Our Favorite Second Albums: Defying The Sophomore Slump With An Even Better 2nd LP

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*Photo taken by your intrepid blogger which explains why ‘Led Zeppelin II’ is obscured. Sigh.

There’s a certain theory, not exclusive to music, known as the sophomore slump. I almost called it a canard, a word I dislike for reasons unclear. According to Webster, a canard is an “unfounded rumor or story.” For example, our previous story about Zeppelin being booed off stage in KC was a canard and proved to be untrue. However, even I will admit, there is some foundation to the sophomore slump theory in music and sports. I’ve heard it applied in football to quarterbacks who have a great rookie season. Their second (aka “sophomore”) season can often be seen as a setback and not as good as that first, rookie season. Defenses adjust, they’re more prepared for you and what not and so the QB in question takes a step “backwards.” I guess in this example the rookie year is akin to the freshman year. Personally, while I had a number of disasters my sophomore year in college they paled in comparison to the absolute dumpster fire my freshman year was. Even though that sophomore year was awful it was an improvement for me over that accursed freshman year in college. When you’re a senior in high school you’re on top of the food chain and then suddenly you’re a freshman in college and you’re back on the bottom of the ladder. Sophomore year was a cake walk in comparison… at least in my case.

I guess there’s probably a reason the sophomore slump applies to both sports and rock n roll. A rookie quarterback has a lot to prove. He likely has to justify his draft spot and prove he can make it in the league. And, much like that, rock n roll bands are typically starving artist types and when they get that record deal, they too have to prove themselves on that first album. They likely put everything they’ve got into it. You only have one chance to make a first impression as they say. That “giving it your all” on the first LP doesn’t leave a whole lot for the follow-up album. There’s a saying in music, “you have your whole life to write your first album, you only have 18 months to write your second.” I don’t know who said that but it’s brilliant. And as long time B&V readers know I’m a huge fan of debut albums and even solo debut albums from guys who have been in a band we like. I’ve also highlighted rock n roll acts whose third album was the commercial breakthrough for them… I doubt any record company is going to show that kind of patience any more.

Recently I began thinking about second albums because… well, I’m obsessed with rock n roll? I couldn’t help but ponder the rock n roll sophomore slump. Even I have to admit there have been some bad second albums. I think the group, for me, who takes the trophy on this is a little band out of Australia named Jet. When their debut Get Born came out I thought they were going to be “the next big thing.” I saw them open for Oasis at Red Rocks outside of Denver and they rocked. I was so into them I bought the t-shirt, which is a pretty big commitment from a rock n roll fan. I don’t buy a t-shirt every time I go to a concert… I saw Fitz And the Tantrums on Tuesday and no shirt purchase was even considered… Anyway, a few years later when they came out with Shine On I was baffled. They sounded like a second-rate Oasis. Maybe they spent too much time hanging around Noel Gallagher. It ruined them for me. I sold that record at the Used CD store a few months later. Sadly, I still wear the t-shirt, it’s like a tattoo I regret.

Jet was a pretty extreme case of the sophomore slump. There are examples, however, of big bands, bands we all love, who suffered through a bad (or not-as-good) second LP. I remember at their Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony U2’s Bono saying something about the record company sticking by them even for “the difficult second album.” In U2’s case it was October, which would vie amongst only a few others for their worst album. The Police’s second LP Regatta De Blanc, despite having the great singles “Walking On The Moon” and “Message In A Bottle,” was pretty weak, or perhaps we should say it was only fair. Second albums don’t always have to be a disaster to be considered a sophomore slump. Van Halen’s second album is a record I still love, but everyone will universally admit it isn’t up to the level of their masterpiece debut Van Halen. The ideas had all been spent on the debut. The sophomore slump is just a slight and in some cases pronounced dip in quality. Van Halen was only going to get to sneak up on us once… unless of course you consider that Van Hagar debut to be a surprise (In Defense of Van Hagar, No Really… Complete With a B&V Van Hagar Playlist).

All of that said, let’s not get carried away with this thing. There are plenty of bands who released a great second album. In some ways I like Candy-O more than The Cars but I know I’ll mostly lose that argument. There wasn’t much of a drop in quality between those albums. And if I’m being honest, while I love Cheap Trick’s debut I’ve always dug In Color, the follow up. I’ve always wondered if I was in Cheap Trick back then, would they put me on the front cover with the good lookin’ guys or on the back with the carnival freaks? Sorry, I digress. The Byrds, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Allman Brothers – to name but a few – all had great debut albums and then put out a second album as good, or close to, the first album. I guess I’m just trying to underscore the fact that we shouldn’t consider the sophomore slump to be the norm. It’s hard to follow up a spectacular debut, the pressure the record company and the fans put on artists has got to be immense, but some artists actually do it. Some bands were just fortunate enough they didn’t have Axl Rose driving the car, making the creative decisions for them…

But then we have some acts who not only equaled their debut, they transcended it. There are some bands with a strong debut who took an enormous leap forward with their second. Ok, maybe not an enormous leap forward, but strides in creativity, songwriting and/or accessibility. Those are the albums I’ve been thinking about over the last week in between blasting Chuck Berry covers and Elton John’s Madman Across the Water. I don’t know what alchemy causes it but some acts just got stronger after their debut. Maybe it’s the uptick in touring that helps them hone their skills. A successful debut might breed more confidence. There are just some bands who defied the odds and defied the sophomore slump. It’s those albums we celebrate here today.

Here is our list of 20 of our favorite 2nd albums. It’s certainly not meant to be definitive and if you’ve got an example of a great, sophomore-slump-defying, second album please let us know in the comments. I highly recommend listening to each of these albums and if you hear something you like you haven’t before, explore the catalogs of these artists, it’s worth the journey… I have listed the artists’ name, album name and my explanation for it’s inclusion on the list. As usual I’ve tried to stray a little off the beaten path (at least somewhat) here…

  • Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique – After Licensed to Ill and all that “You’ve Got A Fight For Your Right (to Party)” stuff did anybody see this massive leap in creativity and sophistication coming? Paul’s Boutique is arguably their masterpiece. The jump between the two albums is staggering and was completely unexpected.
  • Def Leppard, High And Dry – We all thought those Def Leppard kids were a novely act after On Through the Night. I saw them in concert on that tour (they were openers) and I was older than them and I don’t think I could drive. This album was such a leap forward. It rocks harder than anything the put out before or after. Even though Mutt Lange is onboard to produce he hasn’t yet dipped them in amber gloss nor smoothed out the rough edges yet. This was a sign that Def Leppard would be around for a long while.
  • Aerosmith, Get Your Wings – Aerosmith’s self titled debut was one of the first Aerosmith LPs I purchased, probably because of “Dream On,” an FM staple when I first started listening to music. I still love that album but don’t know anybody else who owns it. I loved “One Way Street” and “Movin’ Out,” they’re amongst Aerosmith’s finest songs. However, it’s on Get Your Wings where they found their stride. Tunes like “Same Ol’ Song And Dance” and “Lord of the Thighs” are cornerstones of the Aerosmith foundation. I love their version of the Yardbirds’ “Train Kept A’Rollin’.”
  • The White Stripes, De Stijl – This album will always be my favorite White Stripes’ album. It’s bluesier than anything else they put out. They hadn’t hit it big yet, that’d happen on their third LP, White Blood Cells, but all the pieces are all here – Jack White’s tortured vocals and more tortured guitar solos with Meg White’s primal drumming. This is the LP to start your White Stripes’ collection on.
  • Fiona Apple, When The Pawn… – I fell in love with Fiona Apple on her debut, Tidal. She was still so  young when that came out. Despite the Guiness Book title, When The Pawn… showed such a leap forward in maturity and strength from Fiona as an artist it signaled her debut was no one off.
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle – I judge every Springsteen fan I meet by their opinion of this album. The evolution forward on this album is incalculable. He started penning epic 7-plus minute songs. Side two: “Incident On 47th St,” “Rosalita,” and “New York City Serenade” may be the greatest side of music Bruce ever recorded… I’ve always also loved “Wild Billy’s Circus Story.”
  • Black Sabbath, Paranoid – Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut always gets slagged as sounding like a bad version of Cream. I like it but the Cream influence is palpable. Paranoid is where they forged their own identity. It’s truly their masterpiece. Master of Reality may rock harder, but tune for tune this is the greatest thing they ever put out.
  • Social Distortion, Prison Bound – People tend to forget about Social D’s early, pre-big label LPs. I like the debut but Prison Bound is the greatest fusion of country and punk rock – and who’d have thought that was possible – ever recorded. As a Stones’ fan I love their version of “Backstreet Girl,” but “I’m An Outlaw (For You)” is my favorite Social D song… well, one of them anyway.
  • Buffalo Springfield, Again – Buffalo Springfield is proof that one band can have too much talent. Too many songwriters, too many singers, too many lead guitarists. After breaking up after the debut they’d gotten back together and issued this, their masterpiece. The debut was awesome but Neil Young is on fire here: “Broken Arrow,” “Mr. Soul,” and “Expecting To Fly.” Stills has some of his best stuff here too including “Bluebird.”
  • Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream – Gish is an amazing debut album. I think it’s better than Nirvana’s debut, Bleach. But even through turmoil and almost breaking up, Billy Corgan delivered a brilliant batch of songs. They spent the rest of their career trying to outdo this one.
  • Cream, Disreali Gears – I love Fresh Cream but even I’ll admit it was mostly a blues covers LP. On Disreali Gears Cream took the blues, added psychedelics and turned the world on its axis.
  • Lou Reed, Transformer – Lou was pretty low after the Velvet Underground broke up. I think he took a job as a typist at his father’s company for a while. His solo debut was a disappointment… enter David Bowie and Mick Ronson who produced this, Lou’s most commercially successful album.
  • The Cult, Love – The Cult’s debut Dreamtime is a great album but it sounds like a debut. Love is my favorite Cult LP. It doesn’t rock with the abandon of the follow-up, Electric, but the songs are amongst their best. “She Sells Sanctuary” blows me away every time I hear it but “Rain,” “Hollow Man” and “Revolution” are all great rock tunes.
  • Nirvana, Nevermind – I doubt this one needs any explanation. Bleach was good but a fairly typical debut LP… Nevermind destroyed everything that came before… This is a once in a generation album.
  • Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Dylan’s debut was a folkie’s delight. His talent exploded on Freewheelin’. It’s one of the greatest albums ever recorded. And to think it was only his first masterpiece.
  • Van Morrison, Astral Weeks – Astral Weeks was different than anything that Van Morrison did before it. I like to listen to it in it’s entirety, it’s like being on a spiritual retreat or listening to a meditation app.
  • Faces, Long Player – First Step was a great well, first step. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood had joined the Small Faces, but they stood a head taller than the rest of the band. The debut was really the sound of Rod and Wood integrating into the band. Long Player, more than any of their other LPs really captures the spirit of the Faces.
  • Metallica, Ride The Lightning – This album ranks up there with Paul’s Boutique as a stunning leap forward. I mean the sophistication and sheer strength and power of this album dwarfs Kill Em All and that one is a classic as well. This is by far Metallica’s best album.
  • Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes – Little Feat’s debut was an awesome record but even I’ll admit, quirky. Lowell George was nothing if not an eccentric. Sailin’ Shoes was just as good but much much more accessible. The title track, “Easy to Slip” and “Apolitical Blues” are all essential Little Feat tunes that have been covered by countless bands.
  • Led Zeppelin, II – Zeppelin’s debut laid out the blueprint for who they were. It too was one of the first LPs I ever purchased, likely because of “Dazed And Confused.” But it was very much of that late 60s, British blues rock sound. On Led Zeppelin II they took that and blew it up to 11. They were still very blues based but this rock n roll went places the music had never been. All the pent up aggression and hedonism and stress of their first U.S. tour was poured into the grooves of this record.

If you’ve just started something new and are worried about a sophomore slump, just put on one of these albums and turn it up loud. Hell, if you like these records, dive into these artists’ back catalogs. It’ll get you through any “slump” they can come up.

Now that the Summer Solstice has passed and it is “officially” summer, let me just say… stay cool out there, and have a happy summer! Find something cold to drink and kick back… they say if you’ve started drinking chardonnay you’re becoming your mother and if you put ice in your chardonnay you are your mother. Here’s to all you mother’s out there!

Cheers!

Our Favorite “Concept” Albums – From Rock Operas to Musical “Novels” – Don’t Be Afraid

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I recently realized it’s been a full two weeks since I’ve posted anything here at B&V, an unusually long absence for me. Have no fear, the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. My last post on the Stones Live At El Mocambo was right before Memorial Day and that holiday took up a lot of time… switching out bourbon for the summer vodka season can be time consuming. Plus, I vowed to get a tan this year… I look like a translucent cadaver most of the time. Then sadly I came off the long holiday weekend with a bad head cold – no it was not COVID – but it was severe enough that I couldn’t even listen to music, which is rare for me. In the midst of the cold I perhaps exacerbated it by drinking a lot of Keeper’s Heart whiskey – a new delightful discovery for us here at the B&V labs – with my old roomie and dear friend Drew. I don’t blame anybody for thinking I’d given up hope in rock n roll this year. After two disastrous and terribly disappointing albums from Jack White (Fear Of the Dawn) and Liam Gallagher (C’mon You Know), two artists I had pegged to contribute to our annual “best of” list, you can understand why I’d be down. Two great rock n rollers reduced to releasing what amount to “sound experiments,” sigh. But no, that wasn’t it, I was just sick. As Ozzy once told us, “You can’t kill rock n roll.”

Having a little time away did give my mind time to wander. For reasons yet unclear I found myself thinking about that most misunderstood of rock n roll art forms, the “concept” album. While there is really no true agreement on what constitutes a concept album, Wikipedia defines it as “an album whose tracks hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than they do individually.” I must agree that a lot of concept albums are better when you listen to the whole thing straight through vs just a song, like Dark Side Of the Moon. Most concept albums do tell a story – whether it’s a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who becomes a Messianic preacher or mentally unstable rock star named Pink who builds a metaphorical wall around himself. Although, admittedly the concept album doesn’t have to tell a story. Perhaps its thematic like Hotel California about the greed, disillusionment and loss of innocence the hippy generation found themselves in by the mid 70s or Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection which was about the old west. Often concept albums contain small bits of music that act more like narrative connective tissue than actual songs. Song titles can repeat themselves on concept albums, numbered to distinguish the different versions, i.e. “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1).”

I don’t know what it is about telling a story across an album – or more likely across a double-album – that scares people. I remember reading an interview of John Mellencamp (and this was years and years ago) and he was making fun of some of his crew for wanting to head into Indianapolis to see Pink Floyd on The Division Bell tour. He said something scathing about being too “arty.” What people tend to forget when they show their disdain for concept albums is that some of the biggest albums of all time were concept albums. Sgt Pepper, Ziggy Stardust and Tommy were all concept albums. The concept album transcends genres. Country music legend Willie Nelson did Red Headed Stranger, an amazing album. Sadly, Garth Brooks also did that Chris Gaines thing, best forgotten. Heavy metal has their concept albums like Queensryche’s Operation Mind Crime. I think the first person to do a true concept album was none other than “the Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. If you don’t think In The Wee Small Hours was a song cycle strung around a central concept then you haven’t been paying attention.

I know when I mention the idea of the concept album to the Rock Chick she recoils in horror. Sadly for her she was forever scarred by Styx’s Kilroy Was Here, perhaps the worst concept LP of all time. She saw them in concert on that tour. She said its the only time she’d ever been to a concert and no music was played for the first half hour they were on stage. I saw Styx in 1980 or 1981 and they were great… then Dennis DeYoung took over and… well… “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto.” In the Rock Chick’s defense in her disdain of concept LPs, my friends and I always used to say, “Never trust a woman who likes Pink Floyd.” Concept albums do seem to be more a “dude” thing. All men are nerds deep down and suckers for a “far out” story. Women are likely smarter. Still, while some concepts are just bad or perhaps confusing, we shouldn’t dismiss them outright. The bigger the artistic risk, in some cases, the bigger the failure. It’s difficult to juggle writing a set of great songs and making them fit into a cohesive narrative. More often than not we get great songs and a less-than-cohesive narrative. I’m ok with that.

Some songwriters just seem to need a global narrative on an album in order to write songs. Pete Townshend seems almost wedded to the idea of having a concept. He’s written a set of songs before, like Who By Numbers, but he seems more comfortable with a story cycle to wrap his songs around. Everybody needs an on-ramp to write something, some idea or flight of imagination, in order begin so for Pete I guess that’s rock opera. Roger Waters is another guy who seems more comfortable tying songs and characters together than just writing straight up tunes. Ray Davies of the Kinks has written a lot of great songs but he’s also done a lot of great concept albums. He can do either. Regardless, I think this kind of artistic reach should be applauded and encouraged. I like ambition in rock n roll.

Without further adieu, these are my favorite concept albums. Much like my picks of “Hybrid” albums (both live and studio stuff mixed together) or Cover albums (albums featuring all cover songs) and Live albums these are our favorites. It’s not meant to be an exhausting ranking. You may have a concept album you feel should be added to the list – please mention them in the comments. I didn’t add Rush’s 2112 and I know I’m going to hear about that but the concept here only lasted on side 1 of the album. And while I could have listed all of Frank Zappa or Pink Floyd’s records… or the Who’s for that matter… I’ve chosen only a few of each artist, my favorites. I’ve picked some of the biggest LPs of all time but also some more obscure choices that perhaps deserve reconsideration. Either way, if there’s a concept album you like or are curious about but haven’t listened to, I urge you to seek it out, put it on and turn it up. Perhaps with a tumbler of something strong to help get you along the line.

  1. The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band – One of the greatest albums ever if not the greatest. Built around a simple premise – the Beatles were pretending to be this other band, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, in order to free themselves from expectations. The result, a masterpiece.
  2. David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars – Bowie already had a string of successful LPs but this is the one that made him a superstar. Similar premise to #1 above. Pretend to be an alien and sing about isolation and feeling different.
  3. Jackson Browne, Running On Empty – This one may surprise some folks, wondering how it’s a “concept album.” Well, it’s a live album about a live album. Recorded on the road about the road. Still one of my favs.
  4. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On? – Marvin’s masterpiece of a protest album. It’s written from the point of view of a Vietnam vet returning home and I think was based on his brother’s or cousin’s return from the war. He calls out poverty, the ecology and the war. And it swings baby.
  5. Green Day, American Idiot – A scathing indictment of one of the worst Presidents in our history. This album rejuvenated Green Day’s career. They did another rock opera but this is the one you want.
  6. Elton John, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy – A song cycle about Elton and co-writer Bernie Taupin’s rise to fame. I like it a whole lot better when I listen to it from start to finish as one piece of music. I was tempted to list Elton’s Tumbleweed Connection as it’s an excellent album about the ol’ West written by a couple of guys from England.
  7. The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society – I hate to admit it but the Kinks don’t get enough love around here. After the Kinks were shut off from touring the U.S. because of a pot bust, they turned insular. Here they turn their attention to the English village square. They’re pining for an England that had ceased to exist.
  8. The Kinks, Arthur Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire – Still turned inward to England this time on a broader scale. “Victoria” and “Shangri La” are two of my favorite Kinks’ tracks. I need to delve deeper into these guys in these pages.
  9. Randy Newman, Good Old Boys – A scathing indictment of racism in the South. Randy grew up in L.A. but spent summers in New Orleans. This is one of his strongest albums. Sometimes you need a character or a story to hide behind while telling the truth.
  10. Pink Floyd, Animals – Like I said, I could list all of their LPs on this list. I’m not listing Dark Side of the Moon because it’s just too big. Everybody’s heard it. A friend of mine and I used to drive around Kansas City drinking beer and cranking Animals which seems slightly Orwellian to me. But man what a great album.
  11. Pink Floyd, The Wall – I can still remember riding home from high school, sitting in the back seat of my friend Brewster’s car cranking “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1).” Roger Waters who was the principle writer here (or is it principal writer?) blended his own story with founder Syd Barrett’s story. Inspired by his own spitting on a fan on the previous tour, he realized people put up walls around themselves. I did see Waters perform this at the Berlin Wall.
  12. Lou Reed, New YorkBilled in the liner notes as a novel set to music, Lou suggested listening to the entire album, in order, in one sitting. I always listen to Lou’s instructions.
  13. Lou Reed, Berlin – A prominent entry onto our list of Grim and Sad albums too, this is a difficult listen but worth it.
  14. Pete Townshend, White City – The concept here, basically a treatise on poverty and urban decay, is a bit lost on me now. The LP was billed as “A Novel” in the subtitle. I just loved “Give Blood” and “Secondhand Love.” This is one of those albums that nobody talks about but I still enjoy.
  15. Roger Waters, Radio K.A.O.S. – This album is actually on my list of “The Dirty Dozen, Albums Only I Like.” Oh well, I still dig this album besides the bizarre story line and I feel it needs a reassessment.
  16. The Who, Quadrophenia – Sure, Tommy is recognized as the first and perhaps greatest “rock opera” but give me Quadrophenia any day. It has louder guitars.
  17. Frank Zappa, Joe’s Garage – To me this is one of Zappa’s most accessible albums. Who doesn’t enjoy a visit from the “Central Scrutinizer” once and again? From the title track to “Catholic Girls” this album makes me laugh. Although even I have to admit Joe’s Garage can’t touch Freak Out! in terms of being an exceptional concept LP.
  18. Warren Zevon, Transverse City – This LP also made my list of “essential” Warren Zevon albums. It’s a grim commentary about U.S. society in the late 80s. It may be grim but it’s a great, great album. Someone with some connections needs to get Warren into the Rock Hall.

While I left off some of the biggest titles, Dark Side of the Moon or Tommy but it was my goal to share the LPs that maybe you haven’t heard or heard in a while and inspire you dust off the turn table, open up that double album, hoping no old pot seeds fall out and turn up a little rock opera. There are a few here that are quirky suggestions of LPs that I really dig and hope I can turn you onto. Again, this list wasn’t supposed to be exhaustive and if you have a concept LP that I should check out I always appreciate a suggestion in the comments.

Cheers! I hope, “a splendid time is guaranteed for all…”

Black Crowes’ New EP Of 6 Covers (From The Year) ‘1972’ – Glorious, Good Rockin’ Fun

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I was fortunate enough to be able to take a couple of days off last week and go to points out West to visit my beloved daughter. I’m lucky that I have vacation days when I realize a lot of folks don’t have time off. But after an action-packed weekend that included my getting to see one of my favorite bands The Cult in concert, I was dragging come Monday morning. But then who isn’t dragging on Monday mornings? I knew other than overdosing on coffee or being hit in the chest with a defibrillator I was going to need some help to get through the early part of the week. For me that help came in the form of rock n roll. Music really can always heal what ails me, even fatigue.

I had it in the back of my mind last weekend the Black Crowes had finally released their EP of cover songs that Friday. I was only half right about that. I looked in all the regular places I buy and listen to music – and it astounds me how many options I have now – and I couldn’t find the new Crowes’ EP, entitled 1972. Apparently you can only buy the LP or the CD through Amazon. I’m not a big streaming guy (admittedly my playlists are out on alas, Spotify) but the only place I could hear this was streaming through Amazon Prime. I want to buy the vinyl but I want to do that in a local record store from a pierced and tattoo’d hippy while breathing in lovely, musty old used records and incense. A man has to have some standards in this life and ordering vinyl from the dark empire of Amazon just seems wrong. I get my vitamins there, I’m not getting my vinyl there. I have a code I live by, folks. Having a code to live by, like those little paper cocktail napkins, is what separates us from the savages.

The new Crowes’ EP, 1972 is titled thus because it contains six tracks all originally released in 1972. As long time readers know, we here at B&V celebrated 1972 as well on a playlist dedicated to albums released during that awesome year in rock n roll. Well, this is the Crowes version of that celebration, or so it seems. I can’t tell you how much joy listening to the Black Crowes’ lusty renditions of 1972-era tracks has given me this week. Of course I’m on record as loving cover songs – a song originally recorded by someone else that a band re -records. I even dig when an artist has done an entire LP of covers (and have posted about “Cover Albums”), like Bowie’s Pin-Ups or Bob Seger’s Smokin’ O.P.s.

I have loved the Crowes since the first time I heard the opening riff on “Jealous Again” while tooling down the highway during my unemployed gypsy year in 1990. Their first two albums are amongst the greatest rock albums ever in my opinion. They recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of Shake Your Money Maker and it was a great box set. It included a full concert from ’90 and a slew of unreleased bonus tracks including the Humble Pie cover “30 Days In The Hole,” and a lost original that I loved, “Charming Mess.” I read somewhere that Chris and Rich Robinson reached out to get Rod Stewart’s blessing on the release of “Charming Mess” because it sounded so much like the Faces. I do hear echos of “Stay With Me” but hey everybody has influences. Even since those early days the Black Crowes were doing interesting things with cover songs. Shake Your Money Maker had their great Otis Redding cover “Hard To Handle.” And also apparently the aforementioned unreleased Humble Pie cover “30 Days In The Hole.” Their second LP, the masterpiece, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion also had a cover – this time Bob Marley’s “Time Will Tell.” From Otis and Humble Pie to Bob Marley show the Crowes have a great eclectic range.

The Crowes, after that early huge success, continued to put out great albums. Three Snakes And A Charm and By Your Side are two of my favorite of their LPs. But alas, the relationship between the brothers Robinson was a rocky one. The band has broken up a few times. When they would get back together they would release additional great music, like the album Warpaint. It’s the best Black Crowes’ album you’ve probably  never heard. They’ve got a host of great live stuff out there as well. Eventually the relationship between Chris Robinson (vocals) and Rich Robinson (guitar) was so bad the band broke up and they even stopped speaking. I feel bad for their mother. They went years without talking. It’s often difficult when siblings form bands… Eventually the brothers reconciled. I read an article about them, right before Covid struck, and I was genuinely pleased for them as people, as brothers, as much as I was that they were trying to get the band back together. They decided to reform without any of the other original members who they believed were contributors to the toxicity of their relationship. I assume they’re speaking of longtime drummer Steve Gorman who wrote a “tell-all” that wasn’t exactly a flattering portrayal.

Like the Stones who they were so often compared to in their early days, the Crowes were taking slow steps to repair the fractured relationships between the principal members and songwriters, the Robinsons. Their plan, pre-Covid, was to tour first and see how they got on. The new band was Chris (vocals), Rich (guitar) with Isiah Mitchell (guitar), Joel Robinow (keyboards) and eventually former member Sven Pippen (bass) and journeyman drummer Brian Griffin. It’s just fun to say the name Sven Pippen. If I was in high school and I needed a fake name to give cops when they were confiscating my underage beer, I’d give the name Sven Pippen but I digress. They played a few shows but then Covid ruined everything. I see this EP of covers songs as a way for them to all see how they’re gelling as a band. To see if the repaired relationships can stand. It’s just another step in the Crowes journey to re-establish that all important chemistry. They probably wanted to see if they could go into the studio and get along… why put songwriting pressure on yourselves? They’ve supposedly written around 20 songs but they want to tour first before actually committing those to tape. I totally get that. Consider 1972 another step in that creative journey.

Well let me tell you, if 1972 is the yardstick we’re using for the Black Crowes, I think the chemistry is back! They play these six songs with such joy. You can literally tell how much fun they’re having. The EP kicks off with a Stones cover, “Rip This Joint.” The thing I love about covers is they’re like “two-fers.” You get the vibe of the original artist and the new artist at the same time, in one song. I feel like the Crowes were made to cover the Stones. What a great choice from Exile On Main Street. It gets the rock and roll cookin’. They also cover one of my all time favorite Rod Stewart solo tracks, “You Wear It Well.” That is coincidentally a track I chose for my aforementioned 1972 playlist. The Crowes doing the Stones and Rod (whose Faces were clearly an influence) just makes sense. The Rock Chick heard me jamming on the Black Crowes once and said, “I know why you like them, they sound like the Faces.” True, indeed. Both these songs put a smile on my face.

They also do two tracks associated with Glam Rock. They do T. Rex’s track “The Slider.” “The Slider” was Marc Bolan’s ode to cocaine. The Crowes really do the track justice. They’re version is faithful but heavier. They wring everything they can out of the riff. Chris in particular sounds like he’s really enjoying this track. The other Glam Rock track they do is Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” I’ve gotta say it takes balls to do a Bowie cover, especially from Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. Like the T. Rex track the Black Crowes are faithful to “Moonage Daydream” but they do it slightly heavier. They actually stretch out and jam the guitar parts toward the end to really make it sound Black Crowes-y. What can I say, I was bowled over by this track.

Finally, it wouldn’t be the Crowes doing cover songs if they didn’t throw us a couple of curve balls. I was so thrilled to see that they did a version of Little Feat’s “Easy To Slip.” I recently told a friend, if I hear a band doing a Little Feat cover, I’m instantly more interested in the album.” Rich takes the lead vocal – taking his Keith Richards’ like turn at the mic – and he nails it. It’s a mostly acoustic take with great organ and I dug it. Chris provides a joyous harmony vocal. Little Feat were a West Coast band but they always had a southern vibe to me… The biggest curve ball for most folks is going to be the final track, the Temptations’ great song, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.” The Crowes have covered everything from country-rock (“Hot Burrito #1”) to soul (“Hard To Handle”) so it shouldn’t be surprised that they decided to do a funky Motown track. Oh my Gawd, I love this track! It may be my favorite on the EP. Of course its a track that I chose for my 1972 playlist so maybe I’m probably biased. When the drums hit with the fabulous organ and wah-wah guitar riff I defy you to sit down. There is also some great harmonica on this track. It’s a great version of the song.

1972 is the sound of a band having a really good time. It’s joyous music made joyously. I love that they did this in a thematic way, centered around so many of their influences from the 70s. I think this bodes well for the Black Crowes and whatever original music they end up making. The band sounds tight and together. If they head out on the road I am definitely going to try and see them again. Until then, sit back, turn this EP up and enjoy!!

Cheers!

Led Zeppelin & The Kansas City Myth Of Their Being Booed Off Stage Early In Their Career

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*Photo taken from the internet and likely copyrighted

It’s hard to explain to young people, like say my daughter, what life was like before the internet. Nowadays you’re merely a few keystrokes away from the answer to any question you have. What time is it in Oslo? Easy, just ask the internet. Any mystery or quandary you have can be resolved in seconds. When I was a kid – and when I type that I realize I sound like the meme “old man yells at cloud” – and I was reading, if I came upon a word I didn’t know or a reference I didn’t understand I had to set the book down and pick up the dictionary or worse go into the den to the encyclopedias aligned from A to Z on the bookshelves. It’s how I learned a lot of things and yet it was a source of great amusement to my daughter when she found out I did that. She also made fun of the fact that I was a league bowler back in those days. It’s hard to make that sound cool.

In the absence of Google, a lot of what we knew was sort of a collective “conscious” if you will. Right out of college I read the long, epic poem/story The Iliad. It’s writing was attributed to the ancient Greek writer Homer. It was written down sometime around 800 B.C. or 600 B.C. I could probably look it up on the internet but it’s not that important. Anyway, I say written down because over the year it’s been acknowledged that those early stories attributed to Homer – The Iliad and also The Odyssey – were actually part of an “oral tradition.” Before you think I’m talking dirty, I merely mean that the stories, told in the form of a poem, were passed from generation to generation not by being written on stone tablets or papyrus, but by being spoken aloud. While I went to high school say, 3000 years later, I’ve come to realize we hadn’t really evolved much. There were certain stories and myths that got passed around from generation to generation.

One of those stories involve another epic artistic venture, Led Zeppelin. When I started listening to rock n roll in the late 70s, Zeppelin was, unbeknownst to us, nearing the tragic end. The first LP that they put out after I had become a rock music fan was In Through The Out Door, an album that I sometimes feel that I alone love. I remember they announced their U.S. tour in support of that album and the closest they were coming to Kansas City was Chicago. Some of the seniors in my high school were trying to organize a trip to go up there. They were going to rent a bus, everyone would chip in. It was very communal, Woodstocky if you ask me. I’m not sure how they intended to get tickets to the show. Sadly while they were rehearsing for the tour at Jimmy Page’s house John Bonham drank enough vodka to kill a small bear and choked on his own vomit – which is how true rock stars went out back then. I never knew if the senior gang got their deposit money back on the bus?

Before all that tragic shit went down, I remember asking a few people why Led Zeppelin wasn’t coming to Kansas City. I guess I wasn’t worldly enough to realize that KC was just a small tour stopover for most bands. I thought we were a big deal not just a cowtown. It was then that I began to hear what I call the “Kansas City Myth of Zeppelin.” People would speak in whispered, reverent tones about why Zeppelin didn’t play KC. I remember sleeping out for Van Halen tickets and this old hippy behind me in line, who may have been the first person to tell me the story, said to me with a wistful look in his eyes, “Oh Zeppelin will never come back to Kansas City… they’ve only played here once and they were booed off the stage.” This was stunning news to me. First, that the mighty Zeppelin would be booed off the stage and second that Kansas City would have been that rude to anybody. We’re friendly here, like Canadians. The story went that Zeppelin was an opening act for some other band and the fans were drunk and impatient for the headliner and so they booed so loud and obnoxiously Zeppelin left the stage and refused to ever play here again. I was incredulous but after asking around about it, it seemed that everybody told the same story. It had become gospel, part of our accepted, Kansas City collective wisdom.

That may sound crazy to everyone. It was made more believable because there was a similar story – that might have been equally untrue – about Bad Company being booed off the stage as headliners. They had Ted Nugent open for them and I guess Ted came out with his usual crazy blow the roof off the joint stuff. Bad Company rock but they’re a little more laid back and riffy than Nugent. The myth was that Ted had got the crowd so riled up that when Bad Co came out and opened with the mellow song “Bad Company” the crazed crowd was having none of it. I find it hard to believe anybody who shelled out money to see Bad Co would boo them off the stage because of… Ted Nugent? C’mon, it’s preposterous? But with that story out there it kind of made the Zeppelin myth seem somewhat truer. Maybe KC audiences were just crazed assholes?

As incredible as the Zeppelin story was, I saw Robert Plant the first time he played Kansas City on the Fate Of Nations tour. He had been scheduled to play KC on the Now & Zen tour but his guitarist or his bassist had slipped and fell of the stage in (I believe) Tulsa a few days earlier and he’d cancelled. So this deep into his solo career it was the first time he’d played KC which only had played into the “booed off the stage” myth. Anyway, on this night at Memorial Hall with Plant on stage – he played “Ramble On” early in the set and I heard my friend’s girlfriend (now wife) ask, “Why is this guy singing Zeppelin?” (Sigh) – he referenced the “Kansas City Myth of Zeppelin.” He said he had heard a story about why he hadn’t played here in a long time, if ever. I mean, that’s quite a powerful myth if you’ve got Robert Plant himself referencing it. I remember my ears pricked up immediately. He said something about making up for lost time and launched into “Calling To You” or some great Plant rock song.

I finally decided to scour the internet and find out if any of this was true. It turns out Zeppelin had played KC only twice but that was more than the “only played here once” myth. They played KC for the first time November 5th 1969. It must have been after the first LP, as the set is all culled from those songs. Apparently they’d played Ontario, Canada the night before and were playing San Francisco the night after. They’d shipped their equipment on to SF and had to borrow equipment from a local band. They were not openers, they were the headliners. Reviews were positive with a few minor complaints about the borrowed PA system. They apparently played two shows that night, 7pm and 930pm. Rumor has it Bonham got a little blasted on Scotch in between shows and almost missed the second gig. No booing.

They came back almost a year later on August 19, 1970. The set list I found online has them opening with the “Immigrant Song” but the rest of the tracks were from Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II. Again, reviews were very positive and even went so far as saying this was a much better performance than their debut shows a year earlier. At least they had their own equipment this time. Apparently several of the band members had grown beards (most notably Page, but also Plant and JPJ) and the reviewer couldn’t resist commenting on the “abundance of hair.” The reviewer sounds like my grandmother who abhorred facial hair. Anyway, he goes on to complement their more nuanced playing and how they’d developed some mellower stuff to go with the hard rocking stuff. Again, no mention of booing is made here.

Why didn’t Zeppelin ever come back to Kansas City? I think at this point we have to agree that it had nothing to do with KC crowds booing them. It was probably scheduling or money or maybe issues with local promoters. Kemper Arena – where most big shows took place in the 70s and 80s – didn’t open until 1974 and Zeppelin were too big to play Memorial Hall or Municipal Auditorium, they’d outgrown our ability to host them. And yet, it was taken as gospel they were booed off the stage and never returned. Even Plant might have bought into that story at his solo show. We all thought that story was true. Thankfully… no it was not. Although as I type this, I know there is a really old hippy out there somewhere still telling that story like a stoned Oracle of Delphi to young rock fans foolish enough to listen.

What have we learned people? First, KC audiences aren’t assholes. Secondly, Zeppelin did play here a couple of times and god bless you if you were old enough and lucky enough to see them. I was not. I was, as Tom Petty sings, “a boy in short pants” during that time period. What we’ve also learned – question everything, especially authority… even if that authority is a hippy in the Van Halen ticket line…

Cheers!

Pink Floyd: First New Single Since 2014 – “Hey, Hey, Rise Up (Featuring Andriy Khylvnyuk)” For Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief

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I had to rub my eyes when I started seeing the stuff on line… A new song by legendary band Pink Floyd? That can’t be right. Perhaps it could be early on-set dementia catching up with me? Pink Floyd hasn’t done anything since 2014’s The Endless River, a mostly instrumental tribute to their then-recently passed keyboard player Rick Wright. And the songs on that album were crafted from jams they did when recording The Division Bell back in 1994. They just went in and did some creative editing and a little bit of addition to come up with the album. I dug The Endless River as it harkens back to that Floyd period after founding guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett departed and before the massive fame that came with Dark Side Of The Moon. And let’s face it, Pink Floyd was always at their best when lamenting a departed band member be it Syd Barrett, Roger Waters or Rick Wright. But after The Endless River, David Gilmour announced, that’s it, Pink Floyd are done.

Hence my shock when I saw that there was a new Floyd song on the way. It turns out Gilmour has gotten Pink Floyd back together for the most noble of reasons. The song is for charity, namely Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief. All proceeds go to that. Gilmour could have released this as a solo track, but obviously he realizes that the creative/commercial reach of using the Pink Floyd name is far wider than just his solo stuff. Pink Floyd has always stood on the side of Peace and this is a perfect use of their clout. Joining Gilmour (guitar) is Nick Mason on drums – and if Gilmour and Mason are involved it’s Pink Floyd to me – with Guy Pratt whose played bass for Pink Floyd for a long time and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards. Gilmour’s daughter-in-law is Ukrainian so he obviously has a personal stake in all of this.

On vocals it’s Andriy Khlyvnyuk from the Ukrainian band Boombox. Gilmour sat in with Boombox a few years ago, although Andriy was absent that night, visa issues. More recently Boombox was touring, I believe in America, when the Russians launched their unprovoked invasion. He flew back to Kyiv to help defend his country. After being there a few days he posted a video on social media singing a Ukrainian song “The Red Viburnum In The Meadow.” It’s a “we will rise” kind of song. Very stirring. It was then that Gilmour got the idea of pulling Pink Floyd back together. Mason was immediately keen on the idea. Gilmour was quoted as saying, in a self-deprecating manner, “All I had to do was go in and play the “guitar god” part.” And he certainly does. There is also a very affecting video on YouTube, seen here:

I thought, “Charity single ok, I’m in,” but I didn’t expect to like this song as much as I do. Andriy’s vocal is as impassioned as you’d think it would be. I loved when U2 did that side project as The Passengers and did that song with Luciano Pavarotti, “Miss Sarajevo” so I found hearing someone sing in Ukrainian quite moving. And Gilmour’s guitar is, well quite inspired. He’s one of those guitar players who when I hear him, I know it’s him. His style of playing is so distinctive. He does not sing at all on the song, it’s all Andriy on vocals.

There are some who may argue whether this is “really” Pink Floyd. But it was the line up of Gilmour and Mason who were credited as Pink Floyd on A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Rick Wright played on the album but wasn’t an “official” band member so he could avoid the hassles brought on by Roger Waters lawsuit against the band… which he eventually lost. So if you want to get caught up in the debate of whether this is Pink Floyd or not, go right ahead. But here at B&V this is Pink Floyd.

This is a great song put together for an even greater reason, Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief. Anything that can help is positive. I love that Gilmour cranked up Pink Floyd in the cause of humanitarian relief. The Russians atrocities get worse every day. I can’t believe we’re seeing a war in Europe in 2022. If this great song can shine more light on it, I’m in. Come for the noble cause, stay for the impassioned vocal and searing guitar solos. And as we used to say in high school, “It’s Pink Floyd, man.”

“All we are saying is give Peace a chance” – John Lennon!

Cheers!

B&V’s 12 Favorite Old School, Vinyl, Single- Album Greatest Hits LPs – The Struggle Was Real

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I was never a guy who watched the music charts. As a decidedly rock n roll guy and not a “pop” music fan I didn’t look to see who had the number 1 song in the world, or any place else for that matter. What was popular didn’t matter to me. What rocked absolutely mattered to me (and still does)! There was one true rock n roll station in Kansas City at the time, KY102 and they didn’t play “hits.” The hits were all to be found on the pop station, Q104. My brother was diverse enough he’d listen to both stations, but I was all rock n roll, all the time… once I eventually got into music. My parents would play the Casey Kasem show American Top 40 on Sunday mornings on the way to church in an attempt to mollify my anger at having to get out of bed, bathe and go to Mass. I had gotten into music and I guess they thought playing pop music would soothe the savage (and apparently heathen) beast. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Listening to pop music on the way to and from church was as close as I got to knowing anything about the pop music charts and what was popular. And yes, for those of you who missed him, Casey Kasem was even cheesier than you might imagine.

That all being said, even as a vinyl guy, I find myself going out to buy music on different platforms. I have a room full of vinyl, CDs and hard drives full of MP3’s. Every now and again I’ll find myself going out to Apple Music to buy a stray song. I recently bought the song “Soulmates to Strangers” by Joan Jett because while I dig her, I just wanted that song. I’m not “that” into her that I considered the entire LP… but I’m getting off topic here. On those occasions I’m out on Apple buying a single song, I find myself glancing at the “TOP SONGS” and “TOP ALBUMS” on the “Rock” home page. I can’t help myself. I’m always curious to see what people are buying. “TOP SONGS” doesn’t really interest me, although occasionally I do find some stray tune on the list I like but my eyes almost always head to “TOP ALBUMS.” The list of top LPs usually includes a few heavy metal titles – like really heavy stuff (keep rawking people!) – but invariably the list is dominated by greatest hits albums. Whether it’s Journey, CCR or the Eagles, it’s always a who’s who of classic rock “best of” compilations. At first I was surprised, but when I think about my own early experience collecting music, I totally get it.

I had my “rock awakening” somewhere around 1977 or 1978. The first LP I ever purchased was the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls and after that there was no turning back, I was hooked. Rock n Roll as an art form was a good twenty to twenty-five years old by that point. Granted the famous rockers from the 50s had all “aged out” by the time I was into music. Listening to 50s rock n roll was like watching old, grainy, black and white footage of baseball in the 1920s… jerky movements and small hats with big gloves. Even Elvis was on his last legs and eventually passed away in awful fashion. I did have a connection to that 50s music. My father had a wire rack full of old singles from Elvis, Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. It was hard to listen to those early Elvis singles (that I loved) and being able to connect that visceral, powerful music that sounded like life itself with the Elvis who died at the end.

If I put aside the 50s and limit the life of rock to 1963, the year “Love Me Do” by the Beatles came out, that’s still a good 15 years of rock n roll I had to catch up on. There was soooo much great rock n roll already extant and it was all I could do to keep up with stuff that was being released currently. How was I ever going to catch up and build a decent record collection? And lets not forget, at the time I was in middle school (or as we called it, Junior High). It’s not like I had a “9 to 5” job down at the bank that paid me a whole bunch. I got a pittance for an allowance from my folks. Most of my spare change went toward buying LPs from the rock groups who were then current. Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door, The Who Face Dances and Springsteen’s The River were all early purchases. That last one, the Springsteen record, was particularly dear as it was a double LP which was always a huge investment. Obviously, each of those groups (and so many others) had a rich history and big back catalogs. What’s a (relatively) poor boy to do to build a record collection of the music he loved?

As a young collector who couldn’t afford to buy all of the Beatles LPs, I did what we all did back then, I turned to greatest hits collections. You must remember that this was long before the 2-CD, wonderfully curated greatest hits packages that I see listed on the Apple Music “TOP ALBUMS” list. There was no Depeche Mode Singles 86 – 98 or Scorpions Deadly Sting. Sure, there were some double LP greatest hits packages out there – the Stones Hot Rocks and Neil Young’s Decade (which was actually 3 LPs) spring to mind – but double LPs were more than my tiny budget could afford. Even after I started working mowing lawns or busing tables I was leery of buying double LPs, greatest hits or otherwise… Pink Floyd’s The Wall was certainly a rare exception. Cassettes helped – I taped my brothers’ Hot Rocks and my parents Beatles’ 1967-1970 aka The Blue Album but I really had limited access to other people’s collections. There was no file sharing unless you count passing cassettes around.

I turned, as most of us did, to buying single-LP greatest hits collections. They never really contained every song I wanted or liked from an artist – they were rarely a complete picture of the artist’s catalog – but those greatest hits albums were the foundation of my early record collection. If I liked the greatest hits album I’d slowly delve deeper into the artist’s catalog until the greatest hits package became, well superfluous. Over the years as my collection grew, I divested of many of the greatest hits packages from those early days. But I wish I hadn’t. I loved so many of those albums. If the album was sequenced right, with a healthy dose of great tunes, it was almost like an original… Sometimes there was a bonus track you couldn’t find anywhere else or a single that hadn’t been released on an album up to that point. Those were always great to have. I thought I’d share the 12 “best of” albums that were my favorites. I’m sure some of you out there owned a few of these?

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  • The Doors, Greatest Hits – This LP got my entire generation into the Doors. It’s iconic to folks of a certain age. There were longer (double-LP) and perhaps better greatest hits albums from the Doors but this was the one we all owned. It was short but it had all the highlights. The biography of Jim Morrison No One Here Gets Out Alive also came out around this time and we all wanted to be the poet rebel. If I was ever in trouble I gave my fake name as Ken Morrison as an homage.

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  • David Bowie, Changesonebowie – Bowie was intimidating. He’d gone through so many stylistic (yes) changes I didn’t know where to start. This was the perfect primer for me on Bowie. I actually still have this one on vinyl. From “Space Oddity” to “Changes” I realized I dug Bowie. I had already purchased Let’s Dance and this album made me realize I’d only scratched the surface.

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  • Paul McCartney, Wings Greatest – This had a bunch of non album tracks like “Mull of Kintyre” and “Junior’s Farm” and it came with a cool poster that I hung on my wall. It was only the tip of the iceberg of McCartney’s post Beatles 70s work but man I wore this thing out. At the time I only owned Band On The Run and the then current Tug Of War and I thought this rounded it out nicely… I had so far to go.

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  • The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 – This album had a ton of their best tracks from the pre-Hotel California Eagles. As a youngster Hotel California was really all I cared about from the Eagles, but they had so many great songs, this LP, one of the biggest sellers of all time was a must have.

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  • Aerosmith, Greatest Hits – I actually bought their Live Bootleg LP thinking that it had more of their big songs on it. I love live LPs, but Live Bootleg was pretty raw. I ended up going back for this LP to augment my Aerosmith collection. The songs were edited but this was the perfect cassette for the car. The Rock Chick had this on CD when I met her and I knew we were destined to be together.

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  • The Who, Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy – Sure, I had Face Dances and I even plunked down the cash for Who’s Next but I couldn’t afford to go back and chase all these great early Who tracks down. The critics hoped for more unreleased stuff but I loved this record. It’s a perfect collection of early singles. And “Pinball Wizard” was on this album and I couldn’t afford the double-LP Tommy.

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  • Elton John, Greatest Hits – We were all a little leery of Elton – was he a pop or did he rock? Yes, of course he rocked. This was the perfect introduction to his vast catalog. I don’t know anybody who didn’t own this record. It wasn’t until I was in college, after I’d seen him live that I delved deeper into his catalog.

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  • The Doobie Brothers, Best of the Doobies – I was a huge fan of the Tom Johnston era of the Doobies but I had no idea where to begin… this was the place. While I’m one of the few people I knew who were into the Doobies in the late 70s, I really liked this record. And it was better than Minute By Minute which everyone owned but no one admitted they owned.

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  • Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits – Believe it or not, my first Dylan album was Slow Train Coming, his first in the “Christian Trilogy.” I dug his lyrics (that really was poetry) and wanted more but didn’t know where to start. So I started here. It was the only LP with “Positively 4th Street” on it… a song I love. “Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, You’d know what a drag it is to see you.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that about someone.

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  • ZZ Top, The Best of ZZ Top – ZZ had emerged from a short hiatus with Deguello an album I still just love. This was a perfect sampling of all their stuff prior. It had everything from “La Grange” to “Tush” which was a perfect for me at the time. I finally ended up owning all of their early records (except Tejas) so I sadly parted ways with this one. It was a great introduction to everything that had come before Deguello.

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  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Smash Hits – I had no idea the Hendrix Experience only had 3 LPs… if I’d realized that I probably would have just bitten the bullet and bought them all in high school. But I did love this album. It had “Stone Free” which wasn’t on any of his actual albums. And as mentioned, I always loved a stray single finding a home on an LP.

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  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, So Far – I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know this was a greatest hits LP when I bought it. It was the only album I could find “Ohio” on at the time and therefore I thought it was just a studio LP albeit an amazing one. It was indeed a great sampler of their biggest tracks but again with only 1 or 2 LPs to buy I could have foregone it… but I’m glad I didn’t. It wasn’t until college when my roommate Drew turned me on to CSN (Y) that I started to collect their first few LPs including Deja Vu.

I’m sure all of you out there had that LP or cassette of a greatest hits package that you just loved. Nothing that was exhaustive or complete but just a great record you liked to listen to at full volume on the headphones in your bedroom when you got home from school or in your car with the windows down (or if you had money maybe with the T-tops off. What were your favorites from back in the day? Let us know in the comments section.

I hope you all enjoyed this little stroll down memory lane! There is nothing wrong with owning a greatest hits package. It’s a great way to build up your collection. And like me, if you find some gems you weren’t aware of perhaps it’ll lead you to an LP you’d only paged past. To me greatest hits packages serve two great purposes – 1) it builds your collection, especially if you’re not so into the artist you wanna buy all their LPs and 2) it serves and a good introduction or primer into an artist’s catalog. You can’t lose.

Cheers!

Playlist: Our Favorite Songs About The Surreal Realm of Dreams/Dreaming

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*Image of Freud (apparently interpreting dreams) taken from the internet and likely subject to copyright

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Editor’s Note: Right before I went to bed last night I saw the terrible, terrible news that the world of rock n roll had lost another bright light. Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins, dead at 50. Such terrible, terrible sad news. My condolences to Taylor’s family (especially his 3 kids) and to Dave Grohl and all the Foo Fighter’s family. I’m not a huge fan of the Foo Fighters but this one did hit me kind of hard… fifty is still so  young.

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“To sleep, perchance to dream” – Hamlet, William Shakespeare

I’ve always had a more classical bent to my reading. While the Rock Chick is prone to reading murder mysteries I’m more likely to be found reading ‘The Canterbury Tales.’ I’m not suggesting that’s better, it’s probably just weirder. Don’t get me wrong, any more I’m as likely to be reading Michael Connelly as Ernest Hemingway. I had a History Professor in college who, along with an English Professor, had published a reading list which I bought for $2 and it has provided me a lifetime of entertainment. That’s all well and good, but it gets me funny looks.

I was in an airport with the guy who hired me to my current company, many years ago, and I purchased Freud’s The Interpretation Of Dreams at the airport news stand. The guy I was with – we are both Traveling Salesmen – was horrified. My mom had a friend who was a psychologist and I mentioned to him I was reading Freud and even he shuddered…”Find a nice murder mystery, it’s easier to read.” He’d clearly been traumatized somewhere along his educational path by having to write a paper about Freud. In truth I only finished about 2/3’s of the book. Freud gets down in the weeds of trying to break dreams down into a mathematical formula.

While most of Freud’s theories have fallen out of favor amongst the psychological community, you have to give the guy credit. He was really the first person to delve into the surreal mental area of dreams. Freud theorized that the events of your day inspire thoughts and those thoughts are the raw material of your dreams. You eat an apple for lunch and it reminds you of your mother baking a pie and that night you dream your mother is smoking a cigar while juggling pies. Hey, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” folks. I don’t know if anybody will ever be able to tell us why we dream what we dream but it’s certainly interesting to wonder.

Last year I posted a playlist of songs about Sleeping, or my inability to sleep anyway. Longtime readers know I’m a sucker for a thematic playlist… My playlists are really more about trying to expose people to deep tracks or songs they might not have heard (or not heard in a while, anyway). Like this post, I led it off with the Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, from his most famous soliloquy, “To sleep, perchance to dream.” Hamlet was actually contemplating death, that whole “To be or not to be” thing. By “to sleep” he meant “to die” and the dreams he spoke of, which actually terrified him, symbolized what you saw after death. Leave it to me to take a lighthearted rock n roll playlist and go heavy on you… but I guess that’s my M.O.

For this post, I don’t mean anything quite that heavy. I’m just thinking about dreams. It amuses me that they also use the word “dreams” for our aspirations. It makes our wishes seem unattainable. It was George Carlin who once said, “They call it the American Dream because you’d have to be asleep to believe it.” There are plenty of songs on this list that pertain to that whole aspirational dream thing. There are also a few tracks that are about day dreaming. But what is a day dream but a dream that you’re actually conscious for and can actively choreograph. For me, when I think of dreams, I’m thinking about the theater of the mind, when you’ve finally gone into that deep R.E.M. sleep and the subconscious takes over.

As an insomniac there are many nights I don’t dream. But when I do they’re vivid. And usually not hard to interpret. Many people have recurring dreams. I’ve had the dream of falling but not since I was a kid. I’ve had the dream where I’m being menaced and I try to run but my body won’t move… I usually start making horrible noises in my sleep and the Rock Chick wakes me, thank god. I used to have a recurring dream where I was naked in public – like down at the mall – and I was trying to get home… standing behind anything I can find so people can’t see me. I’ve never had the dream where my teeth are falling out but apparently that is a common one. Another common dream I’d like to have is the dream that you’re flying – without an airplane. How cool would that be?

The most common recurring dream I have is set in college. I’m my current age, yet I’m in college. I have to go take an English final (ironically, my weakest subject). But I haven’t been in the class all semester. Many times in the dream I struggle to find the right classroom. If I fail this exam I’ll have to stay in college another semester. In some versions of this recurring dream, I actually skip to the part where I’m looking to find a place to stay because I flunked the exam. The prospect of living with the Vikings I lived with back in the day horrifies me. These are not pleasant dreams. I’ve grown accustomed to an easier lifestyle where I actually bathe and don’t eat fast food all the time.

In good times I dream about being with all my old pals and drinking fine bourbon. Those are great dreams. I always know when I’m happy dreaming. Those are rare. My recurring bad dream involves loss. Sometimes I’m visited by dead relatives – or believe or not, a favorite pet – and they are trying to deliver a message. I’m lost in a parking lot, or some innocuous place and my grandfather shows up 40 years after his death to tell me I’m lost… yeah, grandpa I get that. There are some who might believe this is a visitation from the spiritual world. I just think those people we’ve lost symbolize something to us and their appearance in the dream is merely metaphoric, not some ghost contact. I lost my grandfather, my first close relative to pass, when I was in high school. It was tough. That left a mark and that wound surfaces in dreams…

The worst dreams I have are usually when I see a person whose relationship with me ended long ago. Sometimes it’s the deceased persons mentioned above but more likely it’s someone I’ve had a falling out with or a former lover I’ve broken up with. I’m not pining for anybody but those severed relationships, like the loss of my grandfather left a scar. Those people have come to symbolize loss and pain. Especially when the break occurred early on in your life. When things are going badly or I suffer a defeat or loss those “symbols of loss and pain” pop into my head to underscore the fact. My subconscious seems hell bent on torturing me. I struggle to sleep and if things are going bad my mind creates horrible dreams for me.

It’s not always a miserable dream like that. Last night I dreamed I was in a fine restaurant with the Rock Chick and some old buddies and we were eating and drinking and telling old stories – stories that didn’t really make sense in the context of the dream but hey, who cares. Sometimes things I see in my dream happen in real life later down the road. I know that sounds crazy. I used to think that was deja vu but I’m told it’s something called precognition. It’s probably just another trick my brain plays on me. I just hope last night’s dream was one of those that actually happen… it looked like a fun night.

Without further adieu, here are our favorite songs about dreams or dreaming. You’ll find this on Spotify under BourbonAndvinyl.net Dreams/Dreaming. I stand with Neil Young on the whole Spotify thing and that moron Joe Rogan but after all these years it’d be impractical to try and re-platform all our playlists. I’m still looking into it. Neil is on this playlist here in the B&V labs but obviously not on this playlist. As always, if you have a favorite “dream’ themed track, please put it in the comments section and I’ll add it to the playlist. The playlists are, as always, a B&V community thing, not just my purview.

  1. Rainbow, “Street Of Dreams” – I’ve always liked Rainbow, I need to get them on the playlists more often. For some reason this song always reminds me of ‘Nightmare On Elm Street.’
  2. Bruce Springsteen, “I’ll See You In My Dreams” – Great track from Letter To You about seeing his old bandmates in his dreams… I see my old pals in dreams as well.
  3. Alice Cooper, “Caught In A Dream” – Old Alice Cooper is just sooo damn good.
  4. Queensryche, “Silent Lucidity” – I know it sounds like a cop-out but this is my favorite Queensryche track.
  5. Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams” – This song has stuck with me from grade school and evokes the memory of being at the city pool and hearing it on the loudspeaker. I wonder if I’ll dream about that tonight…
  6. Arc Angels, “Living In A Dream” – I hear the Arc Angels (Doyle Bramhall III and Charlie Sexton w/ Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rhythm section) have reunited. I hope so.
  7. Neil Young, “Dreamin’ Man” – While not on the Spotify version of this list, this is still a great acoustic track from Neil.
  8. Ozzy Osbourne, “Dreamer” – I wanted the song “Nightmares” which is a bonus track and not on Spotify, so I went with this great, late-period, Beatlesque track.
  9. David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream” – Like I said, a daydream is just a dream we can choreograph…
  10. Fiona Apple, “Sleep To Dream” – One of two tracks that’s also on our Sleep playlist.
  11. Talking Heads, “City of Dreams” – Great track from an often overlooked LP.
  12. Depeche Mode, “Dream On” – The Rock Chick turned me onto this track.
  13. Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare” – Sometimes dreams go bad… hence I had to include a nightmare track.
  14. Supertramp, “Dreamer” – You never hear Supertramp any more and that’s too bad.
  15. The Cult, “Dreamtime” – From their great debut LP. I’m going to see these guys later this spring.
  16. Cream, “Dreaming” – Surreal track fits this playlist perfectly.
  17. Judas Priest, “Dreamer, Deceiver” – An epic ballad with a great guitar solo. This one is for my friend Stormin’ as he loves this track.
  18. AC/DC, “Rock N Roll Dream” – Have AC/DC done a bad album? I think not. Great deep track here.
  19. Blondie, “Dreaming” – I’ve always dug Blondie.
  20. Stevie Nicks, “In Your Dreams” – Stevie Nicks is quietly having a late career resurgence that everyone should be checking out.
  21. Aerosmith, “Dream On” – Well, you knew this one was gonna be here.
  22. Talking Heads, “Dream Operator” – A second track from the aforementioned overlooked LP, True Stories.
  23. Neil Young, “Pocahontas” – This has got to be the description of a dream. There’s no way someone consciously comes up with “Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me…”
  24. Mudcrutch, “Dreams of Flying” – Great track. I wish I’d have a dream like this.
  25. Van Morrison, “These Dreams of You” – Van in happier, saner days.
  26. Crosby, Stills & Nash, “In My Dreams” – Another great CSN track that you won’t find on Spotify.
  27. Bob Dylan, “Dreamin’ Of You” – Great, late period Dylan.
  28. Python Lee Jackson (Featuring Rod Stewart), “In A Broken Dream” – Early Rod Stewart before he was well, Rod Stewart. He just sings the crap out of this song.
  29. Dave Matthews Band, “Dreamgirl” – Great boozy love song.
  30. Elvis Presley, “If I Can Dream” – Elvis making a huge statement about racism and the state of the nation. The King goes big and kills it!
  31. Bruce Springsteen, “Book of Dreams” – A quiet track from Lucky Town. The ballads from that era tended to be better than the rockers.
  32. Van Halen, “Dreams” – Van Hagar era track with keyboards.
  33. Joe Walsh, “Dreams” – The Rock Chick has been getting into Joe lately, which is awesome. We saw him open for Tom Petty the last time we saw him and Joe delivered.
  34. Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” – Another perfect fit.
  35. Cheap Trick, “Dream The Night Away” – Cheap Trick have so many great tunes.
  36. Beck, “Dreams” – Great song from a bad album.
  37. David Crosby & Graham Nash, “Cowboy of Dreams’ – Seek this deep track out. You’ll thank me.
  38. Van Morrison, “Call Me Up In Dreamland” – Another track from Van’s prime.
  39. Randy Newman, “Last Night I Had A Dream” – I love Randy Newman. “Last night I had a dream… you were in it and I was in it…”
  40. Bob Dylan, “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” – Great track about Dylan and Captain Ahab finding America and getting busted by the cops.
  41. Cheap Trick, “Dream Police” – Great paranoid rock anthem.
  42. The Allman Brothers, “Dreams” – I shy away from tracks that run 7 minutes on my playlists but I couldn’t omit this seminal Allman Brothers track.
  43. Aretha Franklin, “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream” – The Queen of Soul’s birthday was this week… had to include her.
  44. R.E.M., “I Don’t Sleep, I Dream” – The second track that does double duty on this playlist and our Sleep playlist.
  45. Pink Floyd, “The Gunners Dream” – I love this track. A guy dreaming about a fellow soldier’s dream… Roger Water recently re did this song.
  46. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Dreamville” – A lighthearted moment from The Last DJ.
  47. Dave Matthews Band, “Sleep To Dream Her” – This track always stuck out to me.
  48. John Lennon, “#9 Dream” – There are so many great Lennon solo tracks out there.
  49. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Angel Dream (No. 4)” – Beautiful song from the She’s The One Soundtrack and the recently re-imagined version of the album, Angel Dream.
  50. Green Day, “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” – I’ve sort of lost touch with Green Day these days but this is one of their biggest tracks.
  51. CSNY, “Dream For Him” – Another great David Crosby penned track.
  52. Van Halen, “Little Dreamer” – From their legendary eponymous debut LP.

Reader Suggestions:

  1. Neil Young, “After the Goldrush” – A song that was on an early incarnation of this list that I just plum forgot. Great reader suggestion. Although you won’t find this on our Spotify playlist for obvious reasons.
  2. Lovin’ Spoonful, “Daydreamin'” – Another great reader suggestion.

That’s it folks. Let me know if you have anything to add! And, as always, may your dreams be pleasant and light… I’ll take care of the heavy bad dreams down here in the B&V labs…

Cheers!

Review: Liam Gallagher Teams With Dave Grohl For The Sensational New Song “Everything’s Electric”

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*Image of Liam Gallagher performing at the Brit Awards taken from the internet and likely copyrighted

I’m on record as stating that Liam Gallagher is an unpleasant man. So is his brother Noel for that matter. Of course my view of Liam will always be tainted by his mocking my front row “air guitar” from the stage at an Oasis show at Red Rocks a number of years ago. But damn if the mocking bastard isn’t back with a sensational new song, “Everything’s Electric.” As I’ve said before, it’s extremely pleasant music from an extremely unpleasant man…

The most surprising thing about “Everything’s Electric” is that it’s co written by one of the nicest people in all of rock n roll, the Foo Fighters founder Dave Grohl. I’m not a huge fan of the Foo, but like David Letterman, I’m a huge fan of the song “Everlong.” I had the Foo’s first album but I either sold it at the used record/CD store or an ex might have absconded with it. The details get fuzzier the more time that passes… as Randy Newman sang, “God bless the potholes down on memory lane.” Dave not only co wrote this song, he plays the drums on the track much like he did with Mick Jagger last summer on their one-off, You-Tube only single “Easy Sleazy.” I don’t think he plays any of the great guitar on the song, but I can’t find credits on who plays what. I guess I’ll know when Liam’s new LP C’Mon You Know comes out on May 27th.

Like all things Oasis/Gallagher brothers, I think Grohl’s involvement in this song may have come out of some conflict. There was some on-line thing where a bunch of Foo Fighter fans petitioned Noel Gallagher to rejoin his brother Liam and get Oasis back together. I was never a huge Oasis fan but the Rock Chick is and as far as I know she could have been behind the whole on-line thing. No one really knows whose behind the whole “reunite Oasis” drive. While I find Liam unpleasant I despise Noel for what he said about INXS to Micheal Hutchence at an MTV Awards show years ago. Anyway, apparently Noel was offended that the fans of the Foo were on him about getting Oasis back together and thought Dave Grohl, not the Rock Chick, was behind it. As usual, Noel handled his anger in a classy way and invited Mr. Grohl – the NICEST man in rock n roll – to “suck his d*ck.” Even I was like, dude, slow you’re roll. As if I wasn’t already on “Team Liam.” And don’t get me wrong, Liam is no saint. He once questioned the paternity of Noel’s daughter. They are the living embodiment of the cliche of brothers who start bands and end up hating each other. These guys make the Everly Brothers look like the Mannings. Whatever drove Grohl’s involvement in this song, it’s certainly welcome.

While I wasn’t a huge Oasis fan until I met the Rock Chick I have been on 100% in on Liam’s solo career. I even dug that first Beady Eye album. It would be easy to give Grohl all the credit for this great new track “Everything’s Electric” but that would ignore Liam’s great solo LPs thus far – 2017’s As You Were and 2019’s Why Me? Why Not. Both of those got great reviews from us down here at B&V. Hell, I even loved his live album MTV Unplugged (Live At Hull City Hall). But then I’ve always been fond of the Unplugged series and have even posted about my favorite ones (B&V’s Favorite MTV “Unplugged” LPs).

I read that Grohl said they were trying to bring the percussive elements of the Beastie Boys’ song “Sabotage” and blend it with a “Gimme Shelter” vibe. I can hear the “Sabotage” a little bit, but I’m not sure about the Stones elements. The song, like the upcoming album C’mon You Know, was produced by Greg Kurstin who produced As You Were and co-produced Why Me? Why Not. This may be my favorite Liam tune to date. Grohl really brings it on drums. The track starts with heavy bass and big guitar riffs. And then Grohl comes in on drums. Liam is just a great vocalist there’s no getting around that. If you dug Oasis, you’re gonna love this track. It’s great to hear rock n roll played loud. The guitars pile on – from big riffs to a little lead signature that almost sounds like it’s a slide guitar? I love the lyric “I don’t hate you, But I despise that feeling there’s nothing left for me here.” Here’s the lyric video of the song:

Turn this one up really loud. It’s going to be a great year for rock n roll with new albums from Liam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose new song, the “Slow Cheetah”-esque “Black Summer” we’re still cranking here in the B&V labs, and (today) Eddie Vedder. Winter is slowly releasing it’s horrible grasp upon us as days get longer and the music gets louder. Take care of yourself out there.

Cheers!

New Song Review! Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Black Summer” – Welcome Home John Frusciante!

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I’ve spent the last week deeply immersed in the Beatles’ Rooftop Concert and man has that helped cure my winter blues. Of course, the funk I’ve been in may be lifting merely because Dry January is finally over… I guess we’ll never know what cured me. As if I wasn’t blissed out enough, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (one of our favorites down here at B&V) have dropped the first single from their upcoming album Unlimited Love. The album drops April 1st, yes, April Fools Day. The new song is called “Black Summer” and comes complete with a new video. I was particularly pumped about this upcoming album because it heralds the return of guitarist John Frusciante who has rejoined singer Anthony Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea for the first time since he departed the band after the hugely successful Stadium Arcadium.

This actually marks the second time Frusciante has left the Chili Peppers and returned. He couldn’t handle the world wide attention that Blood Sugar Sex Magik generated and left only to return a couple of albums later for Californication. There was a similar arc of events after Stadium Arcadium came out. Everybody loved that album. Everyone I knew was calling me to tell me about it – from old dudes I worked with to my daughter (who was still in high school) and her friends. Literally everyone except perhaps my Sainted Mother dug that record but she’s still immersed in Roger Whitaker albums from the 70s…I can hear her now, “Bring me another sherry darling and turn this up…” I saw the Chili Peppers on that tour (although sadly I didn’t take the Rock Chick and am still hearing about it) and Frusciante played with an ecstasy usually reserved for the religious convert. I thought he was happy? Maybe after Stadium Arcadium, when they were at yet another career zenith, Frusciante – who is a true artist in every sense of that word – felt he’d done all he can do and he had enough money so he split for a curious solo career. Rumors are swirling that he lost 70% of his net worth in his recent divorce and that may be the impetus for his return. Regardless of why he came back, I’m just glad he’s returned. His Chili Peppers’ LP resume includes all of their best albums: Mother’s Milk, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Californication, By The Way and the aforementioned Stadium Arcadium. They have had a lot of guitarists from Hillel Slovak to Josh Klinghoffer but there’s only one man whose chemistry with the band spurs them to their utmost creative heights and that’s John Frusciante. We should cherish any music these four guys create together.

I’ll say off the bat, I dig “Black Summer.” But how does it compare with their recent first singles? Let’s watch the video and listen to the song:

If we harken back to John’s last album with the band, Stadium Arcadium, the first single was “Dani California.” That’s one of the Chili Pepper’s greatest songs of all time, in my not so humble opinion. Frusciante’s guitar is Hendrix-ian at it’s utmost. The solo’ing at the end is epic. That was a mighty first single. After John left, the first single the Chili Peppers released from their next album I’m With You was “Rain Dance Maggie.” A lot of people didn’t like the Josh Klinghoffer era of the band but I really dug I’m With You. Rick Rubin was still on as producer. They did a video for “Rain Dance Maggie” where they were playing live on a roof overlooking a beach in California. Hmm… playing on a roof… I wonder where I’ve heard of that before. I do dig “Rain Dance Maggie” and I thought it was a great first single continuing their trend of great first singles. Finally, their last LP (and Josh’s last with the band) The Getaway saw “Dark Necessities” released as the first single. I reviewed The Getaway and I stand by that review – the album disappointed me. I rarely reach for that disc. However, “Dark Necessities” is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard. It’s got an infectious melody and groove – Flea just kills it. Kiedis lyrics are dark but yet enticing. “Dark necessities are part of my design” could be printed on my tombstone. Bad album and yet a fantastic first single!

With that history of great lead singles, I imagine there was a lot of pressure on the Chili Peppers to “bring the house” on this one. I don’t think Flea does “pressure.” I know John doesn’t do “pressure.” I like “Black Summer” but it is a curious choice of a first single. It starts with that spooky guitar riff the Peppers have been playing on their social media posts teasing the new track. There is not a guitarist on the planet besides Frusciante who can play this close to what Hendrix sounded like. You can hear the influence even on the quiet opening riffage. The song starts slow with just Frusciante’s guitar and Anthony’s vocal. The band doesn’t kick in for about a minute and a half. The guitar solo mid song is vintage Frusciante. You know it’s him on guitar and everything just seems right in the universe. You can also tell this was produed by Rick Rubin who is the fifth Pepper as far as I’m concerned. I’m extremely glad he’s back at the board for these guys. “I’ve been waiting, waiting on another black summer to end.” God haven’t we all been waiting for this “Black Summer” we find ourselves in to end? I know I have.

The song doesn’t have the hook of say, “Dark Necessities” that you’d expect in a first single. It doesn’t have a giant sing-along chorus of say, “Rain Dance Maggie” that you’d expect from a first track. It’s a little dark but isn’t everything these days? I’ve always liked the inherent darkness in the Chili Peppers music, when they touch on that vein is when they’re at their best. This is a great rock n roll tune and we don’t hear much great rock n roll played on actual instruments these days. And let me say, thank god there is no presence of keyboards on this record. I think this is going to be a great year with a new album and tour from the Chili Peppers. And let me say again, welcome home John, you’re back where you naturally belong.

Until I can hear the album and see these guys in concert – this time with the Rock Chick, I promise – I guess I’m resigned to sit and “with the birds I’ll share this lonely view…” If Frusciante can find his way back, maybe all of us can. Take care of each other. This black summer really is almost over. Cheers!

Playlist: 1972 – A Celebration, We Look Back 50 Years

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*Image above taken from the internet and likely copyrighted

I’ve spent the last week exploring and really reveling in the music of 1972. You might say I’ve been having my own private “celebration” of 1972. Now before you start to think I’m an octogenarian or I’m Connor MacLeod from the movie Highlander – an immortal warrior born in the 1300s, living in the shadows while occasionally dueling other immortals who are attempting to decapitate me – fear not, I’m not that old. Although, admittedly I wish I were the Highlander. No, in 1972 I was alive but I was as Tom Petty once sang, “a boy in short pants.” I was barely in grade school. So this might beg the question, “Why 1972?”

Now that the calendar has rolled to 2022 it’s been 50 years since 1972 and a 50th anniversary is always worth celebrating. So far 2022 has been a nightmare for me, the sum of all fears, so I need some musical distraction… Last year I started reading all of this stuff on how 1971 was a landmark year for music. Many articles I read contended that ’71 was the greatest year ever for rock n roll. I’m not sure about that, but last year when I researched 1971, I was stunned at how amazing the music is that was released that year. It truly was the landmark year that everybody was raving about. I ended up doing one of my playlists (Playlist, We Look Back 50 Years to: 1971 ) and it was groovy! I’ve always thought, since I was in college that the music of the 60s and 70s was just inherently better. In the 80s while people were listening to Motley Crue (who I now love) or Madonna (who I still don’t like) I was ignoring them and listening to the Stones and Crosby, Stills, Nash &/or Young. It’s like I was made to write about music that came out 50 years ago… Maybe I’ve just always been an outcast. 

Since I was late to the party on 1971, I figured I’d get in on the 1972 celebration early this year and publish my playlist in honor of that year now. I’ll be the first to admit that 1972 was no 1971. It was not a landmark year for music in the same way. Many big acts like Led Zeppelin, The Who and Paul McCartney (by then with Wings) decided not to release any new music in ’72. All of that said, it was still a kick ass year for rock n roll. I think ’72 was the year the era we now define as the “Seventies” finally truly began. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that music changes or shifts with the passing of a calendar year ending in “9” to a year ending in a “0” ie, 1969 to 1970. Culture shifts at it’s own pace. But it’s hard not to say that the 60s, hippy vibe ended in 1972 and the 70s began in earnest.

A lot of it had to do with, in my opinion, the re election of Nixon. When the hippies couldn’t vote that thug out of office they retreated to communes in the woods or went to work in jobs at insurance companies. It was no longer “save the world,” it was “save yourself.” They did both the Winter and Summer Olympics in the same year back then and even something as awesome as the ’72 Olympics was marred by the Munich Massacre. I was a kid but even I remember seeing those images on TV. Ireland was in the midst of “The Troubles.”  The reactionary forces swept back into power. Musically, the Beatles had broken up, the Stones had gone into tax exile, CSNY had all retreated into their won corners. Hendrix, Janis and Jim Morrison were dead. The Sixties didn’t so much end as they were snuffed out.

In 1972, when compared to 1971 we do see the seeds of the next decade sprout. We see great debut albums from huge acts like Steely Dan, Eagles, Jackson Browne and Big Star. We see solo debuts from stars we’d known before like Paul Simon, Peter Frampton, and Lou Reed (who released 2 LPs in 72). Soul music had one of it’s strongest years and that music is hopefully represented here by Stevie Wonder, Aretha, James Brown and Al Green amongst others. Some of my favorite music on this list is probably soul music. Linda Ronstadt finally found her voice. David Bowie, the Stones and Neil Young released their best LPs. Hell even Creedence breathed thier last breath… for all the Dudes out there. There’s so much great music to like from 1972.

In 72, as I mentioned I was just a kid. But I can clearly remember riding in the backseat of the car with my sainted mother driving around running errands. My dad bought her this hunter green Ford that broke down randomly at weird times. I can remember looking at my mom with her bouffant hair scraping the ceiling of the car like a real life Marge Simpson, watching her nervously drive and hoping the car would make it home. Often it would stall in traffic and the cops would have to drive us to the garage while the car was towed. But I remember she always had the AM radio turned on. My brother would crank it up. Many of the songs that I put on this list are culled from those memories. The music on this list is some of the first music I can remember hearing. And while I didn’t put any cheesy stuff from the Pure Prairie League or Loggins & Messina, I did put on some Jim Croce for mom and dad…he was the only artist my parents owned multiple LPs from. 

I hope you enjoy this music as much as I did. As usual you can find this playlist on Spotify under the title, BourbonAndVinyl.net 1972, like all my other playlists. You can listen in order or shuffle these. If you’re like me you’ll suddenly feel like you’re in a polyester leisure suit with the silky shirt unbuttoned to your navel… My thoughts on each track are below.

  1. The Allman Brothers, Eat A Peach, “One Way Out” – The Allmans were mourning the loss of founder Duane Allman on this record and they included sensational live stuff along with studio stuff… a “hybrid live/studio album” if you will. I’ve always loved this live, old blues cover.
  2. Linda Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt, “Rock Me On The Water” – There’s a saying in music that when an artist does an eponymous (self-titled) LP later in their career it’s a rebirth of sorts. Ronstadt’s career hadn’t really “birthed” yet so rebirth is generous. But this is where everything gelled. She kills this Jackson Browne cover with future members of the Eagles in the back up band. How did I not include on my list of critical third albums is a mystery. Sensational stuff.
  3. Paul Simon, Paul Simon, “Me And Julio Down By The School Yard” – Simon’s first solo LP, emerging from the embers of Simon and Garfunkel. You can hear the world music influences that really took over years later on Graceland already present in his music.
  4. Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted And Black, “Border Song (Holy Moses)” – I probably should have gone with the title track but I couldn’t resist the Queen of Soul covering Elton. There was always a gospel-vibe in John’s music but Aretha takes us to church. Goosebumps!
  5. Al Green, Lets Stay Together, “Lets Stay Together” – Did the Reverend Al ever do a sad song? The title track here is one of his greatest. He actually did 2 LPs in 1972, both represented here.
  6. Jackson Browne, Jackson Browne (aka Saturate Before Use), “Doctor My Eyes” – From his sensational debut. No wonder Ronstadt covered him (see #2).
  7. Dave Edmunds, Rockpile, “I Hear You Knockin'” – This song is timeless, I thought it came out a decade later than this. Classic.
  8. Neil Young, Harvest, “Old Man” – Neil’s masterpiece LP. I could have picked any track on here but this one is the Rock Chick’s favorite.
  9. Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, “Hello It’s Me” – I only recently bought this record despite Arkansas Joel telling me I needed to 30 years ago. He was, as usual, right.
  10. Elvis Presley, Elvis Now!, “Help Me Make It Through The Night” – The King was trapped in Las Vegas and his soul was slowly dying, but every now and then he’d step to the mic and remember who he was and belt out a winner.
  11. Stevie Wonder, Music Of My Mind, “I Love Everything About You” – From the first of two sensational LPs from Wonder in 72 that signal the beginning of his greatest era. It sorta sums up how I feel about the Rock Chick…
  12. Deep Purple, Machine Head, “Highway Star” – Zeppelin may not have released anything in 1972, but hard rock is well represented. I could have gone with “Smoke On The Water,” but wouldn’t that have been cliche?
  13. Humble Pie, Smokin’, “30 Days In The Hole” – My hand to god, I thought it was a woman lead singer when I first heard this song. Humble Pie’s first LP after Peter Frampton (#24) departed for solo pastures.
  14. ZZ Top, Rio Grande Mud, “Just Got Paid” – Early ZZ is some of my favorite ZZ. My buddy Stormin’ just texted me last week to extol the virtues of their first LP… this one is from their second.
  15. Graham Nash/David Crosby, Graham Nash & David Crosby, “Southbound Train” – CSNY had split into different directions. Stills was off with Manassas, Young was creating a masterpiece, so Nash and Crosby teamed up for this great album. I chose this track because, well, I love songs about trains, but who doesn’t?
  16. Fleetwood Mac, Bare Trees, “Sentimental Lady” – From the pre-Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac. Bob Welch, who wrote it and sang it, had a bigger hit when he redid as a solo song.
  17. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mardis Gras, “Sweet Hitchhiker” – Great song from their last gasp…
  18. Dr. John, Dr. John’s Gumbo, “Iko Iko” – I’ve only recently dove into the depths of the Night Tripper’s catalog. I felt this playlist needed a little “flavor.”
  19. Arlo Guthrie, Hobo’s Lullaby, “City of New Orleans” – Another classic from Woody’s son. I can close my eyes when I hear this one and I’m in the backseat of the green Ford.
  20. Stephen Stills, Manassas, “Johnny’s Garden” – Classic track from a great double-LP. I just found this on vinyl in a used record store in North KC. Only vinyl could draw me up there.
  21. Jim Croce, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” – Ok, call me sentimental but my parents owned this record and I remember sitting my our tiny living room listening to this album. Dad loved this guy.
  22. The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main Street, “Tumbling Dice” – The greatest Stones LP. I am terribly fond of double-LPs.
  23. Elton John, Honky Chateau, “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) – I remember hearing this song for the first time, not on the radio, but at the Smithsonian in the Space Exhibit.
  24. Peter Frampton, Winds Of Change, “Jumping Jack Flash” – One of my favorite Stones’ covers from Frampton’s criminally overlooked solo debut.
  25. Randy Newman, Sail Away, “Sail Away” – Randy Newman is the greatest American satirist since Twain.
  26. Bill Withers, Still Bill, “Use Me” – One of my favorite of Withers. He was just so great. Truly missed. This track was also covered by Mick Jagger with Lenny Kravitz. 
  27. Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes, “Sailin’ Shoes” – I think the cover art for this, their second album, was censored in the south… Great song. “Put on your sailin’ shoes…”
  28. Eagles, Eagles, “Take It Easy” – Co-written by Jackson Browne who seems to be the King of 1972. This is where it all started for these country rockers…
  29. Looking Glass, Looking Glass, “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” – Call me cheesy for including this but It’s another song I can remember sitting in the back of mom’s crappy Ford, listening to this on the radio. The Chili Peppers covered it on a live album, so I feel like my credibility is in tact.
  30. David Bowie, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, “Suffragette City” – One of the few Bowie tracks that got play in KC… Bowie. Ziggy. Enough said.
  31. John Lennon, Sometime In New York City, “New York City” – Great, Chuck Berry-style track from a terrible album.
  32. Jethro Tull, Living In The Past, “Living In the Past” – I’ve always dug this tune. I should be deeper into Jethro Tull.
  33. Leon Russell, Carney, “Tight Rope” – Leon should have been way bigger than he was…
  34. Free, Free At Last, “Little Bit Of Love” – Great band I came to late in the game. Like most Americans. If you dig Bad Company, you should check out Free.
  35. Big Star, #1 Record, “Don’t Lie To Me” – Great band I’m embarrassed to admit I discovered on a Showtime TV show…
  36. Alice Cooper, School’s Out, “School’s Out” – Is there a student of public education who doesn’t know this song?
  37. The Doobie Brothers, Toulouse Street, “Listen To the Music” – My friend from Indy Big Dave always said he couldn’t get into the Doobies. Listen to this album Big Dave, listen to the music!
  38. Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come, “The Harder They Come” – One of the all time greatest reggae tracks.
  39. Rod Stewart, Never A Dull Moment, “You Wear It Well” – From my absolute favorite Rod LP. My roommates and I used to crank this up in our apartment until the neighbors would complain.
  40. T. Rex, The Slider, “Metal Guru” – I was late to the T. Rex party but man I dig this crazy, glam rocker.
  41. The Temptations, Flying High Together, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” – Such a great, great song. The Temps were simply sublime.
  42. Foghat, Foghat, “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” – I saw Foghat open for Triumph once, great show. From their debut, they take an old blues tune and turn it up to 11. The live version is probably more famous, but I like this version as much.
  43. The Kinks, Everybody’s In Show-Biz, “Celluoid Heroes” – Great song about Hollywood. I first heard the live version, which is probably definitive.
  44. Van Morrison, Saint Dominc’s Preview, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)” – A short burst of soul on an album dominated by long, beautiful, evocative tracks.
  45. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly, “Freddie’s Dead” – This is such a stupendous record and I don’t know why I don’t hear about it more. I could have picked any track but this one hits me hardest.
  46. Bob Seger, Smokin’ O.P.s, “Let It Rock” – I chose this Chuck Berry song from one of my favorite “cover albums” because Bob seemed to uphold that Berry ethos better than almost anybody.
  47. Black Sabbath, Vol. 4, “Changes” – Yeah, I chose the lone Sabbath ballad, but it’s awesome. I had a guy I worked with say to me one time, “What would have happened if “Changes” had been a hit? It would have ruined Sabbath?” Um, who knows dude?
  48. Bonnie Raitt, Give It Up, “Love Me Like A Man” – I wish I could accurately describe how much I love early, bluesy Bonnie Raitt.
  49. Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You, “Love And Happiness” – No Al, I’m still in love with you! From his second knock-out album in less than 12 months. Imagine that happening today?!?
  50. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, “Superstition” – My favorite track by Wonder. Saw my sister-in-law’s country band butcher this one night in a tavern. Sigh. Another guy who did 2 albums in 1972, Stevie at his zenith.
  51. Joe Walsh, Barnstorm, “Turn To Stone” – This is the all-time greatest guitar riff of all time. I’ll fist fight anybody who argues, and I’m lover not a fighter. I’ve heard this riff in my head for years even before I knew where it came from.
  52. Stealers Wheel, Stealers Wheel, “Stuck In The Middle With You” – Yes, the lead singer of Stealers Wheel was Gerry Rafferty. I believe this song is universally loved. It is here at the house.
  53. Pete Townshend, Who Came First, “Pure And Easy” – The Who did this later as a band but I’ve always dug this solo version from Pete. His demos were always fully fleshed out.
  54. James Taylor, One Man Dog, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” – One of Taylor’s greatest tracks. Not a great album, admittedly.
  55. Joni Mitchell, For The Roses, “You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio” – I’ll admit I’m not a huge Mitchell fan, but I’ve always dug this album written in the wake of her heartbreak over James Taylor’s leaving her for Carly Simon. Torn from the tabloid headlines.
  56. Lou Reed, Transformer, “Walk On The Wild Side” – Produced by Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, its Reed’s best known LP. Reed always said he didn’t remember much about recording it.
  57. Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man, “Trouble Man” – From a soundtrack… Great song but I’d hoped for more from the follow up of What’s Goin’ On.
  58. James Brown, Get On The Good Foot, “Cold Sweat” – The dawn of the 70s didn’t phase Soul Brother Number One. He delivers on this album.
  59. Steely Dan, Can’t Buy A Thrill, “Reelin’ In The Years” – One of their most recognizable tracks from one of the greatest debut LPs of all time...
  60. The Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out At Night, “Free Ride” – One of Winter’s biggest tunes and judging from his lack of tan, perhaps he only did come out at night.
  61. War, The World Is A Ghetto, “Cisco Kid” – I can still remember this song from when I was a small child. It was just one of those tracks that stick with you…

There it is folks. Turn this one up loud and like the Cisco Kid and Pancho, “drink the wine.” If there’s a song or an album I missed, slip it into the comment section and I’ll add it to the Spotify playlist. These playlists I do, in an attempt to bring people songs/music they might have missed are really “our” playlists, not “my” playlists… they are a dialogue between music fans, much like B&V itself.

I’ve had a disaster of a year so far, so it can only get better. Hope this music helps you get a little further down the road toward the good times. Cheers!