How Aerosmith & An All-State High Jumper Fit Together

6.29 Aerosmith

Back in the summer of 1995, I was working a summer job in the environmental engineering department of a now-departed major factory of the General Motors family. I was working there as an intern to learn how businesses balance economic and environmental concerns where making decisions. Sometime in June, I got a call from my first school’s athletic director saying he had heard that I had been a pretty good runner in high school and asked me to coach both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams. The school had dropped the sport back in the late 70s and wanted to offer it again. [If the truth be told, his daughter, one of the greatest athletes in that school’s history wanted a cross country team. Hmmm…]

Anyway, I was willing to coach anything in an effect to prove that I was a good coach and deserved to coach at a higher level in the boys’ basketball program than at the sixth grade level. Well, in a single word, we were awful that year. But, by the end of my third year, we were close to becoming an elite team in the area. So, in an effort I joined the boys’ track coaching staff as an assistant the following spring. I was only an assistant for a year, but I had found a sport for which I had a coaching flair.

From the moment I became an assistant, and then the head coach for two years there, I noticed that the track team would take on my competitive nature. These guys wanted to win so badly that fights would break out a couple of times a week between teammates over winning during workouts. But, the biggest competitor I ever coached was a high jumper at that school. At one meet, he was attempting to break the school record of 6’6″ by attempting 6’7″. On his first attempt, he jumped into the crossbar, knocking the bar off and landing awkwardly off the landing mats. When he got up, we noticed he had separated his shoulder. Instead of letting the trainer look at him, this young man popped his shoulder back in place, measured his next jump, and proceeded to clear the bar, setting a new school record.

6.29 aerosmith logo

This young man went on to become my first All-State athlete as he placed fifth in the state in the high jump. The best thing about this athlete was that when he went to accept his medal at the award platform, and knowing that his image would be broadcast on the big screen in the stadium (and possibly on TV too!), he, being the biggest Aerosmith fan I have ever known, wore his big Aerosmith necklace on the awards platform. As he was having his award placed around his neck, you could see that damn Aerosmith necklace around his neck.

So, Curt, I know you have been complaining about my avoiding Aerosmith on this blog. So, in honor of your All-State performance back during the 1998 season, almost twenty years ago, I present My 20 Favorite Aerosmith Songs! By the way, long live the 70s version of Aerosmith.

20. “Draw the Line” (1977). The title song from the disappointing 1977 album was one of two songs worth playing.

19. “Dude (Looks like a Lady)” (1987). Aerosmith kept the momentum going with this song after Run-DMC helped make the band cool again.

18. “Mama Kin” (1973). This song comes from their debut album and continues to be a rocking song in concert.

17. “Seasons of Wither” (1974). Another concert favorite since being released on the band’s sophomore LP.

16. “Chip Away the Stone” (1978). A long-time concert staple was never included on an album until the band included it on their drug-hazed live album. This is the only song on that album worth hearing.

15. “Back in the Saddle” (1976). This song comes from what is arguably Aerosmith’s greatest album, Rocks. 1976 was an awesome year for music, if only for this album, KISS Destroyer and Ramones’ self-titled debut album.

14. “Pink” (1997). Now, I am not too big of a fan of Aerosmith’s second go-around but I am a sucker for songs built around double entendres.

13. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998). The big sell-out song became the band’s only number one hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100. Still, Steven Tyler sings the hell out of the song.

12. “Jaded” (2001). This song reminds me of going with my boys to see Aerosmith in concert. This song would have made a great Cheap Trick song.

11. “Come Together” (1978). This song, along with Earth, Wind & Fire’s cover of “Got to Get You Into My Life”, is the only song worth hearing on the disastrous Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack album. That album and movie killed quite a few careers (poor Peter Frampton!).

10. “Love in an Elevator” (1989). The first song from the band’s greatest album of the second part of their career was a fun song, no matter how tired I got of hearing the song.

9. “Livin’ on the Edge” (1993). I loved the intro to the song, which is what got the song ranked higher than it should have.

8. “Big Ten Inch Record” (1975). Aerosmith was so cool in the mid-70s that they could cover this blues song and keep it from sounding like a Dr. Demento song.

7. Train Kept A Rollin'” (1974). Sure, this is the Yardbirds’ arrangement, but Aerosmith made it sound heavier AND funkier.

6. “Janie’s Got a Gun” (1989). Wait a second! Aerosmith is tackling a sociological issue? And, they did it with grace and respect. This is a great song.

5. “Last Child” (1976). Here’s the “hit” from the Rocks album. Maybe Toys in the Attic is the better album? Regardless, this remains a very cool song in my book.

4. “Sweet Emotion” (1975). Believe it or not, this was the song that pulled me into the Aerosmith world as a young teen. This song was used to terrific effect in the great movie Dazed & Confused.

3. “What It Takes” (1990). This song became a classic to me when I heard the lyrics, “There goes my old girlfriend; there’s another diamond ring.” At the time, a friend of mine had just had a third girl break off an engagement with him.

2. “Dream On” (1976). So, this song is on the band’s 1973 debut album Aerosmith. For some reason, it did not connect. But, when it was re-released in 1976, this song became the make-out song of a generation of kids who were awkwardly slow-dancing to the song at school dances.

1. “Walk This Way” (1975). Are you kidding?!?! Like it could be any other song, right Curt? None of knew how influential this song would become a decade or so later when Run-DMC dropped their version on an unsuspecting world. Two versions of the same song blowing the minds of the same generation of people.

Since we are nearing Independence Day, my apologies to my British friends, but I had to start honoring some of the greatest American bands of all-time. Cheers!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! 2017 May Be All About the Classic Artists, After All

My new ISP should be hooking me up soon, so in the meantime, I have been without internet for the better part of a week. I am guessing that I have internet today because so many people near me have dropped the current provider. I apologize for the hit-and-miss (mostly miss) nature of this blog. I have actually been missing it. However, instead of working on a book or screenplay, I have instead listened to music and read a book about Prince by his first ex-wife Mayte Garcia. The book was fine, but the interesting part was someone so close to the Purple One giving the reader insight into his creative process, since she was his mid-90s muse. Also, she intimated that Prince may have been dabbling with pain pills as far back as the early-90s.

Interestingly, my reading of that book coincided with the release of the remaster deluxe edition of Purple Rain. The best parts of the release are the two extra CDs of music, one full of outtakes from The Vault and the other 7″ edits and 12″ remixes. The collection also included the video of a concert recorded during the Purple Rain Tour of 1984-85. I may be wrong, but it seems to be a digital copy of the concert released on VHS (remember that format?) back in 1985. Overall, it is a great package, and I cannot wait for more of these remaster jobs with extra CDs worth of music, especially of everything that was rumored to have been recorded when Sign ‘o’ the Times was released.

Another remaster that is getting a big push is U2’s The Joshua Tree. The band is on tour right now, playing arguably their first classic album, as well as other hits. This remaster job is nice, but it is the bonus CD of a 1987 concert that is the intriguing part of this release. As I finally have listened to these two classic albums, I still prefer Prince. Nothing against U2 at all! I simply love the music of Minnesota’s second favorite son (I’d give the top nod to Senator Al Franken).

Now, all of this brings me to some of the music that has been released lately. First of all, older artists are on a hot streak right now. I am NOT kidding! Great music has been released recently by the likes of Cheap Trick, Paul Weller, Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen sideman and former Sopranos actor “Little Steven” Van Zandt, John Mellencamp, Roger Waters and Styx, to list but a few, have reached back to their heyday to find the inspiration to create some of their finest music in years.

First off, Cheap Trick quickly followed up last year’s excellent Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello with an album that seems to mine the same punky vein of their catalog as their classic first five albums back in the late-70s. I literally have been experiencing flashbacks to my youth because of this album.

On the other hand, Todd Rundgren has written several great songs that will hold up with the classics he has written over the years. The only difference is that most of the songs are sung by other artists. Rundgren teamed up with Steely Dan singer Donald Fagin to created one of the best political songs of the year. Other vocalists you will hear are Daryl Hall and, believe it or not, former pop chanteuse Robyn to great effect, with the latter possibly putting Rundgren back on pop radio.

Of course, I love the new Paul Weller joint, as he has been on a new creative roll over the past three or four albums. Additionally, John Mellencamp has figured a creative way to age gracefully in rock by following the Johnny Cash-stripped down country blues vein that Indiana’s favorite rocker has been mining since 2009. And, then there is Little Steven, who has been doing a garage rock radio show for the better part of a decade and that may have influenced the iconic sideman to rediscover his muse while never toning down his political views.

But, the most surprising development so far this year, is that someone has released a great concept album, like we are back in the 70s or something. Of course, former Pink Floyd bassist and main songwriter Roger Waters has released a new, fantastic concept album about the decline of society, like he has been commenting on since Floyd’s classic Animals album. But the real story is that Styx actually one-upped their Paradise Theater album’s concept with an actual focused storyline about a dystopian world as they did this without their former leader, the Broadway-wannabe Dennis DeYoung. The current lineup stepped up their game lyrically for a cohesive story while bringing the pre-Cornerstone rock sound that made them so popular with the late-70s teens, like me. When I began to listen to this one, I didn’t have much hope for it. Yet, it blew me away as the true heir to the concept album instead of their new wave-influenced turd of an album Kilroy Was Here from 1983. When a hard rock band becomes better know for a novelty hit like “Mr. Roboto”, you know the band had lost their creative touch. But, finally, after 34 years, they have an album makes forget their music after 1979!

So far, 2017 has been about the old farts rediscovering their magic touches. Even though the new Harry Styles album is a complete surprise to me in its quality, I will still prefer that late-70s/early-80s sound of punk/hard rock/new wave that I grew up on.

From the Ashes of Joy Division Rose New Order

6.14 NewOrder-608x450

I am SOOOO ready for a new internet provider to reach the nether regions of Central Indiana. Let’s be honest! I just hope that I will be able to finally publish this blog today. Regardless, let’s get the party started.

As I stated last week, I finally got to see Elvis Costello live and in concert with his backing band, The Imposters. The show was outstanding, as Elvis played all the songs from the album he described as “the feel-good hit of the summer” of 1982, Imperial Bedroom. Interspersed around the songs from that album were songs chosen mainly from his first half-decade in the rock public’s consciousness that maintained the acerbic mood. But, as the show was nearing its three-hour ending, Elvis and the band pulled out many of his more famous rockers as they blew the roof off the theater in which he played.

So, the next day, while the sugarplum fairies from the concert the evening before danced in my head, I began to delve into my mid-Eighties alternative/college rock artists in my collection to get a feel for those artists again. That’s when I stumbled upon an album entitled Substance 1987 by the band New Order. New Order was three-quarters of the post-punk “gloom” band Joy Division, who lost its lead singer to a suicide just as the band was on the verge to leave for America. Now, I know how my English friends believe that Joy Division was on the cusp of big things after this tour. However, I only heard Joy Division’s music AFTER I had discovered New Order. So, I honestly believe that Joy Division reached their maximum influence around the world after the tragic death of Ian Curtis. Otherwise, they would have been thrown in the pile of post-punk English bands that never made a dent here, such as Gang of Four, Birthday Party, etc. Although I love these artists, they were never going to be palatable to the average American’s ears.

So, from those ashes of Joy Division came a band with a similar sound to the original, but with more emphasis on electronics. As New Order slowly evolved from a tentative post-punk band through their albums and singles into the first alternative electronic dance band whose sound would prove profitable in the States. To be honest, if I were going to choose a song to be played in a movie scene that takes place in a dance club in the mid-80s, I would use New Order. They ruled our dance floor, but they also had the ability to rock the joint as well.

In honor of one of the few bands that sprung like a phoenix from the dead carcass of a critics’ favorite only to experience more success than the original band could have ever expected, I present to you My 20 Favorite Songs by New Order.

20. “Confusion” (12″ single, 1983). This song was one of the band’s first dance floor successes. You can feel the tension in the band to hold onto the past or to let go and become part of the future.

19. “Krafty” (Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, 2005). New Order’s lineup was slowly peeling down to one original member, but at least he was looking backward when this song was created.

18. “World in Motion” (7″ single, 1990). New Order showed they were ready for the big time with this single from 1990.

17. “Here to Stay” (24 Hour Party People OST, 2002). New Order had taken a break in the mid-90s. So, when they reformed, the band needed a single that signaled they were back and focused. This song proved to the world that New Order was a band for the ages.

16. “Run” (Technique, 1989). Now, New Order was going back to the instruments of their Joy Division days to supplement their electronic sound. This album brings them partially back to the rock world they had originally left behind.

15. “Crystal” (Get Ready, 2001). If you were wondering back in the 1980s what New Order would sound like if they made it to the 21st century, this song showed you. By the way, relatively the same sound made with more digital toys.

14. “Dreams Never End” (Movement, 1981). One of the first singles, you can hear the influence of Kraftwerk, The Human League and Depeche Mode all at once. Additionally, you know this is the dudes from Joy Division by the use of similar droning vocals.

13. “Everything’s Gone Green” (7″ single, 1981). Hello, world! We are New Order, but we used to be Joy Division. We really do have potential without Ian.

12. “Temptation” (7″, single). To me, this is where New Order slowly began to shed their Joy Division clothes.

11. “Round and Round” (Technique, 1989). New Order came into their own as a band on this album. It is the first album in which they sound like their own band.

10. “1963” ((the best of) New Order, 1995). I truly loved this band when they somehow brought together elements of electronic dance, rock and pop into a song like this one that was recorded for this compilation.

9. “Ceremony” (7″ single, 1981). What a great song! This one burned up the American dance floors for a few years.

8. “The Perfect Kiss” (Low-Life, 1985). Did you know that THE Quincy Jones signed this band to his label, Qwest, based on the songs on this album.

7. “Love Vigilantes” (Low-Life, 1985). I loved the harmonica-sounding synth at the beginning of this song. Yet, another song that tore it up on the dance floor in the States.

6. “Age of Consent” (Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983). So, in 1983, when most of my friends were jumping on the hair metal band-wagon, I was digging this.

5. “Blue Monday” (7″ single, 1983). I remember playing this song for kids in my classroom in 1997, and watching get blown away by the rhythmic thuds that begin the song. Then, the song moves into an icy dance tune. This is where Moby and Daft Punk got their ideas.

4. “Shellshock” (Pretty in Pink OST, 1986). Who doesn’t remember this song in the Pretty in Pink movie? John Hughes sure knew how to elicit more emotion from his audience by using great music that enhanced the scene.

3. “True Faith” (7″ single, 1987). Who didn’t love the video watching couples slapping each other’s face to the beat of the song?

2. “Regret” (Republic, 1993). As the 1990s rolled in, alternative music was peaking. So, synth bands such as New Order and Depeche Mode were releasing great singles with a guitar hook instead of the standard synth hook. For most artists, this song would be #1, but we are talking about New Order.

1. “Bizarre Love Triangle” (Brotherhood, 1986). I love this song so much that I am not sure if I like the album cut or the 12″-single better. This song is by far their best dance effort and influenced dance songs far into the 21st century. This is a perfect song to my ears!

New Order

Now that I have given New Order the Keller overview, we will have to see what artists I will tackle in the near future. Oh, yeah, I forgot: Put New Order/Joy Division into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…NOW!

Tell Me, What’s So Funny ‘ Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

6.9 elvis costello and the imposters

Tomorrow, I will finally get to see the incomparable Elvis Costello backed by his current band of choice, The Imposters. Although The Imposters are Elvis’ most musically accomplished bands and are two-thirds the same band as his original backing band, The Attractions. I am just so lucky and blessed to be able to see the rocker version of Elvis, regardless of the name of his backing band.

Therefore, today, I would like to give my list of My 20 Favorite Elvis Costello Albums. Let’s roll!

20. Goodbye Cruel World (1984, with The Attractions). This was an Elvis sell-out attempt that outright failed. Yet, the album has a certain charm to it. And, any time one can get Daryl Hall to duet with him, that’s all thumbs up from me.

19. All This Useless Beauty (1996, with The Attractions). By the time the Nineties rolled around, Costello was appeasing his audience, his albums were no longer masterpieces. This one was his second best of the decade.

18. Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (2010, solo). I was recovering from a surgery, when my older son dropped this album on me. I had written off Elvis, but this album showed Elvis still hand the goods

17. Wise Up (2013, with The Roots). So, Elvis teams up with late night’s favorite band, giving all of hope for a classic album. Instead, the album was just average.

16. Momofuku (2008, with The Imposters). This album is just okay, but it sure was swell to hear Costello rocking out in the new century.

15. Almost Blue (1981, The Attractions). This album showed us that Elvis and his Attractions were very versatile as they tackled an album full of country standards and favorites. This album introduced me to the songwriting of Gram Parsons.

14. The Delivery Man (2004, with The Imposters). His first album with The Imposters, a fun rollick in Costello rock songs. After this album, it would be another four albums of experiments before he would return to the well of his youth.

13. The River in Reverse (2006, with Allen Toussaint). Elvis teamed up with this New Orleans R&B legend that allows Elvis to spread his R&B wings.

12. Spike (1989). Leading up to the recording of this album, Costello had been writing songs with Paul McCartney, which gave us hope for an album of duets. Instead, we got two separate albums with a smattering of the songs on each album. McCartney’s album from this time period is Flowers in the Dirt. McCartney just re-released that album remastered along with a bonus disc of demos that he and Costello made. It makes me wish they had stuck with the original plan of an album of duets.

11. Blood & Chocolate (1986, with The Attractions). In 1986, Costello released two albums. The first, King of America, was a left-hand turn into Americana music that disappoint his label. So, Elvis got The Attractions back together and blasted out this album full of venom. This may be Costello at his angriest, which says a lot.

10. National Ransom (2010, solo). Why did it take an Englishman to make the greatest statement about the financial collapse?

9. Punch the Clock (1983, with The Attractions). I really don’t think Costello consciously made this album a pop record. I think it was influenced by the music of the time, which was lightly influenced by Motown that got on the radio, which was Elvis’ wheelhouse to begin with. Contains his only Top 20 US song, “Everyday I Write the Book”.

8. King of America (1986, attributed to The Costello Show). If this album had been recently released, we would describe it as the music being Americana. But, in the mid-Eighties, people just labeled it “weird”. This one only grows in stature as the years move on.

7. Painted From Memory (1998, with Burt Bacharach). What began as a gag in the first Austin Powers movies with Elvis singing a Burt Bacharach song brilliantly, followed by the two men doing a duet with another Bacharach song in the second Powers movie, influenced the two men to collaborate on an album. And, the two gave us this masterpiece.

6. Trust (1981, with The Attractions). From the time Elvis burst on the scene during the heady days of punk in 1977 through the being of the MTV revolution in 1982, Costello released eight albums, six of which are considered to be stone-cold classics. This one is one of the last in the lineage, but his well was deep at the time.

5. Imperial Bedroom (1982, with The Attractions). Costello went from punk-infused pop through power pop to this sophisticated batch of pop songs. This will be his last full-blast classic album for a while.

4. This Year’s Model (1978, with The Attractions). Costello’s sophomore album blows the roof off the studio with a flat-out rocking classic called “Pump It Up”.

3. “Get Happy!!” (1980, with The Attractions). The group’s second power pop album has 21 songs crammed on the album because Elvis wanted to see how many two- to three-minute songs he could put on a vinyl album without any kind of aural distortion.

2. “My Aim Is True” (1977, solo). The rumor has been that Huey Lewis’ original band, Clover, was Costello’s backing band on this album. I guess that was untrue. But, who cares? My generation had our Elvis, and his surname was Costello!

1. “Armed Forces” (1979, with The Attractions). Here is Costello’s most powerful album. It is lined with power pop classic after classic. Plus, Elvis was at his most consistently angriest in his career. This album is worth the price if only for Costello’s cover of the Nick Lowe-penned “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.”

The man has had one helluva of career. Unfortunately, he has not had the quantity of hit songs and albums that his music deserves. But few artists are as in control of their career as Elvis Costello is. And, I FINALLY get to see him perform tomorrow!

Did I mention that?

One of the Mega Bands of the 70s Continues to Make Quality Music

6.8 Fleetwood-Mac-Press-photo-billboard-1548

Generally speaking, Fleetwood Mac get a bum wrap. Recently, I have seen millennial writers lumping the Mighty Mac into their Yacht Rock countdowns, and it just about makes me barf. THE Big Mac I listened to in the Seventies and Eighties often walked the tightrope between being a rock and soft rock band. But, those were the hits. If you delved further into their albums, or, even more importantly, just listen to their off-wall, left for dead, now considered a classic double album Tusk so you can get a clearer picture about this band.

We all know the story. Fleetwood Mac was founded by 6’7″ drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie as a UK blues band. The first version was with guitarist Peter Green, but he had a breakdown and left the band. Next, in stepped Bob Welch, who score his solo hits after leaving the band (Remember “Sentimental Lady” and “Ebony Eyes”? Those were Welch’s hits.). By the mid-70s, the rhythm section of the band and McVie’s wife, keyboardist/vocalist Christine, were left wondering whom to add to the band. It was then that Fleetwood was given an album by a duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks which led Mick to invite the duo to join his band. And the rest, they say is history.

You see, their were rock stars in the Fifties and Sixties, but until the Seventies did artists begin becoming millionaires. And, Fleetwood Mac was one of the first bands to reach this status upon the release of their 1977 album Rumours, which chronicled the break-up of the McVie’s marriage, Fleetwood’s marriage and the long relationship between Buckingham and Nicks. This band had the audacity to stay together through the recording of vicious tunes aimed at each other. But, as their famous album cut “The Chain” reinforces, there is a chemistry between this group of musicians that could not be replicated. Whenever one of the members releases a solo album, that album never reaches the sales height of a Mac album. Nicks’ first album she close, but she never really replicated it’s success. And, when Buckingham is left to own devices, his music tends to go into the deep end, not that I care; I enjoy much of his solo albums. But, the bottom line is that the whole is greater than the sum parts.

In honor of a Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie duet album being released tomorrow, I present My 20 Favorite Fleetwood Mac Songs.

20. “Think About Me” (1979 Tusk). One of the few “normal” Mac-sounding songs on the album is just the relief most need when listening to the album.

19. “Little Lies” (1987 Tango in the Night). This song sounds dated and a little cheesy now.

18. “Hold Me” (1982 Mirage). The vocals on this seemingly simple song blow me away every time I hear it. Buckingham took the Beach Boys’ vocal influence a step further and made this song a classic.

17. “Seven Wonders” (1987 Tango in the Night). Now, this is the like of song that I love the Mac doing! It has rich harmonies and a slightly off-beat music that makes a timeless pop/rock song as only the Mac can do.

16. “Sara” (1979 Tusk). This is a standard Stevie Nicks song; yet, I don’t know why I never tire of these songs on their albums. I really think that she adds depth to the group’s musical repertoire.

15. “Oh Well” (Then Play On 1969). The original line-up made this song famous.

14. “Black Magic Woman” (Fleetwood Mac 1968). That’s right. Santana stole the song from the original Mac, added some Latin beats and the rest is history.

13. “Silver Springs” (1994 The Dance). An outtake from the 1975 album was resurrected for this MTV Special about the reunion of the band. They even cut great songs from their classic albums. Go figure!

12. “Albatross” (1968 Fleetwood Mac). At the time, this was the biggest selling instrumental in the UK. Unfortunately, it was never a hit here for the original lineup of the band.

11. “Don’t Stop” (1977 Rumours). This was one of Christine McVie’s contributions to their biggest selling album. The song got co-opted by the Bill Clinton campaign as their theme song, which lead to a reunion of the band at the inaugural ball.

10. “Over My Head” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). This is the first song that I ever heard by the most successful lineup of the Mac, and I was hooked.

9. “Gold Dust Woman” (1977 Rumours). Never really released as a single, this song continues to be played on the radio just like back in the day. And it hasn’t aged one bit.

8. “Landslide” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). Here is another Stevie song that, like “Gold Dust Woman”, has taken on a life of its own despite never being a single. Might be more known for the versions by the Dixie Chicks or Smashing Pumpkins.

7. “Tusk” (1979 Tusk). This is the sound of Buckingham, after listening to punk, came back to push the Mac into new musical soundscapes. It’s a crazy song, but it’s one that I continue to love to this day.

6. “You Make Loving Fun” (1977 Rumours). This was a song that was about remembering the good times in a relationship, even if it was only the physical stuff that was ever good in that relationship.

5. “Dreams” (1977 Rumours). This was the song that spoke to teenage girls all over. If only us stupid guys truly understood what Stevie was saying in this song…

4. “Songbird” (1988 Rumours). This Christine McVie song cut through the heartstrings and the cynicism that builds up during a relationship to show what was good about it once upon a time. I cannot believe she had the guts to sing the song while playing the piano and letting it be released in this form. It’s simplicity only adds to the pain and the beauty in the song.

3. “Rhiannon” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). This song introduced us to two things: witches and Stevie Nicks. The witch-thing was over-blown by the Moral Majority back in the day, but the gift of Ms. Nicks has been giving us fantastic music for 40+ years.

2. “Go Your Own Way” (1977 Rumours). One of the greatest piss-off songs to your partner in a relationship ever put to vinyl. I should have used this song as a break up song rather than being the jerk I was when I was younger. The downside is the amount of venom in the lyrics. Oh well, I guess I would have remained a jerk.

1. “The Chain” (1977 Rumours). This is a mission statement of sorts in which the whole band remains committed as musicians with each other even if they all can’t remain lovebirds. What a great statement! The sum is larger than its parts!

Now, that’s Fleetwood Mac according to me. Let me know what great songs I left off my list. One day I need to make a list of the great solo songs by members of the Mac. That might be fun.

25 Rare Prince Songs That I Love to Celebrate His Birthday

6.7 funko pop prince

Today would have been Prince’s 59th birthday. It’s been a little bittersweet, knowing that his catalog will FINALLY get the remastering touch it has needed desperately for the past 20 years. All of this will begin with the remastered version of his seminal Purple Rain album, which will become a double CD set with all of the B-Sides and, get this Prince-philes, unreleased material that nearly made the album. This will be some of the first ventures into The Vault for material that he recorded and discarded either because he had written better stuff, it no longer fit his vision for the album or it was intended for some project that Prince just plain got bore of.

I think at this point in my life, I would love to be the curator, or one of them according what Prince’s first wife Mayte Garcia states in her autobiography that I am currently reading. It’s an interesting read, but I would only recommend the book to the hardcore Prince fans. Otherwise, it might come off trite and blinded by love. Still, Miss Mayte seems to be a very sweet soul who suffered, along with Prince, what no new parents should – the death of a child. For that, she will always have my sympathy and prayers for strength. Still, many of the other authors of Prince biographies have made similar descriptions of this actual thing that is a vault that allegedly filled to the ceiling with tapes and videos of by-gone projects and live recordings. Yet, I would savor the opportunity to be part of a team to organize and categorize this material.

Today, I would like to give you My List of 25 Rare Prince Songs. These songs were either unreleased, part of a movie’s soundtrack, a B-Side to a single released in the vinyl era, part of his three-CD compilation of unreleased material entitled Crystal Ball or a single-CD comp called From The Vault, on the 1990s package called The Hits/The B-Sides, or released as internet-only singles.

Without any further adieu, here are 25 of My Favorite Rare Prince Songs. Enjoy the list and try to find some of them on TIDAL, or one of the other streaming companies that will shell out big bucks in order to add Prince to their libraries that will only increase the value of Prince’s estate. I can’t wait to hear much of this on higher quality releases than the ones I currently have. Viva Prince! The songs are listed in alphabetical order according to their titles.

“All My Dreams” (1987 unreleased). Originally intended to be the closing song of Prince’s masterpiece Sign ‘o’ the Times. It was pulled at the last moment. It fits perfectly.

“Crystal Ball” (1998 Crystal Ball). Before Prince released Sign ‘o’ the Times, he went through many song groupings, including this epic song as the centerpiece of a triple-album set. The record company got cold feet and made Prince reduce his impending release down to a double-album.

“Dream Factory” (1998 Crystal Ball). Yet, another title song of an album that became SOTT.

“Electric Intercourse” (1984 unreleased). One of the last songs cut from the playing order of Purple Rain. A good song, but a bit overrated by collectors.

“Erotic City” (1984 B-Side “Let’s Go Crazy”). This song was a dance floor hit, even though it was a B-Side during the summer of 1984. It battled Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” for B-Side of the Year. Plus, does he drop an F-bomb or does he not?

“Extralovable” (1984 unreleased). Yes, this was finally released in the 2000s as an internet-only single duet between His Purple Badness and Angie Stone. But, the real version has been sitting in the Vault for over 30 years.

“F.U.N.K.” (2007 internet-only single). In the mid-2000s, Prince rediscovered da funk, and, for a couple of years, his music flourished.

“FALLINLOVE2NITE (featuring Zooey Deschanel)” (2014 internet-only single). This version of the song was recorded for a scene on the episode of New Girl that Prince made an appearance. This is the sound of Prince rediscovering the fun in his music.

“Feel U Up” (1989 B-Side “Partyman”). Sure, the Batman soundtrack had “clean” songs on them, so the dirty songs were relegated to B-Sides.

“FREEURSELF” (2015 internet-only single). Prince was beginning a new era of creativity as he was working on three album simultaneously and releasing singles left and right. This is another example of the increasing quality of the music he was creating before his death.

“Good Love” (1987 Bright Lights, Big City soundtrack). One of the few Prince songs to be released on a soundtrack that did not star Prince in the movie.

“Hide the Bone” (1998 Crystal Ball). This slice of funk is from the 1985-1989 creativity peak.

“If Eye Could Get Ur Attention” (2016 internet-only single). This ended up being the last single release by The Purple One before his untimely death.

“Love or Money” (1986 B-Side “Kiss”). I understand that this great song did not fit the mood of the Parade album, but could have Prince found a better outlet for this song than a B-Side?

“Neon Telephone” (1987 unreleased). Here is yet another gem from Prince’s first phase of massive creativity.

“Power Fantastic” (1993 The Hits/The B-Sides). This song was recorded with Miles Davis, even though neither artist work together, let alone saw each other. Instead, the track was completed by sending the song back and forth between two of the greater artists of their respective generations.

“The Ride” (1998 Crystal Ball). Prince can handle any genre of music, including the blues.

“She’s Always in My Hair” (1985 B-Side “Raspberry Beret”). Can you imagine how much better that crazily uneven Around the World in a Day would have been if Prince had included the B-Sides like this one on the album proper. This song remains my personal favorite of these types of songs.

“Shockadelica” (1987 B-Side “If I Was Your Girlfriend”). Sure, Prince nicked the song’s title from the album title of former-Time guitarist Jesse Johnson’s upcoming album at the time. Still, it remains one of Prince’s five greatest B-Sides.

“Splash” (1986 unreleased). This song may have been a farewell to the Purple Rain-era sound.

“Teacher Teacher” (1987 unreleased). I think Prince knew how to better handle the hair metal bands with songs like this one than he knew how to incorporate hip hop into his sound.

“Train” (1987 unreleased). Yet another gem from his most creatively fertile era.

“17 Days” (1984 B-Side “When Doves Cry”). This song was the perfect foil to the A-Side.

“18 & Over” (1998 Crystal Ball). You know, most of the songs that were unreleased during his first burst of huge creativity were never going to fit any of the projects in which he was working. Still, a person outside of the Paisley Park inner circle might be able to create some fantastic albums from songs such as this one.

“4 the Tears in Your Eyes” (1985 We Are the World – The Album). Okay, can we all agree that Prince made a huge commercial mistake by not performing on that lame fundraiser of a song called “We Are the World”. Then, probably in an attempt to save face, Prince & the Revolution donated this gem of a song from the Around the World in a Day sessions. See what I mean about that album being much better if Prince had really used the best songs he had on that uneven album?

Personally, I will probably never get tired of writing about Prince. And, I am so very sorry that I will probably never get tired of writing about Prince. Sure, the man was an enigma, but a talented one at that. I suggest you add these songs to your Prince collection so you can gain a greater insight into one of Minnesota’s rock stars (remember, Bob Dylan is from there as well!

My Elvis Has the Last Name of Costello

Elvis Costello <> Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...

From the moment in 1977 when I nervously took a Rolling Stone magazine album reviewer’s advice and purchased Elvis Costello’s debut album, My Aim Is True, I was hooked on the man’s music. So, for 40 years, I have been quietly purchasing his music on vinyl and CD, but I have never seen the man perform in concert. But, all of that will change this weekend, when I get an early Father’s Day gift to go see him perform with his band The Imposters. I am so psyched! That means I will have seen eight of my ten favorite artists, with little hope of ever seeing Talking Heads reunite or The Clash getting back together since the incomparable leader Joe Strummer passed away over a decade ago.

From the moment I put the needle of my turntable in the grooves of that initial Elvis album, I was hooked on the man’s otherworldly songwriting ability. Not only was his music impeccable, but the lyrical wordplay was at a level that not even the great John Lennon could touch. Elvis was truly King, but not that old Elvis from the 50s. No, I had my Elvis, and his last name was Costello. But when I heard his lyrics from the should-have-been-a-hit “(Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” around 13 seconds into the song, I new I was hooked: “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused”. And, I have tried to live by that phrase in many controversial areas of life, such as politics. It has been a sign of maturation for me to not get suckered into a pointless debate during which all sense of logic and facts are ignored.

Since I am finally going to see Elvis Costello perform, here is a list of My 20 Favorite Elvis Costello songs.

20. “”I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Blood & Chocolate 1986).

19. “I Want You” (Blood & Chocolate 1986).

18. “The Other Side of Summer” (Mighty like a Rose 1991).

17. “Indoor Fireworks” (King of America 1986). This song was attributed to The Costello Show featuring his Confederates

16. “Beyond Belief” (Imperial Bedroom 1982).

15. “Brilliant Mistake” (King of America 1986). Attributed to The Costello Show with his Confederates

14. “Good Year for the Roses” (Almost Blue 1981). I HATED country music until this album introduced me to Gram Parsons, George Jones and others. However, the album did NOT help me fit in at Gilley’s Bar in Houston when a group of us head down to Houston for Spring Break our freshman year in college.

13. “The Only Flame in Town” (Goodbye Cruel World 1984). Not even a duet with the great Daryl Hall could help Elvis push his single into the Top 30, let alone the Top 10.

12. “Tokyo Storm Warning” (Blood & Chocolate 1986).

11. “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” (Get Happy! 1980). I loved the lyrics of this power pop ditty that Elvis dug up as a cover song in 1980.

10. “Ship Building” (Punch the Clock 1983). This album was one of Elvis’ most successful. And, why not? He wrote one of his first political classics, as this song was protesting the UK’s military actions down in the Balkan Islands.

9. “God Give Me Strength” (Painted by Memory 1998). This song was written and performed with Burt Bacharach. And, Bacharach’s presence sands off the rough edges of Costello’s natural ballad vocals.

8. “Pump It Up” (This Years Model 1978). This song now heard in sports areas throughout the world comes from his sophomore album.

7. “Veronica” (Spike 1989). From the songwriting session that Elvis did with Sir Paul McCartney in the late 1980s. Some of the songs appeared on this Elvis album, while others appeared on McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt album from 1989. McCartney just released a recently remastered version of his album that includes a second disc of the demos that he and Elvis made. Their are many gems on that disc.

6. “Pills & Soap” (Punch the Clock 1983). This timeless song should be covered by current crooners, like Bublé.

5. “Radio Radio” (This Years Model 1978). This semi-controversial song about the corrupt business of radio got Elvis banned from Saturday Night Live when he played it against Lorne Michaels’ wishes. That ban was lift when Elvis played SNL in 1989 and afterwards.

4. “Everyday I Write the Book” (Punch the Clock 1983). This little R&B ballad was Costello’s biggest US hit when it peaked at #20 during the Summer of 1983. Elvis sure knows how to write about relationships.

3. “Alison” (My Aim Is True 1977). How does such a well-written song end up on a musician’s debut album? Because, Costello is that great of a song writer, that’s how! He is a master of the unrequited love song.

2. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding” (Armed Forces 1979). Elvis took Nick Lowe’s ditty and beefed it up with power pop urgency and punk attitude to give Generation X their first protest song. Costello made this song his own.

1. “(Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” (My Aim Is True 1977). To be honest, any of the Top 5 could have ended up #1 based on my mood. Since, today, I am attempting to be mature, I am going with this one with the power pop musical base coupled with lyrics describe our hero trying to take the high road around the passionately misinformed surrounding him.

Okay, sue me! I don’t have anything representing the man from the 21st century. I am sorry. He HAS produced some outstanding albums during the new century, but they are not up to the level of the music he produced during the last quarter-century of the previous century. And that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man: My 20 Favorite Bob Seger Songs

6.2 Bob-Seger-performance-04

Remember the last day of school before summer break? Alice Cooper’s eternal beginning of summer classic “School’s Out” blared from car stereos as they roared out of the student parking lot at the high school, just as depicted in the classic movie Dazed and Confused. High school upperclassmen would hunt down incoming freshmen male athletes for a little hazy, though some of those upperclassmen could be greatly jealous of you if they thought you would be taking their position. Upperclassmen would have parties, and the freshmen would hang out at the local arcade.

Since I first heard him, I have always associated Bob Seger’s music with those early summer nights right after school let out. Now, I am not the biggest Seger fan in the world, but he has written some classic songs. I will always remember being at a Drive-In movie theater, sitting in the bed of my buddy’s truck, as he played Seger on his 8-Track tape player. Those warm days, followed by cool nights were perfect for his slightly countrified rock music. Rumor has it that Prince wrote “Purple Rain” in an attempt to sound like Bob Seger, so Bob must have been doing something right for him to have such a large following.

In honor of those warm days and cool nights of June, here are My Top 20 Bob Seger Songs.

20. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” (Against the Wind 1980). This nice little love song is a favorite of my wife’s, so I had to include it.

19. “Travelin’ Man” (Live Bullet 1976). This is a rock & roll classic from the Chuck Berry school of songwriting.

18. “Old Time Rock & Roll” (Stranger in Town 1978). This is a great song that has been run down into the ground so much by radio programmers, movie soundtrack compilers and wedding DJs that I dropped it down to #18. Back in 1978, it was a great deep cut. Damn you Tom Cruise!

17. “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” (Night Moves 1976). Seger has a way of writing about rock music that is distinct and reverent, much like this song.

16. “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” (Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man 1969). Bob Seger has been recording since the Sixties but didn’t really hit big until the mid-Seventies. This song was his first national hit.

15. “Still the Same” (Stranger in Town 1978). This song is right from Seger’s wheelhouse, where he couples mellow heartland rock to lyrics that yearn to his younger days.

14. “Sunspot Baby” (Night Moves 1976). This song comes from Bob’s first Top 10 album. As the years pass, the more I grow to love this song.

13. “Fire Lake” (Against the Wind 1980). This is a perfect summer evening song that Seger is so good at creating.

12. “Shame on the Moon” (The Distance 1982). See #13’s explanation.

11. “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You” (Nine Tonight 1981). Seger’s first live album set him up for the mega-success he experienced in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties, so after three HUGE albums, including his first #1 album (Against the Wind), he and his Silver Bullet Band recorded another live album. This is the best song on the serviceable live album.

10. “We’ve Got Tonight” (Stranger in Town 1978). This is his big ballad. It was never really a chart success for him. Why? Who knows? But, by golly, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton hacked the song up and rode it to the Top 10 in the early 80s. I counted this song being used as a prom theme against it. I probably should have dropped it further.

9. “Katmandu” (Beautiful Loser 1975). Now, this is a Seger barn-burner if he ever wrote one.

8. “Against the Wind” (Against the Wind 1980). Seger is SO much more than ballads, but here’s another of an older, wiser Bob staring down the winds of his past.

7. “Night Moves” (Night Moves 1976). A make-out song about making out. How cool is that?

6. “Hollywood Nights” (Stranger in Town 1978). This song could have only been written by a successful rock star. Yet, I love this view more than the Eagles’ take on “Life in the Fast Lane”. Bob seems to be more level-headed. Or maybe he can handle his vices better.

5. “Beautiful Loser” (Beautiful Loser 1975). What a beautiful song about feeling like an outcast.

4. “Even Now” (The Distance 1982). I love this joyful rocker. It’s all about realizing the partner you chose for life is still the one who wants you shout about it. This is a very underrated song in his catalog.

3. “Mainstreet” (Night Moves 1976). Another great make-out song, that is more about being an Average Joe than making-out. But, even Average Joe’s can stand on Main Street and feel successful.

2. “Feels Like a Number” (Stranger in Town 1978). Seger gets what it feels like to be an individual in a society of conformity, and all you want to do is burst out with your personality. Here is another highly underrated Bob Seger song.

1. “Turn the Page” (Live Bullet 1976). This is the greatest “the perils of being a rock star out on tour” song ever written. Even Metallica covered it in 1998. I will always remember the last summer I detassled corn, the old way of removing tassels from the corn to keep the seed pure. Anyway, my crew was tired and beat from the hot sun and the long day we had put in, when someone began singing this song, and for five minutes we actually enjoyed doing this hard labor work for little wages. But, when you grow up in the farmlands of Indiana back then, you got to experience some old methods of farming, including baling hay. This is truly a near-perfect song.

Here you go, Bob Seger According to Me. I hope you enjoy your weekend.

My 20 Most Disappointing Albums

I’ve got great news! Okay, let’s call mediocre news. Regardless, as I right this, an internet company is finally laying fiber optic cables out here in the middle of a big cornfield in Central Indiana, which means sometime in the next 12-18 months I will have a new internet provider. The past couple of days have left me without an internet service on which to write my insightful and meaningful articles.

Now, let’s do a little reminiscing. If you are a nut for rock music like I am, many of you have spent much energy in anticipation of an artist’s upcoming album. You are so full of excitement because that last album they had released meant so much to you that this new one HAS GOT TO be at least the equal of that previous album. For instance, I LOVED Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ 1979 classic Damn the Torpedoes, that when I heard he was releasing a new album just days BEFORE my high school graduation in 1981, I KNEW this album was going to be great. And, to my ears, Hard Promises was everything I had hoped for.

But, other times, I got nothing but disappointment from that new album. For example, I was a lukewarm REO Speedwagon fan. I had LOVED their 1978 release You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish. Their next album, Nine Lives from 1979, was solid. But, at the end of 1980, the band released their masterpiece, Hi Infidelity. That album was the album of my senior year of high school. Now, it was not my choice to give it that title, but a majority of my classmates sure thought so. When it was time for their next album to be released in 1982, I was interested to hear how this band grew and dealt with their success. What they gave us was a platter of total crap that made it so very easy to predict that they were going “pop” instead of remaining in their hard rock/pop groove they shared with Journey, Styx, Foreigner, to name a few.

So, today, I give to you My 20 Most Disappointing Albums by Some of My Favorite Artists. I have listed these albums in alphabetical order according to the artist’s name.

AC/DC – Fly on the Wall (1985). So, the Young brothers wanted to get back to the band’s basics at this time. But, why did they think they should be the producers? I think I found this album on fire on my mom’s porch one night after the doorbell rang.

The Cars – Door to Door (1987). The Cars conquered the world in 1984 with their classic Heartbeat City. By the time they released this follow up, the band wasn’t speaking to each other, and you can tell. The music sounds like they were no longer communicating.

Cheap Trick – Standing on the Edge (1985). My heroes lost themselves on this album, and it took them over a decade to recover. Outside of the should-have-been-a-hit “Tonight It’s You”, while the rest of the album sounded as though the label wanted the boys to be a hair metal band.

Chicago – Hot Streets (1979). Chicago had been known for never having a band photo appear on an album cover, and all of their albums up to this point had been numbered. Then, they lost their leader/hot-shot lead guitarist Terry Kath to a firearms accident, and the band released this disco-fied album that totally lost their jazz-rock fusion they had been so successful with up to this point. The band recovered a bit in 1982 and 1984, but the decline in quality music had been set in motion.

Green Day – ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy (2012). They were coming off their last two rock opera albums that had been so successful that Billie Joe Armstrong turned those albums into a Broadway show that was also highly successful. So, his bright idea to follow up all of that success was to record THREE albums for release with a month between each. These stunts are NEVER a good idea as we were treated to CDs worth of crap. Billie Joe had a breakdown in the midst of all of this, like no one saw that coming.

Janet Jackson – janet. (1993). Miss Jackson had release two classic Eighties albums with former Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis producing. But, when the three went to the well again, all they could come up with were these lame ballads.

The Jacksons – Victory (1984). During the tail end of Michael Jackson’s Thriller days, it was announced that ALL of the Jackson brothers would reunite for an album and tour. Things got off to a bad omen when Michael’s hair caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. Then, Michael wouldn’t share any of his good material, so what we got was one decent song that was thrown together with Mick Jagger adding vocals (rumor is that it was supposed to be Queen’s Freddie Mercury). The rest was written by the brothers, so the quality of the tunes was sub sub-standard.

Elton John – Blue Moods (1976). Elton was out of gas by the time he recorded this double album. Why do an album in the first place? Things were going downhill quickly after that one.

Madonna – Erotica (1992). In the beginning, Madonna’s attempts at shocking the public’s conservative values was fun. Until this album, when Madonna released her version of a Hustler magazine instead of the usual Playboy.

John Mellencamp – Mr. Happy Go Lucky (1996). Throughout the Nineties, Mellencamp had been making some very muscular-sounding rock music with one of the tightest bands in the world. Then, he wanted to push himself musically. He got some different players AND a DJ (WTF?!?!) and gave us the crap sandwich.

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (1982). This is NOT Pink Floyd! This is a Roger Waters solo album. Next!

Prince – Come (1994). I am a huge Prince fan, but even I know when I am being fed crap. And this was crap.

Rush – Hold Your Fire (1987). On this album Rush transformed from everyone’s favorite virtuoso power trio into a synth-based New Age band. Barf! Next time out, they dropped those damn synthesizers.

Stone Roses – Second Coming (1994). Stone Roses were a UK band whose debut album channeled dance rhythms with rock music that caused a huge sensation across the pond in 1989 and 1990. Then, the band got big egos, fought with each other, took more drugs that an individual could handle and dropped this rotten egg of an album on us in 1994. BUT, they did start the whole Britpop craze of the mid-90s.

Styx – Cornerstone (1979). I knew this band was turning into a soft rock band after listening to this album. And, another good band was out of ideas.

Weezer – Make Believe (2005). Weezer were in the midst of a little comeback with two great power pop albums that followed their previous two albums by six years. Then, they hooked up with Rick Rubin who did not seem to be sympathetic to the needs of this 80s new wave caught in the 21st century.

The Who – Face Dances (1981). The Who made the wrong choice when they added drummer Kenny Jones to the line-up in place for the recently passed Keith Moon. This is a tired set of songs from a group in mourning and directionless.

Stevie Wonder – In Square Circle (1985). The genius behind so many terrific Seventies and Eighties albums, that I gave him a pass for 1979’s Journey Through the Secret Lives of Plants because he followed it up with 1980’s Hotter Than July and 1982’s brilliant song “That Girl”. But this!?!? This was New Age-ish bland synthesizer music.

Van Halen – III (1998). I couldn’t leave this one off my list. C’mon! Gary Cerrone? Of Extreme? Please!

Neil Young – Trans (1982). I give Mr. Young an A for attempting to make music with electronic instruments that allow his son to communicate. But, the music sounds like crap, so the album gets an F. Wouldn’t it be cool if Neil rounded up the best songs of his lost decade, the Eighties, and re-record them with Crazy Horse. Just think how some of those Trans songs would sound with a little human emotion behind them. Then, throw in songs that he did with the Shocking Pinks, the International Harvesters, and that late-80s blues band, and I bet we’d get another late-in-his-career masterpiece.

Those are just a few of the disappointing albums I have picked up in the past. There are others, but these are the most disappointing. Now, tell me which albums disappointed you. I’d love to hear your choices.