Jesus Christ Superstar A Rock Opera (various artists, 1970 version), What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying . . . Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame as Jesus, Murray Head as Judas, Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, etc including Mike D’Abo – who wrote (and sang) the classic Handbags and Gladrags as brilliantly interpreted by Rod Stewart – as King Herod and the late Spooky Tooth, Grease Band and Paul McCartney and Wings guitarist Henry McCullough. Fantastic, timeless album, one of my all-time favorites by anyone.
Max Webster, Battle Scar . . . I wanted to play a Rush song this week, and a Max Webster tune. So in the end, I combine the two – all three members of Rush – singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart – helping out on this wonderfully heavy track from Max’s Universal Juveniles album.
The J. Geils Band, Sanctuary . . . Take It Back was the single from the Sanctuary album, was hailed by critics but naturally for Geils during their brilliant but pre-hit 1970s days it did nothing on the charts. Perhaps they should have released the title cut, a much better song – tougher, grittier, better groove – in my opinion.
Elton John, Tower Of Babel . . . I must subconsciously be into various forms of religious or spiritual imagery today given I’ve delved into Jesus Christ (Superstar) and now the Tower of Babel. I’m actually a-religious or, in the fun phrase I’ve long since stolen from an old friend, a recovering/recovered Catholic but in any event, been meaning to get back to some Elton John the last few weeks but haven’t managed to, until now. From Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirty Cowboy. Next week? Maybe Medley: Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly from Rock of the Westies, which a good friend of mine raved about to me on a text trip down memory lane last week. To which I replied, yeah, thanks bud, all good, played it before, does not preclude of course me playing it again. But, if I do I’ll have to, as is my custom, regale and/or bore readers and listeners with my tales of tough workouts with football teammates in the high school weightlifting gym where Rock of the Westies was one of just three albums we had to play, and endlessly did – the other two being a Stones’ compilation, Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits, Vol. II) and a Beatles’ US Capitol Records compilation, Something New. Or, I may ignore Elton John altogether next week, just to piss my friend off – the likely scenario.
Spooky Tooth, Fantasy Satisfier . . . Rocker from The Mirror album in 1974, after which the band split (only to later reunite, of course, as bands do) with guitarist Mick Jones (not the Clash’s Mick Jones) going on to form Foreigner while Gary Wright went solo to big success with the Dream Weaver album and title cut single, along with Love Is Alive.
Eric Burdon & War, Pretty Colors . . . What a combination of talents that gave us the funky, soulful albums Eric Burdon Declares War and The Black Man’s Burdon, this one from the latter record.
Billy Joel, Travelin’ Prayer . . . What a great banjo-fueled kick-butt country/bluegrass tune, a single that went relatively nowhere, didn’t crack the top 50 anywhere, from Joel’s 1974 Piano Man album which of course yielded his first big single, the title cut. That said, maybe surprisingly because it’s so well known, but Piano Man made ‘just’ No. 25 but that’s actually true of many hit singles people tend to assume made No. 1 when they didn’t, although they were major hits and naturally the artists who wrote or performed them include them in their concert sets.
Chris Whitley, Narcotic Prayer . . . Whitley did a 180 on his second album, Din of Ecstacy. He pivoted from the brilliant acoustic blues rock of his debut, Living With The Law in favor of the grungy guitar attack of the appropriately-titled Din. Critics disparaged it, I like it. But I’m like that with artists I like, appreciate and admire. I’ll travel with their muses, if and until they lose me, which rarely happens.
The Guess Who, Friends Of Mine (alternate version) . . . This is the alternate, about a minute longer, darker lyrically version of the 10-minute Doors-inspired cut that appeared on Wheatfield Soul. It’s terrific psychedelic stuff, un-Guess Who like if all one knows of The Guess Who are their brilliant singles. They were brilliant in long-form material, too. This is from the outakes, demos and other early stuff release, The Guess Who? This Time Long Ago compilations that came out in 2001.
Budgie, Breaking All The House Rules . . . Typically great extended rocker from the brilliant but, sales wise, underappreciated if influential Welsh wonders.
T Bone Burnett, Trap Door . . . Title cut from an EP the noted producer but a great artist in his own right released in 1982. Great lyrics.
The Beatles, Savoy Truffle . . . Came upon this one while searching for Savoy Brown songs. The George Harrison-penned Beatles’ track from the White Album, about Eric Clapton’s sweet tooth, came up in the computer system, I listened to it again for first time in long time and, yeah. So, I’m playing it.
Joni Mitchell, The Reoccurring Dream . . . About the shallowness of consumerism. Mitchell apparently pieced it together by recording TV commercials for two weeks. The track appeared on her 1988 album Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm and she put it on her “Misses” deep cuts self-selected compilation that accompanied her “Hits’ release in 1996.
Saga, Book Of Lies . . . From my hometown of Oakville, Ontario comes Saga, a Canadian band somewhat in the vein of, say, Rush yet not nearly as successful although, given their progressive rock stylings, Saga has been hugely popular in various European countries, Germany in particular. And Puerto Rico, go figure. This track, from their 2007 release 10,000 Days (yes, they’re still at it) is a fine combination of prog and rock elements including great guitar soloing by Ian Crichton.
Savoy Brown, Money Can’t Save Your Soul . . . Thought I’d forgotten about Savoy Brown when I mentioned them a while back, during my Beatles’ song commentary, didn’t you? It is to laugh. I have a great memory and creative mind if one permits me some bullshit arrogance, with a twinkle in my eye, of course. Anyway, one of my favorite Savoy songs, with obvious relationship-resonating lyrics for anyone, depending on one’s own circumstances.
Marianne Faithfull, The Blue Millionaire (extended version) . . . Eight-plus minute version of the 5-mins and change track that originally appeared on her 1983 album A Child’s Adventure. I’m forever fascinated by the creative process, given I create, in a manner of speaking, myself. It’s just interesting how many song forms there are that are appealing, like this hypnotic song, no real chorus or hook, arguably like some Dylan trips, yet all so compelling for that fact.
Concrete Blonde, Walking In London . . . Haven’t played Concrete Blonde in a while but, thankfully, stumbled upon the band in my usual prepping show trip through songs I’ve loaded into the station’s computer system. I can never get enough of Johnette Napolitano’s powerhouse, sexy, sultry and seductive vocals. For evidence, check out the transition at the 1:11 mark of this spooky title cut from the band’s 1992 album, then again at 3:27 – Desire!! Why this band wasn’t bigger than their one brief moment in the sun, 1990’s Bloodletting album and the single Joey, is one of music’s mysteries. Napolitano now apparently lives quietly in California, composing music for films, working as a gallery artist and tending to horses.
Family, Between Blue and Me . . . Love the somewhat tortured vocals by guitarist and band leader Roger Chapman. John Wetton, before becoming a longtime member of King Crimson and Asia with pit stops in Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep and Roxy Music, handles bass and background vocals duties. Which reminds me, as I keep trying to remind myself, about time I got back to some Wishbone Ash. We’ll see. As I often say, in just two hours per week, so much music, so little time. But eventually I get to all I want to get to. Usually, given all the myriad show ideas that run through my undisciplined mind.
Pete Townshend, Time Is Passing . . . It is indeed, isn’t it, time passing I mean. From Townshend’s first solo album, 1972’s Who Came First. Terrific stuff, but then most Townshend tunes are, Who or otherwise.
The Moody Blues, Eternity Road . . . Another band I’ve been trying to fit in over the last few weeks and finally today is their time. Overdue. Sounds crazy, perhaps, in terms of fitting songs into the two-hour slot, ie just put the damn things in but easier said than done. Why? Because you have thoughts in mind, you plug songs in, others come up and it’s like, yeah, haven’t played/heard that in a while either and before you know it, given the flow of the show or even if there’s no deliberate flow, you’re soon at 22-26 songs which typically is the two-hour song length, and it’s on to the next week which I always ‘push ahead’, to be filtered, or not, for the next show. Enough pseudo-creative babble. Ride on to the next track.
The Rolling Stones, Ride On, Baby . . . From the Flowers compilation which my older sister owned which, along with Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) she also owned, is how I got into what became and remains and always will be my favorite band. She was, as all young people were then, major into The Beatles and, slightly less so, the Stones and also The Monkees (whereas big brother was the Zep, Tull, Hendrix, Cream, Purple etc. influence and glad for it). And, beating Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself by many years, my sister went dancing with herself to the various albums she owned. You should have seen her going, in 1971, to Led Zep’s Misty Mountain Hop which I’ve mentioned before but anyway . . . I’ll always remember her ‘rating’ note scrawled in black magic marker on the back cover of Flowers: “some good dances”. Rubber Soul by The Beatles had “good dances’ written on it, so I discerned from that, that she liked Beatles better. At least for dancing. No competition, I love both bands but was interesting 10 years or so later when, for my 16th birthday I got The Beatles’ 1967-70 ‘blue album” compilation and the Stones’ ’70s comp Made In The Shade as presents and all sister wanted to play was the Stones. Of course, she had just seen them on their 1975 tour appearance in Toronto so, obviously, she was on a concert high and major into them. Funny thing was, The Beatles’ tunes were more familiar to my younger brothers and I then so we wanted to hear the 67-70 album more than the Stones sbut for my youngest brother and me, that quickly shifted to Made In The Shade, the buying of every pre- and post-Stones actual studio albums and the rest is history.
Steve Winwood, Night Train . . . I love Traffic (and have played them a lot although not lately, see ‘so much music, so little time”) but not so much into Winwood’s solo stuff aside from Arc of A Diver album. The rest of it is too overproduced for my taste/ears, and Arc borders dangerously on that overproduced precipice but avoids it enough to make for a great album, great track. I feel I’ve played it too recently but so what, if so? And off into the night, on this train, we go . . . until next week. Cheers and take care, all, and thanks for listening/following.