The Cure - "A Short Term Effect" (Pornography, 1982)
I acquired the (at the time) complete works of The Cure from a friend back before Napster hit the scene and filesharing became the norm, but I can’t say that I’ve actively listened to much of it. Outside of Disintegration and Wish (and some of Bloodflowers), I’m mostly a fan of the band’s “hits,” though I can say there’s not much else like listening to Robert Smith wail and whine about one thing or another while banging away at website code in a dark room.
Iron Maiden - "The Duellists" (Powerslave, 1984)
By the time Powerslave was released, Iron Maiden could do no wrong in my eyes (well, maybe except for Back in the Village; I’ve never been a fan). Even the 13-minute epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” drew no ire from me. I love the “gallop” on this one (as the band calls it) and the staccato harmony intro to the extended (and excellent!) guitar solo section.
Van Halen - "Hang ‘em High" (Diver Down, 1982)
I was a little too young when it came out to fully appreciate Diver Down. I just remember the accusations from some of my older friends of selling out and going soft over “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Dancing in the Streets.” Yet those same guys absolutely loved the “Happy Trails” gimmick at the end of the album. Go figure. This track is classic VH.
The Cure - "Torture" (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 1987)
More Cure that I’m not familiar with despite its having been in my music library for nearly 15 years at this point.
Black Country Communion - “Black Country”/"One Last Soul" (2010)
Live performance of the two opening tracks from this supergroup’s debut. “One Last Soul” is the better track of the two, but damn if Glen Hughes doesn’t have a set of pipes on him. And Bonamassa has to be one of the best guitar players ever that looks like a normal dude you’d bump into on the street.
KISS - “I Stole Your Love” (Live at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA, 1977)
“You wanted the best, and you got the best!”
Hayseed Dixie - "Heaven’s on Fire" (Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to KISS, 2003)
Ha, ha! Very funny, iTunes!
The Cure - "Jumping Someone Else’s Train" (Boys Don’t Cry, 1980)
Great song from a period in the Cure’s history that I am unfortunately way too unfamiliar with.
The Damnwells - "H.C.E. (Here Comes Everyone)" (PMR (Poor Man’s Record) + 1, 2002)
I find that I either love a Damnwells song, or I don’t like it at all. There’s not much middle ground for me. This one I love.
Al Stewart - "Time Passages" (AM Gold: 1978, 1978)
A Popdose contribution to my collection. Didn’t realize I had hung onto this one. Thanks a lot!
Dream Theater - "Misunderstood" (Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, 2002)
I’m not sure why, but I have always found SDOIT a hard album to get into, which is funny since it has some great songs on it. I think maybe it’s because keyboardist Jordan Rudess seemed to have a lot of influence on it (whether that is actually true or not), and the Disney-ish “Overture” of the 8-part title track always kills the momentum for me when I’m listening straight through. Other than that one, the tracks are all good taken on their own merits, and the album contains one of my favorite Dream Theater tunes in “Solitary Shell.” “Misunderstood” drones a bit, but it’s still a decent song.
KISS - “Ladies Room” (Live at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, 8/16/1977)
OK-ish take on a track from one of my favorite KISS albums from a Love Gun show bootleg. The audio is not great, the performance is not great, but it’s KISS, so you’re sure to get a spectacle and lots of energy even when they aren’t firing on all cylinders.
KISS - “New York Groove” (The Greatest Show on Earth, 1979)
OK, maybe I was wrong. Awful version of the Ace Frehley cover of a Russ Ballard tune from an awful bootleg of the final rehearsal sessions for the Dynasty tour recorded live at the Civic Center in Lakeland, FL in 1979. Terrible performance with no energy, and while one could argue that I’m expecting too much from a band practice, you can tell KISS was just going through the motions and was in full self-destruct mode at this point if you listen to the entire boot.
Soundgarden - "She Likes Surprises" (Superunknown, 1994)
I had already lost interest in Soundgarden by this point, and I’ve already lost interest in this song in the time it took me to write this sentence. Next.
The Cure - "The Same Deep Water As You" (Disintegration, 1989)
We started off with a long, droning song, so I guess it’s fitting we end with a long drone. Disintegration made for gloomy, spooky late-night driving mood music while I was in college, but I always liked this album and its follow-up Wish. This is not my favorite track on the album, but it’s much better than the crap on the inside of this drone sandwich.
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.
The Police - "Don’t Stand So Close to Me ‘86" (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
Ugh. An absolutely horrible remake of the original. ‘Nuff said. Next.
U2 - "Promenade" (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984)
For some reason I seldom reach for The Unforgettable Fire when I want to satisfy an itch to listen to U2, and I’m not really sure why. It may be that I’m not as familiar with this disc as I am their others. Or it may be the lack of big “hits” on it, although these days I would count that as an advantage over having to wade through track after track that corporate radio has played into the ground. Weighing in at only 2:34, “Promenade” is a segue track of sorts, of which there are several on this very short album. As such, I don’t really have much of an opinion on it one way or the other, although Bono’s soaring vocals mix well with the ethereal instrumentation.
Arcade Fire - "Modern Man" (The Suburbs, 2010)
I acquired this album from a friend, and after having only listened to it once—and only half-heartedly then, I must admit—I promptly forgot that it was in my collection. That’s unfortunate since if the rest of the album is like “Modern Man,” I really need to dig it out and give it a good honest listen. Simple and catchy, this song is exactly how I like my pop tunes.
The Cure - "Untitled" (Disintegration, 1989)
“Untitled” suffers from a different fate than that of “Promenade.” At one point I had very nearly worn Disintegration out, but coming in at 72 minutes long, by the time I made my way to this final track on the album, I hardly ever made it all the way through its repetitive droning. And although it feels happy and hopeful in light of the somberness of the majority of the tracks, I never really felt that it measured up to rest of the album.
King’s X - "Move" (Live Love in London, 2010)
Excellent live version of one of my favorite tracks off the 2008 XV album. I only regret that I didn’t get to see these guys on tour for the two opportunities that I’ve had in the last decade. Here’s hoping I get another chance soon.
What it looks like—knowing what we were like at the time—it’s the kind of po-facedness that we used to adopt when we thought something was incredibly stupid. We were overwhelmed by how stupid everyone was in the record business when we first started and how drab everything was and how fixated everyone was. I think that’s how we built up this reputation for being very sullen. It was mainly through politeness, because we didn’t actually want to openly laugh at people.
The Cure’s Robert Smith on the band’s demeanor in the “10:15 Saturday Night” promotional video, 1988 BBC2 documentary That Was Then…This Is Now (via Slicing Up Eyeballs)