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.
Owl City - "West Coast Friendship" (Maybe I’m Dreaming, 2008)
Ugh. What a way to start out a Five. My teenaged son was briefly infatuated with Adam Young’s Owl City project a few years ago, although he would never admit it now. Problem is, I still have the songs in my iTunes library as proof. Not sure why I haven’t deleted this dreck yet.
Five O’Clock People - "Blame" (The Nothing Venture, 1999) This Five featured a tune by this indie-folk CCM act and expressed my frustration at attempts find out more about the band over the years. Here they cover the Michael Knott song “Blame” from the L.S.U. album Grace Shaker.
Nickel Creek - "When In Rome" (Why Should the Fire Die?, 2005)
I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I first heard this song, then I saw the video, and I really didn’t know what to think. What had happened to my nice little newgrass band?! Why Should the Fire Die? would expand upon the trio’s experimentation within the genre, influenced I would guess by Chris Thile’s more than passing interest in alternative music. It’s interesting to me that, amid critical acclaim and popularity, it would prove to be the band’s final studio album.
The Mob - “Wait” (The Mob, 2005)
This one’s a repeat from this November 2012 Five, and my opinion still stands. I mainly bought this because of Doug Pinnick’s involvement.
Duran Duran - “Thank You” (Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, 1995)
And to close out this… shall we say interesting?!… Five is Duran Duran’s take on Zeppelin’s “Thank You.” They play it fairly straight, and Simon Le Bon even channels Robert Plant during the screamy bits.
Wow, an interesting mix to say the least, and not a one of these songs is on Spotify. Interesting…
My first Five after having (finally) updated to iTunes 11, and it seems my library is in a weird mood. Besides offering me a Caedmon’s Call sandwich, I get a couple of tracks I haven’t heard in quite awhile.
Caedmon’s Call - "Lead of Love" (Caedmon’s Call, 1997)
The opening track from their major-label self-titled debut, “Lead of Love” (if I’m not mistaken) is the song that broke Caedmon’s Call to a national CCM market. Prior to that they were a Houston-area indie-folk band that played bible studies, worship services, and coffee houses.
Led Zeppelin - “Heartbreaker” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
It’s strange not hearing this song immediately followed by “Living Loving Maid.”
Whitesnake - "All Or Nothing" (Slide It In, 1984)
Jon Lord delivers an excellent Hammond solo amidst the drama that surrounded the recording and release of this album as Coverdale groomed the ‘snake for its big U.S. breakthrough. As big as the 1987 self-titled album was, I think this is the better album. My only problem is that I never know if I’m listening to the original version with Micky Moody on guitar or the re-recorded, remixed version with John Sykes since I acquired the album through dubious means at best after my cassette had long given up the ghost.
Ty Tabor - "I Know What I’m Missing" (Rock Garden, 2006)
This track from the King’s X guitarist’s fourth solo album (if you count his independently-released Naomi’s Solar Pumpkin, which I always do) actually sounds like two different songs fused in the middle by a weird instrumental break with backwards-looped vocals, neither half much resembling the other. Each part is quite good and could have both been fleshed out to create stand-alone tracks.
Caedmon’s Call - “This World” (My Calm // Your Storm, 1994) My Calm // Your Storm was originally released as a cassette-only demo in 1994 that has been re-issued twice since then. I got my CD copy at a show they played here in Memphis not long after they released their second major-label album. I actually prefer the more stripped-down version that appears here than the polished arrangement that made its way onto the self-title debut.
After a week of vacation and a long week of after-vacation catch-up, I’m back with a Friday Five. I know you’re excited.
Dio - "The Last in Line" (The Last in Line, 1984)
One of my favorite Dio songs, and Vivian Campbell just rips on that guitar solo. Too bad the video was so cheesy. Cyborg overlords harnessing the power of teenagers playing video games?! But hey, it was the 80s.
Queen - "You Take My Breath Away" (A Day at the Races, 1976)
Beautifully melancholy tune that is reminiscent of Sheer Heart Attack's “Lily of the Valley” in places.
Led Zeppelin - “Hots on for Nowhwere” (Presence, 1976)
Boogie number that I nearly always manage to skip when listening to Presence. It’s not that it’s a bad song, but how in the world can you top “Achilles’ Last Stand”?!
Poundhound - "Rev" (Massive Grooves From The Electric Church Of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music, 1998)
“Have you ever been to the electric church?” 21-second opening track from Doug (dUg) Pinnick’s Poundhound solo project that may have been the inspiration for his “Welcome to the First Church of Rock ‘n’ Roll” speech during the middle section of “Over my Head” on recent King’s X tours. I love Doug in the context of King’s X and even most of his side-projects, but for some reason I’ve never really been able to fully get into his solo stuff. By the way, he has new solo album called “Naked” due out in May. Not necessarily my cup o’ tea, but it might be yours. And with that, I have written more about a throwaway intro track than any other song in my Five. Meh.
Anthrax - "Packaged Rebellion" (Sound of White Noise, 1993)
Some Bush-era Anthrax closes out today’s Five. I didn’t quite get this album at the time, what with the departure of Belladonna and the change of style, but I’ve grown to really like it over the years. “If you say it, mean it; if you mean it, do it.”
Work is riding me like a … well, a rodeo cowboy, so this is going to be a short one. Let’s just leave it at that.
Dream Theater - "Wither" (Black Clouds & Silver Linings, 2009)
Radio-friendly Dream Theater both in content/composition and length. While I love Dream Theater, lately there are some days where I just can’t deal with the amount of attention it takes to listen to some of their longer works.
Kansas - "Questions of My Childhood" (Leftoverture, 1976)
Speaking of prog-rock that requires an investment of attention to listen to. Fortunately this is not “Magnum Opus.”
Goo Goo Dolls - "Broadway" (Dizzy Up the Girl, 1998)
Great pop tune from the album that signaled the beginning of the end of my attraction to Goo Goo Dolls. I lasted exactly one more album.
R.E.M. - "Get Up" (Green, 1988)
Ditto. Although this one isn’t as great as it could be.
Led Zeppelin - “The Battle of Evermore” (IV, 1971)
At this point in my musical journey, I’d much rather listen to this than “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog,” or “Rock and Roll” for the millionth time.
R.E.M. - "Fireplace" (Document, 1987)
Um, best R.E.M. song to feature a sax solo?! Don’t know what else to say.
The Beatles - “She Said She Said” (The Alternate Revolver, 1966)
Bootleg of demos, outtakes, alternate versions, etc. of one of my favorite Beatles albums. This one starts out completely unrecognizable and then quickly shifts to a sparse acoustic version that more closely resembles what ended up on the album.
The Mob - "Wait" (The Mob, 2005)
The Mob was a “supergroup” project made up of Doug Pinnick (King’s X) on vocals, Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Whitesnake) on guitars, Kelly Keaggy (Night Ranger) on vocals and drums, and Timothy Drury (Whitesnake, hired gun) on keyboards. The album also featured Kip Winger on bass, although I’m not sure why when you’ve got Doug Friggin’ Pinnick right there. Doug’s vocals are great, and Keaggy’s are what you would expect, and while the album is good enough, the songwriting is somewhat spotty, and many of the songs (understandably) sound like they are trapped in the 80s and early 90s.
Dream Theater - "The Rover / Achiiles’ Last Stand / The song Remains the Same" (A Change of Seasons, 1995)
At one point in their career, Dream Theater would often cover other artists live, sometimes dedicating an entire night of a two-night appearance to a particular artist or album. I’m sure much of that was due to Mike Portnoy, so I don’t know how often the band does cover tunes live anymore now that he’s out of the picture, but I’m guessing not as much. It’s shame because Dream Theater is a great cover band even though they are a bit stiff and technical.
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.
Led Zeppelin - “I’m Gonna Crawl” (In Through the Out Door, 1979)
Short of “Fool in the Rain” and “All My Love,” I have always had trouble getting into In Through the Out Door. I have to be in the right mood for “I’m Gonna Crawl,” so it usually gets skipped when it comes up.
Cheap Trick - "Takin’ Me Back" (Heaven Tonight, 1978)
It’s classic Cheap Trick. What’s not to like?!
U2 - “Crumbs from Your Table” (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004)
I was hopelessly infatuated with this song for a few months, especially this stripped-down version from the bonus DVD.
Faith No More - "Easy" (Songs to Make Love To, 1993)
This one’s for the ladies in the house. Unexpected but excellently executed Commodores cover from the most recognizable (if not best) version of Faith No More. Mike Patton’s voice is a good fit for this one, and I love Big Jim Martin’s guitar solo.
Minutemen - “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love” (The Blasting Concept, Volume II, 1990)
I bought this SST compilation sight unseen (and unheard) from an SST catalog I got as a teenager based on an ad in Hit Parader or Circus or one of the other music rags available at the grocery store my family shopped at 10 miles away in the middle of nowhere Mississippi. Boy am I glad I did. Even though this particular comp often is seen as the point at which SST jumped the shark, it introduced me to a whole new world of music and bands like Saint Vitus, Black Flag, and Hüsker Dü. The Minutemen’s irreverent take on this classic Van Halen tune was one of my favorites, along with Hüsker Dü’s “Erase Today,” but it had to be listened to a low volumes due to the 2 F-bombs it contains. And clocking in at only 1:19, it took me longer to write this mini-review than it took to listen to.
Anberlin - "Alexithymia" (Cities, 2007)
Anberlin is one of my emo-ish alterna-pop-rock guilty pleasures (with Mae being the first), and I love just about everything they put out, from the sickly sweet ballads to the hard, driving full-on rock songs. My only gripe with them might be their impossible-to-remember song titles.
Ginger - "Can’t Drink You Pretty" (10 (Two), 2010)
Most one-name artists seldom jeopardize their inclusion in the single-name club alongside Madonna, Bono, Prince, Sting, and Cher. But Ginger (born David Walls), is not most artists (in more ways than I care to enumerate here), choosing instead to add the “Wildheart” surname once it was clear that the chances of reuniting his former band of the same name were slim. This track, a rocking boogie/shuffle number featuring nods to Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” and the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and originally appearing on the excellent solo album Yoni, comes from a free 10-track compilation he offered as a follow-up to Ten, a solo career retrospective released prior to adding his new last name and proceeding to turn his attention to what would become an über-successful PledgeMusic project.
Led Zeppelin - “Ozone Baby” (Coda, 1982)
Excellent song from Zeppelin’s swan song, but I can distinctly remember hearing it on the radio when it came out, and not knowing much about Led Zeppelin at the time, thinking it was no big deal.
The Class of 98 - "Eye of the Needle" (_Eye of the Needle _, 2010)
iTunes sometimes surprises me with songs or albums that I had totally forgotten were in my library of nearly 9000 songs. This track is one of those, and while it’s a decent enough song (and pretty catchy to boot), I don’t remember for the life of me why I downloaded it. I’m guessing it was probably a freebie from somewhere.
Led Zeppelin - “Immigrant Song” (BBC Sessions, 1997)
One of my favorite Zeppelin tunes, but I don’t particularly care for their take on it here in this 1971 performance at the Paris Theater in London.
R.E.M. - "What If We Give It Away?" (Lifes Rich Pageant, 1986)
This is the R.E.M. that I prefer—catchy songs, jangly guitars, and Michael Stipe’s voice at times just on the verge of cracking. Love it.
Foo Fighters - "Have It All" (One By One, 2002)
I guess if Stipe and the boys give it all away, Dave Grohl and company can have it all. I love Foo Fighters, and they can do very little wrong in my eyes. This album was heavier and more aggressive in places than previous ones and is full of the stadium anthem rock that the Foos have come to be known for. If There Is Nothing Left to Lose had not already sucked me in, this album would definitely have done it.
Black ’N Blue - "Action" (Black ‘N Blue, 1984)
Terrible cover of Sweet’s (or The Sweet, depending on where you’re from) “Action.” Worst song on the album, and I’m really at a loss for why they included it given the strength of the rest of the album. Unfortunately they never repeated the magic of their debut.
The Police - "How Stupid Mr. Bates" (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
How stupid, Police. This sounds like it could have been some of Copeland’s soundtrack fodder. Unlike his excellent work for the 80s TV series The Equalizer, this is just meh.
Portnoy, Gildenlow, Gilbert, LaRue - “In the Light” (Hammer of the Gods: Two Nights in North America, 2006)
Dream Theater founder and former drummer Mike Portnoy is no stranger to side projects and supergroups. This time he teamed up with Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), and Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) for a one-off Led Zeppelin tribute band (similar to his Beatles tribute band Yellow Matter Custard, also with Paul Gilbert) to play and film a couple of shows that ended up on a DVD. Here I guess they do a respectable job of “In the Light” (never one of my faves, by the way), but if memory serves (I haven’t listened to the entire album in quite awhile), this combo makes for a great Led Zeppelin cover band. Search the YouTube to see for yourself.
P.O.D. - “Bullet the Blue Sky” (The Fundamental Elements of Souththown, 1999)
Very respectable cover of this U2 number that has more of the energy of the Rattle and Hum version than the one from The Joshua Tree.
Beastie Boys - "So What’cha Want" (Check Your Head, 1992)
A couple of weeks late, but still a very fitting tribute to Adam “MCA” Yauch. As I mentioned recently on my blog, I had not previously delved very deeply into the Beasties’ catalog, so I have spent a bit of time getting acquainted with their newer material and reacquainted with some of their older stuff. Along the way I have gained a deeper appreciation for the guys’ musical abilities, on this album especially.
Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes - “You Shook Me” (Live at the Greek, 2000)
The Crowes do their best Led Zed impression with the man himself. Nice.
Pink Floyd - “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert” (The Final Cut, 1983)
Political filler from what was essentially a Roger Waters solo album.
King’s X - "Danger Zone" (Black Like Sunday, 2003) Black Like Sunday is a reworking and reimagining of old (some of it pre-King’s X) material, much of which previously had never seen the light of day outside live performances. Overall the album is very spotty, and while this is not one of my favorites, I can find very little to dislike or complain about when it comes to King’s X.
Work and life have been kicking my tail big-time lately with deadlines and things to do. I’m still not ready for the all Christmas songs all the time theme, and since I’ve been on a bit of a lyrics kick on my blog anyway, I thought I would do a short-and-sweet lyrics-based Friday Five this week.
King’s X - "The Train" (live bootleg) Step up and step aboard, your seat is to the left
The Outfield - "Your Love" (Play Deep, 1985) Just ‘cause you’re right, that don’t mean I’m wrong
Stone Temple Pilots - "Creep" (Core, 1992) Feelin’ uninspired, think I’ll start a fire
Matthew Sweet - "The Ugly Truth" (Acoustic & Live NoiseTrade Sampler, 2011) We want you to act like nothing’s wrong even though you heard a sound
Dream Theater - “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (live bootleg) I’ve been working from seven, seven, seven to eleven every night, and it kinda makes my life a drag
Well it looks like it’s classic rock and metal day for me for the Friday Five. Only one song out of the five was released after I was out of elementary school, and the Zeppelin tune came out before I was born. iTunes shuffle is definitely interesting if nothing else.
Kansas - "Opus Insert" (Leftoverture, 1976)
Kansas’ fourth album Leftoverture launched the group into the stratosphere, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a song that is more of a classic rock radio staple than “Carry on Wayward Son.” “Opus Insert” is chock-full of tight vocal harmonies and thematic shifts, trying (a little too hard perhaps) to be in equal measures grand, progressive, beautiful, and AOR-radio-friendly. Yet I have a hard time finding too much fault in that.
Ace Frehley - "Snow Blind" (Ace Frehley, 1978)
Easily the most popular of the KISS “solo” albums, Ace Frehley’s release remains to this day the most listenable of the albums and the one that has stood the test of time. “Snow Blind” is a solid song from a solid album by the spaceman that still stands up after all these years and is probably better than anything he has released post-makeup.
Led Zeppelin - “Bring It On Home” (Led Zeppelin III, 1969)
It’s difficult at times for me to objectively analyze songs that I have heard literally hundreds of times. At some point they simply become part of a musical history that becomes comfortable and familiar. And while some of these songs become tiresome due to overexposure, “Bring It On Home” manages not to fall into that category. I love the main guitar riff and its accompanying harmony part, the groove Bonham lays down, and the complex bottom end provided by Jones. Songs like this one help make III one of my favorite Zeppelin releases.
Accept - "Turn Me On" (Balls to the Wall, 1984)
The sexually-charged Balls to the Wall was my introduction to Accept, and while I was drawn to the music, I could never quite make out some of the true song meanings due in part to the band’s German-to-English lyric-writing process and the often unintelligible growl/scream/squeal of vocalist Udo Dirkschneider. Already a fan of the Scorpions by this point, Accept had a similar draw for me with their decidedly German-feeling flavor of metal and tasteful guitar solos. “Turn Me On” is probably not the strongest track on the album—the weak link interestingly enough being the chorus in this case—but it’s difficult to pick out a bad track on the entire album.
Styx - "Great White Hope" (Pieces of Eight, 1978)
Sounding as much like anything off the prior release The Grand Illusion, “Great White Hope” could easily be “Miss America, Part 2.” While I tend to like the Young or Shaw tunes more than the DeYoung-penned ones, it’s hard for me to get too excited about this one.
Kind of a “meh” way to end my Friday Five, but it is what it is.