Y&T - "Don’t Stop Running" (In Rock We Trust, 1984)
Dave Meniketti has a great rock voice that reminds me a bit of Sammy Hagar, and he’s a great guitarist to boot. Not sure why these guys weren’t bigger.
Scorpions - "Lady Starlight" (Animal Magnetism, 1980)
This song has always seemed a bit out of place on this album—it’s too clean and too pretty, and the mix of Klaus Meine’s voice with the background vocals is almost too perfect, but I really like it. I guess the Scorps could have been an adult contemporary band if the rock thing hadn’t worked out so well.
Mötley Crüe - "Come On and Dance" (Too Fast For Love (Leathür Records version), 1981)
Dirty, sleazy rock ‘n’ roll, but Vince’s slightly off-key vocals almost ruin it for me. My favorite part of the song—and the both versions of the album for that matter—has always been Tommy’s cowbell. Rock ‘n’ roll definitely needs more cowbell.
Mae - "Embers and Envelopes" (Destination Beautiful, 2003)
More Mae goodness this week, although this is one of my least favorite songs on the album. Not that it’s a bad song. The rest of the album is just much stronger.
Rush - "Leave That Thing Alone" (Different Stages, 1998)
OK, so the next song iTunes served up was the first track “Fart and Wiener Jokes” from Brian Posehn’s comedy album of the same name. My thought is that if it’s not a real music track I’m not gonna include it here. “More Metal Than You” would have totally counted, though. Skip.
Next up is another Different Stages track, this time the instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone,” originally from Counterparts. I love this song, if for no other reason than Geddy’s excellent funky bass groove.
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.
Def Leppard - “See the Lights” (First Strike, 1979)
An “album” of demos from back when Def Leppard was a bonafide NWOBHM band. The “album” was later unofficially released without the band’s consent. “See the Lights” is not the best song on the collection—that designation would have to go to “Wasted” or “Sorrow Is a Woman,” both of which were released on On Through the Night—but it’s not bad, either.
Black Sabbath - “Never Say Die” (Symptom of the Universe: The Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978, 2002)
Ozzy had already quit and rejoined Sabbath by the time Never Say Die was recorded, and he pulls no punches when expressing his dissatisfaction with Sabbath at that point in his career, calling it “the worst piece of work that I’ve ever had anything to do with. I’m ashamed of that album. I think it’s disgusting.” With the exception of the cheesy ending, “Never Say Die” is a great, fun tune—should any Sabbath song be “fun”?!—although it sounds like it would fit better on Blizzard of Ozz.
Smashing Pumpkins - “Today” ("Unplugged" 100% Pure Acoustic Performances, 1993)
I never really cared much for the original, so a bootleg recording of an acoustic rendition of it is probably not going to rate very high for me. The performance is uninspiring and limp, with no musical embellishments until the very end when Iha adds an arpeggiated section, and Corgan struggles to hit some of the higher notes as he whines his way throughout the song. Sounds like they don’t even like it very much.
Galactic Cowboys - "Through" (At the End of the Day, 1998)
I thought you were in love, what a fool’s mistake
I don’t care about love now
And unfortunately Galactic Cowboys’ career was almost through at this point as well. ATEOTD is one of my favorite GC albums, containing the excellent “The Machine Fish Suite,” but I’m ashamed to admit I usually skip this one. Not that there’s anything much wrong with it. I just don’t usually turn to Galactic Cowboys when I want to hear a ballad.
Rush - "Cinderella Man" (Different Stages, 1998)
Not sure why, but this version always sounds really sloppy to me, and Geddy seems to really be straining to hit some of the notes. Odd for a band that is usually so tight.
Coheed & Cambria - "Delirium Trigger" (The Second Stage Turbine Blade, 2005)
I love most of the music produced by the C & C music factory (no, not that C & C Music Factory), but good grief, I wish I understood the story arc behind these albums.
Iron Maiden - "Iron Maiden" (Flight 666: The Original Soundtrack, 2009)
I’ve gotten so used to Trivium’s version of this song that the original sounds old and slow to me these days. But a great song nonetheless. The Flight 666 rockumentary has some excellent live footage. The Central America and South American crowds are completely insane (see also: Rush in Rio). Looks like a fun time and quite a refreshing difference from the typical spoiled, cooler-than-you American concert goer.
Mötley Crüe - "Starry Eyes" (Too Fast for Love (Leathür Records version), 1981)
The original Leathür records version of one of my favorite songs off the Crüe’s debut album. A couple of friends and I literally wore out the cassette version of the Elektra release of this album. Good times playing air guitar, air cowbell, and trying to sing in Vince Neil’s Mickey Mouse falsetto. Can I get the real Mötley Crüe back?! Whatever happened to these guys?
Extreme - "Smoke Signals" (Extreme, 1989)
Super-tight funky groove? Check. Great guitar tone and showy solo from Nuno? Yup. Vocal harmonies? Got ‘em. What did we leave out? Oh, what about lyrics? Let’s see …
"Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Don’t be playing ball in the street. What you sow is what you will reap."
Horrible. Just horrible. I get the joke. It’s just not funny.
Dream Theater - "Far From Heaven" (A Dramatic Turn of Events, 2011)
I really haven’t given this disc the listen it deserves. I think I just got tired of the drama surrounding the departure of founder and former drummer Mike Portnoy and the ensuing he said, he said media storm. The only LaBrie-penned tune on the latest from Dream Theater, “Far From Heaven” is a soft, sweet ballad, and clocking in at only 3:56, it has to be the shortest Dream Theater song of all time.
Counting Crows - "Colorblind" (This Desert Life, 1999)
Another ballad, this time from Adam Duritz and company. And yes, it has the expected pretentiousness and self-deprecation, but for some reason it just works for these guys.
KISS - "I Want You" (Alive II, 1977)
I never got into Alive II the way I did with Alive!, even though it has some of my favorite KISS tunes on it. I didn’t notice it at the time—cut me a little slack, I was a bit too young and starstruck—but the overdubs and the fake crowd noise gets a little unbearable after awhile. And then Paul completely destroys the song with his antics at the end. Nice.
Accept - "Head Over Heels" (Balls to the Wall, 1984)
I love it when iTunes surprises me with a song I haven’t heard in awhile. I literally wore out this album and the its followup Metal Heart when I was in high school. Like the Scorions, Accept didn’t have a good grasp on the English language, and it really showed in most of their lyrics. But at this point in their career, they, like their fellow countrymen, had mastered the ability to craft a heavy song with good melody and a wide range of dynamics. And Udo Dirkshneider’s squeely, growly voice was just enough to remind you that this wasn’t “poser” metal.
The Clash - "Police on My Back" (Sandinista!, 1980)
“I been running Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday”
Queen - "Flick of the Wrist" (Sheer Heart Attack, 1974)
Quite possibly my favorite Queen album of all time. Seriously.
"Reduce you to a muzak fake machine, then the last goodbye."
Spock’s Beard - “Made Alive/Overture” (Snow, 2002)
Opening track of the last album—a double-disc concept album at that!—to feature founder Neal Morse.
"Like a flaw that seeks perfection…"
Foo Fighters - "Bridge Burning" (Wasting Light, 2011)
From one album opener to another, this time the latest from Dave Grohl and company. I’m still impressed with how good this album is and how much I’m still listening to it (the true test).
"These are my famous last words!"
Atomic Opera - “New Dreams” (For Madmen Only, 1994)
Epic album-closing slow, crunchy groove from the third band in former ZZ Top manager Sam Taylor’s holy Houston triumvirate that also included King’s X and Galactic Cowboys.
"I use to think that Hell could last forever."
Quite an eclectic and enjoyable set this week. Later.
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.
Counting Crows - "Have You Seen Me Lately?" (Recovering the Satellites, 1996)
Counting Crows seems to get a bad rap, but I have always loved these guys. OK, Adam Duritz can be a bit much at times, what with the hair and his fondness for completely rearranging vocal melodies, or lyrics, or even entire songs live. While I really like the energy of the album version, I think I prefer the acoustic version found on Across a Wire.
Anthrax - "Gung Ho" (The Greater of Two Evils, 2004)
Anthrax released this “live performance” reinterpretation of its early-period material with then vocalist John Bush. As if this sacrilege wasn’t enough—at least in the eyes of diehard fans who refused to acknowledge Bush-era Anthrax in the first place—the band fell headlong into drama of soap opera proportions that found them with a revolving door in the vocalist position: Bush, Joey Belladonna, Dan Nelson, Bush again, and now currently Belladonna. All that to say that while I love Bush-era Anthrax as well as Bush as a vocalist (especially fronting Armored Saint), I’m not a big fan of the versions found on TGOTE.
Switchfoot - "Dare You to Move" (The Beautiful Letdown, 2003)
While a very strong album in its own right, this disc was a bit of a letdown for me (har har har!) compared with my favorite of their releases New Way To Be Human, seeing the band move in a more radio-friendly sound that helped them break big outside the CCM market. This song is actually a repeat—albeit with a much better mix here—from the band’s previous album, Learning to Breathe, where it was by far the strongest and most accessible track.
Beatallica - “A Garage Dayz Nite” (A Garage Dayz Nite, 2001)
A Beatles/Metallica mashup by a band with a singer that does a very good James Hetfield impression? What’s not to like about that?!
Mae - "Someone Else’s Arms" (The Everglow, 2005)
I’m sure a band named after an acronym of a college course on the study of sensation, perception, emotion, and meaning in art and music is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it should be. Mae is big on hooks and pop sensibilities, and while some might dismiss them as an emo act based on a few of their songs, anyone who actually takes the time to listen would not be so quick to pigeonhole them as such.
Andrew Peterson - “Mystery of Mercy” (The Far Country, 2005)
Peterson has popped up on previous Friday Fives. This is a song of his that CCM act Caedmon’s Call recorded for their 2003 album Back Home and is one of the strongest tracks on this album.
U2 - "God Part II" (Rattle and Hum, 1988)
Meh track from a meh-ish kind of album. I never really got the point of Rattle and Hum, although I do dig their version of “All Along the Watchtower.”
Ramones - "Bop ‘Til You Drop" (Ramones Mania, 1988)
Just over 2 minutes of Ramones goodness. Nice.
Phil Keaggy - "Passing Thought" (Acoustic Sketches, 1996)
Looks like my iTunes is all over the place today. Acoustic Sketches is (true to its name) an acoustic album from criminally underrated and largely unknown CCM guitarist Phil Keaggy, and as the song title suggests, this is a sort of segue track on the album. Keaggy is an amazing guitarist. He does this thing live with digital delays where he lays down a guitar part and loops it, then starts layering on more and more parts so that he can play along with himself. This album was one of the backing tracks for my web programming years ago.
Extreme - "Kid Ego" (Extreme, 1989)
Meh. I was never much of an Extreme fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like Cherone’s voice, I think Nuno is a talented guitarist, and together they make a good songwriting team. I also liked some of their big hooks, and the funky groove they tried to inject into their music. In theory, all of this should have worked for me, but the implementation never grabbed me.
U2 - "The Unforgettable Fire" (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984)
Nice driving bass and ethereal Edge soundscapes combine to make this one of the better tracks on the album. Unfortunately much of the rest is pretty forgettable to me.
The Cure - "10:15 Saturday Night" (Staring at the Sea: The Singles, 1986)
What’s up, iTunes?! You trying to bum me out? Why did you pick this song among all the other good material here? Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.
Yes - "Mood for a Day" (Fragile, 1972)
In and of itself, it’s a pretty cool little acoustic guitar instrumental, but after awhile I start thinking, “OK, I understand that you can play. When am I gonna get some Chris Squire or Jon Anderson?” Just too much noodling and not enough of the rhythmic interestingness for me for such a short song. Sigh.
King’s X - "Black Flag" (King’s X, 1992)
“A year in the hole had taken its toll when I took a good look at me.” Now that’s more like it, iTunes. But sorry—too little, too late.
Short and sweet pre-vacation Friday Five today. And my first track sorted by name is Anthrax’s “A.D.I./Horror of It All” from Among the Living.
Saosin - "The Worst of Me" (In Search of Solid Ground, 2009)
Possibly the best song on this emo/screamo band’s most commercial (and most recent) release to date.
Glen Phillips - “Got to Get On” (The Unreleased Songs Compilation: Vol. 1)
Interesting track from a set of live versions of songs Glen had not released prior to its compilation. A bit different from the norm for Glen, but still really good.
King’s X - "Marsh Mellow Field" (Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous, 2000)
Equal parts groove, sludge, and psychedelic. Love it.
Owl City - "Dental Care" (Ocean Eyes, 2009)
OK, confession time. Although I purchased this for my son during his brief obsession with this artist, I have kept it around since I find it catchy and not too annoying—at least most of the time. “I’ve been to the dentist a thousand times, so I know the drill.” Funny.
Smashing Pumpkins - "Siva" (Gish, 1991) Michael recently questioned what he ever saw in Smashing Pumpkins. This is it. The slow, mellow middle breakdown is why I Mother Earth reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins at times.
You don’t need to be a fortune teller with a crystal ball to know it’s time for the Friday Five with IckMusic!
KISS - “Hooked on Rock and Roll” (1972 KISS/Lips Demos)
Demo that is, ironically, from back before KISS became a real rock ‘n’ roll band. Bop-shoo-bop, shoo-bop-bop-shoo-bop?! Seriously, best as I can tell, the collection of demos from which this comes was actually from Peter’s pre-Wicked Lester (and by extension, pre-KISS) band Lips.
Pink Floyd - "Goodbye Blue Sky" (The Wall, 1979)
“Look mummy, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky.”
KISS - "Black Diamond" (Alive!, 1975)
Considering today is Paul Stanley’s 60th birthday, it’s fitting that iTunes picked another KISS tune (maybe I should have made it an all-KISS playlist?). It’s hard to believe I was only 5 when this album came out, and I wish I had a nickel for every time I played guitar on a tennis racket pretending to be either Ace or Gene. Alive! is very nearly a perfect live album (overdubbing accusations aside) and contains the now definitive versions of their early hits (at least for the songs from the self-titled debut). Peter’s vocals on “Black Diamond” really make the song for me. I wish I could have frozen time for KISS at this moment right here.
Sugar - "Fortune Teller" (Copper Blue, 1992)
Though I was aware of Hüsker Dü in the 80s through a couple of mail-order SST compilation cassettes, I somehow missed out on Bob Mould’s excellent 90s output with Sugar. I guess I was too wrapped up with college, Anthrax, the burgeoning grunge scene, and MTV. I’m grateful that a co-worker introduced me to Sugar around 1999, a point in time where I was probably more prepared to appreciate it.
The Police - "Can’t Stand Losing You" (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
A repeat from my January 6 Friday Five. Looks like my iTunes has a bit of a Police crush lately. At least it picked a good song.
I just realized that it’s Friday the 13th. In light of that and Tony Iommi’s recent cancer announcement, maybe I should have made this an all Black Sabbath Friday Five. Oh well …
Kansas - "Bringing It Back" (Kansas, 1974)
Boogie-jam cover of a J.J. Cale tune from future AOR prog-rock darlings that relates a tale of bringing something back from Mexico. Wonder what that could have been?!
King’s X - "Lies in the Sand (the ballad of…)" (Ear Candy, 1996)
Yes! This is more like it. Slow, arpeggiated tune from the trio’s underrated and under-appreciated one-and-only attempt at a hit album (or album of hits) after receiving pressure from Atlantic Records. Ear Candy was a bit of a shock to the KX faithful after the grungy Dogman, but it has remained one of my favorite albums by King’s X. For my money, you would be hard-pressed to find a guitarist as emotive and expressive (while remaining relatively unknown in most circles) as Ty Tabor.
Caedmon’s Call - "Valleys Fill First" (Long Line of Leavers, 2000)
Another departure from the norm of sorts, this time from the folky-turned-poppy CCM group Caedmon’s Call. The band experimented with a wide range of styles on this disc, including adding a brass ensemble on the opening (and possibly best) track. Solid pop tune from a very accomplished group of musicians.
Counting Crows - "If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)" (Hard Candy, 2002) Hard Candy is quite possibly my favorite album from Counting Crows. A mixture of poppy, upbeat, and accessible tunes and Duritz’ typical brooding, moody, self-deprecating lyrics makes for one of their most cohesive releases. And there is some excellent guitar work throughout.
Queensrÿche - "My Empty Room" (Operation: Mindcrime, 1988)
Filler segue track from this Seattle prog-metal band’s magnum opus. Queensrÿche has tried over the years to top this wildly successful concept album, but in my opinion has only come close a couple of times, first with Mindcrime's follow-up Empire, the album responsible for making the band a household name due to the success of the single “Silent Lucidity,” and then again with Tribe, the 2003 release that saw the return of founding member and guitarist Chris DeGarmo, who collaborated on a handful of tracks. Fans hoped for a full-fledged reunion of the original lineup, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.
Spock’s Beard - “Thoughts” (Beware of Darkness, 1996)
A 7:10 nod to old-school prog by one of the bands responsible for the prog revival of the 90’s and early 00’s.
The Police - "Can’t Stand Losing You" (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
One of my favorite Police tunes.
Def Leppard - “Too Late for Love” (Pyromania, 1983)
I very nearly wore this cassette out playing air guitar in my room. I was so obsessed with this pastime that I got my dad to help me make a plywood fake guitar that was very similar to Phil Collen’s black Ibanez Destroyer, although I still much prefer Pete Willis era Leppard.
Soundgarden - "Slaves & Bulldozers" (Badmotorfinger, 1991)
Mostly uninspiring sludge-rock track from what is otherwise one of my favorite Soundgarden discs. It doesn’t get good until Cornell lets loose and starts screaming.
Teenage Fanclub - "December" (Bandwagonesque, 1991)
This short and sweet ditty reminds me a bit of Big Star’s “13.” I bet these guys got this alot, huh?
Booker T. & the MG’s - "Silver Bells" (In the Christmas Spirit, 1966)
How’s about a little Hammond organ with those bells?!
Various Artists - “All We, Like Sheep” (Sleighride: The World’s Most Beautiful Christmas Carols)
Somewhere along the way my wife and I received this multi-disc compilation of mostly choral/orchestral arrangements of Christmas carols and hymns performed by famous orchestras and choirs like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. There are a handful of good versions on here, but most of them are pretty yawn-worthy. Let’s just say this isn’t one of the good ones.