TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Sixteen Candles* 2. The Worst That Could Happen**
3.
The Angels Listened In* 4.
Welcome Me Love** 5. Trouble In Paradise*
6.
Step By Step* 7. Blessed Is The Rain** 8. My Juanita*
9.
Isn't It Amazing* 10. Your Husband/My Wife**
 

Bonus cuts:
Six Nights A Week* / Isn't It Amazing* / You'll Never Walk Alone** / Minstrel Sunday** / Without Her (Father Paul)** / Caroline** / Glad She's A Woman** / Which Way To Nowhere** / Bruno's Place**


* The Crests ** The Brooklyn Bridge

Comments:
Johnny Maestro (John Mastrangelo) is one of the greatest male vocalists in the history of rock and roll. In the 1950's he fronted one of the first integrated doo wop groups, The Crests. They formed in Manhattan, and included Harold Torres, Talmadge Gough, J.T. Carter, and the older sister of Luther Vandross, Patricia Vandross. Their biggest hit was 16 Candles which hit #2 at the end of 1958 and three of their other records, Trouble In Paradise, The Angels Listened In, and Step By Step all made it into the Top 20.

When the British Invasion hit in the mid sixties, it became increasingly harder for doo wop groups to score hit records. Johnny cut a few solo discs including What A Surprise, and Model Girl, then began working the local club scene with The Del Satins, a group who had a minor hit called Teardrops Follow Me. Before Johnny joined the group, their lineup included Fred Ferrara and Les Cauchi, who had done all the background singing on Dion's solo recordings including Runaround Sue and The Wanderer. While working the club scene, The Del Satins met the members of a seven piece band called The Rhythm Method and the two groups decided to team up and form what was soon to be known as The Brooklyn Bridge.

Neil Bogart, head of Buddah Records, signed the band and selected The Worst That Could Happen as the group's first single, a 5th Dimension album cut written by Jim Webb. It was Johnny Maestro's first Top 10 record in almost a decade. The Brooklyn Bridge, featuring beautifully textured harmonies behind Maestro's powerful vocals, had several other hits including Blessed Is The Rain and Welcome Me Love.

Today the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the premiere live acts in the world. They sell out wherever they appear and never fail to put on a tremendous performance. The show consists of many Crests hits, some of the Dion material, and a great sampling of the Brooklyn Bridge hits, plus overlooked album cuts. A highlight is Maestro's passionate performance of You'll Never Walk Alone. Johnny Maestro is one of the greatest vocalists of all time and certainly deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
California Dreamin' 2. Monday, Monday 3. I Saw Her Again
4.
Go Where You Wanna Go 5. Look Through My Window
6.
Words of Love 7. Creeque Alley 8. I Call Your Name
9.
Dedicated To The One I Love 10. Twelve Thirty
 

Bonus cuts:
Got A Feelin' / No Salt On Her Tail / Trip, Stumble and Fall / Glad To Be Unhappy / Midnight Voyage / Straight Shooter / Safe In My Garden


Comments:
In 1964, The Journeymen featuring John and Michelle Phillips crossed paths with The Mugwumps whose members included John Sebastian, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. As it turns out, both groups disbanded, but John, Michelle, Cass and Denny decided to work together as The New Journeymen and headed to the West Coast in search of success. Upon their arrival in LA, the quartet auditioned for Dunhill Records executive Lou Adler, who immediately signed them and became their producer. Adler was impressed with the group's ability to intertwine folk, rock, jazz and pop, while encompassing it all with their beautiful 4-part harmony. The group changed their name to the Mamas and the Papas and their first album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears was released in the Spring of 1966, reaping both commercial and critical acclaim. The album, which featured their first 2 smash singles, California Dreamin' and Monday, Monday, soared to number one and stayed on the charts for months. They were an overnight success, but growing personal problems within the group created tension between the individual members almost immediately. Despite that fact, they went on to record several excellent albums and were one of the most sought-after live acts of the mid-to-late 60s. By 1969 however, the group was history – victims of changing times, personal embattlements, and an overindulgence of drugs and alcohol. Through their trials and tribulations, the group was able to create some on the most enduring folk/pop/rock of the era and their music lives on today in all it's pristine glory. Most of their original recordings are currently available on CD, but for an outstanding overview of their work check out the excellent compilation titled "16 of Their Greatest Hits" on the MCA label. It's the Mamas and the Papas at their very best and showcases not only the group's songwriting and harmonious talents, but also the outstanding studio production wizardry of Lou Adler.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
1996 2. Antichrist Superstar 3. The Beautiful People
4.
The Fight Song 5. The Love Song 6. The Dope Show
7.
Disposable Teens 8. Angel With the Scabbed Wings
9.
Irresponsible Hate Anthem 10. The Reflecting God
 

Bonus cuts:
It's always really interesting to hear Manson's take on other people's music. While he's known for his intelligent and highly incendiary lyrics, it was actually a cover of the Eurhythmics' Sweet Dreams that broke the band to a mainstream audience. Manson has done great covers of songs by The Ramones (The KKK Took my Baby Away) and Soft Cell (Tainted Love) but my favorite Manson cover is the version of Screaming Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You that Manson did for the David Lynch film Lost Highway. Marilyn also has a small role in the film. Also, Manson's third album, Antichrist Superstar is a masterpiece. Very few bands from the 90's made albums that can compete with it in terms of intelligence or intensity.


Comments:
Marilyn Manson appeals to me on a few different levels. I truly do like the music he makes, but in all honesty that takes second place in my book to the way he pushed America's buttons with such surgical precision. The self-proclaimed "faggot anti-pope" is publicly, anti-Christ, pro-gay and pro-drugs - oh and he also likes to sing about guns, abortions, and sex. I don't know if you remember, but people went fucking crazy over this guy! He actually got banned from a concert in New Jersey based on an obscenity issue - a concert where no one took issue with the drugged out, bat head biting, pissing on the Alamo, headliner, Ozzy Osbourne. Just shortly after winning a court battle in order to play with Ozzy, the school shooting at Columbine happened, and even though the killers had professed that they didn't like Manson, he was quickly blamed for the tragedy. Marilyn was thoroughly under people's skin. While many would have cracked under it, Manson reveled in his negative press, and repeatedly tried to push things even further. In the following years, he performed on MTV with breast implants and assless pants, began a highly public relationship with porn star Jenna Jameson and became an ordained minister in the Church of Satan.

In addition to the music and the outrageousness, or more accurately an extension of those things, is the fact that Marilyn Manson is and incredible live act. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform about six months before the band's popularity exploded. The gig was moved to a smaller club because ticket sales were poor, and when the band played, they wore very little makeup, had no lighting other than what the club provided, and Manson actually slashed himself with a razor during the show. Three years later, I saw them play to 50,000 people. They were in full costume/makeup, and had thousands if not millions of dollars worth of props, lighting and special effects, including a fake wine bottle that Manson broke and sliced himself with. It was one of the greatest rock spectacles I've ever witnessed. I'm comfortable saying that if nothing else, Marilyn Manson is the best showman of his generation.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
People Get Ready* 2. Move On Up 3. It's All Right* 4. Keep on Pushing* 5. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go 6. Superfly 7. Amen* 8. We Got To Have Peace 9. Pusherman 10. Freddie's Dead
 

Bonus cuts:
Gypsy Woman* / I'm So Proud* / Woman's Got Soul* / We're a Winner* / This Is My Country* / Choice of Colors* / Check Out Your Mind / Beautiful Brother of Mine / Ghetto Child / Give It Up / Little Child Runnin'
Wild / Give Me Your Love / Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey)

* with The Impressions


Comments:
Curtis Mayfield's contribution to music is immeasurable and his legacy is nothing short of colossal. As leader of the Impressions, he wrote and recorded some of the finest soul music of the 60s, and as a solo artist in the 70s, he pioneered funk, while introducing hard-hitting urban commentary to his audience. Curtis Mayfield was not only an outstanding singer and performer, but also a brilliant musician who wrote most of his own material. He was a voice for the people, and his lyrics spoke openly and honestly about the struggles of African-Americans at that time. Mayfield was also an accomplished guitarist, and his musical virtuosity can be heard on just about every one of his recordings.

His career began with The Impressions, a gospel-inspired vocal group formed in the late 50s that went on to achieve fourteen Top 40 hits. In 1970, after 12 prosperous years together, the group split, leaving Mayfield free to pursue a solo career. His first solo album simply titled "Curtis" was a masterpiece. Bruce Elder of the All Music Guide writes: "All of Mayfield's years of experience of life, music, and people were pulled together into a rich, powerful, topical musical statement that reflected not only the most up-to-date soul sounds of its period, plus the immediacy of the times and their political and social concerns, but also the most elegant R&B sounds out of the past. Indeed, it was practically the 'Sgt. Pepper' album of 70s soul." The album was a huge hit, but his biggest commercial achievement was yet to come with the release of his soundtrack to the1972 film, Superfly. Mayfield once again had the opportunity to express in striking detail the trials and tribulations facing the black community living in the ghetto, dealing with the problems of drugs and poverty. Both the soundtrack and the film were an overwhelming success, and Superfly turned out to be Mayfield's biggest selling album.

He continued to have hits into the 80s, and served as a mentor and musical influence for upcoming artists, but sadly on August 14, 1990, he became paralyzed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on top of him at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. Despite being handicapped, he remained relatively active as a writer and producer, releasing an excellent solo album in 1996 titled New World Order. Shortly thereafter however, his health began to deteriorate and he passed away on December 26, 1999. Curtis Mayfield was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first in 1991 with The Impressions, then again as a solo artist in 1999. In the words of Aretha Franklin, "Curtis Mayfield is to soul music what Bach was to the classics and Gershwin and Irving Berlin were to pop."

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Bat Out Of Hell 2. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) 3. Heaven Can Wait 4. All Revved Up With No Place To Go 5. Two Out of Three Ain't Bad 6. Paradise By The Dashboard Light 7. For Crying Out Loud 8. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) 9. Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back 10. Not A Dry Eye In The House

 

Comments:
Question: On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses? She answers with a breathless, "Yes." He replies, "I bet you say that to all the boys" . . . CRASH ! BAM! BOOM! The nighttime surf rushed over the Jersey beach and crashed into the sea wall of sound, and while Bruce was checking out Madame Marie up on the boardwalk and Johnny and Jukes were trying to make it all right with Ronnie Spector on the stage at The Stone Pony, this whale of a singer in a white ruffled tuxedo shirt proved there was a lot going on down on the beach where it was burning and she took the words right out of his mouth . . . must have been while she was kissing him!

The first seven cuts listed above are the tracks in order from his monumental 1977 album "Bat Out Of Hell." It was part Phil Spector, part Bruce Springsteen, part rock and roll Broadway musical and a one of a kind pop extravaganza. Phil Rizzuto even made a guest appearance and it is the Meatloaf experience in a nutshell, a classic, a masterpiece and an essential for any rock CD collection. The epic title cut, "Bat Out Of Hell" is a perfect Todd Rundgren power pop production and the songs written by Jim Steinman form a rock and roll opera.

Seeing Meatloaf perform is the next best thing to a rock musical on Broadway. In fact, it's better than Broadway. He is one of the few rock stars worthy of the name "performer" and may be the second hardest working man in show business. Meat made a series of albums after Bat that came nowhere near it, but the two that at least, come close to duplicating it are 1993's "Bat Out Of Hell II," and 1995's "Welcome To The Neighborhood." Cuts 8 & 9 are from Bat II and cut 10 is from Neighborhood. Any or all three could have fit comfortably on the original LP. So go with these two if you want a little more. I could have written if you want a second or third helping of Meatloaf, but that would have been too easy and I would do anything for your love, but I won't do that.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
The Four Horsemen 2. Seek and Destroy 3. Creeping Death
4.
One 5. Damage Inc. 6. Battery 7. The Shortest Straw
8.
Hit The Lights 9. Whiplash 10. Sad But True
 

Bonus cuts:
The three disc live set that comes in the box set "Live Shit: Binge and Purge" is excellent. It was recorded in Mexico City on the tour to support the Black album and shows the band at its peak. The set also comes with a live DVD.

Comments:
Metallica made 5 classic albums in a row from 1984-1991 (Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, And Justice for All, and Metallica a.k.a The Black Album) and in my opinion, haven't made a good record since. In 1996, they released Load, and essentially announced to the world that they had decided to suck. They followed Load up with Re-Load, which reaffirmed the message, and then did a double live album performing with a symphony orchestra which had the potential to be cool despite the fact that it sounded like a lame idea, but wasn't. They also released a half-decent double album of covers (half of it was the out of print covers e.p. recorded during the golden era, and that saved the whole package). Finally in 2003 the band released St. Anger, a heavy metal return to form which is no where near as good as their early work, but makes it clear that the band is now at least trying to not suck anymore. Unfortunately they also recently released the film Some Kind of Monster where they bitch at each other and cry for an hour and a half . . . Jesus Christ, what kind of heavy metal band is this?

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Moondance 2. Wild Night 3. Tupelo Honey 4. Saint Dominic's Preview
5.
Into The Mystic 6. Have I Told You Lately 7. Hymns To The Silence
8.
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) 9. Domino
10.
Brown Eyed Girl
 

Bonus cuts:
And It Stoned Me / Warm Love / Bright Side of the Road / Wonderful Remark / Whenever God Shines His Light / Dweller On The Threshold

Comments:
With over 30 studio albums to his credit, Van Morrison has covered a lot of ground, from soul, blues, rock, country, celtic, and jazz. Hailing from Belfast, Ireland, he began his professional career with Them, a band known primarily for their raw fusion of jazz, rock and soul. After 2 albums with Them, Morrison felt it was time to try his hand at a solo career. His initial release "Blowing Your Mind" was not a very satisfying project for him personally, even though it did yield his first Top 40 hit "Brown Eyed Girl". With a new approach to his music and a new record label, Morrison jump-started his career with the brilliant "Astral Weeks", the first of many timeless classics soon to follow. An extraordinary talent, Van Morrison continues to lay the groundwork of a musical legacy not only embraced by his fans, but also by his many peers.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Kickstart My Heart 2. Wild Side 3. Live Wire
4.
Home Sweet Home 5. Girls Girls Girls 6. On With the Show
7.
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) 8. Shout At The Devil
9.
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.) 10. Public Enemy #1
 

Bonus cuts:
Even with 2 box sets, a second rarities CD, a greatest hits album, three studio albums, a double disc live album, and their first five albums being remastered with bonus tracks, there are only a handful of new Motley Crue songs, post 1991, that are worth listening to. They are "Hollywood Ending", "Enslaved", "Bitter Pill" and "Afraid" . . . let me know if I missed any.

Comments:
You may have noticed in the above that I said there weren't many NEW Mötley Crüe songs worth listening to in the past fifteen years or so . . . there is however lots of cool "new" older material that came out in that time. For one, the fist disc of the box set Music To Crash You Car To Vol.1 has the complete album Too Fast For Love as it was released on Elektra, and the complete version that the band had pressed on their own Leathur Records before they got signed. The rougher rawer version which is pretty much unanimously thought to be the better of the two was extremely hard to find until this release. Also, those of you that remember the now out of print rarities collection, Decade of Decadence, will be happy to know that the tracks that were exclusive to that set "Primal Scream", "Angela" and a few others, were included on the newer rarities set Supersonic and Demonic . . . along with some crap from the John Corabi era that most Crue fans wish would just stay hard to find.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Mississippi Queen 2. Theme From an Imaginary Western
3. The Animal Trainer and the Toad 4. Nantucket Sleighride 5. Silver Paper
6. For Yasgur's Farm 7. Long Red 8. Dreams of Milk and Honey
9. Travelin' in the Dark 10. Crossroader
 

Comments:
All of the above and more are contained on a collection called The Best of Mountain. If you are a purist the two CD's you need to own are Mountain Climbing! and Nantucket Sleighride. You may want to add Flowers of Evil for the live side.

In the mid 60's The Young Rascals ruled the New York City - Long Island club scene. The band that was running a close second were The Vagrants featuring Leslie West and his brother Larry. They were louder, they were brash and they were known for putting on a spectacular show where they often destroyed their own equipment before it was all over. Felix Pappalardi produced a single for them on Atco, but their recordings never really captured The Vagrants live power. It was a case of the live experience being better than the records. (Their garage rock version of Respect can be found on Nuggets).

Pappalardi went on to produce a little power trio from England called Cream. He was the producer of Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire, and Goodbye. In the new liner notes for the Mountain Climbing! CD we learn that when Leslie first heard Disraeli Gears he asked his brother, "How come we don't sound like Cream?" His brother answered, "Because we suck that's why." Leslie went to The Village Theater, which would later become The Fillmore East, and saw Cream. He was humbled. "When the curtain opened my jaw dropped and I now know what my brother was talking about. I really started to practice and practice." The Vagrants were no more. A short while later Cream also broke up.

Leslie and Felix reunited as Pappalardi produced and played bass on West's solo album called Mountain. When they needed a touring band they recruited Norman Smart on drums and Steve Knight on keyboards. They named the group after the title of West's album, Mountain. Smart was soon replaced by a Canadian, Corky Laing. He doesn't play drums, he attacks them and they respond with powerful rhythms. His cowbell intro to their most well known tune, Mississippi Queen is legendary. Corky's unique style with Leslie's power riffs and rugged vocals combined with Felix's more melodic vocals and bass captured the magic. Mountain had their own sound – Cream filtered through New Yawk with a touch of Canada for good luck.

A woman holds a major spot in Mountain history. Gail Collins co-wrote many of the tunes, like Nantucket Sleighride with her husband Felix Pappalardi. She also did the artwork for the psychedelic covers of Climbing and Sleighride. Those were the good things, but then in 1983 she shot and killed her husband.

You can see a recent concert performed by the current Mountain line up, West, Laing, and Richie Scarlet on a DVD called Sea of Fire. They still put on a great show and are working in the studio with Warren Haynes producing a CD of Dylan tunes. Leslie West and Corky Laing have been together for 35 years (Mountain, West, Bruce, and Laing (Bruce being Jack Bruce from Cream), and Leslie West's Wild West Show). They belong right up there with all the greats, Clapton, Hendrix, Moon and Bonham, because they are rock and roll! Do you know what I mean?

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Wish I Had an Angel 2. Stargazers 3. Ever Dream 4. Eva 5. Nemo
6. Sleeping Sun 7. Deep Silent Complete 8. Dead to the World
9. Sacrament of Wilderness 10. Bye Bye Beautiful
 

Bonus cuts:
Live Pink Floyd cover / High Hopes / Walking in the Air / Bless the Child / Wishmaster / Amaranth
/
Dead Boy's Poem
/ Elvenpath

Comments:
Highest Hopes - The Best of Nightwish contains songs from all previously-released Nightwish albums. The album was certified platinum in Finland the same day it was released.
Nightwish is the world’s greatest Goth/ power metal/ symphonic band. They may be the only one; at very least they are the very best. Nobody writes plays or performs like Nightwish. They are from Finland and were put together by songwriter / keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former vocalist Tarja Turunen. They have collected 30 platinum awards. Their 2004 album "Once" got them on MTV and their biggest US hit single "Wish I Had an Angel" (2004) made it onto three US film soundtracks.

There is an amazing DVD entitled "End of an Era" (released June 2006), that features the last performance by singer Tarja Turunen. In one of the strangest breakups in rock history she was fired by the rest of the band via an open letter which was given to her after the concert. Presented here for you are two letters that have circulated on the web since the breakup:

Dear Tarja,

It's time to choose whether the story of Nightwish ends here or whether it will still continue an undetermined period of time. We've been working with this creation for nine years and we are not ready to give up yet. Nightwish is a way of life, something to live for, and we're certain we can't let it go.

Equally certain is the fact that we cannot go on with you and Marcelo any longer. During the last year something sad happened, which I've been going over in my head every single day, morning and night. Your attitude and behavior don't go with Nightwish anymore. There are characteristics I would never have believed to see in my old dear friend. People who don't talk with each other for a year do not belong in the same band.

We are involved in an industry where the business-side of things is a necessary evil and something to worry about all the time. We are also a band which has always done music from the heart, because of friendship and the music itself. The mental satisfaction should always be more important than money! Nightwish is a band, it's an emotion. To you, unfortunately, business, money, and things that have nothing to do with those emotions have become much more important. You feel that you have sacrificed yourself and your musical career for Nightwish, rather than thinking what it has given to you. This attitude was clearly shown to me in the two things you said to me in an airplane in Toronto: ”I don't need Nightwish anymore.” and ”Remember, Tuomas, that I could leave this band at any time, giving you only one day's warning in advance”. I can't simply write any more songs for you to sing.

You have said yourself that you are merely a ”guest musician” in Nightwish. Now that visit ends and we will continue Nightwish with a new female vocalist. We're sure this is an equally big relief to you as it is for us. We have all been feeling bad long enough.

You told us that no matter what, the next Nightwish album will be your last one. However, the rest of us want to continue as long as the fire burns. So there's no sense in doing that next album with you, either. The four of us have been going over this situation countless times and we have realized that this is the thing we want to do in life. It's all we can do. In December 2004, in Germany, you said that you will never tour again for more than two weeks at a time. You also said that we can forget about U.S. and Australia because the fees and the sizes of venues are too small.

In interviews I've mentioned that if Tarja leaves, that would be the end of the band. I understand that people will think this way. Nightwish is, however, a scenery of my soul and I'm not ready to let go because of one person. A person who wants to focus her creativity to somewhere else, a person whose values don't match mine.

We were never bothered by the fact that you didn't participate in writing/arranging songs, you never in 9 years came to rehearse the songs with us before going to the studio. Not the fact that while on tour you always wanted to fly, separately from us with your husband. Not the fact that you are an undisputable front image of the band. We accepted and felt ok about everything except greed, underestimating the fans, and breaking promises. It was agreed by the five of us that Nightwish would be the priority in everything that we do during 2004-2005. Still so many things were more important to you. The ultimate example being the already sold-out show in Oslo, which you wanted to cancel because you needed to rehearse for your solo concerts, meet friends and go to the movies. Those were the words Marcelo used in an e-mail explaining the cancellation. This being just one example of so many. I couldn't think of a worse way of being selfish and dismissing our fans.

Nightwish is a way of life and a job with many obligations. To each other and to the fans. With you we can't take care of those duties anymore.

Deep within we don't know which one of you drove us to this point. Somehow Marcelo has changed you from the lovely girl you were into a diva, who doesn't think or act the way she used to. You are too sure of your irreplaceableness and status.

It's obvious that you blame your stress and misery on us four. And you think we don't respect or listen to you. Believe us; We have always had the uppermost respect towards you as a wonderful vocalist and as a friend. And very often during the past couple of years the plans were made according to your decisions only. You were always the only one who wanted more money from the shows. This ”compensation and more money from everything” –attitude is the fact that we are most disappointed of!

We wish that from now on you will listen to your heart instead of Marcelo. Cultural differences combined with greed, opportunism and love is a dangerous combination. Do not wither yourself.

This decision is not something we are especially proud of but you gave us no choice. The gap between us is too wide. And the decision is made by us four unanimously. We are beyond the point where things could be settled by talking.

All the best for your life and career,

Tuomas Holopainen

Emppu Vuorinen, Jukka Nevalainen, Marco Hietala


Ps. This is an open letter for everybody.

Soon afterwards Tarja responded with her own open letter:

Since last Sunday morning, I have been asked to express my position by magazines, newspapers, radio and TV stations, fan clubs and fans from Finland and from all over the world. So many in total that it is physically impossible for me to find the time to reply to them all individually. Hence I decided to put down a couple of words in this text to let my fans, family and friends and the public know how I feel after the recent events.

This is a moment of grief and pain and I find it very hard to speak.

At the moment I am in Argentina. I hope you can understand that after this shocking life change comparable to a divorce, I didn’t want to stay alone at home in Finland. My husband had booked his tickets to Argentina many months ago and I decided to travel with him at the last minute.

But the fact that I am in Argentina and the long distance should of course not be an excuse not to comment on the situation.

Last Friday 21st of October was a day the whole band had been waiting for a long time.

Practice started early in the morning. I was very sick and nervous because of the fact that I was not even able to sing during the rehearsals.

Also nervous because the concert programme was going to be longer than usual for a Nightwish concert. Furthermore we were going to have a special guest to perform with us, more wardrobe changes for myself than usual and for the first time big screens and bigger production on stage.

Not to forget that the concert was going to be recorded and filmed.

The five of us had finally made it to play Hartwall Arena.

Even though every one of us knew in advance that the concert was sold out, finally on stage, we saw that screaming, applauding and standing people took every seat. The feeling was unbelievable.

I will never forget how amazing it was to experience the Finnish audience’s gorgeous reception.

When the concert was over, I cried of happiness on stage. Happy tears because I was able to do my best as always even though I was sick. Happy tears because our long tour got the greatest possible ending and happy tears because of the best recognition an artist can get: applause and smiling faces.

At that moment I didn’t know that I was going to cry again soon.

After the concert, the guys of the band invited me backstage to join them and asked me to hug altogether. This felt strange as it was the same kind of hug we traditionally came together for before every concert. That tradition remained between us, even though the tension and increasing pressure already existed since a long period of time.

The immediate feeling in me was to thank them, which I did loudly but without any reply.

After this, they gave me a letter and asked me to read it the following day. The same letter that is now public.

I read it and was shocked.

I didn’t know what to say and still at the moment that I am writing these lines, I don’t.

I sense great anger in that letter and I continue to have very confused feelings about it, but I don’t want to reply to this anger with an even greater anger. Private matters should never be taken to the public.

I know this moment we are going through is very sad for everybody, including the guys.

While there would have been so many different possibilities and ways to express what they wanted to tell me with the letter, I remain unable to understand the way they chose to handle this. I am sorry that the guys got me so wrong. I don’t recognize myself at all from the way they described me.

They mentioned mean things about me, but the fact that they involved Marcelo, my husband, crossed the line. He is the man I love, my friend and has been my biggest support over the last years.

We have been band mates for 9 years, experienced good times and not so good ones. I thought I knew them, but I was wrong.

Still everything that has happened is not enough to make them evil in my eyes.

Now comes a time to calm down and reflect upon all of this.

I need to put my feelings together again and I promise to come back to public soon.
I will announce a press conference where I will be talking about my future plans. This doesn’t mean that you should expect this conference to be an instrument to attack anybody. It won’t.

The wonderful music we created together won’t be touched by recent events.

Thanks a lot to all the people who are supporting me during these sad times. My family, friends, colleagues, and the great number of fans. I love you and I really feel I have not failed you.

Tarja

A strange way to end a musical partnership indeed, but Nightwish are unlike any other band in history. They are as different as they are brilliant. " Dark Passion Play" is the sixth studio album released in 2007 and was the first Nightwish album with new lead singer, Anette Olzon. Tarja has continued her career as a solo and Nightwish have continued on as well, but there was something very special about the group with Tarja up front. Check out "The End of the Era" DVD and the "Highest Hopes" CD and enjoy the experience.

For more info go to:

http://www.tarjaturunen.com and http://www.nightwish.com

Tracks compiled by Lady Jane Rushmore / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Rape Me 2. In Bloom 3. Heart Shaped Box 4. Drain You
5.
Territorial Pissings 6. Scentless Apprentice 7. About A Girl
8.
Dumb 9. All Apologies 10. Sliver
 

Bonus cuts:
The album MTV Unplugged in New York, is easily my favorite thing the band ever did. Aside from acoustic re-workings of their own songs, the band also offers a fantastic collection of cover songs. They do tunes by The Vaselines, David Bowie, and not one, not two, but three by the Meat Puppets. In addition, the highlight of the whole thing is "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?," a song originally by Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter. Cobain's haunted vocal and agonized screams really make the song his own. I guess that's why they changed the title. The song's real name is "In the Pines."

Comments:
I recently got into an argument with a friend who happens to be a huge Nirvana fan. I've known him for a long time, and know first hand that he was one of those morons that ran around writing "Kurt Lives" graffiti in 1994 after Cobain killed himself. The argument which was of the friendly variety, was about who "started" "alternative" music. He claimed it was Nirvana. I took a more existential approach and claimed there was no such thing as "alternative."

My view was that sometime in the early nineties, somewhere in America, in some boardroom, a decision was made that Poison, Motley Crue and Skid Row had to go. The shift from hair metal to "alternative" or "grunge" as America's mainstream rock format was just too spontaneous and widely accepted to actually be anything other than contrived. Plus, the bands in the initial alternative/grunge influx didn't really sound alike. Nirvana was punkish, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were funkish, Alice in Chains were metalish . . . there was no sound . . . and therefore no genre. The only thing they had in common was that they didn't sound like hair metal (where even though I'm a fan, I admit everyone sounds kinda the same) and they were getting played constantly by Kennedy and the like on MTV.

Even the band – at least the one guy that sang, played guitar, and wrote everything – hated the term grunge, and hated that they were becoming a huge rock band thanks to the magic of heavy rotation. In case you managed to miss it, in April 1994, Kurt Cobain proved that he really meant it when he said he didn't want to be famous by shooting up a shitload of heroin (reportedly enough to kill two men) and then removing his own head with a shotgun. He went straight past famous and became a legend.


That said, if you ask me . . . No – Kurt Cobain and Nirvana didn't create alternative grunge music, but it surely did destroy them.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Please Play This Song On The Radio 2. Liza and Louise
3.
Kill All The White Man 4. Monosyllabic Girl 5. Murder the Government
6.
Jeff Wears Birkenstocks 7. Happy Guy 8. Thank God It's Monday
9.
Dinosaurs Will Die 10. Bob
 

Bonus cuts:
I'm The One, Tenderloin, Radio, Antennas, Olympia Wa., and Corazon De Oro . . . the six tracks which make up NOFX's half of BYO Records' Split Series Volume III on which NOFX performs six Rancid songs and Rancid performs six NOFX songs.

Comments:
Over their 20 year career, NOFX have released tons of songs on compilations, singles, and ep's some of which are next to impossible to find. The vast majority of these songs can now be found on the 2-cd set "45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough To Be On Our Other Albums" The set, which actually has 47 or 48 tunes on it contains amongst other things the entire "Fuck The Kids" e.p. and the entire "Surfer" e.p. …save one song each to keep the folks that have the ultra rare originals from rioting.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Oh Pretty Woman 2. Cryin' 3. Only The Lonely
4.
You Got It 5. Blue Bayou 6. Dream Baby
7.
Not Alone Anymore (with The Traveling Wilburys)
8.
Running Scared 9. Candy Man 10. It's Over
 

Comments:
Elvis Presley called him the greatest singer in the world and fans were thrilled for over four decades with his amazing four-octave vocal range. In 1956, Johnny Cash suggested that Roy get together with Sam Phillips at Sun Records and his illustrious recording career began with the tune "Ooby Dooby." Roy went on to have 22 Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1966 along with his posthumous hit "You Got It" in 1989.

Orbison was often asked about the sunglasses that became an ever-present part of his personna: In 1963 when he forgot his regular glasses on an airplane, he headlined a tour with The Beatles wearing his prescription sunglasses, thus his trademark look was born. After a very successful solo career in the 60's, he faced years of decline but made a huge comeback in the late-80s as a member of The Traveling Wilburys featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne.

After the release of the Wilburys debut album, Petty and Lynne collaborated with Orbison on "Mystery Girl" a body of work that became the highest charting album of his career. Unfortunately it was released several months after he suffered a fatal heart attack in December 1988 at the age of 52.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Crazy Train 2. Road to Nowhere 3. No More Tears
4.
Old L.A. Tonight 5. Over the Mountain 6. Flying High Again
7.
Mr. Crowley 8. Bark At The Moon 9. Gets Me Through 10. Suicide Solution

 

Bonus cuts:
"Paranoid." Yes it's a Black Sabbath song, but for me the definitive version has always began with Ozzy screaming "Alright, we're gonna do . . . PARANOID!" That is to say that the definitive version for me is the live version of the song from the Randy Rhodes era of Ozzy's solo career. Plus Mama I'm Comin Home and Goodbye to Romance for the softer side of the prince of fucking darkness.

Comments:
Ozzy's solo career, at it stands now, is book-ended by a pair of incredible heavy metal guitar players. On the early albums, Ozzy was joined by the legendary Randy Rhodes, who died in a plane crash that Ozzy happened to witness. And as of late, Ozzy's band features the soon to be legendary Zakk Wylde. Check out the live albums, Tribute and Live at Budokan to sample Rhodes and Wylde respectively.

One other interesting Ozzy band lineups note: In 2003, bassist Robert Trujillo quit Ozzy's band and joined Metallica, replacing Jason Newsted who had left the band in disgust in 2001. He had left metal's biggest individual to join metal's biggest band. Then in an act of heavy metal incest, Newsted took Trujillo's spot in Ozzy's band!

Just for the record, and to add to the confusion, neither bassist was in either band in 1986 when Metallica first broke out by stunning audiences nationwide as the opening act on Ozzy's Ultimate Sin Tour.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
I'm Broken 2. Domination 3. Walk 4. 5 Minutes Alone
5.
Cowboys From Hell 6. This Love 7. Hollow 8. Suicide Note Part 1
9.
Cemetery Gates 10. 25 Years
 

Bonus cuts:
For years I thought, like most people, that Cowboys From Hell was Pantera's first album. Actually, they did several before that on independent labels which are not in print anymore. Some of these albums feature all four members of Pantera as we know them, and others feature a different vocalist (Pantera without Phil?!?!) I haven't heard them all yet but the one I was able to find, Power Metal, is excellent and worth the effort it took to find it.

Comments:
After breaking up a couple of years back, Pantera split right down the middle into two new bands. Brothers Vinnie and Dimebag formed the band Damageplan, while Rex and Phil play together in Superjoint Ritual. Neither group is awful, but neither is even close to as good as Pantera was. On the bright side, at least they just broke up instead of going into group therapy and making a movie about it where they cry in each others arms and blurt out how much they love each other. Hopefully the split will just last another year or two and then the best heavy metal band of all time will get back together.

Sadly, the above was written before the tragic murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbott in December 2004. In a recent statement, Philip Anselmo apologized for all the negative things he had said about Dime lately ("He deserves to be beaten severely" was the quote on the cover of the new Metal Hammer magazine) and went on to call Dime "the most beautiful person and one of my best friends in the world." Nonetheless, Vinnie Paul asked that Phil not attend his brother's funeral, and it seems that the two are not about to make-up anytime soon. With no Dime, a real Pantera reunion is absolutely out of the question . . . maybe twenty years from now they'll do some lame Doors with Ian Asbury singing kind of thing, but in any real sense, Darrell's death marks not only the passing of one of metal's best guitarists, but the unquestionable demise of its best band.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow 2. Maggot Brain 3. P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up) 4. Flashlight 5. Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off The Sucker) 6. One Nation Under a Groove 7. Dr. Funkenstein 8. Bop Gun (Endangered Species) 9. Mothership Connection (Star Child) 10. Who Says a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?
 

Bonus cuts:
The early Funkadelic albums, Maggot Brain and Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow, are masterpieces which almost defy comparison to anything else in rock history. To come close you have to take one part Sly & the Family Stone, one part Jimi Hendrix Experience and one part Pink Floyd and smash them together . . . then celebrate both the beauty and the ugliness of such a combination. The production on the albums is incredible. Eddie Hazel's guitar (which Clinton at times inspired by telling the guitarist to imagine his mother had just died) is flawless, and the power of the music is undeniable. Essential is the word.

Also, rappers in the early 90's like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, sampled nothing more frequently than they did the music of George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic. In the mid-nineties, Clinton released a career-spanning greatest hits CD called Greatest Funkin' Hits. The disc showcases remixes of songs originally recorded by both P-Funk and Clinton as a solo act. The remixes feature extra verses added by the very rappers that renewed people's interest in the music. If you came to P-Funk via hip-hop, this is for you. If you didn't, it probably isn't.


Comments:
Although both groups were formed by George Clinton, at roughly the same time, and featured many of the same musicians, initially, Parliament and Funkadelic were very much two distinctly separate bands. Parliament was an R&B/Funk band who's sound was what most casual listeners associate with P-Funk…."WE WANT THE FUNK"…and the such. Funkadelic on the other hand was more like a rock band; albeit a rock band from another planet. Later on, in the mid to late seventies, the line between the two groups began to thin, and the two bands began to sound more and more alike, leaning more towards the Parliament, disco/funk, side of things. By the time Funkadelic's One Nation Under A Grove was released in 1978, the bands were more or less one in the same. Due to legal issues, Clinton disbanded both groups in the early 80's but continued to record and tour with their members as George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Alive 2. Yellow Ledbetter 3. Animal 4. Not For You
5.
Better Man 6. Even Flow 7. Daughter
8.
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
9.
Black 10. Jeremy

 


Bonus cuts:
Crazy Mary / Release / Garden / I Got Id / Corduroy / Breath / Present Tense / I Am Mine / You Are / State Of Love And Trust / Glorified G / Dissident / Porch


Comments:
Here's one that just doesn't have balance. When I assemble these Best of the Best lists I try to touch on each phase of an artists' career, as long as the music is worthy. I feel that an artist's entire existence is usually what makes up their overall appeal. But, what usually ends up happening is that gut thing. I start to eliminate the inferior work by listening to my gut feeling. And the gut was screaming on this one.

Pearl Jam is a band that released a masterpiece debut in 1991, and with it, they took over the world. It was difficult to only have four tracks (Alive, Even Flow, Black, Jeremy) from that debut on this list. Not too many records have the impact and artistic integrity that that debut does. Songs like Garden, Porch, and Release should be up there I suppose, but I had to leave room for material from their second masterpiece, Vs. It was just as hard to only have three tracks (Animal, Daughter, Elderly Woman...) from this album on the list. Glorified G and Dissident, along with others, have every right to be up there also, but this time I had to leave room for their third LP, Vitalogy. This was another good record; not quite what the first two were, but very good just the same. I felt that Not For You and Better Man were two tracks that could stand with those classic tracks from the first two epic (no pun intended) discs. Rounding out the list of ten songs is a b-side from the Jeremy single. Yellow Ledbetter is a song that is elegant and emotional in its' lyrical delivery, as well as musically brilliant. It is second only to Alive, which is a song that just personifies this band. It's what they are all about. Much like Black Sabbath's signature track is the eerie Black Sabbath, or Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love gives an overall view of that band's sound and attitude, Alive is Pearl Jam's signature song. This is the song that most of the others are based around.

Pearl Jam has released many more discs after the Vitalogy record, but nothing has really captured the intensity and spirit of those first few. The album Riot Act had songs like I Am Mine and You Are, which were good songs, but far inferior than anything on the list above. No Code had Present Tense, which is also a very good song . . . that is far inferior to anything on the list. As far as Yield and Binaural– nothing even close. Some songs that almost made the cut were b-sides and other miscellaneous songs. Songs like Crazy Mary, I Got Id and Breath are all fantastic songs that can stand with the best of them. The only reason they aren't on the list is because there was only room for ten! And again, no pun intended.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Farmhouse 2. Anything But Me 3. Wolfman's Brother
4.
Sample In A Jar 5. Bug 6. If I Could 7. Down With Disease
8.
Crowd Control 9. Character Zero 10. Bouncing Around The Room

 

Bonus cuts:
Two words: Live Phish. To date, Phish have officially released one single disc live album, 21 two, three or four disc live albums and one six disc live box set! That doesn't include the forty plus recent concerts (all two or three CDs long) available for download from Livephish.com and the thousands of discs available in the form of unofficial but band authorized, fan recordings that are up for trade all over the internet.

Personally, I have around 50 discs of Live Phish, including complete recordings of every time I saw them in person. My favorite stuff out of it all are the albums Live Phish 13-16. Each of those albums (which are all 4-disc sets) represents a concert that the band played on Halloween night. They all feature two full regular sets of Phish and one set where the band plays another band's album from start to finish as their "costume." Incredible stuff.

The covered albums are as follows: Live Phish 13 - The Beatles' White Album; Live Phish 14 - The Who's Quadrophenia; Live Phish 15 - The Talking Heads' Remain In Light; and my personal favorite, Live Phish 16 - The Velvet Underground's Loaded.


Comments:
I've come to the conclusion that for some reason people seem to find something very personal about Phish, even more than most other bands. Those that I know who are into the band and truly adore them, can't seem to agree on what their best songs are, or even what their best period is. Personally, I love their later albums and think their earlier stuff is good, but not even close to great. Many people that I know, think the early stuff is brilliant and the later stuff is severely lacking. If you're new to the band, you really have to figure out if you like songs about relationships, or songs about imaginary lizard people or both, and then build your Phish collection accordingly.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
In the Midnight Hour 2. 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.) 3. Don't Fight It
4.
Funky Broadway 5. Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won't Do)
6.
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love 7. Mustang Sally
8.
Land of 1000 Dances 9. Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You
10.
Don't Knock My Love, Pt. 1
 

Bonus cuts:
I'm a Midnight Mover / She's Lookin' Good / Soul Dance Number Three / Man and a Half / If You Need Me / It's Too Late / I Found a Love (with The Falcons) / Hey Jude (featuring Duane Allman) / Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9 / I'm in Love

Comments:
The "Wicked" Wilson Pickett was one of the most successful, dynamic and energetic soul singers of the 1960s. Born March 18, 1941 in Prattville, Alabama, Pickett started singing in the Baptist choirs of his home town before moving to Detroit at the age of sixteen. In the late 50s, he made his professional debut as lead singer of The Violinaires, a popular gospel-harmony group from the Detroit area, and from 1961 to 1964 performed with The Falcons, a vocal group which also featured future soul star Eddie Floyd. Pickett wrote The Falcons' 1962 hit, I Found a Love, and after a four-year stint with the group, decided to embark on a solo career, signing with Lloyd Price's Double L Records. At the onset he met with marginal success, but it was his signing with Atlantic Records that turned his career around, especially his association with Atlantic's Jerry Wexler, who arranged the 1965 sessions at the famous Stax recording studios in Memphis. Pickett came into his own as a songwriter and collaborated with Booker T. and the M.G.'s guitarist Steve Cropper on several huge hits including In the Midnight Hour, one of the most enduring soul classics of all time. This legendary entertainer has had nineteen Top 40 hits from 1965 to 1972, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Sadly, he passed away on January 19, 2006 at the age of 64 after suffering a heart attack. He may no longer be with us, but his high-energy style of soul and rhythm & blues will live on forever.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) 2. Us and Them
3.
Comfortably Numb 4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-7)
5.
Mother 6. Have a Cigar 7. Dogs 8. Time 9. Hey You 10. Sheep
 

Bonus cuts:
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd's monster hit album (It was on the Billboard charts for something like 700 weeks) contains lots of essential cuts, but is really meant to be heard straight through. A lot of the songs bleed into each other, and sometimes just don't sound right if played out of context. Play Dark Side all the way through, and for something a little different, check out the live album Pulse on which the band plays Dark Side in it's entirety.

Comments:
As I mentioned above, a lot of Floyd's tunes are meant to be heard in the sequence they appear in on the albums. This made things difficult when it came time to make a greatest hits package of the band's music. The solution was to edit and re-sequence things so that the songs on the 2-disc retrospective set, Echoes meld into each other in ways that they never would have if you or I just threw the same tracks on to a cd. The result is a very cool new album, of very cool old songs. My favorite example of this, as indicated by it's inclusion in my top ten tracks, is the way they made Shine on You Crazy Diamond, which was originally two songs (Parts 1-5 and 7-8) at the beginning and the end of the album Wish you Were Here, into one 18 minute epic.very cool!

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
If I Should Fall From Grace With God
2.
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 3. Fairytale of New York
4.
The Sickbed of Cuchulainn 5. Sally Maclennane
6.
Streams of Whiskey 7. Dirty Old Town 8. A Pair of Brown Eyes
9.
The Sunny Side of the Street 10. The Old Main Drag
 

Bonus cuts:
The live album, Streams of Whiskey, recorded just before singer Shane Macgowan was thrown out of his own band, is a great document of the band at it's peak (or just slightly afterwards if you want to be technical), Essentially, it's a live greatest hits album featuring six of the above tunes and ten others. Worth your dough.

Comments:
Two things you should know. First, there are two Pogues albums out there which do not feature lead Pogue Shane Macgowan. They are, Waiting for Herb and Pogue Mahone. I've never heard em, and can't say either way if they suck or are brilliant . . . I'll let you know when I know. Second, for some reason, The Pogues albums are fairly hard to get your hands on here unless you order online - they're only available as imports is seems. Anyway, no matter how you get em, make sure you get the new versions which feature as many as seven bonus tracks . . . all of the Macgowan albums have at least six!

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Message In A Bottle 2. Spirits In The Material World 3. Roxanne
4.
King of Pain 5. Wrapped Around Your Finger 6. Don't Stand So Close To Me 7. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic 8. Synchronicity II 9. Can't Stand Losing You 10. When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around
 

Bonus cuts:
Every Breath You Take / Invisible Sun / Walking On The Moon / Walking In Your Footsteps / So Lonely / Murder By Numbers

Comments:
The Police was a band that was purely original. From their very first demos it was clear that they were a band thriving on the escalating appeal, especially in the U.K., of bands like The Clash. But The Police took this "new wave" British punk sound to another level. They added a Jamaican reggae influence and a level of musicianship that was not yet met in the genre. With a charismatic and talented bassist/singer/songwriter fronting the trio (Sting), the son of a Glenn Miller orchestra trumpeter and the brother of legendary band manager Miles Copeland playing drums (Stewart Copeland), and a guitar player with the patience of a saint (Andy Summers) - this band brought a banquet of fresh new sounds to a salivating public.

I've never bought a Police album. I'm just a guy that owns their box set. Many of you are looking for baseball bats that you can introduce to my skull right about now I know, but frankly, I don't see the need for any other Police releases. The "Message In A Box" set has every song ever recorded by the band. Even though you might like to, you can't ask any more from this box. As all of you glance upward at the list now, you notice that their megahit "Every Breath You Take" isn't there. You now upgrade the bat to the largest knife in the kitchen, right? "Every Breath You Take" is a great song, but far from some of this band's best work. Songs like "Message In A Bottle", "Spirits In The Material World", and "Synchronicity II" rock with a sense of urgency, while "Roxanne" and "Can't Stand Losing You" add some interesting and fresh reggae rhythms. I really saw these types of tunes as the band's strongest efforts. With the radio ballad temper of "Every Breath...", it felt almost like I was hearing a pseudo-Police imitation. I know, you just want to end me right here and now. Not so ironically, it was the "Synchronicity" record that broke the band into "supergroup" status, and it still remains the cornerstone of the band's catalog. It's well crafted songs like "King Of Pain", "Murder By Numbers" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger", as well as both parts of the title track, that really make this album shine.

Now, I know this is a best of the best list, but I must tell you that I'm a guy that doesn't love everything from this band.

I have a rule. Any band or song that you have to be six months old or younger to pronounce correctly, officially sucks. Right up there with loser bands like Kajagoogoo, and loser songs like Trio's "Da Da Da", comes The Police song "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". Somebody give Sting his bottle so he'll shut up. As catchy as this song might be, I can't seem to lower myself to singing along to this one(at least not without a rattle). There I go, upgraded to the chainsaw in the shed. Okay, maybe I wasn't the right guy to do this one.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Heartbreak Hotel 2. Don't Be Cruel 3. Hound Dog
4.
Love Me Tender 5. All Shook Up 6. Jailhouse Rock
7.
It's Now Or Never 8. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
9.
Return To Sender 10. (You're The) Devil In Disguise
 

Bonus cuts:
Crying In The Chapel / In The Ghetto / Suspicious Minds / The Wonder Of You / (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Can't Help Falling In Love / Surrender / Too Much / One Night / Don't / (Now and Then There's) A Fool Such
As I


Comments:
Elvis Presley never mastered a musical instrument nor did he write his own songs, but he has become one of the most important figures in the history of rock and roll. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935, he and his family moved to Memphis when he was a teenager. Influenced by the melting pot of Southern blues, country, bluegrass and gospel, he developed an interest in music and for his own pleasure, decided to record a few demos at a local recording studio. Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records in Memphis spotted Elvis and in 1954 cut his first single, That's Alright Mama. Released on the Sun label, the single sold very well, which prompted Phillips to sign Presley to a long-term contract. His popularity grew throughout the South and several record labels along with Colonel Tom Parker, who became his personal manager, began to take interest. Needing capital to expand his record label, Phillips sold Presleys contract in 1955 to RCA Records for $35,000, and after his first television appearance, Elvis became a superstar, having an amazing run of #1 singles and albums throughout the late 50s and early 60s. In 1956, Love Me Tender became his first movie, and although he continued to make them throughout the next decade, the majority of his films were poor and had a negative impact on his career. In 1968 Elvis decided to return to the concert stage and his Comeback Special on TV was a huge hit. Elvis was now concentrating all his energies on live performance and became a huge concert draw worldwide, but his health started to take a turn for the worse and on August 16, 1977 he was found dead at his mansion in Graceland, the victim of a possible drug overdose. The legacy that Elvis left behind has grown to enormous proportions and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest performers of all time.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
Tommy the Cat 2. Southbound Pachyderm
3.
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver 4. Bob 5. My Name Is Mud
6.
Sgt. Baker 7. To Defy The Laws of Tradition 8. Too Many Puppies
9.
Mr. Knowitall 10. Harold of the Rocks
 

Bonus cuts:
The past two Primus tours have been very interesting. The band has taken to playing two sets nightly; the first one being a mixed bag of stuff from their entire history, and the second consisting of one classic Primus album played from beginning to end. The 2003 tour saw them play Sailing the Seas of Cheese nightly, and on the 2004 tour it was Frizzle Fry. Every single show from both of those tours is available for download, for just $10 bucks from the band's website www.primussucks.com. If 'seeing is believing' is more your thing, then check out the Hallucinogenetics DVD which features one complete show from the 2004 tour. Oh by the way, all of this stuff features the re-united original Primus line-up of Tim, Larry and Les.

Comments:
It's fairly well known that Frank Zappa, creator of some of the strangest music of all time, never took drugs. It's always been my thought that Primus is what would have happened if he did. They may not be for everyone, but one person they certainly are for however is photographer Jay Blakesberg. Blakesberg who is known primarily for his photos of the Grateful Dead has recently published a book of his work involving Primus, and front-man Les Claypool's other projects. The book which is fairly pricey ($100) features tons of incredible photographs and comes signed by both Claypool and Blakesberg. For me, it was well worth it, but you may want to convince yourself that it will appreciate in value to justify the price tag, or perhaps just get it for Christmas.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1.
A Whiter Shade of Pale 2. Shine On Brightly 3. A Salty Dog
4. Conquistador 5. Homburg 6. Whiskey Train 7. Wreck of the Hesperus
8. Quite Rightly So 9. Simple Sister 10. In Held Twas In I (a) Glimpses of Nirvana (b) Twas Teatime at the Circus (c) In the Autumn of My Madness (d) Look to Your Soul (e) Grand Finale

 

Bonus cuts:
In The Wee Small Hours of Sixpence / Long Gone Geek / Something Following Me / She Wandered Through The Garden Fence / Broken Barricades / Milk of Human Kindness / Wish Me Well / Nothing But the Truth / Beyond the Pale
/ As Strong As Samson / Idol / Grand Hotel / An Old English Dream / The World Is Rich / Every Dog Will Have His Day

Comments:
A very progressive band that mixed blues/rock with classical influences, Procol Harum was conceived by singer/keyboardist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid in 1967. The two had collaborated on a considerable amount of material and were looking for a band to record their songs. Upon recruiting the appropriate musicians, Brooker, Reid and The Pinewoods, as they were initially called, recorded A Whiter Shade of Pale, a piece of surrealistic poetry by Reid that Brooker had set to music influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach. By the time the record was ready for release, the band had been renamed Procol Harum, which was supposedly derived from the Latin word "procul", meaning "far from these things." The single became an overnight smash worldwide and stayed atop the British charts for six weeks, making Procol Harum only the sixth British recording act to ever reach #1 with their first release. They continued over the next few years to have considerable chart success with single and album releases, but in 1977 split up after a final tour and farewell concert at New York's Academy of Music. Gary Brooker and guitarist Robin Trower went on to develop solo careers and the band reunited on several occasions, most notably in the 1990s, when they recorded a new album and toured extensively.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody 2. Under Pressure 3. Fat Bottomed Girls
4.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love 5. Radio Ga Ga 6. We Will Rock You
7.
We Are The Champions 8. The Show Must Go On
9.
Another One Bites The Dust 10. Killer Queen
 

Bonus cuts:
You're My Best Friend / Innuendo / Somebody To Love / Tie Your Mother Down / Keep Yourself Alive / Don't Try So Hard / Thank God It's Christmas / Liar / These Are The Days Of Our Lives / The Flash Gordon Soundtrack

Comments:
As big as they were (are) they are one of the most under-rated bands in the history of rock and roll. This is a group who truly earn the title of astounding! Bohemian Rhapsody, their masterwork from the A Night At The Opera LP came in at number 156 on Rolling Stone's all-time Top 500 songs. That is absolutely preposterous and a total act of disrespect. The tune belongs in any true rock fans' Top 10. It is as good, if not better than Layla, Like A Rolling Stone, Good Vibrations, and all of the other classics that it never seems to be compared with. It is as great as the entire Sgt Pepper album. Play it back-to-back with Stairway to Heaven and hear for yourself. You'll either be converted, or at least, realize that it is identical in its power and majesty. It is the most over the top rock record in history. If you are of the school who feels it's a bit pretentious, you're missing the joke completely. Over the week it took Freddie Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor to record the vocal parts of the opera section, they were in hysterics at the song's deliberate campness.

What is it about?

In '76 Mercury said, "It's one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it and make up their own minds as to what it says to them." It's really not important what the song means. To quote a few of its final lines, "Nothing really matters, anyone can see. Nothing really matters . . ." To my ear, Queen picked up where The Beatles left off. When the latter band was recording A Day In The Life, they had stopped touring. The Fabs, along with their producer George Martin were one of the most advanced studio groups of the day. Queen, on the other hand, along with their producer Ray Thomas Baker, were creating incredible music in the studio, and in addition were one of the supreme live acts in history. If Mercury never wrote a tune in his life he'd still go down in history as one of the most electrifying front men of all time. Brian May, with his totally unique and original style, is on the same level as any of the great rock guitarists. Roger Taylor and John Deacon are a rhythm section that can match any in history. Queen were a glorious fucking band! The Ramones, Sex Pistols and all the other punk and new wave bands owe a lot to Queen. Their big, slick, loud, excessive and luxurious style was everything the punk bands revolted against when they decided to take rock back down to its rawest and no-frills greatness. That's why I think Queen is the mother of punk. Elvis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry all led to The Beatles. They went from She Loves You to I Am The Walrus. Queen picked up from there and with albums like Sheer Heart Attack, Jazz, News Of The World, and A Day At The Races, plus groundbreaking videos like Radio Ga Ga, they took it to the extreme of splendor. There was no topping them. They only place to go was back to basics . . . enter punk rock. If you disagree . . . "nothing really matters" . . . it's just one fan's opinion. You can't "get" Queen by reading about them on a web site. Listen to the music. Watch a concert DVD. Live at Wembley Stadium is a great one (or watch them steal the show on the Live Aid DVD). At the very least, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, get comfortable, and listen to Bohemian Rhapsody. There is nothing like it.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. The entire "Operation: Mindcrime" album 2. The entire
"The Warning" album 3. Empire 4. The Lady Wore Black
5.
Walk In The Shadows 6. Queen Of The Reich 7. Best I Can
8.
Anybody Listening? 9. Someone Else? 10. The Right Side Of My Mind
 

Bonus cuts:
You / Prophecy / Falling Down / Bridge / The Killing Words / London / Another Rainy Night (Without You) /
Jet City Woman / Sign Of The Times / Anytime Anywhere
/ Spool / I Dream In Infra Red / Lady Jane / Damaged

Comments:
It was 1984 when a friend in school turned me on to the 4-song EP. I couldn't believe I was hearing a band that was so perfect. And that voice . . . Geoff Tate – there are very few in the world that can rival his vocal abilities. I can remember dropping the needle on that vinyl a few million times, waiting for the first full length album to come out. When "The Warning" was finally released, I knew that I had found a band I would love forever. That's right, I got in on the ground floor with this band, and I think their best material is from those early years. Sitting at #2 on the list, you'll see that first full length album. It is one of my favorite records of all time, and it holds some of the tastiest Queensrÿche tunes in existence. There is not one single weakness to the record, and every song is absolute perfection. So why is it at #2, right?! Enter "Operation: Mindcrime."

"Operation: Mindcrime" just might be my favorite record ever. A masterpiece through and through, "Mindcrime" was not just a perfectly executed musical performance – it became a way of life for me. To this very day, I hold "Operation: Mindcrime" in the highest regard, and have yet to hear anything better since its release in 1988.

What about the big hit? I'm sorry, but "Silent Lucidity" was a song that I viewed as one of the few weak points in Queensrÿche's earlier recordings. Not a bad song, but just not a great one. The "Empire" album from whence it came on the other hand was yet another stroke of genius for the band. It's an album chock full of great songs. "Anybody Listening?", "Best I Can," and the title track are all included on the list above. After "Empire" came "Promised Land," which was also very good. The poignant piano/vocal ballad "Someone Else?" appears from that disc. "Hear In The Now Frontier" was another good record, spawning keepers like "Sign Of The Times," "You," "Anytime Anywhere," and "Spool." And then came the decline . . .

The next album, "Q2K," although it gave us the #10 song on the list, is quite inferior to the rest of the Queensrÿche material. This is the album that saw the exit of key songwriter and guitarist Chris DeGarmo from the band. This proved to be a devastating loss for Queensrÿche as the albums since that time have all been quite weak. Even the attempt to revive things with "Operation: Mindcrime II" didn't really pan out. If you really want to savor the musical soul of this band, you really need to look no further than "Operation: Mindcrime" or "The Warning" – two of the best records ever made.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Freedom 2. Killing in the Name Of 3. Testify 4. Bulls On Parade
5.
Sleep Now In The Fire 6. Bombtrack 7. Voice of the Voiceless
8.
Know Your Enemy 9. Year of the Boomerang 10. Born of a Broken Man
 

Bonus cuts:
Shortly before breaking up in 2000, Rage put together an album of all covers called Renegades. The disc represents the band's influences which are just about as wide spread as you'd expect from the guys that were the first to smash hip-hop together with hard rock. How many other groups can you think of that have recorded covers of classic rockers Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and the Rolling Stones, along with hip-hop and punk acts like Cypress Hill, and Minor Threat?


Comments:
I hate to say it, but the most recent release by Rage Against the Machine, Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, falls way short of both their other records and what the experience of seeing them live was like. I've seen close to a 1000 bands perform live over the years, and I can honestly say without a doubt that Rage Against the Machine was the most intense. This disc fails to capture that feeling that room was about to explode, which I experienced each of the four times I saw them perform. I'm not sure if it's still available, but the band's first DVD which was self titled, is a much better document of what they were like live. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the not-so-hot concert was also their final performance.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Man On The Silver Mountain 2. Since You've Been Gone
3.
Street Of Dreams 4. Long Live Rock 'N' Roll 5. Kill The King
6.
Sixteenth Century Greensleeves 7. Power 8. L.A. Connection
9.
Stone Cold 10. Death Alley Driver
 

Bonus cuts:
Run With The Wolf / Spotlight Kid / Tearin' Out My Heart / All Night Long / Can't Happen Here / Love's No Friend / Starstruck / Rainbow Eyes

Comments:
Is there a bigger Ronnie James Dio fan than myself? Probably not. The "little big man" of rock & roll is one of my all-time favorite vocalists. But is Dio the only power and style behind classic rock act Rainbow? Hardly. The other key ingredient that made Rainbow music delicious was Mr. Ritchie Blackmore. Always one of my favorite guitar players, from his work with Deep Purple to the classy playing he exhibited in Rainbow, Ritchie is one-of-a-kind. Having bass players like Roger Glover and drummers like Cozy Powell didn't hurt the band chemistry either. As the band went on, Dio left to form his eponymous metal band, and a new Rainbow began to take shape. Who could fill Dio's size 6 shoes? How about Graham Bonnet? With his Dio-esque power and tone, he led Rainbow through one of their most popular songs ever, "Since You've Been Gone". With Bonnet staying on board for only one album, Down To Earth in '79, the band was in the market for yet another vocalist to carry on the Rainbow legacy. Enter Joe Lynn Turner. With the smoother, more delicate sound of Turner's voice, the band entered yet another phase of their existence. Turner's vocal style opened up new horizons for the band in the world of popular radio. The sweeter sound of Turner's voice yielded such radio classics as Stone Cold, Power, and the classic Street Of Dreams. But make no mistake, Joe Lynn Turner could rock out with the best of them, too. Check out songs like Death Alley Driver and Can't Happen Here and you'll hear what I mean.

For those that are looking to discover Rainbow and their many phases, look for a compilation that encompasses their entire career. The Ronnie James Dio years are the definitive years, with albums like Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Long Live Rock 'N' Roll, but the other material is also strong. Although the Joe Lynn Turner albums, or the lone Bonnet effort, are not as complete as the Dio fronted records tend to be, they do have their strong points. The common thread between each and every Rainbow record? You guessed it . . . Ritchie Blackmore, the pot of gold at the beginning and the end of this Rainbow.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Judy Is A Punk 2. Havana Affair 3. Oh Oh I Love Her So
4.
Swallow My Pride 5. Listen To My Heart 6. The Return of Jackie and Judy
7.
Glad To See You Go 8. I Believe In Miracles 9. 7-11 10. Locket Love
 

Bonus cuts:
All 30 or so on their greatest hits disc, "Ramones Mania" including I Wanna Be Sedated, Blitzkrieg Bop, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Pin Head, Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio, and so on. Plus, all of the covers they did scattered across all of their albums and on the all covers album "Acid Eaters"

Comments:
The Ramones first 8 albums were remastered and re-released by Rhino a few years ago. Aside from excellent sound quality, each disc features several rare and unreleased bonus tracks. While all of these disc are worth owning, the jewel of the set is clearly the band's second album, "Leave Home" which has more bonus cuts than any of the others, (an entire 16 song live set in fact). Even cooler than the live set however, is the fact that the remastered "Leave Home" also includes thesong "Carbona Not Glue" which was pulled from the album over 20 years ago when Sire records was threatened with a lawsuit and had been unavailable ever since.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Journey To The End of the East Bay 2. Coppers 3. Detroit
4.
Rats In The Hallway 5. Solidarity 6. As Wicked
7.
Back Up Against the Wall 8. Red Hot Moon
9.
Let Me Go 10. Old Friend
 

Bonus cuts:
I Wanna Riot (no horns version from the compilation Punk O Rama Vol.1, and with the Stubborn All-Stars from the soundtrack to Beavis and Butt-Head Do America) and Misty Days (A song by reggae superstar Buju Banton, that members of Rancid produced and also play on)


Comments:
Some cool bands for the hardcore Rancid fan to check out are Operation Ivy, which features two of Rancid's three original members a few years before the band formed, and The Transplants which is singer/guitarist Tim Armstrong's current side project. Bassist Matt Freeman plays on a number of tracks on the Transplant's debut CD.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. I Just Want To Celebrate 2. Get Ready 3. I Know I’m Losing You
4.
Born To Wander 5. Hey Big Brother 6. What I Say 7. Tobacco Road
8.
Good Time Sally 9. Smiling Faces Sometimes 10. Ma
 

Comments:
Before Disco messed everything up there was an exciting live rock music scene being played out every weekend in funky clubs, large and small, all over the U.S.A. In Detroit, the Sunliners were the band everyone had to see.

They got together in high school in 1961 and over the next seven years they played countless club dates and cut a bunch of singles for 3 different labels. During that time they closed out their set with a mighty version of Smokey Robinson’s “Get Ready.” As it evolved, each member would take a solo and jam on what would soon become an epic.

They had changed their name to Rare Earth, and when they were signed to Motown and the company named their new label after them, Rare Earth Records. “I Just Want To Celebrate” was their biggest hit and since it’s release in the 60’s, the tune has taken on a life of its own. It has been featured in the film “Three Kings,” and on a nationwide advertising campaign for Ford.

Rare Earth never became as big as some of their contemporaries like Chicago, Three Dog Night, or Parliament, but their music was always worthy of superstar status. Their version of “Get Ready” was recorded and became one of the funkiest psychedelic tracks of all time. If you were on the scene back in the 60’s this sound will take you back to 2:30 on a Sunday morning at The Electric Circus on St. Marks Place or wherever your place was. It was the 3-minute edit of this cut that became the hit, but the full album cut demonstrates why the band was signed to begin with.

There are several greatest hits-type CD’s out there. Go get one. Rare Earth is a rare find.

Tracks compiled by Dr. Philip Lombard / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Groovin' 2. A Girl Like You 3. Love Is A Beautiful Thing 4. Good Lovin'
5.
People Got To Be Free 6. A Beautiful Morning 7. How Can I Be Sure
8.
I've Been Lonely Too Long 9. I'm So Happy Now 10. Easy Rollin'
 

Bonus cuts:
In The Midnight Hour / I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore / Come On Up / A Place In The Sun / Silly Girl / Singin' The Blues Too Long / Rainy Day / See / Temptation's 'Bout To Get Me


Comments:
The Rascals, along with the Righteous Brothers and Mitch Ryder, were the epitome of blue-eyed soul in the 1960's. They got their auspicious start as one of the hottest bar bands in the New York City area playing small clubs and popular discotheques like Harlow's, Ondines, and The Phone Booth. Keyboardist/singer Felix Cavaliere, the guiding force behind the group, had played with Joey Dee & the Starliters, where he met Canadian guitarist Gene Cornish and singer Eddie Brigati. Drummer Dino Danelli, a seasoned veteran having toured with Lionel Hampton and many R&B road shows, was added to the mix and The Rascals were born. Manager Sid Bernstein, who discovered the band performing at a floating nightclub called The Barge in Westhampton, Long Island, initially tagged the group The Young Rascals, but the "Young" was permanently dropped a few years later.

They were signed to Atlantic Records in 1965 and had a small hit right out of the box with the gritty, garage band gem, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore," but it was their follow-up single, the searing, Hammond organ-driven, Number 1 smash "Good Lovin'" that propelled them to superstardom overnight. After a few additional Top 30 hits in the same vein, the group began to mature
rapidly as Cavaliere and Brigati began writing more sophisticated material. By 1967, the band had reached an artistic zenith with huge hits like "Groovin'," "A Girl Like You," "How Can I Be Sure?" and "A Beautiful Morning." Using their lyrics as a sounding board to reflect their beliefs about freedom and racial equality, the band's music became much more contemporary and introspective. They reached a pinnacle in 1968 with their Number 1 smash, "People Got To Be Free," an infectious call for harmony in the midst of some very unstable times in America. It was the biggest hit of their careers but also the last to make it into the Top 20.

Although they were still a very popular concert attraction, by 1969 their record sales had diminished and internal tensions were starting to brew within the group. Brigati hastily departed in 1970 just prior to the band being signed to Columbia Records, followed a few months later by Cornish. Cavaliere and Danelli recruited new musicians and recorded the 2 albums owed to Columbia under The Rascals name but decided to call it quits themselves in 1972 once their contractual obligations were met. Cornish went on to become a member of Bulldog then Fotomaker and years later teamed up with Danelli to form The New Rascals. Brigati worked periodically with his brother, vocalist David Brigati, but for the most part remained out of the spotlight. Cavaliere met with the most success however, as he recorded several excellent solo albums and toured consistently with his band Felix Cavaliere's Rascals.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, The Rascals had become
one of the most enduring bands of the era, due in part to their electrifying performances plus the strength of their prolific songwriting. They left in their wake an impressive array of top 40 hits plus a handful of truly enjoyable albums. For an outstanding overview of their work, check out Rhino's excellent Rascals compilation, "Anthology (1965-1972)."

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Soul to Squeeze 2. Under the Bridge 3. Apache Rose Peacock
4.
The Righteous and the Wicked 5. Sir. Psycho Sexy 6. Scar Tissue
7.
Tear 8. The Zephyr Song 9. My Friends 10. Cabron
 

Bonus cuts:
Pea, which is pretty much a solo track by bassist Flea, features possibly my favorite line in any Chili Peppers song . . . "I'm a pacifist, but I can fuck your shit up!" Also check out the plethora of cool and eclectic covers that the band has done over the years: The Stooges Search and Destroy, Hendrix' Fire, which the band played while Woodstock '99 burned to the damn ground, and The Ramones Havana Affair just to name a few. Some but not all of the covers can be found on the compilation album Under The Covers.


Comments:
The Chili Peppers have gone through a number of line-up changes over the years. The original line up featured Anthony Kiedis (Vocals), Michael Balzary a.k.a. Flea (Bass), Hillel Slovak (Guitar) and Jack Irons (Drums). Irons and Slovak left the Peppers before they recorded their first album in 1984; they were replaced by Jack Sherman and Cliff Martinez respectively. However in 1985 after releasing one album as What Is This, Slovak and Irons rejoined the Chili Peppers in time to record Freaky Styley. More or less, the line-up remained the same for the next two albums, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, and The Abbey Road EP. Sadly, in 1989 Hillel overdosed on heroin and died. At that point Irons announced that he was leaving the band.

The next line-up of the band was short-lived and unrecorded but is historically interesting as it featured former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro and former Parliament guitarist Blackbird McKnight. Shortly after that line-up fell apart, Flea and Anthony signed up Chad Smith on drums, and John Frusciante on guitar. Smith has been in the band ever since, and while Frusciante left the band in early 1992 due to a severe drug habit (making him the second guitarist the band lost to heroin addiction) he re-joined the group in 1999. During the five years John was not in the band, the Peppers only recorded one album, 1995's One Hot Minute, which featured Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro on guitar.

While it's easy for some to romanticize the early Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, featuring Hillel, to be totally honest, they are the least interesting in the band's catalog. In my opinion, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magic is their masterpiece. It manages to maintain the crazy, what the fuck is this, vibe that the band established early in their career but adds musical precision and a lyrical maturity that the band had never even approached early on. There are many possible explanations for this, but I would say it's just another example of how producer Rick Rubin consistently takes a good act and makes them great. The Chili's earlier work involved producers less likely to reign the band in when necessary . . . like Parliament Funkadelic's George Clinton. If you're new to the band, start with Blood Sugar, and then move on to the albums that followed it: One Hot Minute, Californication, and By The Way. The album What Hits!? is a greatest hits album consisting of tunes drawn from the albums that came out before the band had any hits, It should provide sufficient coverage of their early days for all but the most hard core fans.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. I've Been Loving You Too Long 2. (Sittin on the) Dock of the Bay
3.
Try A Little Tenderness 4. Mr. Pitiful 5. Pain In My Heart
6.
These Arms of Mine 7. Shake 8. That's How Strong My Love Is
9.
Respect 10. I Can't Turn You Loose
 

Bonus cuts:
Otis' version of The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction is great, and their versions of his I've Been Loving You Too Long, That's How Strong My Love Is, and Pain In My Heart are pretty damn good as well.


Comments:
"It's been a real groovy day and a great evening, and here let's bring on with a big hand, Mr. Otis Redding." The crowd goes nuts as Booker T and the MGs along with the Mar-Keys fire it up. Then there he is, possibly the greatest soul singer of all time, standing in a lime green suit and getting ready to go from zero to full-on, sweat-covered dancing maniac with steam literally flying off of him. He screams SHAKE . . . and the crowd – well the crowd shakes damn it – then . . . "Thank you so much. This is another one of mine. This is a song that a girl took away from me, a good friend of mine. This girl she just took this song, but I'm gonna do it anyway." WHAT YOU WANT! Move over Aretha, Otis is here and he's gonna take back what's his – and that, I can RESPECT. Then, "We're gonna slow it down this time, this is the love crowd right? I've been loving you too long to stop now," which the Stones covered on Got Live If You Want It. So what else could be next other than Satisfaction, and it's better than any version Mick and the boys ever threw together. Then to close it all out, Try a Little Tenderness. And that my friends, was Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 – 19 minutes that proved there was never anyone who could touch him. And just a few months later he was gone, just as his first #1 single, (Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay was getting played all over the radio.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Walk On The Wild Side 2. Set the Twilight Reeling 3. Wild Child
4.
Busload of Faith 5. Underneath the Bottle 6. Street Hassle
7.
Dirty Blvd. 8. Vicious 9. Last Great American Whale 10. Hangin' Around
 

Bonus cuts:
How Do You Think It Feels / Magic and Loss / Ecstasy, The Day John Kennedy Died / Coney Island Baby / I Wanna Be Black / The Sword of Damocles / Vanishing Act / The Raven


Comments:
Sometimes I find it hard to get my head around Lou Reed's post Velvet Underground work. There are just so many interesting little aspects to it, and so many different types of projects that it becomes hard to look at it as one body of work. Two of the most interesting moments are:

The Raven – The Raven is Lou's most recent studio album. The album, which was released as both a single CD and an expanded limited edition double CD, is Lou's ode to the American poet, Edgar Allen Poe. It's one of the strangest albums I've ever heard. The album features over two hours of eerie instrumentals, new versions of old Lou Reed songs, and a few new songs as well. But what makes it really unique is the poetry. A large part of the album is made up of celebrities like Willem Dafoe and Steve Buscemi reading Poe's work (which is partially re-written by Reed) over Lou's instrumental music. David Bowie, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ornette Coleman also drop in.

Metal Machine Music – The Rolling Stones were once told they were contractually obligated to submit one more single to their old label. They didn't want to do this, but couldn't get out of it. Soooo, they submitted the song "Cocksucker Blues" complete with the lyric, "Where can I get my ass fucked?" The song fulfilled their obligation, and of course was deemed to obscene for release. I use to think that was the best "kiss my ass record industry" story of all time. Now I'm not so sure. In 1975, Lou Reed was in a similar situation. The only difference was that he was due to turn in an entire album, not just a single, and he was known for dating a transvestite and shooting heroin on stage in front of his audiences, so the shock value thing probably wouldn't have worked.

So Lou did what any of us would do. He got in a room with two guitars and a bunch of amps and proceeded to record over an hour's worth of nothing but feedback, fuzz, and white noise. He submitted this to the label . . . as a double album. Lou insisted that he was very serious about the piece, and the label after some resistance, finally released it. In a recent interview Lou said something to the effect of "I was very serious about it at the time, but I was also doing a lot of drugs."

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Sell Out 2. Nothin' 3. Somebody Hates Me
4. She's Famous Now 5.
You Don't Know 6. What Are Friends For
7.
I'm Cool 8. Where Have You Been 9. Suckers 10. Trendy
 

Bonus cuts:
Unity / Everything Sucks / Boss DJ / Ban The Tube Top / I'll Never Be / Alternative Baby / Say Ten / She Has A Girlfriend Now / We Care / Drinkin'


Comments:
Reel Big Fish are nineties Punk/Ska at its best. All the other bands that were around at the time tended to sound the same, and usually only had one or two standout tunes. Reel Big Fish on the other hand, burst onto the scene with a debut album that is essentially perfect. Every song on Turn The Radio Off is a faultless piece of sarcasm-laden, horn-filled punk rock. I was sixteen when the record came out, and in the zine I was doing at the time, I dubbed it Album of the Year.

Then I personally saw the band do some really shitty things, like walking off the stage at the Warped Tour after playing just two songs because people were crowd surfing. I know you're not into moshing guys, but it was THE WARPED TOUR!! Plus, as I recall, they didn't walk off stage when everyone was stage-diving and crowd surfing a year earlier when they were the first of four bands opening for Let's Go Bowling at The Wetlands.

I also watched them blow off a kid they were doing an interview with so that they could go talk to MTV. Now that seems like a logical choice, except when you attained your fame by singing about never becoming a rock star, and never selling out. That's pretty fucked up.

With those two events fresh in my mind, along with a few others, I boycotted their next record. It wasn't until six years later that I ended my boycott and purchased both their second and third albums and begrudgingly admitted that they were both great. I also had to admit that their second album, Why Do They Rock So Hard, was actually better than the first, and that Reel Big Fish really were an incredible band regardless of the fact that they were kinda dicks.

Rounding out their catalog are an EP, with some CD Rom content, and their 2005 release We're Not Happy Til You're Not Happy. Neither of these are awful, but they're not as good as the first three full lengths either. The EP does have their cover of Operation Ivy's "Unity" which is essential, but you can also get that on the OP Ivy tribute album Take Warning, and that's a better purchase.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Secret Agent Man 2. Summer Rain 3. Seventh Son 4. Memphis
5.
Poor Side of Town 6. Mountain of Love 7. Baby I Need Your Lovin'
8. Rockin' Pneumonia - Boogie Woogie Flu 9. Midnight Special
10. Tracks of My Tears
 

Bonus cuts:
(I Washed My Hands in) Muddy Water / Carpet Man / Look To Your Soul / Jesus Is A Soul Man /
Blue Suede Shoes


Comments:
You could say Johnny Rivers is the best cover artist to ever record, but it would be more accurate to say he is an amazing interpreter of song. The reason is when he put his spin on a tune it became his own. Who could cover a Four Tops classic like Baby I Need Your Lovin’, for example, and make it sound like a brand new song? Rivers, that’s who! He did it all the time with Chuck Berry stuff, with Smokey Robinson stuff….just magical is what it is. In his memoir, Bob Dylan wrote that of all the covers by all the artists….his very favorite is Johnny’s version of Positively 4th Street, and man, what a version it is.

The guy was huge in Britain and in the USA too, particularly out in Los Angeles in the 60’s. His records today sound fresh and exciting. They are lively and soulful. Summer Rain is a little masterpiece, yet always flawed to me due to the lyric, “All summer long we spent dancin’ in the sand and the jukebox kept on playin’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Far as I know there were no singles from Pepper so the juke box thing is incorrect, but then again maybe they put something out just for jukeboxes. No, I’m not over thinking this, just call it poetic license. Summer Rain is a gem as is Johnny Rivers. There are several greatest hits collections out there. One called "Johnny Rivers….SUMMER RAIN…The Essential Rivers…1964 – 1975" from an Australian label called Raven contains every song listed above. Try Amazon.

Tracks compiled by Dr. Philip Lombard / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Ooo Baby Baby* 2. The Tears of a Clown* 3. Being With You
4. Tracks of My Tears* 5.
Cruisin' 6. Just To See Her
7.
I Second That Emotion* 8. Quiet Storm 9. Going To A Go Go*
10.
The Agony and the Ecstasy
 

Bonus cuts:
Shop Around*
/ Vitamin U / You Really Got a Hold On Me* / Mickey's Monkey* / Baby Baby Don't Cry* /
Ebony Eyes (with Rick James) / I Second That Emotion (with Manhattan Transfer from their classic Tonin' CD)

*with The Miracles

Comments:
There was this TV commercial in the 80's for a music hits collection. The father in the ad told his son to turn it down and the kid replied,
"But dad, its Smokey!" The old man had a problem with the smoothest voice on Motown. Imagine what he would have thought of rap. I saw Smokey Robinson live recently . . . fantastic evening of entertainment. He told a story: he was being interviewed and asked what he did when he heard one of his records on the radio. "I turn it up," he answered.

Point is, you don't turn Smokey down, you turn him up, and he turns you on. That's what he's been all about for the last 5 decades. In the 50's he formed a group in Detroit. They started out as The 5 Chimes, became The Matadors and finally settled on the name that the world knows them by: Smokey and The Miracles – international music icons.

In the 60's Smokey and Berry Gordy were the geniuses behind a little record company called Motown. Smokey did it all! He was an artist, an executive, a producer, and a writer. The guy wrote The Temptations classic "My Girl!" That song alone earned him a spot in the history of modern music. My Girl!!!!! But dad, its Smokey . . . indeed!

The Temps also recorded his "Since I Lost My Baby" and "Get Ready." He wrote "Still Water (Love)" for The Four Tops, "I'll Be Doggone" and "Ain't That Peculiar" for Marvin Gaye. Linda Ronstadt, The Young Rascals, The Marvelettes, Johnny Rivers and The Beatles were just a few of the artists who had success recording Smokey's compositions.

Smokey and The Miracles performed and recorded together from the late 50's through the early 70's. Then Smokey began his successful solo career. Today "America's poet laureate of love" continues to record and dazzle audiences with his soulfully smooth and emotional concerts.

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day" . . . but dad, its William "Smokey" Robinson!

Tracks compiled by Lady Jane Rushmore / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Sympathy For The Devil 2. You Can't Always Get What You Want
3.
Let It Bleed 4. Brown Sugar 5. Honky Tonk Women
6.
Jumpin Jack Flash 7. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
8.
Tumbling Dice 9. Gimmie Shelter 10. Paint It Black
 

Bonus cuts:
Start with the other 30 cuts from the career spanning greatest hits collection Forty Licks that aren't on the above list and then listen to probably the greatest 'four in a row' set of albums in the history of rock n roll: Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main Street (1972).


Comments:
With the exception of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones dominate my music collection more than any other act. With hundreds of songs, dozens of albums, and tons of great bootleg material available, I have to be pushing a hundred cds of these guys..but sometimes that's just not enough. There are not one but two, absolutely essential Rolling Stones dvds out there. The first, is the 1969 concert film "Gimmie Shelter". If you ever wanted to see the exact moment that the whole peace, love, sixties thing came crashing to an end, check out this movie, and watch the Hell's Angels, who were the security staff for the show, knock out Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane during their set, and then as an encore stab a man to death as the Stones play Sympathy For The Devil. This is the most powerful documentary about a rock band ever released. On a lighter note, there's the 4-DVD set released last year "Four Flicks". This set contains three complete, and very different, concerts from the Licks World Tour as well as two documentaries about the tour..all for thirty bucks! You cannot lose.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Illuminator 2. Liar 3. Disconnect 4. Get Some Go Again
5. Let That Devil Out 6. Going Out Strange 7.
Hell's Lounge Band Unwinds
8.
Neon 9. You Let Yourself Down 10. Your Number Is One
 

Bonus cuts:
Fans of Rollins may notice that the above list contains nothing from his first few albums. The reason for that is not that I don't like those albums, but more that I see them as transitional albums. Those were the albums made by "Henry Rollins, the guy from Black Flag." Starting with the album Weight in 1994, Henry began to come into his own, and began making music that rivaled that of his former band.

Illuminator, which could actually be in all honesty my favorite song ever, features Henry going off on a fifteen-minute rant with breaks for multiple guitar solos (one by band member Jim Wilson, and one by guest artist and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Krammer) as well as a saxophone solo. The song is a perfect example of the difference between the older Rollins Band stuff and the latter stuff; it's brilliant, but it would never work on a Black Flag album, or on an early-era Rollins Band album. Also, Henry's cover of Rocket From the Tomb's "Ain't It Fun" is pretty great, and the track he does alongside William Shatner, "I Can't Get Behind That" is not only a great listen, but is also incredibly funny. The former can be found on the collection of outtakes from the Nice album called A Nicer Shade of Red, and the latter is on Shatner's latest album Has Been, which was produced by Ben Folds.

Comments:
Henry Rollins is my hero. The main reason is that he's so ridiculously productive. The guy has been in two separate bands that I love, has written about a dozen books that I love, including one that ranks amongst my favorite of all time (Get in the Van: On The Road with Black Flag) plus his spoken word performances, or as he calls them his "talking shows," are pretty much the coolest side project in rock n roll. Henry is a renaissance man in the era of the "sit on my private luxury bus playing Xbox" rock star. While the man himself claims that Iggy Pop, not Elvis, is the king of rock n roll . . . because "the king of rock n roll does not die on a toilet" . . . I might just have to argue that Henry is the real king.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Cherry Bomb 2. Blackmail 3. You Drive Me Wild
4. I Love Playin' With Fire 5. Rock And Roll 6. Is It Day Or Night?
7.
Little Sister 8. Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin
9.
Saturday Night Special 10. Thunder
 

Bonus cuts:
American Nights / Midnight Music / California Paradise / Queens Of Noise / Waitin' For The Night / My Buddy And Me / I'm A Million / Wasted / Gotta Get Out Tonight / School Days

Comments:
In 1976, I was an eight-year-old kid that thought singer Cherie Currie looked pretty on the cover. I also thought, when I opened the gatefold to that debut record, that Lita Ford had more under her shirt than the rest of the band. But the thing I liked most about the record is the fact that it kicked ass. This wasn't teenie bopper, girly group pop - this was rough and ready rock and roll. I, along with the rest of the world, had never heard a group of girls rock quite like this. They broke down any barriers that may have existed for the female rock star, and proved that there was definitely a place for the female in the future of aggressive rock and roll.

The list above draws heavily from that great self-titled debut. They turned the nervous edge of inexperience to their advantage by cutting songs that were short and sweet, and filled with raw energy. The hit that everyone knows is, of course, "Cherry Bomb." Is this my favorite Runaways tune? In all honesty, it probably is not. Then why the hell is it at the top of my list, right? Well, the fact that it was written by Joan Jett and manager / producer / abusive guy Kim Fowley in just minutes for Cherie Currie's audition has a little bit to do with it. The fact that practically the whole world knows the song but many do not know the band that well says something about the track too. It is the definitive moment in the history of the band, and it is a great rock song that threw all of the strengths of the band together. The rebellious and sex-riddled vocals of Currie, and the tight pulsing rock from the rest of the ladies, made for an ideal lead off track that introduced the girls to the world. The second and third tracks on the list, "Blackmail" and "You Drive Me Wild," are also from the debut, and these tunes draw more from a raw passion for rock and roll than they do from a sexuality standpoint. Straight forward rock 'n' roll with lots of bite, it's really very simple. The other tracks drawn from the debut are "Is It Day Or Night?," "Thunder," and the Lou Reed cover "Rock And Roll." These are all tunes that just keep your foot tapping and your fist in the air. They keep the same formula for every tune, and it never gets boring because it's so pure and genuine.

The second LP from The Runaways, "Queens Of Noise," is represented here as well with "I Love Playin' With Fire," and "Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin," which are two songs that are also cut from the same cloth as the songs that I picked from the debut. Straight forward, short and sweet hard rock songs is what this band really did well with. The other songs from "Queens Of Noise" got a bit more melodic and lost a little bit of the edge. They are still good songs, but they just don't shine like the rockers do. The third studio album saw the departure of Currie and the lead vocal duties being handled by Joan Jett. "Waitin' For The Night" is chock full of rockers; loaded with hard, fast, short and sweet songs. Then why isn't the list loaded with tunes from this album, right? Well, Jett just doesn't sound as comfortable singing. Cherie Currie had a nervous energy, a certain raw sexuality to her voice. Jett sounds more stiff and tomboy-ish. The opening track, "Little Sister," is a real strong song though. I think if Currie was singing on this record, it might have turned out to be their strongest effort. The fourth studio album, with the exception of a few tracks, was pretty weak. You'll see "Saturday Night Special" from that record on the list.

If you're new to The Runaways, get the debut record and go chronologically – you won't regret it. If you are an obsessed fan of the band like I am, make sure you see the Vicki Tischler-Blue documentary film, "Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways." (Check out my review of "Edgeplay.") Hearing Cherie Currie talk about her lesbian escapades with Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West made me pull out that gatefold again. I still think Cherie is pretty on the cover, still think Lita's got more under her shirt than the rest, and I still think they kick ass.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. 2112: I. Overture, II. The Temples Of Syrinx, III. Discovery, IV. Presentation, V. Oracle: The Dream, VI. Soliloquy, VII. Grand Finale
2.
Xanadu 3. Working Man 4. The Trees 5. In The End 6. Tom Sawyer
7.
Limelight 8. Circumstances 9. The Spirit Of Radio 10. Distant Early Warning
 

Bonus cuts:
The Manhattan Project / Subdivisions / Something For Nothing / Closer To The Heart / Fly By Night / In The Mood / Finding My Way / Anthem / The Analog Kid / By-Tor & The Snow Dog / Red Sector A / Freewill / A Passage To Bangkok / The Big Money / Presto / Marathon / Bastille Day / etc., etc., etc.


Comments:
Slicing through my flesh with large shards of glass would have been a nice alternative to putting this one together. With every song I put on the list, I thought of ten more that I ignorantly pushed to the side. I'm going to need therapy after this one, because I suck. I mean, what kind of Rush fan leaves "Closer To The Heart" off of a Top Ten list?! . . . "Subdivisions"?! . . . "Fly By Night"?! What the hell is wrong with me! Believe me, I understand that those songs are all classic Rush, along with many many others; but doing a list of only ten songs for this band, and being fair to their work at the same time, is just not possible.

The approach I took in making this list was to compile songs that celebrated the core of the band's talent, while also keeping those that moved me on an emotional level. I was quickly reminded of something that I had known for many years. Rush has an abundance of songs that touch me musically and emotionally. So, picking only ten of them was a personal internal war. The only thing that I feel totally secure with here is my choice for the top spot. I really do feel that the title cut from the "2112" album is one of the best songs ever written. It opens and closes with incredible instrumental prowess; it has delicate moments that appear in perfect synchronization with the lyrical subject matter; and, of course, it has those towering times that could almost be considered violent. And what about that subject matter? The discovery of the guitar by some alternative civilization, . . . wow . . . pure genius. This is the greatest all around song that I have ever heard, ...by any band. The top spot was an easy one for me. It was most of the other nine tracks that I battled with.

My selection of "Xanadu", in at number two, was also a pretty simple choice. This is a song that epitomizes Rush, and their style of elegant, majestic rock. Dining on honeydew and drinking the milk of Paradise never sounded as inviting as it does here. "Working Man" is a bit "off the beaten path" for Rush, as it does not refer to anything from another planet. Blue collar Rush is rare, and this song is a real winner. "The Trees" tells the story of a forest and its many species of trees, battling for territorial supremacy; ahhh yes, . . . more pure genius. Fantastic lyrics, with a tremendous melody painted behind them. "In The End", from the "Fly By Night" record, is a song with a loose but royal texture. And, of course, "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" from the amazing "Moving Pictures" LP still hold up as two of the finest crafted radio rock songs of all time. "The Spirit of Radio" is another song that is a brilliant staple in any classic rock radio program.

Toward the bottom of the list here, you can plug any of those bonus cuts in at 8, 9, or 10 and get a list that I wouldn't argue with. I like just about any of those bonus cuts as much as I like "Distant Early Warning", so feel free to juggle those last two or three around. Rush is a band that has gone through a few different phases of style over the years. The early stuff being a bit raw and boisterous, the 80's stuff clean and mechanical, and the most recent material a mixture of the two. But, two things have remained constant in their 30+ years of writing music - band members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart and their collective ability to write some of the greatest songs the world has ever known.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Jenny Take a Ride* 2.
Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly*
3. Rock and Roll** 4. Little Latin Lupe Lu* 5. Sock It To Me Baby!*
6.
Joy*** 7. Long Neck Goose** 8. You Get Your Kicks*
9.
I'd Rather Go To Jail* 10. Liberty***
 

Bonus cuts:
I Hope* / Shake a Tail Feather* / Sticks and Stones* / I Had It Made* / I Can't Hide It* / Any Day Now*
/
I Like It Like That*
/ Takin' All I Can Get* / Is It You (Or Is It Me)** / When You Were Mine*** /
Tough Kid***
/ Poster*** / B.I.G.T.I.M.E.*** / A Thrill's a Thrill*** / Push Aroun'*** / Long Long Time***

* with the Detroit Wheels / ** with Detroit / *** Solo recording

Comments:
In the mid-60s, Mitch Ryder steamrolled his way onto the Billboard charts with a series of high-octane rock and soul numbers, putting him on the map as one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers to emerge from the rock era. Born William Levise, Jr. in Hamtramck, Michigan, Ryder got his start singing with a local Detroit quartet called the Peps before forming his own band, Billy Lee and the Rivieras. While opening for the Dave Clark Five in 1965, they were spotted by producer Bob Crewe, who immediately signed the group to his New Voice record label and changed their name to Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. (Crewe supposedly found Ryder's name after a random search through a local telephone directory).

"Jenny Take a Ride," a furious medley of Little Richard's "Jenny Jenny" and Chuck Willis' "C.C. Rider" was the band's first Top Ten hit, released in February 1966. Three months later they scaled the charts again with a solid reworking of Bill Medley's "Little Latin Lupe Lu," then went on to score their biggest hit with the Top Five smash "Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly." The following year the band broke into the Top Ten once again with another soulful rocker, "Sock It to Me Baby!," but that was to be their final hit. Upon Crewe's insistence, Ryder split from the band and embarked on a solo career, but with the exception of a blusey rendition of "What Now My Love" (which barely broke the Top 30), his reign on the charts had come to a sudden end.

In 1969 Ryder teamed with Booker T and the MGs for an album entitled "The Detroit/Memphis Experiment," then returned home to reunite with Detroit Wheels drummer John Badanjek in a new band called Detroit, whose lone album remains a cult classic to this day. The LP garnered major FM airplay with its cover of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll," and also contained a tempting array of solid rock and soul numbers. After years of performing however, Ryder began to develop severe throat problems, after which he decided to retire from music and relocate to the Denver area. He resurfaced on his own Seeds and Stems label in 1978 with "How I Spent My Vacation," followed by subsequent releases, "Naked but Not Dead," "Live Talkies" and "Got Change for a Million?." All were fine examples of his trademark sound, but they failed to generate the excitement or sales activity of his landmark work from the previous decade. In 1983 however, John Cougar Mellencamp produced Ryder's major label comeback, "Never Kick a Sleeping Dog," and generated a minor hit with his cover of the Prince classic "When You Were Mine."

Although Ryder has never been able to regain mainstream success, he has continued to record on his own and perform steadily with a revamped version of the Detroit Wheels. Still very popular in Europe, Ryder is a blue-eyed soul legend whose influence will be felt for a long time to come. At the height of his career, Mitch Ryder recorded some of the best, high-powered rock and soul ever to be pressed into vinyl, and the sheer energy embedded in those tracks is still present over 40 years later. For a comprehensive overview of his career featuring solo work, tracks with the Detroit Wheels and also Detroit, check out Rhino's excellent compilation, "Rev Up - The Best of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels."

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index


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