Toad the Wet Sprocket - “Something’s Always Wrong” (P.S. (A Toad Retrospective), 1999)
One of my favorite Toad songs. I also like the versions Glen would do as a “duet” with the audience as part of his live acoustic shows early in his solo career.
Armored Saint - “Terror” (Raising Fear, 1987)
It’s hard to beat these early Armored Saint tunes, even with a clueless label like Chrysalis at the helm (they actually forced the band to include the horrid cover of Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special”). John Bush had such a great voice for the band. Too bad Chrysalis didn’t know what to do with the Saint, didn’t know the potential they had, or just didn’t care. I can’t decide which is worse.
King’s X - “Julie” (XV, 2008)
Great Jerry Gaskill tune dedicated to his long-time girlfriend (now wife). As with most of Jerry’s songs, this one has a shiny coat of Beatles inspiration all over it. His voice melds perfectly with Ty’s and dUg’s when they break out the three-part harmonies, but I wish Jerry had more of an opportunity to sing lead like he does here.
Superchunk - “Learned to Surf” (Majesty Shredding, 2010)
A certain Rock ‘n’ Roll Snob turned me onto this, and boy am I glad he did. This is my favorite from the album. I love the rhythm, the melody, and all the guitar parts battling for my attention in the stereo separation. And I swear if I ever start a band, I’m going to have a female bass player.
P.O.D. - “Three in the Power of One” (Snuff the Punk, 1994)
From the indie-label remaster of P.O.D.’s even idie-er first release, this song shows a young P.O.D. cutting its teeth on the hardcore rap-metal sound it would master and become identified with only two albums later. As such, much of the material on this album lacks the direction, maturity, and diversity that fueled the band’s success on The Fundamental Elements of Southtown or Satellite.
The Beatles - “Things We Said Today” (A Hard Day’s Night (UK Release), 1964)
Love this McCartney-penned jangly Beatles tune.
Glen Phillips - “Far Away” (The Unreleased Songs Compilation, 1st Edition, Disc 1)
Live performance (from March 2001 as best as I can uncover) of a song Glen has yet to release from a fan-compiled collection of such tunes. While not one of this best performances (the guitar playing starts to get somewhat sloppy toward the end), Glen, as always, is great live.
AC/DC - “Let Me Put My Love Into You” (Back in Black, 1980)
Classic AC/DC in all its unsubtle glory. What can I say about Back in Black that hasn’t been said before? One of the best rock albums ever made, and one heck of a brave move to introduce a new vocalist to replace one as iconic as Bon Scott.
Anthrax - “Indians” (Among the Living, 1987) Among the Living was Anthrax’s breakthrough album and is arguably one of their best releases, becoming a thrash classic. “Indians” finds the band at its most socially aware and politically correct, an acknowledgement of the mistreatment and disrespect of America’s native peoples, and it quickly became one of their most popular songs and a concert staple. Ironically, then (and current) frontman Joey Belladonna, himself part Native American (Iroquois to be exact), often donned a “skateboard” cap with “INJUN” scrawled across the turned-up bill and wore a full Native American ceremonial headdress during the performance of the song. While I absolutely love the song (and the album, and even the band at the time), as an admitted Native American history buff, I sometimes wonder about the sincerity of the sentiment, especially given its inclusion alongside tracks about comic book characters, drug-abusing comedians, and “poser” rock stars.
Queensrÿche - “Some People Fly” (Hear in the Now Frontier, 1997) HitNF gets panned a lot, but I quite like this song. It just seems Queensrÿche began to lose its way during the grunge and post-grunge movements and the upheaval they caused in the music industry.
Michael Parr over at Popdose threw me for a bit of a loop today. I had my Five all percolated and ready to pour when he posted his Five and announced a theme of 2012 releases. So I groaned a bit, thinking my 2012 version wouldn’t be too interesting. Then I scrambled to get mine in before heading to a meeting, and whaddyaknow, it didn’t turn out too bad. But then I thought it would be a waste not to post my original Five, so in typical contrarian fashion, I posted both!
Torpedohead - “Heartbreak Key” (Greetings from Heartbreak Key, 2012)
I got turned onto this album just recently by Michael Butler over at the Rock and Roll Geek Show podcast when he did a track-by-track review of the album with founder, vocalist, and guitarist Sven Spacebrain. Hailing from Frankfurt, Germany, Torpedohead is fun, high-energy, straight-ahead melodic rock ‘n’ roll chock full of hooks, harmonies, and sing-along choruses. If you’re into that kind of thing, they are definitely worth checking out.
P.O.D. - “Beautiful” (Murdered Love, 2012)
I purchased this for my tweenaged son based on the hype that this release would be more similar to Satellite than their recent releases. It’s a good album, but apart from a couple of songs, I don’t think it delivers on the promise. This is the obligatory “ballad” to try to grab at least a little CCM FM radio airplay, although with subject matter that includes suicide, cutting, drugs, and depression, I doubt they’ll get played on anything but the edgiest of stations.
Ginger Wildheart - “Strange New Year” (555%, 2012)
Here’s another excellent track from Ginger’s wildly successful PledgeMusic campaign. This triple-album definitely lived up to the hype, and it’s one of my favorite purchases of the year so far.
Rush - “The Wreckers” (Clockwork Angels, 2012)
I’m still trying to get into the new Rush album. I was sold on it based on “Headlong Flight,” and while the album is good, I struggle to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. “The Wreckers” is easily the poppiest song on the album, hearkening a bit to something off of Hold Your Fire or their other late 80s output.
Nada Surf - “Looking Through” (Dulcitone Files, 2012)
Beautiful tune from a digital-only EP of acoustic performances of five of the tracks from the band’s most recent release The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. As much as I like this band, late though I was to the party, I’m not sure why I haven’t picked up that album.
Led Zeppelin - “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
Zeppelin’s nod to the Mississippi Delta blues. I wish I loved it as much as they did. I just can’t get into this song.
Rush - “The Necromancer” (Caress of Steel, 1975)
Part Tolkien, part By-Tor, “The Necromancer” (and Caress of Steel as a whole) marked the point at which Rush dived headlong into the long conceptual pieces that marked the first part of their career. Although Caress was a commercial disappointment and earned the ire of their record company, most of the album is quite good. I especially like the spaciness of Part I of this track. Fortunately Rush didn’t cave under the pressure from their label to abandon the concept songs and produce a hit for the next album, which resulted in what is considered by many as the definitive Rush album.
KISS - “Then She Kissed Me” (Love Gun, 1977)
Not necessarily a bad cover of Phil Spector’s “Then He Kissed Me,” I just never thought it fit with the rest of the album and didn’t see the point, especially when I discovered this album as a pre-teen expecting the blood, the fire, and the spectacle I had at that point associated with KISS.
Collective Soul - “General Attitude” (Youth, 2004)
By the time Youth was released, Collective Soul had left Atlantic, lost its lead guitarist and songwriting collaborator Ross Childress, and had become (in my opinion) largely an Ed Roland solo band. Despite all this, it’s a great overlooked album, if you can get past some of the over-processed guitars. “General Attitude” is a pretty good representation of the rest of the album, a well-written straight-ahead pop song. Nothing wrong with that.
Glen Phillips - “I Want a New Drug” (Mr. Lemons, 2006)
I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I first heard this almost-unrecognizable cover of the Huey Lewis & the News mega-hit. These days I really appreciate Glen’s sparse, stripped-down rearrangement of the song.
Iron Maiden - “Moonchild” (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988)
“Moonchild” is a repeat from my August 26, 2011 Five where I discussed my disdain of first Judas Priest’s and then Maiden’s use of guitar synths—AKA “selling out” in my metalhead mentality back then. I wasn’t a big fan of Seventh Son when it was released, but since then it has has earned a position right up there with some of Maiden’s best work. I can’t say I completely follow the entire storyline of the concept, but overall it’s a great album, with the driving, melodic “Moonchild” as its opener.
Metallica - “Dyers Eve” (…And Justice for All, 1988)
Another release from the year I graduated high school, and another favorite. AJFA has received its fair share of grief over the years from the poor production to newcomer Newsted’s bass being completely buried in the mix. Despite this, and despite the huge amount of attention the band earned with One—a sure turn-off for any self-respecting metalhead—this remains one of my favorite Metallica discs with its rhythmic twists and turns and almost prog-metal approach. “Dyers Eve” follows the tradition up to that point (with the exception of Ride the Lightning’s “Call of Ktulu”) of closing the album with a fast and furious number.
KISS - “Shout It Out Loud” (Alive II, 1977)
I was never a big fan of this obvious attempt to recreate the arena anthem success of “Rock and Roll All Night” nor of Alive II in general, but I have to admit that in true KISS fashion, this live version (and I won’t argue here about how “live” it really is) has a lot more energy to it than the original Dynasty version.
Glen Phillips - “Shorn” (Live at Joe’s Pub, 8/18/2002 )
We are ugly in the mirror
Beautiful to the ones we love
One of my biggest musical regrets is not having jumped at the opportunity to see Glen live in Nashville when I had the chance. To this day he remains one of my favorite singers as well as one of my favorite songwriters. “Shorn,” a live gem that was unreleased until just recently when it was included on a live acoustic studio project called The Coyote Sessions, is a great example of what he can do with just his voice and a guitar.
The Cult - “Resurrection Joe” (Dreamtime, 1984)
I probably don’t give this album as much attention as I should. I love Billy Duffy’s spacey/psychedelic/echo-y guitar on this bonus track and throughout the rest of the album proper. Its funky vibe makes it one of my favorites despite its not being included on the original album.
Glen Phillips - “Thankful” (Winter Pays for Summer)
Forgive me, my tongue doesn’t know what it’s doing
It used to get washed out, now it’s undisciplined and crude
I’m losing my language, calling a truce
And the shape of the thoughts in my head aren’t right for the words I’ve got to use
As the title suggests, Riff Raf’s interview with Glen Phillips is a fairly in-depth look into the artist’s thoughts about his own songwriting and the craft in general, but he also discusses other topics, among them the challenges of making a living as an artist, choosing satisfaction over money, and not having to cook dinner for his Toad the Wet Sprocket bandmates. Make sure you also click through to read part 2.
Ramones - “We Want the Airwaves” (Pleasant Dreams, 1981)
Alright. Already off to a good start. A slicker, heavier, more polished sound for the Ramones, but good nonetheless.
Mae - “Anything” (The Everglow, 2005)
Wall-of-sound production that is equal parts heavy, sweet, soaring, and shimmery. I can’t talk enough about how much I like this band.
The Wildhearts - “Tim Smith” (¡Chutzpah!, 2009)
Heck yeah! 3 for 3. This song from the most recent Wildhearts release—and probably the last unless something changes in the near future—is a sort of dedication to the Cardiacs frontman who suffered a heart attack and stroke in 2008. Heavy, thrashy verses and harmony-vocal-laden singalong choruses. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Glen Phillips - “The Hole” (Live at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, 11/15/2003)
Another great bootleg from this Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman. “The Hole” is one of those rare strange tunes that Glen has come up with during his solo career that has a way of digging into your subconscious and coming out when you least expect. I really need to try to get to one of his solo shows sometime.
Ginger Wildheart - “Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)” (555%, 2012)
Second track from the more experimental second set of songs from Ginger’s triple-album PledgeMusic project. This song in particular plays around with an island feel and electronic elements and prominently features vocalist Victoria Liedtke as it builds into a middle portion that sounds like an African tribal singalong with Victoria doing her best black gospel choir imitation à la Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Lots of twists and turns and very enjoyable if you’re up for the ride. I can’t recommend the entire album enough.
Excellent Friday Five this week! Hope you enjoy yours.
Glen was recently a guest on The Songwriting Podcast. Give it a listen.
From the website:
The Songwriting Podcast is a monthly music podcast where three hosts revel in the technical and creative aspects of the craft of songwriting, with the help of a guest songwriter or some other music industry professional.
But this show is a BONUS episode featuring a 70-minute interview with singer-songwriter Glen Phillips, who is the frontman of the ‘90s alternative rock band, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and he’s a successful solo artist, as well.
Glen talks with us about his songwriting process; which instruments he prefers to write on; how songs were written as collaborations in Toad — including some background info on the writing of “Walk on the Ocean” and “I Will Not Take These Things for Granted.”
Glen also talks about what he values in a co-writer; whether he finds it easier to write for an assignment; the background for his collaboration with John Askew on “Secrets of the New Explorers” and “Remote Tree Children.” We also ask Glen for his thoughts on writing lyrics and avoiding cliches.
Toad fans will be interested in hearing Glen briefly speak about the new album that Toad the Wet Sprocket is working on, and the style and flavor of the new songs he’s been writing for that album. Oh, and we include a speed round of about 20 random questions on Glen’s various preferences that aren’t necessarily musically related.
And as always, we play an entire song by our guest. Glen chose his song, “Rise Up,” and he shares a very personal story behind the writing of that song.
Galactic Cowboys - “Bucket of Chicken” (Let It Go, 2000)
A funky organ-based instrumental filler of sorts from the Cowboys’ swan song. Not a bad track, but not what you’d expect from this group.
Foo Fighters - “Best of You” (In Your Honor, 2005)
One of the best (and commercially successful) tracks from this double-album from the Foos. Say what you will, but Dave Grohl knows how to write a good rock song.
Metallica - “That Was Just Your Life” (Death Magnetic, 2008)
Much ado was made about the mastering of this album, so much so that the songs themselves were often overlooked. Death Magnetic was a return-to-form of sorts—not the revisiting of the Master of Puppets glory days that fans have long craved—and in my opinion it was an excellent album and exactly the shot in the arm the band needed after the beating they took for St. Anger. This song kicks off a relentless James Hetfield riff-fest that slows down only a couple of times during the album’s 72 minutes, and that’s just fine by me.
Would someone please let me know
How we have spun out of control
Has the captain let go of the wheel?
Little did guitarist, primary songwriter, and founding member Chris DeGarmo know how prophetic these words would be as longtime fans currently find themselves scratching their heads wondering what has happened to this band. Or maybe he did. HITNF was the last album with DeGarmo on-board as a full-time member, choosing instead to follow a career as a professional pilot and a short stint as a hired gun for Jerry Cantrell’s backing band. This album doesn’t get much respect in the Queensrÿche ouvre—and that’s understandable in light of some of the classics that preceded it—but for the most part, it’s not a bad album. It’s just that as a Queensrÿche album it’s fairly forgettable, and it was definitely a sign that the band’s better days were behind it.
Glen Phillips - “Didn’t Think You Cared” (The Unreleased Songs Compilation, 1st Edition, Disc 1)
Just like it says on the tin, this is a compilation of live and demo versions of (at the time) unreleased Toad the Wet Sprocket and Glen Phillips solo material. This is a typical ballad-y Glen song from a poor quality bootleg played to an audience that was obviously way more interested in talking (and eating? I think I hear clinking silverware in the background). I’ve heard a couple of other bootleg shows like this one, and it never ceases to amaze me how much chatter there is when Glen isn’t playing a Toad song.
Listen to this entire Friday Five playlist on Spotify.
The Friday Five over at Popdose is the one, it’s the one, yeah you know it’s the one, it’s the one (yeah, you know it’s the one).
Torche - “Amnesian” (Meanderthal, 2008)
I (ahem) acquired this album from a friend, and while I like the sludgy, Soundgarden-y, stoner-rock riffage, I wish I liked the actual songs as much as I like the album title. Now that’s pure genius.
Ginger Wildheart - “You’re the One, You’re the One, Yeah, I Know You’re the One, You’re the One (Yeah, I Know You’re the One)” (555%, 2012)
The (former? current? future, hopefully?) Wildhearts frontman’s PledgeMusic experiment to create a new triple-album solo release was wildly (maybe insanely?) successful, far exceeding his pledge goal and reaching 100% of the target in less than 6 hours. The album’s title reflects the point at which Ginger chose to cut off availability of hard-copy versions of packages that include CDs or vinyl, with all pledges beyond that receiving digital-only versions (and because 5 is Ginger’s favorite number). With 16 days remaining to pledge, the project stands at 581% of target with 6010 pledges. Impressive. But what about the music? 30 songs, most of them top-notch, none of them throw-aways, and in true Ginger fashion, stylistically all over the map. This particular song is one of the best of the bunch.
The Beautiful Mistake - “Stabbing Backwards” (Light a Match, For I Deserve to Burn, 2002)
OK, so this is an emo/screamo band, and as the album title suggests, they take themselves a little too seriously. I only wish other emo bands took their musicianship as seriously as these guys did on this release—tight performances with great production and good songs, for the most part. “Stabbing Backwards” is one of the best tracks on the album. I could do with a little less of the screaming, though. I like my screaming with a little dose of metal, crazy guitar solos, more attitude, and less whining.
Glen Phillip - “Dam Would Break” (Live at Atlanta’s Red Light Cafe with Nickel Creek, 2003)
Excellent cut from an excellent bootleg of an excellent show the former Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman performed with special guests Nickel Creek appearing for the second half of the show. The bootleg is available at the Internet Archive and is definitely worth the download if you like Glen, Toad, Nickel Creek, or good muscianship.
Arcade Fire - “Deep Blue” (The Suburbs, 2010)
Another acquisition from the aforementioned friend. It seems I have to be in the right frame of mind to listen to this album as it is often hit or miss with me. This particular song leans toward miss today.
Foo Fighters - “But Honestly” (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2007)
Dave Grohl has to be one of the hardest-working people in rock music today, and say what you will, I like most everything he’s ever done on one level or another. “But Honestly” is no different. I love the simplicity of first half of the song with just Dave’s voice and acoustic guitar and how it builds into this whole other stadium rock anthem thing.
Glen Phillips - “Cleareyed” (Winter Pays for Summer, 2005)
Fingers crossed that iTunes continues to serve up a good Friday Five. Glen Phillips is one of my favorite songwriters, and again, there’s not much he does that I don’t like. Winter Pays for Summer should have been a breakthrough album for the former Toad the Wet Sprocket singer, but I’m beginning to realize that I just don’t understand the music industry. At all.
Victor - “Victor” (Victor, 1996)
Uh-oh, here’s where iTunes goes wonky on me. This comes from a solo album Rush’s Alex Lifeson released under the project name Victor. The title track bears absolutely no resemblance to anything Rush has ever released, and if you didn’t already know this was Lifeson, you wouldn’t believe it. While most of the album features former I Mother Earth singer Edwin on vocals, “Victor” is a spoken-word track of sorts with Lifeson handling the “vocals.” Victor is mostly made up of heavier, post-modern alterna-rock-styled tunes, but this one is just plain strange.
The Scooters - “Throw Your Arms Around Me (Live)” (Peepshow, 2000)
I’m not sure how I came across the Scooters, but given the catchy pop tunes and sweet vocal harmonies, I’m guessing it was probably from my favorite rock ‘n’ roll snob Jay. This particular song is a live cover of a tune from the Australian band Hunters & Collectors, and while it strips away the decidedly 80s feel of the original, it is so unlike the rest of the Peepshow EP that you can’t use it as the measuring stick to judge whether you would like the rest of the album.
Thin Lizzy - “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” (Jailbreak, 1976)
This is not my favorite Thin Lizzy tune, but the more I listen to Phil Lynott’s work, the more I find to like. This is a good way to close out today’s Friday Five.