Black Sabbath, Turn Up The Night . . . Kick butt Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath to start us off, from the Mob Rules album, 1981. I remember that album especially from working on a construction crew winter of 1981-82 in northern Alberta, minus-50 (really, OK was just one day it got that low but was usually at best minus-30; had to go in to the lunch trailer for regular breaks to avoid frostbite). Anyway, one of my colleagues, another Ontario transplant then, raved about the album at a time I wasn’t much into Sabbath, any version of the band. That soon changed.
The Rolling Stones, Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow? . . . Long ago now hit single, 1966, and I don’t play singles much but hey the show is called So Old It’s New and this is so old it’s new and when’s the last time you heard it on the radio or, for that matter, the last time the Stones played it live (Mick Jagger did on a solo tour years ago)? Quite possibly if my memory serves, first Rolling Stones track I ever really remember, via the Ed Sullivan Show and my older sister’s Flowers compilation. “Some good dances’ I remember her labeling her copy. In later years, she would presage Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself by dancing to Zep’s Misty Mountain Hop and other Zep IV tracks in my older brother’s basement stereo room but that’s a whole other time and place. Anyway, after initially growing up on The Beatles, this was akin to metal, which hadn’t even been ‘invented’ yet, at the time, for me anyway and upon hearing it, I wanted to hear more from the Stones.
Ted Nugent, Stranglehold . . . One of those tunes I got into via working in a bar during college when we had a DJ to play tunes between band sets. Often better than the bar bands themselves. The often-stoned, laid-back DJ we had, perhaps ironically seemed to have this rotating bunch of hard rock albums he drew from. Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo was one of them, along with Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell, Judas Priest’s British Steel and AC/DC’s Back In Black and Highway To Hell, among others. This, though, is the studio version of Stranglehold. Takes me back to those fun days and times of misspent youth.
AC/DC, War Machine . . . AC/DC has a reputation as being a hard rock band, which they are, and metal, which to me they are not. In fact to me they’ve always been essentially a harder, heavier version of The Rolling Stones, same basic lineup – singer, two guitarists, bass and drummer and the Stones are big fans, especially Keith Richards, and have toured with them. Anyway, what to me separates AC/DC from your so-called average hard rock band is their groove, funk, even. As Richards has so wisely said, the ‘roll’ to go with the rock. Sounds crazy maybe I know but stay with me; to the uninitiated and I can see it, all AC/DC songs sound the same but…they’re not. Many of them have a sort of funk edgy groove, like this one from a recent effort, 2008’s excellent Black Ice album.
Judas Priest, Victim Of Changes . . . Who can even describe this one other than to listen to it and think of it in one’s own way. The initial riff, Rob Halford’s voice in various forms including his typical banshee wail, the changing tempos of the song itself; just an epic composition and performance.
Moby Grape, Changes . . . Deliberate song choice to change the pace of the show here, from the hard rock/metal first five tracks to a perhaps more traditional, for me, bluesy rock and so on approach for the rest of the set. Up tempo tune from a San Francisco band that never quite achieved the widespread admiration or commercial success of their contemporaries like the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane, but were arguably as good.
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Lost In The Ozone . . . Digging through my disorganized CDs that I keep lazily not organizing and up comes the Commander’s greatest hits album, from which I pulled this manic country rock music.
Bonnie Raitt, Green Lights . . . Big oversight not playing Bonnie in long long time. Now rectified with this one from her earlier days. Saw her late 1980s, Toronto, during her hits commercial period, great show. Blues/R & B greats Ruth and Charles Brown guested, played a couple songs each, and were terrific. Wonderful concert.
John Mayall, Ain’t No Brakeman . . . Later period Mayall, just nearly 30 years ago now, ha, from his 1995 Spinning Coin album. I saw him first in late 1980s in Toronto with former Stone and Bluesbreaker Mick Taylor opening, then joining Mayall’s band for a few songs, and then Mayall at a recent Kitchener Blues Festival, both great shows.
Atomic Rooster, Broken Wings . . . And here’s progressive/hard rock band Rooster with their take on a favorite Mayall track of mine I’ve played before on the show. Mayall’s version, on his 1967 almost entirely solo The Blues Alone album, was spare, beautiful and so is the Rooster’s beautiful but they add their progressive and hard rock touches for the type of cover I always like, a re-interpretation that honors the original.
Vanilla Fudge, Season Of The Witch . . . Here’s the second in a three-song little prog set, Vanilla Fudge’s spooky extended rendition of the Donovan song. The Fudge was so good at covers, including Beatles tracks like Ticket To Ride and Eleanor Rigby.
FM, One O’Clock Tomorrow . . . From Black Noise, apparently inspired by an interview about space travel with Timothy Leary on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, which during its 1970s heyday came on at 1 am. I default to raunch and roll but gradually over the years came to prog, and in many ways the FM album may have stimulated that, er, progression in my listening habits.
Lee Harvey Osmond, Lucifer’s Blues . . . Coincidental that today, Nov. 22, is the anniversary of the JFK assassination in me playing a Lee Harvey Osmond tune, because I’ve been thinking of and trying to get one in over the last few weeks since as show followers know I am a huge fan of everything Tom Wilson is involved in. Just a brilliant artist, Canadian or otherwise and of course he emerged with Junkhouse before going solo and with Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and Lee Harvey Osmond. Great bluesy track.
The Byrds, He Was A Friend Of Mine . . . Now this one I did intend to play today, in memory of JFK. It’s an old folk tune, some lyrics rewritten by Jim aka Roger McGuinn in the wake of the assassination.
Melissa Etheridge, Like The Way I Do . . . The beauty of this show, increasingly I find as time passes and it’s wonderful, is the feedback received, via in-person conversations and on social media which often triggers my brain to new tunes or artists I may have neglected or forgotten. Like Etheridge, whose music I came to, like many, via her first hit single, Bring Me Some Water in the 1980s. This tune, Like The Way I Do, was also a hit, but when’s last time you heard it, so it fits my ‘so old it’s new’ motif, to me anyway. I decided to play it,or at least something by Etheridge, after a friend of mine reported on his latest flea market cheapie CD run wherein he wound up getting some Melissa albums. I’ve long had her first two, and an excellent compilation which features Tom Petty’s Refugee and Another Piece of My Heart made famous by Janis Joplin, which are now back in my up front memory banks for future possible plays.
Guns N’ Roses, 14 Years . . . I played some Izzy Stradlin solo stuff a while back. Here he is on lead vocals with backing by Axl Rose on a track I like from the Gunners’ Use Your Illusion II album, which came out on the same day as Illusion I in 1991. Remember that brief trend, which Bruce Springsteen followed a year later with his Lucky Town and Human Touch albums? I remember people lining up at record/CD stores to buy the Guns N’ Roses albums. Remember those days, we of a certain vintage? People lining up for albums, concert tickets, etc. Kind of a cool thing, actually, in some ways at least, or maybe it’s memory making things seem better or cooler. I remember getting tickets for the first Rolling Stones show I ever saw, 1978 in Buffalo. I lived in Oakville, Ontario at the time but had to go to the next city over, Burlington, to a mall with a ticket outlet, line up . . . People camped overnight, some came up with some ‘list’ they figured would assure them a place in line (it didn’t). I always remember a police officer at the door as people started getting rowdy, assuring them they were ‘in’ to get tickets. “Calm down! You’ll get tickets!” Then I recall a guy way up in the line, getting his and waving them triumphantly to the still-waiting crowd. You don’t get that sort of experience these days, such as it was, ordering online. Anyway, I did manage to get tickets to a great show.
Canned Heat, Get Off My Back . . . Vocals by Alan Wilson on this, from the final incarnation of the original band. Love the fading in and out of the guitar breaks, just a cool bluesy rock song that goes through many tempo changes in five minutes yet remains a coherent whole.
Steely Dan, Haitian Divorce . . . inspired by yet another Twitter conversation about great bands.
Peter Green, Just For You . . . From the late great original Fleetwood Mac leader’s In The Skies album, beautiful blues rock.
Little Feat, Dixie Chicken (live) . . . Twice the length of the studio version and featuring the Tower of Power horns, this great version features a terrific piano solo by Bill Payne, then horns, then a guitar duel between Lowell George and Paul Barrere to close things out. From one of the great live albums, Waiting For Columbus.
George Harrison, Simply Shady . . . I was digging through my Harrison stuff and realized I had not mined the Dark Horse album in ages, if at all, for listening pleasure or the show itself. I remember a period in my life when I was major into Harrison’s solo work, as it came out, and I still always am but hadn’t listened to this album in a while. I think this very confessional tune as he examined himself at that particular time in his life, 1974, is arguably the best on a good album journalism critics found wanting, yet it’s quite good in my estimation. He took criticism over his perhaps ragged vocals on the album and particularly this track but apparently he had been suffering from laryngitis and in any event, I think the vocals actually add feeling to the song.
The Tragically Hip, Fiddler’s Green . . . Beautiful track from one of the Hip’s best albums, Road Apples. It wasn’t a hit, not a single. Yet so revered among Hip fans that it made it onto the Yer Favourites compilation, partly selected by fan vote, and justifiably so.
Kansas, Lonely Street . . . I got talking about Kansas on Twitter with some music acquaintances the other day and their Song For America album and its title cut came up. And it’s great, Song For America, and I like Kansas’s prog music, and they’re a prog band but more widely known in the mainstream for what really are somewhat uncharacteristic hits like Carry On Wayward Son and Dust In The Wind. At any rate, they can obviously do it all, which is why I wound up choosing this perhaps atypical bluesy rocking cut from that same Song For America album.
J.J. Cale, Carry On . . . And we carry on to next week via J.J.’s typically brilliant shuffle. I have all his stuff and the guy to me was amazing; how he essentially mined the same groove song after song, album after album, yet never sounded repetitive.