Heart, Rock and Roll (live) . . . Fun intro from Ann Wilson channelling John Lennon’s “thank you on behalf of the group’ , from the Beatles’ rooftop concert, before Heart rips into covering one of their favorite bands, and inspirations, Led Zeppelin. The live cut appeared on Heart’s Greatest Hits/Live compilation release in 1980.
Rory Gallagher, Big Guns . . . Fast cuts only today, like this one from the late great Gallagher.
Bob Dylan, Neighborhood Bully . . . Dylan is not generally known for rockers but he kicks butt on this defiant defence of Israel. It’s from 1983’s Infidels album as he broke from his Christian-born again album trilogy (Slow Train, Saved and Shot Of Love) on a terrific record which featured Mick Taylor, Mark Knopfler and the Jamaican rhythm section team of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.
Aerosmith, My Fist Your Face . . . From, in many ways, the last ‘original’ Aerosmith album, Done With Mirrors, 1985. It was their last album before they started using outside writers, ascended to greater commercial mainstream heights, but lost much of their earlier raunch and roll edge.
Jethro Tull, Cross-Eyed Mary . . . I wanted to play a Tull rocker, settled on this one, from 1971’s Aqualung album. Iron Maiden covered it in 1983. Ian Anderson’s reaction: “A spirited rendition by a young Bruce (Dickinson) testing out his vocal range in a key not really suited to him!”
The Rolling Stones, Bitch . . . One of my favorite Stones’ songs, great guitar tandem work by Mick Taylor and Keith Richards including what Taylor described as one of Richards’ best solos, mid song. The story goes that during the recording of the Sticky Fingers album, the band, at first without Richards who was late to the studio, was struggling with the track. He walks in, goes to the studio kitchen, starts eating a bowl of cereal, sits and listens for a bit, gets increasingly frustrated at what he hears as an aimless racket, asks for a guitar, and the song we know is born. It reminds me of another story I’ve read about Richards, and Taylor. It was long after Taylor left the Stones, mid-1980s he’s doing a club tour. I saw one of the shows; he was the opening act to John Mayall at Ontario Place in Toronto and sat in with his old mentor Mayall on some tunes. Due to his contributions to the tune, Taylor generally includes at least the long instrumental passage from Can’t You Hear Me Knocking in his sets. But on this particular night, Richards is in the audience, Taylor calls him up on stage and an intoxicating jam performance of the song results. I have it on bootleg, from a New York state club show, Dec. 28, 1986.
Santana, Hope You’re Feeling Better . . . Nice rocker, outside of Black Magic Woman likely my favorite track from the Abraxas album.
The J. Geils Band, First I Look At The Purse (live) . . . One of my favorite songs, by anyone, done the way Geils ought to be heard, live from Full House. The band was from the Boston area but their second home, due their popularity there, was Detroit, where this was recorded.
Ted Nugent, Motor City Madhouse . . . Speaking of the motor city, and the Motor City Madman . . .
Blue Oyster Cult, Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll . . . All one generally hears of BOC on commercial radio is (Don’t Fear) The Reaper or Burnin’ For You. Excellent songs, obviously, but so is this one, well known to BOC fans and, as a deep cut, a reason why my show exists.
Bob Seger, Heavy Music/Katmandu (Live Bullet version) . . . Speaking, again, of Detroit . . . Michigan guy, Seger, Michigan venue, Detroit’s Cobo Hall, great live album that upon its early 1976 release broke the then-journeyman artist to a wider audience and deservedly so.
Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell . . . Heavy music, indeed…Title cut from one of those albums, like AC/DC’s Back in Black, where a new singer (Ronnie James Dio) comes in to replace an icon like Ozzy Osbourne as Brian Johnson did Bon Scott, the fan base wonders how things will go . . . and all is well.
AC/DC, Evil Walks . . . Speaking of AC/DC, as our songs/titles delve into dark realms.
Atomic Rooster, Death Walks Behind You . . . An old buddy from early in my newspaper career was major into Atomic Rooster who, at the time, early 1980s, I had heard of but not heard. Thanks to him, got into them, and the rest is history.
Budgie, Homicidal Suicidal . . . Not that I’m on a death or downer kick but again, look at the last few song titles. Just coincidence, really, picking out hard rock songs.
Van Halen, D.O.A. . . . I like both the David Lee Roth and Sammy (Van Hagar) versions of Van Halen but this is the type of vocal performance, not to mention the insistent Eddie Van Halen riff, that proponents of the ‘Van Halen is only Van Halen when Roth is singing school’ might point to. Unless, that is, they listened to the Tokyo Dome Live In Concert album, recorded on the reunited band’s 2013 tour and released in 2015. I took it back. It’s terrible. The playing is fine, but Roth can’t sing anymore; if he ever really could, although he sang his way – being more an entertaining and effective ad-libber talk-singer. On the Tokyo album it’s just embarrassing.
Headstones, Headlight Holds A Deer . . . Another good one from the just released Flight Risk album from the take-no-prisoners Canadian rockers. I played Hotel Room from the same album last Saturday on my early morning show. It’s a great record, but no surprise, the Headstones I find are pretty consistent.
Accept, Fast As A Shark . . . Fun intro with the Germanic beer/dance hall stuff, then the needle scratching the vinyl, the scream, the riff and we’re into some speed/heavy metal.
Motorhead, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch . . . Often true. Then comes the actual relationship, the compromises, etc. What a concept.
Megadeth, Peace Sells . . . But, as the lyrics go, who’s buying? Nobody, really, ever, if human history is a judge. We humans tend to talk about it a lot, though. Wasted words, apparently, to quote an Allman Brothers Band song title.
Metallica, Better Than You . . . The Load and Reload albums totally split the Metallica fan base, which started splintering an album earlier upon release of the more mainstream monster sales album Metallica, aka The Black Album, 1991. So the band changed their look, got haircuts, changed their sound a bit, so what? The music’s still good, just maybe different, and they’ve since largely returned to their thrash metal roots. All a matter of preference and taste, of course. This one’s from Reload.
Judas Priest, One For The Road . . . Likely largely forgotten track from Rocka Rolla, the band’s debut release in 1974. It was a different Priest, then, heavy, but more progressive and pscychedelic, quite good, to me, although the album stiffed and the band’s future was in question. Still, this song, in spots, could be seen as a precursor to the full hard rock/metal the band later regularly issued, even as soon as the very next album, Sad Wings Of Destiny. That title cut and other songs like The Ripper set Priest on the road to mass popularity.
Deep Purple, Comin’ Home . . . Love this rocker from the very diverseCome Taste The Band album, the one and only record featuring the late great Tommy Bolin, who replaced iconic original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Reviews were mixed, even some band members like Jon Lord didn’t consider it truly a Purple album, but its merits have become more appreciated over time since it came out in 1975. I’ve liked it from first listen, upon release.