How The Biggest Bands In the World Reacted Musically to Punk Rock in the 70s

Punk.jpg*Image from the internet and probably copyrighted

I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole Grunge era in the 90s lately. I think the whole Grunge thing was the last musical movement that I actually got caught up in. On my first date with the Rock Chick, back in my swashbuckling bachelor days, we actually talked about music and she said, “I hate that Kurt Cobain destroyed everything that came before him.” That was sadly a very true statement. When Cobain came along – and lets face it, it wasn’t just him, there was an army of bands who came with him & Nirvana, like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, the Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden (to name a few of my favorites) – he laid waste to everything that came prior.

The Rock Chick went on to say that day, “I liked some of those hard rock, hair-metal bands like Motley Crue, Van Halen and Cinderella. You just don’t hear that kind of music any more.” Talk about love at first conversation. This was our first date! My heart throbbed, but enough of that mushy stuff. It wasn’t only those “hair bands” who bit the dust in the wake of Grunge, everybody went down. Billy Joel crawled off to write symphonies. Bruce Springsteen decided he was John Steinbeck with a guitar. Grunge shook rock and roll to its foundation. Grunge was rock and roll stripped of its artifice, more primal and visceral in nature. Gone were drum machines and synths… enter guitar, drums and a whole lot of angst. No hair spray or frankly, bathing needed.  The Rock Chick, ever adaptable, did morph into a huge “alternative” rock fan, the offspring of Grunge if you will. One door closes, another opens as the saying goes.

Of course, this isn’t the first musical wave to rise up and challenge the established order. Punk rock, which one could describe as the pierced, demented grandfather of Grunge, was just as primal and visceral, if not way more so. Both punk and Grunge, to my uneducated ears at least, seem to strip away layers of polish that had accumulated on rock and roll and get it back to that four or five guys (or gals) in a garage bashing out tunes kinda vibe. Punk, rather than express the angst of Grunge, had more of a social protest angle to it. Punk bands, especially out of England were protesting the economic and social conditions they found themselves in and it challenged the somewhat complacent rock establishment. There was an almost nihilistic bent to it that made it dangerous. Of course, I was really, really late getting on the punk bandwagon…

Here in the middle of America, we didn’t hear a lot of punk music on the radio… Not even American punk from New York like the Ramones made it on the radio here. I can remember in the late/mid-70s sitting on the couch at the house one Sunday night and my dad was watching 60 Minutes. They did a segment on the English punk movement. They showed a bunch of young kids, a little older than I was, with safety pins piercing their nose or cheeks. They had Mohawk hair cuts and wore a lot of leather. They were all slamming violently into each other on the dance floor, not unlike a rugby scrum. My father, whose sensibilities on everything are firmly rooted in the 50s, looked over at my brother and I with a look that I now realize can only be described as… fear. I felt that he had the strong urge to jump up and cover my brother’s ears and perhaps backhand me… Looking at me, in his mind’s eye, he probably saw my hair morphing into a Mohawk… a safety pin springing magically out of my cheek. He knew how drawn I was to rebellion.

For my part, I was just as terrified. The 60 Minutes crew shot the live footage at the punk concert – a Sex Pistols’ show – and didn’t do anything to mix the sound. It sounded like harsh, frightening noise with a crazed singer screaming at people. They didn’t play any studio stuff. The old farts on that show just marveled at Johnny Rotten singing “God Save the Queen.” They actually had subtitles to highlight what I’m sure they considered subversive lyrics. This was a sign of the coming apocalypse… To me, it just sounded awful. I need a little melody. It took me years – like 20 years – to finally buy a Clash album. It was a revelation. I quickly picked up the Ramones and the Stooges. Those are some of my favorite punk rock bands. At last, I finally picked up Never Mind the Bollocks, from the once scary (to me) Sex Pistols only about 10 years ago and it’s awesome. Very simple, straight forward guitar rock. As Lou Reed said, “One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” But as my friend Doug told me once, “Every punk rocker knows Lou Reed is an asshole.”

Punk rockers challenged the established rock acts that were already ensconced on the top of the world, the Rock Stars. Rock n roll had gotten bloated. There were Art Rock bands doing 15-minute, multi suite tracks like Rush or Yes, that almost had more in common with classical music than rock and roll. There were strings and overly polished production. Rock had gotten fat and comfortable. Along came punk to shake things up, and thank God it did. Instead of destroying everything that came before it like Grunge, a curious thing happened… the established rock bands, for lack of a better word, absorbed the energy and vibe. Although I’ll admit some of the artists ignored punk: Dylan had found Jesus, Bowie was over in Berlin doing his thing, Steely Dan’s jazz-influenced bubble never burst and hard rockers like Black Sabbath and AC/DC didn’t change a thing. But so many rockers were influenced by punk.

I’ve compiled the following list of some of my favorite band/artist reactions to the punk movement. At the time I’d have hardly known the stylistic change in music came from punk rock, but you live and learn.

  1. Queen, News Of The World – Queen was just coming off two albums of long, complicated music (A Day At the Races, Night On the Town) and were already considering a shift to shorter, more stripped down tracks. While recording News, the Sex Pistols were in the next studio… Freddie Mercury ran into Sid Vicious (who he had been calling Sid Ferocious) and Sid asked, “Have you succeeded in bringing ballet to the masses yet?” Queen, and Freddie especially had been the target of the punk’s ire, and he replied, “We’re doing our best, dear.” Queen went into the studio and delivered a stylistically adventurous LP with tighter, shorter tracks. Sure, “It’s Late” was six and a half minutes long, but what a guitar riff. The crowning glory was Freddie and Brian May’s double-single response to the punks – “We Will Rock You” (their statement of purpose) and “We Are the Champions” (Freddie’s fuck you to them). The lyrics, “no time for losers, ’cause we are the champions” were pretty clear.
  2. The Rolling Stones, Some Girls – The Stones totally absorbed the punk ethos on this album. Of course on tracks like “Miss You” they also absorbed the disco thing too. Mick always picked up on what was now, and Keith keeps them centered and connected to their roots. Songs like “Lies,” and especially “Shattered” were stripped down with rocking guitar. No strings, no fat, just awesome. On “Respectable,” they even mocked the punk’s criticism, “Well now we’re respected in society, We don’t worry about the things that we used to be.”
  3. The Who, Who Are You – No one was more disturbed by the punk’s criticism than Pete Townshend, who saw a lot of the early Who in the punks. Who Are You was seen as a return to form for them, with loud guitars and bombastic drums. Townshend’s title track was directly addressed to the punks, “who the fuck are you?”
  4. Pete Townshend, Empty Glass – So obsessed with the punks was Pete, he continued to write songs about them on his first “proper” solo album. “Rough Boys” sounds like he wants to be friends with them. On “Jools and Jim” he complains, “they don’t give a shit Keith Moon is dead.” From his interviews lately, it sounds like Pete doesn’t care either…
  5. Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps – Nobody dug the punks as much as Neil Young did. The punks seemed to wake Neil from the torpor he was under at the time. The first half of this album was acoustic but the second half is a bunch of blistering guitar workouts. He revamped a heavily bootlegged “Sedan Delivery” and speeded it up so it was very punk. Both the opening and closing, variations of the same song, “Hey Hey, My My” were addressed to Johnny Rotten.
  6. Iggy Pop, New Values – Iggy’s first band, the Stooges was highly influential on the punks… not as much as the Ramones as I understand it but even now hard rock guys from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Guns N Roses cite Raw Power as an influence. I didn’t hear it until a few years ago and yes its great. I wouldn’t have understood it at 13. With all that adulation how could Iggy not jump on the punk bandwagon and release this album, collaborating with old Stooge, James Williamson and Scott Thurston who believe it or not ended up in the Heartbreakers. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em Iggy.
  7. Bruce Springsteen, Darkness On the Edge of Town – Springsteen had been locked in a legal battle with his first manager since Born To Run. He was already pissed off so the punk ethos probably fit the songs he was writing. If you listen to The Promise, the box set for Darkness, many of the tunes sound like the natural progression from Born To Run, but Springsteen opted to only include dark, guitar-centric tracks here. Sonically it’s miles away from his breakthrough album and remains one of my favorites… well, it remains amongst almost every Springsteen fan’s favorites.
  8. Billy Joel, Glass Houses – Like Springsteen, Joel coopted the punk energy and took a stylistic left turn from his previous album, the E-Street-ish 52nd Street. Punchy, guitar-driven tracks like “You May Be Right” and “Sleeping With the Televison On” dominate the album. Like Iggy, if you can’t beat them, absorb them!
  9. Fleetwood Mac, Tusk – Lindsey Buckingham was so afraid of repeating himself after Rumors, and so enamored with the “fuck it” attitude of the punks he decided to take Fleetwood Mac in a totally different direction. I love Tusk, although it was seen as a failure at the time. I’m sure the band struggled as Stevie was delivering songs like “Sara” and Christine McVie with “Over and Over” and Lindsey countering with the punky “It’s Not That Funny,” or “What Makes You Think You’re the One.” Buckingham took a lot of liberties with the record and it makes it all the more interesting.
  10. Paul McCartney & Wings, Back To the Egg – McCartney is the most confounding entry here. I really liked Back To the Egg, McCartney’s attempt at doing more upbeat rock and roll again. I think he really wanted to absorb some of that punk energy but he just couldn’t commit to it through an entire album. I thought “Old Siam Sir” was rocking. But Macca just can’t help himself, he’s gotta go with soft, gauzy ballads like “Arrow Through Me.” I look at this one as a lost opportunity. But hey, it’s McCartney, he can do what he wants.

As I sit here, only 1/3 of the way through the annual “Dry January” I can’t help but think I need a little punk energy to get me going… If you feel that way during the doldrums of winter, put one of these albums on and see where it takes you.

Cheers!

B&V Playlist: Songs About Los Angeles, California…Tinseltown USA

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*Image taken from the internet, likely subject to copyright

As I a child I don’t recall a deep desire to travel. I always hear people say, with moist eyes staring off into the horizon, “I always wanted to travel.” How did they know that as children? My mother was never a big fan of travel. Despite that, she’s been quite the trooper in her golden years, following my father around the globe on cruises. Most of our trips were to see our grandparents, who lived a two hour car ride from here. I can remember driving back on Sunday nights, my mom would always make us stop at the store to buy “fresh milk.” I’m not sure how the milk all went bad in just forty-eight hours, but it made me suspicious about dairy for a long time. As a kid I seem to recall driving down to southern Missouri (hillbilly country) to go to the Silver Dollar City amusement park every summer. That’s just what you did back in the day – you loaded your spouse and your 2.5 kids into the car and drove somewhere. In the midwest, there aren’t a ton of vacation spots. “Welcome to Silver Dollar City.”

It’s not that my parents didn’t travel at all. I know my parents took trips together. I’ve been hearing about a certain journey to Puerto Vallarta my whole life. I do remember, when I was in grade school, my first ever airplane flight, my parents took us out to Los Angeles to go to Disneyland. My dad’s aunt Gemma lived out there and I remember she had an orange tree in her back yard and I thought that was pretty fucking awesome. Her husband had a nudie calendar hung in the garage. Fresh oranges and topless women…needless to say, I spent a lot of time on that visit outside…enjoying the sunshine. That’s always sort of summed up L.A. for me… fresh fruit and chicks.

Despite that wonderful introduction, Disneyland was cool to a 4th grader, I’ve never really been back there. And indeed, despite never having a burning desire to travel as a kid, I love to travel now. It’s one of my favorite things to do. In fact, I chose the career of the Traveling Salesman if I’m being honest (Thoughts From The Traveling Salesman And A B&V Playlist: Hanging On The Telephone). I’ve been a ton of places…granted I’m not Johnny Cash who sang, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” I can’t make that claim, but I’ve been all over, just never really in Los Angeles. I’ve been to Costa Mesa for work, but does that count? I’ve braved the horror of John Wayne Airport’s security line. I did fly out of LAX once… it was like being transported to the 70s and into an episode of ‘The Rockford Files.’ It was in midsummer and the air-conditioning was off. It was like being in a third world airport… I think there was a woman trying to board the plane with a live chicken or some other livestock.

It’s odd that I’ve never spent time in L.A. It has quite a bit of import for my family. My dad’s aunt and uncle (and probably numerous cousins) live out there. In the Great Depression my grandparents were part of that wave of “Okies” who migrated to California for work (although let me state for the record they were from Kansas, not Oklahoma). My grandfather got a job at a plant and really started his family there. My father and my uncle were born there. If my grandparents hadn’t moved back to Kansas when the war was over, I’d probably have ended up growing up out there and despite having no musical talent I just know I would have ended up in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was offered a job out there right out of college… what might have been?

As a music lover, it’s astounding I’ve never been out there. I’ve never seen Hollywood. I’ve never been to the Sunset strip where hair metal was born. There’s so much great music to come out of that town. From classic rock like the Doors or the Byrds to seminal punk bands like X to the entire hair-metal thing with Motley Crue. This was the birthplace of Van Halen for fuck’s sake. I’m not forgetting all the great country music that came out of Bakersfield, which was just down the road. Orange County was the home of No Doubt and Social Distortion. If I’d taken that job out of college god knows how much more music I’d own today.

While I was in New York, I started to think about the recent playlist I did for that city, B&V Playlist: Songs For New York City. It’s usually a slow time for music after the holidays so I was quietly strolling around the city putting playlists together in my head… I would never want to get accused of a Tupac/Biggie kind of feud so I began to think about songs for Los Angeles. I have no idea why… travel to New York, think about L.A., that’s about right for me. I was just amazed at how compact New York was…I hadn’t been there in a while. I couldn’t help but contrast it with how spread out LA is. I mean, it’s true, “Nobody walks in L.A.” I think of cars racing by on the freeway, big 8-lane highways. There’s also the allure of Hollywood and the movie star making machinery. While I did see DJ Khalid outside the Hermes store in New York, one has to wonder how many stars I’d see in LA.

So, as is my habit, I put together the following playlist of songs about L.A. I extend it to some of the more famous neighborhoods and areas… Hollywood, Laguna, Bel Air etc. I didn’t discriminate. I’m not sure it’s not a complete list, but it contains some of my favorites. Hopefully you’ll hear something you haven’t before. We’re all about turning you onto new music here at B&V. And, while there are certain songs I know are about L.A., they don’t contain any reference to the city so I omitted them: “Welcome to the Jungle” is Axl’s harrowing view of arriving in Los Angeles, or Tom Petty’s “California” is great, but it doesn’t mention the city. As always this playlist is on Spotify under the same title as the post. My thoughts below.

  1. The Doors, “L.A. Woman” – One of my early favorite songs about the city of the angels.
  2. Motley Crue, “Saints of Los Angeles” – Oh, to have been on the strip during the Crue’s heyday.
  3. Eagles, “King of Hollywood” – This could be the Harvey Weinstein theme song.
  4. James Taylor, “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.” – Oddly this was the first track I thought of when forming this thing.
  5. Eddie Money, “Another Nice Day In L.A.” – Just a great, great track by the Money-man, RIP.
  6. Bob Seger, “Hollywood Nights” – Epic, epic song with fabulous drumming. Seger took a tape of this song and put it in his car when driving home from the studio the night they recorded it… he said he looked down and he was going 90. Indeed.
  7. The Kinks, “Celluloid Heroes” – A song about movie stars.
  8. Pete Townshend, “Exquisitely Bored” – Only Townshend could take his trip to rehab in L.A. and turn it into a song… “there are good times walking in Laguna, but it rains my heart.” So true, Pete, so true.
  9. The Runaways, “Hollywood” – Joan Jett, Lita Ford, the Runaways should have been huge!
  10. Social Distortion, “Highway 101” – This is my favorite song by Social D. “I believe in love again…with all of its joys and pain.” And I think the 101 goes through L.A.
  11. “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” – Early Stones taking the piss out of an L.A. hipster who works for the record company.
  12. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Out In L.A.” – A little blast from the debut album.
  13. Neil Young, “L.A.” – “L.A., city in the smog.”
  14. Steely Dan, “Bad Sneakers” – A song about a New Yorker in L.A., home sick for the “frozen rain.”
  15. Lindsey Buckingham, “Bel Air Rain” – A beautiful, cascading acoustic guitar fuels this track.
  16. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Century City” – Another great Petty deep track.
  17. X, “Los Angeles” – Title track from their seminal debut produced by the Doors’ Ray Manzarek.
  18. Warren Zevon, “Carmelita” – One of the greatest songs about Los Angeles ever written.
  19. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Californication” – You can’t do an L.A. list without a bunch of RHCPs. “Hollywood sells Californication.”
  20. Tom Petty, “Peace In L.A.” – Great track recorded to calm people down after the Rodney King riots. Hard to find, Spotify didn’t have it…
  21. Randy Newman, “I Love L.A.” – A big cheesy anthem.
  22. Eagles, “Hollywood Waltz” – Could the Eagles have been more disillusioned with Hollywood?
  23. Lyle Lovett, “L.A. County” – A song of violence and love gone wrong.
  24. Ozzy Osbourne, “Old L.A. Tonight” – This song should be to L.A. what Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is to the that town. Ozzy sings his ass off.
  25. Grateful Dead, “West L.A. Fadeway” – A funky little favorite of mine.
  26. Mudcrutch, “Topanga Cowgirl” – I loved both the Mudcrutch LPs that Petty and the gang did.
  27. Steely Dan, “Glamour Profession” – More complaints about the “L.A. concession.”
  28. Hole, “Pacific Coast Highway” – From the overlooked Nobody’s Daughter. 
  29. Missing Persons, “Walking In L.A.” – I had a roommate in college who loved this album… I guess it rubbed off.
  30. Journey, “City of the Angels” – At their Steve Perry-led majestic best.
  31. Paul McCartney, “Mamunia” – I couldn’t tell you what the title means to save my life… there’s a lot about the “L.A. rain” in this song.
  32. Motley Crue, “Down At the Whisky” – I’ve never been the Whisky and I think it’s criminal.
  33. Warren Zevon, “Desperados Under the Eaves” – Another great track from his self titled LP. The reference to the Hollywood Hawiian Hotel is priceless.
  34. 311, “Champagne” – From the “dark side of Hollywood.”
  35. Wang Chung, “To Live And Die In L.A.” – From the movie of the same name. Their best track,
  36. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Into the Great Wide Open” – Classic show business track.
  37. Hole, “Malibu” – Another great Hole track.
  38. Bush, “Everything Zen” – With lines my brother could have written about me had I lived in L.A…. “I’ll go find my asshole brother in Los Angeles.”
  39. Warren Zevon, “Meet Me In L.A.” – Yes, yes, I’m pounding the Zevon. He needs to been the Rock Hall of Fame.
  40. Tom Waits, “A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Little Blue Gun” – The seedier side of Hollywood and Vine.
  41. Billy Joel, “Los Angelenos” – I prefer the live version.
  42. Tom Petty, “Free Fallin'” – Quintessential L.A. track.
  43. Starcrawler, “I Love L.A.” – Love this band.
  44. Billy Gibbons, “Hollywood 151” – Dirty blues rock.
  45. Billy Joel, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” – Almost our fitting ending here…
  46. Don Henley, “Sunset Grill” – The epic synth ending was arranged by Randy Newman… A good way to end things, down on Sunset Blvd.

Enjoy!! If you have adds, please put them in the comments and I’ll add them out on Spotify. Happy New Year everybody!

 

BourbonAndVinyl: The Best of 2019, New LPs and Box Sets/Vault & Live LPs

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It was Bob Dylan in “You’re a Big Girl Now” who sang “Time is a jet plane it moves so fast, oh but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last.” There’s more poetry on Blood On the Tracks than in most freshman lit classes but I’m getting off topic. That line, “time is a jet plane” has been stuck in my head lately. It always seems to pop up around this time of year. That line and Jackson Browne’s “I’ve been aware of the time passing by, they say in the end it’s the wink of an eye.” Each passing year seems to go by faster than the last. It seems like just yesterday I was moving to a new living space… but that was last January.

I can’t believe the NFL regular season is over already. I’ve only got about four or five more weeks before I have to go into sports hibernation until fall 2020. I really need to figure out hockey so I have something to do during the football off-season. At least I have rock and roll… And speaking of 2020, I can’t believe we’re up to 2020… when I was a kid I used to calculate how old I’d be in 2000… I never imagined adding the big 20 to it. All my trusty old concert t-shirts are getting even closer to being considered “vintage.” A guy at the car lot Saturday was fawning all over my Pearl Jam Vitalogy concert shirt.

If I have any regrets about 2019 it’s that I didn’t go to many concerts. I had foot surgery in May and that curtailed my concert going quite a bit. We missed the Cult’s Sonic Temple tour and the Rock Chick may never forgive me. I guess if I wanted to say it more positively, it’s my “New Year’s Resolution” to see more concerts next year. I’m not a big resolution guy… hence the bourbon part of this thing. It was a good year for me in terms of looking backward and expanding my musical horizons. I got into the Byrds and Modern Lovers (finally) this year. I went deeper into the Buffalo Springfield than I’d been previously. I continued to expand my working set of Tom Waits albums. The man is phenomenal. You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to the original version of “Jersey Girl” at three a.m. in New York city, drunk on gin.

I don’t know what to expect out of 2020 but we’ve already got a little bit of good news that John Frusciante has rejoined the Chili Peppers, a reunion I predicted would never happen (Rock N Reunions We’d Love To See But, Alas, Will Never Happen), which made it inevitable. There’s a Netflix documentary on Linda Rondstadt coming that I’m sure you’ll be reading about in these pages. And while 2020 will likely be a politically charged one – I saw political flags at the Chiefs game yesterday which was a first – I choose to hope for the best. Hell, the Stones may finally release that record they’ve been polishing for a couple of years. So much to look forward to.

But of course, the purpose of this post is not to look forward, this is our annual look backward to 2019. I think I’ve dropped the Don Henley quote, “It was a pretty good year for fashion, a lousy year for rock and roll,” into every annual recap I’ve done, but I’m not saying that this year. 2019 actually saw some really great music from some of our favorite B&V artists. I’ve compiled a list of our favorite new albums and then below, our favorite box sets, live albums and miscellaneous vault type releases.

I hope over the last year this blog has brought some good music into your lives out there. I truly hope that each of you have a great and truly happy New Year. This New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be home and in bed by 10… and not in a good way. New Year’s Eve used to be bloodsport for me but now I see it as Amateur Hour… not like St Patrick’s Day where the pros show us how to drink all day. Ahem… Have a great New Year out there everyone! Make it special – reach out to an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, put on an old LP you haven’t heard since way back when, pour a nice strong drink and lets make 2020 even better than 2019. A poet once said, people are like flowers. It’s been a pleasure sharing this garden with you…

2019 B&V Top New LPs 

  1. Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars – Springsteen channels Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and early Glenn Campbell on this fabulous solo record. “Hello Sunshine” ranks amongst his greatest songs.
  2. The Black Keys, “Let’s Rock” –  The Keys triumphant return full of fuzzy guitar and stomping drums. Great, great garage rock.
  3. The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger – Jack White returns to his first side project, the Raconteurs and delivers a more structured set of tracks. Another great garage rock album.
  4. Van Morrison, Three Chords And the Truth – Van delivers his first set of all originals for his sixth album in four years. Laid back, Celtic soul.
  5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Colorado – Neil gets Crazy Horse back together, subs in Nils Lofgren for Frank Sampedro and delivers his best album in years.
  6. The Who, WHO – This might be my favorite album of the year. A truly spectacular return.
  7. Peter Frampton, All Blues – Frampton going back to his roots in Humble Pie to deliver a spectacular album of blues covers. My favorite track may be his Miles Davis cover, “All Blues.”
  8. Starcrawler, Devour You – Arrow de Wilde and the gang show up with a strong, strong sophomore LP. Go see these guys live wherever you are. They’re amazing.
  9. Liam Gallagher, Why Me? Why Not. – He’s a confounding man who once mocked my air-guitar skills, but damn if he doesn’t put out fabulous solo records.
  10. Norah Jones, Begin Again – At 7 tracks, more of an EP than an LP, but I just love this woman’s singing and songwriting. It’s on the mellow end, but we can’t all listen to “In-A-Gadda-Davida” every day.
  11. Leonard Cohen, Thanks for the Dance – Beautifully produced by Cohen’s son based on notes the late singer left behind, this was a great posthumous release. His voice more haunting than ever… He’s not afraid to get political with “Puppets,” but its on the songs of heartbreak that he was most affecting.
  12. Iggy Pop, Free – I doubt my constant praise of Iggy is winning any converts but everyone should listen to “James Bond” and do the twist.

2019 B&V Favorite Box Sets, Live & Vault LPs

  1. Prince, 1999 Super Deluxe Box Set – A deluxe treatment of a double-LP. There is so much great bonus material, it actually eclipses the deluxe treatment Purple Rain got.
  2. The Beatles, Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Box – Everything you’d ever want to hear out of the Abbey Road sessions. True collectors will find the original running order of the side 2 medley a must have.
  3. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Live At Woodstock – If this is CCR on bad night, where Fogerty is pissed, I can’t imagine what they were like on a good night. Essential for every CCR fan, and who isn’t a CCR fan?
  4. Paul McCartney, Amoeba Gig Live – A show McCartney did in a record store for a small crowd may just be favorite live album of his.
  5. Foreigner, Live Rainbow ’78 – Finishing up the tour for the first album with the second album in the can, these guys are on top of the world and you can hear it.
  6. Bob Dylan, Travelin’ Through ’67-’69 – Bootleg Series Vol 15 – Dylan with Johnny Cash. Need I say more?
  7. Neil Young & the Stray Gators, Tuscaloosa – Neil playing “Alabama” in Alabama in the 70s. He was a brave man.
  8. Keith Richards, Talk Is Cheap 30th Anniversary Box – A little light on bonus material, but what’s here is damn good. Plus it’s just a great, great rock and roll album.
  9. Gene Clark, No Other Box Set – The original masterpiece with two additional discs of alternate takes. I can’t believe I hadn’t discovered this album sooner.
  10. Bruce Springsteen, Live Archives – Passaic 9/19/78 and Winterland 12/15/78 & 12/16/78 – I love most of these concerts he’s been pulling out of the vaults but these two sets are must haves. Winterland and Passaic were widely bootlegged… the latter may be the best concert of Springsteen’s storied live career.
  11. Motley Crue, The Dirt, Soundtrack – Most of us have all the tracks that made the sound track to ‘The Dirt’ but I had to include this as they put 4 really nice new tracks on here… new Motley is always a cause for celebration.

There you have it. Check it out and let me know what you think. Cheers and Happy New Year.

Be safe!

LP Review: Iggy Pop’s ‘Free’ – An Atmospheric, Stylistic Left Turn

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It’s been a crazy fall… Iggy Pop’s latest album Free came out over two months ago, early September to be more exact and I’m just now getting around to saying something about it… I realize I’m late, but I feel this music merits some attention.

Now, let me start off by saying, people, don’t fear the Iggy. It’s no secret that I grew up in the American midwest. Iggy Pop wasn’t played on the radio out here. We really had no concept of what his music was like or who he was. People knew his name but he was some noise-making punk who only people in New York and underground rockers knew anything about. When I was in college, listening to vaunted “college radio” they didn’t even play Iggy Pop out here. I’m not sure you could even find his albums in the midwest… I wouldn’t know, I never looked for them. The first time I saw or heard any Iggy Pop might have been when Carnival Cruise used “Lust For Life” on their commercials. Well, actually that can’t be true, I’m sure when I was in college, up all night partying, I had to have seen Iggy Pop on MTV at some point. Most evenings ended with me staring mindlessly and drunkenly at music videos, eating a microwaved Chuckwagon sandwich… Yeah, I was a real chick magnet.

Iggy, aka James Osterberg, hails from Detroit Rock City. He was a pioneering hard rock/punk singer in the legendary band the Stooges. The Stooges never really caught on in the mainstream, but they did catch the ear of one, David Bowie. Bowie mixed their last album, the legendary Raw Power. All my life I heard about Iggy and I heard about the Stooges and yet it took me forever to summon the nerve to check him out. Every rocker looking for some credibility name drops Iggy and/or the Stooges – GnR have covered the Stooges and the Chili Peppers are big fans of the Stooges. Iggy and the Stooges have a built-in cool. I urge everyone to check out the Stooges first three albums, The Stooges, Fun House, and Raw Power. That’s some menacing, fucking music there.

After the Stooges imploded, Iggy found himself at loose ends. He decamped to Europe with Bowie where they continued their creative partnership. Bowie produced Iggy’s landmark first two solo albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life while also working on his own “Berlin Trilogy.” Iggy has had more ups and downs in his career than most rock and rollers. If there’s anything that has been consistent with Iggy, it’s his inconsistency. After those first two superb albums from the 70s, it wasn’t until the early 90s that he put out two, back to back, solid records, Brick By Brick and American Caesar. I loved his last album, produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Post Pop Depression. It’s the best thing he’s done since those first two albums with Bowie, Review: Iggy Pop, “Post Pop Depression”.

I was somewhat surprised when late this summer I heard that Iggy had a new album out. Post Pop Depression had sounded like a retirement notice to me. I mean, how long can you hop around on stage without a shirt on? On the new record, I was hoping he was collaborating with Josh Homme again, but no, Iggy has decided to take a stylistic left turn with this new LP, Free. He started collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Noveller (real name Sarah Lipstate) and perhaps more importantly in terms of the sound of this album, jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas. Iggy’s music has always been very guitar-riff centric. Iggy is loud and aggressive, in your face rock n’ roll, hence his influence on so many punk bands and heavy metal bands at the same time. That harder rocking sound is not the sound here. The music, for the most part is hushed. In many cases Iggy goes spoken-word vs singing. The solo’ing here is all on trumpet, not on guitar. This record has a jazz vibe to it. You get the feeling of wandering down into a basement in the Village and catching a beatnik reading poetry over musical accompaniment.

I realize at the outset here, that this album won’t be to the liking of a lot of you faithful B&V readers. This album is different on so many levels. When the Post Pop Depression tour was over, Iggy was physically and (it sounds like) spiritually exhausted. He was longing to be free from it all… Fittingly, the new album starts with its title track, “Free” which upon first hearing, I thought, maybe the cops need to drop in on Iggy to make sure he’s ok. It might be time for a welfare check on ol’ Iggy. It’s the sound of a muted trumpet with Iggy merely repeating the phrase, “I want to be free.” Ok, so it’s not “Lust for Life,” but on an emotional level, I was drawn in. I’ve been listening to this album for a couple of weeks now and every time the Rock Chick walks by and hears it she asks me if I’m ok?

The next three tracks are amongst the best Iggy tracks ever. They’re the reason I’m writing this post. I know many of you will breeze past this post and probably this music, but this trio of songs are tracks everyone should hear. “Loves Missing” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Post Pop, sinewy guitar over a slinky rhythm section. It’s a straight up, mid tempo rock song. The next track, “Sonali” has some of the most poetic lyrics of Iggy’s career. It’s a softer track where Iggy is practically crooning. He sings in a lower register. The song is ethereal…it just takes me places, “we must find parking, or stay on the freeway, stay in your lane, that’s what you want…” This shimmery song will be studied in college music classes. It evokes a certain sadness in me that I’ve become fond of over the years… The third track in this knock-out trio is “James Bond.” “James Bond” just makes me smile. It’s catchy as hell. It’s upbeat and Iggy keeps singing, “She wants to be your James Bond, its not for a price and it’s not very nice, she wants to be your James Bond.” I love the melody, I love everything about that song, especially the bass line. I even love the trumpet solo instead of the traditional guitar solo.

Unfortunately, the next track, “Dirty Sanchez” is a rather jarring misstep. It starts with mariachi horns. Iggy sings in an almost strained manner. I don’t mind vulgarity, but the line, “just because I like big tits, doesn’t mean I like big dicks” is a little juvenile, even for me. The sing-along with the backup singers becomes pretty annoying. “Glow In the Dark” is better, but he never gets back to the level of those three landmark tracks that kick things off. “Glow In the Dark” has an insistent bass line and some nice trumpet. It’s lyrically strong. The whole album, save for “Dirty Sanchez” is lyrically strong. The themes of isolation and loneliness pour out of this album but it’s not grim…despite the line, “your sense of community is going to kill you.” “Page” is another strong track lyrically. Iggy digs deep and once again goes to a deeper vocal register here. “Dreary causes, yield all the applauses, you’ve done it before, you’ll dread the encore.” It’s nice to hear an artist express his world-weariness in musical form.

The last three tracks is where I think I’ll lose most of you. They’re all spoken-word tracks. Iggy puts a poem by Lou Reed to music in “We Are the People,” While it was written before Reed died, it certainly maintains political relevance today. Iggy said he’s giving voice to other artists on this album, this is what he’s talking about. He then put some musical accompaniment to a reading he did of poet Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” which if you’re going to have someone wave their fist at death and “rage against the dying of the light,” it ought to be Iggy Pop. “The Dawn” is also a spoken word thing… I know, it’s not to everybody’s taste.

Iggy Pop is an important artist. The sooner you set aside any fear of this music the faster he’ll expand your mind. This is an interesting, challenging album. I love it but I’ll understand if most of you don’t agree with me on this one!

Cheers!

 

Friday Night Music Exploration With the Rock Chick: Blue Stones, Blue Stingrays

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Ah, the weekend. That wonderful two day respite from the slings and arrows of work and responsibility. I read somewhere that Europe is going to or has gone to a three-day weekend. Sign me up for that. I’ve always considered Thursday to be weekend-eve anyway. If a three day weekend is creeping socialism, then call me Che Guevara. It doesn’t matter if you travel like me or work in a factory or an office building, there’s nothing as sweet as Friday night.

Friday night, to me, was always the carrier of all the hopes and aspirations for the two days of utter freedom. Anything was possible on a Friday night. Sunday night, on the back end of the weekend, always brought the crushing anxiety and weight of what was going to happen Monday morning. “Monday, Monday can’t trust that day.” They couldn’t be different emotions, Friday vs Sunday nights. Saturday tended to be date night so the population of carousing, drunken people got cut in half. Friday was the night that was going to set the tone for the weekend. I met the Rock Chick on a Friday night, such is the import I give to this particular night of the week.

It’s odd how my take on Friday night has changed since that momentous night, meeting the Rock Chick so many years ago. I used to suffer from “FOMO,” fear of missing out, most acutely on Friday. I needed to be somewhere doing something wrong. I was always trying to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found it much more interesting than being in the right place at the right time… but perhaps it’s all just semantics. I couldn’t get out soon enough on Friday nights. My old pal, who I’ll call Tim (name changed to protect the guilty) and I cut a rather, ahem, wide swath through town. I was always in search of something… what? I’m not sure. And then, the way life does, I found it in the Rock Chick. That restless, gypsy gene was suddenly silent after a lifetime of wandering. I had come in from the cold, if you will.

Don’t get me wrong, I still look forward to Friday night with great anticipation. There just isn’t that burning need to be somewhere. I’m happy to meet my friends RJ, Doug or as I did this Friday, the Jean Genie for a drink or two at Happy Hour and then drift back to the house. More often than not these days I’ll just pull up the drawbridge, stock the moat with alligators, pour a strong and murky glass and turn up the stereo. As the rock and roll fills the room the stress and horrors of the week slide away… of course that could just be the bourbon. Most of my friends are out there still, somewhere, raising kids. The Rock Chick and I are all done with all that and the freedom is intoxicating.

Last Friday, we had nothing going on. I had been on the road and was pretty fried. The Rock Chick and I had actually gone out on Thursday night for the aforementioned “weekend-eve” (we’ve found our Thursday “hang!”) so we stayed home on Friday night. It was then the Rock Chick announced she’d done some musical spelunking and wanted to play some of her newly found music for me. There are few things in this world that make me happier than hearing those words… and since this is a PG-blog, I best not describe the things that do make me happier… ahem.

The first band she turned me onto, and I am very excited about this band, was the Blue Stones. These guys are a two-piece band in the tradition of the White Stripes or the Black Keys. They’re from Canada so we have to presume they’re nicer than those other bands. Lets hope Jack White doesn’t kick their ass. Tarek Jafar sings and plays the guitar with Justin Tessier manning the drum kit. When I listen to early records from the Stripes or the Keys, the sound was very primal or unvarnished. The Blue Stones’ first full length album Black Holes is a lot more polished than I expected. These guys sound like Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys had a baby. It’s a true meld of the sound of those two bands.

There is not a bad moment on this album. After an intro thing, without any singing, called “Airlock” the tunes come rocking out of the speakers. “The Drop,” “Black Holes (Solid Ground)” and “The Hard Part” are all great, catchy rock tunes. It’s refreshing to find a new rock and roll band to listen to! “Be My Fire,” which I believe was the single, is my favorite track. They mix it up a little bit with the last track, the more ethereal “Magic.” The track has an Edge/U2 kind of spidery guitar. It’s the longest track on the album and I found it almost haunting.

I don’t know where these guys are headed. I think they’ve got a new album coming out this year. They’ve released a track “Shakin’ Off the Rust.” I’m not as crazy about that as I was Black Holes but I look forward to hearing  more from this band. We need all the rock bands we can find. The Rock Chick really made a great discovery with these guys…

But she wasn’t done… the second band she turned me onto was the Blue Stingrays who released only one album, Surf-N-Burn. Now this album, was a huge surprise.

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This was an album of full-on surf music in the Dick Dale, Gidget-movie style. Heavy on guitar and riffing. When I saw the album art I assumed this was some lost artifact from the early 60s. “Yeah, Moondoggy, hang 10!” As usual, not content to know nothing about them, I used “the Google” to find out about this album. It wasn’t the 60s when this album was released, it was 1997. There was a whole fictional story behind this band shared on Wikipedia here:

My head snapped back when I found out who was actually in this band… It was quite a surprise. It turns out that this was a one-off album done by Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame. I had never heard of this side project. Campbell is obviously having a blast on guitar here. As Drummer Blake says, “many notes were played.” In the fake bio at the link above, it says Tench was at the session but he purportedly only called the pizza delivery guy. For this solo project Campbell recruited original Heartbreaker Ron Blair to play bass. This was five whole years prior to Blair’s rejoining the Heartbreakers and one has to wonder if this is what led Petty back to him. Also surprising for me is Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh plays in the Stingrays too. Again, this was years before Petty got Mudcrutch back together and I have to wonder if Campbell’s recruiting planted that seed with Petty as well.

The fictional biography in the liner notes, and quoted online, says that they recorded this legendary surf album in 1959 but the band, so intent on anonymity, wouldn’t tour or do any publicity for the album. They finally decamped to an island in Tahiti to perfect the surf sound. Obviously, that’s ridiculous. It’s like the Traveling Wilburys or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band… famous people pretending to be someone else and being liberated by doing so.

This is probably not your every day listen but I love this album. Its completely instrumental and Campbell’s guitar tone is something to behold. They play straight-up Dick Dale surf music. They also do a fabulous cover of “Goldfinger” from the James Bond film of the same name. It’s my favorite track on here. I always wondered why Petty & the Heartbreakers did that song on their Live Anthology box set, now I know. It was a nod to legendary surf band, the Blue Stingrays. This music is played with such sincerity and skill it’s hard not to get addicted to this album.

I urge all of you to seek the Blue Stingrays out. If you’re a fan of guitar, or just good time music, this is the ticket. It’s great background music for a summer party…because let’s face it, no one except me really pays attention to the music you play at a party. And, I’ll admit, I not only pay attention, I judge you on your musical tastes… (heh heh). Just kidding.

Check out these two great bands, you’ll thank me later!

 

 

 

 

LP Review: Starcrawler’s Sophomore Effort, ‘Devour You’

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I have to admit, right off the top, I’m impressed.

There’s an old saying in music – I’ll try and get it right – that goes: you have your whole life to write your first album and two weeks to write your second one. It was a giddy Bono during his Rock Hall of Fame speech, when speaking about the band’s sophomore album October, who described it as “the difficult second album.” So many bands have faced the “sophomore slump” that they are way too numerous to mention here. The Aussie band Jet springs to mind, I don’t know why.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. For some reason I was thinking about the Black Crowes second album this week. I loved their debut album, it came out about the same time as GnR’s first record and I thought rock and roll had been saved for generations to come. Then I heard The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion when it came out and I liked it even more. I can remember singing the lead single, “Remedy” outside a club in Dallas on a road trip and mixing up the lyrics to go, “baby, baby why you dry (sic) your hair.” Uh, the line is “dye your hair.” While the Cars debut should have just been called “Cars Greatest Hits” I’ve always liked Candy-O as much or (gasp) better. That may be because every track on The Cars was wildly overplayed on the radio.

All of that aside, Starcrawler – Arrow de Wilde (vocals), Austin Smith (drummer), Henri Cash (guitar) and Tim Franco (bass) – dropped their second album a couple of weeks ago, just before I was to see them live Concert Review: Starcrawler, 10/14/2019, At Kansas City’s Riot Room – Punk Rock Rag Doll Delivers. If you haven’t seen them, do so, post haste. I will say right off the bat, Starcrawler is not suffering from a slump, sophomore or otherwise. If anything this band is growing and developing at an alarmingly fast rate. They take the menacing punk energy of their first album and expand upon it. They replaced producer Ryan Adams from their debut (New Band Alert: Starcrawler – Edgy Punk Rock From Los Angeles) with Nick Launay (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) for Devour You and I like the different directions he’s pushing them.

The album starts off with “Lizzie” a song about a bully that would have fit right in with the dark energy of their debut…”I think I’m gonna fall DOWN!” From there the band takes us on an ever-expanding palette of sounds and subjects. The first single, “Bet My Brains” will just gallop into your subconscious, perhaps against your will. Tim Franco’s bass line is pure opium, it’s that addictive. Although when singing it in the shower I found myself messing up the lyrics to “Bless my brains I’ve gone insane,”… some things never change and my inability to sing proper lyrics is apparently one of them. It’s a great single, it may be their “Satisfaction” or “My Generation.” It’s that good. Although I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for “Ants.”

I don’t want to do what I did with Greta Van Fleet and suggest that these guys are derivative of anybody – they are fiercely original – but I get more of Celebrity Skin-era Hole vibe on this record than the Runaways-meets-metal vibe of the debut. It has more of a grunge vibe to me. “Home Alone” has a jaunty Velvet Underground feel to it… again, not suggesting any derivation here, just suggesting the vibe I’m feeling. They’re doing so much more on Devour You than on the first record, it’s impressive.

My favorite songs on the album are breakup laments. “No More Pennies” with it’s Exile-era Stones vibe is my absolute favorite track of theirs (they even name drop “Dead Flowers”). “Hollywood Ending” explores the same theme but with an entirely different sound and vibe. “Born Asleep” is another great mid tempo thing with a wobbly solo from Cash and perhaps Arrow’s best vocal yet. They’re all great songs. “You Dig Yours” is a fabulous kiss-off song, where Arrow summons a bitchy chorus, “you dig yours, and I’ll dig mine.” “I Don’t Need You” explores the same subject terrain with a more muscular attack (“you only show up when you want to fuck”).

“Toy Teenager” is a great punk-y put down song as well…”all you are is a clothing hanger.” “Toy Teenager” makes me wonder if it’s aimed at a certain model, but how would I know? I can’t tell if “She Gets Around” is a put down or a song about female empowerment. I’m going to bet on the latter. “Rich Taste” and “Tank Top” are both great tracks. The former is kind of funny which I hadn’t expected and the latter is an expression of fashion and freedom…”she never wears a dress, she looks her very best, she goes to bed and spreads her legs in a tank top…”

I can’t say enough about the drumming of Austin Smith, he powers each song forward. He and bassist Tim Franco are the engine of this car. I really like Henri Cash on guitar. His playing is expanding in all sorts of different directions. His solos are compact, economical and powerful. This band just keeps getting better and better. Arrow de Wilde’s vocals more nuanced on this album than they were on the debut as well. She’s bringing the natural charisma she exudes on stage into the studio. The songwriting is getting sharper and sharper.

There is a lot of hype around the aforementioned Greta Van Fleet, and having seen them live this summer, there should be. I would tell you for my money, Starcrawler is just as important for the continuation of rock and roll as GVF. These guys are raw, rocking and utterly irreverent. I have to say I love it all. We need more in-your-face, fuck you, nasty rock and roll and Starcrawler provides it. Give this band a chance, they’ll crawl under your skin and into your brain… pretty soon you too will be botching the lyrics to “Bet My Brains” in the shower, with your shampoo mohawk on full display… that may be TMI…Jump on this bandwagon, it’s like getting in on the ground floor of Apple back in the day. It’ll pay off in a big way.

Cheers!

B&V Playlist: Songs About The Moon

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“So if you want to write a song about the heart, and it’s ever-longing for a counterpart, write a song about the moon.” – Paul Simon, “Song About The Moon”

I’ve been away for a while. It’s been a heavy travel time here at B&V but luckily not all of it was dictated by my corporate overlords. As I travel I tend to peruse social media quite a bit. I noticed a while back there were a bunch of posts about the 50th anniversary of the United States putting a man on the moon. My father always said his jaw dropped in disbelief the first time he heard JFK say that it was his goal to put a man on the moon. Space exploration was inconceivable at the time. Way to go science! Of course, I recently discovered that someone in my wife’s family believes they faked the moon landing. There’s one in every crowd, right? This person also thinks the world is flat… and Paul McCartney is talentless. Needless to say, recent holidays have been weird. Rest assured that in those instances, the whiskey helped.

I have extraordinarily vague memories of the first moon-landing. I was a very small child. I remember my parents friends had a party at their house and their kids had a shit ton of toys. I remember being in their walk-out basement, sun streaming in the backdoor window and seeing the astronauts were on the moon. That’s gotta be a false memory. I was way too young to remember something like that but it sure seems real. Of course, there were a number of moon landings, so maybe it wasn’t that first one in 1969. It couldn’t have been. Back then my parents still partied quite a bit, as did their friends, so maybe it was one of those “extra” moon trips that I remember. As Lynyrd Skynyrd once sang, “Too many lives they’ve spent across the ocean. Too much money been spent upon the moon.” “Things Goin’ On,” indeed.

All of this moon-landing talk and the seasons changing to autumn with it’s early arrival of Halloween decorations got me thinking about the moon. All those spooky moon’s with witches’ silhouettes passing by on their broom sticks… reminds me of a girl I knew once who was the scariest thing I’d come across… but I digress. I was thinking about the moon and naturally my thoughts turned to rock and roll and all the great “moon-centric” tunes out there, but in all honesty, these things I were thinking about were merely a trigger for deeper thoughts about the moon…

I’ve always been a night owl. It was always a struggle to get me to even go to bed. I can remember those rare occasions when I was allowed to leave the house at night, to run something next door to the neighbor’s house or going to a school program… It was so different to be outside in the dark. I used to think the moon was following me. There was a thrill to walking around in the cool, night air. The Allman Brothers used to practice in a graveyard and I swear if there’d been one in my neighborhood, I’d have taken up the guitar. Shadows grow darker and larger… as does the curiosity of what’s lurking around out there? The weird thing was as a youngster I wasn’t repelled away from that darkness, I had to hold myself back from plunging into it…which sort of explains those troubled teen years, I guess. All of that exultation about running around in the night was crowned with the King of the Night… the big moon casting its gaze over everything. I remember being at sleepovers and thinking, I’m staying up all night long…only to fall asleep immediately. I’ve talked about the thrill of riding in a girlfriend’s car in college, on a night I should have been home with family, staring out of the moon-roof, er I mean, the sun-roof at the nighttime sky and feeling fucking alive! When the moon came up, my weariness from the day faded…as the Stones sang, “the sunshine bores the daylight out of me…” The word lunatic stems from the Greek word for moon…”Full Moon Fever,” indeed.

Eventually it was time to “do away with childish things.” We all grow up some time… although my wife and daughter would tell you I’m still working on it. When love and romance entered my life, the moon took on all new resonance. I was in a few long-distance relationships when I was young and I can remember staring at the moon and thinking my girlfriend was staring up at the same moon and thinking it made me feel closer to her. Like the Little River Band sang, “staring at the full moon, like a lover.” Jesus, I can’t believe I went through that, but I guess we all do. Eventually the inevitable breakups would come and suddenly the moon takes on a different meaning to us and the longing begins. The heart stares up at the moon, its lonely counterpart as Mr. Simon sang. Ironic that the moon can lead to feelings of connection and disconnection… all depends on where you’re standing, I suppose.

With all those thoughts and ramblings aside, it’s pretty obvious that the moon evokes a ton of emotions in me and I’m guessing most people are the same as I am. Because of that wide range of emotions, I’ve selected one of my most eclectic collections of tracks for a playlist ever. From happy elation to brokenhearted isolation, we’ve got it all here. The goal is for people to find a song they’ve never heard before so I went pretty deep into the album tracks for this one, folks. I hope you enjoy it. As always, if there’s a great one I forgot, go ahead and drop it in the “comments” section and I’ll add it to the Spotify playlist, BourbonAndVinyl.net Songs About the Moon.

  1. The Waterboys, “The Whole of the Moon” – Great little Irish band I only discovered when U2 played this track to begin their KC Show on the Joshua Tree tour a few years ago. Great starting track.
  2. Free, “Moonshine” – A real blues rock gem from their debut album. They’re talking about the actual light from the moon, not the booze with the same name.
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon” – Haunting, jealous longing… this track sums up a lot about this list.
  4. Talking Heads, “Moon Rocks” – Danceable weirdness from the Heads.
  5. Foreigner, “Girl On the Moon” – Great ballad… I’ve really gotten back into these guys this year.
  6. Neville Brothers, “Yellow Moon” – Another song about jealousy and worryin’ about your woman.
  7. Robbie Robertson, “Sonny Got Caught In the Moonlight” – From Robertson’s debut… I think we’ve all been caught in the moonlight at one time or another.
  8. The Cult, “Brother Wolf Sister Moon” – An epic from the great Love album.
  9. R.E.M. “Man On the Moon” – Sure it’s a tribute to Andy Kauffman, but it works.
  10. T. Rex, “By the Light of a Magical Moon” – I’m not a huge T Rex fan, but this weird, mostly acoustic track always catches my ear.
  11. John Mellencamp, “Circling Around the Moon” – Great, emotionally effective deep track about struggling lovers.
  12. White Stripes, “White Moon” – Menacing piano ballad from Jack & Meg, which is a sentence you don’t type very often.
  13. Pearl Jam, “Yellow Moon” – One of the Rock Chick and my favorite ballads from PJ. God, I wish they’d record again.
  14. Sting, “Moon Over Bourbon Street” – Is there any place better for staring up at the moon, over a Hurricane cocktail, than New Orleans. Sting doing spooky jazz.
  15. The Doors, “Moonlight Drive” – Takes me back to high school, driving around at night when it’s way past curfew, but it’s just too much fun to hang!
  16. The Black Crowes, “Black Moon Creeping” – A funky rocker from their second album, which is my favorite.
  17. Tom Waits, “Drunk On the Moon” – I love early Tom Waits, especially this track. Sinatra would have nailed this track.
  18. Duran Duran, “New Moon On Monday” – I hated these guys in college, but now I think they’ve got some great tunes, this one amongst them.
  19. Norah Jones, “Shoot the Moon” – With that voice, oh yes.
  20. Robert Plant, “Moonlight In Samosa” – Great deep track from Plant’s solo debut. I feel like I’m in a John Le Carre novel.
  21. Paul McCartney & Wings, “C Moon” – An almost reggae track where McCartney turns goofing around into an actual hit single.
  22. Kinks, “Full Moon” – A great track I’d almost completely forgotten about until I put this together.
  23. Van Morrison, “Moondance” – One of his all time greatest tunes. And uh, I don’t think he’s discussing dancing.
  24. Neil Young, “Harvest Moon” – Beautiful, acoustic Neil from his “sequel” to Harvest, naturally recorded decades apart.
  25. The Rolling Stones, “Moon Is Up” – Knowing Mick, he’s talking about someone’s bum, but this is a great deep track from Voodoo Lounge. 
  26. Chris Cornell, “Worried Moon” – The older I get the more worried the moon becomes.
  27. The Police, “Walking On the Moon” – Well, you knew this one would be here. After “Roxanne” probably the first Police track I remember hearing.
  28. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising” – Did Creedence have a bad song?
  29. George Harrison, “Here Comes the Moon” – Was he ripping off “Here Comes the Sun”? Maybe, but this is a great track. George doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
  30. Paul McCartney, “Monkberry Moon Delight” – Speaking of the Beatles…
  31. Bob Dylan, “Moonlight” – A great, late career attempt at crooning from Mr. Dylan.
  32. Prince, “Moonbeam Levels” – An out take from the 1999 sessions, released on a Greatest Hits thing a year or so ago.
  33. The Beatles, “Mr. Moonlight” – Great Beatles deep track. John Lennon’s impassioned vocal makes this one special.
  34. The Rolling Stones, “Moonlight Mile” – The best track on this list and one of the Stones’ greatest all time tracks.
  35. Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark At the Moon” – We all need to do this once in a while, it’s good for the soul.
  36. David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream” – I had to have some Bowie on here, he seems like he belonged on the moon, looking down on us.
  37. Little Feat, “Spanish Moon” – I told Dr Rock I was listening to Little Feat and he laughed at me… I love this band and Lowell George especially.
  38. Annie Lennox, “Fingernail Moon” – Such a beautiful voice singing the saddest track on here. I wanted to capture as many emotions as I could. I’d say Annie nails the “despair” column.
  39. Iggy Pop, “Midnight Lady” – Don’t be afraid of Iggy.
  40. Pearl Jam, “In the Moonlight” – A deep track from the compilation, Lost Dogs. 
  41. Thin Lizzy, “Dancing In the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In the Spotlight)” – I love Thin Lizzy, even if they got a little disco-esque on this one.
  42. David Bowie, “Fall Dog Bombs the Moon” – I have always loved this late career track of Bowie’s from Reality. 
  43. Lyle Lovett, “Moon On My Shoulder” – A voice as smooth as whiskey. If you’re going to sit and stare at the moon with a glass of something strong, might as well have great singers to keep you company.
  44. Sting, “Sister Moon” – More spooky jazz from Sting.
  45. Bob Seger, “Shame On The Moon” – An acoustic track from Bob that has only grown on me over the years. Hated it the first time I heard it.
  46. Van Morrison, “Once In A Blue Moon” – Van has had so many great, late period albums. He’s really going through a renaissance. This is a great track from What’s Wrong With This Picture. 
  47. John Fogerty, “Blue Moon Nights” – A lovely little strummer.
  48. The Rolling Stones, “Child of the Moon” – Something from the psychedelic era.
  49. Beck, “Blue Moon” – From his acoustic masterpiece Morning Phase. Just a great tune.
  50. Tom Waits, “Grapefruit Moon” – Every song on Tom’s debut is a classic.
  51. Paul Simon, “Song About the Moon” – Sums up what all these tracks are about and serves as an instructive bit of advice on how to write a song… well, about the moon at least.
  52. Elton John, “Bad Side of the Moon” – I think this one made my list of Elton’s deep tracks. I love this song and think it should have been a huge hit.
  53. Arc Angels, “Spanish Moon” – Great little band out of Austin. Charlie Sexton, the rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble and Doyle Bramhall, Jr.
  54. AC/DC, “What’s Next To the Moon” – Just a little AC/DC to liven up the proceedings and keep everybody on their toes.
  55. Traveling Wilburys, “New Blue Moon” – A song that I only wish Roy Orbison had lived to sing on.
  56. Peter Wolf, “Waiting On the Moon” – Great singer who is also releasing a lot of great late career albums.
  57. Chuck Berry, “Havana Moon” – The master… Elvis was always uncomfortable with the “King of Rock n Roll” title… he used to say, “Uh, you’re talkin’ about Chuck Berry.”
  58. Fleetwood Mac, “Sisters of the Moon” – Stevie in full Wiccan mode. One of the stand out tracks from Tusk. 
  59. Warren Zevon, “They Moved the Moon” – Warren Zevon should be in the Rock Hall of Fame. Can someone make that happen already, please.
  60. Bruce Springsteen, “Moonlight Motel” – Bruce singing about a little Motel No-tell out on the deserted highway.
  61. Pink Floyd, “Eclipse” – Because “everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”

“There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”

Cheers to all you lunatics out there!