WHAT THE RIFF takes a look at a “rock and roll” album that debuted or peaked on the Billboard charts during a month in a year between 1965-1995. Four friends discuss four tracks from the album as it plays in the background - one well-known and three deeper cuts. Then we expand into 4 “staff picks” o…
Pink Floyd would score another big hit and some mainstream crossover success with their eleventh studio album, The Wall. Originally conceived by bassist Roger Waters, The Wall explores the self-isolation of a cynical rock star named Pink, and portrays events in his life from the loss of his father, to childhood trauma, to the pressures of rock stardom as bricks forming the wall. Parts of the story are autobiographical from Waters, and parts naturally are based on former front man Syd Barrett. The album was a commercial success, the most successful double album of all time, the second most popular Pink Floyd album behind their monstrous hit "Dark Side of the Moon," and would produce the groups only number 1 single on the charts with "Another Brick in the Wall, part 2." Critical reviews were mixed at first, with some considering the rock opera to be pretentious, but the reviews would turn more positive over time.This would be the last album to feature the classic band lineup. Richard Wright would be fired by Roger Waters during production, though he would stay on as a studio musician for the album. One further studio album would be produced before acrimony would lead to Waters departure from the band.What the Riff co-founder Brian Dickhute brings us this album for today's podcast. Brian is also using this as a swan song of sorts as he takes a break from regular podcasting duties to spend more time with the family. Thanks so much for all your work over these hundreds of podcasts, Brian! Hey YouThis well-known track leads off side three of the album and reflects the desperation as Pink realizes how the wall of isolation he has built has trapped him in a cell of his own creation. The inspiration for this song was the breakup of Waters' marriage.Is There Anybody Out There?In the film this song is used to transition from Pink the rock star to Pink the dictator. Session musician Joe DiBlasi was brought in to play the fingerstyle guitar on this piece.Nobody's HomeThe last song written for the album was the result of a fight between Roger Waters and David Gilmour. It was inspired by the isolation Waters felt during their 1977 tour and musings on Syd Barrett. Some of the lyrics are also built around Richard Wright, keyboardist, who was allegedly dealing with drug addiction at the time.VeraThis song is a flashback to days of World War II. The title was inspired by Vera Lynn, a British singer popular during the war who sang the song "We'll Meet Again." Waters lost his grandfather in WWI and his father in WWII.Bring the Boys Back HomeRoger Waters considers this brief song the central theme of the album. The idea is that not just war, but all activity including business and rock music should not be allowed to isolate a person from friends and family. Comfortably NumbOne of the more popular songs from the album, the music was written by David Gilmour and the lyrics by Roger Waters. A significant argument occurred between Gilmour and Waters on the arrangement of this piece, with Gilmour preferring a stripped-down format and Watters wanting a more symphonic approach. The contrasting sections of orchestration and more simplistic riffs is the result of the compromise made for the piece. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Frosty the Snowman by Jimmy Durante No, it isn't Christmas again. Popular entertainer Jimmy Durante passed away in January of 1980, and his is one of his best known songs. STAFF PICKS:The Spirit of Radio by Rush Bruce sneaks another Rush song in for Brian's final episode as a regular podcaster. The lead-off track to Rush's album "Permanent Waves" was inspired by the slogan of CFNY-FM in Toronto. FM radio was moving from a more free-form format to a more commercial format, and CFNY was bucking the trend. Damned If I Do by the Alan Parsons ProjectRob brings us a piece from Alan Parsons' fourth studio album called "Eve." The album is focused on the strength and characteristics of women and the difficulties they face in a world of men. "Damned if I do, damned if I don't, but I love you."Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) by Pat Travers Wayne's staff pick is a boogie woogie cover of a blues song originally released by Little Walter in 1957. It is a well known party song which would not be politically correct today. There's some great guitar playing, and an excellent call-and-response in the live version. Ladies Night by Kool & The GangBrian's staff pick was a popular song in the dying days of disco. This song would see a revitalization of Kool & the Gang's popularity going into the early 80's. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Pipeline '76 by Roger PowellIt is unusual to find surfing instrumentals during the early 80's, but this one was around at the time.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Paranoid, the second studio album by Black Sabbath, to be the number one of its "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time." Originally known by the name Earth, the band took the name Black Sabbath from a 1963 horror film starring Boris Karloff. The band members were Bill Ward on percussion, Geezer Butler on bass, Tony Iommi on guitar, and Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. It was originally a heavy blues band from Birmingham, England, but took on a darker complexion with lyrics of doom.Much of the music on Paranoid was developed during jams while the band was on the road.This album was panned by critics at the time, but it reached number 12 on the US charts. This is quite a feat, considering that the band received virtually no airplay on rock radio when the album came out. It would come to be considered a great heavy metal album, and Black Sabbath would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Wayne brings us this forerunner of prog rock and heavy metal. War PigsThe lead track for the album was originally going to be called "Walpurgis," a term for a black magic wedding or a Satanic version of Christmas. The label had concerns about this and had them change the title to War Pigs. The lyrics are about warmongers trying to get the working class to fight the wars for them.Paranoid This was the band's only top 10 hit in the UK, and it went to number 61 in the US. Though named "paranoid," the song is really about depression. The riffs bear a striking resemblance to Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown." Led Zeppelin was one of the band's favorite groups at the time.Rat SaladThis track is largely a guitar and drum solo. The name comes from a joke about Ward's hair not being combed. This would be used in concerts as "filler" to give the vocalists a break.Iron Man One of the more famous singles from Black Sabbath, it became even more famous after being used in Marvel's Iron Man movie. The lyrics are about a man who travels to the future and sees the apocalypse. When he returns to the present, he is turned into steel, ignored by the population he tries to warn, and turns vengeful - causing the destruction seen in his vision. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main theme from the television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”This sitcom set in Minneapolis benefitted from early 70's feminism as it featured a single career-oriented woman making her way on her own. STAFF PICKS:It's A Shame by The SpinnersBruce's staff pick brought the Spinners a hit at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, their first hit in about 5 years. This single was co-written by Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright in their first collaboration. Wonder and Wright would get married in September of 1970. The Spinners would go on to have bigger success after signing with Atlantic in 1972.War by Edwin Starr Rob brings us a classic protest song. "War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." Motown first released this song with the Temptations, but Starr would take it to number 1 with a heavier sound, reminiscent of James Brown. The Undisputed Truth is the backing band on this song.I Want to Take You Higher by Ike and Tina Turner Brian's staff pick is a cover originally performed by Sly & the Family Stone. Ike and Tina Turner would take this song to number 13 on the charts, so they did ineed take it higher than the original which peaked at number 38.Tighter Tighter by Alive 'N Kickin' Wayne features a one-hit wonder written by Tommy James that Alive N' Kickin' took to number 7. The group split up shortly after the single fell off the charts. They would reform in 1976, and still perform from time to time today. Despite being a pop love song, it has a surprisingly solid guitar riff. NOVELTY TRACK:Rubber Duckie by ErnieThis Sesame Street song was on the pop charts a number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September of 1970.
Sam Moore and Dave Prater were known as Sam & Dave, a huge soul act from the late 60's. They were known as The Sultans of Sweat, The Dynamic Duo, and Double Dynamite. This album is their second studio album out of Stax Records, also called Double Dynamite.Sam & Dave are considered one of the greatest live acts out of the 60's, and a lot of musicians cite their influence on their work, including some you would expect like Al Green and Michael Jackson. There are also a lot of musicians who were influenced who were significantly removed from the R&B genre like Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Steve Winwood.Sam & Dave got their start in church in gospel choirs. They met on the gospel music circuit and sang together in small clubs where they developed their sound based on a call-and-response approach to music from the gospel tradition. They were discovered at the King of Hearts nightclub in Miami in the early 60's, and signed to Marlin Records at first. They eventually made it to Atlantic Records in 1964 from which they were loaned out to Memphis-based Stax Records. Stax had a lot of offer Sam & Dave, including the Stax horn section called the Mar-Keys, and their house band, Booker T. and the M.G.'s.Bruce brings us this icon of soul, and friend of the show John Lynch joins us for this discussion. You Got Me Hummin'Leading off the album, this single was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Sam & Dave took this hit to number 8 on the R&B charts, and number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. A number of other groups would do this song, including Freddie Fender and the Pointer Sisters. Its highest charting on the Billboard Hot 100 was number 52 by Cold Blood.Just Can't Get EnoughThis is a deeper cut, though I imagine just about any Sam & Dave song could be familiar with the number of covers or singers inspired by their songs. This one has some lyrics that might be difficult to sing today - "The more I get the more I want. It makes me feel good 'cause you never say don't. I just cant get enough." Sweet PainsThis track is another deep cut. This one takes a description comparing love to pain, a path that would be echoed in John Cougar's "Hurts So Good," and Sade's "Sweetest Taboo." "Sweet pains, feels good."When Something Is Wrong with My BabyThe big hit off the album was their only ballad single. Hayes and Porter wrote it, and you have both Booker T and the MG's and the Mar-Keys horns playing on it. A bunch of people have covered this song, including Jonny Gill, Charlie Rich, and in 1990 Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville did well with it. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Marching Theme to the motion picture "Follow Me, Boys!"This Boy Scout themed movie starring a young Kurt Russel was the last film Disney Studios released prior to Walt Disney's death. STAFF PICKS:Mellow Yellow by DonovanRob kicks off the staff picks with a psychedelic hit. Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan took this song to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Some thought the song was about a type of drug, but it was actually about a...well, let's just say it is an adult toy.Talk Talk by The Music MachineWayne's staff pick is a garage band one-hit wonder. This song would use some techniques which were novel at the time, including the use of a fuzz box on the bass line, and tuning the instruments down a half step to produce a heavier sound. If I Were a Carpenter by Bobby Darin Brian brings us a song written by Tim Hardin and popularized by Bobby Darin. It hit number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, Darin's first hit in three years. The lyrics question whether an elegant woman would be satisfied with a man who was merely a carpenter. Darin had passed on two songs, "Do You Believe In Magic" and "Summer in the City," both of which would be hits for the Lovin' Spoonful. You Keep Me Hangin' On by The SupremesFriend of the show John Lynch brings us a big hit for Diana Ross and the Supremes. It would also be a hit for a long list of cover artists including Vanilla Fudge, Phil Collins, Kim Wilde, and Rod Stewart. NOVELTY TRACK:Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville BandThis novelty song doubles up as Bruce's staff pick. It was a number 1 hit in the United States and would win the Grammy for the best contemporary song in 1967, beating out singles from the Monkees, the Beach Boys, and the Beatles.
The supergroup U.K. was founded by former King Crimson percussionist Bill Bruford (also a former founder of Yes) and bassist and vocalist John Wetton (also a former member of Uriah Heep, and Roxy Music). After failing to reform King Crimson, each of the two brought in a musician they thought would work well in the group. Wetton brought in Eddie Jobson, violinist and keyboardist from Frank Zappa's band. Bruford brought in Allan Holdsworth on guitars (who had worked on Bruford's prior solo project. Their self titled debut album was released in May, 1978. Although a couple of songs were edited for single release, the album U.K. is best known as a prog rock masterpiece, and is cited as inspirational to many musicians who followed in the prog rock genre. After an extensive tour supporting the album, Wetton and Jobson had a falling out with Holdsworth and fired him. Bill Bruford left at that time and was replaced by Terry Bozzio, another alumnus of Frank Zappa's band and a future founding member of Missing Persons. John Wetton would go on in the days after U.K. to be the front man for Asia.Rob brings us the prog rock monster-piece. In the Dead of NightThe track that leads off the album was one of two songs to be edited for release as a single. On the album it is the first of three songs which form a continuous suite on the first album side. The 7/4 time and the synthesizer - the Yamaha CS-80 had just been released - are prog rock hallmarks. The electric violin is an unusual addition.By the Light of DayThis track is the second movement of the "In the Dead of Night" suite. Rather than have a clear change in tracks, there is a slow transition via a "spacey" interlude into the new song of the suite. "Black clouds moving gray skies to thunder. Kinetic sunrise fever and flood. Fire and water element anger horizon melting to blood."Presto Vivace and RepriseThis is the third movement of the "In the Dead of Night suite. This is a much faster piece (as the term Vivace would suggest) before transitioning back into a reprise of "In the Dead of Night."Time to KillThe abrupt start to this song is due to the way the tracks drift into each other. The concept is that of boredom, of being stuck in a place. "Time to kill, going nowhere, killing time, staying where there's time to kill, going nowhere..." ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:That'll Be the Day by Buddy Holly (from the motion picture "The Buddy Holly Story") Gary Busey was nominated for the Oscar for his portrayal of early rocker Buddy Holly in this film. Busey would sing and play for the part. STAFF PICKS:Goodbye Girl by David Gates Bruce leads off the staff picks with a soft rock solo from former Bread front man David Gates. The song is from the Neil Simon movie "The Goodbye Girl," which would lead to Richard Dreyfuss becoming the youngest man to win an Oscar for Best Actor at the time. Lay Down Sally by Eric Clapton Brian presents a pop hit from Clapton's album Slowhand. It went to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was written by Clapton, George Terry (guitar), and Marcy Levy (who sings the female parts on the song). It was written in the country blues style of J.J. Cale, and hit number 26 on the Hot Country Songs chart, Clapton's best showing on that chart as a crossover.Ain't It Fun by Dead BoysWayne features a song from Cleveland's own Dead Boys. This song appears on their second studio album, "We Have Come for Your Children." They were known as one of the rowdiest bands on the punk scene. It hit number 8 on the Mainstream Rock charts, and is an ode to the punk rock lifestyle.With a Little Luck by WingsRob brings us Paul McCartney with a song recorded largely in the Virgin Islands on a yacht equipped with a 24-track mobile recording studio installed on it. This single from the album "London Town" hit number 1 on the pop charts. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Alaska by U.K. This instrumental lets us do some double dipping with the track that leads off side 2 of the U.K. album.
The cult classic film Easy Rider was released this month. A landmark counter culture movie, the film traces the journey of Wyatt and Billy as they make their way on motorcycles from a successful drug deal in Los Angeles to the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans. Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern wrote the film, and it stars Fonda, Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. Dennis Hopper directed the movie. Originally the plan was for Crosby, Stills & Nash to do all the songs on the soundtrack. When the editor plugged in contemporary songs as placeholders, the sound convinced Dennis Hopper to reverse this decision.The Easy Rider Soundtrack was crafted with contemporary late 60's music, and stands out as an excellent example of the music of the counterculture. Each piece used in the movie was curated with the idea of maintaining the story. Wayne brings us this forerunner of prog rock and heavy metal. Don't Bogart Me by Fraternity of ManPsychedelic and blues rock band the Fraternity of Man would have their biggest hit with this song. It recommends generosity with illicit smoking materials. This song originally appeared on their self-titled debut album in 1968 before being included in this soundtrack.Ballad of Easy Rider by Roger McGuinnBob Dylan was an uncredited contributor on this song. The Byrds front man Roger McGuinn performed this as a solo work. It was the only song originally written for this film, and appeared on one of McGuinn's albums later.The Weight by The BandThis song chronicles the experience of a visitor to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, even though much of its influence is from the American South. Nazareth is the home of Martin guitars, and that is why the lyrics transfer to that location. Licensing could not be gained for the soundtrack even though it was used in the film, so a group called Smith was used for the soundtrack instead of The Band.Born To Be Wild by SteppenwolfSteppenwolf's most successful single appeared on their debut album in 1968 before being used in "Easy Rider." Many consider it to be the first heavy metal song, and the lyric "heavy metal thunder" contributes to that. This song would be used as a motorcycle anthem from this time on. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Wasn't Born to Follow by The Byrds (from the motion picture “Easy Rider”)Yes, we get to do a little double dipping with our entertainment track this week. STAFF PICKS:Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie DeShannonRob opens this week's staff picks with a song that hit number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was used in the film "Drugstore Cowboy." Jackie DeShannon is best known for the song, "What the World Needs Now is Love." DeShannon also wrote "Betty Davis Eyes" for Kim Carnes.In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley Brian brings us The King with a poignant song about a child from the dirt street part of town. Writer Mac Davis was inspired by the story of a friend who grew up in poverty. Elvis completely identified with this song because of his impoverished upbringing.I Can Sing a Rainbow/Love Is Blue by the Dells Bruce's staff pick is a cover medley of Sing a Rainbow, best known in its 1955 rendition by Peggy Lee, and Love is Blue, originally a French song best known as an instrumental easy listening piece by Paul Mauriat that was a number 1 hit in March of 1968. the Dells hit number 22 on the US charts with this version during the height of their success between 1966 and 1973.I'd Rather Be an Old Man's Sweetheart by Candi Staton Wayne features a soul hit from Muscle Shoals. This is Staton's first hit, rising to number 9 on the R&B charts, and number 46 on the pop charts. Staton is known as the "First Lady of Southern Soul." "I'd rather be an old man's sweetheart than a young man's fool." INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:A Boy Named Sue by Johnny CashCash released this novelty song telling the story of a boy who had to grow up tough after his absentee father left him with the name of Sue.
Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot would see his commercial success zenith with this tenth studio album, Sundown. Lightfoot got his start in music at an early age, singing in the choir at St. Paul's United Church in Orillia, Ontario as a child. As a young man he lived in California for a short period, studying jazz composition and writing jingles to support himself, but he soon chose to return to his native Canada and never left. Gordon Lightfoot would inspire many artists - Bob Dylan considered him a type of mentor - and numerous artists would cover his songs, including artists like Glenn Campbell, Olivia Newton-John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and the Grateful Dead. Sundown showcases Lightfoot's folk and country blend. It hit number 1 on the US Billboard 200 charts, the only Lightfoot album to do so to date. Lightfoot's baritone voice and acoustic-led approach to songwriting would prove a powerful formula for success in the soft rock genre of the 70's. Gordon Lightfoot would continue writing songs for many years, and his 21'st studio album was released in 2020.Brian brings us this album for today's podcast. SundownThe title track was inspired by Lightfoot's then-girlfriend, Cathy Smith. She would spend a lot of time drinking in the bars during the day while Lightfoot was working on the album, and he worried about her running off with someone. And yes, the song was written around sundown. It was Lightfoot's only Number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.High and DryThis upbeat folk song references the sea as a metaphor for a girl who the singer hopes will settle down before she gets left high and dry. The female harmonies on this song are from Cathy Smith, with whom Lightfoot was having a tumultuous relationship (see above: “Sundown.”).The Watchman's GoneSpeculation abounds that the Watchman in this deeper cut may be alcohol, or the devil, or maybe death. "You better beware, knowin' the watchman's always there."Carefree HighwayThis song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It tells of the highway as a means to escape the oft-returning thoughts of a relationship that was lost long ago. Lightfoot saw a sign to Carefree, Arizona, and that inspired the title. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Day By Day by Robin Lamont (from the motion picture “Godspell”) This song was on the charts at the time. It came from the motion picture, based on the musical "Godspell." STAFF PICKS:Music Eyes by Hartsfield Wayne leads off the staff picks with an underrated but epic song. JC Hartsfield and Perry Jordan created the band in 1970 in Chicago, though the band has more of a country rock or southern rock sound. Perry Jordan died in 2011, and JC Hartsfield died after a motorcycle accident in 2014. The song was written by Jordan and inspired by a friend's 3 year-old daughter.Spiders and Snakes by Jim StaffordRob brings us this novelty song with a swamp rock feel. Stafford cautions all the guys on being a bit too boyish around the women. "I don't like spiders and snakes, and that ain't what it takes to love me."Rock On by David Essex Bruce's staff pick takes a psychedelic turn. Essex would take this song to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is an ode to the old days of Rock and Roll, with its reference to James Dean, blue suede shoes, and summertime blues. Michael Damian would take a cover to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989.Boogie Down by Eddie KendricksBrian's staff pick takes a dangerously disco turn. Singer-songwriter Eddie Kendricks who co-founded the Temptations would do well in this solo outing. This falsetto song just missed the top of the charts, hitting number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. COMEDY TRACK:The Streak by Ray StevensAnd with that, we're off and running. He likes to show off his physique. Boogity, Boogity!
Foreigner took some significant time between their fourth and fifth studio albums. Agent Provocateur was released in December of 1984 and made it to number 5 on the US charts. Interestingly it hit number 1 in the UK, the only Foreigner album to do so. It had a balance of heavier rock songs and lighter ballads, allowing the group to appeal to both male and female fans.At the time, Foreigner consisted of Lou Gramm on lead vocals and percussion, Mick Jones on guitars and keyboards, Rick Wills on bass, and Dennis Elliott on drums. Jones and Gramm are the primary songwriters, and their differences fuel an excellent sound. Unfortunately, writing credits around this album and its big hit, "I Want to Know What Love Is" would drive dissent. Gramm would appear on the next Foreigner album, then would split from the group.Friend of the show John Lynch joins us in Bruce's absence, and Rob brings us this album. Tooth and NailThe track that leads off the album was co-written by Mick Jones and Lou Gramm. While it received some airplay, this rocker is an underrated song from Foreigner. The lyrics describe a boy considered to be not good enough for the girl, and the fight that he would wage to be worthy of her.Reaction to ActionThe third single from the album is a more hard rocking and energetic song than the first two singles. Jones and Gramm share writing credits for this one as well. The lyrics tell of an intriguing girl and how her actions prompt a "reaction to action."A Love in VainThis deeper cut has a heavy synthesizer sound and a lighter rock feel. This song is also a good showcase of Gramm's vocals.I Want to Know What Love IsThis is the first single and big hit from the album. It was the song that propelled the album, but drove a wedge between Gramm and Jones. The track features a New Jersey choir backing Gramm's vocals. Mick Jones spent a lot of time with the choir, freeing Gramm to sing as he wished. This freedom, coupled with disputes about writing credits, would drive later decisions for Gramm to depart the group. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main theme from "Monday Night Football"Broadcaster Howard Cosell would depart the booth, retiring this month. STAFF PICKS:Walking on a Thin Line by Huey Lewis & the News Brian starts off the staff picks with the fifth single off the album "Sports." Despite its upbeat sound, the subject is more serious than many other Huey Lewis songs. It tells of an American soldier trained as a sniper in the Vietnam War, and who must face his demons when he returns home. Naughty Naughty by John Parr Wayne features a debut single with a great synth beat. English singer songwriter John Parr writes lyrics attempting a romantic conquest. Like a Virgin by MadonnaJohn brings us pop phenomenon Madonna with her first number 1 hit. The song's co-writer Billy Steinberg drew inspiration for this song from a new romantic interest during a time when he thought he would never get over a previous relationship. The song would become a signature song for Madonna and an iconic song of the 80's.Black Cars by Gino VannelliRob continues the synth heavy trend in this podcast. The title track from the album of the same name tells of an aging woman fighting the fading of her beauty. "Black cars look better in the shade. She slips her lipstick on right before she sleeps for all those phantom lovers in her dreams." INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Junku by Herbie HancockThis song was played on Saturday Night Live when Hancock was the musical guest in the month.
The superhero movie “The Crow,” released in 1994, will forever be known for two events. First, the tragic death of lead actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, during production of the film would cast a pall over the movie from then on. Second, the outstanding music of The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would result in a chart-topping album. This soundtrack is a veritable who's who of alternative rock at the time, including artists like The Cure, Violent Femmes, Nine Inch Nails, and Stone Temple Pilots.The Crow is based on a comic book series of the same name, written in 1989. The protagonist is brutally killed by a gang along with his fiancée, and is brought back to life by a crow to wreak vengeance on the murderers.This soundtrack would hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1994.Friend of the show John Lynch leads the commentary on this album.Burn by The CureThe Cure was an inspiration for James O'Barr, the creator of the comic series, and lead man Robert Smith wrote this song specifically for the film. Burn leads off the album. Golgotha Tenement Blues by Machines of Loving GraceThis song was also written specifically for the film. The name of the song takes Christian imagery and reflects it on the dark mood set by the movie. Golgotha was the place where Jesus was crucified, and Tenement reflects the ghetto where the protagonist originated. The song appears only on the soundtrack, not on any MOLG album.Color Me Once by Violent FemmesThis track would significantly enhance the popularity of the Violent Femmes. The song depicts disappointment in relationships when hard realities dash hopes. Slip Slide Melting by For Love Not LisaA rocking track from an underrated group. KISS alum Ace Frehley wrote songs and made guest appearances with For Love Not Lisa. Slip Slide Melting appears on their first album entitled “Melting,” which was released in 1993. They would release one other album before disbanding in 1996. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main Theme from NFL on FOX Newcomer network FOX debuts its first NFL game in August of 1994. STAFF PICKS:New Age Girl by Deadeye DickWayne leads off the staff picks with a song from the soundtrack of “Dumb and Dumber.” The song describes Mary Moon, a new age vegetarian. It generated some controversy with its lyrics, “she don't eat meat, but she sure likes the bone.” Some radio stations would edit out the word "bone." Breathe by Collective Soul Rob features a song off Collective Soul's 1993 album “Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid.” Hailing from Stockbridge, Georgia, Collective Soul would have a number of hits beginning in the 1990s, particularly “Shine” and “The World I Know.”Come to My Window by Melissa EtheridgeBrian brings us the second single from Etheridge's breakout fourth album “Yes I Am.” The song remained in the Billboard Hot 100 for 44 weeks. Etheridge would win a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.Don't Turn Around by Ace of BaseJohn Lynch closes out the staff picks with Swedish reggae group Ace of Base, performing a remastered song originally performed by Tina Turner in 1986. Ace of Base would take their version to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Theme from the motion picture “The Little Rascals”A movie version of the of the old Our Gang comedy short films from 1922 was released in this month.
1968 was a year of disappointments for the Monkees. During this year their television series was cancelled, their first motion picture effort failed at the box office, and band member Peter Tork would leave the group at the end of the year. Despite all this they would still find success in their fifth studio album, The Birds, The Bees & the Monkees. This album would chart at number 3 in the United States and would sell over a million copies.Members Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork had gained artistic control and the right to play their own instruments by 1967, and all band members were credited as producers for the songs on this album. However, much of the music on this album was created by members going their own separate ways and working with session musicians to create the tracks, with few collaborative efforts represented on the album. Nevertheless, the album shows a diverse range of styles from broadway pop, to country & western, to psychedelia. Songs from Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith are represented on the album, and only Peter Tork is excluded. Tork would contribute piano work to the song “Daydream Believer,” but little else on the album.Friend of the show Mike Fernandez brings us this album in Wayne's absence. Daydream BelieverJohn Stewart of the Kingston Trio wrote this song, and it was originally performed by the Monkees with Davy Jones singing lead. It hit number 1 on the US charts. The original lyrics were “and now you know how funky I can be,” but “funky” was changed to “happy” due to concerns that funky might have drug or other unsavory references.Auntie's Municipal Court Mickey Dolenz sings lead on this track composed by Michael Nesmith and Keith Allison. We feel it has a “jangle pop country feel.” The title doesn't appear in the lyrics, and writer Michael Nesmith has no recollection why it was named as it was. It was not the only song whose title was not referenced in the song. Valleri Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote this song with Davy Jones on lead. It reached number 3 on the US charts and would be the last top 10 showing for the Monkees. Guitar work is done by Louie Shelton, a session guitarist with the Wrecking Crew.Zor and Zam Bill and John Chadwick penned this track, sung by Mickey Dolenz. It is an unusual anti-war song in the Monkee's catalogue. The lyrics describe preparation for a war between two kingdoms, but no one shows up when the war is supposed to happen. This psychedelic track closes the album. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main theme from the television series “The Andy Griffith Show”This long running series on the life and time of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina ended its run in this month. STAFF PICKS:Kiss Me Goodbye by Petula ClarkBrian's leads off the staff picks with a Les Reed and Barry Mason composition. This song would reach number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and would be the last time Petula Clark reached into the top 30 on that chart. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by The First Edition Bruce brings us a psychedelic rock song recorded by the First Edition as their second single, and the first to feature Kenny Rogers on lead vocals. It peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Charts and was Rogers' first top 10 hit. The solo is played by Glen Campbell with heavy compression and tremolo to get the psychedelic feel. The lyrics are a warning about the dangers of LSD.Lady Madonna by the Beatles Rob's staff pick is a well-known tune. This was written by Paul McCartney, and marked a change into a more rock sound from the psychedelic sound they had previously explored. It talks about a working class mother who has something to do every day of the week. A Beautiful Morning by the RascalsMike features a very optimistic tune from a prolific group. This easy breezy song was written by Rascals members Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, Jr. in Honolulu, Hawaii, where beautiful mornings are a common occurrence. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:2001: A Space Odyssey (Also Sprach Zarathustra by Ricard Strauss)Stanley Kubrick would make this Richard Strauss theme famous in his epic science fiction movie based on the Arthur C. Clarke book. The film as released this month in 1968....and we couldn't pronounce it either!!
We at What the Riff!?! hope that y'all have a great Christmas — we hope these songs make your season a little more merry and bright.“Deck the Halls” by Twisted SisterThis classic carol was probably not originally envisioned to be quite as rocking as this, but Dee Snyder and Twisted Sister took it up a notch! This is the sixth and last Twisted Sister studio album they would produce, and we're sure they donned their gay apparel for this final outing. “Skynyrd Family” by Lynyrd SkynyrdSome southern charm was put on this song that tells of Lynyrd Skynyrd finishing up their tour and headed home for Christmas. It is off their eleventh studio album entitled “Christmas Time Again,” released in 2000. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by the Jackson 5John Lynch brings us a classic Christmas song as performed by the Jackson 5. Michael Jackson recorded this song on his 12th birthday in 1970.“2000 Miles” by the PretendersThis song was on “Learning to Crawl,” the breakout studio album by the Pretenders released in 1983. Chrissie Hynde wrote the song for James Honeyman-Scott, the group's original guitarist who had passed away the year prior to this recording.“Mistress for Christmas” by AC/DCRob may find a lump of coal in his stocking for picking this song for the Christmas podcast! Brian Johnson of AC/DC isn't looking for peace, love, and joy for Christmas…but for a little Christmas nookie. We learned that this song was inspired by Donald Trump.“Joy to the World” by Michael BoltonWe don't get a lot of Michael Bolton on our podcasts, and John Lynch set out to rectify that. Bolton voices this classic Christmas hymn in his unique Yacht Rock style.“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” by the Brian Seltzer OrchestraBrian Seltzer of Stray Cats fame put this one out there in 2002. The Brian Seltzer Orchestra formed in 1990 as a swing and jump blues band, and put out the album “Boogie Woogie Christmas” with this and other Christmas classics. This is a cover of the song, which was originally released by Mabel Scott in 1954.“(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” by Perry ComoPerry Como released this classic Christmas song in 1954. It tells of the longing to be home at Christmas, and some of the travelers making their way home.“Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda LeeJohnny Marks, who wrote “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” and other Christmas songs wrote this one as well. Brenda Lee recorded this in 1958 when she was 13 years old. It is the fifth best selling Christmas single of all time according to Neilson SoundScan. “Feliz Navidad” by Jose FelicianoPuerto Rican musician Jose Feliciano wrote this in 1970. He recorded it in Los Angeles while feeling homesick at Christmas as his extended family was in New York. “Feliz Navidad” means “Merry Christmas” in Spanish. “It's Gonna Be a Punk Rock Christmas” by the RaversWayne brings us a bit of PUNK for the Christmas season. The Ravers released this back in 1977. “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy WilliamsWe decided to include more “non-rock singles” in this episode, and this classic holiday tune originated in 1963 on Williams' first Christmas album. It tells of all the activities that surrounds the Christmas season.“Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” by Dean MartinSammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote this in the summer of 1945 during a heat wave in Hollywood, California. Dean Martin released a version in 1959, and re-recorded it in 1966.“Blue Christmas” by Seymour Swine and the SquealersThis novelty song was recorded in 1984 for a North Carolina radio station morning show. Denny Brownlee is the comedian and impressionist who brought Seymour Swine to life - primarily to avoid copyright issues associated with ©Porky Pig.“O Come All Ye Grateful Dead Heads” by Bob RiversComedian Bob Rivers had this parody on his “Twisted Christmas” album in 1987.We hope y'all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Arguably the biggest album of the entire rock era, Pink Floyd's eighth studio album would propel them to superstardom. The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most acclaimed records in history, and it is commercially unmatched in its longevity. It topped the US Billboard Top LP's and Tape chart, and charted for 962 weeks in total!Pink Floyd at this time was David Gilmour on guitar and vocals, Roger Waters on bass and vocals, Richard Wright on keyboards, and Nick Mason on percussion.The Dark Side of the Moon was envisioned as a concept album focusing on different types of pressure like greed, conflict, and death. It also included examination of mental health issues - as would much of Pink Floyd's discography - inspired by the problems experienced by former front man Syd Barrett. While singles were released, we strongly recommend listening to the album in totality to get the best experience out of it.Bruce brings us this monster album, and friend of the show Mike Fernandez joins us in Wayne's absence. TimeThis was released in the US as the second single from the album (after Money). Roger Waters wrote the lyrics. David Gilmour and Richard Wright share lead vocals - unusual for Richard Wright. The sounds of clocks were recorded by Alan Parsons in an antique store as a quadrophonic test, but the sounds fit so well with the theme of this track that the band included it. All four principal members were credited with songwriting, and this would be the last time this would happen in the band's history.The Great Gig in the SkyThis track follows Time, and is basically an instrumental with some spoken words at the front. The band went around the studio asking people questions and Gerry O'Driscal's response is recorded on this track. Female vocalizations are provided by Clare Torry, a session vocalist that Alan Parsons brought in. She wasn't really told what to sing, but was told, "There's no lyrics. It's about dying - have a bit of a sing on that, girl." Brain DamageRoger Waters is on lead in this song, with Gilmour providing backing vocals. This and other insanity-themed lyrics are based on Syd Barrett. The lyric, "And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" has a historical basis, as Barrett would play a different song than the rest of the band on more than one occasion toward the end of his tenure with the band. EclipseThis final track is actually a different song from Brain Damage, but is commonly played with it on rock radio stations because there is no break between the two on the album. The song reflects the ying and yang of life - good and bad, life and death, light and dark. "And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon." ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Theme to the television game show $10,000 PyramidDick Clark would serve as the initial host of this game show which started in March 1973. STAFF PICKS:Crocodile Rock by Elton JohnBrian initiates the staff picks with the first number 1 song in the U.S. for Elton John. The song has a 50's throwback sound, with lyrics that tell about a time when the singer danced the Crocodile Rock with Susie. It was inspired by Australian band Daddy Cool and their song “Eagle Rock.”The Cisco Kid by WarRob's staff pick is from War's 1972 album, “The World is a Ghetto.” It made it to number 2 on the charts. There's a reggae feel, a little funk, and a little ZZ Top. The song is about two cowboys, Cisco and Poncho, and their adventures. The band wanted their music to spread brotherhood and harmony to displace greed, racism, hunger, and gangs.Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel Friend of the show Mike Fernandez brings us one of the classic lines in rock music - “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Gerry Rafferty is the founder and principal songwriter for the group. This is Stealers Wheel's biggest hit.Danny's Song by Anne MurrayBruce wraps up the staff picks with a song Kenny Loggins wrote for his brother Danny at the birth of his son Colin. It was first performed by a group called Gator Creek in 1970, then by Loggins and Messina in 1972. This cover by Canadian country-pop singer Anne Murray would go to number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Also Sprach Zarathustra by DeodatoThis funky take on the Richard Strauss piece famous for its use in "2001: A Space Odyssey" was on the charts in March 1973.
Face Dances is the ninth studio album from the Who, and the first release after the death of drummer Keith Moon three years earlier. During those three years the Who would release the film Quadrophenia and the concert retrospective film The Kids Are Alright. Front man Roger Daltry would try out acting, and Pete Townshend would release his second solo studio album. When the group got back together for Face Dances, Phil Collins expressed an interest in joining the band. However, Kenny Jones (Small Faces, Faces) had already been asked to join. John “Rabbit” Bundrick also contributed keyboard work on this album, and would eventually join as a full time member of the Who. These joined previous members Daltry, Townshend, and bassist John Entwistle. The album was highly anticipated, and was a commercial success, reaching number 4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number 2 on the UK Albums chart. Critical reviews were mixed at the time, and the band has expressed some friction with producer Bill Szymczyk who conducted the final mixing without the full band's input. Regardless, the album is a staple of early 80's rock and many of the songs have achieved a timelessness about them.Brian brings us this album for today's podcast. You Better You BetThe first single and lead-off track to the album was a staple of the new cable station - MTV. It was the Who's last top 20 single, reaching number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Townshend developed the song during a period of clubbing with the daughter of a friend. The video was a black and white studio session. Don't Let Go the CoatThis deeper cut was the second single, and was inspired by Townshend's guru Meher Baba and his statement that his followers “hang fast to the hem of my robe,” meaning to stay true to his teachings. It also may have been inspired by Townshend's parents who would pick him up after his binges on drugs and alcohol.The Quiet OneBassist John Entwistle takes an unusual turn as lead singer on this self-referential deep cut. It was the B-side of the single “You Better You Bet.” Entwisle said it was a song trying to explain that he wasn't really quiet, but that he started being quiet and got stuck in the pigeon hole of that label.Another Tricky Day“This is no social crisis, just another tricky day for you...fella!” John Bundrick inspired this song, and it claims that what we're going through is nothing unique, but is just another tricky day. The song is the final track on the album, and the video is in the same style as the first single - a black and white studio session. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main theme from the television series “Dynasty” John Forsythe, Linda Evans, and Joan Collins starred in this prime time soap opera. STAFF PICKS:Skateaway by Dire Straits Bruce brings us a song about a girl who skates around the city, ticking off the drivers, weaving in and out of traffic, and listening to the local rock and roll station on her headphones. This is the lead single from the Dire Straits album Making Movies, and the album title is pulled from the lyrics of this song.Precious to Me by Phil SeymourDrummer, singer-songwriter, and guitarist Phil Seymour wrote this song with a throwback doo-wop feel. This is the first single from his first solo album. It hit number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Seymour also contributed backing vocals to Tom Petty's “American Girl” and “Breakdown.”He Can't Love You by the Michael Staley Band Wayne features a one hit wonder featuring saxophonist and E. Street Band member Clarence Clemons. It made it to number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the 40th song played on MTV. The Michael Stanley Band is big regionally in Ohio.I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie RabbitBrian's staff pick is a crossover country hit. It hit the top of both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country charts. It describes the feeling that comes from a good rain at night. Rabbit started writing the song in the 60's, but didn't develop it until this album. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Toccata by SkyThis prog rock group covers the classical piece "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by J.S. Bach made it on the British singles charts.
Styx released their eighth studio album, Pieces of Eight, after achieving breakthrough success with 1977's “The Grand Illusion.” This album would also achieve significant critical and commercial success with this album. Two singles would break into the top 40, and one would land just outside it at number 41. All of these were written and sung by Tommy Shaw who had joined the group for the Equinox album in 1975. In addition to guitarist and lead singer Tommy Shaw, other members of the band were Dennis DeYoung on lead vocals and keyboards, James "JY" Young on guitars and vocals, Chuck Panozzo on bass, and John Panozzo on percussion.Pieces of Eight marks a transition for the band, as many consider this album to be the last Styx effort with significant prog rock elements. The band would turn to a more hard rock and pop ballad format on future albums, though their popularity would only grow greater. Pieces of Eight is also considered a concept album, as the band explored how money and materialism affects the pursuit of greater ideals and dreams.Brian brings us this album for today's podcast. Sing for the DayThe second single released from the album narrowly missed the top 40 as it peaked at number 41. It has a joyful waltz feel, and references “Hannah,” which is an amalgam of all the female fans of the band. Pieces of EightThe majestic title track is a deeper cut which was not released as a single. Dennis DeYoung wrote and sings lead on this song. It was inspired by how money can't buy everything, and the regret faced in looking back over a life occupied by the pursuit of wealth while sacrificing love, dreams, and freedom.Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)This first single was released in August of 1978 just ahead of the album. Tommy Shaw was inspired to write it after a friend was laid off from the railroad and experienced frustration standing in line at the unemployment office. The song hit number 21 in the United States charts.RenegadeThe last single would become a staple for Styx tours and remains popular today. It tells of a Western outlaw who has been caught and is about to face execution by hanging. Tommy Shaw claims that the song basically wrote itself. “Hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don't have very long.” ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Ease on Down the Road #1 by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (from the motion picture “The Wiz”) The Broadway Play “The Wiz” hit the screens with Diana Ross playing Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. STAFF PICKS:Who Are You by The Who Rob starts off the staff picks with the title track from the Who album of the same name, released 1 month before Keith Moon's death. Pete Townshend wrote this song after passing out drunk in a doorway in SoHo. He was feeling like a sellout after signing a big contract and experiencing an identity crisis. That's Rod Argent from the Zombies you hear on keyboards. Feelin' Satisfied by BostonBruce's staff pick is the third single from “Don't Look Back.” It hit number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is an ode to Rock and Roll with a positive feel and a clapping in the chorus which brings on audience participation in concerts. Milk and Alcohol by Dr. Feelgood Wayne brings us a boogie rock song with a punk feel from an English pub rock band. The song was inspired by blues guitarist John Lee Hooker who the band members often saw in concert drunk on Kahlua and alcohol. Nick Lowe of “Cruel to be Kind” fame wrote this song.Reminiscing by the Little River BandBrian finishes off the staff picks with a bit of yacht rock from down under. This is the second single from their fourth studio album, “Sleeper Catcher.” It went to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was inspired by the romantic era of black and white movies and the songs of Glen Miller and Cole Porter. John Lennon considered it one of his favorite songs. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Two Rapid Formations by Brian EnoThis instrumental is from Eno's seventh solo album, "Music for Films."
I Love Rock 'n Roll is the first album by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and the second solo album by Joan Jett. Born as Joan Marie Larkin, Joan Jett got her start in the music industry as a teenager when her family moved to the Los Angeles area and divorced shortly thereafter. She was a founding member of the all-girl band The Runaways at the age of 16.Jett began her solo career in England in 1979, where she recorded songs with some of the members of the Sex Pistols. Later that year she returned to Los Angeles where she connected with a songwriter and producer named Kenny Laguna. Laguna would relocate Jett to Long Beach, New York, and assist her with both her first solo album and the formation of the Blackhearts.The group spent a year touring and building up a following in the New York Area before releasing I Love Rock 'n Roll. This album would be a mixture of original songs and covers, and the title track would spend 7 weeks at the top of the U.S. charts. The album was a commercial success, selling 10 million copies, and is Jett's most successful album to date. (I'm Gonna) Run AwayRob starts us off with the second track on the album, a deeper cut, and an original song written by Jett and Laguna. It has a punk feel, as does much of the album, and the lyrics reflect a break-up.Crimson and CloverThis cover of a song originally performed by Tommy James and the Shondells alternates between a slow and fast tempo, but maintains a hard rock edge throughout, unlike the more psychedelic aspects of the original. Jett was questioned about her choice not to change the pronouns in the lyrics from female to male, and she commented simply that the change in lyrics would make the song not rhyme.Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran co wrote and performed this song in 1958. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts speed this one up and give it a punk edge. It was not originally on the album, but appeared as the B-side to a single from Jett's prior solo album “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah).” It would appear on the album as a bonus track when released on CD. I Love Rock 'n RollThis title track is the big hit, and is also a cover originally performed by The Arrows in 1975. Jett first heard the song while touring with The Runaways, and she recorded an early version of the song with members of the Sex Pistols in 1979. It was the number 3 song on the U.S. charts for the year of 1982. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Street Life by Randy Crawford (from the motion picture “Sharkey's Machine”)This action film featured a stunt involving a plunge out of the Peachtree Plaza hotel, the tallest building in Atlanta at the time. STAFF PICKS:Jealous Lover by Rainbow Bruce starts off the staff picks with the lead-off track from a 4-song EP of the same name. Frontman Joe Lynn Turner and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore wrote this song. Turner wrote the lyrics in about 5 minutes, inspired by an argument he had with Blackmore, which made him think about a fight he'd recently had with his girlfriend. “And it's hard to discover you're like any other jealous lover.”Young Turks by Rod Stewart Brian features the first US single from Stewart's eleventh album, Tonight I'm Yours. The song tells the story of two young lovers who run away from their parents to make their own way. Interestingly the phrase “young turks” never appears in the lyrics. The video included an early example of break dancing.Marie Marie by The BlastersWayne brings us a rockabilly song, or as The Blasters would describe it, “R&B in cowboy boots.” The song tells the story of a guy who is told to leave a family's daughter alone, and so he sings to her as he is leaving. I Love You by Climax Blues BandRob's staff pick is a soft rock hit. It tells the story of a guy who is rescued by the love of his wife. It is the second biggest hit by the Climax Blues Band after Couldn't Get It Right. It hit number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:September Fifteenth by Pat Metheny & Lyle MaysThis jazz instrumental was a feature of "Jazz Flavors" on radio station 94Q in Atlanta in December of 1981.
Our Christmas Rabbit Hole Episodes rank among the highest. This special episode features classic rock songs and theme songs which feature a spooky theme. We hope you enjoy this first “Halloween” special from What The Riff?!?Theme from the television series “The Walking Dead” This post-apocalyptic zombie series ran for 11 seasons, from 2010 until 2022. It was based on a comic book of the same name and sparked multiple spin-offs. The minor key and strings set the mood well for this horror series.Theme from the television series “The Munsters” A television classic that surprisingly only ran for two seasons, from 1964 until 1966, in black-and-white. Some say the ratings drop that resulted in cancellation of the show was due to competition from "Batman."Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd This track from “The Wall” features music from David Gilmour and lyrics from Roger Waters, the last collaboration to date from these two. The song represents the turn to violence in the life of Pink as he orders his thugs to attack the “riff-raff.”Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne The first single from the 1983 album of the same name tells of a creature who terrorized a town, was killed, and then returns from the dead. The song featured the first Ozzy music video.Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath The title track to the 1980 album of the same name features new front man Ronnie James Dio on vocals, taking over for Ozzy Osbourne in the band. Dio is also the source of the lyrics for the track.Spirits in the Material World by the Police Sting wrote this opening track to the Police October 1981 album “Ghost in the Machine.” It is a psychological and philosophical piece, discussing man's existence and the failure of the institutions around him. Witchy Woman by the Eagles One of the early Eagles songs, this track was the only song on the debut album for which Don Henley would have a writing credit. The inspiration was an amalgam of women Henley had met, but the primary inspiration was Zelda Fitzgerald, the muse and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.Hells Bells by AC/DC The lead-off track to the album “Back in Black” starts with the tolling of a 2,000 pound bronze bell. Today it is used in multiple sports events, as well as being a fantastic Halloween song.Friend of the Devil by the Grateful Dead This folk rock track appeared on the Dead's fifth studio album, “American Beauty,” from 1970. It is one of the most covered Dead songs in their catalog. Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper While this song was originally recorded by British group Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction, it is more famous in its cover version which Cooper performed in a cameo in the movie “Wayne's World.” The cover also has guest appearances itself, including Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Nikki Sixx, and Elvira. Superstition by Stevie Wonder This funky song came out in October 1972 and hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. Wonder chronicles a number of superstitions in the lyrics, and warns against the negative effects of being superstitious. Thriller by Michael Jackson No Halloween song list would be complete without the seventh single from Michael Jackson's sixth studio album of the same name. Thriller was not originally intended to be a single, but became that in an attempt to boost the album sales. The video would be scarily expensive, and would be called "the most famous music video of all time" by the Library of Congress. The tactic worked, as album sales doubled after Thriller's release as a single.
Bad English is a supergroup composed of members of Journey and The Babys. From The Babys comes John Waite on lead vocals, Rick Phillips on bass, and Jonathan Cain on keyboards. From Journey comes Neal Schon in lead guitar, and Jonathan Cain, the common thread between the two groups. Deen Castronovo is on drums and would later join Journey. The band was initially formed by Cain, Schon, and Waite. The name Bad English comes from a term in the game of pool. John Waite missed a shot, and Jonathan Cain made a comment on how bad his English was.The group was attempting to sound original and not too much like either of their previous groups or Waite's solo work. They were also being pulled by the record producers towards a highly produced sound common with the hair metal groups of the time. The group wrote about 40 songs in six months for the debut album, eponymously named Bad English, but Waite stated that “a lot of them weren't very good.” There were enough good songs to create a hit album, however, as this debut went to number 21 on the Billboard 200 charts. Bad English would produce one other album after this debut, but it wasn't very successful. Shortly thereafter the group disbanded with Waite continuing solo work, and with some other members re-joining Journey.Bruce brings us this supergroup. Best of What I GotThis is the opening track to the album, and was the fifth of seven singles released - though this one was only released on US rock charts. It hit number 9 on the Mainstream Rock charts. It was also featured in the credits to the buddy cop film "Tango & Cash."Lay DownA deeper track written by Waite, Schon, and Cain, this track was not released as a single. It is a bid more rocking, with lyrics about coming back from a trip and getting together with your girl. Forget Me NotThe first single from the album was a darker song written by Waite, Cain, and Mark Spiro, a songwriter and record producer who worked with a number of musicians. Spiro collaborated on this and four other tracks from the album. The inspiration for these lyrics are Anne Rice's vampire novels. The lyrics deal with possession, lust, and a longing that goes on throughout eternity. When I See You SmileThis is the big hit single which went to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Diane Warren, an American songwriter and hitmaker for many artists from Celine Dion to Milli Vanilli, wrote this hit. Ironically it would create a rift within the group as they struggled with whether to seek hits on the next album or to create their own material. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter by Iron Maiden (from the motion picture "A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child”)Freddy Kruger continues his rampage in this fifth installment of the horror franchise. STAFF PICKS:Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Great WhiteBrian starts off this week's staff picks with the biggest hit from LA hair band White Snake. This song is a cover from a 1975 single from Ian Hunter, and appropriate for the title of their fourth album, "...Twice Shy." The lyrics reflect life on the road and learning from bad relationship experiences. The group lived on the road, touring for years. Love Song by The CureWayne's staff pick goes goth with a surprisingly positive song from a notoriously dark group. Robert Smith, The Cure's lead singer, wrote this song as a wedding gift for his bride, Mary Theresa Poole. Smith and Poole married in 1988, though they had known each other since they were 14.Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls Rob features an Atlanta based indie rock duo. This single is off their platinum selling self-titled second album. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are joined on this album by multiple Georgia artists, including members of R.E.M. Amy and Emily met in elementary school, began performing together as high school students, and took the title of Indigo Girls in college.Something to Hold on To by Trevor RabinBruce brings us a single from Yes alumnus Trevor Rabin's fourth solo album. This single went to number 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and the video got a Grammy nomination for Best Short Form Music Video. Rabin would later re-join seven other Yes alumni for the Union album in 1991. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Chinese Torture by QueenQueen's thirteenth studio album provides this instrumental which closes out this week's podcast.
Machine Head is the sixth and most commercially successful studio album Deep Purple ever produced. The band was coming off a two-year tour, and wanted to capture a sound closer to their live shows on the next studio effort. They booked the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio for the recording and booked time at the Montreux Casino. However, just before their studio time was to begin, a fire was started during a concert for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and the casino burned to the ground. They then attempted to record at a nearby theater, but this had to be abandoned due to noise complaints. Finally, they were able to secure time at the Grand Hotel in Montreux which had been closed for the winter, and recorded the album. The band did not set up in a ballroom, but at the end of a hallway, and had to communicate with the mobile studio via closed circuit TV.The album was both a critical and commercial success, topping the charts in many countries and landing at number 7 on the Billboard 200. It also produced many of the iconic Deep Purple songs and riffs.Wayne brings us this forerunner of prog rock and heavy metal. Highway StarThe opening track to the album is a killer anthem live and features the Hammond organ prominently. The guitar solo would gain notoriety, and the readers of Guitar World voted it number 15 on their list of "100 Greatest Guitar Solos." Smoke on the Water The opening riffs are amongst the most famous guitar riffs of all time. This song tells the story of the band's experience where they almost recorded at the Montreux Casino, but instead watched the building burn to the ground after a flare gun was shot off at the Mothers of Invention concert. The smoke was from the casino burning down, and the water was Lake Geneva.Pictures of Home This deeper cut describes the sights and images of the local area around Montreux, far away from home for Deep Purple. Space Truckin' This space themed anthem was inspired by the music from the 1960's "Batman" television series. The lyrics themselves are nonsense, but the riffs and the sci-fi vibe make this rocker a favorite. William Shatner covered this song on his album "Seeking Major Tom." ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Main theme from the motion picture “The French Connection”Gene Hackman starred in this crime thriller which won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 44th Academy Awards in April, 1972. STAFF PICKS:Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll by Blue Oyster CultBruce's staff pick is the debut single from the debut self-titled Blue Oyster Cult album. While it did not chart, it would become one of their most famous anthems. Drummer Albert Bouchard is on vocals, and the lyrics explore the aftermath of nuclear war, using rock and roll as a metaphor for destruction. You Could Have Been a Lady by April Wine Rob brings us the leading single from the Canadian band's album "On Record." This is a cover originally released in 1971 by the British soul band Hot Chocolate. It would be April Wine's first hit, charting at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.Back off Boogaloo by Ringo Starr Brian's staff pick is a non-album single Ringo Starr released in March 1972. Former bandmate George Harrison produced and helped write this song, and played guitar on the single. It was recorded shortly after Harrison and Starr appeared in the Concert for Bangladesh. Many consider it an attack on Paul McCartney's solo work at the time.Jambalaya (On the Bayou) by the Nitty Gritty Dirt BandWayne features a Cajun cover originally written by Hank Williams in 1952. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a country rock group from Long Beach, California, and this cover appears on their sixth studio album. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Afro Strut by the Nite LitersWe close out this week's podcast with this funk and soul instrumental.
After the overwhelming success of his “Born to Run” album, Bruce Springsteen's next studio album would take a dramatically different approach. First, Tunnel of Love would be a solo project, and the E. Street Band was not credited as a contributor, though many members of the E. Street Band would be credited individually. Springsteen plays many of the instruments himself, and made use of drum machines and synthesizers on the tracks. Second, the lyrics look inward as Springsteen explores aspects of lost love. Springsteen was reacting to his troubled marriage to actress Julianne Phillips from whom he would receive divorce papers the following year. The divorce was finalized in 1989.Tunnel of Love was a critical and commercial success. Critics would praise the originality of the material and its introspective nature. The album would receive a Grammy award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo at the 1988 Grammy awards. Commercially the album would hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 charts and go triple platinum. Five singles would be released from the album, three of which cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.Brian brings us this album for today's podcast. Two FacesThis deeper cut explores how there is a lighter side and a darker side within each of us, and how we can come to hurt the ones we love. The singer prays that the “our love will make the other man go away,” but that other man is a part of us.Brilliant DisguiseThis was the first single released from the album, and it went to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It reflects doubt, first in the singer's lover, and later in the singer himself. The question is whether either has become a stranger to the other.One Step UpThis third single from the album was only released as a single in the U.S. Unlike much of the album, this song was not recorded in Springsteen's home studio, but at A&M Studios in Los Angeles. The song reflects the troubles in Springsteen's marriage. Although Springsteen played all instruments, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa sings backup. Scialfa would marry Springsteen in 1991.Valentine's Day The last song on the album takes a surprisingly upbeat look at relationships, as the singer longs for his love. It's quite a contrast with the other songs on the album. “So hold me close honey say you're forever mine, and tell me you'll be my lonely valentine.” ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Mess Around by Ray Charles (from the motion picture “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”) With the abundance of Christmas movies, this is an unusual Thanksgiving comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy trying to get home during the Holiday rush. STAFF PICKS:Time Stand Still by Rush Bruce leads off the staff picks with the first single from Rush's 12th studio album “Hold Your Fire.” The lyrics were inspired by Neal Peart's time in the band as he reflects on the things he missed while spending time on the road. 'Til Tuesday's lead singer and bassist Aimee Mann contributes backing vocals on this song. Hazy Shade of Winter by The BanglesWayne brings us a cover with a much faster beat than the original Simon and Garfunkel version. This song appeared on the soundtrack for the motion picture “Less Than Zero.” The Bangles had covered this song since 1983, and offered it to the movie rather than writing a new piece. The Bangle's version peaked at number 2 on the charts.Give to Live by Sammy Hagar The Red Rocker was still under contract for a solo album despite joining Van Halen, and Rob features this single off the album that fulfilled his commitment. Tidbit: Eddie Van Halen plays bass on this album.Little Lies by Fleetwood MacBrian finishes off the staff picks with a hit from the album “Tango In the Night.” Keyboardist Christine McVie takes her turn on lead with this song written by her and her husband at the time, Eddy Quintela. The idea is that sometimes little lies are easier to take than the truth. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Midnight by Joe SatrianiThis is an instrumental selection from Satriani's album “Surfing With the Alien,” released in 1987.
RECAST: ( Episode #45) Elton John — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”September, 1973Elton John's seventh studio release is considered his best by many. The double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road contains many well known hits including the title track, the Marilyn Monroe-inspired “Candle in the Wind,” and the 11-minute epic “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” Elton John initially intended to record this album in Jamaica, but political instability and the upcoming Frazier/Foreman boxing match caused the production to be moved to Chateau d'Herouville in France.Friend of the Show John Lynch returns to help us showcase this monster rock album from 1973.All the Girls Love AliceThis deeper cut in a minor key deals with prostitution and lesbianism. Tempo changes between the verses and chorus with a groovy fuzzy guitar distortion give this track its distinctive sound. Liberty music was originally trying to get John and writer/partner Bernie Taupin to write songs for other artists, but they decided to write it for themselves.Saturday Night's Alright for FightingThis well-known track was inspired by Taupin's experience in local pubs as a lad — it was banned on a number of radio stations because of fears that it would inspire violence. At age 15, Elton John was actually playing in pubs.Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadThe title track hearkens to a simpler childhood time, removed from celebrity and high society. Reginald Kenneth Dwight would change his name to Elton John inspired by two blues players he liked.Grey SealAnother deeper track from the album is driven by piano riffs and interesting key and tempo changes. If you don't understand the lyrics to this song, you're in good company - Elton John doesn't understand the lyrics either!ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Super Friends Theme SongThis staple of Saturday morning cartoons featured DC superheroes...“Meanwhile, back in the Halls of Justice...”STAFF PICKS:Looking Glass - “Jimmy Love Mary-Anne” Wayne brings us the yacht rock this week. If you think this sounds like "Brandy," there's a reason for it. This is their follow-up top-40 hit. Story songs like this were popular in the early '70's.The Edgar Winter Group - “Free Ride” Bruce's staff pick brings the boogie from the debut album from The Edgar Winter Group. Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer were also on this album.Jim Croce - “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”Special Guest Host stepping in for Brian, John Lynch introduces another storytelling song with amazing lyrics like, "badder than old King Kong, and meaner than a junkyard dog." Unfortunately, Croce would die in a plane crash in this month.Chicago - “Just You 'n' Me”Rob takes the tempo down with a horn-driven hit. This was the second single released from "Chicago VI." The song was inspired by an argument that trombone player James Pankow had with his girlfriend - shortly thereafter his wife.LAUGH TRACK:Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers - “Monster Mash”Ahead of Halloween 1973, this song was moving up the charts. Originally released in 1962, the song was re-released in 1973.
We've covered a number of underrated bands and albums, but perhaps the most underrated band of the 80's is 38 Special. Formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974 by Donnie Van Zandt and Don Barnes, 38 Special had a string of hits in the late 70's through the 80's including "Hold On Loosely," "Rockin' Into the Night," and "If I'd Been the One." Special Forces is their fifth and most successful studio album, hitting number 10 on the Billboard 200.In addition to Van Zandt and Barnes, 38 Special's lineup for this album included Jeff Carlisi on guitar, Larry Junstrom on bass, Steve Brookins on drums, and Jack Grondin on drums. A number of songs on this album were co-written by Jim Peterik, singer-songwriter and founder of the group Survivor. Given the connection to Lynyrd Skynyrd (Donnie was the brother of original Skynyrd lead singer, Ronnie Van Zandt, and Junstrom was one of the founding members of Lynyrd Skynyrd), it is not surprising that their sound has its roots in Southern Rock. However, 38 Special tended towards a more mainstream hard rock sound.The name of the group comes from an incident where the police were called on the band during a late night practice session. The door was padlocked, and the police broke the lock by shooting it out ... with a 38 Special. Caught Up In YouThis is the first single and the big hit from the album, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Mainstream Rock charts. Don Barnes sings lead on this track. The lyrics are self-explanatory, extolling a girl with whom the singer is completely entranced.You Keep Runnin' AwayBarnes has the lead duties from this song again. The lyrics describe a girl who has been burned in past relationships and has decided never to trust another man. The singer encourages her to not give up, that "someday, someway, somewhere love is gonna find you."Back Door Stranger A deeper cut from the album, the lyrics describe a serial rapist sneaking around, and what will happen to him if the singer catches up with him. "Take my chances, rather go to jail than see the eyes of a coward runnin' loose and well." The guitar has a great wah-wah sound, and Donnie Van Zandt takes his turn on lead vocals for this track.Chain Lightnin' The thunder sound is striking as both the intro and the outro for this iconic song. There's a little bit of a Pink Floyd echo to add to the mystery. "And it's hotter than hell in the heavens tonight." "And it's so tough when the satisfaction is greater than the risk."ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Ain't Got No Home by Clarence “Frogman” Henry (from the motion picture “Diner”)This novelty song was featured in the comedy-drama starring Steve Guttenberg and Kevin Bacon. STAFF PICKS:Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now) by Van Halen Bruce begins the staff picks with a deeper cut off the Diver Down album. This cover was originally recorded in 1924, and came to the band's attention when David Lee Roth recorded it off a late night AM radio station. Jan Van Halen, Eddie and Alex's father, is featured in this song playing clarinet.Did It in a Minute by Hall & Oates Brian features a hit off the "Private Eyes" album from duo Darryl Hall and John Oates. It was the third single from the album. The upbeat song is about finding love almost instantaneously. Hall wrote this with his girlfriend Sara Allen and her sister Janna, who came up with the chorus.Find Another Fool by QuarterflashWayne gets a second chance to feature Portland's own Quarterflash. This rocking minor-key song peaked at number 16 on the charts, and is a break-up song after the girl has had it with her ex-boyfriend's cheating ways. The name comes from an Australian slang phrase, "a quarter flash, three parts foolish." Quarterflash is the husband and wife team of Rindy and Marv RossMore Than This by Roxy MusicRob's staff pick is the first single off Roxy Music's last album, "Avalon." Bryan Ferry began writing the songs for Avalon while on the west coast of Ireland, and the music reflects the melancholy feel of the location. The song has an unusually long synth-driven outro. COMEDY TRACK:Piss On the Wall by the J. Geils BandSometimes you just must be going. However, we do recommend that you find a toilet first!
They Might Be Giants is an alternative rock band that formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They are known as an absurdist, surreal alternative band popular on modern rock charts and college radio. They are also known in the DIY music genre and in children's music. Flood is their third studio album and has been certified platinum. It is their best selling album, and considered their signature work. During the 80's Flansburgh and Linnell started recording their songs onto an answering machine and advertised the phone number in The Village Voice and other newspapers as “Dial-A-Song.” The answering machine would play one track at a time, sometimes uncompleted work, sometimes mock advertisements. It became quite popular, but it was an answering machine, so the quality wasn't great. One of their slogans was “Always Busy, Often Broken.” It was a local Brooklyn number, so long distance fees applied. The band advertised it with the line, “Free when you call from work.”TMBG have released 23 studio albums, 10 compilations, 10 live albums, 8 EP's 7 videos and 11 singles. They have also released five children's albums – Tiny Toon Adventures exposed them to a younger audience, and they leveraged it to expand their career. They made heavy use of the internet since the early 90's, creating one of the first artist-owned music stores in 2004, and have made podcasts on a monthly basis from 2005 to 2014.Bruce brings us this unusual album. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) This is a cover originally written in 1953 on the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. Lyrics are by Jimmy Kennedy, music by Nat Simon, and performed by the Four Lads. The TMBG version was featured in the first season of MTV's Liquid Television and in an episode of "Tiny Toon Adventures."Your Racist FriendIn discussing this song, John Flansburgh told Songfacts, “You can't confront every person who's making an ass of themselves. But there are times when you want to. So it's really about a subtler idea than over-the-top expressions of race hate. It's more just about the culture.”Somebody Keeps Moving My ChairI think we can all identify with the premise of this song, that there's a lot of unpleasantness that we have to deal with, and we can do that for the most part. But when somebody keeps moving your chair that is beyond the pale. Theme from FloodThis brief piece starts off the album and leads into “Birdhouse In Your Soul.” It seemed like a good addition to include, since most of the songs are short.Birdhouse In Your Soul This is the lead single from the album, and is their highest charting single in both the US and the UK, hitting number 3 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart and number 6 on the UK singles chart. The lyrics are narrated from the perspective of a blue nightlight shaped like a canary. We found it fascinating that there are 18 key changes in this song! ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:"The Simpsons Theme" by Danny Elfman (from the television series "The Simpsons”)Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie made their TV series debut in this month in 1990, though they had shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show prior to that. STAFF PICKS:I Remember You by Skid RowBrian starts off this week's staff picks with an acoustic/power pop hair ballad from the band fronted by Sebastian Bach. Bassist Rachel Boland and guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo penned this song which was their third single from their debut album. It is about the girl from days gone by that you just can't forget. Fly High Michelle by Enuff Z'nuffRob's staff pick was inspired by a tragedy caused by a drug overdose. Donnie Vie wrote this song in remembrance of a friend who had passed, and it was the biggest hit of the group's career. The band takes their name from their bassist, Chip Z'nuff.Pure by The Lightning Seeds Wayne features this track from Liverpool's The Lightning Seeds. The group is the product of producer Ian Broudie, and is really more of a solo project with musicians brought in to create a touring band. The name comes from a misheard lyric from Prince's “Raspberry Beret.”Girl Like You by The SmithereensBruce's staff pick is the first single from the Smithereens third album, appropriately (?) named 11. Madonna was supposed to sing the harmony vocals but didn't show up for the recording session. The band got Maria Vidal to do the vocals. It hit number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. NOVELTY TRACK:Swing the Mood by Jive Bunny and the MastermixersThis mashup of swing and early rock songs was on the charts in January 1990.
The Electric Flag was the brainchild of guitarist Mike Bloomfield, and Long Time Comin' was their debut studio album. The core of the band was formed by Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Barry Goldberg on keyboards, and Buddy Miles (soon to be with Jimmy Hendrix's Band of Gypsies) on drums. Additionally, Nick Gravenites would sing lead on several tracks.With "Long Time Comin'" Bloomfield wanted to create a sound that would feature what he called "American music." He would draw inspiration from many sources including traditional country, gospel, and R&B, and the result would be a fusion of rock, jazz, R&B, and an early use of a horn section. The sound would be described as an "eclectic approach toward American musical." Critics would complement the group's sound on this album, though it would be somewhat of a failure commercially on the charts.The Electric Flag would put out two albums in 1968, but would break up shortly before their second album was released. Drug use affected the group's ability to perform, and Bloomfield would later admit that heroin caused his playing to fall apart.Wayne brings us this classic of southern rock. WineThe full name for this song is actually "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," and is a traditional boogie-woogie blues song about a famous and not very good wine called Thunderbird ("the word is Thunderbird"). It was a creation of E & J Gallo Winery, made cheap with a high alcohol content.Texas Buddy Miles sings lead on this blues track. This sound would find traction with later groups like ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Bloomfield's playing was inspired by groups he heard in Chicago, and he would become known as one of the premier guitarists in rock music. "I Wouldn't be an American, If it wasn't for Texas."Killing Floor This is an updated take on the Howlin' Wolf blues classic. It has a blues feel but with an upbeat tempo. The Electric Flag would cover this long before Led Zeppelin would make it the basis for "The Lemon Song." Jimmy Hendrix would play this at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.Groovin' Is Easy This is the "hit single" from the album. The sound is different from the other blues-based tracks, and is a bit more time stamped for the age. "Groovin's so easy, baby, if you know how. You don't have to keep yourself forever slavin' - go out an chase whatever you're cravin'." ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:main theme from the animated series “Speed Racer”While it would become a staple of after school and Saturday morning cartoons in the United States, this animated series was crossing the finish line of its run in Japan in this month. STAFF PICKS:Summertime Blues by Blue CheerRob starts off our staff picks with a cover of Eddie Cochran's song from 1958. Blue Cheer was a psychedelic band out of San Francisco, and considered a precursor to the heavy metal band. Many consider this song to be the first heavy metal song to chart in the U.S. They were considered the loudest group in concert at the time.I Thank You by Sam & Dave Bruce takes a soulful turn with the final Sam & Dave release on Stax records, as Stax ended a distribution deal with Atlantic Records (from which Sam & Dave were on loan). It hit number 3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. ZZ Top would cover this song later on, and it would be their second top 40 hit after "Tush."(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding Brian's staff pick is another song from Stax records, and the last single from Otis Redding. Redding died in a plane crash 3 days after recording this song. It was Redding's biggest hit, and the first posthumous release in the U.S. It hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love In) by The Chocolate WatchbandWayne closes out the staff picks in fine hippie style with this band out of Los Altos, California. The Chocolate Watchband started in 1965 and would break up by 1970. Supposedly Jerry Garcia plays guitar on this track. The story is that when the band's guitarist was too high to play, Garcia was in another studio in the same building, and sat in. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay by King Curtis & the Kingmakers"Dock of the Bay" was so popular that it featured both Redding and this instrumental version on the charts.
Zebra is one of the great underrated bands of the 80's. Randy Jackson (lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers, piano), Felix Hanemann (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) and Guy Gelso (percussion, backing vocals) formed Zebra in 1975 in New Orleans before moving to Long Island. They were originally a cover band, playing rock with a prog rock bent from groups like Led Zeppelin, Yes, and Jethro Tull. The band took the name Zebra after seeing a Vogue magazine cover featuring a model riding a zebra. It would be eight years from their founding before this eponymously named album would be their debut. Zebra the album would become one of the fastest selling debut albums in Atlantic's catalogue, peaking at number 29. Jackson's high vocals paired with both acoustic and electric guitars, supplemented with synthesizers and special effects would create a commercial success straddling the hard rock and prog rock genres.Unfortunately, their debut album would also be their high water mark. Zebra would produce a follow-up album which would hit the charts at number 84, then two more which would not chart. Zebra took a brief hiatus in the early 90's, but the power trio would get back together and are still touring as of this podcast.Rob brings us this album. Who's Behind the DoorThis single hit number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 10 on the US Rock charts. The lyrics question death and what may lie beyond. It starts with an amazing 12-string acoustic riff and ends with an epic space-aged wall of sound. Jackson's high tenor parts are prominent.When You Get ThereThis deeper cut takes a humorous approach to infidelity and a one-night stand. “You wake up in the morning and you're not feeling quite the same. You feel a gentle hand upon you, but you seem to have forgotten her name.”The La-La Song This song goes back many years to their touring days. It has a distinctive prog rock feel. Tell Me What You WantIn our minds, this opening track from the album is reminiscent of the Alan Parson's Project or Def Leppard. Its minor key and angst-filled lyrics depict the struggles a boy has with a girl to whom he gives everything and finds it is not enough. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Maniac by Michael Sembello (from the motion picture “Flashdance”)This dance movie starring Jennifer Beals hit the screen in 1983. STAFF PICKS:Never Gonna Let You Go by Sergio Mendes Bruce starts off the staff picks with a ballad that Rick Beato calls "the most complex pop song of all time." Originally written in 1982 by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann and recorded by Dionne Warwick, there are 7 key changes by the time the chorus is reached. Sergio Mendes would take this song to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey Brian brings us the first single off the "Frontiers" album. It is a break-up song written by Jonathan Cain and Steve Perry while they were on the road. It was inspired by band members going through difficult divorces, and was premiered during the "Escape" tour. The video...well, it leaves something to be desired.Say What You Will by FastwayWayne rocks out with a one-hit wonder from their debut self-titled album. Fastway is a heavy metal band from Britain, and band members have connections to Motorhead and UFO. The name comes from the combination of guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and bassist Pete Way. Dave King is on lead, and would move on to the Irish band Flogging Molly.True by Spandau BalletRob's staff pick is a staple of the 80's. PM Dawn sampled this song, and gave the original a second life. The lyrics were written as a tribute to Marvin Gaye - "Listen to Marvin all night long. This is the sound of my soul." This was the 6th biggest selling single of 1983 and Spandau Ballet's biggest hit. COMEDY TRACK:Intro to Monty Python's The Meaning of LifeThe third Monty Python motion picture “The Meaning of Life” is great just because it had something to offend everyone.
For it's fifth studio album, Jethro Tull decided to satirize the concept album which was popular amongst prog rock acts like themselves, Yes, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Thick as a Brick is a single piece of music spread across two album sides, and takes inspiration from Monty Python, poking fun at the critics, the audience, and the band itself. Ian Anderson wrote much of the album, but the entire band contributed to the songs. The "concept" of this concept album is that the lyrics are written by an 8 year-old genius named Gerald Bostock, and the album is a musical adaptation of Bostock's poem. The cover art continues the spoof, as it forms a 12-page English newspaper with both articles and advertisements that might be found in a small town paper. Contemporary critical reviews of the album were mixed, but retrospective reviews would all be positive. Commercially the album was a success, hitting number 1 in the US, Canada, and Australia, and hitting number 5 in the UK. Brian brings us this prog rock spoof-turned-classic. Thick as a Brick, part 1This is the entire album side 1. Most Jethro Tull fans will recognize the first few minutes as the radio cut of "Thick As a Brick," though most FM stations would truncate it as it drifts into the next movement of the suite. Although it is one continuous piece of music, the movements are actually three- to five-minute songs stitched together to form a continuous whole. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:The main theme from the motion picture “The Godfather” The ultimate mob movie was released this month, and was an offer we couldn't refuse! STAFF PICKS:A Horse With No Name by AmericaRob's staff pick was America's first and most successful single off their self-titled debut album. The song was originally entitled "Desert Song," and was inspired by prints by Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher. One unusual thing about this song is that it is built on only two chords.Chelsea Girls by SpiritBruce brings us a deep cut in the leading track from Spirit's fifth album called Feedback. This is the only Spirit album to feature John and Al Staehely as band members, and to not feature Randy California as a band member. This album is a little more California country rock than the prog rock/psychedelic rock for which Spirit is better known.30 Days In the Hole by Humble Pie Wayne presents the version of Humble Pie with guitarist Steve Marriott on lead vocals, as Peter Frampton had left the group. This is off their fifth and most successful album, “Smokin.'” This would become Humble Pie's best known song, despite the fact that it did not do well on the charts.Stay With Me by the FacesRod Stewart's voice is hard to miss in Brian's staff pick. This song chronicles the stereotypical one night stand of a band member on the tour. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood co-wrote this song, and it is off their album "A Nod Is As Good As A Wink...To A Blind Horse." COMEDY TRACK:Taurus by Dennis CoffeyThis rock instrumental was on the charts in this month.
Tears for Fears comes from Bath, England, and were formed by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Their first album, "The Hurting" was released in 1983 and was successful with songs like "Mad World" and "Pale Shelter." However, their second album entitled Songs from the Big Chair, a title taken from the motion picture "Sybil" would be the one to propel them to super-stardom. It peaked at number 2 in the UK and number 1 in the US. In addition to Orzabal and Smith, Ian Stanley is on keyboards, and Manny Elias is on drums and drum arrangement.Orzabal and Smith were inspired by electronic and synth-pop bands like Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark. They started off as a duo initially called History of Headaches. The name Tears for Fears comes from primal therapy, a psychological treatment developed by Arthur Janov.Shortly after their follow-up third album ”The Seeds of Love,” Orzabal and Smith had a big falling out, breaking up the band in 1991. They would get back together in 2000, and are still touring and releasing albums today. Everybody Wants to Rule the WorldThis is the signature song from the album. Bassist Curt Smith takes the lead vocals, and the lyrics are about the desire for power and about corruption. It was a last minute addition to the album and was recorded in two weeks as the final track to be laid down. ShoutThe lead-off track and second single to the album features Orzabal on lead vocals. While many think this is about primal scream theory, Orzabal has said it is actually more about political protest.BrokenThis is a short piece with lyrics that have an angst-ridden declaration that we are all broken. It is also commonly played in concert just in front of the next piece which also reprises Broken at the end. Head Over HeelsThis is your classic “boy obsesses over girl” song. It was released as the fourth single from the album, but it had been bouncing around for about 2 years along with Broken. Orzabal takes vocal lead on this one. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Neutron Dance by The Pointer Sisters (from the motion picture "Beverly Hills Cop”)Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop propelled both his career and this song originally appearing on a 1983 album to the top. STAFF PICKS:If I Had A Rocket Launcher by Bruce CockburnWayne launches the staff picks with a protest song from Canada's own Bruce Cockburn. The song lyrics tell the story from the perspective of the villagers experiencing warfare but being powerless to do anything about it.Valotte by Julian LennonRob brings us the title track from Julian Lennon's debut studio album. The resemblance between Julian and his father are obvious. Many think the river referenced is the Tennessee River near Muscle Shoals where portions of the album were recorded.I Can't Hold Back by SurvivorBrian demonstrates that Survivor wasn't a one-hit wonder after all. It starts with a nice acoustic guitar and builds quickly. This single reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is the first album with Jimi Jamison on lead vocals.Sunset Grill by Don HenleyBruce finishes off the staff picks with the ex Eagles' single that hit number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Sunset Grill is a hamburger restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Austrian restaurant owner didn't know that his frequent visitor was Don Henley until after the song came out, making their hole-in-the-wall burger joint famous. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Listen by the Tears for FearsWe do a little double-dipping with this (almost) instrumental from "Songs From the Big Chair."
Atlanta, Georgia's own The Georgia Satellites released their debut and self-titled album in 1986. Dan Baird was their primary songwriter and lead vocalist on most songs. Guitarist Rick Richards, bassist Rick Price, and dummer Mauro Magellan complete the band. Originally formed as Keith and the Satellites in 1980, the band saw a number of personnel changes and a name change to The Georgia Satellites soon thereafter. They honed their craft playing at a Buckhead bar called Hedgens on Monday nights.The Georgia Satellites signed with Elektra Records in 1986 and released this debut album to significant commercial success. The single "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" saw significant airplay on MTV, and went to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, denied the number 1 spot by Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer." The band featured a southern rock sound with a boogie slant, and this debut would be certified Platinum by the RIAA.The Georgia Satellites would produce two albums of original material and a third with both new and re-released tracks after this debut, but would not see the popularity return to the level of this first album. Dan Baird left the band in 1990 and the band went on hiatus for a few years, but the remaining members would return to touring by 1993 and still perform today.Wayne brings us this classic of southern rock. Railroad SteelThis track is the third single from the album. It did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but made it to number 34 on the Billboard Rock Charts. The lyrics are about a guy who is cold, but whose heart can be melted by a particular woman.Keep Your Hands To Yourself"She said, 'Don't hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself!'" This is the big hit from the album, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is about a woman that will not give in to a guys pleading until they get married. "You see, I wanted her real bad and I was about to give in. Oh, that's when she started talking about true love, started talking about sin."Battleship ChainsThough it didn't make the top 40, this was an entry into the Billboard Hot 100 at number 86. It also features guitarist Rick Richards on lead vocals. This song was written by Terry Anderson and recorded by his band The Woods out of North Carolina. The Georgia Satellites heard the band and recorded their own version.Red LightThis is a deep cut, and is a song about a woman who is angry at her partner. "Got Van Halen wailin' on the stereo eight track. Watch out baby that's what I said. There's a red light, road block, bridge out ahead." ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Dentist! by Steve Martin (from the motion picture “Little Shop of Horrors”)This movie based on the musical of the same name starred Rick Moranis and a psychotic plant living off human blood. Steve Martin has a cameo as a sadistic dentist. STAFF PICKS:Ship of Fools by World PartyRob starts off our staff picks with a British group which was basically a solo project for lead man Karl Wallinger. While his band was a one-hit wonder, Wallinger collaborated with other artists like Sinead O'Connor and Robbie Williams, and was the musical director for the films “Clueless” and “Reality Bites.” The concept of the lyrics is that there will be a price to pay from the way you are living today. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the RangeBruce's staff pick is a piano driven soft rock song about civil rights and not getting complacent. It hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. "That's just the way it is - ah, but don't you believe them."Everybody Have Fun Tonight by Wang ChungBrian brings us a song originally conceived as a ballad, but adapted to a faster pace and dance orientation by producer Peter Wolf. The self-referential verb "Wang Chung" is a nonsensical but catchy phrase.(I am) Superman by R.E.M.Wayne's staff pick is actually a cover song originally recorded by a band called The Clique. Bassist Mike Mills sings lead on this song because Michael Stipe wasn't very enthusiastic about it. When Stipe sings backup vocals in live performances, he holds his arms up and out as if he is Superman flying. INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:Walter's Theme by R.E.M.We wrap up this week's podcast with an instrumental track off R.E.M's album "Dead Letter Office."
Formed in London in 1969, Uriah Heep released their fourth and (to this point) most successful album, Demons and Wizards in May 1972. This album would also see the debut of what is considered the classic lineup of Uriah Heep as bassist Gary Thain and drummer Lee Kerslake joined vocalist David Byron, guitarist Mick Box, and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Ken Hensley to form the group for this album. While the album cover and title suggest medieval fantasy, Hensley has stated that it was just a collection of songs, not a concept album. It is hard to deny the prog rock feel, however.Uriah Heep is considered a forerunner of hard rock, heay metal, and progressive rock. They have developed quite the cult following over the years, having released 24 studio albums, 20 live albums, and 41 compilation albums.Roger Dean created the cover art, as he did for a number of prog rock groups including Yes and Asia.The name Uriah Heep comes from a character from Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield"Brian is featuring this album. Friend of the show Bill Cook joins us in Bruce's place for this episode. The Wizard Former bassist Mark Clarke and Ken Hensley wrote this song, the opening track to the album and the first single released from the album. The lyrics are about a wanderer who meets "the Wizard for a thousand kings." It would be the first Uriah Heep song to be made into a video.Easy Livin'The second single off the album would be the only one to chart in the United States, making it to number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. Surprisingly it did not chart in the UK. This is a common cover for party bands, though it was intended to be taken ironically.Circle of HandsThis is a deeper cut from the album, starting strong with the Hammond Organ. With lyrics like "Circle of hands, cold spirits' plan, searching the land for an enemy," it is hard to not see a thread of fantasy running through the track.Rainbow DemonThis track leads off side 2 of the album. "There rides the rainbow demon on his horse of crimson fire. Black shadows are following closely on the heels of his desire." This slow anthem continues with the strong organ work and combines it with a fuzzy guitar sound. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Sitting Pretty (from the motion picture "Cabaret") Liza Minnelli and Michael York starred in this movie based on the Broadway show. STAFF PICKS:I Saw the Light by Todd RundgrenRob's staff pick was the lead-off track from Rundgren's third album, "Something/Anything?" and was placed there via inspiration from Motown's history of putting the hit songs first. Multi-instrumentalist Rundgren wrote the track in 20 minutes and credits the use of stimulants like Ritalin for his prolific songwriting at the time. Run Run Run by JoJo GunneBill Cook brings us a shuffle beat number by Los Angeles based JoJo Gunne, a band formed by Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes after they left the band Spirit. "We're all just papers in the wind." Sweet Hitch-Hiker by Creedence Clearwater Revival Wayne presents an underplayed swamp rock song from CCR. This is off their last album with John Fogerty. A restaurant called the Greasy King is referenced in the song, and that restaurant is in El Cerrito, the home town of the band members.Baby Blue by BadfingerBrian finishes off the staff picks with a song from an album produced by Todd Rundgren. Badfinger was the first group signed to The Beatles' Apple Records. This is the last top 40 hit in the US for the group. COMEDY TRACK:Troglodyte (Cave Man) by The Jimmy Castor BunchThis is a funk novelty song hit number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is the introduction of a character called Bertha Butt, who would recur in other songs from the Jimmy Castor Bunch.
Steve Winwood was a well known vocalist and guitarist throughout the rock era due to his contributions to the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith. His solo career would hit its high water mark with his fourth studio album, Back in the High Life. It was originally released in June 1986, and we are featuring it in February 1987 when the last single, “The Finer Things” was released and was headed up the charts.Winwood had seen success as a soloist previously, but his last US album hit had been in 1980 when “Arc of a Diver” hit number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. For this new album Winwood turned to Ron Weisner as manager, who had worked with Madonna and Michael Jackson. Weisner encouraged him to record in New York, away from his home where Winwood was having marital difficulties. He also encouraged Winwood to sing from the front of the stage rather than from behind the keyboards, positioning him as more of a front man than keyboardist.To say the result was a success would be an understatement. Five of the eight songs would be released as singles. Winwood would become a household name with this album, crossing over to find success in pop rock and adult contemporary genres.Rob brings us this album, and friend of the show Bill Cook joins us while Bruce is out.The Finer ThingsThis song went to number 8 on the charts. This synth-driven piece encourages people to take time to enjoy the moment. While finer things are often thought to be luxury goods, Winwood instead portrays "finer things" in terms of relationships. Split DecisionAnother single with a more rock-oriented feel, this track features Joe Walsh on guitar. It went to number 3 on the U.S. charts. The lyrics reflect the idea that there are two faces to us - one confident, one not sure. "One man puts the fire out, the other lights the fuse."Take It As It ComesThis is a deeper cut even though it was released as a single, and features a horn section. The lyrics take a stoic approach to life, that we need to take the good and the bad as it comes.Back In the High Life AgainA huge hit on both pop and rock stations, this title track starts with Winwood playing a mandolin, and features James Taylor on background vocals. This song would hit number 1 on the adult contemporary charts and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. These lyrics take a more positive tact than "Take It As It Comes," expressing confidence that we'll be back on top soon. ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:Winner Takes It All by Sammy Hagar (from the motion picture “Over the Top”Sylvester Stallone starred in this action movie focused on arm wrestling. It was released in February 1987. STAFF PICKS:Stay the Night by Benjamin Orr Brian brings us a solo effort from former Cars bassist Benjamin Orr. Both Cars front man Ric Ocasek and Orr had successful solo projects at the time. This synth-heavy piece hit number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was Orr's only venture into the top 40. Will You Still Love Me by ChicagoFriend of the show Bill Cook features a song off Chicago XVIII, their fifteenth studio album. It is the second single from the album, and reached number 3 on the U.S. charts. Jason Scheff, new vocalist and bassist for the band, sings lead in the place of Peter Cetera who had left the band to pursue a solo career. Fight For Your Right by the Beastie BoysWayne's staff pick rocks out with a an anthem from the debut album from the Beastie Boys, "Licensed to Ill." It hit number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song was intended as a parody of "party" and "attitude" themed songs, but it took on a life of its own as a legitimate "attitude" song.Ready Or Not by Lou GrammRob's finishes the staff picks with the front man from Foreigner. This is the title track off Gramm's solo album, and it made it to number 7 on the rock charts. It is the second single from the album. NOVELTY TRACK:Secret Agent Man/James Bond is Back by Bruce WillisBruce Willis was starring in Moonlighting at the time, and parleyed this into some music singles including this one.