TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Towering Fool 2. I Shall Return 3. She Said She Said 4. Effigy
5.
Tastes Like Wine 6. Beautifully Broken 7. About To Rage
8.
John The Revelator 9. Thorazine Shuffle 10. Time To Confess
 

Bonus cuts:
The same songs listed above, live. The Mule have released three live albums to date, Live At Roseland (this one's great but is currently out of print and fairly hard to get a hold of) Live With A Little Help From Our Friends (Available in 2 or 4 disc versions) and The Deepest End (One concert, over 5 hours of music spread over 2 CDs and a DVD). It's on these albums where you can hear Beautifully Broken weave in and out of Prince's When Doves Cry, or hear the Dirty Dozen Brass Band add horns to John the Revelator turning the short Son House tune into a 7-minute epic. Great stuff.

Comments:
If you share my opinion that live is the way to hear Gov't Mule, then you're in for a treat. As of a few weeks ago, the Mule joined acts like Phish and Primus in offering every single concert that they play for download just a few days after the gig. The shows cost around $15 depending on which format you choose to download, and are all at least two discs worth of music, though many are three. Haven't heard too many yet, but can tell you that the Halloween show which kicks off with the Mule's take on the Rolling Stones classic "Sympathy For The Devil" is exceptional. Head to www.muletracks.com if you want to grab a few shows of your own.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
I'm Your Captain 2. We're An American Band 3. Heartbreaker
4.
The Loco-Motion 5. Mean Mistreater 6. Some Kind of Wonderful
7.
Bad Time 8. Footstompin' Music 9. Time Machine 10. Are You Ready
 

Bonus cuts:
Into The Sun
/ Aimless Lady / Get It Together / I Don't Have To Sing The Blues / Comfort Me / I Want Freedom / People Let's Stop The War / Upsetter / No Lies / Rock & Roll Soul / Walk Like A Man (You Can Call Me Your Man) / Shinin' On / Can You Do It / Just Couldn't Wait / Release Your Love

Comments:
Grand Funk Railroad was one of the most successful hard rock bands of the 1970's, formed in Flint, Michigan by guitarist/songwriter Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer. Both were former members of a popular local band called Terry Knight & the Pack. (After the Pack's demise, lead singer Terry Knight became Grand Funk's manager but was terminated by the group a few years later). Farner and Brewer recruited bassist Mel Schacher, formerly of Question Mark & the Mysterians and named the new group after Michigan's well-known Grand Trunk Railroad. Capitol Records signed them immediately after seeing the electrifying power trio perform at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival and the band went on to produce a series of top-selling albums over the next few years (five of their eight releases from 1969 to 1972 went platinum, and the others all went gold).

In 1973, the band officially changed it's name to Grand Funk, and the group scored a number one Top 40 hit with the Todd Rundgren-produced "We're an American Band." Their follow-up LP, "Shinin' On" contained another number one hit with a rollicking cover of Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion." However, interest in the group began to fade after the release of their next LP, "All the Girls in the World Beware!!" The band's name was changed back to Grand Funk Railroad and they remained together in 1976 to work with producer Frank Zappa on the LP "Good Singin', Good Playin'." Shortly thereafter, Farner left for a solo career, and the remainder of the band released an album as Flint with guitarist Billy Elworthy.

The original members of Grand Funk Railroad reunited several times to record and tour throughout the 80's and 90's – their final release being a live benefit album entitled "Bosnia" from 1997. Two years later Capitol Records paid tribute to this legendary band by issuing the three-disc box set retrospective entitled "Thirty Years of Funk: 1969-1999."

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Truckin' 2. Bird Song 3. Sugar Magnolia 4. Playing in the Band
5.
Shake Down Street 6. Uncle John's Band 7. Fire on the Mountain
8.
Casey Jones 9. Touch of Grey 10. Eyes of the World
 

Bonus cuts:
Hell in a Bucket / Ripple / Dark Star Jam / Us Blues / St. Stephen / Terrapin Station / Love Light / Bertha / I Need a Miracle / Cassidy / Friend of the Devil / Deal

Comments:
All of the above songs are interchangeable. They are all uniquely The Dead. Every Dead Head has their favorites and love them all equally. The Dead have many official studio albums and several official live CD's, but since they were one of the first bands to allow tapings at their shows, there are thousands of bootlegs of their concerts floating around out there. Since they are the granddaddy of all jam bands, live is the way to go, and the bootlegs are a great way to catch a small bit of the live magic. There are several DVD's of concerts out there too. One of the best is The Closing of Winterland. Leading up to that New Years Eve 1978 concert, Bill Graham displayed a billboard that read, "They're not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do." That about nails it down.

Many fans of the group equate a Dead concert to a spiritual experience. Paul Krassner once asked Jerry Garcia, "Have you ever felt like you've been in communication with beings of a higher intelligence than humans?" He replied, "I've had direct communication with something which is higher than me! I don't know what it is, it may be another part of my mind. There's no way for me to filter it out because it's in my head. It's the thing that's able to take bits and pieces of things and give me large messages. To me, they are messages as clear as someone speaking in my ear, they're that well-expressed and they have all the detail that goes along with it. Sometimes it comes in the form of an actual voice and sometimes it comes in the form of a hugeness, a huge presence that uses all of the available sensory material to express an idea. And when I get the idea it's like dah! Oh, I get it! And it's accompanied by that hollow mocking laughter. You stupid fuck! You finally got it uh? Geez it's about time. (laughter) For me, enlightenment works that way, but it's definitely a higher order of self-organization that communicates stuff."

Get it?

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
No Pride 2. Westbound Sign 3. Basket Case 4. Jesus of Suburbia
5.
One of My Lies 6. She 7. Minority 8. 80 9. Jinx 10. Letterbomb
 

Bonus cuts:
The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink- A thirty second long acoustic song from the compilation, Short Music for Short People, and Homecoming- the second of two nine minute plus tunes from the band's latest, American Idiot.

Comments:
If you already have all of the Green Day records and are yearning for more, check out a band called The Network. The five members of the group have never been seen without their trademark ski masks, but it is widely rumored that should someone manage to jump on stage and pull the masks off, they'd expose all three members of Green Day along with a few of the fellas from Devo.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
American Woman 2. Undun 3. Laughing 4. No Time 5. Share The Land
6.
These Eyes 7. No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature 8. Albert Flasher
9.
Heartbroken Bopper 10. Hand Me Down World
 

Bonus cuts:
Guns, Guns, Guns / Talisman / So Long, Bannatyne / Take It Off My Shoulders / Proper Stranger / Do You Miss Me Darlin' / Star Baby / Rain Dance

Comments:
Hailing from Canada, The Guess Who evolved from a local Winnepeg band called Chad Allan and the Expressions. The group consisted of local talent including guitarist Randy Bachman, who went on to form Bachman Turner Overdrive in 1972. When the Expressions released a new album in 1966, the record company, Quality, listed their name as "Guess Who?" on the jacket, hoping to fool record buyers into thinking that the British Invasion-influenced music was actually by a more famous group in disguise. When the album failed to chart, Chad Allan decided to leave the band and was replaced by keyboardist/vocalist Burton Cummings, who was instrumental in bringing the band overnight recognition. In 1969 they signed with RCA Records and had enormous success starting with the top 10 smash "These Eyes." They went on to become one of the most popular rock and roll bands ever to emerge from Canada, and recorded some of the best pop/rock of the 1970s. After being disbanded for a number of years, some of the original members including Cummings and Bachman reunited in 2000 for an enormously successful tour of the United States and Canada.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Paradise City 2. Welcome To The Jungle 3. Sweet Child O Mine
4.
Patience 5. Estranged 6. Coma 7. Used To Love Her 8. November Rain
9.
Breakdown 10. One In A Million
 

Bonus cuts:
Covers of Bob Dylan's "Knockin On Heaven's Door", The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" and "Dead Flowers" (Bootleg Only), Aerosmith's "Mama Kin" and Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" – none of which appear on the band's final album, the all covers disc, The Spaghetti Incident, which pretty much no one on earth likes other than me.

Comments:
While Axl Rose is promising a new GNR album (with a totally new band other than himself and the keyboard player that no one cares about) early next year, you might want to take note of the fact that he's been making that same promise every year for close to a decade now. In the meantime, fans might want to check out CDs from two other versions of the GNR, which also aren't the real thing. First, the more high profile of the pair, is Velvet Revolver, a band that features more members of Guns N Roses (Slash,, Duff and Matt) than Guns N Roses currently does, as well as Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland. Their debut CD Contraband, will be enjoyable to fans of either of the groups that were frankensteined into this band. Second, there's a cd floating around called "The Roots of Guns N Roses". The disc features five songs, three versions of each, by Axl and Izzy's band prior to GNR, Hollywood Rose. While one version of each song would surely have sufficed, the disc is still very cool and a worthwhile purchase for more hardcore fans.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Halfway 2. Choochtown 3. Big As Life 4. Z-Roxx 5. First Date
6.
John Lennon 7. Tough Love 8. The Vines 9. Blood of the Wolf
10.
Some Hearts
 

Bonus cuts:
The bad news is, the first two Hamell On Trial albums, Big As Life and The Chord is Mightier than the Sword, are now out of print. The good news is that there are two fairly easy ways to get a hold of this great, great music regardless. First, there's a CD called Mercuroyale: The Best of the Mercury Years, which is basically a greatest hits album culled exclusively from the first two records. The collection comes frustratingly close to having every song from the period that it covers; there are only six or seven songs missing. This should be enough for most people, but if you're a collector (read: if you exhibit unhealthy obsessive behavior) like I am, not having those six or seven cuts will drive you crazy. The answer is to buy the original albums used. They're usually up on either Ebay or Amazon, and chances are (sadly) you can get both of the originals used for less than the price of the greatest hits disc new. Another essential Hamell track, and this one I have no idea how to get a hold of if you don't already have it, is his cover of Bob Dylan's It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). Hamell recorded the song so it could be released as an exclusive track on a CD that came with an issue of Uncut Magazine…about two years ago. Another cool track with the exact same story is the mini-medley of Clash tunes, White Riot/Hitsville UK . . . which was on an exclusive Uncut disc last year.


Comments:
Hamell on Trial is one guy with one guitar (at least most of the time) but as he explains in his song The Meeting, he doesn't play folk, he plays rock and roll. What Ed (that's Hamell) does is takes punk, forces it into bed with folk, and adds a wicked sense of humor for flavor. End result is high intensity acoustic rock and roll with lyrics like, "You think you might be Jesus, let's be frank, you're the lead singer of a big rock band, let's get the bass player to nail you to a cross, long rusty spikes right through your hands! I mean fuck it. Why go halfway?" Utterly brilliant stuff . . . if you didn't know, now you do. Go place a bid.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Simple Song of Freedom 2. If I Were a Carpenter 3. Reason to Believe
4.
Don't Make Promises 5. Misty Roses 6. Lady Came From Baltimore
7.
Red Balloon 8. Smugglin' Man 9. Love Hymn 10. Never Too Far
Extra: Tim Hardin 1 & 2 on Verve are Brilliant
 

Comments:
Hardin's singing style, with his throaty vibrato, was unique. Although largely known as a folk artist he considered himself a jazz stylist (listen to Misty Roses) and at times used jazz musicians to back him up. (Check out Smugglin'Man from Tim Hardin 3-Live In Concert recorded at New York's Town Hall). All of his recordings contain a mellow rawness and sincerity throughout, but it was his songwriting that was exceptional.

Rod Stewart's version of 'Reason To Believe' helped establish him as a solo artist. 'If I Were A Carpenter' was a hit for both The Four Tops and Bobby Darin. It is interesting to note that Hardin's only chart single was the Darin penned "Simple Song Of Freedom." It is one of those perfect records and must be heard.

Joan Baez, Leon Russell, The Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Bob Segar and many others have recorded and performed amazing versions of Hardin's compositions. In the 60's, after a stint in the Marines, which he hated, Lenny Bruce put him up in his home and even bought him a piano.
Tim performed at the Woodstock festival, but never made it to the film. His personal life was a struggle. He had an addiction to heroin, suffered from stage fright and respiratory problems. Sadly he died from an overdose on December 29, 1980.

There is a beauty and honesty in his records that still holds up today.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS 1976-1984:

1.
Barracuda 2. Magic Man 3. How Can I Refuse
4.
Crazy On You 5. Sing Child 6. Heartless 7. Rockin' Heaven Down
8.
White Lightning & Wine 9. Love Alive 10. Kick It Out

Bonus cuts:
Straight On / (Love Me Like Music) I'll Be Your Song / Even It Up

 

TOP 10 TRACKS 1985-2004:
1.
Black On Black II 2. These Dreams 3. The Night 4. Tall, Dark Handsome Stranger 5. Stranded 6. Make Me
7.
Nothin' At All 8. What About Love 9. Never 10. Fallen From Grace

Bonus cuts:
If Looks Could Kill / Who Will You Run To /Alone / All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You /
I Didn't Want To Need You



Comments:
This whole thing started in 1963, believe it or not, with brothers Roger and Mike Fisher and their friend Steve Fossen. It was called the Army back then, which eventually became White Heart, and finally ended up as Heart. When sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson joined the group, in 1970 and 1974 respectively, the true beginnings of Heart took place. The dynamic vocal abilities of Ann Wilson were front and center with the group in the early days, and that aspect of the band still remains intact to this day. The band has always had the good fortune of having excellent talent elsewhere as well. Michael Derosier, and later Denny Carmassi on drums; Steve Fossen, Mark Andes, and Mike Inez have all had turns at the bass duties at one time or another; and the 20 year stint of the brilliant Howard Leese on guitar served as the "beating" of this Heart from 1975-1995. And last but not least, "the other sister," Nancy Wilson. Besides being the beauty of the band, she has served as a gentle voice as well as an absolutely radiant guitar player. And yes, she's married to Cameron Crowe too.

As you have probably already noticed the list is broken into two different sets of lists. I did this for many reasons. The band's first record, "Dreamboat Annie," is the cornerstone of the Heart catalog for many fans. The early list includes four tracks from that album (Magic Man, Crazy On You, Sing Child, White Lightning & Wine). Many fans of the band view a sharp contrast between the Heart of old, and the newer, slicker Heart. Therefore, I chose to keep the old classics at a safe distance from their more modern counterparts. (Sneaking in an additional ten tracks might've had something to do with having two lists too!) The modern Heart list draws four tracks from my personal favorite album from the band, "Brigade." "The Night," "Tall, Dark Handsome Stranger," "Stranded," and "Fallen From Grace" are all powerful songs from an album full of great material. The fans that gravitate more to the "new," more modern sound of Heart, usually find the self-titled album from 1985 to be their favorite. Songs like "These Dreams," "What About Love," "Nothin' At All," and "Never" are all on my list, and they all define the band in its modern glory. As a fan of all the band's material, I found it hard to choose between the old and the new. There are songs that defined this band in their 70's heyday ("Magic Man," "Crazy On You"), but there are also songs from more recent years that sum up the band's existence as well ("Alone," "These Dreams"). Heart is a band that has grown perfectly with the times, and continues to put out amazing material to this day.

Tracks compiled by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
All Along The Watchtower 2. Purple Haze 3. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
4. The Wind Cries Mary 5. Manic Depression 6. Little Wing
7.
Third Stone From The Sun 8. Hey Joe 9. Foxey Lady 10. Stone Free
 

Bonus cuts:
Burning of the Midnight Lamp / Bold As Love / Fire / Crosstown Traffic / Night Bird Flying / Castles Made of Sand / Are You Experienced? / Up From The Skies / Spanish Castle Magic / Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland)


Comments:
Seattle, Washington native Johnny Allen Hendrix (his name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix at age 4) did not become a star overnight. During the early and mid-60s he was a backup and session guitarist for R&B greats like Little Richard, King Curtis and The Isley Brothers. Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who was looking for new talent to manage, spotted Hendrix performing in a New York City nightclub and realized his potential star power. In 1966 Chandler convinced him to move to London, where he began recording with his newly formed band, The Experience, featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass. Jimi Hendrix and the Experience became stars in the UK when their first 3 singles all went Top 10 and their astonishing debut album Are You Experienced? became a million seller in a remarkably short period of time. Relatively unknown in the United States, he made his American solo debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and was a huge hit. His shattering performance at Monterey made him a rock and roll idol of colossal proportions, but his star would only shine for a mere 3 years as he was found dead of drug-related complications on September 18, 1970. Considering the enormous legacy he left behind, Hendrix surprisingly had only 3 official studio albums during the course of his short career, yet he did have a lot of recorded material that has been, and continues to be released in various compilations. The great Jimi Hendrix was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Tracks compiled by George Miller / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
That'll Be The Day 2. Not Fade Away 3. Peggy Sue 4. Maybe Baby
5. It Doesn't Matter Anymore 6. It's So Easy 7. Rave On
8. Everyday 9. Oh Boy! 10. Words of Love
 

Comments:
Buddy Holly was a tremendous influence on many of rock's biggest
stars. The Rolling Stones first record, "Not Fade Away," was a Buddy Holly tune, The Hollies named themselves after him. The Beatles picked their name in honor of Holly's band, The Crickets. In 1958 he produced the first record by a young guy named Waylon Jennings. Years later Linda Ronstadt had a huge hit with his "It's So Easy, and on and on.

As a young guy, Holly was bursting with energy and confidence. He knew he was going to make it and in short, he went for it with great determination. For example, when Elvis played in Lubbock, Texas young Holly befriended him and they went to the movies. Soon Holly was opening on Elvis shows.

When he first had a chance to record in Nashville, record executive Owen Bradley told him that "That'll Be The Day " was the worst song he ever heard. Unfazed, Buddy, with a whatever it takes attitude, took his band to Mexico where they found a friendlier studio to record in. The next version of "That'll Be The Day" became a huge hit.

Buddy recorded all the songs mentioned above in less than two years. He died in a plane crash when he was only 22 after giving his final performance at The Surf Club in Clear Lake Iowa. He had split with The Crickets by then and Waylon Jennings was in his band. Jennings, along with Dion and The Belmonts, took the bus after the show, while Buddy, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper took the plane that never made it to the next gig.

Waylon recalled how he and his friend were joking as they said goodbye. Buddy said, I hope the bus breaks down, and Waylon kidded back, I hope that your plane crashes. The comment haunted him for years.

Buddy Holly was a shooting star who flashed across the early rock and roll skies, but was a major star nonetheless.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Preachin' Blues 2. Death Letter 3. Levee Camp Moan
4.
Grinnin' In Your Face 5. John The Revelator 6. Empire State Blues
7.
Pearline 8. Government Fleet Blues 9. Louise Mcghee
10.
Downhearted Blues
 

Bonus cuts:
Easy answer: Anything. Convoluted answer: There are multiple versions out there of a lot of Son House's songs. He was originally recorded by Alan Lomax during one of Lomax' trips to the Mississippi Delta as an archivist for the Library of Congress. That would've been sometime in the 1930's and early 40's. Those recordings, which are priceless now, were then made simply to document America's roots music, not to make a star of the musician.

Fast forward thirty years to the blues revival of the 1960s, and we find Son House (who hadn't played music at all in about a decade, and hadn't played with regularity in two decades) "re-discovered" and re-recording his songs for commercial release.

For a good sampling of both types of Son House recordings, check out the disc Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Son House. It's the only disc I know of off the top of my head which covers both eras. I'm sure there are others. Do your own research. As I stated in the easy answer, anything you find will be worth it.



Comments:
Son House is fixin' to take over the penthouse of my personal blues hierarchy. When Muddy Waters, considered by many to be the greatest bluesman of all time, was asked if the legendary Robert Johnson was a better guitar player than Son House, he said that he thought they were about equal. Anyone who knows the blues will tell you that this was about as high a compliment as one blues musician could give another. Later, as it turned out, researchers discovered that House was something of a mentor to Johnson and actually taught him how to play! Son House's guitar work is stellar, and his vocals are, simply put, as good as it gets in terms of Delta blues. Eddie J. "Son" House Jr. is as essential as it gets.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Mind Over Matter 2. Six In The Morning 3. New Jack Hustler
4.
O.G. Original Gangster 5. Cop Killer (with Body Count)
6.
It's On 7. Watch The Ice Break 8. Midnight 9. Ice MF T
10.
Ya Shoulda Killed Me Last Year (Spoken Word)
 

Bonus cuts:
In my opinion, there has not been one rap album, regardless of sub-genre (pop, gangsta, whatever) since Ice-T's 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster that was as good. So called geniuses like Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls made their careers out of copying what Ice was doing five years earlier. The album is a rap masterpiece and should be in the collection of anyone spouting off about how great Eminem or 2Pac are. (Okay, okay, that first Dr. Dre solo album was as good, but otherwise, Ice-T is the man!)

Comments:
In the early 90's, Ice-T found himself in the middle of one of the biggest controversies in recent music history. Both Presidential candidates in the 1992 election singled Ice out as an example of what was wrong with our values in this country. At the center of the storm was a song called Cop Killer on an album by the same name. The song, which was by Ice-T's group, Body Count, was regularly referred to in the media, as well as by the President and the Vice-President, as a rap song. In actuality the song, like every other song Body Count ever recorded, was a heavy metal/hardcore punk song. After months of protests and boycotts, the song was eventually cut from the album which was also subsequently re-named. Thirteen years later, Cop Killer has never been reissued. The following year, Ice was dropped by Warner Brothers Records for refusing to tone down the content of his next album, Home Invasion. Ice then formed his own label and released the album unedited with the following disclaimer as its first track:

"Attention. At this moment you are now listening to an Ice-T LP. If you are offended by words like s**t, b**ch, f**k, d**k, a*s, h*, c*m, dirty b**ch, low motherfu**er, ni**a, h**ker, sl*t, tra*p, dirty low sl*t tr**p b**ch h* ni**a f**k s**t, whatever, take the tape out now! THIS IS NOT A POP ALBUM! And by the way, s**k m* motherf**king d**k!" (Note: I was in favor of putting the disclaimer up unedited, but the older guys here at Are You On Something took offense . . . pu**ies.- Mike)

For the next several years, Ice continued to make and release uncompromising rap and hard rock albums. No one was safe from his ire. He answered back the president's comments as if he was just a rival MC in an old school battle rap and even said his own fans "ain't shit" in one song! Regardless of your opinion of his music, there can be no doubt about the fact that Ice-T is an icon of freedom of expression. Presently, Ice-T hasn't released an album, either solo or with Body Count, in six years. Instead, for the past 5 years Ice has made his living as an actor on the television show, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He plays a police officer.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Phantom of the Opera 2. Wrathchild 3. Hallowed be thy Name
4.
The Trooper 5. Aces High 6. Two Minutes to Midnight 7. Wasted Years
8. Déjà vu 9. Can I Play With Madness 10. Fear of the Dark
 

Bonus cuts:
Be Quick Or Be Dead / Prowler, Killers / The Prisoner / Where Eagles Dare / Caught Somewhere In Time / The Evil That Men Do / Judas Be My Guide / Man On The Edge / The Clansman / Out Of The Silent Planet


Comments:
The epitome of metal music and image. For the past 25 years when someone would mention the two words "Iron Maiden" you thought of "Eddie", the band's silent spokesman, who happens to be a 15 foot tall dead guy. You thought of chains, leather, fire, and for some reason…pain. I've been listening to Iron Maiden for the past 15 years, and when people ask me who my favorite band is, Maiden is my answer. You should see the look on peoples faces when I say that. "Iron Maiden? Oh man, you're into that really satanic crazy metal shit." Wow…I wish my name struck that much fear into peoples minds. I guarantee that these people probably never even heard a Maiden song, or at the most, heard the catch phrase "666 the number of the beast." Well for all of those folks who believe this music is poisonous or for those who perhaps fully embraced Tipper Gore's pro-censorship philosophy made popular in the 1980's, I urge you to please open your mind just a little and maybe actually listen to the lyrics that are sung; listen to the actual arrangement and composition of the music being performed; and finally, feel the soul that these musicians put into their playing. All of the above are by no means simplistic and if nothing else, they deserve some respect and musical appreciation.

Let's take away the artwork, the image, the stigma, and talk about what's important here…THE MUSIC. Here is a band that has evolved so much through their existence. I bet you didn't know that before they had a deal, they were considered a punk band, did ya? Take a listen to the song "Running Free" or "Iron Maiden" and you'll see this is quite feasible. They invented the "galloping" drumbeat; they saturated their music with guitar harmonies, and their lyrics, when actually LISTENED to, force you to think and to learn. And finally for the first time in heavy music, we have a bass player who is worth a damn. I'll be the first to admit that the image and some of their songs are corny. But come on, throughout recent music history, there have been a lot of corny images…Kiss, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., and dare I say it…The Beatles. But for some reason, during these bands' genesis, the images worked! Not only did they work, but people also copied them, and it worked for the copycats too! So while some things may seem corny, it's probably just because they are dated (bell bottoms, mullets, collars as wide as your nipples). As far as the music goes, the band has 13 studio albums and approximately 150 songs. Even if 75% of their songs sucked, that's still a positive contribution of ~40 really good songs to the music community. There aren't a lot of bands that can say that. In closing, check out the top 10 songs. I put them in age order so you can hear the natural progression of the band. Iron Maiden may just be metal's best-kept public secret.

Tracks compiled by John Ciallella / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. I Don't Want To Cry 2. Any Day Now 3. I Keep Forgettin'
4.
Are You Lonely For Me Baby 5. I'll Take Care Of You (with Cissy Houston)
6. Any Other Way 7. If I Let Myself Go (with Dionne Warwick)
8. Honey Come Back 9. Since I Don't Have You 10. Something You Got
 

Comments:
"I Don't Want To Cry," Chuck Jackson's first hit single from 1961 and "Any Day Now" from the following year are two of the most perfect and incredible soul recordings of all time.

Jackson wasn't raw like Pickett or Brown. His amazing baritone voice was as smooth as the violins and harmonious funky harmonies that backed him up on those brilliant records. Chuck Jackson is a class act and it's the total package of his talent and style that makes all of his recordings uniquely special.

He was a fan favorite, and had the girls screaming whenever he performed live at the legendary Murray The K Holiday Shows at the Brooklyn Fox in the 60's. His duet with Dionne Warwick on "If I Let Myself Go" was nominated for a Grammy for best duet, and Michael McDonald had a huge hit with his cover of Chuck's "I Keep Forgettin'." If you listen to Chuck's version you might mistake him for Tom Jones – in fact, his singing was a huge influence on the Welch superstar. You can also hear how he influenced Tom on "Something You Got." Not coincidently, Tom's breakthrough hit "It's Not Unusual" was actually written specifically for Jackson.

Chuck Jackson is one of the few pure soul singers around, the real deal and an American treasure.

For more info go to www.chuckjackson.org

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Crimson & Clover 2. Mony Mony 3. Crystal Blue Persuasion
4.
Draggin' The Line (Tommy James Solo) 5. Hanky Panky
6.
Mirage 7. Sweet Cherry Wine 8. I Think We're Alone Now
9.
Getting Together 10. Out Of The Blue
 

Comments:
They weren't the Beatles. They weren't even The Kinks, The Rascals, or The Searchers, but they weren't one hit wonders like The Lemon Pipers or The Strawberry Alarm Clock either. What they did was make a string of memorable hit records that were a mainstay on the charts for 5 straight years in the 1960s.
When we first heard of them via "Hanky Panky," they were a garage band with a primitive raw sound reminiscent of "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen. Then they had a few bubble gum-style hits before they put out one of the all-time great rock dance numbers, "Mony Mony" in 1968. Billy Idol had a number one with the record in the 80's, but his version lacked that mid-60's rock groove that The Shondells put on the track.

In the late 60's, in the wake of Sgt. Pepper, James Company created their own version of psychedelic bubble gum with two amazing records, "Crimson & Clover," and "Crystal Blue Persuasion." Those two tunes are their Pepper; their Smile; and earn a spot in rock history for their originality and uniqueness. Note if you never heard "Crimson and Clover" be sure and hear the LONG version that is contained on the album of the same name. "Sweet Cherry Wine" was the band's anti-war protest song and "Draggin' the Line" was a Tommy James solo hit. You can hear everything John Mellencamp did since in that one record.

Tommy James and The Shondells didn't have a George Martin producing them. They weren't on a huge label like Warner Brothers with all their promotional muscle. They did it on their own and are worth serious consideration because they made some damn good records.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Cara Mia 2. Come A Little Bit Closer 3. This Magic Moment
4.
She Cried 5. Let's Lock The Door (And Throw Away The Key)
6.
Some Enchanted Evening 7. Sunday And Me 8. Walkin' In The Rain
9.
Cryin' 10. Only In America
 

Comments:
Jay and The Americans often get lost in the shuffle of rock's eclectic history, but they were a great New York vocal group who survived the British Invasion, the experimental rock on Progressive FM radio, Motown, and every other musical change in the 60's to create a decades worth of hit records. Influenced by the amazing R & B and doo-wop groups of the 50's – The Flamingos, The Moonglows, The 5 Keys, The Cadillacs, Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters, and all the rest – there were a number of first-rate white vocal groups who transformed doo-wop into a unique pop sound during the pre-Beatles 60's. Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons were the most successful, but The Duprees, The Capris, The Earls and many others made contributions.

The thing that separated Jay and The Americans from the pack was the astonishing voice of Jay Black. Certainly his group had great producers and excellent material, but it was Black's lead vocals that kicked them up to another level. Jay Black, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Maestro (of The Crests and later The Brooklyn Bridge) are arguably the four greatest voices in early 60's rock and pop. Their first hit was She Cried. Shortly afterwards the original lead singer John "Jay" Traynor left to pursue a solo career. Marty Sanders, one of the group's session musicians, brought in his friend David Blatt, the lead singer of an all Jewish vocal group called The Empires from Tilden High School in Brooklyn. He changed his name to Jay Black and sang lead on all of the groups subsequent hits. Although tunes like She Cried (by Lieber and Stoller), Come A Little Bit Closer (written by Boyce and Hart), and Sunday and Me (a Neil Diamond composition) were original tunes, the majority of their hits were cover records including the pop operatic Cara Mia, originally recorded by Dave Whitfield in 1954, Roy Orbison's Cryin', When You Dance by The Turbans, Walkin' In The Rain by The Ronettes, and a tune that was never released by The Drifters, Only In America. In 1963 the song was recorded by The Drifters, and produced by Leiber and Stoller. Atlantic Records decided not to release it because some felt there were offending lyrics: "Only in America do they make you sit in the back of the bus". Americans member Kenny Vance heard the tune and because of its name suggested they record it. After a few lyrical changes, The Drifters vocals were erased and it became a top 40 hit for Jay and The Americans.

In the early 70's the group threw in the towel. Kenny Vance became musical director for Saturday Night Live for awhile, did a lot of work in the movies plus performs and records today with his amazing group Kenny and The Planotones. Jay & The Americans, minus Kenny and Jay Black - with a 3rd Jay, are now out on the oldies circuit. The voice, Jay Black still knocks out audiences when he appears in concert around the country.

One footnote: In the early 70's, two members of the Jay and The Americans backup band were Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who went on to form Steely Dan.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Your Song 2. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
3.
Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding 4. Philadelphia Freedom
5.
Elderberry Wine 6. I Need Love 7. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
8.
Burn Down The Mission 9. Rocket Man 10. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
 

Bonus cuts:
Crocodile Rock / I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues / This Train Don't Stop There Anymore / Tonight / Country Comfort / Tiny Dancer / Candle In The Wind / Healing Hands / Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting / Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy / Grey Seal / Sad Songs Say So Much / The One


Comments:
Elton's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy LP debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart in 1975 – an autobiographical first! Another album of note was Elton's live set titled Here and There, featuring 2 concert recordings from Britain and America. The American show from Madison Square Garden was recorded on Thanksgiving evening 1974 and featured the last public performance of John Lennon. 11/17/70 is a live recording of a radio broadcast on WPLJ by Elton, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olson on drums. If you had any doubts, this proves he is a rocker at heart. Today, some 34 years later, there is a new 4 DVD set called "Elton John Dream Ticket." If you love Elton, and if you love rock you must own this set. One concert is a greatest hits show from Madison Square Garden, another is with Elton and a symphony orchestra from London, which is worth the cost of the whole deal . . . Incredible! Then there's Elton solo in Greece. In addition to these three full concerts there is a fourth disc that covers his entire career with interviews, concert footage and videos. This is a fantastic set with over 7 hours of music. Final note: As great as his recordings are, Elton was and is an incredible showman. See him live!

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Hellhound On My Trail 2. Crossroad Blues 3. Traveling Riverside Blues
4.
32-20 Blues 5. Love In Vain Blues 6. Sweet Home Chicago
7.
I Believe I'll Dust My Broom 8. Come On In My Kitchen
9.
They're Red Hot 10. Milkcow's Calf Blues
 

Bonus cuts:
Everything Johnson did is essential - we'll get to why in a second. The good news, only from the point of view of your wallet, is that he didn't do much. For about $25 you can buy a two CD set of Johnson called The Complete Recordings, which is just that. The set contains all 28 songs Johnson recorded as well as 12 alternate takes. Those 40 tracks represent every known Robert Johnson recording.


Comments:
As far as Rock n Roll goes, Robert Johnson is the ultimate influence. Yes, there was Jazz that predated Johnson which holds some influence in Rock, and there were blues players before him who influenced him, but in the grand scheme of things, no one has influenced rock music more than Robert Johnson. The top ten songs listed above alone have been covered by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Elmore James, The Allman Brothers Band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers The Blues Brothers, Gov't Mule, and Led Zeppelin. Eric Clapton (who some of you thought was God), loves Johnson so much that his latest album is made up entirely of Johnson covers! Johnson is an extremely interesting musician to check out if you're interested in Rock or Blues and really is the apogee of rock n roll inspiration no matter what Little Richard and your neighborhood Elvis fanatic tells you.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Victim Of Changes 2. Burnin' Up 3. The Hellion/Electric Eye
4.
Beyond The Realms Of Death 5. Ripper 6. Desert Plains
7.
Delivering The Goods 8. Hell Bent For Leather 9. The Rage
10.
Heading Out To The Highway
 

Bonus cuts:
Out In The Cold / Saints In Hell / The Sentinel / Sinner / A Touch Of Evil / Exciter / Metal Gods / Island Of Domination, and of course . . . You've Got Another Thing Comin' / Breaking The Law / Living After Midnight


Comments:
Judas Priest has gone through many transformations in its' almost 30 years of existence. We've seen the artistic heaviness of early discs like Sad Wings Of Destiny, and we've seen them adapt to the metal brutality of a new generation with albums like Painkiller. Along that road they experimented with keyboard-like guitar effects (Turbo), and even brought a new singer into the band to record two albums. True fans of Judas Priest can appreciate everything that the band has done, but nevertheless they remain loyal to the "metal god" himself, Mr. Rob Halford. Not too many singers in any genre have the range and power of Halford. He truly defines the Priest sound.

We've all heard the hits . . . You've Got Another Thing Comin', Breaking The Law, and Living After Midnight being the biggest of them; but the greatest of the Priest catalog lies a bit deeper than that. The list of 10 songs above, I believe, are the best representation of what this band can do. Victim of Changes is a song that has all of the elements that make this band legendary – the amazing range, power and passion of Halford, the twin guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, and an always rock-solid rhythm section. All that and I didn't even mention the perfect structure and arrangement of the song. The Hellion just might be the best instrumental intro in the history of rock music, and Beyond The Realms of Death is another tune that hits a home run by touching every base on the Priest playing field. The list goes on and on.

This list is for the Priest fan – the lifelong Priest fan. For those of you that want to join the ranks of us lifelong Priest fans, start at the top of the list and study hard and heavy. This is what Judas Priest is all about.

Tracks compiled by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel) 2. What's On My Mind
3.
Portrait (He Knew) 4. Hold On 5. Got To Rock On 6. The Wall
7.
Play The Game Tonight 8. On The Other Side 9. Carry On Wayward Son
10.
Questions Of My Childhood
 

Bonus cuts:
Dust In The Wind / Fight Fire With Fire / Point Of Know Return / Lonely Wind / People Of The South Wind / Miracles Out Of Nowhere


Comments:
This was a pretty easy list for me to compile. I have been a devout fan of this band since their inception in the early 70's, and I remain enthused by their current work as well. I believe their Leftoverture release to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Their skill of incorporating keyboards and violin into a classic "guitar rock" setting was stunning. Much like Jethro Tull who made the flute a rock instrument, Kansas did the same for the violin. But it wasn't only their instrumental prowess that made this ship sail, it was a strong penchant for lyrical storytelling also. The strongest material is that which they recorded in the '70's – with hits like Carry On Wayward Son, Dust In The Wind and Point of Know Return. The weakest material that the band put out was when vocalist Steve Walsh departed and was replaced by vocalist John Elefante. Elefante was an accomplished and worthy singing talent, but the songwriting skills of Walsh were sorely missed. Walsh and guitarist Kerry Livgren were the writing team that defined Kansas' sound on the classic '70s records. That writing chemistry was now lost. The two records with Elefante, 1982s Vinyl Confessions and '83s Drastic Measures, both yielded a couple of fine Kansas songs though. Fight Fire With Fire and Play The Game Tonight are excellent tunes, but that was about it for those two discs.

The songs above are the tunes I yearn to hear from this band. Allow me to explain some of the omissions from the list: Dust In The Wind is a great song, but it's just one of those songs I've heard way too many times. It's the Stairway To Heaven theory; great song, but it would be okay if we never heard it again, agreed? Point of Know Return is another splendid song that each of us has heard at least a million times. I wanted to list songs that are just as good or better than those; songs that have not been played to death on classic rock stations throughout the world. Icarus, What's On My Mind, and On The Other Side are tracks that have all of the ingredients that make a great Kansas song without the staleness that comes with radio repetition. Dig deep into the catalog of this classic band and enjoy its' riches!

Tracks compiled by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Lola 2. You Really Got Me 3. Victoria 4. Shangri-La
5.
All Day and All of the Night 6. Tired of Waiting for You 7. Days
8.
A Well Respected Man 9. Sunny Afternoon 10. Waterloo Sunset
 

Bonus cuts:
Village Green Preservation Society / Set Me Free / Till the End of the Day / Dedicated Follower of Fashion / Dead End Street / Death of a Clown / Autumn Almanac / Come Dancing / Stop Your Sobbing / Mr. Pleasant / Who'll Be the Next in Line / Where Have All the Good Times Gone / Starstruck


Comments:
The Kinks have been considered to be one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. They started playing basic rock and rhythm & blues, but over the years became a much more versatile band experimenting with elements of country, folk, and even British music hall and traditional pop. Born and raised in Muswell Hill, England, brothers Ray and Dave Davies formed a band called The Ravens and just prior to the release of their first single in 1964 – a cover of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally – the band changed their name to The Kinks. Their first 2 singles failed to chart, but their third release, the raucous You Really Got Me, became an overnight smash, reaching number one in the UK, and going top 10 worldwide. The band continued to have commercial success with major chart hits throughout the sixties but Ray Davies was taking his songwriting in a different direction, becoming more introspective and nostalgic. Even though the commercial hits had all but dried up by 1968, Davies continued to write and record masterful works with The Kinks including the commercially unsuccessful but critically acclaimed Village Green Preservation Society and a year later, Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Released in 1970, Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One was their most successful album since the mid-'60s, and contained their biggest selling single, Lola. Although The Kinks have gone through several personnel changes over the years, Ray and Dave Davies have always been at the nucleus of this great band – one that has recorded over 30 studio albums and one that is still a top concert attraction some 40 years after its incarnation.

Tracks compiled by Ernie Fossa / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Black Diamond 2. Strutter 3. Deuce 4. Let Me Go Rock N Roll
5.
Detroit Rock City 6. Firehouse 7. Rock N Roll All Night
8.
Hard Luck Woman 9. I Love It Loud 10. Calling Dr. Love
 

Bonus cuts:
To understand Kiss you really need to see them live. An extension of that is that the best way to listen to them is to play their live albums….really, really loud. There are five official Kiss live albums out there; Kiss Alive I-IV and Kiss Unplugged. Alive III represents 80's Kiss which some people loved and most people did not. It was an era of no make-up, no Ace, no Peter, and consequently no reason to pay much attention. Alive I and II are documents of Kiss's golden era and owning at least one of them is essential to any respectable collection of rock and roll. Alive IV and Unplugged are gimmicky (we're talking about the most gimmicky band of all time here so don't take that as a bad thing) for exact opposite reasons. Unplugged, as you would expect is a stripped down Kiss performance, which was historically significant because it marked the return of founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss to the band. Alive IV is an amped-up version of Kiss which features Kiss playing with a 60+ piece orchestra. There is also a DVD of the Alive IV concert which honestly, might be a better purchase for someone new to Kiss than any of their albums.


Comments:
Just so you know, casual and die hard members of the Kiss Army alike, tend to agree that the band is at its best when it features the four original members, Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace - regardless of how drunk or high he his, Ace is essential. That said, I'd like to point out that even though the current Kiss show features four guys wearing the make-up and costumes of the original four guys, once again, what you're really seeing is Gene and Paul and some other two guys. The band never really mentions that little detail, so if you're looking to see the real deal, read the fine print before you buy your next ticket.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
I Can't Quit Her* 2. Flute Thing** 3. Overture/I Stand Alone
4.
I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know*
5.
New York City (You're A Woman) 6. Somethin' Goin' On*
7.
I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes** 8. My Hands Are Tied
9.
I Can Love A Woman 10. Keep It To Yourself

 

Bonus cuts:
House In The Country* / My Days Are Numbered*
/ The Modern Adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud* / Fly Away** / Wake Me, Shake Me** / No Time Like The Right Time** / John The Baptist / Magic In My Socks / Camille / You Never Know Who Your Friends Are / Brand New Day / Easy Does It / How My Ever Gonna Get Over You / Imaginary Lover / Comin' Back In A Cadillac / (I Want You To) Tell Me The Truth

* with Blood, Sweat and Tears ** with The Blues Project

Comments:
There's no question that Al Kooper is one of the most important and influential artists in the history of rock and roll. His introduction to music came at an early age while listening to his father's gospel and R&B records at home in Brooklyn, NY. After teaching himself how to play guitar and piano, he joined a band
in 1959 called The Royal Teens who, the previous year had a major Top 40 hit with a catchy number called Short Shorts. His tenure with The Royal Teens was short lived and by the early 60's, Kooper was devoting much of his time to writing music. His biggest hit as a songwriter was This Diamond Ring, the debut single by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, which soared to Number 1 and stayed atop the charts for several weeks in the early months of 1965.

Thus began a string of very successful and highly fortuitous events in Mr. Kooper's musical career. While looking for work as a session guitarist, he befriended Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson, who invited him to a Bob Dylan recording session in 1965. At the session, Dylan wanted a second keyboardist to play organ on his new composition, Like a Rolling Stone, and Kooper offered his services. At the end of the session, Dylan was so pleased with Kooper's improvised keyboard work that he had it boosted in the mix, making the organ track an integral part of the song. Kooper was later asked to be part of Dylan's touring band and played on his subsequent tour, plus on several of his forthcoming albums. Later that year, Kooper was invited to sit in on an audition tape for The Blues Project, and soon afterward was asked to become a full-time member of this now legendary band. In 1966, The Blues Project released their critically acclaimed Projections LP, which included one of Kooper's finest compositions, the classic jazz/rock fusion, Flute Thing. When the group split in 1967, Kooper set his sights on creating a new band with a "serious" horn section, thus Blood, Sweat and Tears was born. The band's debut LP, Child Is Father to the Man, consisted mainly of Kooper originals and was one of the most innovative and dynamic albums of the decade. Despite lackluster sales, it received excellent reviews and is considered to be one of the great musical achievements of the late 60s.

Kooper left the band in the Spring of '68 and continued on his musical journey, working as a session player for such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, just to name a few. Later that year he teamed up with guitarists Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield to produce the classic impromptu studio jam, Super Session, which turned out to be one of the biggest selling albums in the Columbia catalogue at that time. Another top seller was The Live Adventures of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield, which featured segments from their live performances at the Fillmore East in New York City.

Kooper has had many other significant musical accomplishments throughout his career. Among them are the discovery of legendary Southern band Lynyrd Skynyrd and the production of their first 3 albums; the writing of "Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards," possibly the greatest book about rock & roll from an insider's point of view; his ongoing solo career, which has spawned a number of excellent albums; and his tenure as an instructor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He still performs live with The Rekooperators and The Funky Faculty, plus has a new solo album entitled Black Coffee. To quote Bruce Elder of the All Music Guide: "Anyone counting the records on which Al Kooper has played a key role – as songwriter, singer, keyboardman, guitarist, or producer – would come up with tens of millions of albums and singles sold, and a lot of radio airtime. Kooper remains a formidable performing talent, and one of the most inspired and intelligent people in rock music."

For more information about Al and his music, check out his website at www.alkooper.com

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Stairway To Heaven 2. Whole Lotta Love 3. Kashmir
4.
Black Dog 5. Immigrant Song 6.
Dazed and Confused
7.
What Is and What Should Never Be 8. Misty Mountain Hop
9.
Rock and Roll
10. Trampled Under Foot
 

Bonus cuts:
Dancing Days / Ramble On / When The Levee Breaks / All My Love / Good Times Bad Times / Gallows Pole / Bron Yr Aur Stomp / Heartbreaker / Battle of Evermore / Custard Pie

Comments:
Formed from what remained of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin has gone on to achieve legendary status as arguably the greatest of all heavy metal bands. Session guitarist Jimmy Page joined The Yardbirds in 1967 and worked on their final album "Little Games" just prior to the band breaking up. When they finally split in 1968, Page and bassist Chris Dreja were left with the rights to the name, plus the obligation of fulfilling an upcoming Fall tour. A new band was formed called The New Yardbirds, featuring Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones, who replaced the departing Dreja. The band fulfilled their tour obligations and in late-1968 recorded a new album and changed their name to Led Zeppelin. They secured a contract with Atlantic Records and in 1969 embarked on their first American tour, setting the stage for the release of their debut album which climbed into the U.S. Top Ten a few months later.

The band toured relentlessly throughout 1969, recording their second album "Led Zeppelin II" while they were on the road. Like its predecessor, "Led Zeppelin II" was an immediate hit, topping the American charts for seven weeks shortly after its release. The album established Zeppelin as international superstars and the single culled from the LP, "Whole Lotta Love," became a smash hit worldwide. "Led Zeppelin III," released in October of 1970, was also a huge hit, but it was their follow-up LP, "Led Zeppelin IV" that truly sent the band into the upper stratosphere of the rock world. "Led Zeppelin IV" was the band's most diverse album to date, featuring the pounding rock of "Black Dog" to the subtle folk of "The Battle of Evermore." It also contained their masterpiece, "Stairway to Heaven," which was an immediate hit, eventually becoming the most played song in the history of album-oriented radio. "Led Zeppelin IV" was their biggest album ever, selling well over 16 million copies during the course of the next three decades.

In 1975, the band established their own record label, Swan Song, which released all of their subsequent albums, as well as records by other artists including Dave Edmunds, Bad Company, and the Pretty Things. "Physical Graffiti," a double album released in February 1975, was the band's first release on their new label, topping the charts once again in both America and the U.K. Zeppelin launched their next American tour in 1975, but it came to a sudden end when Robert Plant and his wife were involved in a serious car accident while vacationing in Greece. The tour was canceled and Plant spent the rest of the year recuperating. Tragedy struck again in 1977 when Plant's six-year-old son Karac died of a stomach infection. Zeppelin immediately canceled their latest tour and Plant spent the next 6 months in seclusion, rejoining the band to work on "In Through the Out Door," the band's eighth studio album which was finally released in September of 1979. The following year Zeppelin began rehearsing at Page's house for an upcoming American tour when Bonham was found dead in his bed following an all-day drinking binge on September 25, 1980. Three months later, Zeppelin announced that they were disbanding, stating that they could no longer continue without their beloved drummer.

Following the breakup, the remaining members embarked on solo careers, with varying degrees of success. The band reunited in 1985 to perform at Live Aid, and again in 1988, to play Atlantic's 25th anniversary concert in New York. Both performances featured Bonham's son, Jason on drums and created an outbreak of reunion rumors, but a Zeppelin reunion never did materialize. In 1989, Page remastered the band's catalog for the 1990 box set "Led Zeppelin." The four-disc set became the biggest-selling multi-disc box set of all time, which was followed up three years later by the colossal ten-disc set "The Complete Studio Recordings." In the years that followed, Page and Plant had reunited for an occasional tour or to record, but they could never match the artistic brilliance accomplished by Led Zeppelin. They achieved nothing less than rock and roll immortality and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Walk Away Renee 2. Pretty Ballerina 3. I Haven't Got The Nerve
4.
Desiree 5. I've Got Something On My Mind 6.
Lazy Day
7.
Shadows Breaking Over My Head 8. Barterers And Their Wives
9.
Ivy Ivy
10. She May Call You Up Tonight
 

Comments:
If you can find a copy of "There's Gonna Be A Storm," a 26-song compilation that includes just about everything the group ever recorded…. GRAB IT!! This is great stuff. Maybe it's the classical instrumentation, but these recordings, these songs, sound like they could have been recorded last week. In fact, they were created in the late 60's. They are timeless.

If the Left Banke were an album they would be "Smile." The only difference is that a version of "Smile" was eventually released, and the Left Banke, the group who shoulda, coulda been the true American Beatles, live on in legend only.

For a very brief time in the late 60's, they had a great singer in Steve Martin…they had vocal harmonies that rivaled The Beach Boys and The Hollies…they had classical instrumentation and backgrounds arranged by their George Martin, Harry Lookofsky. But the most important and unique asset they had was their keyboard player, arranger and writer, Michael Brown. He was the East Coast's Brian Wilson without as much fame. Yes, he is a genius.

Most fans know them by their two hits, "Walk Away Renee," and "Pretty Ballerina," two of the most tasteful and sophisticated hit recordings of all time. The album those songs appeared on was titled "Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina" (more of an ad for the LP than a proper title). Nevertheless, this album is a gem and belongs on a short list with "Rubber Soul," "Pet Sounds," and Love's "Forever Changes." It contains classic vocal harmonies, fuzzy guitars, harpsichord, and tunes on par with the best of Lennon and McCartney. Imagine an entire LP of tunes equal to "Elenore Rigby." and "She's Leaving Home."

After the success of "Renee," Brown didn't want to tour. He was a tormented artist, unable or unwilling to play the pop star game. He left the band, he returned, he left again. Without him they were good, with him they were above special. The Left Banke's time was short, but they left behind a handful of recordings that demonstrate what rock at its best can be. The Left Banke were amazing.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
I'm On The Outside (Looking In) 2. Going Out Of My Head
3.
Hurt So Bad 4. Tears On My Pillow 5. Take Me Back 6. I Miss You So
7.
Two People In The World 8. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
9.
Better Use Your Head 10. Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop
 

Comments:
Born in New York City in 1940, Little Anthony Gourdine became one of rock's most sensational and passionate vocalists. At age 15 he joined The Duponts, his first doo-wop group. His next group, which featured vocalists Clarence Collins and Ernest Wright, Jr. was called The Chesters. They were signed to a small record label called End Records, and it was there that the company executives changed their name to The Imperials. Their first single release, "Tears On My Pillow" was released in 1958, and it was the legendary DJ, Alan Freed who first called the group Little Anthony & The Imperials, a name that they decided to use from that point on. The group broke up in 1962 and reunited 2 years later. With the addition of Sammy Strain, they released some of the greatest R&B pop hits of all time.

In June of 1967 they performed at The Fountainhead in New Rochelle, New York. It was the city's high school senior prom, a gig they probably don't recall, but I do because it was my prom, and the Imperials were absolutely sensational. In 1975 they broke up once again. Strain joined The O'Jays and Anthony became a born-again Christian with B.J. Thomas producing his modern gospel LP, Daylight. Little Anthony and the Imperials officially reunited again in 1992 and today they are one of the best live vocal groups in the world. They look great, have moves that rival The Temptations, and still possess that crisp, smooth harmony. They just may be the classiest act in rock and roll.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Tutti Frutti 2. Good Golly, Miss Molly 3. Long Tall Sally
4.
Slippin' And Slidin' 5. Lucille 6. Ready Teady 7. The Girl Can't Help It
8.
Keep-A Knockin' 9. Rip It Up 10. Jenny Jenny
 

Bonus cuts:
Ohh! My Soul! / I'm Just A Lonely Guy / She Got It Going On / Send Me Some Lovin' / Great Gosh Almighty (From The Soundtrack Of Down And Out In Beverly Hills)

Comments:
"A-wop-bop-aloo-mop-a-whop-bam-boom" . . . was the first sentence uttered in a new language called rock and roll. The words appeared on a Specialty 45 called "Tutti Frutti." It was released in 1955 by Richard Penniman under his superhero name, Little Richard. Ever since, every artist listed in the Best of the Best (and countless others) have tried to make records as good as that one. Some succeeded, others came close, but all of their efforts make up what has become known as rock music.

The Georgia Peach has been called the architect of rock and roll and in fact, he is just that. He did it with his recordings, made up of a boogie-woogie beat combined with driving piano, sax, and vocals, and with his energetic, outrageous, flamboyant, and over-the-top live stage shows. He influenced James Brown, Prince, Mitch Ryder, and everyone who came after him. In 1963 an up-and-coming band named The Beatles were his opening act in Hamburg at the Star Club. It was there that they met a member of Richard's band, Billy Preston, and in 1966 an unknown Jimi Hendrix was also part of Richard's group.

Several early performances of Richard and his group can be seen in the films "Don't Knock the Rock," and "The Girl Can't Help It" (starring Jayne Mansfield). In the 80's Richard turned in a brilliant comic performance in the film "Down And Out in Beverly Hills." The tune "Great Gosh Almighty" from the soundtrack is one of the best things he's ever done.

There was never anyone like him in history. He is a joy. He is rock and roll. Long live Little Richard!

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Cool Change 2. Take It Easy On Me 3. Lonesome Loser
4.
Lady 5. Reminiscing 6. Help Is On The Way 7. The Other Guy
8.
Man On Your Mind 9. The Night Owls 10. We Too
 

Comments:
There has been a lot of great rock and pop groups out of Australia – AC/DC, INXS, Men At Work and Air Supply – but one sensational band IS often "lost in the shuffle." They are, of course, The Little River Band.

They evolved out of a band called Mississippi who had moved from the land down under to London. There they did not meet with much success, but they did meet their future vocalist Glenn Shorrock. He, along with Graham Goble, Beeb Birtles, Rick Formosa, Roger McLachlan, and Derek Pellicci soon became The Little River Band.

They had a series of huge international hits from 1976 to 1983; all featured crisp guitar and smooth harmonies. Shorrock and Goble were the songwriting team and their work is nothing short of sensational. Cool Change and Take It Easy On Me are pop-rock classics; both are well-crafted tunes and near perfect recordings. Beatles producer George Martin produced the latter from the LP he and the band put together called "Time Exposure."

A lot of personnel changes began in the early 80's including Shorrocks departure to launch a solo career. (He'd be in and out of the group several times as the years rolled on) The new lineup's continued to turn out fine music, but they never matched the popularity of the earlier lineup and tunes. The current group is excellent live and performs their greatest hits, but check out the tunes above. They are excellent pop-rock gems.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
You Set The Scene 2. Alone Again Or 3. Que Vida!
4.
A House Is Not A Motel 5. The Daily Planet
6.
Maybe the People Would Be The Times or Between Clark and Hilldale
7.
The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
8.
She Comes In Colors 9. Seven & Seven Is 10. My Little Red Book
 

Comments:
None of their albums ever made it into the Top 40, and they only had one minor hit that reached #33 on the Billboard singles chart (the psychedelic barn burner, "
Seven & Seven Is"), yet Love has to be considered one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of the 1960s. Formed by brilliant singer/songwriter Arthur Lee, the group was signed to Elektra Records in 1966 after acquiring a massive cult following in the Los Angeles area. They played the Sunset Strip club circuit and were right in tune with the current hard rock/folk rock genre. Their excellent debut album, simply titled "Love," was just that – an appealing collection of folk rock, hard rock and soulful ballads.

Their second release "Da Capo" saw the band moving in a new direction, broadening it's scope and expanding it's sound in a much more sophisticated and eclectic manner. The new tunes encompassed psychedelia, jazz structures, Spanish guitar interludes, and some hauntingly beautiful Baroque-inspired melodies. ("She Comes In Colors," one of Arthur Lee's best compositions, was reportedly the influence behind the Rolling Stones' "She's A Rainbow.") What has kept this release from achieving truly classic status however, was "Revelation," the 19-minute jam that covered all of side two. It was an interesting and offbeat number, but a bit tedious and meandering, especially when compared to the brilliant material preceding it.

"Da Capo" was a great step forward musically, but by 1967 the band was caught up in a haze of drugs and general disorganization which almost caused it to disintegrate. Due to the condition of the group, Elektra Records decided that they would hire studio musicians to lay down the basic tracks for their next album, but the band managed to pull itself together and record "Forever Changes," one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It was Arthur Lee's masterpiece with contributions by talented band member Bryan MacLean. Every song stands alone as a major musical achievement with beautiful melodies, haunting orchestral arrangements and mind-altering lyrics. Ironically, it wasn't a hit, yet this magnificent album continues to appear on many a music critics' list of the Top Ten rock albums of all time.

After the album's release, the original band split and was reorganized by Lee with new personnel. The newly-formed group recorded several additional albums over the next few years, but were never able to replicate the brilliance of "Forever Changes." After retiring from the music business and dealing with some problems with the law, Lee was back in the spotlight once again in 2004 when he formed a new Love band and went on the road performing his classic "Forever Changes" to sellout crowds throughout the world. Sadly, he passed away on August 3, 2006 at the age of 61 after a year-long battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Christmas Baby Please Come Home 2. He's A Rebel
3.
Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Heart
4.
(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry 5. Not To Young To Get Married
6.
He's Sure The Boy I Love 7. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah 8. A Fine Fine Boy
9.
Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home 10. Chapel of Love
 

Comments:
There's a DVD out there called "British Rock Symphony" featuring the great Gary Brooker, Alice Cooper, Nikki Lamborn, Paul Young and others doing the Stones, Beatles and Who backed by a full symphony orchestra and it's a trip. It contains one performance that is beyond great. It is spectacular and features Darlene Love and Roger Daltrey singing "Let It Be." Try to imagine this – a symphony orchestra, a gospel choir, and a rock group doing Sir Paul's greatest tune and sung by Daltrey and Love. You have to see it. It is rock perfection.

It shouldn't be a surprise because everything Darlene Love has ever done in her music career has been perfection. Her birth name is Darlene Wright and she began singing professionally with The Blossoms in 1958. They had no recording success on their own, but were heard doing back up on many hits including Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash," and Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin."

She hooked up with Phil Spector to sing lead on "He's A Rebel." It was released as a Crystals record without crediting Darlene. In fact, some of the tunes listed above were released as Darlene Love records, others as The Crystals or Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, but she sang lead on all of them. Here's Ms. Love on Mr. Spector's mysterious ways: "When we went to record with Phil we never knew which record was going to be by who. After 'He's A Rebel,' the next thing he wanted was another record by The Crystals. I said that this time you're going to pay me a royalty, not just $1,500, but I didn't get it. Well the next record was 'He's Sure The Boy I Love' which was supposed to be a Darlene Love record. I was going to record it under my own name, but no. When I heard it on the radio it was announced as The Crystals."

She continued with The Blossoms through the 60's, and they were regulars on the nationally televised rock show "Shindig." They also toured as backup singers for the likes of Tom Jones and Elvis, but the harsh reality of show biz hit Darlene hard, and in the 80's she took work cleaning homes as a maid to put food on the table. She never gave up and eventually landed the role of Danny Glover's wife in the "Lethal Weapon" films. Today she performs in concert and in Broadway plays. Her amazing story is in her autobiography "My Name Is Love."

She has been nominated for a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She may not be as well known as Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, or Aretha Franklin, but she is on the same level and should be in the Hall. Listen to her records, get the "British Rock Symphony" DVD and catch her live wherever and whenever you can. She is the best of the best.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Daydream 2. You Didn't Have To Be So Nice 3. Do You Believe In Magic
4.
Darlin' Be Home Soon 5. Summer In The City 6. Younger Girl
7.
Rain On The Roof 8. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind
9.
Nashville Cats 10. Six O'Clock
 

Bonus cuts:
Lovin' You / Jug Band Music / Didn't Want To Have To Do It / There She Is / You're A Big Boy Now / She Is Still A Mystery


Comments:
The Lovin' Spoonful were one of the first American groups to challenge the onslaught of the British Invasion in the 1960s. John Sebastian, a veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene formed the Spoonful in 1965 with guitarist Zal Yanovsky, a former member of The Mugwumps with Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty of Mamas and Papas fame, bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler. The band signed with Kama Sutra Records and met with astonishing success right off the bat, releasing one classic hit after another, including "Do You Believe in Magic?," "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice," "Daydream," "Summer in the City," "Rain on the Roof," "Nashville Cats," and "Six O'Clock."

Sebastian was the main architect behind the band's musical accomplishments as he wrote most of their material. They played good-time jug band-style music with a touch of rockabilly and found the perfect formula for chart success, giving them a total of 10 Top 40 hit singles from 1965 to 1967. Despite their enormous popularity, the band's demise came rather quickly when Boone and Yanovsky were busted on a drug charge in San Francisco. Under the threat of deportation, Canadian native Yanovsky turned in his alleged dealer, putting a permanent smear on the band in the eyes of the hip community.

Yanovsky left the Spoonful in 1967 and was replaced by Jerry Yester, former producer of the Association and brother of Association member Jim Yester. The band had some additional minor hits, but their days were numbered after Sebastian left the group in 1968. His departure pretty much closed the book on the Spoonful saga, even though they struggled along with Butler before finally splitting up. Sebastian went on to moderate success as a singer/songwriter in the 1970s, and the Spoonful regrouped many years later with Boone, Butler, Yester, Mike Arturi and Phil Smith, recording their first new album in three decades, "Live at the Hotel Seville" in 1999. The Lovin' Spoonful created some of the most enjoyable music of the 1960s and although the honor was long overdue, they were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 2000.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
I Never Dreamed 2. Gimme Three Steps 3. You Got That Right
4.
That Smell 5. Tuesdays Gone 6. Sweet Home Alabama
7.
Call Me The Breeze 8. Saturday Night Special 9. I Know A Little
10.
Freebird (Live Version)
 

Bonus cuts:
Ballad of Curtis Loew / Crossroad / All I Can Do Is Write About It


Comments:
The original Lynyrd Skynyrd were well on their way to becoming the definitive American Rock and Roll band before their untimely demise at the hands of an unfortunate plane crash in October of 1977. I believe that if this had not occurred, Lynyrd Skynyrd would have achieved heights in the recording industry that would be unmatched today. – Leon Tsilis

Planes have taken many people to majestic places, myself included. They have provided the military with a strategic weapon of defense. They have, in general, made life a whole lot easier for all of mankind - I won't deny that. But on October 20, 1977 at 6:42 p.m., it was a Convair 240 aircraft that crashed into a Mississippi swamp killing many of my musical dreams.

The heart and soul of Lynyrd Skynyrd died that day. Vocalists Ronnie Van Zandt and Cassie Gaines, along with guitarist Steve Gaines, and others that were part of the band's entourage, were taken from the world that day. That day, not only Southern rock, but rock music in general was changed forever. Skynyrd was the American working man's voice from the South. A no nonsense, punch-in-the-gut, sock-in-the-kisser, free-for-all of music that gave the Southern part of the United States an identity in a genre that was based almost entirely in the coastal regions of the country. Skynyrd was the first band I ever heard that had a Southern drawl, without being a Country band. A bunch of "hillbillies with guitars" that ripped open my chest and took a firm hold of my heart. It was their style of raw, energetic, and relentless jamming that set them apart from other rockers from the South, such as The Allman Brothers and ZZ Top. ZZ and the Allmans played stylish blues with a Southern hospitality that made their sound unique - but Skynyrd just ripped open a can of whoop-ass when they played. Backed only by blistering guitar licks, a steady rhythm section, and some rowdy singing, there truly was "nuthin' fancy" about Skynyrd - and that's what we loved about them.

So every time I board a plane, I am thankful for the convenience of getting to my destination quickly. Each time I watch the news, and hear of soldiers being protected by "forces in the air", I am thankful. But, I must say, when I think of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the plane crash that denied the world of a legacy that never really had a chance to flourish to its' full extent, it makes me wish that the Wright brothers had never left the ground. - Scott "Dr. Music" Itter

Tracks compiled by Leon Tsilis / Back to index


Features | Reviews | Doo Wop Stop | The M-Files | The Dykeenies | Bonnaroo | Doc's Metal Link | Links | e-mail | Menu