By Elvin Bishop (1975)
It’s Elvin Bishop’s birthday. Must play Fooled Around and Fell in Love at least three times.
Poignancy could be Paul Simon’s middle name and perhaps never more than with his bittersweet Slip Slidin’ Away – a song that never fails to make me rather sad (and enjoy it). The song was an new composition released on his 1977 Greatest Hits, Etc.
The grandpa of cutie-pie-gentle-folk-rock does good and tries mixing up his usual MO on Barabajagal with strange arrangements, blurred influences and inconsistent songs. I Love My Shirt is awful – apologies to anyone who is a fan – but its inclusion on this album doesn’t diminish the brilliance of all the other gems any less.
The title song is catchy and grand, Superlungs My Supergirl is that kind of groovy tune that you can envision short skirted free chicks jamming to shot at a low angle in some counterculture B movie, while Where is She is soft and lovely and spun from feelings of being in love and clouds, Happiness Runs is like the quirkiness of a Wes Anderson movie distilled into music, The Love Song is very Belle and Sebastian but a bit too goofy for my tastes, Susan on the West Coast Waiting is just odd and perfect, and he goes all off the rails with the storytelling and epic sound wall of Atlantis, Trude has a the upbeat feel of the best and most approachable of the Dead, then Pamela Jo ventures into vaudevillian territory (for better or worse, depending on your mood).
An album reissue came out a few years back with several bonus tracks; I don’t have it but from what I’ve read it might be well worth the investment.
Sometimes I just feel completely plugged in to the zeitgeist. I have been listening to Surrealistic Pillow a lot lately, falling particularly hard for the dreamy and rarely played song “Today” – As I sat watching this week's TV pick, At the Movies review of A Simple Man, I was surprised to hear that exact song featured in a scene. From what I've read (have yet to see the movie, but with all the glowing reviews, look forward to it) the breakout album plays a prominent role.
While the big Grace Slick hits Somebody To Love and White Rabbit will be familiar to anyone who grew up with a classic rock station in their town, they don't represent the album other facets which are far folkier and druggier and softer.
The album was one of the most significant of the counter culture movement and brought attention and change to the Haight-Ashbury scene.
I vividly recall being fascinated by this album cover while digging through dad's basement collection. What kid, or adult for that matter couldn't be impressed with this feat of design? But beyond the aesthetics, Some Girls is also possibly my most favorite Rolling Stones album.
Some purist fans may disagree, but I love the influence of disco on the boys and Shattered and Miss You are some of their best songs. But there's really nary a filler piece on the entire album – they cover one of my favorite Temptations songs, they channel the country music of Bakersfield (with the influence of Gram Parsons) in Far Away Eyes, and they slow things down with the fantastic Beast of Burden.
Nothing ever really dies, does it? Lola, a Kinks hit from 1970 gained, new popularity with the questionably witty Yoda spoof by Werid Al, who in turn has found new popularity with the stoned children of today as cable access host Uncle Muscles. Still, no matter how wacky Al's lyrics got (I know Darth Vader's really got you annoyed/ But remember, if you kill him, then you'll be unemployed”) they're no freakier than the original, which chronicles a night with a transvestite.
Some stories claim it was based on the exploits of their manager, others claim Lola is actually Candy Darling with whom Davies may or may not have had an affair. Either way, here's a transciprt of her interviewing him for Interview Magazine in 1973. And speaking of never dying, Darling is featured on her death bed on the cover of Antony and the Johnson's I am a Bird Now.
Jim was more than a little surprised (and quite happy) to hear that this week's album choice would be Aqualung; like a father who's been wishing for years that his son would get into baseball, his face tentatively lit up when he asked what song I liked most and I answered all of them. Of course, this is not my first foray into Jethro Tull's flutey universe. Jim had me listen to dozens of album for one of my Renaissance Faire themed weeks, and that planted the seed that turned me into a true die hard fan.
Aqualung is pretty perfect as far as classic rock concept albums go and in this case the concept is anti established religion, an idea that rocked Jim's world when he was a teen first under the influences of progressive rock. It's an intelligent, musically expansive and intriguing album and I'll risk sounding like an old grump and say that it boggles the mind to think that once music this interesting was massively popular too (it reached #7 in America, 4 in the UK 1971; today, we have Lady Gaga twice in the Top Ten).
This has really become one of my very favorite listens from beginning to end, and I meant it when I told Jim I loved the whole thing. The album opens with the classic classic rock heaviness of the title track and ends in embittered defiance with Wind Up. You're in lots of luck with the added bonus tracks that features the jaunty Bach softness of Bouree.
Known primarily (if at all) for their hit Venus, a song that certainly colored my early years when it was covered by Bananarama, Shocking Blue was a groovy Dutch band made up of good looking kids that were slightly more popular in Europe.
While Venus is great, I'm more drawn to the less commercially successful track Deamon Lover from the album Scorpio's Dance. A moody song with a witchy heart accompanied by kind of surfy mesmerizing guitar.
Plus, it shares its title with Jim's favorite movie about corporate espionage in the porn video game industry.
I can not, for the life of me, figure out why Sugarman, the amazing 1970 song by little-known Rodriguez, never became a smash hit here in the USA. It's like a long lost dreamily upbeat Donovan track, minus the chilling goofiness of Mellow Yellow but imbued with the naughtiness of the Codeine's derided subject matter; it seems, to me, to be an ode to the pleasures of drug-taking.
Now considered a “cult” classic rock song, Sugarman is a huge hit in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Propelled by its recent appearance as a sample in a song by someone called “Nas” that you kids are all into these days, maybe this spectacularly catchy song will finally catch on and reach wide American audience, inspiring them to swing their shoulders like a hippies and let the sound carry them away.
Originally a Motown singer, Rodriguez came Icarianly close to stardom but lost it all with a bunk record company then went on to to shed his musical roots, living quietly and eventually making a run for local office in Detroit.
While I'm sure he's a well rounded man who's enjoyed his life and recent re-discovery, I can't help but feel sad about all the music he could have made if he'd stuck with it through the years. Though, just ask the Rolling Stones what the last good song they recorded was (answer: none)… Maybe we should just count our blessings that we're left with this singular and underplayed gem.
Although “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love” are awesome songs and the corresponding videos that aired on MTV in the 80s will never go out of style, once upon a time Palmer was a critically acclaimed rock/soul/funk/R&B singer. Who knew? His debut album, Sneaking Sally Through the Alley, is so much fun, you'd never believe it came from the guy who didn't mean to turn you on. The album kicks off with this phenomenal 9 and a half minute medley, I think the first part is about cocaine:
He's got a dime/
Says he catches more fish every time/
Well I've gotta line If you've got a pole/
Well I'll meet you at the fishing hole'.
But I'm willing to admit I could be totally wrong, maybe he's just singing about fishing.
I know, at first two whole discs of anything can seem overwhelming. But come on, it's Bad Company, a band that loves to sing about love. Listen to these extremely romantic song titles: “Can't Get Enough (of your Love)”; “Ready For Love”; “Good Lovin' Gone Bad”; “Feel Like Makin'
Love”, “Hammer Of Love”. When I was a kid, before the Stone Temple Pilots were considered Classic Rock by idiotic FM deejays, Bad Company dominated the airwaves. I've heard the title track from the band's debut LP almost as many times as I've heard “Hotel California”, and I'll never get sick of the moody storytelling and power piano. Other tracks on this compilation couldn't rock any harder (or drop any more participles). “Movin' On”; “Smokin' 45”; “Burnin' Sky” and “Rock and Roll Fantasy” will blow you away. Did you know Bad Company was a supergroup featuring former members of King Crimson, Mott the Hoople and Free (best known for the song “All Right Now” featured on the American Beauty soundtrack but, surprisingly, not in Dazed and Confused).
However you feel about Classic Rock, “Feel like Makin' Love” probably won't put you in the love-making mood exactly, but it will sound amazing.