Ted Nugent, Turn It Up . . . Rip-roaring start to the set with this one from the Motor City Madman. Not into his politics, but I do like much of his music, certainly the earlier stuff I know, plus his work with the Amboy Dukes. This is from his second solo studio album, Free For All in 1976. Derek St. Holmes is lead vocalist on it and four other tracks on the album which also features a pre-big stardom Meat Loaf. Yes, him. He sings five songs. Maybe next week, or soon, I’ll play the one he does lead vocals on and the other one I had in mind for today, Hammerdown.
Fu Manchu, Missing Link . . . Great heavy stoner rock from these California boys, from their 1996 release and third album, In Search Of. One of those bands I got into by chance. Just happened to walk into a used record store in Oakville, ON when I was still living there and where I grew up, hence the occasional Oakville references. The place was a hole in the wall, Cactus Records if I recall, across the street from Records On Wheels which is, apparently, still there on Kerr St. according to a web check just now. Good for that guy. Anyway, both places were run by the same type of people who run, say, our wonderful Encore Records here in Kitchener – people who truly know and are passionate about music, don’t just sell it. So, anyway, finally, ha ha, the Cactus owner had the Fu Manchu album on and we agreed that it sounded like, or at least was heavily influenced by, Black Sabbath. I liked what I heard, total impulse buy, still like it, and the band and all their work.
Stray, All In Your Mind . . . Another fairly recent discovery, this UK band formed in 1966 and are still going, off and on playing live if not necessarily recording. Got into them via the 2016 compilation I’m A Freak Baby . . . A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72. A friend of mine sends me a message on Facebook: ‘You have to get this!” So I got the excellent 3-CD set and was introduced to this 1970 track, a 9-minute, 36-second blast of exactly what the compilation’s billing says: heavy psychedelic and hard rock. Great stuff and I liked it, and the band, so much that I shortly thereafter became the proud owner of Time Machine: Anthology 1970-1977, a 2-CD compilation of Stray’s work. Why they weren’t bigger is one of those music mysteries. (Lack of) Marketing, management, whatever. Iron Maiden later covered this tune, at half the length. Meantime, in 2019 out came I’m A Freak Baby 2: A Further Journey . . . 1968-73 (they added a year). It includes another Stray tune, a short rocking romp, The Man Who Paints The Pictures, from 1968 when the band members were just 16. So I contacted the same friend on Facebook and said: “You have to get this!” Not sure if he did.
Elton John, Ticking . . . Dark subject matter on this deep cut from EJ’s 1974 album, Caribou, the one with The Bitch Is Back (please, no) and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me on it. It’s a fictional account, Bernie Taupin’s lyrics a commentary on violence in the United States primarily and in society in general. It’s about a man who had a repressed childhood, later snapped and killed 14 people in a New York City bar. Wikipedia doesn’t describe it as fictional, most other sources do. Which is why you can’t always trust the wiki. Anyway, a 2015 Rolling Stone poll had it among Elton John fans’ favorites among his non-hits.
Gregg Allman, Love The Poison . . . Up tempo tune from the late great Allman, who I saw live at the Kitchener Blues Festival in August of 2011 and not a moment too soon, as he later had to cancel that tour, once he got to Europe, due to the various ongoing health issues that eventually killed him in 2017. This one’s from his fine 1997 album, Searching For Simplicity. All his solo work is great, I find, and nice companion pieces to the mother ship’s output.
Sea Level, Nothing Matters But The Fever . . . Another from The Allman Brothers Band family, a jazz-rock-blues fusion outfit fronted by keyboard player/percussionist Chuck Leavell between 1976-81. The band name comes from a pun on his name: C. Leavell. Leavell, a widely respected artist with an extensive resume, moved on to become a session player with and member of The Rolling Stones’ touring band, to which he belongs to this day.
Sammy Hagar, Little White Lie . . . Big hit from the former Montrose and Van Halen singer’s 1997 Marching To Mars album. Great, slow-building into a high-intensity bluesy rock tune. Nothing wrong with it aside from fact that, at a shade under three minutes, it’s arguably too short. But, hey, leave ’em wanting more, which is the key to so many great songs. CCR’S Fortunate Son always comes to mind for me in that regard. Which is why I tend to play Fortunate Son several times, each time I play it. This one? Arguably my favorite solo Sammy song.
Traveling Wilburys, Tweeter And The Monkey Man . . . Lead vocals by Bob Dylan on this, my favorite track and a minor hit single from the Wilburys debut in 1988. You know the supergroup, sadly three of the five of whom have now gone to the great studio and concert stage in the sky. Dylan. Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. Still around. Gone are George Harrison. Tom Petty. Roy Orbison, who sadly wasn’t around for the second, and as a likely result less successful second Wilburys album, cheekily titled Vol. 3. Canada’s Headstones did a wicked, rocked up blistering cover of Tweeter with slightly altered lyrics incorporating more Canadian references including to their hometown of Kingston, on their 1993 debut album, Picture of Health. I’ve played the Headstones’ version previously, likely will come around to it again at some point, but it’s been ages since I played the original on the show, if ever. An oversight now rectified.
Pete Townshend, Sheraton Gibson . . . Always loved this one, remains among my favorite Townshend solo works. Such a nice little ditty. From his debut solo album, Who Came First, in 1972.
Billy Joel, Captain Jack . . . Early Billy Joel is, to me, the best Billy Joel. Fantastic track, dark subject matter about a drug dealer and his teen customers, apparently Joel was searching for inspiration one day and got it by looking out his apartment window. But, so much great art comes from darkness. One of those tunes you get into when you buy an album for the big single (the title cut, Piano Man) and then are immensely rewarded by the rest of the release.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Midnight Moses . . . Great riff on this one from the late great Alex Harvey’s outfit. They never really got beyond cult status on these shores but big, deservedly so, in the UK.
Lou Reed, Vicious . . . Lead cut from Transformer. Mick Ronson on lead guitar, David Bowie backing vocals, third single from the album that of course gave us Walk On The Wild side. Didn’t chart, that I’m aware of, Vicious. Absurd.
Cat Stevens, Indian Ocean . . . From the 2-CD ‘Gold’ compilation, released in 2005. This wonderful tune was a new track then, recorded and released for the compilation and credited under Stevens’ now and long since legal name, Yusuf Islam. I love most of his stuff including the well-known hits but this has become a real favorite.
Taj Mahal, Senor Blues . . . Such a versatile artist, as demonstrated by this title cut from his 1997 jazz/blues/soul- and world music inflected album. Usually classified as blues, and that’s great as blues is great music, but he’s so much more than that.
Buddy Guy, I Gotta Try You Girl . . . A 12-minute hypnotic track with typical great guitar work, from Guy’s fantastic Sweet Tea album, 2001. To quote Guy, from the album’s liner notes: “the sound and style reminds me of . . . the Sonny Boy Williamsons, the Lightinin’ Hopkins. All those people just playin’ for the drop of the dime in the hat. The Saturday night fish fries . . . you had fun, you woke up the next morning with a headache, you just drank the wine or the beer, grab the guitar and go doin’ it again.” I’m out of booze. Buddy’s inspired me to replenish, put this on with headphones and just drift into its embrace. And, the title leads me into my closing segment featuring mostly female artists and/or lead singers.
Patti Smith, Kimberly . . . What a great album Horses is, including of course this track featuring Smith’s always amazingly unique vocals. I got into Smith during my college days via a bar band that came to the pub I was then working at in my hometown of Oakville, ON, as a doorman/bouncer. Oliver Heavyside, a.k.a. / later The Partland Brothers. They were one of the best bar bands I saw there and, among their various covers including a lot of Jethro Tull and Springsteen, was the Springsteen/Smith-penned Because The Night which appeared on Smith’s 1978 album Easter, a version I’ve played on the show. So, as is my wont when I like a song, or anything, I delve deeper, wound up buying the Easter album and from there went back, and forward, with Smith.
Alannah Myles, Hurry Make Love . . . I’ve always liked this one from her first album. Black Velvet was the monster hit with others like Still Got This Thing, Love Is, etc. doing well or at least being well known, from a terrific album. Great line within: “Don’t stay up with your damned TV, somebody else might make love to me.” Sadly true, sometimes, perhaps, when the moods don’t mesh. Myles was sidelined with some serious health issues involving mostly her back, limiting her mobility. I saw her live in Barrie, ON in1993, fully healthy, as one of several opening acts for Van Halen/Hagar on Canada Day. She toured as recently as 2013, released an album in 2014 and was interviewed in 2018 by an online site where she discussed possibly doing a blues album. Often unfairly classified as a one-hit wonder but definitely not. Check out Rockinghorse, the title cut from her second album, which I’ve played before, for instance.
Pretenders, Kinda Nice, I Like It . . . Typical sultry, sexy vocals from Chrissie Hynde on this great, slow-burning track from Loose Screw, the band’s 2002 release. It’s arguably the album that got me back into the band. Not sure why I got it/what drew me to it; rock radio now being what it is I doubt I heard any of it on radio so perhaps just a whim. But it paid off and I’ve been major back into the band ever since.
The Rolling Stones, Star Star (a.k.a. Starfucker) . . . Second straight week I get into a Stones’ ‘swear word’ song (last week, Cocksucker Blues). Just something to get out of my system, who knows? They wrote ’em, I just like ’em, so I play ’em. Original title on this one is/was Starfucker and the band still refers to it by that name, although record-company pressure had it retitled as Star Star on Goats Head Soup in1973. They played it the first two times I ever saw them, July 4, 1978 at Rich Stadium near Buffalo, Orchard Park where the NFL’s Bills play, and 1979 at the benefit show for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Oshawa, ON that resulted from Keith Richards’ Toronto drug bust in 1977. Richards’ and Ron Wood’s band The New Barbarians opened the show in Oshawa. A great and wild afternoon of music. New Barbarians, really Woody’s band, did their set, featuring some of his solo stuff and Keef wrapped things up with his/Stones’ Before They Make Me Run and then . . . was very cool. Out, again, there is Keith, on a stool, acoustic guitar on lap. Starts strumming. No lights, just a white spotlight. Then, out of the dark, all dressed in white, comes Mick Jagger and we’re into Prodigal Son, the old blues cover from Beggars Banquet that Mick and Keith also did, in this duo way, on the 1969 tour immortalized in the Gimme Shelter movie and long since now available on CD/DVD on the expanded re-release of the great live album, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Yeah, I was there. Me and my buddy saw the first afternoon show, hid in a bathroom in an attempt to stay for the second show, but were found out and had to leave. What an experience, one of just 10,000 people to see those shows; still have no idea how I got tickets, really, but being a major Stones’ fan I simply had to, and I did. My friend had never seen the band, but was major into music and I remember saying, ‘wanna go, I got tickets’ and he was “you honor me.” Yeah.
Marianne Faithfull, Why D’Ya Do It . . . Blistering, vitriolic track musically, vocally, lyrically, from Faithfull’s brilliant Broken English album in 1979. And her voice, by then indeed broken by drink, drugs and smoking, was yet arguably even more compelling.
Tracy Chapman, Bang Bang Bang . . . Was digging into her stuff again recently and, as promised recently to my friends and show followers on Facebook, back to playing this amazing singer-songwriter on the show. Always so lyrically topical, her voice is missing these days as she has not released new material since 2008 although a greatest hits album did come out in 2015. She’s not retired but in a couple recent interviews, most recently in 2020 to a UK outlet, she admitted to being a reserved sort not comfortable in the public eye, accounting for her inactivity musically. To which I would say, Tracy you don’t have to tour, just record! But if not, the beauty of art is that we still have her amazing catalog, so far and if that’s as far as she goes, all good for the amazing, passionate and topical tunes she has given us.
Blondie, Fade Away And Radiate . . . A favorite of mine, from Parallel Lines, the band’s third album and the one that represented a commercial breakthrough what with such hits as Heart of Glass, One Way or Another and Hanging On The Telephone. I must admit, though, to not owning any individual Blondie album, not even back then when they were hot. Just a one single-CD compilation and a wonderfully comprehensive 47-track double disc retrospective, from which I pulled this great track, as we fade away … until next week. Thanks for listening/following.