- Yes, Sound Chaser . . . A progressive rock segment to start the show. This opener is a track from Relayer, the lone Yes studio album featuring keyboard player Patrick Moraz, who replaced the departed Rick Wakeman (who later returned). The expanded re-release liner notes for the 1974 album describes the track as “Yes in interstellar overdrive, an otherworldly rocker led by Moraz’s ghostly jazz riff.” Guitarist Steve Howe described it as ‘two strong entities going against one another – this keyboard tune really hammering away against Chris (Squire) and I doing our guitar and bass riffs.”
It’s great stuff. I was at first going to open with The Gates of Delirium, the epic 22-minute album opener but decided I might bore some people not into prog, hence fell back to risking boring them with Sound Chaser’s nine and a half minutes. Ha ha. Perhaps I’ll get to The Gates of Delirium another time, maybe in an all-prog show, since I didn’t include, for example, Emerson, Lake & Palmer this evening. We’ll see; it’s whatever moves me for a given show.
- FM, Black Noise . . . Great 10-minute title track from the prog/space rock band and 1977 album that gave us the hit single Phasors On Stun, and also introduced listeners to the late great Nash the Slash, who later went solo.
- King Crimson, I Talk To The Wind . . . I enjoy all King Crimson but the 1969 debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, remains my favorite. I Talk To The Wind is one of the five pieces on the album, all great, all sung by the amazing, late great Greg Lake, later of course of ELP. So, I guess I did touch on ELP, in a way, today.
- Genesis, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight . . . from the great Selling England By The Pound album, 1973. Just love that little, periodic, how does one describe it in print, noo noo noo noo noodling . . . I think anyone who knows the track knows what I mean. And then later it transtions into the fierce instrumental section, then back again – everything that made Genesis, of that period, so great and interesting.
I actually got into Genesis relatively late, with the And Then There Were Three album in 1978 via the single Follow You, Follow Me, arguably the band’s most commercial offering to that point, representing the start of a major stylistic transition by the band and more accessible to me, who to that point was more a raunch and roller who had essentially ignored prog rock aside from occasional well-known tunes like Yes’s Roundabout.
I had always been aware of Genesis, of course; I remember high school friends talking up A Trick of The Tail when it came out in 1976 and actually decided to investigate that album, and beyond, once I got to college two years later. It was after a football game, we were at a party and Tail was on the turntable. A teammate looked at me and said ‘this is the one you need to hear.” So I did, then, and of course later and so off I went back into the Genesis catalogue and the rest is history, for me and all progressive rock music, an association that seems to get stronger the older I get. Not sure what that means, if anything.
- Peter Gabriel, Mother Of Violence . . . And so we go with more Peter Gabriel singing, this time not with Genesis but from his second solo album, 1978. As with his first four solo works, simply titled Peter Gabriel although they’ve come to be known, via their album covers, as Car, Scratch, Melt or Melted Face and Security (only in the US and Canada, Geffen Records slapped that title on against Gabriel’s wishes, though he reluctantly agreed to it and came up with the title Security himself. It’s the album with Shock The Monkey on it and I remember the title as a sticker on the original vinyl wrap. Anyway, nice song, good album, no big hits, arguably somewhat overlooked in Gabriel’s catalogue. Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame plays guitar on it as does later Crimson bassist/Chapman stick player Tony Levin. Roy Bittan of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band also appears, on keyboards, on more than half the album.
- Pink Floyd, Keep Talking . . . From the second post-Roger Waters album, The Division Bell, 1994. It features Stephen Hawking in a few spoken word segments that I think add nice touches to the track. Waters of course hated and criticized the whole enterprise, dismissing this album in particular as crap: “Just rubbish, nonsense from beginning to end.”. And I always laughed at his thoughts on the first David Gilmour-led album in 1987, calling A Momentary Lapse of Reason “a quite clever forgery”.
The Lapse album title I always thought something of an at least potentially unfortunate name, or maybe probably deliberate satire, all things considered given the Floyd internecine fighting at the time, although the title stems from a lyric in the song One Slip. At any rate, musicially, Floyd continued on quite well I thought, how could it not, with Gilmour on guitar. Lyrically, without Waters, not so much. Great album covers, though, the beds on the beach for A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and the two heads for The Division Bell. Among Pink Floyd’s best, in my opinion.
- Traffic, Rock And Roll Stew . . . So, we now deliberately shift the tone of the show, via the title, just so damn clever, lol, to more of a traditional I guess one would say, for me anyway, rock direction, with this up tempo number by the endlessly terrific Traffic.
- The Rolling Stones, Ventilator Blues . . . A hypnotic track, just listen to the repetitive, metronome-like guitar riff throughout. One of my favorites from the brilliant Exile On Main St. album and a rare co-writing credit, along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, granted to then-band member and amazing guitarist Mick Taylor, who contributed so much (including songwriting he claims he was not credited for, arguably true, easily searchable online for particulars) during his 1969-74 tenure.
That said, while I love Taylor’s playing, one could reason it was the Stones’ environment that stimulated his creative juices more than the other way around, since he’s done little in the way of great solo work since. I have all his albums and they’re not, to me, memorable, rarely play them and am not prompted to play them often because they never stick in even my Stones-loyalist head enough to make me want to. Same with most of Bill Wyman’s solo work, and he’s another who has periodically complained about credits (I do like his In Another Land on the Satanic Majesties album). Taylor’s replacement, Ron Wood, a good musician (especially with Faces/Rod Stewart) who technically Taylor can play rings around, has done much better solo work. As a friend of mine once said during a beer-fuelled discussion with other buddies, “it’s all about songwriting!” And it is. Taylor’s done some great session work though, notably with Bob Dylan and of course before joining the Stones he contributed greatly to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Mayall recommended him to the Stones when they were looking for a replacement for Brian Jones.
- AC/DC, Ride On . . . Proof, from the early days, that AC/DC could/can really play the blues. Uncharacteristic for them, but a great tune from the Bon Scott era, released on the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album that came out in 1976 in Australia but not until 1981 in North America, on the heels of the massively-successful Back In Black album. So many songs have memorable lines, this one for me being the ‘looking for a truck” in terms of where it’s placed, and how it’s sung, in the song. Which is, reason suggests, why the song was selected for the Who Made Who pseudo-compilation, released in 1986 as the soundtrack to the Stephen King movie Maximum Overdrive, an adaptation of his short story Trucks. I say pseudo-compilation because AC/DC has no – band policy apparently – official compilations (other than a couple box sets of mostly archival, unreleased and live stuff). Another soundtrack/compilation of their material is Iron Man 2.
10. Pat Travers, Crash And Burn . . . I love Travers’ big hit Snortin’ Whiskey but after hearing it for the first time back in 1980, it drew me to the album from which it came, I fell in love with this title track and it, arguably, remains my favorite by Travers. Saw him in a smokin’ set at the Kitchener Blues Festival a few years ago.
11. Red Rider, Napoleon Sheds His Skin . . From the great Neruda album, 1983. The White Hot and Don’t Fight It singles initially brought the band to my attention, followed by Lunatic Fringe. Then I went out to Peace River, Alberta for my first full-time journalism job and back then, pre-internet and way up north, radio wasn’t the greatest in terms of tunes so you often bought stuff sight unseen, word of mouth recommendations or from reviews in music magazines that existed then, which is how I wound up getting Neruda.
12. Bill Withers, Use Me . . . I always knew of Withers’ beautiful Ain’t No Sunshine and Just The Two Of Us but in perhaps something of a musical role reversal I admit I got into this tune via Mick Jagger’s cover of it on his 1993 solo release Wandering Spirit. Yes, I know, so much of my music interests are somehow connected to The Rolling Stones. What can I say? Love that band. And most of those connections lead to great music.
13. Joe Cocker, Look What You’ve Done . . . Great track from a great album I got into during those early career days in Peace River, 1981-83, this from 1982. Cocker’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Seven Days, which I’ve played on the show and was also done by the Stones’ Ron Wood on his 1979 Gimme Some Neck album, drew me to the Cocker work. It’s a reggae-ified (is that a word? it is now) spin that features the rhythm section/production duo of drummer Sly (Dunbar) and bassist Robbie ( Shakespeare). The album also features the Steve Winwood song Talking Back To The Night, which Cocker actually released first, three months before Winwood’s album of the same name came out in August of 1982.
14. Dr. John, I Walk On Guilded Splinters . . . Sometimes titled I Walk On Gilded Splinters. In any event, another example, for anyone who isn’t aware of his music, that the good doctor was far more than his hit single from way back, Right Place Wrong Time. Great gumbo, this. Covered by many artists, including Humble Pie’s 23-minute live version on Performance Rockin’ The Fillmore and various latter-day Allman Brothers Instant Live series albums, a few of which I own.
15. Little Feat, Roll Um Easy . . . What a band, Little Feat. Never massively commercially successful, highly influential, widely respected by other musicians…I saw the latter-day, post-Lowell George version, fronted by Paul Barrere, also now passed, at a club in Hamilton, Ont. Great show. This song came out in 1973 on the terrific Dixie Chicken album, Barrere’s first with the band, and was covered two years later by Linda Ronstadt, with George playing slide guitar on it.
16. Nick Lowe, Big Kick, Plain Scrap . . . From my college period, 1978-80 when all the punk/new wave stuff broke big, this from 1979’s Labour Of Lust. The hit was Cruel To Be Kind but the whole album is great, Switchboard Susan, which I’ve played before, on and on. Hard to pick a track to play because to me they’re all so good, but on the flip side, it’s a great album to dig into for my programs.
17. The Police, Shadows In The Rain . . . Nothing to do with anything, really and not sure why I thought of this, other than I’m playing a Police song, but I remember an old acquaintance of mine claimed to be one of 14 people to see the band in a Toronto pub, before they were big or had an album out. Who knows, who cares, just came to mind, great tune from a great band that became really, really big.
18. The Kinks, Little Bit Of Emotion . . . From 1979’s Low Budget, great album by the Kinks that, maybe surprisingly, didn’t do so well for them commercially on their home turf in the UK but restored them, in large measure, to commercial prominence in the colonies, what with (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman and other hits. Always one of my favorite bands, just quite amazing to me, musically, lyrically mostly from Ray Davies but also many great tunes from brother Dave. The live album and DVD that came out of the resulting tour, One For The Road, is terrific.
19. Warren Zevon, Basket Case . . . Anyone who knows Zevon well knows he’s much more than Werewolves of London or, for that matter, the entire Excitable Boy album from which it came, a brilliant offering that expanded his audience, at least temporarily. But album to album, track to track, great lyric to great lyric, his catalogue is brilliant including this mid-tempo rocker from My Ride’s Here in 2002. The album was released shortly before he was diagnosed with cancer and a year before his untimely passing just two weeks before the release of his final studio album, The Wind, in 2003.
20. Midnight Oil, No Time For Games . . . Good rocker from the band’s early days, this from the 1980 EP Bird Noises. I remember reading about them early on, but confess that, like perhaps many people, never really heard them until Beds Are Burning and The Dead Heart from the 1987 Diesel and Dust album that broke them big outside Australia and deep music aficionados. Then, as so often happens when an album, or single, introduces you to an artist, you go back and are often rewarded.
21. Free, Soon I Will Be Gone . . . I haven’t played this brilliant band in a while. Good to get back to them. It’s always difficult for me to choose a track of Free’s to play, since there’s so many good ones, the band obviously having far more depth to its catalogue than just the great All Right Now. But I deliberately chose this beautiful one for its title, since the show is almost at its conclusion and I’ve been in this maybe rut, not sure if it’s good or not and I may break free soon, of tying song titles, in spots, to the set list.
22. Coverdale-Page, Over Now . . . And, so ends the show. Good relationship/breakup/rail at a former flame lyrics on a great track from this one-off collaboration in 1993, the Coverdale/Page album. I remember when word came that David Coverdale and Jimmy Page were working together. It was interesting because that was around the time that Coverdale and Whitesnake were commercially huge, or had been, and Robert Plant was miffed and started knocking Coverdale as “Cover-version” due to some of Whitesnake’s Zep-sounding stuff. Which was true, but I also always found it rich, since Led Zeppelin has a checkered history of plagiarism, or at the very least, accusations of heavy borrowing and adapting. Besides, early Whitesnake, up to about 1982, after Deep Purple broke up for the first time in 1976, was quite different, very bluesy, very good. As was the later Whitesnake, but not as much to my taste, too over-produced and ‘hair metal’ for me. So Coverdale and Page got together and it’s a damn good album, which apparently served as the catalyst for Page and Plant reuniting for the 1994 No Quarter live album/MTV special featuring Zep tracks and some new stuff, followed four years later by the Page-Plant studio album Walking Into Clarksdale.