Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums

 

 

 

The Ox: The Authorized Biography of The Who’s John Entwistle…. by Paul Rees

When I see the word “authorized” I get really skeptical that they will not tell the complete story. This one proved me wrong. John’s son Christopher had said that this book was going to be warts and all. He was correct in that. I was super excited to read this. In the past year, I re-read Pete Townshend’s autobiography, Roger Daltrey’s autobiography, and re-read Keith Moon’s biography by Tony Fletcher and to top it off the Kenney Jones biography.

John actually wrote 4 chapters himself in 1990 when he wanted to write his own book. He soon grew tired of it and just stored it away. Rees did manage to incorporate some of what he wrote that included stories about him and Moon I never heard. John Entwistle is the least written about of the four. Any info on him is nice and a lot of this was new to me. Rees goes over the highlights and you don’t get dragged down at any point. The only thing I didn’t like was…like Daltrey’s autobiography it’s short…only 320 pages long.

The book goes through the history of the Who that Who fans know but with a lot of anecdotes. I found out more about John’s life than I ever knew. You see where he developed his black humor and he was probably the best pure musician in that band. I would recommend this book to any rock music fan. You get some funny stories also…

One about the Who opening up for the Beatles and listening to them through monitors in the dressing room rolling on the floor laughing hearing The Beatles sing obscene words to their songs “I Want To Hold Your ****”…A Hard Day’s ****. because the screaming was so loud and they couldn’t be heard out front.

Why I looked forward to this book…

___________________________________________________________________________________________

John was a bass hero of mine growing up. I started off learning trying to learn the riffs he did by slowing Who albums with my finger so the riffs would be slower…but they were still fast. Most bass players fill in the empty space but with the Who, there wasn’t much empty space because of Moon’s playing. He played what amounted to lead bass and it worked well…his harmonics made up for the lack of other instruments.

Keith Altham (journalist): John was an enigma. That he was the best bass guitarist of his generation is not in dispute, but because of the peculiar demands placed upon him by The Who he wasn’t a bass player in the accepted sense of the term because he didn’t play bass like anyone else, any more than Keith Moon played the drums like anyone else or, for that matter, Pete Townshend the guitar. “His playing was so dextrous and inventive that he was often indistinguishable from a second guitar.”

Lemmy: “He’s the best player in Rock and Roll ever…no contest”

John Entwistle: “I just wanted to play louder than anyone else …

Bill Wyman: John was the Jimi Hendrix of bass players

Green Day – When I Come Around

This was my first introduction to Green Day. The more albums they released the more I liked them. American Idiot is probably my favorite album but this song was a good introduction to the band for me.

Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool are listed as writers of this song.

This song was not released as a single, which was a strategic move by Green Day’s label Reprise to goose sales of the album. Airplay pushed the song to peak at  #6  in the Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, #33 in New Zealand, and #27 in the UK in 1995.

When performing this song at Woodstock ’94, a fan threw a clump of mud on stage and Billie Joe stuck it in his mouth. This caused the fans to keep throwing mud and started the infamous mud fight. Many fans look back at Woodstock ’94 fondly, calling it “Mudstock ’94” largely because of this incident.

 

From Songfacts

A track from Green Day’s first major-label album, this is a very personal song lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong wrote about being away from his girlfriend, Adrienne Nesser, and the frustrations they both felt when he was on the road. Billie Joe met Adrienne in 1990 when Green Day performed in Minnesota, where she lived. He was just 18, and found it difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship, especially with his touring schedule. In this song, he affirms his devotion for her, assuring her that when he does get to see her (when he “comes around”) he will make it up to her.

Billie Joe and Adrienne got married in July 1994, a few months after Dookie was released and right in the midst of the band’s rapid ascent to stardom (the band was touring at the time). The marriage endured, and couple had two children together.

MTV aired two different videos for this song. A concept video for the song was directed by Mark Kohr, and MTV also showed a live version from Green Day’s infamous Woodstock ’94 performance (lots of mud was in the air). They used this video to promote the MTV Woodstock ’94 retrospective videotape. 

Jason White, who sometimes played as a second guitarist for Green Day, is in this video. He’s the guy kissing the girl.

The Woodstock ’94 version is included on the festival’s live album, Woodstock 1994.

When I Come Around

I heard you crying loud, all the way across town
Cause you been searching for that someone
And it’s me out on the prowl
As you sit around feeling sorry for yourself

Well, don’t get lonely now, and dry your whining eyes
I’m just roaming for the moment
Sleazin’ my back yard so don’t get
So uptight you been thinking about ditching me

No time to search the world around
‘Cause you know where I’ll be found
When I come around

Well, I heard it all before, so don’t knock down my door
I’m a loser and a user so I don’t need no accuser
To try and slag me down because I know you’re right

So go do what you like, make sure you do it wise
You may find out that your self-doubt means nothing
Was ever there
You can’t go forcing something if it’s just not right

No time to search the world around
‘Cause you know where I’ll be found
When I come around

No time to search the world around
‘Cause you know where I’ll be found
When I come around

When I come around

My Top Ten Favorite Guitar Solos

These are my favorite guitar solos. Some of these solos are intricate but some are pretty simple. I picked ones out that I have always liked. Some of them are not considered great but I always thought they were memorable. They caught my ear for one reason or another.

 

1. Cream – Crossroads – A live solo by Eric Clapton. He pulls notes out of the air and turns this cover of the Robert Johnson song into a great rock track.

2. Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps – One of the few times someone else played on a Beatles track. This was Eric Clapton playing this solo. Eric played his guitar through a Leslie cabinet to make it more “Beatlely”

3. Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower – Jimi made this Bob Dylan song into his own.

4. Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing – I can hum this one all the way through. I know it better than the lyrics.

5. Elvis Presley – That’s Alright Mama – Scotty Moore nails this solo. It’s very simple but it’s perfect.

6. The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil – Keith’s solo compliments the song perfectly.

7. Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker – My favorite solo by Jimmy Page

8. Tom Petty – Breakdown – Mike Campbell’s solo is just as part of the song as the lyrics are…

9. Queen – We Will Rock You – Not a difficult solo but catchy. This solo was one of the first ones that I ever noticed. Brian May plays solos you can hum.

10. Badfinger – Baby Blue – A very simple solo but it fits this great power-pop song.

 

 

 

 

 

Ric Ocasek found dead today

Sad news from New York tonight. Ric Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday, law enforcement confirmed. Some reports say he was 75 and some say he was 70.

Ric wrote some of the best pop hits of the late seventies and eighties for the Cars. The Cars were a big part of my teenage years.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ric-Ocasek-Cars-Singer-Dead-in-NY-at-75-560430391.html

https://pagesix.com/2019/09/15/the-cars-frontman-ric-ocasek-found-dead-in-manhattan-townhouse/

 

Songs That Would Be Pointless to Remake.

Some songs are so ingrained in our psyche that a cover version would not make us forget the original or improve it. Covering them in concert is one thing but remaking them is another. When you compete against a memory…the memory wins.  I know some will disagree but there are songs that in my opinion that are untouchable. That doesn’t mean I want to hear these songs over and over…some are worn out. I’m not saying the cover version would be bad…but it would not replace the original.

These are in no order. There are many more…any suggestions?

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen – I can’t even imagine someone seriously trying to pull this off…
  2. I Am The Walrus – Beatles -This bizarre piece of music would be hard to duplicate.
  3. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – It’s been tried…even by Pat Boone…Mr Soul Sucker who can take the soul out of a room by simply walking in. Dolly Parton even took a stab at it.
  4. Freebird – Lynyrd Skynryd – I don’t think anyone would want to try.
  5. Won’t Get Fooled Again – How would you match the intensity and power of this recording?
  6. Good Vibrations – Beach Boys – Todd Rundgren remade this and copied it almost exactly…but what was the point? He did a fine job of copying it.
  7. Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones – I don’t see anyone matching the Stones version.
  8. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen – Bruce layered so many guitars (I’ve read up to 24) to make his own wall of sound…I don’t see this being topped.
  9. Band On The Run – This is basically three songs into one with McCartney’s style
  10. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan – Maybe the best single ever released. Bob is one of the most covered artists but his voice just stings on this recording and it would be hard to match.

A few more I thought of… American Pie, A Day In The Life, Sounds of Silence

 

Keith Moon’s Replacement at the Cow Palace 1973

After reading about Keith’s exploits it doesn’t surprise me this incident happened to him, what surprises me is that it didn’t happen more often.

On the 1973 tour opener at the Cow Palace in San Fransico Keith found out that Horse Tranquilizers and Brandy don’t mix with drumming. It has been said that someone slipped the tranquilizer in his drink backstage. Dougal Butler his PA said it was a Monkey Tranquilizer.

Keith was playing erratic most of the night slowing down and speeding up the tempo. The Who were coming towards the end of their set and Moon was clearly struggling. A few minutes into Won’t Get Fooled Again he ground to a halt, and left the stage. He came back and played Magic Bus and just fell over on his drums near the end of the song…he looked out of it on the video. He was soon carried off stage

Pete Townshend told the audience “We’re just gonna revive our drummer by punching him in the stomach,” “He’s out cold. I think he’s gone and eaten something he shouldn’t have eaten. It’s your foreign food…”

Pete then asked if anyone can play the drums… someone really good.

It’s hard to imagine one of the biggest bands in the world at that time asking for someone in the audience to fill in for their passed out drummer.

19-year-old Scott Halpin was there with a friend and said…“My friend was pushing me forward and saying, ‘Come on man, you can go up there and play, you can play,’” said Halpin. “He’s really the one that got me into it.”

In interviews, Halpin claimed the last thing he remembered was swallowing a shot of brandy and being introduced to the crowd by Roger Daltrey. That, and the size of Keith Moon’s kit: “It was ridiculous. The tom-toms were as big as my bass drum.” Scott did really well and Daltrey said afterward that he was really good. Halpin walked away from the kit an even bigger Keith Moon fan than before: “I only played three numbers, and I was dead.”… He talked later about the stamina that Moon must have had to play just a set.

From Wiki

Halpin was born in Muscatine, Iowa, to Elizabeth and Richard Halpin, of Muscatine. He grew up in Muscatine, showing early promise as a visual artist and musician. In the early 1970s, he moved to California, where he met his wife and lifetime collaborator Robin Young at City College of San Francisco in 1978. Halpin went on to earn an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from San Francisco State University.

Halpin became a composer in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, in Sausalito, California, and played with a number of bands over the years, including The Sponges, Funhouse, Folklore, SnakeDoctor and Plank Road. While on the West Coast, Halpin and his wife managed a new wave punk rock night club, The Roosevelt, before moving to Indiana in 1995 to pursue opportunities in the visual arts.

From 1995 until his death, Halpin resided in Bloomington, Indiana, with his wife Robin and son, James. According to local newspapers in the Bloomington area, Halpin died February 9, 2008, of an inoperable non-malignant brain tumor.

 

Keith leaves the stage 1:13:40 … and then passes out around 1:29:48. Pete talks to the audience and asks someone to play drums 1:37:50.

I have a friend named Bob who lived in Boston in 1976. His father worked for MCA Records and he saw The Who with Moon. After the first two songs, I Can’t Explain and Substitute Moon passed out and the show was canceled. The show was rescheduled but he didn’t make it to the makeup show…he regrets it now but he got to see Moon in action for 2 songs anyway… No call out for replacements in this concert since it was so early in the show. 

San Francisco and Boston are the only two occasions that I know of that Keith passed out and caused a cancellation. I sent Bob this link and told him at least he has a short audio souvenir of the concert he attended. It doesn’t have the opener Can’t Explain but it does have Substitute and Pete telling the audience about Keith at 3:22… you can hear people talking about it on this bootleg. The cause of this one was too much Brandy and downers.

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – 41 Years Ago

It’s been 41 years since Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. The band had just released the album “Street Survivors” and it was probably their best well-rounded album. With new guitarist Steve Gaines, they were primed for commercial success but on October 20, 1977, they lost singer-songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The plane crash also claimed the lives of pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.

A year earlier Steve Gaines joined the band and he was pushing them in directions they never had gone. Listening to “Street Survivors” you can hear his influence with songs I Never Dreamed and I Know A Little. Steve was a  super talented guitarist, songwriter, and singer and I have to wonder where his career would have gone.

On this tour, they were headlining and moving up in status after years of touring as mostly an opening band.

Below is a good Rolling Stone article on the crash. The song below that is “I Never Dreamed,” a song heavily influenced by Gaines.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/remembering-lynyrd-skynyrds-deadly-1977-plane-crash-2-195371/

Image result for lynyrd skynyrd 1977

Image result for lynyrd skynyrd 1977

Related image

 

 

Birth of the Beatles 1979

As a 12-year-old, I waited for this and couldn’t wait to watch it. The film started out with The Beatles about to take off to America…and then flashed back to 1961 and followed them until their Ed Sullivan appearance. It was made by Dick Clark Productions. There is a Pete Best slant to the film…with good reason. They used Pete as an advisor and you can tell. Many things slant his way.

For a fan like me, some things bother me about it…like The Beatles in Hamburg playing “Don’t Bother Me” which wasn’t written until at least 2 years later (I just looked up trivia in IMDB and this was listed…so others noticed). They mixed some facts around and left some out but with the length of the movie, they could not include everything. When making a movie about someone, events will get exaggerated and some things made up.

The movie I would make would be around 10 hours long and heavily detailed…in other words unwatchable by the general public.

I did like the spirit of this film and the actor playing John Lennon (Stephen MacKenna) I thought did a good job.

Overall it was a good try for the time and the film did do the early Beatle highlights… Stuart Sutcliffe, Astrid Kirchherr, Hamburg, Brian Epstein, Cynthia telling John she was pregnant, Paul and Pete lighting the Cinema (though heavily exaggerated), the comedy of the Beatles, George Martin, Rory Storm, Aunt Mimi and more. The group “Rain” did the soundtrack and that is maybe the highlight of the film

It was the only movie about the Beatles made when John was still alive. John, Paul, George, and Ringo…the real ones…tried to get the movie stopped but were obviously unsuccessful. The film was released to theatres in Europe but on television in America.

There are wince moments throughout the film…when in 1961 Hamburg, you see a little of seventies clothing and hairstyles plus some rushed acting. It’s full of flaws but they were on a budget and they tried to highlight the big moments. It’s a fun watch anyway even though they did get some of the story wrong.

From Wikipedia, these are the songs that were performed in the movie. Below these songs is the movie from youtube.

  1. She Loves You – Opening titles version
  2. My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)
  3. Oh Baby Doll – Performed by a different group at the Liverpool audition and not by the Beatles themselves.
  4. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  5. Blue Suede Shoes – Performed by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
  6. I Saw Her Standing There – featuring Pete Best on drums
  7. Don’t Bother Me
  8. Johnny B. Goode
  9. Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Performed by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
  10. Roll Over Beethoven
  11. Kansas City
  12. Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
  13. Shake, Rattle and Roll!
  14. Ask Me Why
  15. Love Me Tender
  16. Twist and Shout
  17. P.S. I Love You
  18. Dizzy Miss Lizzy – Reprise, a different recording featuring heavier drums and a more raw-sounding guitar
  19. Cry for a Shadow
  20. Please Mr. Postman
  21. Long Tall Sally
  22. Love Me Do
  23. Rock and Roll Music
  24. I Saw Her Standing There – Reprise, featuring Ringo Starr on drums. The drumming styles differ between versions for story reasons
  25. Please Please Me
  26. Thank You Girl
  27. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  28. She Loves You – Ending titles version

The quality is not great but here is the movie on youtube.

 

Ranking Led Zeppelin Albums #6 – #10

Led Zeppelin has produced some of the best albums in the history of rock. I will include the original live album of “The Song Remains the Same”… Not the remastered version of that one. Below is the way I would rank them. Ten albums in all including Coda released after John Bonham died. 1-5 coming tomorrow.

 

The_Song_Remains_the_Same.jpg

10. The Song Remains The Same – 1976

This was recorded at the end of their 1973 American tour but was not released until 1976. They sound tired. It’s a good history marker looking back, but far from their best live performance. Not until long after the band broke up though nothing was officially released except this. I still prefer this over the movie of the same name.

Tracklist

Rock And Roll
Celebration Day
The Song Remains The Same
Rain Song
Dazed And Confused
No Quarter
Stairway To Heaven
Moby Dick
Whole Lotta Love

 

Coda.jpg

9.  Coda – 1982

The album spans the band’s entire career, from live performances just after their debut album to unused songs from In Through the Out Door sessions. My favorites are Ozone Baby, Wearing and Tearing and Walter’s Walk. Personally, I like this album more than Presence but the playing is not as tight.

Tracklist

We’re Gonna Groove
Poor Tom
I Can’t Quit You Baby
Walter’s Walk
Ozone Baby
Darlene
Bonzo’s Montreaux
Wearing and Tearing

Presence.jpg

8.  Presence – 1976

This album was made when Robert Plant was recuperating from injuries he and his wife suffered in a car wreck. He was singing from a wheelchair. Jimmy Page was keeping the band busy recording this since they could not tour. The playing on this album is great and tight but the songs are not as strong as their predecessors. After Physical Graffiti, this one paled in comparison. Technically this could be one of Jimmy Pages best performance on an album. It was recorded and mixed in 18 days.

Tracklist

Achilles Last Stand
For Your Life
Royal Orleans
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Candy Store Rock
Hots On For Nowhere
Tea For One

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7.  In Through The Out Door – 1979

It was not the typical Led Zeppelin album. Page and Bonham were having substance difficulties during this album. Plant and Jones wrote much of the album and Jones used his new synthesizer. This was a change in direction and some Zeppelin fans hated it but it did foreshadow the synthesizer coming in the eighties. I liked a lot of songs on this album like In The Evening, Fool In the Rain, All of My Love and the fun Hot Dog.

Tracklist

In the Evening
South Bound Suarez
Fool In the Rain
Hot Dog
Carouselambra
All My Love
I’m Gonna Crawl

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6.  Led Zeppelin – 1969

One of the best debut albums of any band. The classic Dazed and Confused, Good Times Bad Times, etc… The album went to #7 in the Billboard 100, #6 in the UK and #11 in Canada. Some people wonder why the band didn’t like critics…this is what Rolling Stone said about the album.

The latest of the British blues groups so conceived offers little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn’t say as well or better three months ago, and the excesses of the Beck group’s Truth album (most notably its self-indulgence and restrictedness), are fully in evidence on Led Zeppelin’s debut album.

In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.”

The album is hard-hitting as it is fused Rock and Blues…it was very heavy and had a great sonic quality…

Tracklist

Good Times Bad Times
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
You Shook Me
Dazed And Confused
Your Time Is Gonna Come
Black Mountain Side
Communication Breakdown
I Can’t Quit You Baby
How Many More Times

Led Zeppelin’s Ascent and Descent

Led Zeppelin ruled the hard rock landscape of the 1970s. Critics didn’t like them and they didn’t like the press. They sold tons of records and their concerts were instant sellouts. They spawned a lot of bad imitators in their wake. By 1975 things started to go wrong for the band and soon by the start of the new decade they were done.

Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 while Jimmy Page was still with the Yardbirds but with only bass player Chris Dreja and he still left in the group. To fill other gig obligations Page formed the New Yardbirds with Robert Plant and his recommendation for drummer John Bonham. Chris Dreja dropped out so studio bassist John Paul Jones filled the bass position.

After a change of name, they were off and running. They made their first self-titled album and signed a huge deal with Atlantic Records. The album had bad reviews but sold very well. The band made their reputation off of live performances.

Their manager at this point was Peter Grant and with him made their mark on the industry. Peter made sure his band made money and no one would stand in the way. He told promoters the band was to get 90 percent of the gate…which was unheard of at the time. The promoters gave in because they would rather have ten percent of that than 100 percent of nothing.

The musicians were great. Robert Plant could sing and wail like no other. John Bonham was a groove extraordinaire who had his own style. John Paul Jones was a great underrated bass and keyboard player. Jimmy Page was one of the best studio guitarists there was at the time. Similar to The Who…it was like a Rock All-Star lineup.

Zeppelin’s first three albums were building up to the fourth. You can see it build with the first and second album’s electric hard edge to the third where the acoustic is introduced more and a more folk side is shown. It all peaked with the classic 1971 Led Zeppelin IV with the perfect combination of the two.

Songs that came off that album are classics like Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Four Sticks, Rock and Roll, Going to California, When the Levee Breaks, The Battle of Evermore, and my favorite Misty Mountain Hop. This album and the Who’s Who’s Next came out within months of each other and both of these albums are the foundation of classic rock radio.

More great albums were to follow like Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti though none would match the fourth album. After Physical Graffiti things started to go south for Zeppelin.

Their reputation kept growing and it was not all about their music. Wild stories about groupies, Peter Grant stopping at nothing if he perceived an injustice toward his band and there was the Jimmy Page strong occult interest that followed the band like a dark cloud. John Bonham was described as a nice family man until he started to drink. When drunk he would turn into “The Beast” (as bandmates called him) and could terrorize anyone near the band. They did a series of concerts in 1975 at Earl’s Court and after that The Zeppelin started to descend.

In 1975 Robert Plant and his wife were in a serious car wreck and it would take Plant a few months to recuperate and soon the band would record the album Presence with Plant still not able to walk without assistance. The band would not tour in 1976 because of Plants injuries but started an American tour beginning in April 1977.

When Zeppelin started in 1968 critics didn’t like them and Zeppelin didn’t trust the press. Critics thought their first two albums were the work of blues-ripoff artists. Led Zeppelin never forgot that. This was one set of rules in 1977 shared with the press covering the band.

1. Never talk to anyone in the band unless they first talk to you.
1a. Do not make any sort of eye contact with John Bonham. This is for your own safety.
2. Do not talk to Peter Grant or [Tour Manager] Richard Cole — for any reason.
3. Keep your cassette player turned off at all times unless conducting an interview.
4. Never ask questions about anything other than music.
5. Most importantly, understand this — the band will read what is written about them.

The tour was beset with problems with rowdy crowds, Pages increasing heroin intake, and Bonham’s drinking. Peter Grant had hired a British gangster named John Bindon to handle security. Zeppelin’s security crew and John Bonham attacked one of promoter’s Bill Graham’s staff after Grants 11-year-old son was pushed down… After that incident in Oakland, they flew to New Orleans for the next show and Plant received a phone call from back home informing him that his five-year-old son Karac died from a stomach infection. The entire tour was immediately canceled as Plant flew home to be with his family. The last Oakland concert was the last time they played in America.

In 1979 they would get back together and release “In Through the Out Door“, a softer more synthesizer-based album. Plant and Jones did the majority of the writing on the album. Zeppelin did two great shows at Knebworth in 1979 and a short European tour in 1980. While rehearsing for the American tour John Bonham died of asphyxiation in his sleep after a night of heavy drinking in Page’s home on September 25, 1980. Unlike the Who, who continued on without their one of a kind drummer, Led Zeppelin was no more.

The band regrouped three times for one-off concerts. Once in 1985 for Live Aid with two drummers (Phil Collins and Tony Thompson )and in 1988 for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary with Jason Bonham on drums. Neither of those turned out too well.
They did regroup in 2007 for a  concert with Jason Bonham drumming. This time they sounded comparable to their younger days and their fans clamored for a reunion and tour…Plant all but ruled that out.

I like most of their albums and consider them one of the biggest rock bands ever…They have made some of the best albums in Rock history. I just never got into them like The Who, Beatles, Stones, Cream, and Kinks. The more I learn about them the more distant they get. Their mystique and image became larger than their music at times.

I’m going to attempt to rank 10 of Led Zeppelin’s albums coming up this week.

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The Who albums ranked 6-1

Here are my choices for the top six Who albums. The one upshot of doing lists… is listening to all of these great albums again.

 

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6. Live at Leeds – 1970 –  There are live albums and then there is this… This album along with At Fillmore East rise above other live albums. Bands would release them when they were in between studio albums. On Live at Leeds, I have never heard a rock band so tight. This is the Who clicking on all cylinders.

Moon, Entwistle, Townshend, and Daltry are all in their prime on this.

Tracklist
Young Man Blues
Substitute
Summertime Blues
Shakin’ All Over
My Generation
Magic Bus

 

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5. My Generation – 1965 – The title song is still an anthem of the sixties generation. This may be the hardest power pop album released, The Kids Are Alright, A Legal Matter, and Out In The Street.

They experimented in the studio and found new sounds and used feedback as an instrument. You start hearing the power chords on this album and the great hooks that Pete came up with on guitar…Roger still hasn’t grown into his later voice and the band is raw but electric.

The Ox is just a musical explosion. What a great debut album this was in 1965.

Tracklist

Out In The Street
I Don’t Mind
The Good’s Gone
La-La-La-Lies
Much Too Much
My Generation
The Kids Are Alright
Please, Please, Please
It’s Not True
I’m A Man
A Legal Matter
The Ox

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4. Who Sell Out – 1967 –  The Who’s take on Pirate radio of the sixties complete with commercials. The standout hit was I Can See For Miles but this album is a collection of good songs strung together with fake commercials.

I like to listen to this album in sequence. Pete was maturing into the Pete we would know soon. The Who didn’t repeat themselves and kept reaching and experimenting.

Strong tracks are Armenia City In The Sky, Tatto, Our Love Was, Relax. and Rael and of course the masterpiece I Can See For Miles.

Tracklist

Armenia City In The Sky
Heinz Baked Beans
Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands
Odorono
Tattoo
Our Love Was
I Can See For Miles
Can’t Reach You
Medac
Relax
Silas Stingy
Sunrise
Rael (1 And 2)

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3. Tommy – 1969 – This Rock Opera left a huge dent in pop culture and left its imprint on rock history. I like the album but the production leaves a lot to be desired. This album made the Who rock gods. There are some great songs on this album like Pinball Wizard, We’re Not Going To Take It, I’m Free, and The Acid Queen.

I personally like Sally Simpson and Christmas. Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert worked together on this album and Kit helped Pete shape it into a concept album. I wished Kit would have let someone else engineer and mix it. I’m mostly a studio album guy but I think this album works better live than the record. Listening to the live version of this album around that time for me beats the album.

There is no denying that it is a landmark album in Rock.

Tracklist
Overture
It’s A Boy
1921 3:14
Amazing Journey
Sparks 3:45
Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker)
Christmas
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Underture
Do You Think It’s Alright?
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
There’s A Doctor
Go To The Mirror!
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Smash The Mirror
Sensation
Miracle Cure
Sally Simpson
I’m Free
Welcome
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take

 

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2. Quadrophenia – 1973 –  This kick-started the Mod revival of the 70s. The concept album is about a teenager mod (Jimmy) coming of age in the 60s…It is also about the band itself and it’s four different personalities and also their fans. It is much more cohesive than Tommy and Pete’s use of synthesizers on this is incredible.

The high spot for me is hearing Entwistle and Moon play “The Real Me.”

Some of the many great songs are Love, Reign O’er Me, The Real Me, The Punk and The Godfather, Drowned, 5:15.

Tracklist
I Am The Sea
The Real Me
Quadrophenia
Cut My Hair
The Punk And The Godfather
I’m One
The Dirty Jobs
Helpless Dancer
Is It In My Head
I’ve Had Enough
5:15
Sea And Sand
Drowned
Bell Boy
Doctor Jimmy
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me

 

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1. Who’s Next -1971 – There was really no suspense to this album being number one. This arguably could be the best rock album of the 70s. Instead of Kit Lambert The Who hired Glyn Johns to help produce and it showed. The sound quality difference between this and Tommy is day and night. This album has a sonic quality like no other.

The album came out of a failed attempt at a rock concept album by Pete called Lifehouse that apparently no one but Pete understood. Classic radio stations use this album as their foundation. An incredible album with no weak songs.

These songs live work so well. Won’t Get Fooled Again maybe has the best line in Rock… “Meet the new boss, Same as the Old boss”

Tracklist
Baba O’Riley
Bargain
Love Ain’t For Keeping
My Wife
Song Is Over
Getting In Tune
Going Mobile
Behind Blue Eyes
Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

For the top five  I never shifted until the last minute and I moved Tommy from 4th to 3rd and The Who Sell Out from 3rd to 4th. The importance and culture impact of Tommy won out.

Hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Who albums ranked 13 -7

After the Beatles, The Who are my favorite band. I was lucky enough to see them twice but not lucky enough to see them as nature intended…with Keith Moon. I’m going to attempt to rank 13 of their albums. I will not go by chart success or how many sold.

I usually would not include live albums but Live At Leeds is no ordinary live album. I’m also including Odds and Sods, an album of outtakes and rarities because of so few studio albums and it was released while they were still going strong.

This is 13 through 7… next will be 6 through 1

 

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13. Endless Wire – 2006 – This album was released in 2006. Obviously, I’m not as close to this album as The Who’s other albums..but I’ve listened to it more recently than the other albums.  It’s a good album but the best way I can describe it is it’s not as defined as other albums and the mini-opera Wire and Glass can get tedious. There are some good songs such as Black Widow’s Eyes (the only song featuring Zac Starkey), A Man in a Purple Dress and the different but good  God Speaks of Marty Robbins… I will say that time has affected Rogers voice more than Petes. Petes voice sounds really good on this album. Roger does fine but age has treated Pete’s voice well.

Tracklist

1 Fragments
2 A Man In A Purple Dress
3 Mike Post Theme
4 In The Ether
5 Black Widow’s Eyes
6 Two Thousand Years
7 God Speaks Of Marty Robbins
8 It’s Not Enough
9 You Stand By Me
Wire & Glass (A Mini-Opera)
10 Sound Round
11 Pick Up The Peace
12 Unholy Trinity
13 Trilby’s Piano
14 Endless Wire
15 Fragments Of Fragments
16 We Got A Hit
17 They Made My Dream Come True
18 Mirror Door
19 Tea & Theatre
20 We Got A Hit (Extended Version)
21 Endless Wire (Extended Version)

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12. It’s Hard – 1982 – One thing I will say about this album. It has aged better than I thought it would.  I was never a big fan of this album. I liked some songs like Eminence Front, Athena and some of the tracks like Cry if you Want. This was the last studio Who album until 2006 Endless Wire. The band was not happy at this time and the end was coming…at least until they reunited at the end of the 80s for a reunion tour.

Tracklist

Athena
It’s Your Turn
Cook’s County
It’s Hard
Dangerous
Eminence Front
I’ve Known No War
One Life’s Enough
One At A Time
Why Did I Fall For That
A Man Is A Man
Cry If You Want

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11. Face Dances – 1981 – This album has been slammed by critics and fans alike. I bought the album when it was released.  Face Dances was The first album without their engine, Keith Moon. Kenney Jones was a great drummer for the Small Faces and Faces but there is only one drummer for the Who and that was Keith. There are some good songs. “You Better You Bet”  (what I call “Who Are You’s” weak sister) Don’t Let Go the Coat, Another Tricky Day, and The Quiet One.

The album is tame compared with other Who albums but the melodies are strong.

Tracklist
You Better You Bet
Don’t Let Go The Coat
Cache Cache
The Quiet One
Did You Steal My Money
How Can You Do It Alone
Daily Records
You
Another Tricky Day

 

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10. Odds and Sods – 1974 –  This album was released in 1974 of outtakes and rarities that The Who had in the Vaults. The highlights are Long Live Rock, Naked Eye, Pure and Easy, and Postcard by John Entwistle. This album full of outtakes were as good as other bands A-songs.

Tracklist

Postcard
Now I’m A Farmer
Put The Money Down
Little Billy
Too Much Of Anything
Glow Girl
Pure And Easy
Faith In Something Bigger
I’m The Face
Naked Eye
Long Live Rock

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9. Who Are You – 1978 –  Keith Moon was not well during this album. Still, I’ll take a 70 percent Keith Moon over a 100 percent anyone else for the Who. It contained the Who classic title track, Sister Disco, 905, and Music Must Change. Pete continued what he started with the Who By Numbers album by writing from the perspective of an aging rocker. This album sold faster than any other Who album. Within the month of its release, Keith Moon was gone for good.

Tracklist

New Song
Had Enough
905
Sister Disco
Music Must Change
Trick Of The Light
Guitar And Pen
Love Is Coming Down
Who Are You

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8. Who by Numbers – 1975 – Pete wrote songs so personal that Roger didn’t feel right about singing some of the songs. Pete was wondering at this point if The Who were still relevant anymore. He felt old by rock standards and wondered if the band should just pack it in.

This album had to grow on me but now I do appreciate the personal songs that Pete wrote.

The best-known song is Squeeze Box but the album is full of good songs. Slip Kid, However Much I Booze, Dreaming from the Waist and Blue Red Grey. With Punk music starting to happen Pete wrote in “They Are All In Love”

Hey, goodbye all you punks
Stay young and stay high
Hand me my checkbook
And I’ll crawl out to die

If Pete had only known the future…they were only in their twenties at that time…that is just the beginning now.

Tracklist 

Slip Kid
However Much I Booze
Squeeze Box
Dreaming From The Waist
Imagine A Man
Success Story
They Are All In Love
Blue Red And Grey
How Many Friends
In A Hand Or A Face

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7. A Quick One – 1966 – The mini-opera starts here. A Quick One, While He’s Away is a classic song made of fragments weaved with each other to make a whole. Everyone writes at least one song for this album. John Entwistle with his signature tune Boris the Spider, Keith Moon turns out the crazy and strange “Cobwebs and Strange,” and a bit of power pop with I Need You. They also covered Heatwave with the familiar Who flair.

A forgotten great power pop song on this album is So Sad About Us. The overall sound of this album is incredible.

Tracklist

Run Run Run
Boris The Spider
I Need You
Whiskey Man
Heatwave
Cobwebs And Strange
Don’t Look Away
See My Way
So Sad About Us
A Quick One, While He’s Away

 

Maybe it’s no coincidence that the last three albums in the ranking are in order of release. Face Dances and It’s Hard both have a classic Who song in You Better You Bet and Eminence Front respectively. They both have some strong songs surrounding them…I just thought that Face Dances had more than It’s Hard.

Endless Wire is missing not only Keith but by 2006 also John. It’s hard to compete against your past when you are missing your entire rhythm section. It’s a different Who album and not as exciting…but anything written by Pete is worth listening to.

Next Up will be 6 Through Number 1

 

 

 

A Quick Word on The WHO

The Who started off as the Detours and had a drummer named Doug Sandom. After an argument with Pete, Doug quit the band. Keith Moon then joined and the sound and the band took off. They found the member to complete one of the best bands to emerge from the sixties. They were the band of the Mods and wore British Flags, target shirts, and other Pop Art attire.

Controlled chaos is the best way I know how to describe the Who’s early singles. My favorite rhythm section in Rock and Roll… John Entwistle and Keith Moon were all over the place but they were all over the place together.  What John and Keith gave musically cannot be underestimated. They were the engine that made The Who go…Pete Townshend coined the phrase “power pop” and they were the ultimate power pop band. Roger Daltrey was transformed from a good blues singer to a rock god. They released several classic albums… Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Tommy, and Live at Leeds., The Who Sell Out…

The Who along with the Kinks were the forerunners of Punk. The Who’s early singles were raw and driving Can’t Explain, My Generation, Substitute, The Kids Are Alright, Pictures of Lily, I’m a Boy, and I Can See For Miles…

They moved from those early raw songs and released albums with songs such as Won’t Get Fooled Again, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, Love Reign O’er Me, Who Are You, Bargain. The Real Me, We’re Not Going to Take It, and 5:15

Pete took the rock concept album to an art form.

When they were at their performing peak they were untouchable. Check out the album or DVD of Live at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Their peer at that time had a great rhythm section, a great guitarist and a dynamic lead singer…Led Zeppelin. The Who were not as popular and they didn’t sell as many records as Led Zeppelin but The Who were fun… they more inviting.

They were the complete package. They had a good songwriter (Entwistle) in the band…and a great one (Pete). If you look at lists and influences…  10 ten rock drummers, top ten rock bassists etc..all of the Who come up in their respective category.

Led  Zeppelin made the right choice in not replacing John Bonham. The Who decided to go on without Moon and were never the same again without Moon. Some of their songs were good afterward but they did not have the drive and spirit that Moon gave them and they were not complete without him.

I’ve never found a band other than the Beatles that moved me as much. Pete’s songs are high energy with a dash of spirituality.

I will revisit the Who again and coming up soon  I’m going to attempt to rank the Who albums.

 

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Creedence Clearwater Revival

This band was rock, country, blues, pop and a little of everything. Their music is played on practically every jukebox and by every self-respecting bar band. The songs are not intricate masterpieces like Bohemian Rhapsody or A Day In The Life but masterpieces all the same.

Bands go their whole career without writing one song that is NOT a love song…this band wrote about everything else but love. Many of their songs have become standards today.  They had songs about rivers, swamps, backdoors, jungles, and riverboats.

The band…or should I say John Fogerty wrote one song after another and kept hitting the charts. At the time it must have felt like the well would never run dry. Their songs were simple but so effective. John has a distinctive sound with not only his guitar but his voice. His voice was an instrument itself that drove his songs.

They were together in the public eye from 1968 to 1972. Creedence was one of the biggest bands in the world during those years. Songs kept coming like Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Green River, Looking Out My Back Door, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi, Traveling Band and etc… They were a singles band and they were an album band. Albums such as Cosmo’s Factory, Green River, Willy and The Poor Boys are classic albums.

Many people thought they were from the south…maybe Louisiana but they were from El Cerrito, California. Hard to believe they were from the same area as the Grateful Dead and the San Francisco music scene of the late sixties. Creedence was not a jam band like many of their peers, they played songs to the letter. They were called rock, country rock and swamp rock.

The band had 9 top ten hits and 16 songs that charted.

They were originally signed to Fantasy Records by Saul Zaentz to a bad record deal that kept John enslaved to the company long after the band broke up. Saul held the rights to John’s songs. Saul had promised the band, to begin with, that he would renegotiate the contract when the band got more successful…he never did.

The band included guitar player, lead singer and writer John Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, bassist Stu Cook and Tom Fogerty (John’s brother) on rhythm guitar. Eventually, Tom, Stu, and Doug started to feel like John’s backup band and wanted more control. Tom quit and Creedence became a trio and took off on a tour and made an album.

The band broke up in 1972. It was a sad thing because who knows how many more songs Creedence could have created. Instead of music, the band bickered back and forth and still will file lawsuits from time to time against each other.

I’ve tried to read a few books about them but it’s hard to get through the name calling and the lawsuits that flew back and forth. They all were friends earlier but Stu, Tom, and Doug would usually take Saul Zaentz’s side against John. The brothers rarely talked to each other before Tom died in 1990.

Creedence at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival Discography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creedence_Clearwater_Revival_discography