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.
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.
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.
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.
U2 - "Kite" (All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000)
I was a big fan of this album when it first came out. I don’t know if I overplayed it or what, but it doesn’t seem to stand up well these days to me. That being said, “Kite” is one of the better tunes, and I don’t immediately want to skip it.
King’s X - "Sometimes" (Out of the Silent Planet, 1988)
Mid-tempo groove from the Texas trio filled with complicated, twisting, heavy riffs, arpeggiated guitar verse sections, excellent vocal harmonies, and Doug Pinnick’s raspy, soulful lead vocals. Just the usual stuff that the music world wasn’t ready for in 1988.
Rush - "Bravest Face" (Snakes & Arrows, 2007)
iTunes is really digging Rush lately, especially this album for some reason. Much of Snakes & Arrows was written on acoustic guitar, and it shows more here than on other tunes. I like this song, but the opening verse almost kills it for me every time, what with Geddy’s uncharacteristic almost-out-of-tune vocals and Alex’s strange acoustic riff—that is until we hit the bridge and the real Rush shows up.
OSI - “Standy (Looks Like Rain)” (Office of Strategic Influence, 2003)
Probably the most melodic and laid-back song on the debut album from this supergroup featuring Fates Warning’s Jim Matheos and former Dream Theater members Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy. And at 2:09, it’s way too short.
Flight of the Conchords - "Mutha’uckas" (Flight of the Conchords, 2008)
Seriously, dude, iTunes totally played this tune yesterday when I was shuffling. What gives?! “Too many mutha’uckas ‘uckin’ with my shi’!”
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.