Nirvana, Lounge Act . . . Nirvana’s Nevermind is so front-loaded with its hits/well -known songs – Smells Like Teen Spirit, In Bloom and Come As You Are open the album – that great, punkish tunes like Lounge Act are often overlooked. That’s why radio has deep cuts shows.
King Crimson, Frame By Frame . . . From Discipline, which in 1981 marked the return of Robert Fripp and friends to recording under the King Crimson banner after being dormant since 1974. And, typical of ever-changing Crimson, this was a different beast with a new-wave type sound, somewhat derivative of Talking Heads of the same period, yet still uniquely Crimson.
The Monkees, You Just May Be The One . . . A Mike Nesmith-penned and sung tune, and a good one, from the Headquarters album.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Leave My Girl Alone . . . About time I played some SRV again.
The Rolling Stones, Almost Hear You Sigh . . . One of the best, in my opinion, latter-day Stones’ tunes, from 1989’s Steel Wheels album. Co-written by drummer Steve Jordan, now in the Stones touring unit upon the passing of Charlie Watts, it was originally destined for Keith Richards’ first solo album, Talk Is Cheap. It didn’t make the cut, Richards played it for Mick Jagger, who made some lyric adjustments and it wound up being the third single released, after Mixed Emotions and Rock and a Hard Place, from Steel Wheels. Arguably the best song on the album, it nevertheless only made the top 50 in the US. The Netherlands liked it. It made No. 11 there. Whatever, good songs are good songs, the best song in the world is the one you’re listening to now, if you like it. Charts are statistics.
Five Man Electrical Band, Hello Melinda, Goodbye . . . Infectious tune, it was originally an A-side single with Signs, the band’s most well-known song, as the B-side but the 45 bombed first time around. Later, with the band on the verge of breaking up, Signs was re-released as an A-side and the rest is history.
Eric Clapton, Old Love . . . There’s a lot of overproduced dreck on Clapton’s 1989 album Journeyman what with synthesizers and various forms of instrument programming but this bluesy track is an exception. There are, according to the song credits, synth piano and synth strings on the song but I don’t hear them, or can’t discern them, thankfully.
Aerosmith, Shela . . . From Done With Mirrors in 1985, the last album of the old Aerosmith before they brought in outside writers and ascended to greater commercial heights while losing their early raunch and roll grit, for the most part. I still like the later stuff that doesn’t descend into overproduced schlock, but prefer the consistently down and dirty earlier stuff. Mirrors didn’t do so well, at least by Aerosmith standards, charting at No. 72 in Canada and No. 38in the US. Sales weren’t helped by initial pressings, and I remember having it on vinyl when it was released – everything on the album was written backwards so you had to use a mirror, get it, to read the lyrics etc. I’m all for creativity but it was frustrating, it just didn’t work and the misjudgment was soon rectified. Good musically, though.
Colin James, Freedom . . . Blues and R & B great Mavis Staples shares vocals on this nice groove tune, from James’ 1995 Bad Habits album, for which he won a Juno Award as Male Vocalist of the Year.
Free, Broad Daylight . . . From Free’s second, self-titled album. Was released as a single. Went nowhere. Absurd.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Insider . . . Stevie Nicks provides backing vocals on this one from Hard Promises, 1981. Music is so much place and time, of course, and the album – and its cover – always reminds me of California, as I was spending some time in the San Francisco Bay Area when it came out. The cover, with Petty in a record store, reminds me of one of my younger brothers and I browsing in a record store and hearing the album, which I bought, along with Phil Collins’ Face Value, which was also on the sound system – I Missed Again was the song I remember being played.
James Gang, Ashes The Rain & I . . . Beautiful, musically and short and sweet lyrically, from Rides Again, the second album from Joe Walsh and the boys.
Fleetwood Mac, I’m So Afraid . . . Rumours gets most of the hype but the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album that preceded it, the first featuring Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, while not approaching the sales figures of Rumours, is just as good and itself was a No. 1 record. This track originally was scheduled for a second Buckingham-Nicks album but became a Fleetwood Mac song when the duo joined the band.
Guns N’ Roses, Better . . . Best song on Chinese Democracy, in my opinion, and the reconstituted band, again featuring Slash on guitar, continues to play it in concert.
Van Morrison, A Sense Of Wonder . . . Beautiful title cut from Van the Man’s 1985 album, went nowhere as a single but it’s one of those tunes, perhaps because he put it on his personally-selected Best of, Volume 2, that when you hear it, you recognize it.
The Byrds, Lover Of The Bayou . . . A live version is the one usually found on Byrds compilations, and it’s good. But so is this longer studio version, originally recorded for the Untitled album in 1970. The studio cut didn’t come out officially until the Untitled/Unissued re-release in 2000.
McKenna Mendelson Mainline, Mainline . . . Blues, from an album, Stink, that seems to be in every music-loving Canadian home.
The Black Crowes, Thick N’ Thin . . . It’s been a long time since I listened to the Crowes, let alone played them on the show, but as usual was filleting CDs, looking for something new, different or not played in ages, and here we go. Nice one, from the debut album, Shake Your Moneymaker, in 1990. They’ve got a new EP out, featuring covers of songs from 1972 called, wait for it, 1972. Six songs – Rocks Off by the Stones; The Slider (T-Rex); You Wear It Well (Rod Stewart); Easy to Slip (Little Feat); Moonage Daydream (David Bowie) and The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rolling Stone. I’ve heard it, nothing earth-shattering. For me, most covers albums are sort of, ok, that’s interesting, I probably won’t listen to it all that often, how about some new original material, folks? That said, just the Crowes having fun paying homage to their heroes.
Frank Zappa, Wonderful Wino . . . Good rocker from one of Zappa’s more accessible releases, the 1976 album Zoot Allures.
George Harrison, Awaiting On You All (live, The Concert For Bangladesh) . . . Good live version of one of the best tracks from an album full of great ones, All Things Must Pass.
Men At Work, Down By The Sea . . . A somewhat uncharacteristic song, if all one knows of Men At Work is their two big hit singles, Who Can It Be Now and Down Under. It’s longer, a shade under seven minutes, somewhat bluesy and definitely hypnotic, just a great track, for my money.
Sea Level, King Grand . . . Funky tune from the Chuck Leavell-led Allman Brothers jazz-rock fusion offshoot, with multi-instrumentalist Randall Bramblett taking lead vocals.
Otis Redding, You Don’t Miss Your Water . . . Take the Stax house band Booker T. & The M.G.’s, augmented by studio aces The Mar-Keys, The Memphis Horns and young at the time session pianist Isaac Hayes, record everything but one track in a 24-hour span in May of 1965 and you have the great album Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul. The woman on the cover of the album has, according to what I’ve read, never been definitively identified but is thought to be German model Dagmar Dreger. Apparently, the record company thought that putting an attractive white woman on the cover would help Redding’s crossover appeal.
Stevie Wonder, Race Babbling . . . The Secret Life of Plants had one hit single, No. 4 Send One Your Love but other than that, the concept album that was a soundtrack to a documentary of the same name, threw people. But Race Babbling is one cool, hypnotic, experimental adventure lasting just under nine minutes. Good lyrics, too.
Rita Coolidge, Superstar (live, from Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen) . . . From Cocker’s 1970 traveling road show album, co-written by Leon Russell, who was a member of the band, and Bonnie Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie fame. The Carpenters turned it into a worldwide hit in 1971.
Buffalo Springfield, Go And Say Goodbye . . . Country rock pickin’ from the debut album, 1966.