Archive for the ‘Rock Videos’ Category

On this day in 1969, The Beatles recorded “Something”, a song that would be included on the album Abbey Road. Written by George Harrison, the song was issued on a double A-side single, coupled with “Come Together”, making it the first Harrison composition to become a Beatles A-side. The guitar solo by George is widely believed to be some of his best work. Both John Lennon and producer George Martin stated that “Something” was the best song on Abbey Road.

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WARNING: There are 80 freakin’ albums (pared down from 124) listed, so this is for true music lovers only. That said, I spent a significant amout of time on it so read the damn thing. Maybe you’ll discover a nugget or two.

I know, I know. How has this subject not been addressed on Shoe: Untied already? God knows I’ve posted a lot of lists in the 8-year duration of this site. However, the thought of narrowing down my favorite albums has been too daunting for me.

Until now.

We’ve all been social distancing and flattening the curve lately, which of course has led to downtime for all of us. Because of this I’ve actually had the time to take on the challenge. Has it been hard? Hell yah. Still, I have perservered for you, my loyal readers.

Please remember that these albums don’t necessarily have to be the greatest or most influential of all-time to you or the general public, but they are to me. In one way or another, they’ve impacted my life. So, don’t yell at me because Highway 51 Revisited isn’t included. Sorry Mr. Zimmerman.

I did make a couple rules, with the main one being I would include no greatest hits albums, the other being no live albums. I mean, those would be sort of cheating, right? Let’s get to it . . .

 

THE 1960s

 

Introducing the Beatles – The Beatles (1963)

Ah, the album that started it all. I have written often of the day I first laid ears on it. I was on the couch in our living room, listening to music on one of those big stereo cabinets that were the size of a coffee table. I was playing an album by somebody, probably Bobby Vinton or Gene Pitney or somebody like that because it’s all we listened to at the time. But one day, in walks my sister Karen . . .

She’d been to town shopping and immediately pulled the needle off the album that was playing, which annoyed the hell out of me. But before I could say anything, she shushed me and said, “Just listen.”

At that point the guitars kicked in, and the lyrics began: “1-2-3-4 . . Well she was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way she looked, was way beyond compare . . .”

Yep, life as I previously knew it was over. Sis had dropped the needle on the album Introducing the Beatles, and I probably listened to it at least 1000 times in the months to follow. Sure, I probably would have discovered them anyway, but thanks to Sis I was clued in from the beginning.

PS- This record ended with The Beatles’ cover of Twist and Shout. Sublime. 

Revolver – The Beatles (1966)

I knew the minute I heard this album that something was  . . . different. It saw a huge leap in the band’s creativity and inspiration, and it also saw them drawing on their experiences with drugs and their interest in eastern religion. Every single song was killer, and The Beatles changed studio recording as we knew it with this album. They distorted sounds, experimented with sound effects, and worked with engineers to create distortion effects. And guess what? Double Tracking, a technique now commonly used in music to create multiple vocal tracks, was invented in the Abbey Road Studios in 1966 on this album.

The result? Songs so complex they were impossible to play live, and sure enough, none of the songs on Revolver were ever performed in front of an audience. With songs like Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Here, There and Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine and Got To Get You Into My Life, this was a glorious record.

Pet Sounds – Beach Boys (1966)

When John Lennon first heard this album he went straight to Paul McCartney and allegedly said, “We’re finished. We can’t top this.” Paul agreed and the two listened to it over and over and over. Brian Wilson’s production was incredible and his songwriting was unsurpassed with tunes like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B, God Only Knows and Caroline No. Simply a gorgeous album that’s usually ranked as the #1 or #2 album ever recorded. Oh, and The eventual response from The Beatles? An album called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

The 13th Floor Elevators were a short-lived, wild little band that I saw on American Bandstand and I was captivated. They actually have a guy blowing into some sort of utensil they called an “electric jug” and making bubbly noises. These cool cats were from Texas and were a huge inflence for none other than ZZ Top among others. Since I’m assuming many of you haven’t heard of these guys, let me give you a taste:

Man, that’s g-o-o-o-o-o-o-d. Dick Clark had no idea what just hit him.

The Doors – The Doors (1967)

The Rolling Stone recently called this “still one of the most dangerous albums ever.” When Break On Through (To the Other Side) kicked in I new this was something completely different. Jim Morrison’s voice, Ray Manzarek’s keyboards, it was all beyond anything I’d ever heard. Then, when Light My Fire started playing? I was all in.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)

Well, der. This album is widely thought to be the greatest album in the history of music, and there’s good reason for that. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest Rock & Roll group of all time. And kids, it was the first concept album ever. All the songs were tied together. I spun that record a million times as an 11-year old, marveling in its mystery and imagination. From the opening track Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the A Day in the Life finale, this album is close to perfection.

At San Quentin – Johnny Cash (1969)

Yes, I said said no greatest hits or live albums. However, where Johnny Cash is concerned it’s fine to break the rules. I was just a kid, so the sole reason I bought this album was because I loved A Boy Named Sue, probably the silliest song on the album. But when I listened to the record and the way Johnny Cash sang so raw and emotionally, the way he interracted with the prisoners in San Quentin, I was touched deeply. I mean, the man stood on stage and sang these lyrics in front of not only the inmates but the warden and guards as well:

San Quentin, what good do you think you do?
Do you think I’ll be different when you’re through?
You bend my heart and mind and you warp my soul;
Your stone walls turn my blood a little cold
San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell.
May your walls fall down and may I live to tell.
May all the world forget you ever stood.
And the world regret you did no good.
Clearly, as you watch the video below, the inmates loved it. The others? Not so much. Vintage Cash.

The Beatles (White Album) – The Beatles (1968)

Most people refer to this as The White Album, but in reality the correct album title is simply The Beatles. After the pageantry and complexity of Sgt. Pepper’s, and with everyone else now mimicking that style, the lads chose to go in another direction – simple cover, simple title. This was a double album, and it was obvious the boys were beginning to grow apart. Most of the songs were clearly solo efforts, but the album was still stuffed with classics, both simple and groundbreaking. To name just a few, Back in the USSR, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Birthday, Helter Skelter, and that’s naming just the most well-known songs. Just a wild, diverse mix of rock history. Give a listen to the first heavy metal/grunge song:

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (1968)

I have to admit I got on the Vanwagon a little late and bought this record a decade after its release. This jazz-influenced acoustic album featured minimal percussion, an upright bass, flute, harpsichord, vibraphone, strings, and stream-of-consciousness lyrics about being transported to “another time” and “another place.” Wild stuff, even for the free-thinking, out-of-the-box late 1960s. The album only contained eight songs, but man, every one was a haunting, melodic masterpiece. Astral Weeks is always listed among the top all-time albums, and deservedly so.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo – The Byrds (1968)


In one inspired blaze of creativity, The Byrd’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo leaped over the cultural divide between the acid-taking, peace-preaching long haired hippies and the beer-chugging, flag-waving good old boys by creating Country Rock. With rippling guitars and silky vocal harmonies, The Byrds sang a mix of country traditionals and originals. This record permanently shattered the wall between Country and Rock. Hell, the group even cut their hair and played the Grand Ole Opry. Kids, without this LP there would likely be no Eagles, no Lynyrd Skynyrd, no Marshall Tucker Band, no Allman Brothers, and by extension no Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban or Luke Bryan. A stretch? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Music from Big Pink – The Band (1968)

I love The Band, and their farewell showThe Last Waltz is one of my favorite concert films and albums of all-time. However, it was Music from Big Pink that started it all. The Band had previously been the backing band for the legendary Ronnie Hawkins, and after that for the even more legendary Bob Dylan. On this, their initial LP, their mix of Country, Blues, Gospel, Western Classical, and Rock was incredible. While Jimi Hendrix, Cream and The Who split eardrums, The Band turned down the volume, revealing the intricacies of their arrangements and complexity of their lyrics. While The Beatles and Brian Wilson were working in state-of-the-art studio laboratories, The Band holed up in a dank concrete cellar in the wilderness of the Catskills to make their magic. The result was different from anything being recorded at the time.

Note: Big Pink was a regular, ranch style home. It still stands. Here’s a pic.

Bucket List!

Abbey Road – The Beatles (1969) 

Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album. It was the very last album they recorded, although Let It Be was released after it. After the disjointed White Album and the aforementioned Let It Be, John, Paul, George and Ringo put it all together one last time for an amazingly beautiful, harmonic masterpiece. It includes the songs Something and Here Comes the Sun, hinting at what was to come from George Harrison. John Lennon’s Come Together also kicks off the album, but it’s the Side 2 medley that blew me away. Little did we know that when Paul McCartney’s little ditty “The End” finished the album, it really was the end.

Here’s the medley:

 

THE 1970s

 

Sweet Baby James – James Taylor (1970)

Pretty sure it was the voice that drew me in initially. I heard the single Fire and Rain on WLS out of Chicago late one night on my little transistor radio, and I’m guessing the DJ was Larry Lujack. Out of curiousity and my interest in that song, I bought the album. With the songs Sweet Baby James, Steamroller, Oh Suzannah and of course Fire and Rain emanating from the stereo speakers of my souther Ohio bedroom on many a warm summer night in 1970, I was hooked.

Note: James Taylor was at the forefront of the singer-songwriter movement that was to come.

After the Gold Rush – Neil Young (1970)

Although this album contained the songs After the Gold Rush, Southern Man (a great song about civil rights in the deep south) and I Believe In You, it was Only Love Can Break Your Heart that cut straight through to my heart. Neil and the other members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had all released solo albums after their album Déjà Vu, and Neil’s was by far my favorite. Just a stellar album from start to finish.

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison (1970)

After spending the previous 10+ years largely in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, George let loose with a torrent of creativity in this classic album. It was a little surprising to some that it became massively popular. All Things Must Pass spent 7-weeks at No. 1, and its’ lead single, My Sweet Lord, occupied the same slot on the singles chart, marking the first time a solo Beatle had occupied both spots. The 6-sided album (hey, I told you George had some pent up energy) also included the great songs What Is Life and All Things Must Pass. Incredible album.

The Harrison Estate ran a contest, asking fans to make a video for the song What Is Life. This video won:

Imagine – John Lennon (1971)

Any respectable music fan was waiting for this album, and John did not disappoint. This is a great album full of brilliant songs with great hooks, but also mixed with John’s ever-present barbed wit to avoid it from becoming the kind of music that John found irrelevant and boring. Of course it included the legendary song Imagine as well as great songs like Jealous Guy, Oh My Love and How Do You Sleep?, the famous attack on his old friend Paul McCartney. This was another sign for broken-hearted Beatles fans that even though The Beatles had broken up, the incredible music would continue.

IV – Led Zeppelin (1971)

I had never gotten into Zep before this fourth album, and I know not why. Like a gazillion others I took one listen of Stairway to Heaven and rushed to the record store to by IV (actually I couldn’t drive yet so it was probably Mom or a Sister who drove me).  Imagine this – I was a a freshman in high school, had only heard Stairway to Heaven, put on my headphones, dropped the needle on the album, and the first two songs are Black Dog and Rock and Roll. Those were followed by the slow, acoustic The Battle of Evermore and then Stairway concluded Side 1. What. The. Hell? My ears, and musical sensibilities, were forever altered.

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye (1971)

Marvin Gaye’s career as tuxedo-clad heart-throb ended when he cut this concept album dealing with Civil Rights, the Vietnam war and ghetto life. Equally startling was the music, softening and double-tracking his voice against a wash of percussion, strings and guitars. Motown boss Berry Gordy hated it, but the album’s social awareness caught the public mood. It ushered in an era of socially aware soul. My favorite tunes include What’s Going On and Mercy Mercy Me, a song about the environment:

So s-m-o-o-o-o-o-t-h-e.

Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren (1972)

My opinion of this record have been well documented on this site. For a comprehensive read about this album, click this link: Something/Anything?: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus. Quite simply one of rock’s great masterpieces.

School’s Out – Alice Cooper (1972)

I wore out this album in the summer of ’72 and beyond. The song School’s Out was the anthem of a generation, man. You think we didn’t have this blaring from our tape decks on the last day of school in 1973? You know it. Aside from the title song, though, there were tunes like Luney Tune and Gutter Cat vs. The Jets that rocked your socks off. The cover lifted like an actual school desk too. Far out, man.

Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)

I realize I keep saying this, but you knew immediately upon hearing it that this music was something very different. Dark Side of the Moon was an artistic concept album that included topics on wealth (Money), war (“Us and Them”), madness (“Brain Damage”), squandered lives (“Time”) and death (“The Great Gig in the Sky”). The sound was so unique at the time that it was difficult to describe, although David Gilmour attempted to when he said it was “that psychedelic noodling stuff.” Bottom line? Dark Side of the Moon was a dizzying, mind-bending joy ride from start to finish.

Note: Since we all have  alot of time on our hands, dig this – there’s a video where the movie The Wizard of Oz is synched with Dark Side of the Moon. It’s called Dark Side of Oz and it’s freaky as hell. It’s almost as if it was done purposely. At one point the lyrics say “drives the faithful to their knees” just as the Scarecrow falls to his knees. And believe me, there’s more. Wild stuff.

Muscle of Love – Alice Cooper (1973)

A bit of a surprise here possibly, but I absolutely loved this straight ahead, full bore album full of Rock and Roll. Included is one of the best hard rock songs of all-time, Muscle of Love. The album also contains such classics as Big Apple Dreamin, Teenage Lament ’74 (with the Pointer Sisters singing backup!) and Working Up a Sweat. Yeah, I loved the albums Killer and Billion Dollar Babies, but I’ll take Muscle of Love any day. Check out the title track:

Band on the Run – Paul McCartney (1973)

In my opinion Paul McCartney’s greatest solo effort. I mean, the album includes the songs Band on the Run, Jet, Bluebird, Let Me Roll It, Helen Wheels, and the underrated Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me). Just spectacular stuff. The album was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, and Paul and his wife Linda were actually robbed at knifepoint one evening. Bottom line, this was the album that proved Paul could put out an amazing album without the help of John Lennon.

On the Third Day – ELO (1973)

I’d bought the album ELO II, the song with Roll over Beethoven and Mama on it, and I loved it. But this, this one blew me away. The violins, the energy, the melodies, I loved everything about it. And the tracklist? Wow. Ocean Breakup/KIng of the Universe, Bluebird is Dead, Oh No Not Susan, New World Rising/Ocean Breakup (Reprise), Daybreaker, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, Dreaming of 4000 and In the Hall of the Mountain King are all groundbreakingly outstanding. Of course, this was followed by Eldorado, Face the Music, A New World Record, Out of the Blue and more. With On the Third Day, ELO was just getting started.

For a taste, watch this video:

 

On the Border – The Eagles (1974)

This was a record that probably wouldn’t have existed without Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds and Music From Big Pink by The Band back in 1968. It was one of the first mainstream albums kids my age had heard that had that Country Rock feel to it, with emphasis on the Rock (and yes, I know The Eagles had recorded The Eagles and Desparado before it). While I loved the hits Already Gone (a blistering missive aimed at a former lover) and Best of My Love, there are a couple of forgotten gems on the album as well, most notably My Man, James Dean and the Tom Waits classic Ol’ 55.

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie (1974)

Without a doubt my favorite David Bowie album, and it’s not even close. Called “a glitter apocalypse” by one critic, it has one of my very favorite starts of any album. Called Future Legend, it begins with a distorted howl and features Bowie’s spoken-word vision of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, now renamed Hunger City. He describes “fleas the size of rats” and “rats the size of cats“, and compares the humanoid inhabitants to “packs of dogs.” Halfway through the narration, the Richard Rodgers’ tune “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” strikes up. Future Legend then morphs into Diamond Dogs with the cry “This Ain’t Rock and Roll, This Is Genocide!”. Out. Standing. Oh, and don’t forget the classics Sweet Thing and Rebel Rebel. The LP concludes with a little ditty called Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family, perfect for those family barbeques this summer.

A Night At The Opera – Queen (1975)

Queen had released three albums before this one, and of course I’d heard Freddie Mercury’s sensational voice on the single Killer Queen from Sheer Heart Attack a year prior. But this album, released in late 1975, was different. From the searing Death On Two Legs that opened the album, to the smooth pop sound of You’re My Best Friend, to the achingly beautiful Love of My Life, this record had it all. And then, deep into Side 2 was song #11, the next to last song on the album. That song was Bohemian Rhapsody. What in the HELL? The rest, my friends, is history.

Bonus Vid: Love this scene from Bohemian Rhapsody.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – Elton John (1975)

I know, I know. Elton John had released 11-albums before this one, including classics like Madman Across the Water and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (I saw the tour!). He’d even released a greatest hits compilation the year before. That said, this album is my favorite. It’s an autobiographical account of the early musical careers of Elton John (Captain Fantastic) and his long-term lyricist Bernie Taupin (the Brown Dirt Cowboy). It was a simpler album, no overproduction or overarranging, less grandiose and more laid back than those prior, and I loved it. The only single from the album, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, wasn’t even close to my favorite from this one. Instead, I loved the songs Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Tower of Babel. Bitter Fingers, Curtains, and especially Writing. And you know what? It’s simplicity is one of the reasons it still holds up today.

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (1975)

I’d heard a little from Bruce’s previous albums, Greetings From Ashbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle and I liked what I heard. I knew the music was a throwback to simpler, more straightforward Rock and Roll, and I was ready for it. After buying the album in the summer of ’75, I brought it home and dropped the needle on Side 1. Imagine how I felt when the first two songs were Thunder Road and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. I was stunned. But the real life-changer for me came from the first song on Side 2. When the drums and guitars began on Born to Run, I knew Rock had really gone back to the basics. And a Springsteen concert reflected his style – no giant balloons, no laser shows, no glam makeup – just flat-out Rock and Roll like it was meant to be. I now knew what music critic Jon Landau meant when he said this after seeing Springsteen live:

“I saw my Rock and Roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw Rock and Roll’s future ,and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

PS – And oh yeah, Jungleland closed out Side 2. Amazing.

If you didn’t get a chill at the 3:33 mark you have no musical soul.

Bankrupt – Dr. Hook (1975)

This might seem like an odd choice, but it’s an album that I’ve played it over and over for 45-years. Dr. Hook had hits with Sylvia’s Mother on Doctor Hook and Cover of the Rolling Stone on Sloppy Seconds. But then they released an aptly titled album called Belly Up! that tanked at #141, followed by an album called Fried Face that was so bad no record company would release it. Then came Bankrupt, named because, well, you can figure it out. And guess what? This album wasn’t a hit either but that didn’t stop me from loving it. With witty, quirky tunes like Levitate, I Got Stoned and I Missed It, Wups, The Millionaire, and Everybody’s Makin’ It Big But Me, it was right up my musical alley. Their cover of Sam Cooke’s Only Sixteen was awesome as well. I still adore this album. And I dare you to watch this video and not smile:

Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Alan Parsons Project (1976)

Alan Parsons was no stranger to great music. He was involved with the production of several of the most significant albums in history, including the Beatles‘ Abbey Road and Let It Be, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Well, he went solo and his debut album knocked my socks off. The musical themes of the album, which are retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe (who I love), attracted a cult audience, me included. The title of the album is taken from the title of a collection of Poe’s macabre stories of the same name. Give a listen to the song To One In Paradise to get the vibe. Groundbreaking album that once again led to a lifetime obsession.

The Ramones – The Ramones (1976)

If I thought Bruce had taken us back to the 1960’s, The Ramones upped the ante. To really get rock back to its roots Joey Ramone and his three “brothers” (they weren’t really, not even related) did it with one album and 16 tracks, all under 3-minutes, just like back in the early days of Rock. They did it all with with speed, a distorted guitar thrash and a line in silly, dumb lyrics. In an era of Progressive Rock pomposity and 12-minute tracks, The Ramones back-to-basics approach was rousing, raw and confrontational. And although it was called Punk Rock or New Wave, what it really was was basic, garage Rock and Roll.

Fun fact: The Ramones were inspired by Paul McCartney, who would check into hotels as “Paul Ramon.”

 Bonus Fun Fact: The Ramones real names were as follows – Joey Ramone (Jeffery Hyman), Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) and Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin).

Out of the Blue – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

If Something/Anything? was Rundgren’s Magnum Opus, Out of the Blue was Jeff Lynne’s. A double album containing 25-songs, it’s the result of Lynne retreating to a chalet in the Swiss Alps and unleashing a burst of creativity. Although it didn’t have the overall impact of On the Third Day to me, basically because the style was so jarring on that one, Out of the Blue has many more incredible songs. To name just a few, how about Turn to Stone, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Night in the City, Steppin’ Out, Standin’ in the Rain, Big Wheels, Summer and Lightning, Mr. Blue Sky, and Sweet is the Night. Man, I spent many a night on 178 West Avenue, Apt. C, in Columbus, Ohio just off OSU campus listening to this one.

Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)

Speaking of 178 West Avenue, Apt. C, I was just around the corner from there when I first heard the dulcet tones of one Mr. Marvin Lee Aday, also know as Meat Loaf. The sound was something unusual, sort of Operatic Rock if you will. That made sense because Meat was an actor who’d performed in the musical Rocky Horror Picture Show. This album was prduced by my man Todd Rundgren, who also voices the introduction to You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night). Other amazing tunes are Bat Out of Hell, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad and of course Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Really good record that I just about wore out.

Alive On Arrival – Steve Forbert (1978)

Ah, Steve Forbert. Somehow I got into Steve with this album before his 1980 record Jackrabbit Slim, which included the hit Romeo’s Tune. I loved the sound immediately. It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him twice. Romeo’s Tune was his only commercial hit but that hasn’t stopped me from buying every single album he’s ever recorded. Love the songs Goin’ Down to Laurel and especially Settle Down, which has always touched me on a personal level:

If I’m caught up in a whirlwind, babe, I know
I’ll make it through,
I’ve seen that spinning power rise an’ fall.
I can ride it sailin’ higher. I can ride it comin’ down.
It’s a natural kind of cycle, babe, that’s all . . .
Fantastic album that introduced me to a life-long musical addiction.

Labour of Lust – Nick Lowe (1979)

I knew a little about Nick Lowe from his work in Rockpile, a great band he was in with Dave Edmunds. I’d heard a couple songs from Jesus of Cool, his first album. But when Labour of Lust was released in ’79 it blew me away. It wasn’t just Cruel to Be Kind, it was Born Fighter, Switchboard Susan, Dose of You and American Squirm that drew me in.  Like I’ve done with Steve Forbert, I’ve purchased every Nick Lowe record since that debut album.

Note: Saw him live for the first time recently. He did not disappoint.

Tusk – Fleetwood Mac (1979)

Sure, Rumours was awesome. But the great Lindsey Buckingham was determined to make an album nothing like it, and he did. It was experimental and was influenced by Buckingham’s infatuation with Post-Punk. I loved it from the get-go. The songs Tusk, Think About Me, Sara, What Makes You Think You’re the One, Storms, every one was amazing. Remember that the big hits from Rumours were Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way? Compare those to this song (wait for the USC Marching Band):

So yeah, different.

The Wall – Pink Floyd (1979)

Yes, I know. The original cover had no text.

Dark Side of the Moon was incredible, but The Wall is my favorite Pink Floyd album. A double album masterpiece, it is a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolized by a wall. Roger Waters father was killed during WWII and Pink’s father also dies in a war, which is where Pink starts to build a metaphorical wall around himself. The album includes several references to former band member Syd Barrett, including Nobody Home, which hints at his condition during Pink Floyd’s abortive US tour of 1967, with lyrics such as “wild, staring eyes,” “the obligatory Hendrix perm” and “elastic bands keeping my shoes on.” The song Comfortably Numb was inspired by Waters’ injection with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour while in Philadelphia. Just an amazing record that I played over and over and over back in ’79. And of course everyone remembers one of the most amazing choruses of all-time:

We don’t need no education . . .

 

THE 1980s

 

Hootenanny – The Replacements (1983)

Oh my. Sure, The Replacements had released one album before this one called Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (also an EP titled Stink), but Hootenanny is the one that grabbed me by the ears and rattled my brain. This was a band that could somehow come off as both sensitive and sarcastic and darkly poetic but also strikingly sophomoric. The Mats were raw, basic rock and roll with hooks, man. It was almost like The Beatles and Sex Pistols had a baby and that baby was The Replacements. I love Paul Westerberg’s voice (hoarse and real) and the guitars sounded like something  you heard in your buddy’s garage in 1973. The songs on Hootenanny range from the raucus Color Me Impressed to the sublime Within Your Reach. What. An. Album.

Murmer – REM (1983)

A-n-n-n-n-n-n-d here it is. The record that ignited my lifelong obsession with R.E.M. This band influenced so many future bands that when younger folk hear R.E.M. today it doesn’t even sound original to them. Peter Buck’s ringing, jangly guitar style, Michael Stipe’s distinctive vocals and obscure lyrics, Mike Mills’ melodic basslines and backing vocals, and Bill Berry’s tight, economical drumming made for a singular original sound, unlike anything we’d heard before. Peter Buck described it as “Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish” and I believe that explains it.  So many songs on this record are special to me – Radio Free Europe, Pilgimage, Talk About the Passion, Laughing, Moral Kiosk, Perfect Circle, Catapult, Sitting Still, 9-9, Shaking Through, We Walk, West of the Fields . . . wait, did I just name the entire album? I did.

Note: Without R.E.M. artists like The National, Beck, Eels, Pavement, Gin Blossoms, The Decemberists, and many more would not exist. True story.

Behold, 1983 R.E.M.

The Final Cut – Pink Floyd (1983)

In my opinion oner of the most underrated Pink Floyd albums, and it was Roger Waters’ last record with the band. Waters and David Gilmour fought constantly during the recording of the album, leading to Roger getting the hell out. Anyway, The Final Cut was basically a Roger Waters solo album and is an anti-war concept piece that explores what Waters regards as the betrayal of fallen British servicemen—such as his father—who during the Second World War sacrificed their lives in the spirit of a post-war dream. I know, heavy stuff. As for me, I loved the general dreamy feel of the record and songs like Paranoid Eyes, The Fletcher Memorial Home and Two Suns in the Sunset. Great album.

Note: The Final Cut was not included Floyd’s 1992 box set, Shine On. 

1984 – Van Halen (1984)

Without a doubt my favorite Van Halen record. There were five before this one, all pretty good. Lead singer David Lee Roth scrammed in 1985 for a sad solo career, but not before contributing mightily to this album. It grabbed me right away with the instrumental 1984, which kicks right into the legendary Jump. Add Panama, Top Jimmy and Hot For Teacher and you have one hell of an album.

Note: A lot of Van Halen hardliners didn’t like Jump because it wasn’t “hard” enough, being synth heavy and whatnot. I do not care. Loved it.

Fables of the Reconstruction – REM (1985)

Here’s one of the reasons I love R.E.M. – after their first two incredible albums, most bands would try and build on what they’d accomplished to try and really go over the top. Not my guys from Athens, Georgia though. They went in another direction and unleashed Fables of the Reconstruction, a big departure from Murmer and Reckoning, their first two records. Hell, the song Can’t Get There From Here even had horns! The record is chock full of great music and includes the R.E.M. classics Feeling Gravity’s Pull, Maps and Legends, Driver 8, Life and How to Live It, Old Man Kensey, Green Grow the Rushes, and Wendell Gee. Man, did my buddy Goose and I play the hell out of this one back in the glory days of 1985.

Mars Needs Guitars! – Hoodoo Gurus (1985)

Back in the day I would sometimes buy records on a whim, just taking a chance because I liked the band name or album cover. Such was the case at the gloriously named Magnolia Thunderpussy record store in Columbus, Ohio back in the fall of ’85. While perusing the selections I laid eyes on Mars Needs Guitars! by a band named the Hoodoo Gurus and I was smitten without hearing a note. Weird I know, but guess what? I loved it and I’ve purchased every Gurus album since because they are awesome. Anyway, Mars Needs Guitars! contains some amazing songs, including BittersweetShow Some Emotion, The Other Side of Paradise and the incredible tunes Death Defying and Like Wow – Wipeout!. Yep, my hunch was right.

Behold, Like Wow – Wipeout and Death Defying . . .

Lifes Rich Pageant – REM (1986)

The album title comes from a line in a Pink Panther movie:

Maria: “You should get out of these clothes immediately. You’ll catch your death of pneumonia, you will.”

Clouseau: “Yes, I probably will. But it’s all part of life’s rich pageant, you know?

Lifes Rich Pageant is varied, kicking off with the rockin’ Begin the Begin and These Days, then slowing down with one of Michael Stipe’s favorite R.E.M. songs, Fall On Me. Add Cuyahoga, I Believe and a raucous cover of The Clique’s Superman and you have another R.E.M. classic.

Note: The absence of an apostrophe in the title was intentional and I know not why.

They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants (1986)

 I can’t recall who first turned me on to this quirky little duo from New York City. It may have been my friend Goose or maybe Jed, I cannot recall. Anywho, my first reaction upon hearing them was “What . . . in . . . the . . . world?” The music of TMBG is, shall we say, different. It’s whimsical, funny, odd, tuneful, sometimes deep, and always amazing. On this, their debut album, the two Johns (Linnell and Flansburgh) unleashed the tunes Everything Right Is Wrong Again, Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head, Don’t Let’s Start and Youth Culture Killed My Dog on an unsuspecting public. Hey, I told you they were quirky. This album set the stage for my lifetime love of They Might Be Giants.

Cloud Nine – George Harrison (1987)

George had released several albums since All Things Must Pass, and I bought them all. I particularly liked Thirty Three and 1/3 and Somewhere In England, but it was George’s big comeback album after a 5-year absence that blew me away. Co-Produced by Jeff Lynne (and you can certainly hear his influence), Cloud Nine featured guest appearances by Lynne, Ringo Starr and some cat named Elton John. The big hit from the album was the cover of Jimmy Ray’s 1962 song Got My Mind Set On You, but I loved the tunes That’s What It Takes, This Is Love, When We Was Fab, and Devil’s Radio as well. Just a a sublime, infectious record and nice return for George.

Rehab Doll – Green River (1988)

Green River was Grunge before Pearl Jam and Nirvana, kids, but obviously never achieved the commercial success of those two bands. Green River made very little commercial impact outside Seattle, but what the band lacked in commercial success it made up for in influence. In general, Green River is widely regarded as being one of the pioneers of Grunge music. With its sludgy mix of hard rock, punk and metal, that was heavily influenced by The Stooges, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, coupled with Arm’s twisted lyrics and vocal delivery, Green River greatly influenced both its peers and bands that followed them. Even without the fact that some of its members would later go on to form some of the biggest bands of the Northwest music scene, Green River is still remembered for its musical foresight and innovation, years ahead of the rise of grunge. My faves from this album are Swallow My Pride and Porkfist. ‘Twas the earliest grunge.

Note: Several Green River band members went on to be in other, more famous bands. Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam), Steve Turner (Mudhoney), Steve Gossard (Pearl Jam), Bruce Fairweather (Mother Love Bone), and Jason Finn (The Presidents of the United States of America). ‘Nuff said.

The Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1 – The Traveling Wilburys (1988)

Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrision – quite simply the greatest Super Group of all-time. This album though. It’s Rock with a dash of Country and it’s great from start to finish.  They boys originally got together to record Handle with Care for Harrison to release in Europe. The result was deemed too good for such a limited release, however, so the group agreed to record a full album, titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. The rest is history.

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

I’ve always felt like The Stone Roses were Oasis before Oasis was Oasis. Only, you know, better. This record, their first, was a breakthrough success for the band and received critical acclaim, many regarding it as one of the greatest British albums ever recorded. Their sound is lush, harmonic and beautiful. The band had so many internal difficulties they could only eke out one more album, Second Coming, in 1994. It received mixed reviews although I loved it as well. Watch the video below to get that Roses vibe.

PS – Whilst reseaching the band I found out they released an album in 2016. W-h-u-u-u-t? Must. Check. Out.

Doolittle – The Pixies (1989)

Oh my. The Pixies came on like bats out of hell with this, their second release. The album’s offbeat and dark subject material, featuring references to surrealism, Biblical violence, torture and death, contrasts with the clean, poppy production sound. That, my friends, is right up my musical alley. Debaser and Here Comes Your Man, in particular, are absolutely killer tracks. Band members Black Francis (who later recorded solo as Frank Black), Kim Deal (amazing bassist and singer), Joey Santiago and David Lovering all contributed mightily to this legendary record.

PS- I saw them in the summer of 2018. So damn good.

 

THE 1990s

 

Flood – They Might Be Giants (1990)

Why is the world in love again? Why are we marching hand in hand? Why are the ocean levels rising up? Here’s a brand new record for 1990, They Might Be Giants brand new album, Flood!

I promise you that any middle school kid I taught in the early to mid-1990s will recognize that intro to Flood, the fantastic album by They Might Be Giants. That intro kicked into Birdhouse in Your Soul and the rest is history. This is the band’s most recognizable and definitive album, and it’s also their best-selling. But really, how could it not with songs like Birdhouse, Instanbul (Not Constantinople) and Particle Man? Holy hell man. Oh, and there are two other special gems there as well – Twisting and They Might Be Giants. Love love love.

Nevermind – Nirvana (1991)

This album pretty much has to make any discerning music lover’s list, amirite? Although Grunge music had been around for years, it was generally this record that brought it into the mainstream. The album started selling slowly, but with the help of the video for the song Smells Like Teen Spirit it eventually rocketed to the top of the charts (it replace Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by the way). For listeners who had heard bands like Green River or Soundgarden this wasn’t such a shocking sound. For others it was ear-opening. Amazing, music-changing album that featured drummer Dave Grohl for the first time.

Ten – Pearl Jam (1991)

This album was released less than a month before Nevermind, giving the world a 1-2 punch of Grunge and knocking it on its ass. Hair Metal, my friends, was essentially over. While Nirvana had done it with a punk attitude, catchy hooks and Kurt Cobain’s suffering, hoarse vocals, Pearl Jam did it with arena-sized riffs, choruses and Eddie Vedder’s wails. Nirvana’s sound was unique – nobody ever really tried to mimic them. On the other hand, Pearl Jam influenced great bands like Stone Temple Pilots and not-so-great bands like Creed.

Bandonwagonesque – Teenage Fanclub (1991)

Do you like The Byrds? R.E.M.? Gin Blossoms? Then you’d love Teenage Fanclub. On their third album, Bandwagonesque, they are firing on all cylinders. Like I mentioned, they were heavily inluenced by The Byrds and even the Beach Boys and Beatles. With hooks and harmonies, songs like The Concept, Star Sign and Metal Baby, this is the first Teenage Fanclub album that caught on with the masses. It was also critically acclaimed, and get this – it topped Spin Magazine’s Album of the Year poll, beating out . . . wait for it . . . Nirvana’s Nevermind. Just a wonderful, 60s vibed record.

Apollo 18 – They Might Be Giants (1992)

Another spectacular album by the two Johns, and this one has an interesting twist. Sure, it’s overflowing with catchy, melodic, weird tunes like I Palindrome I, Mammal, Dinner Bell, and See the Constellation, but the real treat is what ends Side 2. I’m talking about Fingertips and it’s 4:25 minutes of the strangest, most peculiar, most glorious music these ears have heard. Fingertips is composed of 21 short tracks ranging in length from 4 to 71-seconds and includes wild tunes such as Everything’s Catching On Fire, Who’s That Standing Out My Window?, Come On And Wreck My Car, What’s That Blue Thing Doing Here?, Something Grabbed Ahold Of My Hand, and I’m Having a Heart Attack. Stellar in every way. Here ’tis, but be warned – your ears may be twisted and turned inside out.

The MEN – The MEN (1992)

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the first single from this album. I was driving south down State Route 104 from Columbus, Ohio nearing Chillicothe, and I was passing between the two prisons there. I was listening to QFM-96 and on it came – Church of Logic, Sin and Love by a band called The Men (The Men consisted of two men and two women by the way). The song immediately blew me away, and guess what? It still does. I drove straight to the record store and ordered it, waited the requisite week or so, and when it arrived I was thrilled to find the entire album was incredible. In addition to Church of Logic, Sin and Love there were other great tunes like I Built My House This Way, She’s All Mine, Goodnight Sally, and Where You Found Me. Sadly The Men vanished from the airwaves after this one astonishing album, like a comet streaking across the night sky.

It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 – when Kennedy was in Life Magazine and everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Piece of Cake – Mudhoney (1992)

As I mentioned before, Mudhoney was formed by lead singer Mark Arm, who was in Green River and is credited with actually coining the term “Grunge.” Pretty cool. Mudhoney’s earlier song Touch Me I’m Sick and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP were massively influential on the Seattle music scene. More than almost any other release of the era they inspired the dirty, high-distortion sound that would become grunge. On Piece of Cake, Mudhoney unleashed Suck You Dry, Blinding Sun and No End In Sight on the shell-shocked masses. I got to see Mudhoney back in 2007 on their tour and am happy to say I scored their setlist, handed to me than none other than the man himself, Mark Arm.

See? I wouldn’t lie to you.

Automatic for the People – REM (1992)

R.E.M. had sure come a long way since 1983 when I first fell in love with them. Automatic for the People, their eighth studio album, put them smack dab at the top of the game. Out of Time, released in 1991, had been a huge success and included the smash single Losing My Religion, but this album is the one I loved the most. The songs are simply beautiful, and Automatic for the People is generally regarded alongside 1983’s Murmur as one of the band’s supreme achievements. The album yielded an astonishing 6-singles – Drive, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon, Nightswimming and Find the River. Just an exquisite record from beginning to end.

Fun Fact: The star on the album cover was in front of a Miami restaurant and Michael Stipe dug the way it looked. It had since been destroyed in a hurricane.

14 Songs – Paul Westerberg (1993)

I loved The Replacements and I loved their enigmatic frontman Paul Westerberg, so it makes sense that I loved his first solo album. I even wrote about him in a piece called Man Without Ties: Paul Westerberg. On this album Paul was in peak form, churing out cool songs like Knockin’ On Mine, Runaway Wind, First Glimmer and the sarcastic take on plastic surgery, Mannequin Shop. The album features contributions from Ian McLagan, former keyboardist for the Faces, a band that Westerberg has often cited as a favorite. I’ve loved a lot of Westerberg’s solo albums over the years, especially 1999’s Suicaine Gratification, but 14 Songs remains my favorite.

PS – I had the opportunity to see Paul Westerberg live in the late 90’s and he was everything I hoped he’d be.

Hi-Fi Sci-Fi – Dramarama (1993)

Dramarama had released 5-albums since 1985, but it wasn’t until 1993’s Hi-Fi Sci-Fi that I finally caught up with them. It was the song Work For Food that caught my ear, which led me to buying this album and subsequently every album they’d recorded previously. In addition to Work For Food, the songs Senseless Fun, Late Night Phone Call and Shadowless Heart make this an exceptional album. Oh, and John Easedale’s vocals are supreme throughout. Sadly this was Dramarama’s last album until 2005’s Everybody Dies. Great band.

PS- There’s also an acoustic version of Work for Food that is amazing.

100% Fun – Matthew Sweet (1993)

Matthew Sweet may be the most underrated artist this side of Todd Rundgren. The two albums preceding this one, Girlfriend and Altered Beast, were outstanding as well.  On 100% Fun, Sweet delivered a hook-filled guitar-fused power pop record for the ages. With a soft, warm voice, he always keeps the emphasis on the melody, no matter how aggressively hard songs such as Sick of Myself and Super Baby may seem. However, the gem on this album comes in at song #3 with the incredible tune We’re the Same. It evokes memories of the early Beatles, Raspberries and even Cheap Trick with it gorgeous harmonies, chorus and jangly guitars. Give it a listen below, and you’re welcome in advance.

PS- Who does Matthew Sweet credit with being his biggest influence? None other than R.E.M. 

Monster – REM (1994)

I feels like R.E.M. may have become a little weary of the commercial success that albums like Out of Time and Automatic for the People brought them. Monster didn’t sound like anything on the radio, and it certainly didn’t sound like 1992’s Automatic for the People. On Monster, the boys wanted a return to their roots and displayed a much harder edge with great, rockin’ songs like What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?, Crush With Eyeliner, Bang and Blame and Star 69. Was this a different R.E.M. record? It was. Was it awesome? Hell yes it was.

Note: What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? referred to the the infamous attack on Dan Rather on a NYC street  where the assailants repeatedly yelled the line.

The Hearing and the Sense of Balance – Fury in the Slaughterhouse (1995)

Fury in the Slaughterhouse is another band I’ve loved for years, and this is my favorite album of theirs. A German band, these guys have made a ton of good music. And don’t let the name fool you – they’re basically a straight ahead rock band with guitar led, hook-filled melodies. One song led me to this record, a song I’d heard on an alternative compilation of new and upcoming bands. That song was Milk and Honey, and I was smitten. Upon buying the album I was turned on to tunes like Down There, Hello and Goodbye, and Rainy April Day, a song about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Great album, great band.

Here’s a taste of the song that started it all, for me at least:

Nerf Herder – Nerf Herder (1996)

Ah, the Herders of Nerf. I cannot quantify how much enjoyment these knuckleheads have given me over years. They describe themselves as a Geek Rock band, and are known for simplistic modern punk-style songs with frequently humorous, juvenile, and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. This, their first album, contained the cult classics Down On Haley (not what you think), Sorry (not safe for children), and Van Halen (where they rip the band for replacing David Lee Roth). Nerf Herder is simply a band that sings nerdy, funny, irreverent, and sometimes inappropriate songs. Love these guys.

Note: Lead singer Parry Gripp is the nut who’s responsible for all those wild videos like Cat Flushing a Toilet, Hamster On a Piano and Baby Monkey Going Backwards On a Pig. Good stuff.

The Colour and the Shape – Foo Fighters (1997)

The Foo Fighters had recorded one album prior to this one, Foo Fighters, but it was with The Colour and the Shape that I got on board.  When Dave Grohl started The Foos after the death of Kurt Cobain ended Nirvana, nobody knew what to expect. Hell, we’d just seen Dave back there pounding the drums, many thought he couldn’t be a frontman. They were wrong. The Foo Fighters turned out to be one of the greatest rock bands in the world. This record grabbed my ears with great songs like Monkey Wrench, My Hero and the iconic Everlong. With The Colour and the Shape, the Foo Fighters were just getting started.

PS- I’ve been lucky enough to see several Foo shows over the last few years (including CalJam ’18), and thanks to a friend I’ve had backstage access. Incredible experiences all.

Electric.

Electro-Shock Blues – Eels (1998)

Everyone knows that The Eels are one of my Top 5 all-time bands. Mark Oliver Everett, who’s essentially the band, is a damn musical genius. I wrote about him in a piece called Mark Oliver Everett: A Man Called E if you want to know his story. However, it was this album that turned me onto him. Following the success of the band’s first album, Beautiful Freak, E experienced a difficult time in his personal life. His sister committed suicide and his mother was diagnosed with cancer (he’d discovered his father dead years earlier in their home). These events inspired him to write Electro-Shock Blues, which focuses on his family, which he had never written about previously. Electro-Shock Blues deals with many difficult subjects including suicide, death and cancer. However, don’t let that scare you off. The album is soothingly melodic, with intelligent lyrics. You’ll love this record. Check out Last Stop: This Town for a sample:

Imagination – Brian Wilson (1998)

Everyone knows Brian Wilson was the genius behind the Beach Boys and created one of the greatest albums in the history of music, Pet Sounds (see above). Years after the Beach Boys broke up, in 1988, Brian released a much anticipated solo album, his first. It was great, but then he pretty much vanished again. He released a couple inconsequential albums in the 90s, one that included a lot of remakes and another was a collaberation with old friend Van Dyke Parks. Neither were very good. And then, it happened. In 1998 he let loose with only his second solo album of original material, Imagination. The first song on the record was called Imagination as well, and it blew me away. Those old harmonies were back and the song was breathtakingly beautiful. Another tune, Lay Down Burden, is an amazing ode to his late brother Carl. South American is a catchy, beachy song he wrote with Jimmy Buffett. Keep An Eye On Summer could have fit right in on any 60’s Beach Boys album. All in all a spectacular return for the legend Brian Wilson.

PS- Shockingly, this album wasn’t received well by critics. Critics are idiots.

The harmonies at the 2:40 mark brought tears to my eyes when I first heard them.

 

THE 2000s

 

Daisies of the Galaxies – Eels (2000)

If you’re not aware of The Eels, this is the album you need to listen to. Daisies of the Galaxy is incredible from start to finish and has no weaknesses. Hell, its hidden track was undoubtedly its most popular song.  The album is cheerful on the surface (helped by its quirky, upbeat tone) but contains cynical undertones. E shows genuine calmness as he displays his sadness. It’s amazing really. It’s hard to explain, but E’s music juxtaposes itself effortlessly. From the carefree opening minutes of Grace Kelly Blues to the last, happy-go-lucky last song, Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues, Daisies Of The Galaxy has undertones of desolate emotion behind quirky, upbeat pop tracks. So, so good. My personal favorites, although they’re all excellent – Grace Kelley Blues, Packing Blankets, I Like Birds, Daisies of the Galaxy, It’s A Motherfucker (don’t let that title fool you, it’s a gorgeous, heartfelt song), Jeannie’s Diary, Wooden Nickels, Selective Memory (a great song about E’s late mother), and the aforementioned hidden track, Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues. Essential Eels, man.

Rockin’ the Suburbs – Ben Folds (2001)

This one is right at the top of my Ben Fold’s treasure trove of records. Released on 9/11/01, this was Ben’s first solo album since leaving Ben Folds Five. It contains the usual Ben Folds piano based, hook-filled gems. The record’s best songs are Annie Waits, Zak and Sara, Still Fighting It, Rockin’ the Suburbs, and one of the most beautiful songs ever written, The Luckiest. The whole album has a Burt Bacarach feel to it (look it up if you’re under 60), and believe me when I say that’s a good thing. And as always, Ben maintains that signature sarcasm throughout. I’d expect nothing less.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – Flaming Lips (2002)

I always liked the Lips, but this album is by far my favorite of theirs. It’s a weird, haunting, lush, symphonic record with gorgeous melodies and and an incredible, moody vibe. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots appeared in the best-albums-of-the-decade lists of several music publications, such as Rolling Stone (#27) and Uncut (#11), with Uncut also declaring it the greatest album released in the magazine’s lifetime. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I absolutely love the songs Flight Test, Are You a Hypnotist?, and Do You Realize?. What an amazing album with Wayne Coyne at the peak of his powers.

American Idiot – Green Day (2004)

Green Day had released a pretty bad album, Warning, just before this and the band was dropping in popularity big-time. They released a greatest hits album to buy some time, healed some old wounds in the band, and promptly unleashed their best album ever (in my humble opinion). American Idiot was not a traditional Green Day album. This was different. The band not only listened to classic rock operas and concept albums like The Who’s Tommy and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, but also pulled ideas from Broadway musicals. The record also includes classic rock influences (The Beatles) and the boys also allowed some of the top Rock and Hip-Hop acts of the day to factor into their sound and approach. According to Billie Joe Armstrong, “We decided we were going to be the biggest band in the world or fall flat on our faces.” What resulted was one fantastic album with songs like American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and Wake Me Up When September Ends. Spectacular album.

PS – I saw the band live right after this album dropped. Electric.

Indian Summer – Carbon Leaf (2004)

Carbon Leaf is the greatest relatively unknown band I’ve ever known. They burst onto the scene in 2002 when they won the Best New Band award at the American Music Awards. After that they settled in on a solid, successful career. Their sound has a Celtic, Irish feel to it, although lead singer Barry Privett calls their sound “Ether-Electrified Porch Music” which seems about right. Indian Summer is chock full of that unique, patented Carbon Leaf sound with tunes like Life Less Ordinary, What About Everything?, Grey Sky Eyes, Raise the Roof, and Let Your Troubles Roll By. I highly recommend you listen to this band, and you can start by watching the video below.

PS- I’ve seen the guys live several times and have become aquainted with them. Great, down-to-earth people.

PPS- Carter Gravatt is an incredible guitarist.

I And Love And You – Avett Brothers (2009)

I first heard The Avett Brothers in the early 2000s when I was driving my car through Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was on station 99.1 The Sound, where I always seemed to find new bands. The song was I and Love and You, and my proverbial socks were knocked off. The Avetts sound is really hard to describe. They combine Bluegrass, Country, Punk, Pop, Folk, Rock, Indie, Honky Tonk, and Ragtime to produce a unique sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the “heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of the Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones.” Yep. I would say that about covers it.

 

The 2010s

 

Something for the Pain – Redlight King (2011)

Redlight King is another band that hasn’t really received its due and I know not why. They formed in Canada in 2009 and released this, their first album, in 2011. Lead singer Mark Kasprzyk made news on this record for his success in securing permission from Neil Young to allow him to sample the 1972 song, Old Man, and the results were incredible. It’s sampled in Redlight King’s song of the same name, a tune about Kasprzyk’s father. I got a recommendation to listen to this album from a friend, and I’m forever grateful for that. In addition to Old Man, the songs Something for the Pain, Bullet In My Hand, Comeback and When the Dust Settles Down are all stellar. Give Redlight King a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Egypt Station – Paul McCartney (2018)

Just when you thought 76-year old Paul McCartney was getting close to the end of his career he dropped this bombshell on us. Ladies and gentlemen, Egypt Station was Sir Paul’s first #1 album in the USA since Tug of War in 1982. Let that settle in for a second.  As Rolling Stone reviewer Rob Sheffield said, “Make a list of all the songwriters who were composing great tunes in 1958. Now make an overlapping list of the ones who are still writing brilliant songs in 2018. Your list reads: Paul McCartney.” Man that’s impressive. Give a listen to songs like I Don’t Know, Come On To Me, Fuh You and Back in Brazil and you’ll know what he’s talking about. Did this record surprise me? It did. Should it have? Hell no. It’s Paul Freakin’ McCartney.

PS- Paul gets two videos.

So there you go, my 80 favorite albums of all-time. Eclectic? Yes. But I sort of pride myself in that. There’s really no musical genre I don’t like. And while making this list I realized that the album’s of today are not the same as the albums of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In the 60s and 70s, in particular, there was nothing better than buying an album, taking it home, peeling off that plastic cover, and reading the liner notes. If it was a double album it was even better. Today we just download a particular song to our iPhone and that’s that. Sad really.

Anyway, to those of you that stuck with me all the way through this l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g blog, I appreciate it. Please let me know if any of my albums match yours, or if there are other albums not included here that had an impact on your life.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

It’s pretty interesting to witness how rock groups have changed over the past 40-50 years. Some seem to age like a fine wine, others . . . not so much. After some deep research by my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied, we came up with some interesting comparisons of rock stars, then and now. We’ll be comparing them singing the same song, because that just seems to be the way we should do it.

Let’s do this . . .

The Cowsills (1967)

The Cowsills (2013)

I think it’s safe to say The Cowsills aged well. They sound pretty great.

Aerosmith (1974)

Aerosmith (2019)

Yep. The boys are just as good as ever.

Paul McCartney (1965)

Paul McCartney (2014)

Sure his voice strains a tad at times, but what did you expect? He’s 77-years old, man. He’s still Paul.

Bruce Springsteen (1978)

Bruce Springsteen (2018)

Well, that video gave me chills. Yes, I’ll say it out loud – Bruce is better now.

Bob Dylan (1965)

Bob Dylan (2019)

Not gonna lie. I love Bob Dylan and I appreciate his genius, but I have no idea what the hell he’s doing half the time these days. That second video is just a weird version of a classic song.

Alice Cooper (1972)

Alice Cooper (2019)

Pretty much the same Alice we’ve seen over the past 40-years, amirite?

These videos have got me to thinking. I wonder what other artists who have passed away would sound like today? Jim Morrison? Freddie Mercury? John Lennon? Sad to think about, man.

Dave Grohl, the greatest rock star alive, went on The Street recently and proceeded to burn the neighborhood down with a song that was quite possibly the greatest ever written. With Elmo and Big Bird helping Dave on vocals, this beat will have you repeating that chorus for days. Listen to this burner and try not to tap your foot. You can’t.  Truly a rock classic.

PS- Elmo is shredding on the axe, man. And Big Bird is playing a tamborine the size of an extra latge pizza.

Yeah, I probably disagree with about half of these. I realize that “iconic” doesn’t mean “best” but come on. In my opinion they were about 3 for 10 in the 90s. Still, a fun video. Enjoy and give me your thoughts.

No? Huh.

One of the most iconic music videos in history, The Beatles singing “Hey Jude” on the David Frost Show in 1968. It was their first live performance in over 2-years. I love at the beginning when the lads are messing with Frost. Great stuff.

The album “Let It Be” by The Beatles was supposed to be a trip back to their roots – pared down, simple, no orchestration or strings, no overdubs, and no overwhelming production. They wanted the album to have an almost “live” feel. This from a band that had recorded albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in which the studio work and production were groundbreaking in their complexity. Bottom line, The Beatles wanted to get back to their roots.

Here’s the album track list:

Side 1

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let It Be
  7. Maggie May

Side 2

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling
  2. One After 909
  3. The Long and Winding Road
  4. For You Blue
  5. Get Back

The songs range from the silly (“Dig It”, “Dig a Pony” and Maggie May”) to the rockin’ (“Get Back”) to the almost country sounding (“One After 909”) to the beautifully legendary (“Let It Be”, “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road”). It was a truly a wonderful album in spite of the cracks that were beginning to show, fissures that would eventually tear the group apart.

Quick note – although “Let It Be” was the last album released by The Beatles, it was actually recorded before Abbey Road.

As I mentioned before, during the recording of “Let It Be” the relationships between all four Beatles was strained severely, almost to its breaking point. It was so strained, in fact, that the guys became so tired of the in-fighting they allowed manager Allen Klein (who Paul hated but John liked) to take over the finishing touches on the album. Klein ended up handing the project over to legendary “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, who proceeded to completely defeat the original purpose of the album by adding orchestras and female background singers (which The Beatles had never used before) to songs like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney has stated publicly many times that when he first heard the final product he was aghast at the results.

Years later, in 2003, the album was re-released by McCartney as “Let It Be . . . Naked” in an attempt to rectify the mistake and let the public listen to the album as it was originally intended. The result was a beautiful album of simple songs in which the voices and musicianship stand magnificently on their own.

Here’s a comparison of the original release of “The Long and Winding Road” with strings and background vocals, followed by the originally intended pared down, simple version:

Long and Winding Road (with added vocals and orchestration)

Long and Winding Road (original “naked” version)

Big difference. Sure, the first version is beautiful, but I much prefer the second one, especially since Paul wanted it to be heard that way originally. Again, all the added fluff went against the spirit of the album, which was to “get back” to the roots of The Beatles.

Here are some videos from the movie “Let It Be” which was basically a documentary regarding the making of the album. It includes the legendary surprise “rooftop concert”. Great stuff:

Let It Be

The Long and Winding Road

Get Back

Let It Be Factoids:

  • Piano legend Billy Preston played keyboard on the album.
  • During the recording sessions, tensions between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, grew so heated that Harrison left the studio.
  • Although recorded in 1969 and released on “Let it Be” a year later, the song “One After 909” was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first collaborations, dating back to 1959.
  • In the United States, advance orders for the album were the largest in the industry up to that point – over 3.7 million units.
  • Legend has it that when McCartney sang “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged” he was looking directly at Yoko Ono, who was in studio during the recording.

 

 

I’m not generally a fan of covers. I just normally prefer originals, especially where The Beatles are concerned. After all, you cannot top perfection, ya know? That said, there are some pretty amazing covers out there, even of the legendary Fab Four. Let’s get right to it . . .

Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man

Love this version of Nowhere Man. Simple, acoustic, with plaintive vocals. This was on the “I Am Sam” soundtrack and it’s simply majestic.

 

Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and Prince – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This live cover was performed at a tribute concert for George Harrison, and Prince absolutely shreds on guitar. Great, great version.

 

Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman – Hey Jude

What a pairing, and what an amazing cover. Just listen . .

 

Beach Boys – I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

This was recorded during one of Brian’s absences from the band so Bruce Johnston sings lead, and it sounds pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to sound. Good stuff.

 

Elton John – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Elton and John Lennon had become good friends, so it’s no surprise Elton performed this cover. He sticks to the original pretty closely, and Lennon himself actually sang on the single.

 

Black Oak Arkansas – Taxman

Bet you’ve never heard this blistering, badass version of Taxman from the Black Oak boys. Better buckle in first.

 

Elliott Smith – Because

Great Abbey Road cover by another artist we lost way too soon. This song was on the American Beauty soundtrack.

 

Pixies – Wild Honey Pie

More proof that the legendary Pixies were the psychotic version of The Beatles. Don’t be scared to listen to this cover from the White Album.

 

Link Wray – Please Please Me

Wonderful instrumental cover by the legendary Link Wray.

 

U2 – Helter Skelter

Pretty faithful version of quite possibly the first ever metal song.

 

Amy Winehouse – All My Loving

Beautiful cover performed as only Amy could perform it.

 

The Carpenters – Ticket to Ride

Karen Carpenter had the voice of an angel and it’s on display here. A good example of how the music of The Beatles can be performed in a variety of ways.

 

Jeff Lynne and Dave Grohl – Hey Bulldog

Oh, hell yes. Love the introduction by Dave Grohl too. So good.

 

Otis Redding- A Hard Day’s Night

This sounds exactly how you’d imagine Otis Redding singing “A Hard Day’s Night” to sound. Amazing stuff.

 

Michael Jackson- Come Together

I know, I know. But I like this cover even more than Aerosmith’s. So shoot me.

Yeah, I know I left out Aerosmith’s cover of Come Together, Joe Cocker’s cover of With a Little Help From My Friends, and all those horrible covers in that god-awful Sgt. Pepper’s movie from the late 70s. There are others as well. So, whaddaya got? Let me know what you think I missed.

This the latest in my series of Top 10 songs (or with The Beatles a Top 30 because it’s The Beatles damn it) of some of my favorite musical artists. It’s sort of a silly exercise really because taste in anything is pretty arbitrary, ya know? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that. Anyway, what follows are my personal favorites and nothing more, and if you don’t like them you can go to hell.

Kidding. Feel free to let me know your favorites. Here we go . . .

My Hero (1997)

Everlong (1997)

The Sky is a Neighborhood (2017)

Long Road to Ruin (2007)

Best of You (2005)

Monkey Wrench (1997)

Big Me (1995)

 

Times Like These (2003)

Learn To Fly (1999)

M.I.A. (1999)

These Days (2011)

Next Year (1999)

OK, I lied. I listed 12. I couldn’t break it down to 10. Live with it. Anyway, Foo Fighters man. Keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive.

Good stuff.

Obviously that’s Freddie Mercury on the left, actor Rami Malek on the right. If Malek doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance it’ll be a shame. For a little insight, due to throat problems Freddie had been advised by his doctors not to perform, and in rehearsals he couldn’t hit the notes. Hence, the looks of astonishment from his bandmates. Elton John met Freddie as he left the stage and said, “You bastard, you’ve stolen it”, as in stolen the show. Which he absolutely had.

 

An alt classic.

The Beatles notoriously hated lip-synching, and it’s never been more evident than in this video. There’s John, barely containing his disgust. Then we have Paul and George, gamely trying to stay professional. Finally we have Ringo, at times not even pretending to play drums. Classic stuff, man.

PS- Beatle videos are notoriously short-lived on YouTube. Watch this while you can.

The one and only Freddie Mercury of Queen. He would have been 72 today. Legend has it that when Queen was trying out vocalists they told him they were planning to be the biggest band in England. His response?

“England? We’re going to be the biggest fucking band in the world.”

And he was right. Youngbloods, watch this video.

Wait for it. It’s worth it.


One of my former students recently asked me how many concerts I had seen in my lifetime, and I told them I had no idea but it had to be over a hundred. I LOVE live music and always have, and I’ve been going to shows for approximately 45-years. Anyway, because I was asked I have attempted to recall all the shows I’ve seen, and believe me when I say there is no way I’ll remember them all. Because of this you can bet this blog will be updated often as the memories come flooding back or somebody reminds me of something I forgot. With all this in mind, let me begin. I’ll list the concerts along with notes on some of them, and they will be in somewhat of a chronological order but not really. An asterisk indicates a Rock Hall of Fame inductee, and I believe I’ve seen 25 bands/artists that have earned that honor. That said, I’ve also seen some shows that might surprise you. Let us begin . . .

Redbone

1974, Kings Island Senior Night. They were Native Americans, they wore full Native American regalia, and their big hit was “Come and Get Your Love.” I was front row and I was forever turned on to live music. Who could not be after seeing this?

Note: I have no idea if that’s politically correct or not, I just know it’s a great song.

Brownsville Station

These cool cats sang the original “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and followed Redbone. I’ll never forget singer Cub Coda’s roaring vocals and drummer Henry “H-Bomb” Weck destroying the skins. Epic.

Seals & Crofts

Thanks to my Uncle Myrl we always had great seats at the Ohio State Fair. Hence the front row seats for the band that gave us “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.” It was a very good show.

The Stylistics

Believe it or not I saw this legendary R&B group at the Ross County Fairgrounds. Who booked them there I do not know, but it was the early to mid-70s so they were in their heyday.

Aerosmith*

Ah, the famous (well, at least to me) Aerosmith concert. You know, the one where I drank Stroh’s beer with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler? That one? Yeah, I used to have a cool photo of me sitting between those rock Gods on a backstage couch, smiling broadly, luxurious locks cascading down our backs. Sorry, I got lost in the mists of time there for a second. Anyway, here’s the link: Steven, Joe and Me: Meeting Aerosmith. Read it. I would but it would make me cry again.

Note: I looked it up. It was March 24th, 1978 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Columbus.

Allman Brothers Band*

I saw these guys at an outdoor venue somewhere over near Zanesville. I don’t think it was Legend Valley, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they were as good as you might expect Southern Rock legends to be.

The Beach Boys* (6)

I’ve seen The Boys six times at various venues, including the big return of Brian Wilson sometime around 1977. They’re always a good show. Oh, and remember the time Mike Love tried to steal my girlfriend? If not, here’s the story: In the late 70’s I went to see them, again at Riverfront Coliseum in The Natti. We were once again right down front. From the get-go Mike Love was paying special attention to my date, at one point getting down on one knee and singing a song right up in her grillmix. I don’t remember the song, probably because I was too busy watching the security dude and figuring my odds of getting a shot at Love’s nose. Eventually Love actually sent a guy down to ask if she was interested. She said no and he never came close to us the rest of the show. Bizarre experience.

Chicago* (3)

Yep. This guy.

Chicago was always a good show, especially when they rocked and before they started with all the sappy ballads in the early 80s. The most memorable show was when Peter Cetera nearly stole my date. Yep, it happened again, and this show and The Beach Boys show were only a couple weeks apart. I guess I should look at the bright side and assume I had good taste in women? Anyway, here’s a link to the whole sordid affair: How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine.

Warren Zevon

I saw the legend back in early ’79 when I was living on West 8th Avenue, just south of The Ohio State University campus. I distinctly recall sitting at a table in the since demolished Serene Lounge, a misnamed establishment if there ever was one. As I sat there enjoying Happy Hour, a buddy came rushing in and said he had tickets to a show up the street at The Agora, which is now The Newport. Of course I asked who was playing, and he told me Warren Zevon. Being the sophisticated music aficionado that I was, I immediately jumped at the chance. O.K., truth be told I’d never heard of Warren Zevon. Seems I’d missed the whole “Werewolves of London” hoopla from a few months prior. Go figure. Long story short, I went, was blown away and became a huge fan.

Note. It’s odd but one clear memory I have of that night was Zevon mentioning that his dad was named Stumpy. That’s a cool dad name, don’t you think? Anyway, one of my big regrets (among many) is the fact that I never saw Warren Zevon live again.

Steely Dan

I think I saw these guys at St. John Arena, but I’ll be damned if I can remember exactly. Anyway, it was the late 70s, a period my loving father used to refer to as “my hazy period.”

The New York Dolls

Believe it or not I actually saw these punk legends at the Fairgrounds Coliseum where they opened for The Babys and, wait for it . . . REO Speedwagon. To say I’d never seen anything like them (spiked collars, high heels, multi-colored hair, hot pants) is an understatement. I’m pretty sure I stood there, mouth agape, during their entire show.

Steppenwolf

These rock legends actually performed at Sam’s Place, a big barn-type venue south on Chillicothe on Route 23. I believe the building is still there. Anyway, they rocked out “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” right here in good ol’ Ross County USA.

The Babys

The Babys followed the New York Dolls, and although “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You” are great songs, following the Dolls was a tough gig ( not to mention everyone was there to see REO).

REO Speedwagon

I feel like I’ve seen REO more than once, but perhaps not. Anyway, it was a rockin’ show. I remember they closed with “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Jeff Lynne

Electric Light Orchestra* (13)

Yep, I’ve seen ELO 13-times at least, and every single show was a joy, a revelation and an absolute rock spectacle. Hey, who doesn’t like lasers, giant spaceships and giant butterflies and moths fluttering above the audience? I know I do. Seriously, Jeff Lynne is a musical genius and a rock legend, and I shall see him again in less than a month. However, the most memorable ELO show was the night I found myself in the middle of a Jeff Lynne/ELO scenario of which I wanted no part of. To fully understand, read this: Pimping for the Electric Light Orchestra. UPDATE: Caught ELO again on 7/30 at Nationwide in Columbus. Once again it was an outstanding show.

Roxy Music

I saw Roxy Music open for ELO at Veterans Memorial in 1975, and Bryan Ferry did not disappoint, singing “Love Is The Drug” and others in all his Glam Rock glory.

Gentle Giant

Saw this Prog Rock band open for ELO in The Natti, circa 1977.

Steve Hillage

Hillage was a guitarist of note back in the 70s.

Rick Derringer (3)

I first saw Derringer on the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour at the Tangerine Bowl in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two or three they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

Led Zeppelin*

Led Zeppelin

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (again, my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4-doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000+ people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

The Eagles* (3)

I first saw The Eagles during their Hotel California Tour, and I remember the big album cover backdrop. Joe Walsh had just joined the group and he was on fire. Great show. As a bonus, no band member tried to pick up my girlfriend.

Todd Rundgren (5)

I’ve seen the greatest rocker never to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame four times, and every single time he has been amazing. Just a multi-talented musician and performer. Most recently I saw him at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati and then as a member of the Beatles 50th Anniversary White Album Tour and he was amazing as always.

Elton John*

I was lucky enough to see Elton at the peak of his powers, during the legendary Yellow Brick Road Tour. I can’t recall who opened for him but I do remember Kiki Dee coming on stage for the song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. I also remember that we had seats w-a-y at the back of the arena, near the top. At one point Elton stopped to thank his writing partner Bernie Taupin and pointed him out in the crowd. They shone a spotlight on him, and he was sitting right behind me. I asked him why he was sitting in the cheap seats and he said he liked to hear what the acoustics were like from up there. Cool.

Marshall Tucker Band

No clue where this concert took place. Kentucky perhaps. Rupp Arena? I’ve no clue but it was during the “Heard It In A Love Song/Can’t You See” era. What can I say? I fell into the Urban Cowboy country rock phase for a minute.

Cheap Trick*

This one was at St. John Arena in Columbus and I recall that it was on the same Monday night that Marquette won the NCAA Basketball Title. 1977 perhaps? Let me check. Hold on . . . . . . . yep, March 28th, 1977. 67-59 over Dean Smith and North Carolina. Al McGuire’s last game. Anyway, at one point some kid from Zane Trace threw his ZT hat on stage and Rick Neilson put it on and wore it for the rest of the show. Wild night. Can’t remember who opened.

Rush*

Went with a buddy who was a huge Rush guy, I believe it was in Dayton at Hara Arena. On a related note, Rush people are an interesting group.

Edgar Winter Group

“Frankenstein” baby! EWG rocks, man. Saw them at an outdoor show somewhere in Columbus. It was in a big parking lot and was sponsored by QFM-96. I think.

Joe Walsh

I saw Joe just before he joined The Eagles, just after he released his “But Seriously, Folks . . .” album. Dude was really good with the crowd, and of course his guitar playing was amazing.

Kansas

I told you about Kansas when I talked about Rick Derringer earlier. They sucked.

Peter Frampton (3)

Peter Frampton

I was a big Frampton fan back in the day, and myself and 3 friends followed him on his “Frampton Comes Alive” Tour. We saw him in Tampa, Louisville and back in Ohio. He was touring with the aforementioned Kansas, Rick Derringer and the J Geils Band. Trust me, Peter Frampton put on one hell of a show.

John Sebastian*

John Sebastian was the frontman for the Lovin’ Spoonful before embarking on a solo career. He didn’t have much success until he penned the theme song for the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter”. Anyway, I saw him as the opening act for, wait for it . . . Steve Martin. The show was at Mershon Auditorium in, I believe, the Spring of ’77 or ’78.

J Geils Band (2)

Saw these guys during the Frampton tour, and one thing sticks out in my mind. Their Louisville show was the last show of the tour and lead singer Peter Wolf busted out the champagne. As usual we’d worked our way down to the front row, and Wolf poured a good portion of the bottle right over my head before I tilted my head back and drank the rest. Good times indeed.

John Waite

Waite was the lead singer of The Babys before starting a solo career. I saw him at a small venue in Columbus (The Newport?) and he was really good. Remember “Missing You”?

Wild Cherry

Yep, I saw these guys sing “Play That Funky Music” in a small bar on High Street in Columbus j-u-s-t before they hit it big.

Barry Manilow

I told you some of the artists would surprise you. I went with my sister and her husband Jigger, and it was a really good show. Vets Memorial I believe.

Doobie Brothers

Thankfully I saw The Doobies before Michael McDonald arrived to wreck their sound with his so-called “blue-eyed soul”. Newsflash: It was not. I preferred the pre-McDonald days of “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin'” and “Blackwater”. It was a fantastic show that I saw somewhere in Cleveland.

James Taylor* (5)

Ah, the original JT. I’ve seen him at least 5-times, the most memorable being the night I stole his jacket. From my original blog: I went to see him at Blossom Music Center back in ’78 with my friends Tom and Chris. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I looked up and said, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show. Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280-lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! They have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car. At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James Taylor and I were exactly the same size. Anyway, that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket. By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

Charlie Daniels Band

Again, this was during my country rock phase, which lasted about, oh, a minute and a half. Charlie was cool back then though, although I felt that way partly because I wasn’t aware of the right-wing conservative assclownery he’s exhibited the last 20-years or so.

Blue Oyster Cult

Dayton, Ohio, in Hara Arena. At the end of the concert the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd. I got my hand on one but it slipped through my fingers, damn it.

Yes*

I was never a big Yes fan, but I attended this show with a friend. As I recall I wasn’t that impressed.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

See Yes above.

Grand Funk Railroad

I watched Mark Farner, Don Brewer and the boys at St. John Arena in Columbus and they were great. I distinctly recall them blowing the roof off the joint with “We’re An American Band”. I think Farner found Jesus shortly after this tour.

Amy Grant

Another shocker, amirite? Yep, I saw Amy at the Ohio State Fair and once again we were right up front. My girlfriend at the time loved her, hence my presence at the show.

Hall & Oates*

Talk about a great opening act. I saw these guys open for ELO in Cleveland at Richfield Coliseum. Of course, they were incredible.

Pat Benatar

Yep. Big Pat Benatar fan, man. Saw her in Riverfront Coliseum back around ’82 ish. I remember being impressed with her lead guitarist and future husband Neil Geraldo too. Dude could shred.

Alabama

Another Ohio State Fair show where I couldn’t turn down the tickets. Hey, it was the early 80s and the band was pretty damn big.

Barbara Mandrell

Same as the Alabama show with one big difference – Barbara Mandrell was smokin’ hot at the time.

Kenny Rogers

You’ll have to give me a break on this one. My mother was a big Kenny Rogers fan and I took her as a surprise for her birthday. She loved it. I’m such a good son.

The Alarm

The Alarm

This show was actually a surprise for me pulled off by my ex-wife Twana, and it was spectacular. I loved The Alarm (still do) and their show at Riverbend in Cincy was great. However, they were just the opening act for the big surprise, which was . . . drumroll please . . .

Bob Dylan*

It was 1988 and like I said, this was a surprise gift for me. Dylan was amazing as you might expect, putting on an unforgettable show.

Pink Floyd*

In June of 1975 I traveled to Pittsburgh to see Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium, and they were insanely good. Obviously this was when Roger Waters was still with them, contrary to the American tour 20-years later when they were without him and I refused to attend. To me, the best part of Floyd was Roger Waters. Anywho, great show with flyin’ pigs and whatnot.

Meat Loaf

I saw Meat at a small venue near Lancaster in the mid-80s. This was after his success with Bat Out of Hell in the late 70s and before his big comeback in ’93, and he was in the middle of his well publicized emotional issues. At one point during the show he stopped mid-song and helicoptered his mic stand into the crowd, nearly decapitating myself and several others. It was like “Meat Loaf! YEAH! Woohoo! Wait . . . look out!” Fortunately he got it together and finished, but I remember his voice was freakin’ shot. Let’s just say Meat did not bring his A game that night.

Paul McCartney* (9)

Yes, I have seen Sir Paul many times at many venues in cities ranging from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to Cleveland to Chicago. Perhaps my favorite show was the one in Columbus where a bunch of us went all out rented a suite. Our seats were right over the stage. Also, one year in Cincy I was in the front 8-10 rows which was incredible. With McCartney every song is legendary, plus there’s always that awareness that you’re watching a freakin’ Beatle.

Dan Fogelberg (4)

Fogelberg was always great live, and I saw him at Blossom in Cleveland, The Palace in Columbus and a couple other places.

Indigo Girls

I’d never heard of the Indigo Girls when  first saw them open for R.E.M. at Riverfront Coliseum, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out they were going to be big.

R.E.M.* (15)

I’ve seen R.E.M. more than any other band, first in ’83 at a gym in Springfield, Ohio in front of maybe 100-people, and the last time at Blossom in Cleveland in ’04 along with 20,000 other fans. It was pretty cool watching them grow from a small, relatively unknown band to a worldwide sensation. R.E.M. trails only The Beatles on my favorite bands list.

The Minutemen

I saw these alt legends open for R.E.M. at Vets Memorial a couple weeks before lead singer D. Boon was killed in an auto accident. Memorable concert for sure.

The O’Jays*

Ok, technically I never bought a ticket to watch these guys. However, I did hear them sing along with me on an airplane. Not kidding. Here’s the story: It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre. We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays! What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I started singing one of their big hits, “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I was pretty sure I’d never have this chance again. Long story short, in a couple minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the audience. I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my mind, don’t tell me they didn’t), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and the O’Jays went on their way. And you know what? To this day I can’t hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face.

Fetchin Bones

The Bones opened for REM at Bogart’s and they were great. One reviewer described them as such: “a band that must be seen live for a full grasp of their eclectic frenzy.” Couldn’t have said it better.

The dB’s

These guys opened for REM in Dayton, at either Hara or UD Arena (I can’t remember which). The band was led by Pete Holsapple, who later sat in on many an REM gig.

The Neats

The Neats opened for REM at that show in Springfield, Ohio.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I saw TTWS at The Newport sometime in the mid-90s. Can’t remember much about the show other than the fact that lead singer Todd Phillips didn’t wear any shoes.

Matthew Sweet

Ah, another great Newport show. I’ve loved Matthew Sweet since 1991 and he did not disappoint.

Hootie & the Blowfish

Once again I saw these guys at The Newport, just before they blew wide open. I remember Darius Rucker downed about 8 Budweiser bottles during the show, and he often had one in his hand as he sang.

The String Cheese Incident

I’m not really into Jam Bands, and I have no idea what inspired me to go to this show. Now that I think of it, I have no idea who I was with or where they played. Somewhere outside for sure.

Screaming Trees

Screaming Trees

The Trees were the middle act at College Park, MD in 1992. They followed Gruntruck and preceded Alice in Chains. Of those three bands, I loved the Screaming Trees the most. The show was at Ritchie Coliseum as I recall.

Alice in Chains

See above.

Gruntruck

Also see above.

Fugazi

Great show at the tiny City Lights venue in Indy back in 1993. I remember clearly that the tickets cost a mere $5.00.

The National

The National opened for REM at Blossom in 2004.

Brian Wilson

I was thrilled to see Brian Wilson during his Pet Sounds Tour in 2002. His backing band was the Wondermints and they were fantastic too. He played the album in its entirety, start to finish. Stellar, and the work of a musical genius.

Steve Forbert (4)

I put Steve Forbert in my Top 10 All-Time favorite artists. I’ve seen him at small venues in Newport, KY, and Granville and Worthington in Ohio (2). He always puts on a great show. One of music’s most underappreciated talents.

Faith No More

Caught these guys at The Newport (surprise!) in September of 1992. The main thing I remember is that lead singer Mike Patton had some absolutely killer pipes.

Helmet

I have very little recollection of this one. Sorry Helmet.

The Temptations*

I finally got to see The Temps around 2008, and they only had one original member remaining. Still a great show though.

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy

I can attribute this one to pure luck. One night in the Caribbean I was sitting at a little Tiki Bar, and a guy came up and casually mentioned that Ziggy was playing a couple hundred yards down the beach. Wait. What? Hell yes mon. I hustled down there and the rest is history.

They Might Be Giants (8)

Man, I’ve seen the two John’s 8 times since 1992 (the last this past winter) and every show has been awesome. One of my favorite bands ever.

OK GO

This group opened for TMBG the night the electric went out at The Newport and everything was delayed a couple hours. They were great, but my main memory was after the show when the lead singer tried to pick up my nephew’s wife out by the merch stand. Musicians, man.

Eels (7)

Eels

I’ve seen E and the boys on several occasions, usually in Columbus but at least once in Cleveland. Big, big fan and E never, ever fails to entertain. I’ve been on E’s bandwagon since his early solo albums “A Man Called E” and “Broken Toy Shop”. One of the most underappreciated artists of my lifetime.

The Flaming Lips 

Love the lips, and I saw them at the Nelsonville Music Festival a few years ago. And yes, Wayne Coyne got in one of those big bubbles and walked out over the audience. Fun aplenty.

Beck

I used to volunteer for a company that worked concerts around Columbus (actually I only did it twice) but on one occasion I ended up being Beck’s damn backstage bodyguard. He actually invited me to stand beside the stage and watch the show. Dude really liked me for some reason, man. You can read all about it here: Bodyguarding Beck. True story.

Martina McBride

I must have received good reviews for being Beck’s bodyguard, because a couple weeks later they asked me to be the bodyguard for Martina McBride. Once again I was allowed to watch from the wings. Hey, I’ve never owned a Martina McBride song but damn she was a hottie. Anyway, I protected two famous singers and neither were harmed under my watch. My record is unblemished.

Carbon Leaf (20)

Carbon Leaf

I’ve been a big Carbon Leaf fan since around 2000, and I’ve become acquainted with lead singer Barry Privett. I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the Outer Banks, The Basement and a few other places in Columbus, a little bar in Chapel Hill, the Southgate House in Newport, KY and The 20th Century Theater in Cincy among other places. I highly recommend this band. Update: I caught them at The Kent Stage on March 8th, 2020. Still amazing.

The Wallflowers

I have no earthly idea where I saw these guys. Maybe the old Capital Theater on High Street in Columbus?

Paul Westerberg

I’d waited many a year to see the former Replacements frontman in person, and it was one helluva show. It was at The Newport, which was perfect, and one of my friends said it was the first time he’d actually seen a real life rock star. Westerberg growled/wailed his tunes in black jeans, boots and a leather jacket, all the while smoking a cigarette and barking at the occasional roadie. At one point he played while laying on his back, and he added covers like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer” along with his solo stuff and some Replacement classics. Just an amazing, powerful performance from a rock legend that I’ve admired for years. I’ll never forget it.

Ben Folds (4)

Ben always puts on a great show, and the interaction with his fans is incredible. I last saw him in the fall of last year and he hadn’t lost a step.

Billy Bragg

This show was at Mountain Stage, West Virginia, and was actually broadcast live on National Public Radio. For some reason I remember Billy telling the audience that on the way to the show his bus had passed a little town with an interesting name – Bragg. Weird the stuff you remember.

MC Honky

MC Honky was actually Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E of the Eels. He opened for, you guessed it, The Eels. Strange but interesting night.

Taylor Swift

Yep, I saw her at OU-Chillicothe at the very beginning of her career back in 2007, performing before maybe 2500 people. She’d only had a couple hits at that time, and I remember she stood at the back of the gym after the show until she’d signed every single fan’s autograph. There was no dancing or anything like that, she basically just sat on a stool and played her songs solo.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band*

Quite simply one of the best live performers to have ever lived. There was no big light show, no video screens, no theatrics. Just Bruce and the band playing straight ahead rock and roll. I saw The Boss at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and it was unforgettable.

Buddy Guy*

Buddy opened for Clapton at The Schott in the late 00s, and he was spectacular.

Bon Jovi* (4)

An ex of mine had a deep, unapologetic love for Jon Bon Jovi, hence the many trips to see the band. They’re crazy good live, and the trips were worth it to me to watch Richie Sambora play guitar. All the shows were at large arenas.

Goo Goo Dolls

I saw the Goos in their heyday, which was sometime around 1998-1999. according to my internal heyday meter. I must say Johnny Rzeznik and the boys were pretty damn good. I cannot recall where I saw them.

Cracker (3)

Love me some Cracker, and I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the OBX, the Southgate House in northern Kentucky, and the Picktown Palooza (yes, such a thing exists). I’ve had the pleasure to meet guitarist Johnny Hickman a few times and am happy to report that he’s a good dude.

Green Day*

I took my son to see these guys at The Schott in Columbus as part of my Expose My Kid to The Legends Project (he’s seen McCartney, R.E.M., AC/DC, The Eels, and several others) and they were just about what you’d expect. Those little dudes are like Energizer Bunnies, man. It was their American Idiot Tour I believe.

AC/DC*

Tremendous show at The Schott, and for some reason I was pleasantly surprised at how good of a guitarist Angus Young is. I should have known I guess? Anyway, there were more 50-year old boobs on display than I care to recall.

Eric Clapton*

Saw Slowhand at Nationwide Arena, and it was something to behold. See, even though the show was 2 1/2 hours long Clapton didn’t play that many songs. All the tunes were a long, bluesy numbers and every one was breathtakingly good. Although a few morons were yelling for them there was no “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Tears in Heaven.” To top off the greatness of the show, Derek Trucks was a part of the band and Robert Cray came out to jam during the last 30-minutes or so. Legendary.

Robert Cray 

See Eric Clapton above.

Angels & Airwaves

A & A is led by Blink-182’s Tom Delonge, and I went to The Newport with my son to see the band in the mid-00s. Kip wanted to get down front, so we worked our way down to the right front of the stage with yours truly against a railing. Suffice to say the mosh pit was deadly, my ribs were crushed repeatedly against the railing, and I could barely get out of bed the next day. Hey, you have to sacrifice for family. On a related note, it was totally worth it.

The Color Fred

These guys opened for A & A and I have very little recollection as to whether they were any good.

Fuel

I caught Fuel at a small venue in Columbus, but I can’t remember the exact location. Interesting crowd at Fuel shows.

The Smithereens

I saw these guys at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, NC as part of a big summer show with 4 other acts. I’ve always loved The Smithereens and they did not fail me.

Scars on 45

Scars on 45 are English band that was a part of the Mateo show. They impressed me.

Gin Blossoms (3)

I’ve seen these guys at the Manteo Festival, Summerfest and Bogey’s in Dublin, OH.

Spin Doctors

Another band at the Manteo concert, and believe me when I say they still have it.

Joan Jett*

Joan headlined the big Manteo show and she was stunningly good. On a related note, the Roanoke Festival Park is a stunning venue with the backdrop to the stage being the Roanoke Sound. Beautiful.

Social D

Social Distortion

After years of trying I finally got to see Mike Ness and Social D at what was then LC Pavilion in Columbus a few years ago. They were everything I expected them to be.

Mudhoney

My buddy Goose and I caught the legendary grunge rockers at tiny Café Bourbon Street in Columbus in 2010. Lead singer Mark Arm, the man who coined the term “grunge”, was in top form. I felt lucky to have seen them, and Arm gave me the setlist. Boom.

Manchester Orchestra

This band opened for My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 in Cincinnati. My only recollection is that they had a lush, orchestral sound, hence their name choice I guess.

My Chemical Romance (2)

I’ve seen MCR twice, once opening for Green Day in Columbus and once for Blink-182 in Cincinnati. On both occasions they were very good, and it turned out that the Cincy tour was their last.

Blink-182

My son was a big Blink guy and this show was pretty special. I recall sitting in the parking lot waiting for the rain to stop, and when it did we debated whether to make a run for the gates. We decided in the affirmative, and when we were exactly halfway to our destination the torrential downpour began anew. We were drenched for the entire show. I also remember that the banter between Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppes was hilarious. Really good show.

Band of Horses

Saw Band of Horse open for My Morning Jacket a few years ago and I thought they were fantastic. I actually enjoyed them more than the headliner.

My Morning Jacket

I don’t know, there’s something about these guys that’s sort of monotonous to me. Can’t say I loved it.

Bowling for Soup

A couple years ago I went to see Bowling for Soup at the A&R in Columbus. The show was at 7:00, but as I am want to do I went up around 4:00 to scout out the terrain. I could hear the band doing a soundcheck inside, and there was a line of probably 150 people sitting outside the door and down the sidewalk. I thought what the hell, I’ll take a shot at this. I walked past all the people, up to the door, and as luck would have it the door was open. I walked in, nodded at a few security guys in A&R polos, and sauntered on to the front of the stage and watched the guys warm up. After a bit I walked to the back of the venue and was leaning against the wall when I was approached by a very large dude. I was expecting the worst, but the guy said, “Hey, have you seen Greg?” I looked around as if I knew who the hell Greg was, then told him, “No, not recently.” He then thanked me and gave me a knuckle-bump before departing. Crisis averted. Then, a short while later I swear this happened: The band stopped and the lead singer looked straight at me and asked, “Whaddaya think? Is that enough bass?” The world stopped for a second as the entire band and everyone in the venue looked at me. I nodded knowingly and gave the thumbs-up sign as the bass player shot me a return thumbs-up before kicking into another tune. At that point I had cred with the entire place so I could basically do whatever I wanted. What can I say? The secret is acting like you belong. Bottom line, I saw the soundcheck and the show, and both were great.

Bacon Brothers

I was invited to this show at an outdoor mall somewhere in Dayton, and I have to say Kevin Bacon and his brother were pretty good. Somebody opened but I can’t recall the band name.

Lit

I saw Lit along with the Gin Blossoms and the next three bands during the Summerland Tour a few years back. Lit was excellent, Gin Blossoms were very good, Marcy Playground was Ok, Sugar Ray was surprisingly amazing and Everclear was disappointing.

Sugar Ray

See Lit.

Marcy Playground

See Lit.

Everclear

See Lit.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Caught these guys in Cincy at Bogart’s (I think). They were excellent. Really underrated band in my opinion.

Nathanael Rateliff & the Night Sweats (3)

Saw their show at the Nelsonville Music Festival a couple years back and they were great. They also opened for Kings of Leon last summer, and I saw them at Express Live! in early October. Always stellar.

Sister Hazel

Urban Meyer’s favorite band played Bogey’s in Dublin/Muirfield a couple years ago along with the Gin Blossoms. And yes, Urb and Shelley were in attendance. I used to know Shelley back in the day, and here she is giving me a shout out:

Soul Asylum

For the life of me I cannot recall where I saw Soul Asylum, but I remember it being a grungy little bar type of establishment. Go figure. It was towards the beginning of their success.

Kings of Leon

Attended a KOL show at Riverbend in Cincinnati last summer. Great band, great show.

Guided by Voices (2)

One of my friends is a big fan so I went with him to see his hero Robert Pollard. I’m glad I went. Update: Caught GBV again at the Bellwether Festival in Waynesville, Ohio. Once again a fantastic performance.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Amazing band I saw during their Wheels of Soul Tour back in 2015 at the PNC Pavilion in The Natti. They’re unbelievable live.

Avett Brothers (7)

I first laid ears on The Avetts around ’05 in the Outer Banks, and have since seen them in Raleigh, NC, The Louisville Palace in KY, and several other venues in Ohio. One of my favorite live bands currently.

Tall Heights

I saw this band open for Ben Folds last fall. Cool sound.

Todd Snider

Todd is one of my friend’s favorite artists, and I must say I enjoyed the show. I think we saw him in Cincinnati. I think. UPDATE: I checked. It was at the Madison Theater in Cincy.

The Pixies (2)

The Pixies were on my Bucket List, and thankfully I’ve seen them twice in the last year or so. The first was at Express Live! in Columbus and the second at an amazing show I’ll talk about shortly. Just a legendary, influential alternative band.

John Hiatt

I love John Hiatt and I finally got to see him a couple years ago in Columbus. I think it was The Palace, and it was just John and his guitar. Incredible performance.

Rick Brantley

Opened for John Hiatt, and I remember his song “Hurt People” the most.

G-Love

G-Love opened for Jack Johnson and he was great. He came out later with Jack to sing “Rodeo Clowns” and it was amazing.

Jack Johnson

I was never a huge Jack Johnson fan but he won me over a few weeks ago at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It was a laid back, mellow show with a tremendous vibe.

Foo Fighters (4)

Ah, The Foos. I’ve seen them 4-times in the past year and they blew me away. The first show was in Cincy at US Bank Arena (formerly Riverfront Coliseum) and just the other night at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, IN outside Indianapolis. The Indy show was special because we were 12-rows back. Incredible night. The third time I saw them was at CalJam ’18, which I’ll talk about below. Finally (for now) I saw them at the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio and they were epic. We had backstage passes and spent some time in keyboardist Rami Jaffee’s private box. Amazing stuff.

PS – Dave Grohl is a God.

The Struts (3)

The Struts are a Queen-influenced group fronted by a guy named Luke Spiller, who is fantastic. They opened for the Foo Fighters all three times I saw them. High energy, rockin’ band.

The Wombats

I loved The Wombats back in the late 80s, and if you didn’t like “Let’s Dance to the Joy Division” you are a phony, a pretender, and you have the musical taste of a ferret. I finally saw them a couple weeks ago as the opener for The Pixies and then Weezer, and as expected they killed it.

Weezer

To be honest I went to the Weezer show for opening acts The Wombats and The Pixies, but to my surprise Weezer blew the roof off at Riverbend. I mean, I knew they’d be good but they were way better than I expected. Incredible show that actually shocked me, and I don’t shock easily.

Jimmy Buffett (3)

I first saw Buffett in 1977, again in the late 80s, and finally a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. Buffett shows are basically one big beach party, replete with leis, bikinis and margaritas, among other things [clears throat]. You get the picture.

Some of the bands below have been mentioned before, but I saw them all at Cal Jam ’18 the weekend of 10/4-10/6. What an amazing experience:

Foo Fighters/Nirvana

1111111111111111111111111111111111111111

Joan Jett, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.

Still can’t believe I was at this legendary show where Nirvana (minus Kurt Cobain of course) reunited with Joan Jett and Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley to perform seven songs at the end of the regular Foos show. When Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic walked out the place erupted, and Joan and John sounded great singing the lead with Dave Grohl back on the drums. Incredible.

Post Pop Depression

LOVED these guys. PPP is Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop (The Stooges), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Dead Weather) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) among others. Amazing show, and at 71 Iggy is still going strong.

Garbage

I really liked Garbage a lot. Shirley Manson definitely still has it, and her band was tight.

Yungblud (2)

I was surprised how much I liked this guy. Trust me, angry British punk is alive. The Sex Pistols would be proud. I saw him at both CalJam and Sonic Temple.

Metz

Enjoyed this show as well. Rockin’ young band.

Tenacious D

Yep, Jack Black’s band was there too, and I have to say I didn’t love them. Hard to take Jack Black seriously as a musician after School of Rock, you know?

Greta Van Fleet

Honestly, I can take or leave these Led Zeppelin sound-alikes. Didn’t dig it at all.

Deer Tick

LOVED these guys. Great band with 3 different lead singers. Reminded me a little of The Band in that way.

Gang of Youths

I really liked frontman David Le’aupepe and this Australian band. Sort of a cross between U2, Springsteen and The Alarm. Lots of anthemic rock.

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

Probably my favorite new band I saw in California. I got to meet lead singer Brian Sella briefly, and I can report he is a good dude.

Thunderpussy

This all-girl band rocked the hell out of it, and Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins sat sidestage and watched their drummer, who was fantastic.

Giants in the Trees

This is Krist Novoselic’s band, and I cannot say I’m a fan of the dreamy, psychedelic vibe they were putting out.

Billy Idol

Billy played the first night, and he did not disappoint. Dude still has the pipes, and guitarist Steve Stevens was as good as ever.

Cal Jam Bonuses:

At the backstage layout, I absentmindedly asked out loud what kind of pasta they were serving. From behind me I heard a voice say, “That’s Couscous Mac ‘n Cheese, man. You have to try it.” I turned around and it was Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins.

I also got to meet and spend a little time with the man who played drums on one of my favorite songs of all-time, The Church of Logic, Sin and Love by The Men. Suffice it to say that Dave Botkin was a great guy.

The Hives

Caught these guys at Sonic Temple and they were great. I’s always wanted to see them and was glad I did.

The Interrupters

At the Sonic Temple again, and if you like music akin to Elvis Costello you’ll love these guys.

Phish

My buddy had been begging me to see these guys for years but I just didn’t get the whole Phish thing. Having gone, I must say I had a good time. It was great music, great people and a great vibe. I’m not going to quit life and follow Phish, but I’ll certainly go again.

Selo

Saw this band at the Bellwether Festival and I was impressed. Good new band.

Strfkr

Yep. That says what you think it says, and they were a lot of fun. Because hey, who doesn’t like spacemen crowd surfing and blow-up dolls beingtossed into the audience?

Nick Lowe

Caught the legend himself at the Joanne Davidson Center in Columbus and he did not disappoint. His voice is as good as ever, and his backing band, the legendary Los Straightjackets, were tight as hell. Loved every minute of it.

Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross, Joey Molland of Badfinger and Jason Scheff of Chicago

Saw these guys perform The Beatles’ White Album in Cincinnati on its 50th Anniversary and it was special to say the least. Amazing show.

J-u-s-t Missed Shows:

The Who

Yep we had tickets to Riverfront Coliseum the night of the tragedy where 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. Fortunately we were stupid enough to think a party in Chillicothe would be more fun, and it might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

I had tickets for a show at St. John’s Arena in Columbus on October 28th, 1978, but unfortunately we all know what happened 8-days prior – their plane crashed in Mississippi. I’ll never forget waking up the morning and my roommate Jed telling me what had happened. And, being the 21-year old jackass that I was, I returned my ticket because I thought I needed the $8.25 or whatever the hell the ticket cost back then, probably to buy beer.

Before we begin, understand that I didn’t choose these songs for their historical significance, their legendary lyrics or for the amazing musicianship contain within. I simply picked the songs that I never get tired of listening to, that make my earholes happy every single time I hear them. So without further ado, let us commence . . .

We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals (1965)

Believe it or not this tune was initially slated to be sung by The Righteous Brothers, who would’ve got the brooding right but would’ve never had the grubby, throaty force legend Eric Burdon brings to the song. Just an amazing song with a soaring chorus that blew me away from the get-go. Listen to the bass that kicks things off.

Caroline No – Beach Boys (1966)

Quite simply the saddest, most beautifully written song I’ve ever heard. Proof that Brian Wilson is an absolute musical genius.

Where did your long hair go?

Where is the girl I used to know?

How could you lose that happy glow?

Oh Caroline, no . . .

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)

It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

Helter Skelter – The Beatles (1968)

Paul McCartney has said that he wanted to record a song, “as long as dirty as possible”. He succeeded. Some say this was the first speed metal song, and I cannot disagree. Wildly original for 1968. Prepare your ears for this one.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

In 1965, Bob Dylan was about to pack it in. Having finished an exhaustive tour of England he’d lost interest in the music game, but the creation of this track – one of his finest moments made even better with Al Kooper’s signature organ line – reinvigorated his love for music. Of course the six minute monster went on to become a worldwide hit and one of the most influential pieces of music of all time. “How does it f-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l?”

I Started a Joke – Bee Gees (1968)

Here’s the deal. The Bee Gees have gotten a bad rap for one reason- disco. However, there is way more to the Brothers Gibb than falsetto dance songs, and this tune proves it. There are a many interpretations of this song, including one that believes it’s about organized religion. Whatever the case, I’ve always loved the plaintive, aching vocals and melody of this song.

Positively 4th Street – Bob Dylan (1965)

I always loved the lyrics to this Dylan song, but especially these:

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And you’d know what a drag it is
To see you.

Burn, man.

Chimes of Freedom – The Byrds (1964)

This is vintage Byrds, complete with the music-changing jangly guitars and beautiful harmonies. It’s easy to why The Byrds were The Beatles’ favorite American band. Many groups to come, including Tom Petty and R.E.M., were heavily influenced by The Byrds. You can tell why after listening to this song.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

It’s hard to explain the allure of this song to me. It’s simple in every way, from the lyrics to how it was written. Still, it touches me on a most basic level.

The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag – Country Joe & The Fish (1967)

Well, if I hadn’t figured out Viet Nam yet Country Joe drove the point home for me with these lyrics:

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send ’em off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

Ouch. Needless to say the song didn’t get a lot of airplay on conservative WLW over in The Natti. After midnight I could get WLS out of Chicago though, and my ears were forever cooked.

Universal Soldier – Donovan (1965)

Universal Soldier” is a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The song was originally released in 1964. It was not a popular hit at the time of its release, but it became a hit a year later when Donovan covered it.

He’s the universal soldier,
And he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away, no more,
They come from here and there,
And you and me and brothers,
Can’t you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.

Touch Me – The Doors (1968)

A lot of people didn’t like this one, mainly because it was a bit of a departure for Jim Morrison and the boys. Why, you ask? Because it had horns. Gasp! As for me, I Ioved it. Here’s Jim Morrison at the peak of his powers.

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane (1967) 

This psychedelic number divvied up Alice In Wonderland references with not-so-subtle winks at drug assisted mind expansion. Grace Slick perfectly captured the mid-60s hope that narcotics could change perceptions and the world. A counter-culture classic, and it blew my young, impressionable mind away.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head.

Groovy, man.

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin (1969)

A beautiful acoustic song from Led Zeppelin II, this one is about two youngsters who can no longer be playmates because one’s parents and peers disapprove of the other because of long hair and being generally from “the dark side of town.” As a kid it really touched me, and it still does today.

I don’t know how I’m going to tell you
I can’t play with you no more
I don’t know how I’m gonna do what mama told me
My friend, the boy next door
I can’t believe what people saying
You’re gonna let your hair hang down
I’m satisfied to sit here working all day long
You’re in the darker side of town.

Walk Away Renee – The Left Banke (1966)

I love this song mainly for one reason – the soaring, gorgeous chorus. The vocals, the harmonies, they just blew me away. Bill Bragg did an exceptionally funny and poignant spoken word version of the song which us great as well.

Lightnin’ Strikes – Lou Christie (1966)

Again, the soaring chorus won me over again with this song. It’s nothing special musically or lyrically, it’s just has a melody that gets me every single time I hear it. Can’t help it kids, I love this song.

Do You Believe in Magic? – The Rascals (1965)

From the moment John Sebastian begins strumming that autoharp at the beginning of this song I was sold. Again, it’s a just a simple song about the power of music, and it contains this great line – It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n roll.

Fun fact: Prior to starting The Lovin’ Spoonful, Sebastian was in a band called The Mugwumps. The Mugwumps broke up when Mama Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty left NYC to go to California, where they formed The Mamas & the Papas.

People Got to Be Free – Rascals (1968)

Featuring a lead vocal from Felix Cavaliere, this is a musically upbeat but impassioned plea for tolerance and freedom. Believe me when I say it is very relevant today. Read these to the lyrics and tell me I’m wrong:

If there’s a man
Who is down and needs a helpin’ hand
All it takes is you to understand and
To pull him through,
Seems to me
We got to solve it individually, 
And I’ll do unto you what you do to me.

Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Sly and the Family Stone was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup, and they were incredible. They called their sound “psychedelic soul” and this was my favorite song of theirs. Just an amazing groove.

Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1967)

Oddly enough, this great song wasn’t a hit until it was re-released in 1970. Although essentially a sad song, it’s sung with an upbeat melody. Awesome vocals by Smokey as well.

Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf (1968) 

This is the first song where the term “heavy metal” was used, and it is famous for being included in the legendary movie Easy Rider. John Kay growls out the lyrics like the badass that he was, and the crunchy guitars give it a tough, gritty vibe. Love it.

Love Is All Around – The Troggs (1967)

I’ve just always loved the slow, dirge-like melody of this song. The other big hit by The Troggs? None other than Wild Thing.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys (1966)

Yep, Brian Wilson again. It wasn’t the lyrics that blew me away with this song, but rather the music. Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphony” showed me that a rock song could go deeper musically than it ever had before. The varied instrumentation was groundbreaking (A cello? Are you serious?). And what the hell was that woo-woo sounding thing? I found out later it was an electro-theremen, but all I knew at the time was that it sounded cool as hell. We all know that Lennon and McCartney were trying desperately to keep up with Wilson in the studio production department during the mid-60’s. The album Pet Sounds, and this song, illustrates why.

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967)

Morrison’s most enduring song, and although it’s been covered by a million people, nobody does it like Van the Man.

Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire (1965)

Loved the lyrics to this one, and it was played repeatedly on the stereo on Taylor Street in Southern Ohio back when I was a kid.

You may leave here for four days in space,
But when you return it’s the same damned place.
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next-door neighbor,
But don’t forget to say grace.

So, what did I miss? What are your favorite song from the 1960s? And don’t tell me it was before your time. You’ve heard the songs. Music is timeless. Let’s hear it.

I’ve said it a million times – Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame, and until he is the whole thing is meaningless. I’ve written about it many times, including my latest and cleverly titled blog Put Todd Rundgren in the Hall of Fame! Bottom line, Todd should be in and it’s a damn cryin’ shame that’s he’s not there already. But back to the point of this blog, and that is my Top 15 favorite Todd songs. Read, listen and I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. Let’s do this . . .

I’ll include Utopia as well.

Hello, It’s Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

I know, I know, it’s a simple love song. But this gem was on the “live” side of the legendary Something/Anything? album and it was done in one take. ONE. TAKE. Give a listen to absolute pop brilliance . . .

Lysistrata (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Todd recorded this song with his group Utopia, and believe it or not it’s about an ancient Greek queen that caused a war. Just typical rock content, right? I think not. What a great song.

I Saw the Light (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just an absolute confection of pure pop magic. So good. Here’s Todd performing the song with Daryl Hall in Hawaii. Enjoy.

It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just a great song about the insanity of jealousy. I mean, if someone is going to be jealous of you even though you’re faithful, then what’s the point? “If I ever thought of lyin’, I’d rather think of dyin’ instead.

We Gotta Get You a Woman (Runt) – 1970

Todd’s first big hit, from the album Runt. LOVE it. It had me from the opening chords.

It Takes Two to Tango (Something/Anything) – 1972

An apologetic song about Todd’s lost loves. Sort of. Because you know, it takes two to tango. Plus you must admit you learned a bit . . .

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (Utopia) – 1982

Love the Beatlesque harmonies in this one. Another song Todd recorded with his band Utopia. Roger Powell actually sings a lot of the lead, but it’s still a great Rundgren song.

One World (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Yet another Utopia release, and it’s one of Todd’s signature rock anthems. Good stuff.

Can We Still Be Friends (Hermit of Mink Hollow) – 1978

From the underrated Hermit of Mink Hollow album. I wore this record out in my apartment at 178 West 8th Avenue, Apt. C just off the Ohio State campus. Ah, the memories. The song reflects on the age old and difficult task of maintaining a friendship even after the intimacy has ended. Here’s Todd, again with Daryl Hall:

Drive (The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect) – 1982

Have you noticed how prolific Todd was in 1982? Anyway, this may be my second or third favorite Rundgren tune. The guitar intro, the soaring vocals, the harmonies. Just a stellar song.

One More Day (Something/Anything?) – 1972

A pretty amazing song about having just one more day, whether is be in Vietnam, a relationship, a job, whatever. Poignant.

Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Some think this song was a prelude to punk, and who am I to argue? The raw vocals, the distorted, loud guitars, it’s all there. Todd? He refers to it as “power pop” and it’s that too.

Piss Aaron (Something/Anything?) – 1972

This is a song about high school we can all relate to. It’s about kids who were, well, a little weird. The outcasts if you will. Todd had literally no boundaries where song content was concerned.

Some Folks is Even Whiter Than Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Straight ahead rock and roll with a message that’s entirely relevant today. Listen to Todd shred on guitar, and the sax wails as well. Love. This. Song.

You Left Me Sore (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Yeah, this song is pretty much what you think it’s about. There’s no misreading the lyrics, man. Only Todd could make a cool song about STDs. It’s from the famous Side 4 of the album, where everything is live and loose, hence the false starts and laughing during the song. Just a great little inappropriate pop song.

Yes, I know a lot of the songs I chose came from one album, and that’s ok. You know why? Because Something/Anything? is one of the best albums ever recorded. So there. Click on that link for my opinion.

As some of you know, I’ve had a lifelong habit of running into famous people, and it happened with Todd too. From an earlier blog:

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago when I literally ran into the man himself. My hands flew to my face as I yelled, “TODD RUNDGREN!” Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded, “YES!” Bastard was mocking me. After a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Nice life-moment for me I must admit.

Todd, man. Appreciate him.

 

 

Great cover of a great Byrds song, originally written by Bob Dylan.

So good.

Love it.

While researching artists I thought should be in the Hall of Fame, Warren Zevon in particular, I came across this gem of Eddie singing Zevon’s last song before he died. Blew me away. So damn good. Enjoy.

To me, the Rock Hall of Fame has become a bit of a joke. I mean, some of the artists who have made it in are a bit of a joke. I mean, Chic? Really? Anyway, what follows are 10 bands or artists that I think should be in, some obvious, others not so much. Let us commence . . .

Todd Rundgren

How is Todd Rundgren not in the Rock Hall of Fame? HOW? Todd Rundgren not only recorded what is in my opinion one of the greatest albums in history, Something/Anything?, he’s an amazing, ground-breaking producer as well. He produced the albums Straight Up by Badfinger, Stage Fright by The Band, We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad, Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf, and New York Dolls by the New York Dolls among many, many others. Folks, those are some amazing, historical albums.

Todd was a forerunner in creating music videos, and his video for the song Time Heals was one of the first videos played on MTV. In addition, his song “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” has had a major influence on artists in the power pop musical genre.

Oh, and in 1985 Todd recorded the incredible album A Cappella, which was recorded using his multi-tracked voice, accompanied by arrangements constructed entirely from programmed vocal samples. Again, no instruments, just his voice imitating instruments. I’d like to see Hall of Famer Robin Zander of Cheap Trick try that.

Rundgren has also played nearly every instrument on many of his albums, and he’s played them well.

If you want to read my blog about his greatest album, click this link:

Something/Anything?: Todd Rundgren’s Magnum Opus

Todd needs to be in The Hall, man.

The Replacements

Quite simply, The Replacements are considered one of the pioneers of alternative rock. Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars formed the group, and their catalog is one of the most admired in rock. From the high octane “Kids Don’t Follow” and “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash” through their mid-period stuff like “Hootenanny” and “If Only You Were Lonely” they never let up. And everything that contributed to the band’s failure to achieve breakthrough success — contempt, self-doubt, drug and alcohol abuse, and pure hatred for each other — also contributed to their mythology. This is one band that deserves a Hall of Fame nod precisely because they didn’t make it big. Westerberg’s solo stuff is amazing as well.

Big Star

Big Star’s potent mix of power pop, psychedelia and adolescent angst made them the definitive cult rock band and informed generations of indie rockers. They were formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by the legendary Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel. The group broke up in 1974, and reorganized with a new line-up nearly 20 years later. So damn good. Groups like REM and Pearl Jam bow at the feet of these guys. Give a listen to September Gurls and tell me they’re not great:

The Pixies

The Pixies became a defining leader of alternative rock in the 1990’s, which ought to be enough for the them to earn consideration for a place in the Hall. The Pixies introduced introspection, poetic absurdity and killer hooks into punk rock, establishing a template for those to follow like Nirvana, Pavement, Guided by Voices, Liz Phair and, even later, Weezer and Green Day. Formed in 1986, the original line-up comprised Black Francis (who performed awesomely solo as Frank Black), Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering.

The Smiths

The most English of England’s major ’80s alternative-rock bands, the Smiths never rose above cult status in the United States. But their unique style — nostalgic, understated, sarcastic, a little snarky — has been enormously influential, especially in Scotland (Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, the Vaselines). But whatever chemistry went into the Smiths’ brief, electric career has never been rediscovered — not even by former Smiths Morrissey or Johnny Marr.

Television

The offbeat guitar heroes of New York’s original CBGB scene, Television defied the punk ethos with long, intricate songs that were part prog rock, part New Wave, with elements of garage rock and jazz fusion thrown in. Television owes an obvious debt to the Velvet Underground, but dozens of other important bands — from U2, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth to XTC and the Talking Heads — owe something considerable to Television. Television was AMAZING. Check them out and tell me if you agree:

Kraftwerk

Electronic music has been such an important part of rock music in the ensuing decades. Can’t these guys get in under the “influences” tag if nothing else? In fact, where are any of the great German bands, like Fury in the Slaughterhouse? My first introduction to Kraftwerk was in the 1981 when I heard “Pocket Calculator” on the album Computer World. Classic stuff. Listen up:

New York Dolls

Madonna made it in. David Bowie made it in. Iggy & The Stooges made it in. What kind of grassroots push is it going to take to put in these guys? Or will Buster Poindexter be admitted first? Can they at least be considered “influences”? Good God man. I am proud to say I once saw The Dolls at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus as part of the really weird lineup of the New York Dolls, The Babys and REO Speedwagon. Crazy stuff.

Warren Zevon

I swear to God I had to research this because I was convinced Zevon was in. How? Why? And do you know how many times he’s been nominated? ZERO, although he’s been eligible since 1994. This makes no sense on any level. With songs like “Werewolves of London”, “Excitable Boy” and his final song just before he died of cancer, “Keep Me in Your Heart” he just has to get in soon. Artists like REM, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have all publicly agreed with me. Fun Fact: I was in the Serene Lounge just off Ohio State campus in 1978 when a friend walked in and told me he had an extra ticket to see Warren Zevon at what was then Zachariah’s Red Eye Saloon. I’d never heard of him, but I said sure and was blown away. Anyway, put him in!

The Hoodoo Gurus

OK, maybe the Gurus are a stretch. Still, I believe these guys are one of the most underappreciated bands in rock history. In fact, I wrote about them in a blog called The Best Band You’ve Never Heard: The Hoodoo Gurus. The Gurus style is based on straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, no doubt about it. From 1960s power pop to garage punk to hard driving rock and funky psychedelic kitsch their music pretty much covers the spectrum. The kicker for me though, as always, is the hook. Gotta have the hook in my opinion, and the Gurus deliver them in abundance. They also are a lyrically intelligent group who invariably bring a smile to my face whenever I hear them. So, if you want to hear some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll peppered with a dash of wit, catchy hooks, jangly guitars, and some occasional scathing social commentary, The Gurus are for you. And although they won’t get in, they should be considered.

So, who ya got? Anyone you think needs to be in? Then again, like I said, KISS, Donovan, Chic and ABBA are in there, so what does it all mean anyway?