The Moody Blues, Veteran Cosmic Rocker . . . Not sure how much or if I’m cosmic, but definitely, by now, having grown up with what’s now classified as classic rock, a veteran rocker. This one’s from arguably my favorite Moodies album because, aside from hits compilations, it’s the studio album I know track-for-track, having grown up with it in 1981 when it was high on the charts.
Joe Jackson, Man In The Street . . . Playing this for a good friend, who recently found the Big World album, from 1986, cheap at a flea market and is enjoying it. Great album by a great artist, show followers will know JJ is one of my favorites; no matter the various directions he’s taken in his eclectic career, he’s never lost me yet. I saw the Big World tour at Kingswood Music Theatre at Canada’s Wonderland and this was the closing track in a 26-song set, extended from its 5-minute studio length as Jackson seemed transported into another realm by the music.
Boston, Hitch A Ride . . . I remember when the first, self-titled Boston album came out, a bit of a backlash later ensued as critics started accusing the band, led by MIT-trained engineer Tom Scholz, of using computers and synthesizers to achieve their sound. So on the second album, Don’t Look Back,the band made a point of noting that no computers or synthesizers were used. Nobody gives a damn about that, these days, the use of computers, samples, etc being widely accepted though not everyone is fond of such developments. Anyway, hard to pick a deep cut on Boston’s debut album because just about all of it has been played, and played, and played, on classic rock radio since 1976 when it was released. So, this is the song I decided on. Might be the first time – or certainly first time in eons – I’ve played Boston on the show. To be honest their music hasn’t aged all that well to me, sort of a guilty pleasure by now but loads still love ’em and I don’t begrudge that.
Joe Cocker, Many Rivers To Cross . . . Nice interpretation of the Jimmy Cliff tune on Cocker’s reggae-tinged Sheffield Steel album in 1982 that featured the noted rhythm section of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare.
The Band, Across The Great Divide (live) . . . From the great live album, Rock of Ages.
John Mayall, Nature’s Disappearing . . . I remember my older brother, who I often cite here because he was such a huge musical influence on me, bringing home Mayall’s USA Union album. “No drummer!’ my brother said. This was during the period Mayall indeed used no drummer, although if you didn’t know that, listening to the album, you probably wouldn’t have noticed. Anyway, it was Mayall (guitar, vocals, harmonica and piano) guitarist Harvey Mandel of Canned Heat and Stones’ Black and Blue album sessions fame, Larry Taylor on bass and Don “Sugarcane” Harris on violin. Good stuff. And an early environmental initiative statement, to boot.
Gov’t Mule, Monkey Hill . . . Another one from one of my favorite Mule albums, the Tri-Star Sessions. It’s a set of more raw recordings, the actual original demos for much of what became the Allman Brothers offshoot’s self-titled debut album, in 1995.
Buddy Guy, Tramp . . . Buddy’s take on the Lowell Fulson-Jimmy McCracklin tune, first recorded by Fulson in 1967. This version of the soulful blues track is from Guy’s excellent 2001 album, Sweet Tea.
Deep Purple, Lazy . . . Great albums become so well-known that those of us who grew up with them can play them, mentally, in our sleep hence maybe don’t play them so much anymore. Then you do – which of late I’ve been doing – and you’re reminded just why they’re so great, every track a gem. Like Purple’s Machine Head, of course, which I listened to in the gym the other day. Lazy is just another example of Purple at their best with that amazing blend of all instruments and vocals.
David Baerwald, Hello Mary . . . Nice relationship, or former relationship, song. It’s from Baerwald’s debut solo album Bedtime Stories, released in 1990 after David + David (with David Ricketts) broke up after their fine debut album, Boomtown, in 1986. Ricketts, who co-wrote a couple tunes on Bedtime Stories, but not this one, went into mostly production work while Baerwald has released sporadic solo work while writing musical scores for film and TV. Both Davids played on and co-wrote many of the songs on Sheryl Crow’s debut solo album, Tuesday Night Music Club, in 1993.
The Rolling Stones, Wish I’d Never Met You . . . Another bluesy cut from the Stones’ B-side collection, this one was the flip of the Terrifying single, from the Steel Wheels album, in 1989. It later appeared on the live album Flashpoint + Collectibles disc in 1991 and in 2005 on the Rarities 1971-2003 collection.
Keith Richards, Heartstopper . . . Nice boogie type tune from his 2015 solo release, Crosseyed Heart.
Marianne Faithfull, For Beauty’s Sake . . . And we conclude the little Stones, Inc. interlude with this one from 1981’s Dangerous Acquaintances, which continued a hot streak that began with the previous ‘comeback’ album, Broken English, in 1979. It wasn’t as successful, critically, as Broken English (which would be difficult to top) and Faithfull herself described the recording process as an arduous affair, but it’s got lots of good stuff on it, for my money.
Blind Faith, Well All Right . . . Blind Faith’s take on the Buddy Holly classic. Another from the older-brother-as-huge influence file, which also happened to get me more into Buddy Holly beyond some of his perhaps more obvious hits.
David Bowie, Blackstar . . . Terrific, extended title cut from Bowie’s final album, released in 2016. He died two days after its release. The song reached as high as No. 61 on some charts, remarkable for a 10-minute track but the song is akin to, in my view, the title cut to his Station To Station album. Someone in the comments field on YouTube had a nice description, suggesting Blackstar is like, and Bowie knew he was dying, a sort of retrospective look at the myriad styles he tried and embraced throughout his career.
Pink Floyd, A Pillow Of Winds . . . From Meddle, one of those great albums some of us get into from a band after embracing a later work, in this case the next one, the monster The Dark Side Of The Moon. Then, you go back. Or, forward in a way because, older brother influence reference again, I first became aware of Pink Floyd when he brought home Ummagumma, which I found weird at first but have grown to embrace and play on the show and will again. The coolest thing about Ummagumma, at first glance, is the cover as each band member trades positions and if you know the cover you know what I mean.
Pat Travers Band, Born Under A Bad Sign . . . Off we go into a bit of a blues phase in the show, via Canadian artist Travers’ take (great guitar work) on the blues classic. Saw him at the Kitchener Blues Festival some years back now, good show.
Arc Angels, Sent By Angels . . . Out of the ashes of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band Double Trouble came Arc Angels with their terrific (and lone) 1992 self-titled album. Featured were two members of SRV’s band, drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, plus guitarist/singers Doyle Bramhall II (later in Roger Waters’ touring band) and Charlie Sexton. Arc Angels lasted just the one album in terms of recorded work, apparently due to some drug issues within the band which led to various other issues.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood . . . And here’s SRV himself…Terrific artist. Like the next guy I’m playing, another Texan who at the time brought blues and let’s say more commercial blues rock back to prominence.
Johnny Winter, Lone Wolf . . . Kick butt song to end our Texas trio of tunes, from his 2004 I’m A Bluesman album. I finally saw Winter, in his later days but he was still delivering, even sitting down, when he appeared at the 2011 Kitchener blues festival. That one had one of the fest’s best-ever lineups, which is saying a lot but we had Gregg Allman, John Mayall and the Winter brothers, although Johnny and Edgar did separate sets on different days.
April Wine, Mama Laye . . . Always liked this Latin/calypso type track from the Forever For Now album in 1977.
Alannah Myles, Our World Our Times . . . Myles had huge success, largely via the monster Black Velvet single, with her debut self-titled album in 1989. But I think her follow-up, Rockinghorse, is as good and this hypnotic, pulsating track is evidence of that.
Chicago, Free Form Guitar . . . I was debating whether to play this 6-minutes plus of guitar wank from the late great Terry Kath, from the debut Chicago album, Chicago Transit Authority but then thought, WTF, this show does what FM radio used to do but no longer seems to, at least not commercial rock radio. You used to hear let’s call it acid rock like this. Some think it’s creative, some think it’s self-indulgent crap, all I think would agree Terry Kath was a great guitarist. So, here you go.