Here’s 20 from The B-52’s

10.17 b52s now
From the Funplex days

When I think back to the early days of new wave, I remember new artists springing up in seemingly rapid-fire succession, such as Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Clash, etc. All of it started with the release of Patti Smith’s debut album in 1975, Horses. And, then, it seemed like the bands were off and running. And, it was awesome. Except for the fact that these bands could not garner any radio airplay in Central Indiana.

Yet, there was a small core of us who had weekend shifts on our high school’s radio station. Two guys, Brad and Russ, held down the 8 PM to midnight shift on Friday nights in the spring of 1980. Then, on Saturday nights during the same time period, a couple of guys had a show called The Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather Show. The guys were Tony and yours truly. During those two shows, we played music from our own collections. Needless to say, new wave ruled those two nights on our little high school station.

10.17 b52s-1978
An early performance, 1977.

During the last season of the original cast of Saturday Night Live, the show was booking many new wave artists. The four of us budding broadcasters would go out to find the albums and/or singles of those artists who played SNL the previous week. One band that seemed to blow up after playing SNL was The B-52’s. The song that stuck with high schoolers was what would become the band’s calling card “Rock Lobster”. Now, I had purchased that single back in December of 1979 and had played it every weekend since. But after the band’s performance on the iconic show on January 26, 1980, well, my classmates were hooked. And, the requests began “pouring in”, which means we got maybe four or five requests. But, we kept playing them. And, surprisingly, The B-52’s joined Devo as the new wave bands of choice within my high school.

Then, like all good things, the radio shifts ended when we graduated. But, The B-52’s continued to be the party band in college. Then, in 1986, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the band’s guitarist Ricky Wilson passed away, and, not surprisingly, the wind collectively got knocked out of the band. But, something magical happened. Keith Strickland, the band’s drummer, took it upon himself to learn Wilson’s unique guitar style (something between surf and TV show theme sound) and tuning so the band could maintain its sound. And, in 1989, The B-52’s made a comeback that was every bit as great as Tina Turner’s comeback five years earlier. Their album, Cosmic Thing, received their best reviews since the debut album. And, the band released two classic singles with “Love Shack” and “Roam”. And, then, as if to say we did it, the band took off three years before releasing a lackluster follow-up called Good Stuff. Afterwards, the band went on hiatus until 2008 when they released their last album called Funplex.

10.17 the b52s beachware
Publicity shot, 1978.

Who knows what this great band will do next? My hope is that they will create one more classic album, get elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of fame, tour and retire as one of the greatest party bands of all-time. That is my dream for these true survivors.

10.17 the b52s at heatwave concert in 1980
The B-52’s play the Heatwave Concert (called the New Wave Woodstock) in Toronto in 1980.

So, in honor of one of the most iconic bands of the whole new wave moment, may I present My 20 Favorite Songs by The B-52’s.

20. “Debbie” (Time Capsule, 1998). Written for Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry.

19. “Good Stuff” (Good Stuff, 1992)

18. “Wig” (Bouncing Off the Satellites, 1986).

17. “Loveland” (Mesopotamia, 1982).

16. “52 Girls” (The B-52’s, 1979).

15. “Deadbeat Club” (Cosmic Thing, 1989).

14. “The Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland” (Bouncing Off the Satellites, 1986).

13. “Legal Tender” (Whammy!, 1983).

12. “Mesopotamia” (Mesopotamia, 1982).

11. “Funplex” (Funplex, 2008).

10. “Summer of Love” (Bouncing Off the Satellites, 1986).

9. “Song for a Future Generation” (Whammy!, 1983).

8. “Planet Claire” (The B-52’s, 1979).

7. “Private Idaho” (Wild Planet, 1980).

6. “Party Out of Bounds” (Wild Planet, 1980).

5. “Downtown” (The B-52’s, 1979).

4. “Give Me Back My Man” (Wild Planet, 1980).

3. “Roam” (Cosmic Thing, 1989).

2. “Love Shack” (Cosmic Thing, 1989).

1. “Rock Lobster” (The B-52’s, 1979).

I get it! That list was fairly straight forward. Oh well! They can’t all be full of surprises. See you tomorrow!

How About 25 Songs from Beck? Wait Until They See What I Have at #1!

10.16 Beck in Indy
Beck live in Indy

Wow! What a new music release day for Friday, October 13! Out of all the exciting releases, perhaps the two best were MASSEDUCATION by St. Vincent and Beck’s first album since his shocking Grammy win for Album of the Year almost five years ago for his brilliant album Morning Phase. His new album is called Colors, and it seems that he has thrown away his artistic pretensions and just followed his dance/rock muse. To me, this new album is much more gratifying than many of his other releases since he did less pretentious music and just let go.

Beck blasted his way onto the music scene during the Lollapalooza heyday of alternative music with his Gen X anthem “Loser”. The song, with its pastiche of neo-folk, hip hop and blues setting the stage for rapped lyrics concerning a young person’s view of him- or herself through the eyes of Baby Boomers. The sarcastic lyrics went past most except for the group at whom this was aimed. And, now, the song is Beck’s calling card and a rock classic.

So, how did Beck follow up that first album? He created his classic album, Odelay, that has always seemed like a tribute to the Beastie Boys and their method of using kitsch from the Seventies to forge a post-modern rock/hip hop classics. So, Beck followed suit to create his own rock heaven on this album. And, rightfully so, this is the album to which Beck’s whole career will be measured. This album follows the neo-folkie and hip hop attitude of his first album and carries through to fruition. Beck and his producers, the Dust Brothers, stuff the album full of samples from every kind of source, much like the brothers did for the Beasties on their classic album Paul’s Boutique. This album gave Beck his first Album of the Year Grammy nomination.

After that artistic breakthrough, Beck has been following his muse whenever it takes him. His has gone through Brazilian rock music on Midnite Vultures to stripped down folk rock on Sea Change and Morning Phase, and nearly all spaces in between. That is until Colors, which includes two previously released songs, “Dreams” from 2015 and the funky “Wow” from last year. Now, he has a great and versatile band, upon whom he relied to help create this seemingly simple yet complex pop/rock sound he has created on this album.

10.16 Beck Colors Art
Beck – Colors

So, in honor of Colors release, I thought we would take a quick look back at My 25 Favorite Beck Songs. Let ‘er rip, Keller!

25. “Ray No Mind (Snoozer)” (Mellow Gold, 1994)

24. “The New Pollution” (Odelay, 1996)

23. “Strange Apparition” (The Information, 2006)

22. “Beercan” (Mellow Gold, 1994)

21. “Nobody’s Fault but My Own” (Mutations, 1998)

20. “Gamma Ray” (Modern Guilt, 2008)

19. “Lost Cause” (Sea Change, 2002)

18. “Hell Yes” (Guero, 2005)

17. “E-Pro” (Guero, 2005)

16. “Tropicalia” (Mutations, 1998)

15. “Defriended” (single, 2013)

14. “Jack-Ass” (Odelay, 1996)

13. “Bogusflow” (DGC Rarities Vol. 1, 1994)

12. “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World OST, 2010)

11. “Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997” (Mellow Gold, 1994)

10. “Sexx Laws” (Mutations, 1998)

9. “Girl” (Guero, 2005)

8. “Devil’s Haircut” (Odelay, 1996)

7. “Blue Moon” (Morning Phase, 2013)

6. “Dreams” (Colors, 2017)

5. “Asshole” (One Foot in the Grave, 1994)

4. “Debra” (Midnite Vultures, 1999)

3. “Where’s It At” (Odelay, 1996)

2. “Loser” (Mellow Gold, 1994)

1. “Wow” (Colors, 2017)

I know! I tripped you up on that choice! “Wow”?!?! Indeed. I’ve been hooked on that song for the better part of a year, and it still makes me want to rave in the house. I don’t know why but it speaks to me way inside myself that none of his other songs really have before. So, now, “Wow” is my favorite Beck song. As he says in the song, it’s like “standing on the lawn doin’ Jiu Iitsu, girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini Shih Tzu.” And, in these moments, I like to quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman movie when he says, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it!”

10.16 jack-nicholson

My advice is to pull out all of your old Beck CDs and just bask in the greatness of his music. I’m betting that we will be seeing his name on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination list next year. Raise your glass to Beck!Ho

Power Pop: My 100 Favorite Albums, #1-25

10.13 POWER-POP-Logo-3

Ahhhh, it’s Friday! Usually, Saturday mornings are my moments to play music that has become known as Yacht Rock. Yet, for some reason, not sure if it has to do with my increased pain level or what, but I have a need to listen to such music. Today, I am test driving a recent compilation of yacht rock music from the late-Seventies/early-Eighties that never really became hits. The compilation is titled Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht. It’s an interesting listen. I’m not sure why a couple of these songs were not hits, but such is life. Rock is littered with great songs, or even good songs, that should have been hits when compared to some that ended up near the top of American Top 40’s countdown.

Today, I am putting the finishing touches on My 100 Favorite Power Pop Albums of All-Time. As you know, this genre is close to my heart, so you will be recognizing many of the Top 25, as many of them are flat-out rock classics. I feel that I would like to thank the following people for their work that I have referred to. To the retiring Bruce Bodeen, formerly of Pop Geek Heaven website and former Not Lame Records owner, thank you for the years of pimping this great music and enlightening my life to some many newer power pop artists. I have never met you, but your references are invaluable. To Ken Sharp, not only do you create fantastic power pop music, but you also have written that great four-volume series, Play On! Power Pop Heroes, in addition to many other great books. I hope to one day own your book about the Raspberries’ Eric Carmen. To John Borrack, your book Shake Some Action is an invaluable power pop resource that includes your 200 favorite power pop albums, along with other tidbits of information. Then, there are the websites, such as NME, Classic Pop, MOJO, Uncut, Rolling Stone, NPR, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Metacritic, AllMusic and Digital Dream Door. I suggest all of these as resources for your rock needs. Finally, thanks to all of the artists, power pop or not, who have brightened my days with your gift. Music is one of the few things that can help me deal with this stupid chronic pain thing.

Now, let’s get on with the countdown!

10.13 25.velvet crush - teenage symphonies to god

25. Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994). I remember picking up this CD only because I loved the titled, which refers to Brian Wilson’s explanation as to the sound of his infamous Beach Boys’ album, SMiLE. He told a reporter that they were creating “teenage symphonies to God.” FYI: this album lives up to its title.

24. Material Issue – International Pop Overthrow (1991). This album got lost during the early days of grunge. Still, this highly influential power pop gem’s title has been used by a power pop festival that plays in several cities throughout the world. Now, that’s quite an honor for this obscure, yet fantastic album. Being from the Chicago area, it’s no wonder that Material Issue picked up where Cheap Trick had left off in 1979. Unfortunately, leader Jim Ellison committed suicide before the band could take off.

23. Chris Bell – I Am the Cosmos (recorded in 1978, released in 1992). The former Big Star co-leader left after their first album. He then battled mental illness, while slowly recording the tracks that ended up on this album. He died in a car crash in 1978, leaving the power pop world saying, “Only if…”

10.13 22.the-romantics

22. The Romantics – The Romantics (1980). These Detroit rockers knew how to write and play classic-sounding rock songs. They will forever be known for the big track from this debut album, “What I Like About You”, which was never a hit back in the day. Now, that was a moral outrage! Fortunately, this song has outlived the number one hit, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”.

21. 20/20 – 20/20 (1979). This band and The Knack were two of the biggest L.A. power pop bands on the scene in the late-Seventies. Many critics felt 20/20 would find similar success that The Knack had found. Unfortunately, that was not true. Still, this album remains a power pop classic.

20. The Records – The Records (the U.S. title), or Shades in Bed (everywhere else) (1979). This album would be a classic if it only had the minor hit “Starry Eyes”. But, this album is loaded with the power pop of the U.K., proving once and for all that power pop is NOT just an American jam.

19. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978). Yes, “Heart of Glass” is a disco-parody. But, the rest of the album shows Blondie’s love of power pop and Sixties pop music, making for a classic album, no matter if you call it pop, rock, punk or whatever.

18. Joe Jackson – Look Sharp! (1979). I remember the first time I heard “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”, and I was certain this song would be huge. Well, it was so big that it is played more today than it was back then. But, if you listen to the whole album you will hear a classic power pop album with the energy of punk music.

10.13 17.Buzzcocks_-_Singles_Going_Steady

17. Buzzcocks – Single Going Steady (1980). The Buzzcocks were the original pop punk band, years before Green Day hit the scene. These Brits laid the groundwork for setting a perfectly great pop song to the aggressive tune of punk. This compilation has all of the band’s early hits.

16. Bram Tchaikovsky – Strange Man, Changed Man (1979). Bram had just left The Motors, when he released this album on the world. And a power pop classic was born on the backs of hit song “Girl of My Dreams” and “Lady from the U.S.A.”

15. Fotomaker – Fotomaker (1978). Back in 1978, it was difficult for a power pop band to get their music played. But, the few times I heard their minor hit song “Where Have You Been All of My Life”, I knew this band had the goods, even if it was only for this album.

10.13 14.rubinoos

14. The Rubinoos – The Rubinoos (1977). I remember seeing The Rubinoos on American Bandstand after a Saturday morning basketball practice. It was cool to see these guys rock out on their cover of the Tommy James standard “I Think We’re Alone Now”.

13. Nick Lowe – Pure Pop for Now People [US version] or Jesus of Cool [the title everywhere else] (1978). Lowe taught everyone what power pop was on this album.

12. The Jam – Sound Affects (1980). This was the sound of a punk band growing up and playing great, aggressive power pop cranked up to 11.

11. Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw (1982). This album should have been huge during the early days of MTV. It was perfect music for that era. Unfortunately, Crenshaw’s video for “Someday, Someway” was boring, and I am left wondering “What if?” again.

10.13 10.todd rundgren - Something anything

10. Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972). Rundgren proved on this album that he could do anything he wanted musically, by playing power pop, blue-eyed soul and everything else between.

9. Ramones – Rocket to Russia (1978). Once again, like The Jam, this album represents a transition from the band playing straight up punk to smoothing out the edges to be more of a power pop album.

8. Weezer – Weezer (aka The Blue Album) (1994). When Weezer burst on the scene, I thought to myself that I was finally hearing the heirs to Cheap Trick’s thrones. And, personally, I think I could not have been more correct. The bands’ careers parallel in uncommon way. Still, The Blue Album is a classic.

10.13 7.Elvis_costello_armed_forces_1

7. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (1979). The third Elvis album is a tour de force of power pop classics, with his cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” leading the way.

10.13 6.teenage fanclub - bandwagonesque

6. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque (1991). This album is so good, that the Scottish band that was kneeling at the Big Star alter sophomore album was chosen by SPIN magazine as album of the year in 1991 over Nirvana’s Nevermind and Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. And the album deserved it!

10.13 5.Raspberries - Greatest

5. Raspberries – Greatest (2005). I decided to go with a greatest hits package because I really could not decide which studio album to choose. And, this one has ALL of their classic songs, including “Go All the Way” and “Overnite Sensation (Hit Record)”.

10.13 4.Get_The_Knack_album_cover

4. The Knack – Get the Knack (1979). I played the hell out of this album during the Summer of 1979, which was a high point for classic power pop music. As a matter of fact, I do not think I was the only person listening to this album all the time.

10.13 3.Jellyfish_Bellybutton

3. Jellyfish – Bellybutton (1990). When I first saw Jellyfish’s Alice in Wonderland-take of a video for “The King Is Half-Undressed”, I went looking for the album by a band that sounded like a mix of Squeeze, XTC, Queen and everything else that was great about music. I never could find this album anywhere until in the 21st century. This is a must-hear album by a band that only lasted for two albums.

10.13 2.Cheap_Trick_Heaven_Tonight

2. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978). In Color was my first Cheap Trick purchase, and At Budokan remains my most played Cheap Trick album. But, it was Heaven Tonight that solidified my passion for the little band from Rockford, Illinois. And, “Surrender” is just the tip of the iceberg on this album.

10.13 1.Big_Star_-1_Record

1. Big Star – #1 Record (1972). I did not hear this album until I was in college. Then, I was not hooked on it until the early-Nineties. Now, #1 Record is my favorite power pop album. My favorite songs are “The Ballad of El Goodo”, “Feel” and “Thirteen”.

Let the debate begin! Have a great weekend everyone!

Power Pop: My 100 Favorite Albums, #26-51

10.10 power pop academy

Welcome to Day 3 of a topic that is close to my heart, power pop music. After today, I will have presented three-quarters of my Top 100 Power Pop Albums of All-Time. As I do with all of my blog entries, I had a blast researching and preparing the list that compromises my topic for most of this week.

While power pop has generally been an American phenomenon, great power pop bands have come from all over. During the initial rise of power pop in the early-Seventies, many of the artists were from the States, such as Big Star, the Raspberries and the Flamin’ Groovies. But, the UK was represented by Emmit Rhodes and Badfinger, and Australia gave us Rick Springfield, who released albums way back then but did not strike gold (and platinum) until the second wave of power pop hit in the late-Seventies/early-Eighties. By the time of the second wave, power pop was coming in from all over the world, though the commercially successful bands tended to be from the big three countries: the USA, the UK and down-under with Australia and New Zealand.

Surprisingly, I initially noticed that two cities could stake claim as being the power pop capital of the world, and, surprisingly, the cities are NOT New York City nor Los Angeles. The city with the second richest power pop scene over the past 50 years has been Cleveland, Ohio. No, your eyes are NOT playing tricks on you. The city that hosts the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has had several power pop bands that have had some success: the Raspberries, Blue Ash, Rachel Sweet, The Dead Boys and The Waitresses all hail from the northeastern corner of Ohio.

The city with the strongest power pop scene over the years has been Chicago. Chicago’s status as “Second City” is probably the most appropriate city for power pop, since much like Chicago’s status as a second-rate city, power pop enjoys a similar status in the pantheons of rock history. Bands such as Shoes, Pezband, Off Broadway, Material Issue, Veruca Salt, Green, OK Go, Urge Overkill, Fall Out Boy, The Nines, The Tweeds, The Academy Is…, Rise Against and The Names. And, you can throw in the premier power pop band, Cheap Trick, who hails from near-by Rockford, Illinois, and you have a powerful lineup of power pop artists from all phases of the genre. To me, Chicago is the Power Pop Capital of the World.

Of course, Los Angeles and New York have tons of artists who could help these cities stake claim the city with the most fertile power pop scene, but, to me, it simply seems natural that Chicago gets the “honor”. Now, to prove Chicago’s worthiness as the Power Pop Capital of the World, let’s take a look at numbers 26 through 50 of My 100 Favorite Power Pop Albums of All-Time.

10.12 Dream Syndicate - The days of wine and roses1982

50. The Dream Syndicate – The Days of Wine and Roses (1982)

49. Crowded House – Crowded House (1986)

10.12 TDOS - PsonicPsunspot

48. The Dukes of Stratosphear (aka XTC) – Psonic Psunspot (1986). XTC recorded the Sgt. Pepper homage Skylarking, then went into a telephone booth and switched into their alter-egos The Dukes of Stratosphear, who paid homage to the great Sixties English psychedelic pop bands like the Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd and The Move. I believe that The Flaming Lips based their latter-day career on this album.s

47. Myracle Brah – Life on Planet Eartsnop (1998)

46. Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog (1981)

45. Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)

44. Dwight Twilley Band – Sincerely (1976)

10.12 candy - whatever happened to fun

43. Candy – Whatever Happened to Fun (1985). Band is famous for having a future member of Guns N’ Roses (guitarist Gilby Clarke), but this album proves the band was one of the most overlooked bands of the Eighties.

42. XTC – Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992 (1996). This is the best greatest hits collection by one of power pop’s finest bands.

41. Supergrass – I Should Coco (1995)

40. Squeeze – East Side Story (1981)

10.12 Foxboro_Hot_Tubs_-_Stop,_Drop_and_Roll!!!

39. Foxboro Hot Tubs (aka Green Day) – Stop Drop and Roll!!! (2008). Green Day was on such a roll at the time, that when this album was released, no one seemed to notice. But Green Day fans and Power Pop fans both agree that this album stands up nicely next to Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown.

38. Bangles – All Over the Place (1984)

37. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981). Bangles or The Go-Go’s? For me, The Go-Go’s debut album was the best, but the Bangles had the better career and greatest hits album.

36. Shoes – Present Tense (1981)

35. Badfinger – No Dice (1970)

10.12 FOW-Welcome_Interstate_Managers

34. Fountains of Wayne – Welcome Interstate Manager (2003). You CANNOT deny the greatness of “Stacy’s Mom”!

33. (Paul Collins’) The Beat – The Beat (1979)

32. Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action (1975)

31. Artful Dodger – Honor Among Thieves (1976)

30. Pezband – Pezband (1977)

10.12 off broadway - on

29. Off Broadway – On (1979). In the late Seventies, many critics felt Off Broadway and Pezband would be battling Cheap Trick for power pop supremacy. Unfortunately, both bands collapsed under the pressure. Still, these Chicago-based bands left power pop fans these two albums for posterity.

28. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend (1991)

10.12 Sugar_-_Copper_Blue

27. Sugar – Copper Blue (1992). After the scorched-Earth career of Hüsker Dü and two widely acclaimed solo albums, Bob Mould put together this genius power pop/pop punk band that left behind two albums and an EP’s worth of music in just two years. But, that music continues to resonate today.

26. The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (1992). Evan Dando was a pin-up for teen girls everywhere. Unfortunately, he and his band never again reached the heights of this power pop delight. Highlights include “My Buddy” and their rip-roaring cover of the Simon & Garfunkel standard “Mrs. Robinson”.

So many great power pop albums and so little space. Just in the past couple of weeks, I have heard a couple new ones that might one day break into this list. But once again, time will time. 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty stellar year for great power pop music. No, it’s not as strong as those magical years of 1977 through 1982, but it is still pretty good.

Tomorrow, we will find out which album is my favorite, though those of you who know me will probably get the artist correct. And, a couple may even know the album title. But, let’s wait about 24 hours for the answer. So, keep on rockin’ in the free world!

Power Pop: My 100 Favorite Albums, #51-75

10.10 power pop heroes

My love of power pop music began in the early-Seventies. I distinctly remember hearing the Raspberries, Badfinger and Todd Rundgren on the conservative radio station that my parents listened to in the car. These songs would be the manna in between songs by such non-rockers (whom I appreciate more today than back in the day) as The Association, Bread, Carpenters and the 5th Dimension. Then, as I got older, the whole new wave/punk thing began to happen, and power pop bands like Cheap Trick, The Knack and The Romantics all got thrown into that broad category. Still, the power pop of my teen years was built upon a Raspberries/Big Star foundation and grew from there.

Nowadays, power pop is not all jangly guitars and Hollies harmonies. Today, anything that has a pop melody underneath crunching guitars is power pop. The category may be difficult to define, but when you hear it, you immediately know its power pop you are listening to.

In order to honor those major, and minor, power pop artists in history, I will continue my Top 100 Favorite Power Pop Albums of All-Time list. Today, I present to you, my loyal reader, numbers 51 through 75.

10.11 Tracey Ullman - 17places

75. Tracey Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places (1983).

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74. The Bears – The Bears (1987). During the first half of the Eighties, one of Cincinnati’s most beloved rock bands was a power pop group called The Raisins. One day, world-class guitar hotshot, Adrian Belew, who has just finished a run of work with such artists as Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and a reconstituted King Crimson, ventured back to his Northern Kentucky roots across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It was during that time that he hooked up with the guys from The Raisins, rechristened themselves as The Bears and gained power pop immortality upon the release of their debut album in 1987.

73. Blue Ash – No More, No Less (1973). This northeastern Ohio band has helped Cleveland to stake claim as the power pop capital of the world. Another city may disagree: Chicago. More on that later.

72. Arlo – Stab the Unstoppable Hero (2002).

71. Cotton Mather – Kontiki (1999).

70. Jane Wiedlin – Jane Wiedlin (1985).

10.11 The_Grays_-_Ro_Sham_Bo

69. The Grays – Ro Sham Bo (1994)

68. Ken Sharp – New Mourning (2016). Ken Sharp is not only a terrific power pop musician, but it also a top-notch rock journalist and author of several books, including those about KISS, Eric Carmen and a four-volume series about Power Pop artists entitled Power Pop Heroes.

67. SOMERDALE – Shake It Maggie (2016).

66. Greg Kihn Band – Rockihnroll (1981).

65. Eytan Mirsky – Funny Money (2016).

64. The Blow Pops – Charmed I’m Sure (1993).

10.11 Jeremy - Pop Explosion

63. Jeremy – Pop Explosion (2008).

62. P. Hux – Deluxe (1995).

61. The Yum Yums – Singles ‘N Stuff (2001).

60. The Spongetones – Beat & Torn (1994).

59. The La’s – The La’s (1990).

58. The Lambrettas – Beat Boys in the Jet Age (1980).

10.11 enuff znuff - favorites

57. Enuff Z’Nuff – Favorites (2004).

56. Emmit Rhodes – Emmit Rhodes (1970).

55. David Brookings & the Average Lookings – David Brookings & the Average Lookings (2016).

54. Chris von Sneidern – Big White Lies (1994).

53. Phil Seymour – Phil Seymour (1980).

10.11 splittsville - complete pet soul

52. Splittsville – The Complete Pet Soul (2001).

10.11 TNP - Mass_romantic

51. The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000).

Now, we are half way done with this list! FYI: This is a big week for album releases. New releases by Beck, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Robert Plant, P!nk, AND Tegan & Sara. That list will normally constitute a good month, but we are talking about all of this potentially great music being released on a single day is flat-out crazy! Then, next week, Cheap Trick is releasing a Christmas album (most people are groaning, while the Christmas music collector in me is doubly excited). Finally, at the end of the month, Weezer is releasing a brand new album. But, Friday the 13th is THE day for new music.

Long live rock!

Power Pop: My Favorite 100 Albums, #76-100

10.10 power_pop-2446

When you are blogging, you never know which of your posts will capture the imagination of readers. For me, it has been pure luck when I get an entry that takes off. Usually, the biggest traffic to this blog occurs just after we have lost a rock icon, such as Tom Petty last week, or Prince a year-and-a-half ago. Otherwise, it is just hit-or-miss with my topics. So, most of the time, I choose a topic on which I had recently been hyperfocused. During that time, I will research everything I can find about that topic and listen to the music in question. By the time I write my entry, I am long past that topic-dwelling and onto another topic that I will write about later.

That’s how I work. I have volumes and volumes of composition books filled with notes and lists, which I will often turn into an entry or two. Sometimes, I will type the bigger lists in an effort to keep from repeating entries, but that does not always work. After all, I am terrible editor. Now, as far as my text goes, I write it as I go. And, if my grammar and/or spell checks do not catch an issue, then I will give you some doozey of a sentence. I had given you some serendipitous sentences that have passed the checks but still gives you something completely different that I had intended. That’s what I get for simply writing my entries without any regard to editing. But, I have always flown by the seat of my pants when it comes to my writing. Until recently, writing was a disposable exercise for me. People would tell me to pursue it, and I would play coy. But, now that I am not doing my first, second or third loves as a past time OR a job, I guess I need to take this editing thing more seriously.

So, what rock topic has been in my soul lately? Remember back in the summer when I was going through the whole bit about alternative music, from its humble beginnings in the Sixties in garages across the US to it near-current state in the deep underground world of musicians’ lofts or their iPhones. Well, during that time, I was taking notes about the 100 Greatest Power Pop Albums of All-Time. I battled and battled through it. I walked away from the list several times, only to come back to it a few weeks later. Well, earlier today, I finally finished it!

So, I intend to spend the today and the next three days bringing this list to you. Remember, power pop is a genre based upon The Beatles’ melodicism, the harmonies of The Hollies or Beach Boys, the power chords of The Who or Small Faces, all funneled through the aggressiveness of the early Kinks. It was essentially, but not limited to, an American reaction against all of the hippy bands that were more interested in limitless jamming. This musicians wanted to bring back the melody of pop from their youth only they passed their sound through Marshall stacks to give their basic pop sound some danger and muscle.

After an initial burst of bands in the early Seventies, the form went underground, only to burst open in the late-Seventies, lead by the success of Cheap Trick and The Knack. Once again, the genre went underground, and reared its beautiful head in the early-Nineties, although many great artists came and went in the meantime. Now, power pop is hiding in broad daylight in the music of Fountains of Wayne and OK Go, but also in the punk pop sound made popular by Green Day and blink-182, and followed by Jimmy Eats World, The Ataris, Fall Out Boy and Paramore, to name but a few. Power pop is alive and well in 2017.

So, allow me the privilege of bringing to you My Top 100 Power Pop Albums of All-Time, this from a genre known more for its singles than its albums. Today, I present to you numbers 76 through 100. Let’s begin!

10.10 the late show - portable pop

100. The Late Show – Portable Pop (1980). This Indianapolis-based band was big on the club scene around Indy back in the day.

99. Reno Bo – Lessons from a Shooting Star (2015).

98. The Shazam – Godspeed the Shazam (1999).

10.10 robin black - planet fame

97. Robin Black & the Intergalactic Rock Stars – Planet Fame (2017).

96. Frank Bango – Touchy Feely (2013).

95. Sloan – Twice Removed (1994).

10.10 Exploding Hearts - Guitar_Romantic

94. The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic (2003).

93. The dB’s – Stands for Decibels (1981).

92. Game Theory – Lolita Nation (1987).

91. The Nines – The Properties of Sound (2001).

90. The Posies – Frosting on the Beater (1993).

89. The Three O’Clock – Arrive Without Traveling (1985).

88. Wondermints – Wondermints (1995).

87. The Paley Brothers – The Paley Brothers (1978).

86. Derrick Anderson – A World to My Own (2017).

85. Hoodoo Gurus – Mars Needs Guitars (1985).

84. Tommy Keene – Based on Happy Times (1989).

83. The Smithereens – Blown to Smithereens: The Best of the Smithereens (1995).

10.10 the toms - the toms

82. The Toms – The Toms (1979).

81. The Producers – The Producers (1981).

80. NRBQ – At Yankee Stadium (1978).

79. Adam Schmitt – Demolition (2001).

78. The Merrymakers – Bubblegun (1999).

77. that dog. – Totally Crushed Out! (1995)

10.10 the popguns - sugar kisses

76. The Popguns – Sugar Kisses (2017)

That’s where we will stop for today. Stay tuned tomorrow for another trip through My Top 100 Power Pop Albums of All-Time.

AC/DC Had to Happen! Let’s Rank Their Albums

ACDC Live 1977

At one time or another, I have used the phrase, “Death, taxes and AC/DC.” I am certain that I did NOT make it up. I had to have read it somewhere back in my college days because I am not creative enough to come up with a succinct phrase that exactly paints AC/DC’s musical approach. From the moment I first heard the opening chords to “T.N.T.” back when I was in eighth grade in the year 1977, I was a fan. What was so cool back then was that AC/DC was an underground band, much like the CBGB punk bands, Tom Petty and Rush were. They were something that separated those who listened to rock music and those who were a bit crazier about the genre, like me.

In the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal, AC/DC stands at the crossroads that connects the two. But, what has been lost over time is that they were also standing along the punk bands of the era. And, although their sound was based in the blues, their energy was perfect for the punks. In reality, they were the flipside of the Ramones on the same coin. The two bands adhered to the same basic sounds throughout their careers. The two bands both had sloppy-sounding, crunching guitars that belied the fact that both bands were tight and well-rehearsed. But, where the Ramones’ songs shot for the brain through the heart, AC/DC shot for the groin via the same heart. And, that is why both bands were so acceptable to both punk and metal fans.

So, AC/DC road this formula all the way from the bars of their native Australia to their well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Malcolm Young’s crunching rhythm guitar power chords, a stripped-down yet powerful rhythm section and the pyrotechnics of lead guitarist Angus Young. It’s the same formula throughout each album, but what separates a truly great AC/DC song from the others in their catalog is those songs have anthemic choruses. And, their best albums have more songs that follow that seemingly simple formula. But, if the formula were so simple, then way isn’t everyone doing this? Because, only AC/DC could, that’s why.

ACDC Live 1980s

Today, I would like to attempt to rank all of the albums that AC/DC has released here in the States. And, even though they have recorded all of their albums with two lead singers, those singers were similar enough in that throaty “sounds like he gargled Drano” screech-slash-yell-slash-sing sound that fans were not ever second guessing the band’s choice like what happened with Van Halen.

From the looks of things, we will NEVER again have another band like AC/DC. Yet, I hope that the band remains on the playlists of all future generations of music lovers. Let’s countdown their live and studio albums.

Ac-dc_Flick_of_the_Switch

19. Flick of the Switch (1983). AC/DC had reached the top of the rock & roll mountain and were fried by 1983. And, this album sounds like it.

ACDC - Blowupyourvideo

18. Blow Up Your Video (1988). Sure, the band was losing out to those silly hair metal bands and their misogynist videos at the time. So, instead of going back to the basics, they tried to compete. WRONG!

ACDC - Fly_On_The_Wall

17. Fly on the Wall (1985). This album has the goofiest cover in the band’s catalog. That alone warned me to stay away from it. Then, I put it on the turntable and YUCK! Still, it wasn’t Flick.

ACDC - live at river plate

16. Live at River Plate (2012). Why does such a great live band release such crappy live albums?

ACDCLive

15. Live (1992). This live album is a bit better than the last one, but not much.

ACDC - ForThoseAboutToRock

14. For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981). I remember a bunch of people in college trekking through an early snow to go purchase this album, only to be disappointed in how tired the band sounded. Maybe, in hindsight, they should have rested, then went back in the studio before releasing this album, the first disappointing album in their catalog.

Acdc_Powerage

13. Powerage (1978). I used to love this album. But, now, I am too old for it. It’s a young man’s album. And, that’s a good thing!

ACDC - Razorsedge

12. The Razor’s Edge (1990). Any album that boasts “Moneytalks” and “Thunderstruck” should be a great album. Unfortunately, the band was still floundering a bit.

ACDC - Ballbreaker

11. Ballbreaker (1995). Producer Rick Rubin helped the band rediscover their magic. The album isn’t perfect, but it was a great way to kick off the band’s creative renaissance.

ACDC - Stiff_Upper_Lip

10. Stiff Upper Lip (2000). This was AC/DC’s first great album in two decades. This album is the real follow-up to their commercial breakthrough, Back in Black.

ADDC - Black_ice_red

9. Black Ice (2008). This album kept the momentum flowing started by Stiff Upper Lip, even though it was a long eight years coming. A sad note: this album represents Malcolm Young’s final album due to dementia.

ACDC-Rock_or_Bust

8. Rock or Bust (2014). Due to Malcolm’s illness, the songwriting fell on brother Angus Young’s shoulders and he admirably rose to the occasion with this great set of songs. The hero of the day was Angus’s nephew, Stevie Young, filling in for Uncle Malcolm on rhythm guitar.

Acdc_If_You_Want_Blood_You've_Got_It

7. If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (1978). This single album remains the band’s definitive live recording. If it just had contained a version of “T.N.T.”, then it would have been perfect.

ACDC-TNT

6. T.N.T. (1975). Technically, this was not an American release, but I saw it in the bins here in the States that I had to include it. Most of the songs were re-released on the High Voltage album the following year.

Acdc_high_voltage_international_album

5. High Voltage (1976). This is the proper North American debut album for the band, and what a debut it is! This is the blueprint for the band’s entire career. The album is full of songs that remain in their live set to this date, 40 years on.

ACDC-LetThereBeRock

4. Let There Be Rock (1977). AC/DC officially avoided the sophomore slump on this album because the album really wasn’t their second album. But, for us in the States, it was, and the band turned the volume up to 11 on this album.

ACDC Dirty Deeds

3. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976). Throughout the rest of the world, this album had been released. But, not in the States, where it was finally released in the aftermath of Back in Black changing the world. This album really was a perfect follow-up to that classic album.

Acdc_Highway_to_Hell

2. Highway to Hell (1979). I was so happy when this album broke the band in the States because I was FINALLY given the green light to write about AC/DC in our high school newspaper. At the time, I honestly never thought the band would ever top it. Boy, was I wrong!

ACDC_Back_in_Black

1. Back in Black (1980). When a hard rock album sells over 20-million copies, you know something went right in the studio. At the time, the band was grieving the loss of their lead singer Bon Scott and looking for a new one. In walks former-Geordie lead singer Brian Johnson, and the rest, as they say, is history.

ACDC Live 2016

As AC/DC closes in on their 50th anniversary, the band again is at a crossroads. Brian Johnson is having health issues, so he is out now. And, it appears that the mercurial Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and lead guitarist Angus Young are going to take hold of the reigns of the band. I just hope that Angus can keep Axl in check so AC/DC will not go the direction of Guns N’ Roses. Rose is a very talented singer and songwriter, but he did NOT make AC/DC famous. Still, he could be Angus’ third perfect voice for the band. And, here’s to hoping that they will keep Stevie in Malcolm’s spot, since there seems to be some unspoken genetic thing going on in that position. The rhythm section is also in transition as drummer Phil Rudd has left the band again, replaced by his original replacement Chris Slade. Finally, Cliff Williams has also decided that the time was right to retire. I have not heard a thing about any permanent replacements for these positions as Slade was used only for the 2016 tour that included Axl.

Like I said, I hope Axl’s prog rock tendencies will not throw the rock & roll train of AC/DC off the tracks. But, this injection of new blood in the band could keep them viable for years to come. Then again, as Son #1 has always said, “Time will tell.”

The RRHOF Nominee List Is Out & Who’s Getting In?

10.6 rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-and-museum

Yesterday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did the appropriate thing to take everyone’s minds off the horrifying scenes of the Las Vegas shooting gallery, as well as the untimely death of rock hero Tom Petty. The Nominating Committee released the list of nominees for induction into the Class of 2018. To me, a HUGE fan of the Hall of Fame and Museum, the list was strange. For the first time in over a decade, Chic was not nominated. Once again, would the RRHOF had inducted Donald Fagin without Walter Becker? No, Steely Dan is in. How about John Oates without Daryl Hall? No, the most successful duo in rock history went in together. What about only one of the Everly brother without the other? No way! But, since Chic was a disco band, let’s exclude the band, and thus Bernard Edwards and only induct Nile Rodgers! That was cowardly!

Once again, Motown artists have seemed to have stopped being nominated for induction. At this time, the RRHOF is still missing three important Motown artists. First, THE female singer of the pre-solo Diana Ross days, Mary Wells of “My Guy” fame is still sitting outside of the Hall. Also MIA in the Hall are the Miracles, who for some reason were left out of the Hall while lead singer Smokey Robinson was inducted. Go figure! And, finally, the last major Motown girl group who has been left out are the Marvelettes. Those ladies notched the iconic label’s FIRST number one pop hit with “Please Mr. Postman”. Of course, no one is working to get this fixed.

Now, I understand that the Baseball Hall of Fame does not induct the people who invented the curve ball, cut fastball, split-finger fastball, or any other pitch. But, they do induct the pitchers who successfully made one of those pitches their calling cards. Likewise, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, except they do attempt to shine a light on innovators. The problem is they are missing some key pieces to the rock and roll puzzle. The RRHOF is missing such guitar innovators as Link Wray, Dick Dale and Duane Eddy. Power pop progenitors like Big Star, Todd Rundgren and Raspberries have long been ignored. The godfathers of punk, such as MC5, New York Dolls and The Jam, are all on the outside. Country rock would not have become the iconic genre it is today without Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard. The funk still needs Chic, Rick James, Zapp and the Gap Band, while hip hop deserves Afrika Bambaataa, LL Cool J, Eric B & Rakim, De La Soul, Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest. Need some female divas? How about Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. Want some jazz? Throw John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. Icons from the Fifties? The Rock and Roll Trio. The Sixties? Paul Revere & the Raiders, Moody Blues, The Zombies, Love. Metal? Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard. Okay, you get the picture.

So, here is the list of nominees of the Class of 2018. I have added song that best exemplifies each artist.

10.6 Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi – The Eighties hair metal icons from Jersey. “Livin’ on a Prayer”.

10.6 kate bush

Kate Bush – The English chanteuse with art rock leanings. “Running Up That Hill”.

10.6 the cars

The Cars – The Classic Rock band with New Wave touches and pop smarts. “My Best Friend’s Girl”.

10.6 depeche mode

Depeche Mode – The synth pop band from the Eighties whose popularity rose as they became darker. “Personal Jesus”.

10.6 dire straits

Dire Straits – Brought Bob Dylan-esque rock back during the days of disco, only to become one of the biggest bands in the world by 1985. “Money for Nothing”.

10.6 eurythmics

Eurythmics – A synth pop band with a soulful vocalist and multi-talented instrumentalist/producer. “Who’s That Girl”.

10.6 j. geils band

J. Geils Band – The premier American blues-rock party band. “Love Stinks”.

10.6 judas priest

Judas Priest – The first twin lead guitar attack of heavy metal with a banshee wail of a lead singer, while dressed in leather. “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”.

10.6 ll cool j

LL Cool J – THE biggest solo rapper of the Eighties. “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”.

10.6 mc5

MC5 – The overtly leftist punk/neo-metal band of the late-Sixties/early-Seventies. “Kick Out the Jams”.

10.6 the meters

The Meters – THE New Orleans funk band. “Hey Pocky A-Way”.

10.6 moody blues

Moody Blues – Seems like the first band to successfully merge classical music pretensions with rock music. “Nights in White Satin”.

10.6 radiohead

Radiohead – One of the more innovative and critically acclaimed bands still standing from the Nineties. “Paranoid Android”.

10.6 rage against the machine

Rage Against the Machine – The overtly leftist punk/metal/rap band of the Nineties. “Testify”.

10.6 rufus feat chaka khan

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Seventies interracial funk band fronted by huge-voiced Chaka Khan. “Tell Me Something Good”.

10.6 nina-simone-1969

Nina Simone – R&B singer/songwriter and Civil Rights activist who transcended music in the Sixties. “Mississippi Goddamn”.

10.6 Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Often referred to as the first female rock star, this gospel/R&B singer/guitarist laid the groundwork for all future female (and male) rockers. “Strange Things Happening Every Day”.

10.6 link wray

Link Wray – The father of the power chord and one of rock’s first guitar heroes. “Rumble”.

10.6 the zombies

The Zombies – Outside of the more famous British Invasion bands of the Sixties, the Zombies’ influence has grown exponentially as the decades passed with their pioneering brand of psych-rock that is popular today. “Time of the Season”.

Of these artists, I think Radiohead is a shoo-in, and Bon Jovi will win the fan’s popularity contest on the RRHOF website. So, those are the easiest to predict. After that, somewhere between three and eight more of these nominees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. Personally, I think that this year is LL Cool J‘s year to finally get the call, as he is the only hip hop artist nominated. Another artist that I think will be inducted is The Cars, who have been nominated for the third straight year. Finally, since there is a highly regarded Netflix documentary about her right now, Nina Simone seems primed for induction, much like Joan Baez was last year.

After those five, it’s anyone’s guess. I know that Rage Against the Machine has the backing of Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven, so I would not be surprised if they get in. However, their resume is nearly the same as MC5, so who knows? The Eurythmics and Depeche Mode represent the English synth pop category, so only one of them will probably get in. I lean toward the band with Annie Lennox’ soulful vocals, plus I remember how big of a deal it was back in 2000 when they reunited for an album and tour. Something just tells me Eurythmics could be the first real MTV stars to get inducted.

And, as we all know, heavy metal is underrepresented in the Hall, so Judas Priest has a really good chance for induction. And, many do not remember just how big Dire Straits was by the time they quit making records. They were playing stadiums throughout the world in 1985 through 1989! However, this year is too loaded for their induction. The Moody Blues and The Zombies represent the dwindling remains of the original British Invasion, so they may cancel each other. However, the Moody Blues fan club has been petitioning the hall on their behalf for nearly TWENTY years to be inducted. That may finally sway some voters.

And, for me, that leaves everyone else. I love Kate Bush, but she always been a cult artist here. Likewise, I own loads of albums by the J. Geils Band, and if you want to party music, they are the band for you. But, unfortunately, they will not get in either. And, as far as Rufus featuring Chaka Khan is concerned, they will not get in. Three years ago, they were nominated, with the following two years only Chaka got nominated, so I think Chaka alone will be the nominee. And, as far as the last three are concerned, they will not get in unless they are rightfully inducted as pioneers, which would be an awesome way to get these super important influences: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray and The Meters.

So, my basic five predictions are Radiohead, Bon Jovi, Nina Simone, LL Cool J, and The Cars. Now, my next tier would be Eurythmics, Rage Against the Machine, Judas Priest and the Moody Blues. Those who definitely will be waiting for another year for their induction include Depeche Mode, MC5, the J.Geils Band, The Zombies and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. Then, those nominees who need some divine intervention for induction are Kate Bush, The Meters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Link Wray.

Now, I cannot wait until December for the announcement of the Hall’s Class of 2018 inductees. I really hope they induct more than five artists, since it makes for a way better show on HBO!

I’m Having Trouble Letting You Go: 25 Tom Petty Songs That Have Been Important to My Life

10.4 tom-petty

Here I go again! I continue to work through the pain of losing Tom Petty. It’s much like losing Prince just a year and a half ago. How do you express to someone you never met that somehow were able to express your inner self much more articulate than you yourself can ever could.

So, instead of giving you a list of Tom Petty songs that I love, I thought that, perhaps, I would give to you all a list of his songs, with and without his impeccable band of master musicians The Heartbreakers. And, even when Tom released a “solo” album, guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench were there. Then, drummer Steve Ferrone, multi-instrumentalist Scott Thurston and bassist Ron Blair were around as well.

So, here are The 25 Tom Petty Songs That Mean The Most To Me.

25. “Room at the Top” (Echoes, 1999)

24. “Louisiana Rain” (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)

23. “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” (Hard Promises, 1981)

22. “Here Comes My Girl” (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)

21. “Saving Grace” (Highway Companion, 2006)

20. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (Greatest Hits, 1993)

19. “Honey Bee” (Wildflowers, 1994)

18. “Southern Accents” (Southern Accents, 1985)

17. “Hometown Blues” (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976)

16. “Don’t Do Me Like That” (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)

15. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Bella Donna, 1981)

14. “You Can Still Change Your Mind” (Hard Promises, 1981)

13. ” Learning to Fly” (Into the Great Wide Open, 1991)

12. “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)” (Damn the Torpedo, 1979)

11. “Free Fallin'” (Full Moon Fever, 1989)

10. “Dreamville” (The Last DJ, 2002)

9. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” (Wildflowers, 1994)

8. “You Got Lucky” (Long After Dark, 1982)

7. “Breakdown” (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976)

6. “American Girl” (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976)

5. “Listen to Her Heart” (You’re Gonna Get It, 1978)

4. “The Waiting” (Hard Promises, 1981)

3. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Southern Accents, 1985)

2. “Even the Losers” (Damn the Torpedoes, 1979)

1. “Insider (with Stevie Nicks)” (Hard Promises, 1981)

As you can surmise from the song titles that I have chosen, I really enjoy those wistful, nostalgic, borderline melancholia songs that Petty was so good at hiding within his album. Every album has one or two of those songs that would cut right down to my heart, exposing my soul for me to analyze. And, although I will continue to have these songs, I will no longer experience the joy of opening a new Heartbreakers, Mudcrutch or Petty album in order to find those gems he placed in the dark corners of his albums.

Tom Petty, thank you for helping me find me along the way.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Tom Petty

10.3 best_tom_petty

I know! Yesterday, I said I was taking this week off due to my pain level jumping. But, there comes a time when one just has to accept the pain you have during everyday life only to tackle a greater pain. Yesterday, the rock world lost one of the finest songwriters of our generation, or perhaps any generation. Unfortunately, Tom Petty has left us to join the Heavenly Rock Choir.

I never met Tom Petty. I would have been too nervous to have met him. But, his music has meant the world to me. His lyrics dealt with the pain of growing up, of being a loner, of wanting a voice to scream my feelings to the world.

Tom Petty was my Bob Dylan, my Bruce Springsteen, my John Lennon, that singular voice that could express my intellectual torment along with my inner, unspoken pain. I celebrated many important events in my life with his music. I have talked about buying Full Moon Fever when my younger son was born and celebrating his life with Tom. I celebrated my older son’s birth with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Live Aid performance. His music got me through my life before I met my wife, those stupid adolescent moments of angst that make us the adults we are today.

10.3 insider

I remember, some college friends stealing a “Petty Ave.” street sign for me for my 20th birthday, only for the Muncie police to confiscate it from my room during Spring Break that year. I wrote some of my best themes in my freshmen English courses on his music, especially the song “Insider”, perhaps his finest statement of that battle of one’s insecurities versus the outer mask of arrogance a young male thinks he must wear.

10.3 Tom-Petty-Dont-Come-Around-Video

And, just because Tom has left us, his music will have no end. I have the memories of his announcer yelling, “Will you please welcome, from the United States of America, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers!” at the first of theirs I attended at a half-filled Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, and the Heartbreakers ripping into a roaring version of “American Girl”, only to witness Tom sliding across the stage to the microphone for a perfectly timed start to the lyrics. That was thrilling to the nineteen-year-old me. And, it was just as thrilling when he and the band walked onto the stage in 2009 to play “You Wreck Me”.

10.3 tom petty

Yes, Tom Petty has left the building for the last time. But, he has left us with his never-ending gift of music from Southern Accents to Highway Companion, Hypnotic Eye to Damn the Torpedoes, to all points before, after and between. Thank you Tom Petty for making this life just a bit more bearable.