Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Classic Rock Tuesday: Rockin' In The Free World by Neil Young

The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll has a deep appreciation for classic rock. Every Tuesday, I will select a cut that seems to be on the heavy rotation list or a long lost classic. 

Neil Young is an artist that can deliver a powerful but beautiful song on an acoustic guitar or he can make your ears bleed with a wall of guitars. 'Rockin' In The Free World', released in 1989, was and still is an all out rocking anthem against jingoism and a materialistic society. It seems that some twenty thousand bands (i.e. Pearl Jam) use 'Rockin' In The Free World' as their obligatory protest/we're-gonna-get-all-political-and-deep-on-you song, but in my opinion, this song still is powerful twenty three years later. Enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guided By Voices Monday: Long Distance Man

Sandbox (1987) was the second album released by Guided by Voices, and there are some fans out there who believe it is quite possibly the worst album released by the band. I spent many hours during the mid to late 1990s defending Sandbox because I feel the album is very underrated album about the complexities of relationships. Perhaps one of the best tracks on Sandbox is 'Long Distance Man', a Beatles inspired acoustic number that clocks in at 1:17, but delivers a powerful punch. Take a listen and enjoy.   

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Funday: Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston

The weekend is almost here, so The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll will give you a shot of energy every Friday Funday to get you to the end of your shift.

My first selection is Don't Leave me This Way by Thelma Houston. Yes, this is disco, but this is quite possibly the greatest song that the genre has or will ever produce. Motown recording artist, Thelma Houston, covered this Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes hit in 1976 and it became a major hit earning Thelma Houston the 1978 Grammy for Best female R&B Vocal Performance. During the 1980s and 1990s, 'Don't Leave Me This Way' was used by the gay male community to bring awareness concerning the significance of AIDS in the community. Thelma Houston continued to have some success on the charts following the success of 'Don't Leave Me This Way' and is still active in the music industry.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Turn It To Eleven Thursday: Killed by Death by Motorhead

Turn It To Eleven Thursday is another new column at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. Every Thursday, I will select a gem from the world of hard rock and heavy metal for your listening enjoyment.

My first selection is 'Killed By Death' by Motorhead because it is awesome. Released in 1984, 'Killed By Death' is definitely on my top five list of greatest Motorhead songs and the video for 'Killed By Death' has all of the requirements for a heavy metal video. Angry parents who hate rock and roll? Check. Forty year-old chick trying to play a teenager? Check. Lemmy crashing through the living room wall on a motorcycle, and then giving the family the bird? Check. Evil cops who hate rock and roll and have the worst aim ever? Check. The obligatory live performance? Check. Lemmy getting electrocuted and then coming back from the dead via his motorcycle? Check.

Also, how can a song go wrong with the title 'Killed By Death'? Turn this one to eleven.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What The...Wednesday: TVs From Outer Space by Butch Willis and The Rocks

What The...Wednesday is another new weekly series at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. Every Wednesday I will select something wonderfully odd from the rock and roll universe. My first selection of What The...Wednesday is 'TVs From Outer Space' by Butch Willis and The Rocks.

Spinal Tap gave us some memorable moments and one of my favorite moments is when the band discovers that there is a fine line between stupid and clever. After viewing Butch Willis and The Rocks' 'TVs From Outer Space', I have put these guys into the rock and roll realm of clever for their unique but energetic performance. I completely understand that taste is subjective, but the circa 1986 clip posted below is a fine example of why bands get together in the first place; they want to rock. Yes, Butch looks and dresses like the younger brother of Jake the Snake Roberts and yes, the guy next to him is karate chopping his throat, but you will never forget 'TVs From Outer Space'.

Butch Willis is an outsider rocker from the Washington D.C. area and is the composer of some memorable tunes such as 'Pizza On My Jeans'. 'Outsider' is a term applied to musical acts that perform music their way with no apologies. Other artists that fall into this category are R. Stevie Moore and Daniel Johnston. Don't worry folks, I have a whole arsenal of outsider rock music waiting to be unleashed on the masses. So click the video below and enjoy 'TVs From Outer Space' by Butch Willis and The Rocks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Classic Rock Tuesday: Bad Company by Bad Company

Welcome to Classic Rock Tuesday at The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. Tuesday's will be dedicated to the overplayed and long forgotten classic rock jams. The selection for July 24, 2012 is 'Bad Company' by Bad Company.

Writing a song that shares the same title as your band is no easy feat, and you better bring your A-game or you are looking at an epic fail. Minor Threat, Green Day, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Belle and Sebastian are among a handful acts that have earned their gold star for recording a song named after their band. Also clearing that rock and roll hurdle is Bad Company. Featuring members of Free, King Crimson, and Mott the Hoople, Bad Company's eponymous debut album peaked at #1 on the Billboard charts when released in 1974 on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label. 'Bad Company', 'Can't Get Enough', and 'Movin' On' are the standout tracks from that first Bad Company album.

I'll admit that I really like some of Bad Company's music, but I wouldn't be sad if they decided to stop playing 'Feel Like Makin' Love' on the radio for the rest of time. I'll put my haters club card back in my pocket so you can enjoy 'Bad Company' by Bad Company.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guided by Voices Monday: Big Boring Wedding

Propeller, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under the Bushes, Under the Stars are in my opinion the four best Guided by Voices albums. The aforementioned albums were released from 1992 to 1996, starting with Propeller, and ending with Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. This is considered the 'classic' Guided by Voices era, and it shows on all of the albums. Some fans have complained that the 'classic' era was not so classic, but I respectfully disagree. As much as I love this band, I can honestly say they never came close to duplicating the greatness of 1992 to 1996. Sure, they had some great songs and some very good albums, but I challenge any GBV fan to tell me that Do The Collapse, Mag Earwhig!, or Half Smiles of the Decomposed is better than any of the four albums.

One of my favorite tracks from Under the Bushes, Under the Stars is 'Big Boring Wedding'. Fortunately, I was raised 20 minutes north of Dayton, Ohio and I discovered Guided by Voices after Bee Thousand was released. I had the opportunity to see the band some 35 times from 1995 until 2001, and out of the 35 shows, I have only heard 'Big Boring Wedding' once, which is something of a bummer because I attended plenty of shows where they played a heavy rotation of songs from Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. This is GBV at their best and pass the word, the chicks are back.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Midlife Crisis by Faith No More

If you only see Faith No More as a nu-metal band or a one hit wonder then you really need to give their catalog a good listen. "Epic" was a monster hit for the band in 1989, but their career did not end there. Faith No More was active from 1981 to 1998, and they released some great music until they disbanded in 1998. They have recently reunited and are on tour. If you need to hear something fantastic from Faith No More then listen to 'Midlife Crisis', a song from their 1992 album Angel Dust.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roadrunner by Bo Diddley

 I'm a roadrunner, baby, and you can't keep up with me

 Mazda used this song in one of their car commercials recently and I experienced one of those moments where I thought I knew the song, but wasn't completely sure. I knew the artist was Bo Diddley, so I did some research and discovered it was a live version of his 1960 hit, 'Roadrunner'. OK, this is an awesome 12-bar blues jam, but this live performance from the 1972 London Rock and Roll Show is a must watch due to the crazy greasers in the crowd. We have the dudes at the beginning who refuse to dance until their hair is combed, but the best person in the crowd can be found at the 1:03 mark. That greaser looks like Igor from Young Frankenstein. I'd rather hang with that crowd in the Bo Diddley video than with a bunch of slam dancing buffoons. Wait. Hold on, folks. Sorry, but I couldn't post anything else until I combed my hair. Where's my leather jacket? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago

Once a year, I teach a class on the history of rock and roll at a community college. Every week, my students are assigned ten rock and roll songs to review. I've tried to expand and improve their knowledge and appreciation of rock and roll by assigning artists like Guided by Voices, The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo, The Velvet Underground, and Wire. The opinions on the aforementioned artists were pretty much in the "these guys suck" category and it took every inch of restraint in my body not to fail those students for blasphemy.

Every week, there seems to be a song that the entire class loves. '25 or 6 to 4', a 1970 hit for Chicago, was a major hit with my students. I've always liked this song, and I'm more of a jazz-rock Chicago fan than a soft-rock Chicago fan. You can't deny that this is a jam. If you hate this song then you hate Jesus Christ and America. Just kidding. No, I take that back. Just hit play and turn up the volume.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

RIP Jon Lord (Deep Purple)

Deep Purple founding member and keyboardist, Jon Lord, died yesterday at the age of 71. The hard rocking sounds of Deep Purple inspired many heavy metal acts of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first song I've selected is 'Hush' and Lord's keyboard solo is incredible.

You can't mention Deep Purple without some 'Smoke on the Water'.

If you don't know the story behind 'Smoke on the Water' then check out the clip below.

Yours Is No Disgrace by Yes

 On a sailing ship to nowhere 
Leaving any place
If the summer changed to winter
Yours is no disgrace

There was a time where I could go from Yes to Union and tell you every person that played on those albums. I've completely lost that bit of information and I'm almost certain that aspartame is to blame. What I haven't forgotten is that Yes is a great band. I'll admit that I have a love/hate relationship with progressive rock, but Yes is in my list of progressive bands that I love. I should mention that the hate list is much, much longer.

'Yours Is No Disgrace' by Yes is my rock and roll selection for the day which is the opening track to the 1971 release, The Yes Album. 'Yours Is No Disgrace' is a nine minute progressive rock epic journey courtesy of the Yes line-up of Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Jon Anderson, and Bill Bruford. I have seen Yes in concert one time and it was the 1991 Union tour. They opened the show with 'Yours Is No Disgrace' and Yes gave us over three hours of incredible music. I hope you enjoy 'Yours Is No Disgrace'.    

I've added a clip of Yes bass player, Chris Squire, talking about the time he met Jimi Hendrix. It's a great story.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Quality of Armor by Guided by Voices

You were finding God in the dictionary
Taking photographs in the cemetery

'Propeller' (1992) was a last-ditch effort by Guided By Voices to achieve success. An initial pressing of 500 albums with hand made covers were sent out to gain national attention for the band and it worked. 'Propeller' features some real rock and roll anthems like 'Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox', 'Lethargy', and 'The Quality of Armor'. What I love about 'The Quality of Armor' is that it is an all-out rocker that blends the British invasion, garage rock, and punk rock. It's hard not to to listen to this song in the car and not shout out, "Oh yeah I'm going to drive my car! Oh yeah I'm going to go real far!" Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

You're Gonna Miss Me by The 13th Floor Elevators

You didn't realize
You're gonna miss me baby

I decided to select an artist for Friday the 13th and my choice was the 13th Floor Elevators, an Austin, Texas band that is viewed as the godfathers of psychedelic rock. Led by Roky Erickson, the 13th Floor Elevators have inspired many artists like ZZ Top and REM. Although the band was active from 1965 to 1969, Erickson continued to record music after the group disbanded. Nearly a year before the 13th Floor Elevators disbanded, Erickson was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the next four decades under the grip of his mental illness. Although he still recorded, Erickson spent his years mostly unmedicated and living in poverty. By 2001, Erickson was given the proper medical aid and has gained more control over his schizophrenia. Erickson still tours and has even worked with artists like Okkervil River and Mogwai.

As an added bonus, I've included another cool 13th Elevators track titled 'Slip Inside This House'. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life's Been Good by Joe Walsh

I have a mansion, forget the price
Ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice

The 70s rock and roll lifestyle of excess was brilliantly turned into eight minute jam by Joe Walsh, who has rocked as a solo artist and as a member of The James Gang and The Eagles. 'Life's Been Good', released in 1978, should always be played at a maximum volume because it is a classic. Haters gonna hate and yes there are times when rock and roll can be serious and/or poetic, but sometimes we just need some fun and foolishness. Thanks, Joe.

'Life's Been Good' is my favorite track by Joe Walsh, but coming in at a close second is 'Walk Away' by The James Gang. I'm adding this live performance from 1971, so enjoy. A final note: is it just me or does drummer Jimmy Fox - incorrectly credited as Jimmy Vox in the video - look like Bob 'The Bear' Hite from Canned Heat? No? Maybe?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rain by The Beatles

Rain, I don't mind

It's about time I posted a song by The Beatles. Today, I've selected 'Rain' one of my favorite songs by The Beatles. 'Rain' is the B-side to the 1966 single release for 'Paperback Writer' and is a fine example of how the best songs by artists are not always on their albums. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find gems. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They Don't Know by Tracey Ullman

'Cause they don't know about us
They've never heard of love

Tracey Ullman's 1983 cover of Kristy MacColl's 'They Don't Know' is a personal favorite. If you've never heard Kristy's original 1979 version then click here to listen. 'They Don't Know' by Tracey Ullman sounds like something that was written in the Brill Building by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and then produced by Phil Spector. There are a few examples where the cover is better than the original, and I'm on Team Tracey when it comes to 'They Don't Know'. In all fairness, Kristy MacColl did work with Tracey on this recording, so click on the video clip and enjoy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Portrait Destroyed By Fire by Guided by Voices

 A curious pet in an open cage
Subjected to his master's rage

A Portrait Destroyed By Fire, the fifth track on the 1987 album Devil Between My Toes, just might be the creepiest Guided by Voices song ever recorded. There is definitely a REM and Wire influence on A Portrait Destroyed By Fire, and this song is tied with Hey Hey Spaceman as my favorite track on Devil Between My Toes. What I love about A Portrait Destroyed By Fire is the build-up of rage that ends with lead singer, Bob Pollard, screaming, "A portrait destroyed by fire" over and over. Additionally, Bob Pollard and Toby Sprout have a great vocal moment and A Portrait Destroyed By Fire was a song that proved that more brilliant songs were on the horizon for Guided by Voices. Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Starry Eyes by The Records

While you were off in France
We were stranded in the British Isles

There is a special place in my heart for 70s power pop. It was a movement where people were inspired by The Beatles, Big Star, and The Kinks with the end result being some finely crafted rock tunes. One of my favorites is 'Starry Eyes' by The Records. Released in 1978, 'Starry Eyes' is the measuring stick of success for power pop songs. I had the opportunity to see John Wicks, the lead singer of The Records, in the late 90s and he opened for Guided By Voices in Cleveland. He really rocked the house that night and he killed it on 'Starry Eyes'. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

That's All Right by Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup

Baby one and one is two
Two and two is four
I love that woman
But I got to let her go

Elvis Presley is remembered for recording this song in 1954, but this was a cover of a song that was originally recorded in 1946 by Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup. While Elvis' version is considered one of the first rock and roll hits, it should be noted that Crudup spent many years fighting over royalties and legal issues for his songs including 'That's All Right'. To make ends meet, Crudup was a bootlegger and also ran a company that transported migrant workers. Crudup died on March 28, 1974, and in a sad twist of fate, Crudup's family finally won the rights and royalties to his music after his death.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Louder Than A Bomb by Public Enemy

Picture us goin' out on the 4th of July
And if you heard we were celebrating, that's a world-wide lie

If you were thinking about inviting Chuck D, Flava Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X, and the S1Ws to your house for a 4th of July cookout then you may want to check out 'Louder Than A Bomb'.

We're An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad

Out on the road for forty days
Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze
Sweet Sweet Connie was doing her act
She had the whole show and that's a natural fact

Happy 4th of July. Let's rock out to some Grand Funk Railroad.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thumbtack by Bob Mould

 Here's the town we live in
This is how the land lays out
I bought a map
So I could find my way around

A couple moves to a city, so one of them buys a map so they can find their way around the city, and the end result is heartbreak. Bob Mould's 'Thumbtack' is one of my personal favorites from his solo career. Featured on the highly underrated Bob Mould album, which was released in 1996, 'Thumbtack' is simply a tragedy played on an acoustic guitar. 

I know some Mould fans who are highly critical of his post Husker Du career, but Mould has released some great albums as Sugar and as Bob Mould. His solo acoustic shows are amazing and I really respect the guy for doing his own thing as an artist.The only clip I could find was from a 2010 performance, which sounds great. Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pantherz by Guided by Voices

Strong words and big black birds on a telephone wire

Secretly placed at the end of Jellyfish Reflector, a live Guided by Voices album, are three songs: Pantherz, I'll Buy You A Bird, and Bughouse. Of the three, my favorite is Pantherz, a power chord rocker that was supposed to be a track on The Power of Suck, a concept album which chronicled the history of Guided by Voices. The Power of Suck was shelved and some of the songs made their way to Under the Bushes, Under The Stars while the rest were eventually released. As a Guided by Voices fan, I have been amazed to find some of their best material in the strangest of places. Some are B-sides to singles, some have existed as unreleased demos only to be found on tapes traded between fans, some can only be found on fan only releases, and some are at the end of a live album. Listen to the song and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Enjoy.