The 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees are…(drumroll)…

28 09 2010

  • Alice Cooper
  • Beastie Boys
  • Bon Jovi
  • Chic
  • Neil Diamond
  • Donovan
  • Dr. John
  • J. Geils Band
  • LL Cool J
  • Darlene Love
  • Laura Nyro
  • Donna Summer
  • Joe Tex
  • Tom Waits
  • Chuck Willis

Every year I say this and I feel compelled to repeat it.  This year’s list of nominees include people that have no business being in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before rock acts like T. Rex and The Faces.  Rod Stewart is in solo, but the band that made him great, a massively influential group, waits and waits and waits.  T. Rex, admittedly, lacked some substance, but they were a very influential rock band, the kings of the Glam movement.  Bands like Oasis made fortunes pinching some of Bolan’s work.

I’m not a Rush fan personally, but it’s ludicrous to think that Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Chic (Chic???), Bon Jovi and Dr. John could make their way into the RRHOF before Rush.


The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (31-40)

26 09 2010

Continued from prior posts…


31.  I Am The Walrus — Elementary penguin singin’ Hare Krishna, man you shoulda seen them kicking Edgar Allen Poe.  Brilliant avant garde psychedelia.  McCartney’s bass lines almost go unnoticed in a song so rich, but they quite good.

32.  I Want to Hold Your Hand — “Bubble gum pop” is used dismissively to describe some of the mega-hits of Beatlemania:  She Loves You, Please Please Me, All My Loving.  There’s no doubt the Beatles still say rock and roll as (perhaps) limited its most common theme – love.  What is sometimes forgotten is that their songs were, even then, rock n’ roll!  The opening rif of I Want to Hold Your Hand is still, I think, a very powerful guitar statement.  It’s a great little rock song.

33.  This Boy — It’s straight out of the 50’s, which makes it one of the few Beatles songs one could argue is “dated.”  It really pre-dates their own sound.  What makes it great is the vocal work.  John sounds incredible on lead and George and Paul do a great job backing him.  The use of the third person, “this boy” vs. “me” or “I,” is a nice change of pace.

34.  You’re Gonna Lose that Girl — Where She Loves You was meant to reassure the other poor sap that his relationship was secure, in You’re Gonna Lose That Girl, the male lover is told she’s about ready to dump him for the singer.  It seems a bit ballsy to tell another guy, presumably to his face, that you’re about ready to steal his girlfriend.  The bongos and the vocals do it for me.  When I was a kid I thought the Beatles “sounded American” when they sang, but when you listen closely you can really hear George’s and Paul’s Scouse accents.

35.  You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away — Dylan’s influence oozes out of this tune.  It hints at the more folk-like sound to come on Rubber Soul.  This one’s a personal favorite of mine.  The flute at the end is a great touch.

36.  I Want You (She’s So Heavy) — I’d be remiss to fail to mention an Abbey Road song on this the 41st anniversary of its release.   IWYSSH is dirty, grungy, groovy, loud, lounge-y.  It couldn’t be any simpler lyrically but it’s varied layered musically.  It has a “wall of sound” quality to it.   All the guitars must have (each) been multi-tracked, or so I would guess.  It proves (once again) the sometimes the best rock n’ roll is the simplest.

37.  You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) — Good evening and welcome to Slagger’s, featuring Dennis O’Bell.  No matter how many times I hear this, I crack up.  It’s a smart little piece of lounge music besides being funny.

38.  Here Comes the Sun — Although it’s now a staple of oldies radio, it’s hard not to smile everytime it comes on the radio.  The guitar work is stellar.  George, who could appear so dour, spews optimism, an incredible feat considering he’d only “quit” the band a few months previously and wrote this in the midst of the breakup.  Maybe he was foreseeing freedom in his future.

39.  Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight — It might be technically improper to break up the famous side 2 medley into individual songs or to treat these as one, but I’ve always listened to Golden Slumbers/Carry that weight as one song.  When I feel like crap, this song is soothing.

40.  Eleanor Rigby — It’s a great piece of rock art.  Apparently there’s debate over who really wrote what in this song.  If this was truly collaborative — with George even pitching in — it’s evidence why the Beatles were so great as a unit.

26 September 1969

26 09 2010

On this day in 1969 — 41 years ago already! — one of the greatest albums ever made was released in the UK.  It was released on October 1 in the USA.

Leonard Skinner has passed

21 09 2010

Former Robert E. Lee High School gym teacher, Leonard Skinner, the inspiration for the band name, Lynard Skynard, has passed.  He was 77.

Follow this link and there’s a little interview with Mr. Skinner about his encounter with one of the band members that lead to him being the inspiration for the band’s classic name.

The Beatles’ 100 Best Songs, according to me (21-30)

9 09 2010

Continued from prior posts…


21.  Yesterday I feel almost duty-bound to include this one on my list earlier rather than later.  There’s no doubt it’s an incredible composition both musically and lyrically.  It is said to be the most covered song in pop music history.  Sadly, though, it no longer speaks to me on the emotional level it once did.  Perhaps that’s because it’s a sentimental favorite, a staple of oldies radio.  Who knows?  Whatever I might (or might not) feel about it, Yesterday must be acknowledged as a monumental pop music achievement.

22.  Come Together I love the swampy bass and the nonsense lyrics.  It’s one of John’s best later numbers.

23.  I Should Have Known Better I know this song from its American release on the Hey Jude” compilation album, but it’s from A Hard Day’s Night.   The vocals, I think, capture a certain feeling.  I like the change between major and minor chords.

24.  I Wanna Be Your Man At the risk of overstating its significance, I have put I Wanna Be Your Man this high on my list because I see it as essentially proto-punk.  This is the kind of song that spawned the music of the Ramones and, thus, much of the rest of the Punk and New Wave movements.  It’s simple and its quality is in its simplicity and raw energy.

25.  Nowhere Man Near perfect guitar pop.  The Beatles hit a home run when they decided to crank the treble up to 11.  It’s one of the rare instances in which all that jangly crunch is pleasing to the ears.  I also suspect, like McCartney does, that Lennon was being at least semi-autobiographical.  It comes at the tail end of what he described as his own “Fat Elvis” period.  The lyrics are quite meaningful, layered.

26.  Happiness Is A Warm Gun Talk all you want about this being a drug song.  It really is more complicated than that.  It’s probably about Yoko more than anything.  You get 3 songlets in one, sort of a micro rock opera.  The fuzzy guitar’s velvety smooth.  It’s acid-drenched do-wop.

27.  Michelle Some unexplained force or feeling compels me to list this song at this point.  It’s easily dismissable as sentimental drivel.  If you don’t believe me, just read the lyrics by themselves.  But when you understand that Paul was going for a Nina Simone feel with “I love you, I love you, I love you,” and you listen to the bass and lead guitar, you hear it as a jazzy ballad.  The French, while at first blush cutesy, is actually a pleasantly clever trick, a change-up American pop love songs.  Once again, it shows the Beatles taking a pinch of work done before them and making it into their own one-of-a-kind sound.

28.  Hey Bulldog Lennon dismissed it as a song that “means nothing,” in his typical cynical fashion. Who cares what the song means, it rocks!  There are a lot of chord changes and progressions.  The guitar’s great and the bass is just plain frickin’ sick!  This song is a great example of why McCartney is revered as a rock bass pioneer.  It was a good preview of the crunchy rock to follow on the so-called White Album.

29.  Got to Get You into My Life The horn section intro sets the table for scrumptious plastic soul.  It’s McCartney doing white-boy Motown…and kicking ass in the process.  It really doesn’t sound like Motown to me.  It sounds like the bloody Beatles !  To think that Paul was barely 24 when he wrote put together this gem.

30.  She Came in Through the Bathroom Window This one’s said to be inspired by a real groupie that got into Paul’s place through a bathroom window.  It’s more abstract than that and has the day of the week word play reminiscent of “Lady Madonna.”  Once again, the rhythm section carries the song.  Paul and Ringo are at their best on this track.  Joe Cocker can stick this one up his goofy, spasmatic, gyrating arse.  The Beatles’ version is the best.

The Beatles 100 Best Songs, according to me (11-20)

6 09 2010

As I said in the earlier post on this subject — assuming you’ve seen it — I am listing my top 100 Beatles songs. The order I assign isn’t, in my mind, terrificly important.

11. Here, There and Everywhere — It’s clean, sweet and nice. The melody’s brilliant. It’s yet another great example of the Beatles as a second-to-none vocal group.

12. Revolution — The fast version (B-Side to Hey Jude), which John never particularly cared for, is one of the best rock songs ever. It’s timeless.

13. Revolution No. 1 — I’ve never been able to pick between the single and the album cuts. Too bad Revolution Take 20 didn’t make the album in place of Revolution No. 9 and No. 1.

14. Something — It might be the best love song of the rock era. George’s best work was as good as anything the other guys wrote and better than most of it. My favorite thing about “Something” is McCartney’s bass work, especially under the guitar solo. There’s not been a better bass performance than that.

15. Strawberry Fields Forever — SFF came to be the sound of the psychedelic 60’s but it transcends its own time. It sounds fresh 44 years hence.

16. While My Guitar Gently Weeps — Everyone knows that Clapton played lead guitar. Undoubtedly he infused the song with a power it would not have had with George or John playing lead. Even so, I probably prefer the acoustic demo version that found its way onto Anthology 3 and Love.

17. Penny Lane — A masterful example of what one musical genius can do when spurred on to outdo another musical genius. McCartney, taking John’s cue, painted a slightly “surreal” (Paul’s word) picture of life in Liverpool. Strawberry Fields Forever had a tinge of darkness, a hint of sadness. It’s double A-side was more upbeat and optimistic; Paul making “clean” pop to surpass Pet Sounds.

18. Helter Skelter — One of the loudest rock songs of the 60’s. If you break the performances down by instrument, it’s actually not that great of a song. But the song as a whole is a monster. It’s gritty and dirty. The lyrics do no more and no less than necessary.

19. Rain — Other lists would put this one much lower, but its one of the favorites of my favorites. It’s the quintessential psychedelic rock track. It’s very powerful and a lot of fun, with just enough weirdness to be a tad artsy and interesting. Pay attention to the bass and drums. It’s maybe Ringo’s best work on the skins.

20. Paperback Writer — Just like Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane are great points/counter-points, Paperback Writer and Rain really sort of answer each other, mostly in the sound. It’s a great rock track, one of Paul’s best high energy numbers.

Irish run Guns N’ Roses off the stage

3 09 2010

I’m not condoning the throwing of “missles” but it’s about time someone told Axl Rose he should be grown up enough to show up on time for work.