Ace Frehley - "Too Many Faces" (Anomoly (Bonus Track Version), 2009)
Decent-ish track from Ace’s “comeback” album that turned out to be much better than I expected. I still think it’s better than most of what KISS has put out in years.
Queens of the Stone Age - "A Song for the Dead" (Songs for the Deaf, 2002) Songs for the Deaf was my introduction to QOTSA, and despite their hits since then (and quite a few misses) and how weird I thought the album was at the time of its release, I don’t think they will ever top it as a whole.. I love the groove on this one, and Dave Grohl’s drumming is impeccable. If you haven’t heard the isolated drum track, you’re in for a treat. Sometimes I think there’s no way Dave Grohl is human.
Chris Cornell - "Follow My Way" (Euphoria Morning, 1999)
I love Cornell’s voice, but I usually skip this one. Just too samey and repetitive and goes nowhere until the last minute of the outro. I actually dig that part.
Hüsker Dü - "Sorry Somehow" (Candy Apple Grey, 1986)
Written and sung by Grant Hart, “Sorry Somehow” was the first single from the Dü’s major label debut. It’s not bad, but I much prefer the second single “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely,” also by Hart.
Bad Brains - "Leaving Babylon" (Bad Brains, 1996)
This is definitely not what I expect to hear when I think of Bad Brains, despite the fact that the song has been covered by quite a few artists. Where are the fuzzy guitars and the breakneck pace? That’s the Bad Brains I’m more familiar with.
Queensrÿche - "Queen of the Reich" (Queensrÿche, 1983)
My introduction to Queensrÿche was this track battling against the static of the nearest AOR FM radio station in rural Mississippi via a syndicated hard rock program called Metal Shop. Heavily influenced by the NWOBHM movement, the band’s debut EP and followup full-length album The Warning are still two of my favorites from the ‘Rÿche.
Yes - "Miracle of Life" (Union, 1991)
Despite poor sales and lukewarm critical reception (c’mon Rolling Stone, 2 stars?!), Yes’ Union was in heavy rotation in my CD player back in the day. I love the amalgamation of the 90125-era lineup with classic Yes members Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe (and a whole host of session players). Nearly every track is solid, including this one, and Anderson’s voice is in fine form throughout. My favorite part is the 2-minute intro with its cyclical melody and odd time signature. No, this isn’t Fragile, but give me a break—the early 90s was a strange time for most classic rock dinosaur acts like Yes.
Mae - "Goodbye, Goodnight" (Destination: Beautiful, 2003)
It’s hard to put into words why I like Mae’s music so much. While not my favorite, this song is a good start. As much as I enjoy Dave Elkins’ new project Schematic, I wish Mae were still around.
The Hold Steady - "Barely Breathing" (Heaven Is Whenever, 2010) Heaven Is Whenever is the first (and only) album I’ve heard from The Hold Steady. I was skeptical at first when a rock ‘n’ roll snob friend of mine introduced me, but I was surprised at how much I liked it. There are a couple of clunkers, and this particular song is not one I play often, but the remainder of the album is solid.
Quite an eclectic mix today. Hope you have a good Friday!
Better late than never, I guess. I had car troubles this morning, and I found out it’s going to take about $3K to fix it (anyone need some web development work done?!), so iTunes better not screw with me today. Please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck.
Neal Morse - "Oh Angie" (It’s Not Too Late, 2001)
Now that’s more like it, although a pop tune about a failed, destructive relationship has no right to sound so happy and upbeat.
Iron Maiden - "Iron Maiden" (Iron Maiden, 1980)
Great classic Maiden here. Unfortunately I can’t listen to the original these days without thinking about the Trivium cover from the extended version of Shogun. Yeah, that’s right, the one with the Cookie Monster vocals and the over-enunciation of “i-ron.”
Glen Phillips - “It Takes Time” (Live at Joe’s Pub, New York City, NY, 8/18/2002)
Excellent live acoustic version, but I think I like the original Abulum cut better. There’s just so much texture there that you can’t replicate live, even if the crazy-talented Nickel Creek kids are backing you up.
Nirvana - "Something in the Way" (Nevermind, 1991)
I was trying to come up with something interesting to say about this one, but oh well. Whatever. Nevermind. This downer tune seems like a fitting way to end today’s Five.
Short and sweet this week since I have meetings stacked up all day today.
Jill Phillips - “By a Thread” (Nobody’s Got It All Together, 2006)
There aren’t many Christians—much less CCM artists—who will admit that we don’t have it all together, we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t have the corner on the market of God’s grace. Jill Phillips is one of those brutally honest artists who is not afraid to admit that there are indeed times when “I can’t get it down to my heart from my head” and that “I’m hanging by a thread.”
Soundgarden - "My Wave" (Superunknown, 1994)
Don’t come over here and piss on my gate. Do what you want. Just don’t involve me.
Rush - "Out of the Cradle" (Vapor Trails, 2002)
OK, so I’m one of those oddball Rush fans that liked Vapor Trails and didn’t think the production/mastering was obnoxiously loud and distorted. But then again, I haven’t heard the recently released Vapor Trails Remixed.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - "Don’t Do Me Like That" (Greatest Hits, 1993)
Baby, don’t do him like that. I’ve always liked this tune.
The Knack - "Good Girls Don’t" (Get the Knack, 1979)
…but I do. Doug Fieger and Berton Averre sure could write some pretty pop songs with dirty lyrics couldn’t they?!
The Beatles - “For No One (Take 14, Recorded May 19, 1966)” (The Alternate Revolver, 1966) The Alternate Revolver is an interesting peek into the studio during the making of one of my favorite Beatles albums. It features alternate versions and mixes, sketches and demos, and alternate takes (complete with mess-ups) of songs that I am so familiar with that I’m usually taken aback for a minute when when one pops up on shuffle.
John Davis - "Chant Down Babylon" (Arigato!, 2007) Arigato! is the excellent second solo release from the Superdrag singer/songwriter/guitarist and founding member John Davis, and opening track “Chant Down Babylon” helps to prove there’s no sophomore slump here. And no, despite the song’s title, this isn’t a Rastafarian reggae number. Instead, it’s very stylistically similar to Davis’ former (and current) band, so if you like Superdrag, you’ll probably like this, too. Be forewarned though, this disc is loaded with Davis’ commentary on Christendom and spiritual themes, but not in the same manner as cheesy CCM radio fodder. You might find that you actually like the honesty found here.
Placebo - "Running Up That Hill" (Meds, 2007)
I love Placebo’s downbeat version of Kate Bush’s most successful song. A deal with God?! I think my iTunes has a sense of humor sometimes.
Ozzy Osbourne - "Tonight" (Diary of a Madman, 1981)
I had somehow forgotten about this very un-Ozzy-like song. After listening again, apart from Randy’s playing, I can see why.
Trivium - "Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven" (Shogun, 2008)
Hang on, boys and girls, we’re off to a thrashy, growly start. This might get interesting. For some reason Shogun is the only Trivium album I’ve been able to really get into, and I love nearly every song on it. “Like Callisto” has an almost epic feel, and despite the Cookie Monster vocals, it has a lot going for it—harmony vocals, harmony leads, and yes, even a groove.
Hüsker Dü - "I’m Not Interested" (Live at Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1981)
Are you awake yet?! Maybe a small shot of noisy live Hüsker Dü will help help.
Apocalyptica - "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, 1996)
I think I like the mood iTunes is in this morning. One of my favorite Metallica songs performed on cello. I can’t help but think Cliff Burton would have approved.
The Wildhearts - "Nita Nitro" (P.H.U.Q., 1995)
I only recently discovered P.H.U.Q. despite its containing one of my favorite Wildhearts songs, “Caprice.” “Nita Nitro” is another winner on this disc, and I just love how Ginger is able to combine crunchy guitars and catchy (almost poppy) melody hooks with utterly bizarre lyrics. That sweet Nita Nitro is locos tambien.
Gin Blossoms - "As Long As It Matters" (Congratulations I’m Sorry, 1996)
I hate to say a Gin Blossoms song is a let down, but after the previous tunes in this Five, this one is a bit of a downer. Any other day I would have welcomed this one.
Superchunk - "Trees of Barcelona" (I Hate Music, 2013)
So far 2013 has been a pretty good year for music as far as I’m concerned, albeit a weird one. Most of my 2013 release purchases have been fan-funded projects through PledgeMusic, Kickstarter, and Indigogo—Eureka Machines, Ginger’s Hey! Hello! project, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Dave Elkins of Mae with his Schematic release. But albums released through traditional means have been good, too—Black Sabbath, Dave Grohl’s Sound City project, QOTSA. But Superchunk’s latest is among the best front-to-back and has been one of my favorites of the year. This track is one of the 11 reasons why.
Foo Fighters - "Hey, Johnny Park!" (The Colour and the Shape, 1997)
And speaking of Dave Grohl, The Colour and the Shape contains some of my favorite Foos material. While this one isn’t one of those tracks, it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Nothing Is Alone" (Pale, 1990)
Again, not a favorite of mine, which is odd, because I tend to really like the songs Todd Nichols sings on the albums. But again, not a bad song by any means, and it ends up being a relatively upbeat end to an album that mostly feels dark and foreboding.
Arcade Fire - "Empty Room" (The Suburbs, 2010)
I don’t know why I just haven’t been able to get into this band. This song in particular tends to suffer from too much sameness from start to finish.
Coheed and Cambria - "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)" (Live at Starland Ballroom, 2005)
I love the energy of this track and how the audience gets into it with the singalong sections. I love how completely weird Claudio is. I love the melodies he comes up with and how complicated some of his songs are. But you know what I love most about Coheed?! I love that Claudio plays a Gibson Explorer. There aren’t enough guitarists these days rocking that guitar.
Trivium - "Insurrection" (Shogun, 2008)
Well that’s one heck of a way to start a Five! If I wasn’t awake before, I surely am now.
Lenny Kravitz - "Deuce" (Kiss My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved, 2009)
Lenny puts the groove in regrooved on his rendition of one of my favorite KISS tunes.
The Gap Band - "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" (Gap Band IV, 1982)
From one groove to another. This is shaping up to be an even stranger Five than last week.
Whitesnake - "Spit It Out" (Slide It In (UK Release), 1984)
Now iTunes is reading my mind. Just this morning I was going over the opening bars of the solo of “Here I Go Again” (the ‘87 hair metal version) in my head as I was listening to podcasts on my commute into the office (don’t ask, I’m weird like that). Anyway, I was thinking just how great Vandenberg’s simple, melodic solo was and how I wish I could come up with something like that. This, however, is just simple, generic Whitesnake—nothing too bad, but nothing too special—from what I think is a very uneven album. Slide It In definitely has its upside with some very strong material, but the downs are just too low and mediocre for me to care much about.
R.E.M. - "Pale Blue Eyes" (Dead Letter Office, 1987)
Maybe I just haven’t given this Velvet Underground cover much of a chance, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.
Alice in Chains - "Head Creeps" (Alice in Chains, 1995)
Heavy, doomy start to a gloomy, rainy-day Five. I’m beginning to realize there’s so much of Alice in Chains’ catalog that I am completely unfamiliar with even though I own all their albums.
Ginger Wildheart - "Loveshit" (Potatoes and You, 2011)
Live acoustic performance of a track from the Wildhearts’ excellent debut album. The show was recorded in Wales on a stop on Ginger’s 2005 acoustic tour. Great version of a great song. You can find out more and even purchase the “album” at Ginger’s Bandcamp store.
Sufjan Stevens - "Jason" (A Sun Came, 1999)
Where the heck did I pick this up?! I don’t think I’ve heard this more than once or twice. Weird, warbly tune that I probably wouldn’t listen to again, at least not on purpose. I like most of Sufjan’s music, but there’s just nothing that special about this one.
Armored Saint - "Aftermath" (Delerious Nomad, 1985)
I LOVE John Bush’s voice, especially in the context of Armored Saint. I don’t remember this sophomore effort doing especially well commercially, and while I tend to enjoy the Saint, and even this track, there’s just not enough here to make it a go-to album for me.
The Cult - "A Flower in the Desert" (Dreamtime, 1984)
An airy, psychedelic cut—but then again, what early Cult song isn’t?!—from the Cult’s debut, the opening of which almost reminds me of the Cure. And thus ends one of my weirdest Fives on record since I started participating. Have a weird weekend folks!
Spock’s Beard - "Beware of Darkness" (Beware of Darkness, 1996)
This title track of the Beard’s second album popped up on a Five just over a year ago. My opinion hasn’t changed much since then. While not my favorite track on the album—that honor would be a toss-up between “The Doorway” and “Walking on the Wind”—I love just about anything from the ambassadors of the early 90s prog revival.
Frente! - "Bizarre Love Triangle" (Marvin the Album, 1994)
I much prefer this Frente! cover version to the original, and at this point I’ve heard it so many times that I tend to forget that it’s not their song. And anyway, Angie Hart is way cuter than any of the New Order guys.
America - "A Horse With No Name" (History: America’s Greatest Hits, 1975)
As much as I really liked this song at one point, it would be fine with me if I never heard it again.
Teenage Fanclub - "What You Do To Me" (Bandwagonesque, 1991)
I was a relative latecomer to Teenage Fanclub, but I quite enjoy their brand of simple, fuzzy alterno-power-pop on Bandwagonesque.
PFR - "Wait for the Sun" (The Late Great PFR, 1998)
CCM-ers PFR have popped up here several times in my Fives lately for some reason. This one is a slow starter with a bit of a half-time feel, but it kicks into gear at about the 2:00 mark with full-on 4/4 and eventually segues into a version of “Let The Sunshine In” complete with Hammond(-ish) organs and and a horn section before the ride is over. Nice.
Rush - "Lakeside Park" (Caress of Steel, 1975)
I don’t listen to Caress of Steel often enough.
Dio - "One Night in the City" (The Last in Line, 1984)
Huh. I obviously don’t know The Last in Line as well as I thought I did, because I totally don’t recall this song. On listening this time, I can understand why I would dismiss it. There’s nary a dragon or sorceress in sight, nor is there any mention of fire, magic, or witchcraft, although the staccato interplay between Vivian Campbell’s guitar and Claude Schnell’s keyboard is nice.
At the Drive-In - "Fahrenheit" (This Station Is Non-Operational, 1997)
Speaking of lyrics, have you ever tried to understand anything Cedric Bixler-Zavala has ever written?! If you’re up for a good laugh, head over to SongMeanings.com and read the non-ironical interpretations of some the nonsensical stuff Cedric comes up with. Back to the music, this is 2-and-a-half minutes of everything I loved about At the Drive-In. For more fun, check out this 1999 performance of “Fahrenheit.”
Led Zeppelin - “Stairway to Heaven” (Led Zeppelin IV, 1971)
I knew this moment would come at some point in my Friday Five listening. Classic rock radio has so overplayed “Stairway to Heaven” that often I can just barely stand to listen to it, despite its having what I consider one of the greatest guitar solos ever.
The Wildhearts - "Pissjoy" (Endless, Nameless, 1997) Endless, Nameless was The Wildheart’s experimentation with a heavier sound. Rather than capitalize on the band’s moderately successful formula of catchy, poppy tunes, in a classic, self-destructive move, they washed the entire album with layers of noisy distortion, making it almost unlistenable and ultimately polarizing many Wildhearts fans’ opinions of the album. But if you can get past the noise, there’s much to enjoy here. I especially like the gang vocal chorus of kids singing “Piss! Joy! Ah-na-na-na-na!” after Ginger delivers the line “All the children sing.” Nice.
I originally planned to shuffle up a playlist that included the words “work” or “labor,” but I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to five different versions of Rush’s “Working Man.” So this is what I get as we head into to the long weekend…
Coldplay - "Sparks" (Parachutes, 2000)
Here’s a nice little tender jam to start things off. I can remember not thinking much of Coldplay when I first heard them by way of “Yellow,” but then I really started to listen to this album and began to really appreciate it for what it was. Nice subtle textures throughout.
KISS - "Rock and Roll Hell" (Creatures of the Night, 1982)
…And Gene kills the mood. As usual. Nothing subtle about him or this track from KISS’ last album on Casablanca, last album from their first makeup era, and last album to feature Ace Frehley (at least on the cover anyway). Creatures is a solid album, heavier than anything released by KIIS up to that point, and arguably one of their better albums of the previous five years despite Paul’s and Gene’s dependence on outside writers. Surprisingly enough, this particular tune was a product of the Bryan Adams/Jim Vallance song machine.
Ramones - "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" (Ramones Mania, 1988)
Probably one of the most upbeat protest songs ever. It’s difficult to feel Joey’s disgust of Reagan’s visit to a West Germany military cemetery over the backing chorus of “Ahhhh, la la la.”
U2 - "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (Rattle and Hum, 1988)
I’ve always had a sort of love/hate thing with U2. This seems a fitting song to pop up just a couple of days after the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but I find I have mixed feelings about this song that is supposed to be about MLK but lyrically really isn’t. Good performance from Rattle and Hum, though.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Liars Everywhere" (Pale, 1990)
Ending this Five like we started it, with a nice slow jam, this time from one of my favorites bands. Hard to believe these guys were between the ages of 18-22 when it was recorded.
Queensrÿche - "Blinded" (Queensrÿche, 1983)
I’m not sure what iTunes is trying to tell me, but this is the second week my Five is kicked off with a Queensrÿche tune, not that I’m complaining. I enjoy revisiting the band’s excellent EP, even if “Blinded” is way too short, and I love Geoff Tate’s screams as the song transitions to “The Lady Wore Black.” I miss the old Geoff…
Goo Goo Dolls - "On the Lie" (Superstar Car Wash, 1993)
Great power pop from the Goo Goo Dolls. *Sigh*…I miss old Goo Goo Dolls.
R.E.M. - "Fall on Me" (Eponymous, 1988)
I have always liked Mike Mills’ background vocals on this song much more than Stipes’ whiny lead vocals. I really like Mills’ voice, and I wish he’d had more of a chance to sing back when I was actually listing to R.E.M. I miss…oh, nevermind.
Alice in Chains - "Angry Chair" (Unplugged, 1996)
“Angry Chair” is not my favorite AiC song, but I love this MTV Unplugged performance. Layne Staley actually looked healthier here than he had in the recent past, despite the fact that this would be one of his last shows due to his struggles with depression and drug addiction. Here’s the video from the show, featuring a quick snippet of the intro to Metallica’s “Battery” and an impromptu performance of the theme from Hee Haw's “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me” skit.
Queensrÿche - "Bridge" (Promised Land, 1994)
How do you like that?! Another ‘Rÿche-wich, although I don’t particularly like the taste of this slice of Queensrÿche bread. The song is good enough I guess, but it always felt to me like it was an attempt to cash in again on the success of “Silent Lucidity.” With that, I close another Five and wish you all a great weekend!
Queensrÿche - "Desert Dance" (Tribe, 2003)
Unfortunately the Queensrÿche machine had pretty much ridden off the rails at this point, and even the tentative return of guitarist Chris DeGarmo could do little to breathe new life into the band. Despite reaching #56 on the US Billboard 200 and earning a 4-star AllMusic rating, the seeming return-to-form of the mighty ‘Rÿche just wasn’t meant to be, with old personal differences rearing their heads in the studio and their label screwing the pooch by exaggerating DeGarmo’s involvement in the “reunion.” “Desert Dance” is a decent enough tune, and I really like the song’s groove—and I have to say I honestly like most of the album for what it is—but it largely lies dormant and remains forgotten in my library.
Mutation - "Rats" (The Frankenstein Effect, 2012)
Recorded in 2011, Mutation was an on-again, off-again side-project of The Wildhearts’ Ginger that he had finally decided to shelve for good. That is until his wildly successful PledgeMusic campaign for the solo triple-album release 555% convinced him he might be able to revive the project by crowdsourcing it. Somewhere along the way, Ginger decided to launch the side-project Hey! Hello! with Victoria Liedke and release an album of material along with the two Mutation releases. I have to admit I jumped onto the campaign for the excellent, poppy Hey! Hello! album rather than the noisy, chaotic, and sometimes downright scary Mutation ones. I don’t know if Ginger was simply exorcising some demons with the Mutation albums, but I have found it really difficult to listen to them for any length of time, the stellar “Rats” being one of the few exceptions.
PFR - "Blind Man, Deaf Boy" (Great Lengths, 1994)
Early 90s CCM-pop at its finest. PFR is one of the few Christian radio acts I followed whose music has managed to stand the test of time with me.
Rush - "Chemistry" (Signals, 1982)
I know I sit squarely in the minority on this, but Signals is one of my favorite Rush albums of all time, cheesy synths and all. “Chemistry” is one of the reasons why.
Queensrÿche - "Child of Fire" (The Warning, 1984)
Queensrÿche sandwich! This time it’s a cut off their excellent full-length debut The Warning. What’s not to like about progressive metal inspired equally by Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Iron Maiden and with orchestration by Michael Kamen?
The Police - "The Bed’s Too Big Without You (Mono Version)" (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
The Police were the best at the new wave-rock-reggae thing. It’s interesting to look back and see how easily the band evolved from their punkier period to their slickly produced poppier latter days. Too bad their relationships as band members couldn’t evolve as well.
The Damnwells - "For My Own Good" (PMR (Poor Man’s Record) demos)
Nice little demo from another band with a definite-article-fronted name. I’m hardly never in the mood for some Damnwells when they pop up on shuffle.
Poundhound - "Love" (Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music, 1998)
I think I have expressed my frustration before with the solo projects of the frontman of one of my all-time favorite bands, King’s X. As much as I love, love, love Doug Pinnick’s voice and his bass tone and playing style, I’ve never been able to really enjoy the Poundhound and dUg releases. As a part of King’s X? Love him. Side projects? Yep. Poundhound? Not so much for some reason. And unfortunately even the good parts of Massive Grooves haven’t stood the test of time as well as some of guitarist Ty Tabor’s solo material from the same period.
King’s X - "It’s Love" (Live Love in London, 2010)
Speaking of King’s X, the band recorded a 2009 show at the Electric Ballroom in London and released the footage as a DVD. You can read more here at my blog if you are so inclined. For an even better read, check out The Impaler’s impression. The entire show is great and stands as a testament to their talent and the music this criminally underrated band has put out over the course of its 30-year-plus career. “It’s Love” was probably one of the trio’s biggest hits, gaining pretty serious MTV and radio airplay, and it has long been one of my favorites. Some of the 3-part harmonies are a bit off in this particular performance, but who cares?
Weezer - "Undone (The Sweater Song)" (Weezer, 1994)
“This band’s my favorite. Dontcha love ‘em?” Not a favorite by a long stretch, but good enough—although way overplayed in my opinion—to close out this Five. Have a good one!