queensrÿche Lite, but what the heck were they supposed to do at the time?! Most of the dinosaur acts that tried to continue in their post-grunge, pop-metal/prog-metal genre are gone these days anyway. Well, I guess you could argue that Queensrÿche is gone too.
At The Drive-In - "198d" (This Station Is Non-Operational, 1999)
One of my favorite ATDI tracks. Delicate yet screamy, it has just the right mix of what I liked about this band.
Queensrÿche - "Sacred Ground" (Q2K, 1999)
In contrast to the previous ‘Rÿche tune, here’s one from an album I remember liking (and playing) quite a bit when it came out, but it hasn’t aged as well. Not that it’s that bad. It’s just that there’s not much here to grab you. I think the big difference is DeGarmo. This was the beginning of the long, slow, painful march to the end.
Whitesnake - "Young Blood" (Saints and Sinners, 1982)
I’m not too familiar with this one, but it seems a little weak to use as the album opener. Supported by several quotes from then guitarist Mickey Moody, this is the sound of a band that was tired, broke, frustrated, out of ideas, and ready to throw in the towel.
Jars of Clay - "The Chair" (The Long Kiss Goodnight: Music from the Motion Picture, 1996)
Decent soundtrack tune from one of my favorite CCM artists. For what it’s worth, I never saw the movie.
Eureka Machines - "The Story of My Life" (Do or Die, 2008)
Eureka Machines is one of my favorite musical discoveries of the last 5 years. Do or Die is a great album; frontman Chris Catalyst is a song-writing machine who has enjoyed stints with The Sisters of Mercy, Mariachi El Bronx, AntiProduct, and Ginger Wildheart; and EM have built a rabid following via their DIY ethic and grassroots efforts while remaining virtually unknown by the public at large. If you haven’t checked these guys out, you need to do so.
Iron Maiden - "Remember Tomorrow" (Iron Maiden, 1980)
Maiden had some great tunes on those first two albums, but then Bruce came along blew it all away for me to the point that I forget he’s not their original singer. It’s nice to revisit the Di’Anno years from time to time.
KISS - "Christine Sixteen" (Love Gun, 1977)
The older I get (coupled with the fact that I have a daughter), the creepier this song gets.
Keaggy, King, Denté - "Isle of Skye" (Invention, 1997)
Cool, mostly-acoustic instrumental from three of the best guitarists in the CCM music scene, at least at the time of its release.
King’s X - "Visions" (Live Love in London, 2010)
I’ve never been a fan of this song until it breaks into the “jammy” section toward the end (as I said back in my June 13 Five). This live performance doesn’t change my mind in the least. The album, however, is one to check out for anyone with the slightest interest in King’s X.
Phil Keaggy - "Morning Snow" (Acoustic Sketches, 1996)
This “cleaning out the closet” album by CCM guitarist extraordinaire Phil Keaggy has appeared in three of my Fives—two (here and here) at Popdose and one (here) back in the IckMusic days—so I won’t belabor the point. Suffice it to say, if you are a guitar fan and you haven’t yet checked out Phil Keaggy, what are you waiting for?!
Anthrax - "Madhouse" (The Greater of Two Evils, 2004)
Interesting “live in the studio” take on a classic-era Anthrax tune featuring then-vocalist John Bush and then-guitarist Rob Caggiano. I get what Anthrax was trying to do with this album (at least I think I do), but in my opinion, despite my love for John Bush, few of the tracks are actually improved by this reimagining.
KISS - "Deuce" (KISS Demos)
Early demo on one of my favorite KISS songs (and one of my favorite Ace solos) from a collection of KISS-related demos that I acquired from a snobby music friend of mine.
John Davis - “Paranoid” (Arigato!, 2007)
Superdrag frontman John Davis’ solo album Arigato! has popped up in three of my former Fives (I’ll save you the linkage this time), so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I really like this one. You’ll have to take my word, though, as I can’t find a streaming version of this anywhere.
Telekinesis - "You Turn Clear in the Sun" (12 Desperate Straight Lines, 2011)
Given my affinity for a good pop song, you’d think that I would have given Telekinesis a much fairer shake than I have. You’d be wrong. And after listening to this, I’m thinking I need to give this one-man-band another shot.
The Beatles - “Something (Take 37)” (The Alternate Abbey Road, 1969)
I really dig these sneak peeks at the Beatles’ recording process, warts, warbles, and all. Seems to pull them down a bit from that pedestal I’ve put them up on.
Dokken - "Into the Fire" (Tooth and Nail, 1984)
Despite the constant reminders back in the day that “Dokken rhymes with rockin’,” this doesn’t rock nearly as much as I remember. Although it’s a good song, and even though George Lynch was at one point one of my guitar gods (and lays down a very impressive solo here), this really seems sterile and safe all these years later.
Jars of Clay - "Overjoyed" (Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage, 2003)
Laid-back, lounge-inspired interpretation of an already laid-back tune from the CCM band’s sophomore album. The first disc of this greatest hits/retrospective includes similar studio reimaginings of songs from their first four albums. I love this kind of stuff.
Superchunk - "Digging for Something" (Majesty Shredding, 2010)
Super-catchy tune from this super-talented indie band’s super-awesome “comeback” album. I’m super-embarrassed that I had not really paid attention to Superchunk until a super-snobby friend turned me onto them with this album.
The Cure - "A Short Term Effect" (Pornography, 1982)
I acquired the (at the time) complete works of The Cure from a friend back before Napster hit the scene and filesharing became the norm, but I can’t say that I’ve actively listened to much of it. Outside of Disintegration and Wish (and some of Bloodflowers), I’m mostly a fan of the band’s “hits,” though I can say there’s not much else like listening to Robert Smith wail and whine about one thing or another while banging away at website code in a dark room.
Iron Maiden - "The Duellists" (Powerslave, 1984)
By the time Powerslave was released, Iron Maiden could do no wrong in my eyes (well, maybe except for Back in the Village; I’ve never been a fan). Even the 13-minute epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” drew no ire from me. I love the “gallop” on this one (as the band calls it) and the staccato harmony intro to the extended (and excellent!) guitar solo section.
Van Halen - "Hang ‘em High" (Diver Down, 1982)
I was a little too young when it came out to fully appreciate Diver Down. I just remember the accusations from some of my older friends of selling out and going soft over “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Dancing in the Streets.” Yet those same guys absolutely loved the “Happy Trails” gimmick at the end of the album. Go figure. This track is classic VH.
The Cure - "Torture" (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987)
More Cure that I’m not familiar with despite its having been in my music library for nearly 15 years at this point.
Black Country Communion - “Black Country”/"One Last Soul" (2010)
Live performance of the two opening tracks from this supergroup’s debut. “One Last Soul” is the better track of the two, but damn if Glen Hughes doesn’t have a set of pipes on him. And Bonamassa has to be one of the best guitar players ever that looks like a normal dude you’d bump into on the street.
Still slammed at work, but I always have time to squeeze in a Five. Squeeze out a Five?! Whatever.
Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love" (BBC Sessions, 1997)
I don’t like the original much on a good day, so this is a skipper.
Led Zeppelin - "Celebration Day" (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
Geez, what’s up, iTunes?! At least I like this Zeppelin tune.
Caedmon’s Call - "The High Countries" (Back Home, 2003)
OK, iTunes is definitely in a weird mood this morning. This is almost a little too chill for today, but I’ll let it play out.
Joe Satriani - "Summer Song" (Time Machine, 1993)
I love the original album version of this song. This live version? Not so much. I love Satch, but I really don’t see the point of seeing him live unless it’s something like G3 or a clinic.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - “Whatever I Fear” (KBCO Studio C, Volume 9, 1992)
Ahh…I love this stripped down, live in-studio version of one of my favorite Toad tunes. And bongos!
Here’s a quick Five from 12:30 this morning as I was wrapping up some work on a project that I am desperately behind on, hence the almost non-existent commentary from me. Enjoy the weekend. I know I won’t be unless I get a lot more done today than I have up to this point.
Black ‘N Blue - "Chains Around Heaven" (Black ‘N Blue, 1984)
Ah, this takes me back to my hair metal teenage days.
Andrew Osenga - "Wanted" (Letters to the Editor, Vol. 1, 2007)
Opening track of a really cool recording project by CCM artist Andrew Osenga that I wrote much more about in this Five.
De La Soul - “I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)” (3 Feet High and Rising, 1989)
Ugh. Does this have to count?! I grabbed this album a couple of months ago when De La Soul offered up its Warner Bros back catalog for 24 hours. I remember liking this album back in the day way more than I do now. Memory is a funny thing.
Queensrÿche - "Neue Regel" (Live at L’Amour East, Queens, New York City, 2/13/1987)
Very rough (and often off-key) live vocal performance of a track from one of my favorite Queensrÿche albums.
Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Hey Joe" (Are You Experienced?, 1967)
I much prefer it when Hendrix actually focuses on the song rather than using it as a vehicle to indulge in his guitar wankery. And I like this cover tune more than most of his original material. I know, sacrilege.
Metallica - "Of Wolf and Man" (Metallica, 1991)
I like the main riff and the galloping rhythm of this “Black Album” tune.
Led Zeppelin - "Down by the Seaside" (Physical Graffiti, 1975)
I don’t usually listen to this one all the way through for some reason, but today I’m glad I did. I like the “so far away, so far away” transition the song makes in the middle. Now I’m wishing I were down by the seaside instead of stuck here indoors in a corporate cubicle. A nice finish to a rather odd Five.
Where would you rather be?
Anywhere. Anywhere but here.
Amen (not here as in the Friday Five, but here as in work). And one of the stranger tracks on this (at the time) uncharacteristically different Rush album.
Ramones - "Too Tough to Die" (Too Tough to Die, 1984)
Can’t say I’m a big fan of this Dee Dee track.
U2 - "Lemon" (Zooropa, 1993)
I honestly thought the U2 guys had lost their minds when they released this album. I hated their new musical direction, I hated this song, and I hated the album, and therefore, I dismissed everything they did until All That You Can’t Leave Behind brought them back onto my radar. I’ve come to appreciate both Zooropa and Pop, and I think “Lemon,” with its electronic feel and Bono’s “Fat Lady” falsetto vocals, has actually stood the test of time better than some of their older “classic” material.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Walk on the Ocean" (Radio 104.5 Studio Session, 2008)
We end as we started, with one of my favorite bands, songwriters, and vocalists. I love this live performance with its lap steel slide guitar solo, but I’m not sure what I think about the song in general. One one hand, I’m grateful that FM radio and MTV played the absolute living hell out of it, because it (and a couple other Fear tracks) brought Toad the Wet Sprocket to my attention. On the other hand, I hate it, because FM radio and MTV played the absolute living hell out of it.