Queen, Let Me Entertain You . . . From the 1978 album, Jazz. A logical set opener. I saw the Jazz tour at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, great show that opened with the smokin’ fast version of We Will Rock You that hadn’t been heard, to my knowledge, until that time and appears on the live album, Live Killers, that resulted from the tour. Then they went into Let Me Entertain you, and saved the more familiar We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions for their second encore.
Judas Priest, Delivering The Goods . . . From the Killing Machine album, 1978. The album was retitled Hell Bent For Leather in North America, particularly the United States, due to an American school shooting. So, I won’t say, ‘killer song’. Oops.
Black Sabbath, Neon Knights . . . Kick ass album opener from the first release with the late great Ronnie James Dio taking over from Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals. It was actually the last song recorded for the album, as a space filler for side one of the vinyl release. Space filler! Some filler! Amazingly, while the song, a single, made No. 22 in the UK, it didn’t chart anywhere else. But what a great cut to open an album with, what with people wondering at the time what the band would be like without Ozzy. Well, like this, the band replied. The whole album, and all the stuff they did with Dio, is terrific after he had just come out of working with Ritchie Blackmore for the first three (and easily best, in my opinion) Rainbow albums.Dio added so much to Rainbow and Sabbath and in fact I like his work with those two bands better than I like his own stuff as front man and brains behind his band, Dio. Dio, the band, is good stuff but for me, not up to the quality of his Rainbow/Sabbath work. I got into this album, and a lot of heavy rock like AC/DC and Ted Nugent when I worked at a pub in Oakville, Ontario putting myself through college. The pub, the old Riverside, any Oakvillians will remember, featured rock bands but we had a DJ playing music between live sets and he played the heck out of this album, Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo and AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and Back In Black. Great stuff, great memories.
Motorhead, (Don’t Need) Religion . . . Somehow I feel like I just recently played this song, but I checked and not the case. Ah, I was going to, but whatever set I had going that day went in a different direction, or I ran out of time. In any event . . . I came late to Motorhead. I had heard Ace of Spades but didn’t dig any deeper for a long time. I do remember hearing Motorhead’s Orgasmatron album when it came into the Oakville newspaper I was then working for, to the entertainment section for review purposes. One of the entertainment reporters let me borrow it, I hated it, so did he, and we later used it as a frisbee for a few tosses in the newsroom and then pinned the vinyl album to a bulletin board as a show of contempt for it.But in the end, prompted by reading an album reviews book with the irresistible title of Riff Kills Man: 25 Years of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal – a book that author Martin Popoff later expanded and the jumping off point for his now countless works – I started sampling more in that genre. Bands like Iron Maiden and the so-called new wave of British heavy metal that was spawned in the late 1970s-early 1980s. So, it all brought me back to Motorhead and . . . I liked it. This one from the Iron Fist album in 1982. I share the title and lyric sentiments. Orgasmatron came two albums later, in 1986. I own it now.
U2, Bullet The Blue Sky . . . Arguably my favorite U2 song, never a single, never on compilations perhaps due to its political nature, it being inspired by lead singer Bono’s trip to Nicaragua and El Salvador during the mid-1980s and his resulting observations on the effects of American military intervention and policies there during that period. It’s just so menacing, so passionate. I never tire of it. It appeared on the monster commercial success that was The Joshua Tree in 1987, the album that truly broke U2 big everywhere. I had been into them since the first album, Boy, in 1980 via the single I Will Follow but after Joshua Tree the band became ubiquitous.You know how sometimes you like a band and you wish them success, but then when they achieve massive success you almost feel like you’ve lost them to the masses, to the newbies? It’s a silly feeling in many ways, because people are going to come to embrace music in however they come to it, whenever they do, via a movie soundtrack, big hit album or single, however it happens, and that’s good. But I do remember U2 at the time of Joshua Tree appearing on the cover of Time magazine and I said to a friend of mine who had also been into them from the beginning: “It’s over. They’re on the cover of Time.” It wasn’t over, of course. U2 continued to do amazing work (i.e. Achtung Baby) and on (really) to the present day although people aren’t as willing to give their newer work as much of a chance. I still think they’re pretty good but I can see the view that, maybe, something was lost along the way.
Van Halen, Little Dreamer … One of my favorite VH songs, from the debut album in 1978. What a terrific album it is, arguably still their best though there’s lots of great stuff, obviously, throughout the catalogue in both the David Lee Roth and Van (Sammy) Hagar eras. This one came to mind to play this week after yet another of my music conversations on Twitter. Someone asked the Twitterverse to name just three of their favorite Van Halen songs. So, as is my wont, I went in the deep cuts direction with this, D.O.A., Mean Street. I’ve always liked this lyrical passage: “And then they went and they voted you least likely to succeed. I had to tell them, baby, you were armed with all you’d need.”
Robin Trower, Shame The Devil . . . Trower’s 70s work, particularly featuring the late great bassist/vocalist James Dewar, is stellar. This great tune, from 1975’s For Earth Below, is yet another indication of that. Great album covers, too.
Tommy Bolin, Shake The Devil . . . From Bolin’s second solo album, Private Eyes, 1976. It followed Teaser, which he did while still with Deep Purple during his brief stint with that band, on the Come Taste The Band album. Great riff by a great guitarist and musician, lost to us via drug overdose while touring in support of this album, opening at the time for Jeff Beck.
Kiss, Rocket Ride . . . I’m not into Kiss but I do like this song. It’s essentially a solo work by guitarist Ace Frehley, from the one studio side of the Alive II album, released in 1977. Frehley sings and plays all guitars, with only Kiss’s then-drummer, Peter Criss, on the kit. I got into this one via my younger brother, five years junior and a huge Kiss fan at the time. And I saw Kiss live, while my brother didn’t, to his chagrin. It was by happenstance, me seeing Kiss. Cheap Trick was big at the time in the wake of their At Budokan album. But a college buddy of mine and I missed/couldn’t get tickets for their Toronto performance but a week later they were in Pontiac, Michigan at the Silverdome stadium, so we went. In those pre-internet days, 1979,we didn’t know until we got there and picked up a newspaper that it was Cheap Trick as ‘special guest’ opening for Kiss, then on tour in support of their Dynasty album. Great show, by both bands including of course, Kiss’s typically over-the-top but fun performance.
Pete Townshend, I Am An Animal . . . From Townshend’s brilliant Empty Glass album, 1980. Playing this today was inspired by my old friend Gerry Telford. It’s gratifying how my show seems to be resonating more and more with more people. The feedback and occasional music discussions on both Facebook and Twitter are yet another source of inspiration for what I play in subsequent shows. Gerry is a big Genesis,Who and both bands’ solo offshoots fan and enjoyed the fact I played Peter Gabriel’s Mother of Violence two weeks ago. He equated it with this track by Townshend, which also prompted some discussion about Empty Glass with a recently newfound fellow music aficionado, Ted Martin. Great lyrics including the passage that first grabbed me way back when: “I will be immersed, Queen of the fucking universe.” Pete, the ongoing observer of angst.
R.E.M., Low . . . Losing My Religion was the monster single from the 1991 Out of Time album, but I’ve always liked this hypnotic track the best from that release. Great lyrics.
The Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues . . . Thanks to the wonders of independent radio,I can play a track like this although were I in studio, policy is (or at least was) that we warn listeners in advance about language some may find offensive. So, you’ve been warned, since I’m posting my programmed sets and commentaries in advance these days given our studio is closed due to covid protocols and I’ve yet to get off my butt and learn live remote broadcasts. Maybe by the time the studio reopens, which I gather may be on the table or at least up for discussion. Anyway, this actually fine slow acoustic blues tune was the Stones’ kiss-off to Decca Records, their first record company with which the band had a stormy relationship.It was 1969 and the Stones were leaving the label and starting their own, Rolling Stones Records (distributed then by Atlanic Records), complete with the famous tongue logo. Decca claimed the band still owed them one single, so the boys came up with this one, specifically to anger the record company, which given its language and subject matter, declined to release it. Also known as Schoolboy Blues.
Gov’t Mule, Mr. Big . . . Got back into the band Free in recent weeks, playing Soon I Will Be Gone and Songs of Yesterday in my last two shows. So, sticking somewhat with the program, here’s the great Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers’ offshoot with guitarist Warren Haynes at the helm that became and remains a force in its own right, with their version of yet another Free track. The song originally appeared on the Mule’s self-titled debut album in 1995 but I pulled this perhaps more raw version from the band’s 2016 release of alternate versions and outtakes, The Tel-Star Sessions. Any Mule is good Mule.
Cry Of Love, Too Cold In The Winter . . . Sticking with the Free motif, I’ve always thought this band, which featured later Black Crowes’ guitarist Audley Freed, sounded like Free and should have been a lot bigger. This great song, from 1993’s debut album Brother, was a No. 13 single and the whole album is great. But they only did one more, four years later, Cry Of Love founder Freed then joined the Crowes and that was that.
The Butterfield Blues Band, Last Hope’s Gone . . . A great slinky, soulful, jazzy track from 1968’s In My Own Dream album, by which time the band had long since dropped the “Paul’ from its billing as The Paul Butterfield Blues band on the debut album in 1965. From the second album, East-West in 1966, onward it was just “Butterfield” and the band pursued a slightly different direction from the original straight blues, still to great effect though. Compelling music.
Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road . . . Inspired by old friend Eileen Morkin and her husband Bill Paul, formerly a longtime top executive and now a consultant to Golf Canada. Eileen and Bill, an old high school and college football teammate, celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary recently, Eileen posted the news and we subsequently got talking. Bill’s a huge Springsteen fan so I told Eileen I’d play a track in their honor. I was going to play She’s The One (I will soon) from the Born To Run album but she suggested Thunder Road instead. So, here you go. Great lyrics; I can see why she picked this one.
The Clash, Charlie Don’t Surf . . . From the sprawling Sandinista! Triple vinyl album, 1980. The title comes from a line of dialogue by the surfing-obsessed character, Colonel Kilgore, played by Robert Duvall in the classic 1979 film Apocalypse Now. I just re-watched it recently for first time in ages and got laughing with a friend about the crazy scene where Duvall’s character insists on having some of his men surf a beach during a battle. It culminates of course in Duvall’s famous line “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like . . . victory.” But the entire scene is full of great lines, mostly from Duvall. He earned an Oscar nomination for it as best supporting actor. I think it’s the best scene in a movie full of them, worth the price of admission. Unforgettable.
Concrete Blonde, Tomorrow, Wendy . . . This one inspired by Ted Martin’s recent “60 as he approaches age 60” song posting. In one of his lists, he mentioned Concrete Blonde, might even have been this song, can’t recall now, but it reminded me I had not played this band in ages. Great track from the Bloodletting album, 1990, which resulted in Concrete Blonde’s biggest hit, Joey. Typically great vocals from bassist/lead singer Johnette Napolitano.
Flash and The Pan, Jetsetters Ball . . . Like many, I got into these quirky and fun new wave guys via the self-titled debut album in 1978, yet another college days discovery what with the hit single Hey St. Peter and the B-side, Walking In The Rain, which I’ve always liked better and remains my favorite Flash and The Pan song. This one’s from the 1982 album Headlines, the third of six albums by the group led by Harry Vanda and George Young, who had been in Australian rock/pop hit machine The Easybeats during the 1960s. The late Young was the older brother of AC/DC’s Young brothers, Angus and Malcolm. And, as half the production team of Vanda and Young produced the early AC/DC albums, during the Bon Scott era, up to Powerage and the live album If You Want Blood in 1978.
Chilliwack, Communication Breakdown . . . Not the Led Zeppelin song, this one Chilliwack’s own and a good rocker. This is the full, album version, about a minute longer at 3:45 than single versions that have appeared on compilatons. The album version includes the soft, almost fully acoustic intro before ripping into the main rock riff. It’s from the 1979 Breakdown in Paradise release. It didn’t do well for the band, thanks in part to the collapse of their then-label Mushroom Records, an independent label for which early Heart also recorded.
Steely Dan, The Royal Scam . . . One of my favorite Steely Dan tracks, the title cut from their 1976 album. Like Midnite Cruiser, a track I’ve played before from the 1972 debut, Can’t Buy A Thrill, The Royal Scam is to me a surprising omission from many Steely Dan compilations. More proof that while compilations are great, they don’t always or even often represent the full context of a band or artist.
Neil Young, Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part 1) . . . Great, extended (nearly nine minutes) tune from Young’s 1989 release, Freedom, which gave us the hit single (in rocking and acoustic versions) Rocking In The Free World. Great album, great song, this, musically and lyrically.
Supertramp, Brother Where You Bound . . . Epic, 16-minute title track from the first post-Rodger Hodgson album, in 1985. It’s a great one, apparently demo’d for the previous album, Famous Last Words, but shelved as ‘too progressive rock’ to fit with the rest of that album. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame plays the guitar solos on the track while Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy plays rhythm guitar. Apparently while doing the track, the band thought they needed a Gilmour-like sound. Someone from the record company then said, why don’t we see if Gilmour himself might be interested. So they sent Gilmour a demo, he liked it, was indeed interested in playing on the song and, voila!
Fleetwood Mac, That’s All For Everyone . . . And indeed, that is all for this week’s show. Off we go, on the heels of one of my favorite songs from 1979’s Tusk album, a beautiful track that’s also one of my favorites by the band in the Lindsey Buckingam-Stevie Nicks era.