Chicago, Movin’ In . . . From the Chicago I like, the early jazz-rock fusion version, this one from the second album, 1970. I got into a fun bar-room discussion about pre-Terry Kath and post-Terry Kath Chicago the other day. For those who may not know, Kath was the band’s original guitarist and, along with keyboard player Robert Lamm, arguably the man who kept Chicago to its jazz-rock fusion roots. After his untimely death due to a self-inflicted accidental gunshot wound in 1978 when he put what he thought was an unloaded gun to his head, the band slid into commercially successful but artistically awful schlock although the malaise had already set in two years earlier with the successful syrupy single If You Leave Me Now. That was sung by bass player Peter Cetera who had earlier sung such great hits as 25 or 6 to 4. But the massive success of the single – and I do like it but not as a template for every future song – got the record company thinking, hmm, can you guys do that again and keep doing it, maybe ditch the horns for the most part while we make Cetera the focus of the group even though you guys had always previously and firmly been a collective enterprise?All of which is a long way of getting to the point that, the consensus among the beer-drinking, chicken-wing inhaling group at our gathering was that schlock producer David Foster, the energy behind most of the excrement, was the real villain of the piece as he led Chicago to middle of the road success while producing maudlin music that actually sold, proving that most people have awful ears.
Free, Songs Of Yesterday . . . Could easily be my show’s theme song. You know the catch line: Old bands, old tracks, old bands, their new stuff if they’re still around, alive and kicking.
Paul Kossoff, Molten Gold . . . An interesting one. It’s a Free song, in large measure yet credited to Free guitarist Kossoff from his first solo album, Back Street Crawler. Kossoff’s record came out in 1973, the same year Free disbanded. Paul Rodgers, who went on to big commercial success with Bad Company, sings lead vocals on the track, backed by guitarist Jess Roden and that’s because the track had its genesis in the sessions for Free’s 1972 album Free At Last. But it didn’t come out until Kossoff’s record. Apparently the band, or the record company, thought enough of it that it’s the title of and appears on a Free compilation.
Funkadelic, Super Stupid . . . Yet another guitar showcase from the late great Eddie Hazel, who co-wrote the tune for Funkadelic’s 1971 album Maggot Brain.
Atomic Rooster, Winter . . . The band from which drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer came, not to mention Vincent Crane, the troubled keyboardist and once a member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Crane co-wrote The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’s hit single Fire.
The Rolling Stones, Backstreet Girl . . . A beautiful song that belies its lyrics of forbidden, or hidden, love and sex. According to the book The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions, Mick Jagger rated it his favorite from 1967’s Between The Buttons album, UK version. It wasn’t on the US/North American version of the record but did appear on the North American compilation Flowers. That was one of the first Stones’ albums I heard, along with 1966’s Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), another of the compilations my older sister owned. This was back in the days when UK and North American versions of albums often differed due to the British practice of not putting singles on albums, while the North American labels often offered bastardized versions of similarly-titled albums or their own, stand-alone compilations – like the excellent Flowers.
Todd Rundgren, Can We Still Be Friends . . . I was actually looking for Robert Palmer songs in the station computer system when this came up, since Palmer covered it for his 1979 Secrets album. So, what the heck, rarely play Rundgren.I know he’s renowned and I respect that, especially his production work (like with Meat Loaf, for instance) but I’m not much into him besides his hits (of which this was one). And we’ll get to Palmer in a few minutes.
Rory Gallagher, In Your Town . . . I’m a huge fan so admittedly biased, but there’s nothing from the late great Gallagher I won’t listen to or think is worthwhile listening – whether that be in his solo career or before that, with Taste. This one’s from the Gallagher album Deuce, 1971.
Robert Palmer, Woman You’re Wonderful . . . Speaking of Robert Palmer and the Secrets album . . . A funky cool song in its own right but I’m deliberately using it as an intro to a six-song set of songs sung by Christine (Perfect) McVie’s career with British blues band Chicken Shack, her early solo work and later stuff that she’s best known for with Fleetwood Mac. McVie died last week at age 79. Yet another classic rocker passing but the sad reality is so many of the greats those of a certain vintage (like me) grew up listening to are in their 70s and 80s now so . . . As I mentioned to my buddies over beer last week, The Atlantic magazine recently did an article about exactly that. But the great thing is, we and our descendants, if they are interested, have the music to listen to, forever.
Chicken Shack, I’d Rather Go Blind . . . Christine McVie singing lead vocals on the blues classic co-written by Etta James in this version for Chicken Shack. McVie also covered the tune after leaving that band, and before she joined Fleetwood Mac, on her self-titled debut solo album under her maiden name Christine Perfect, in 1970.
Christine Perfect (McVie), When You Say . . . Speaking of that Christine Perfect debut album. Beautiful stuff.
Fleetwood Mac, Show Me A Smile . . . From the 1971 album Future Games, the first on which McVie was a full Fleetwood Mac band member and contributed writing. She wrote three songs for the record, all of which she also sang lead vocals on, and this is one of them.
Fleetwood Mac, Over And Over . . . From Tusk, the 1979 album that followed the monster commerical success of 1977’s Rumours. Tusk sold millions as well, just not as many millions, so was considered a relative failure in that sense although, given that it was a double album, it contains many overlooked and lasting gems.
Fleetwood Mac, Honey Hi . . . Another McVie lead vocal from the Tusk album.
Fleetwood Mac, Morning Rain . . . Back to Future Games we go for this uptempo number, another one written and sung by McVie and featuring fine guitar interplay from Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan.
Rare Earth, (I Know) I’m Losing You (live) . . . I can’t imagine how much money from royalties the mainly Motown songwriters/musicians Cornelius Grant, Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield made with this amazing tune, covered by countless including Rod Stewart/Faces, The Commodores, many others and, originally, a 1966 hit by The Temptations for which Grant played guitar. This is the 14-minute epic from Rare Earth’s ‘backpack cover’ live album In Concert. The album always sticks in my memory not only because I own it but because I probably own it because a camp counsellor at day camp the summer before high school started for me, September, 1972, played the living you know what out of it on his prerecorded cassette tape copy. Great stuff.
David Bowie, Saviour Machine . . . From The Man Who Sold The World album, which did poorly upon initial release in 1970 but was more successful upon re-release in 1972, by which time Bowie had released the Ziggy Stardust album and, as a result, was a household name. The Man Who Sold The World marked the first appearance of guitarist Mick Ronson as part of Bowie’s band.
Groundhogs, Earth Is Not Room Enough . . . From the 1972 album Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs. It’s a concept album, of sorts, dealing with the ills of war, over-population, war, religion, pollution, all the perpetual real and/or perceived evils we still have no real answers for. Yet we’re still here, somehow.
Frank Zappa, Wonderful Wino . . . Sad, funny, typical Zappa I suppose, as social commentary coupled with typically fine guitar playing, from 1976’s Zoot Allures album, one of his most commercially accessible releases.
Paice Ashton Lord, I’m Gonna Stop Drinking Again . . . I keep trying. But I like the vino. From Malice In Wonderland, the 1977 album put together as a one-off by Deep Purple mates Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (keyboards), accompanied by singer/instrumentalist Tony Ashton. I’ve mentioned it before, but Nazareth released an album by the same title, in 1980, featuring the hit Holiday. I like Nazareth a lot, but I remember when their album came out I thought, you lazy you know whats, come up with your own title. But of course, few people aside from Purple fanatics like me knew of the somewhat obscure Paice Ashton Lord release.
The Butterfield Blues Band, Driftin’ and Driftin’ . . . Extended (13 minutes plus) version from The Butterfield Blues Band Live album, 1970, featuring the fine harmonica playing one would expect of Paul Butterfield.
Aerosmith, Movin’ Out (alternate version) . . . Different albeit still similar version from the same sessions that resulted in the band’s debut album in 1973, on which the song appears. This version was released on the Pandora’s Box 3-cd compilation, in 1991.