TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. We'll Burn The Sky 2. In Trance 3. Loving You Sunday Morning
4.
Blackout 5. No One Like You 6. Living And Dying 7. China White
8.
The Zoo 9. Rock You Like A Hurricane 10. Lovedrive
 

Bonus cuts:
Dynamite / Still Loving You / Holiday / Robot Man / Can't Live Without You / Make It Real / Can't Get Enough / In Your Park / The Sails Of Charon / Another Piece Of Meat / Catch Your Train / Restless Nights / Falling In Love / Top Of The Bill


Comments:
Yet again, another act of brutality from the staff at Are You On Something. They leave me an opportunity to do a list of only ten songs from one of the greatest rock bands of the modern era, and what do I do? I give it a try, of course! If you disagree with the list, that's okay . . . so do I. You see, everyday I switch a few of the bonus cuts around, and I throw them into the list somewhere. So, think of this as a list of . . . what . . . 24 or so. Yeah, that's right, I'm trying to cheat. Just keep it quiet and read on.

Scorpions have long been one of my idols. Growing up with their first live record, Tokyo Tapes, I quickly collected the entire back catalog. In that back catalog there is a battery of significant songs. With guitarist Uli Jon Roth in the band on guitar and vocals, the style of the older material is usually a bit darker. You could compare the differences to something like Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis versus the radio pop of the Phil Collins-fronted Genesis. Let's just say that the songs that revolved around chicks and parties were kept to a minimum in the old days. But, even though the lyrics got a little sillier in the 80's, Scorpions full-on guitar attack was held firmly in place. As a matter of fact, the music probably got even heavier with the addition of guitarist Matthias Jabs, after the departure of Uli Jon Roth. It was this incarnation of Scorpions that found the most commercial success. With hits like No One Like You and Rock You Like A Hurricane, Scorpions achieved multi-platinum record sales, a feat that was never accomplished in the Roth phase of the band. It wasn't until the 90's that the band started to come unraveled. Ironically, it was chart success that seemed to destroy the integrity of the band and its formula for hard rock splendor. When Wind Of Change, a song with themes of world peace, came out in the middle of the Cold War, it became an anthem of the times. The entire world fell in love with the essentially average ballad, and the band from that point on seemed to be obsessed with recreating the big radio single. Their Unbreakable release in 2004 seems to have finally gotten the band back on track with their hard rock roots.

Let's talk about the (clearing my throat) ten songs, shall we? Shivers race down my spine when I even think of hearing We'll Burn The Sky. This is a classic power ballad formula that is played out perfectly. This song is the summit of the power ballad mountain, and tops when it comes to Scorpions style rock and roll. And speaking of power ballads, In Trance may be the second best of all time. Beautifully written, beautifully played. A masterpiece of the Scorps catalog that still packs a wallop. There are so many great songs from those early records, but I mostly seem to cling to the power ballad formula from that time. Living And Dying is one that almost brings tears with its crunching power chords blended with the heartfelt lyrics of emotional pain. In Your Park is another real winner from the early days. Not to say that the guys didn't kick ass back in the day. Songs like Dark Lady, Robot Man, Virgin Killer, and The Sails Of Charon were all wickedly heavy tracks. It was just the power ballad that they seemed to really conquer best in those days. With the 80's came a wealth of heavy guitar driven songs like Can't Get Enough, Blackout, and Another Piece Of Meat. Although the power ballad excellence continued with songs like Still Loving You and Holiday, the strength of the heavy material started to become better and better. Animal Magnetism, Lovedrive, and Blackout are essential albums for any fan of hard rock. Many of you are screaming obscenities, I can hear you. "What about the 'Love At First Sting' record?" Well, I gotta tell ya' . . . Big City Nights and Bad Boys Running Wild sound like extremely average Scorpions songs to me. Don't get me wrong, I like that record, but I would hardly consider it one of their best, although it was probably their biggest seller. Besides Rock You Like A Hurricane and Still Loving You, I thought that Coming Home and Crossfire were the best songs on that record. And for those of you screaming about the omission of Wind Of Change, go look for the Michael Bolton Best Of The Best . . . pansy.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. God Save The Queen 2. Anarchy in the U.K. 3. No Feelings
4.
Submission 5. Pretty Vacant 6. Bodies 7. Liar 8. New York
9.
Holiday In The Sun 10. Problems
 

Bonus cuts:
What can I say, they only had one album, and it only had twelve songs….I guess I'll have to go with "E.M.I." and "Seventeen" as bonus cuts. Most of the live stuff that's out there is okay (picture me saying okay with a strained smile on my face that says I only kinda mean what I'm saying). I found a good import a few years ago called "Alive" that was two CDs for the price of one, and had the entire Never Mind The Bollocks album, plus a full disc of live stuff performed in various places including prison… "You can move you know. It's not illegal!" The live disc also features covers of songs by The Stooges and punk's true founding fathers, The Monkees.

Comments:
There are two incredible films out there on the Sex Pistols. The first is a true documentary by Julian Temple called "The Filth and the Fury". Temple's film features tons of vintage Pistols footage as well as more recent interviews. It's worth seeing for . . . I shit you not . . . the scene were Johnny Rotten cries alone. The second film is the Alex Cox bio-pic, "Sid and Nancy" which focuses mostly on the Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, but tell most of the band's story in the process. The out of print Criterion edition of the film has tons of incredible extras if you can get your hands on it.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. The Boxer 2. Mrs. Robinson 3. Sounds of Silence 4. I Am A Rock
5.
Homeward Bound 6. Bridge Over Troubled Water 7. Fakin' It
8.
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) 9. America 10. At The Zoo
 

Bonus cuts:
Scarborough Fair / Leaves That Are Green / Richard Cory / A Hazy Shade of Winter / The Only Living Boy in New York / My Little Town / The Dangling Conversation / So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

Comments:
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were the most successful folk rock duo of the 1960s. Childhood friends from Forest Hills, NY, they actually started making records in 1957 under the name of Tom and Jerry, and even had a minor Top 50 hit called "Hey Schoolgirl." But when they failed to follow it up with anything of merit, they decided to split up. They reteamed in 1964, this time as Simon and Garfunkel, and after being signed to Columbia Records, they recorded the all-acoustic "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." It was a commercial failure, so the duo split up once again, with Simon moving to England where he played the folk circuit and also recorded an obscure solo album. Meanwhile, Columbia producer Tom Wilson, who had helped Bob Dylan electrify his sound, thought the duo's track "Sounds of Silence" had hit potential, so he took the basic acoustic track and augmented it with electric guitars, bass and drums. The result was a #1 smash hit single which enticed Simon and Garfunkel to once again reunite and focus on a serious recording career. They went on to record 4 gold albums including their final LP "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which stayed atop the American charts for 10 weeks in 1970. Shortly thereafter the duo split up once again with both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel focusing their efforts on solo careers. But they did reunite in 1975 to record the Top 10 single "My Little Town", and also once again in 1981 to perform in front of half a million fans in New York's Central Park.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Youth Gone Wild 2. Can't Stand The Heartache 3. In A Darkened Room
4.
I Remember You 5. Big Guns 6. Sweet Little Sister 7. Riot Act
8.
Wasted Time 9. Quicksand Jesus 10. Slave to the Grind
 

Bonus cuts:
All of the other songs from their self-titled debut album and the follow up album Slave to the Grind; including 18 & Life, Monkey Business, Mudkicker, Piece of Me, and Get The Fuck Out.

Comments:
In the summer of 1990, I was eleven years old. My three favorite bands in the world in order, were Guns N Roses, Motley Crue and Skid Row. Today, only GNR remains even in my top ten and the idea of considering Skid Row the third best band in the world is admittedly slightly embarrassing. But, in all honesty, whenever someone puts on one of their first two records, I'm transported right back to that summer when I as a chunky little kid with a mullet and thought they were about as cool as it got.

After those first two records, their catalogue falls apart rather quickly. Their third album which was actually an EP was a collection of relatively decent covers. I have a theory that releasing an album of all covers is almost always the death knell for a band. Rage Against The Machine, Guns N Roses, Skid Row, The Ramones, all broke up shortly after doing so. Skid Row's next record, released over four years after their previous disc, was a total failure. The band tried to adapt their sound to something more grunge-like and fell flat on their faces. Finally, last year, Skid Row released a new album, without front man Sebastian Bach. You don't even want to know.

Rather than dwell on the fizzling tail end of their career, I'd like to recall one of the more out of control moments of their glory days. It was 1989, and Skid Row were on their first major tour. During their set, (I seem to remember that they were playing "Piece of Me" at the time) someone in the crowd threw a bottle at Sebastian. Baz, as he was known, responded by stopping the show, cursing out the audience, hurling the bottle back into the crowd, (which resulted in shattering an innocent seventeen year old girl's skull) and then diving into the masses to beat the crap out of another innocent fan.

The whole thing was caught on video, showed endlessly on MTV, and ended with Bach serving 3 years probation.
Ahh rock n roll….

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Beyond The Wheel 2. Slaves & Bulldozers 3. Outshined
4.
Rusty Cage 5. Fopp 6. Spoonman 7. Mailman 8. Jesus Christ Pose
9. Fell On Black Days 10. Burden In My Hand
 

Bonus cuts:
Black Hole Sun / Loud Love / Blow Up The Outside World / The Day I Tried To Live / Hands All Over / Big Dumb Sex / Swallow My Pride / Room A Thousand Years Wide / Searching With My Good Eye Closed / Kingdom Of Come / Let Me Drown / Somewhere / Pretty Noose

Comments:
Soundgarden was a band that pushed the limits of what was commercially palatable, and in the process made their music commercially powerful. With one of the most talented and charismatic frontmen to ever exist, the band went from garage to grandeur without sacrificing their sound and attitude. Chris Cornell is an immediate attraction when you first hear this band. I remember first hearing Soundgarden by way of MTV (Yes, young ones, they used to play music. That is what the "M" really stands for, not moron). It was the video for "Hands All Over" from their "Louder Than Love" album. I thought the song was pretty good. I thought the band was pretty good. I thought the singer was the second coming of Christ. Forget about the visual with the guy, this was a singer that was actually singing. Singing with a power and range that no other "grunge" act (and there were lots of them at that time) could even come close to. I came to find that someone I was working with at the time was heavily into the band, and I expressed my thoughts to her about Cornell's voice. She told me to listen to a song called "Beyond The Wheel," and supplied me with a tape of the song the following day. That next day is when the new revolution finally broke down my door. For the rest of the world it was Nirvana and "Smells Like Teen Spirit," for me it was Soundgarden and "Beyond The Wheel." This is a song that has power, passion, a unique sensibility, and some sledgehammer minor chords. It's still to this day, one of the most amazing songs of the genre.

The band found a niche in commercial radio with tracks like "Black Hole Sun," "Spoonman," and "Fell On Black Days," and became a vital outlet for the grunge loving youth of the time. Mixed in with the more radio friendly hits were songs like "Slaves & Bulldozers" and "Mailman," which prominently displayed the band's hunger to be original and self serving. These are the songs that explained the band the best. Odd time signatures with dark and brooding instrumental arrangements, and of course Cornell's exquisite pipes acting as the bright shining headlight on this runaway locomotive. Looking at the list you will notice a song called "Fopp" at number five. This is Soundgarden's take on the Ohio Players tune, and a guilty pleasure that I just can't shake. To hear this band play that vicious funk, and hear Cornell stretching his voice to places unimaginable is just plain sinful. And like most of these Best Of The Best lists I do, picking only ten songs is torture. Most notably on the Bonus Cuts list are gems like: "The Day I Tried To Live," "Black Hole Sun," "Blow Up The Outside World," and "Hands All Over." All of these are wonderful songs that deserved to be mentioned.

One more thing . . . for those of you that are Soundgarden fans but have not explored a project called Temple Of The Dog, it is something you need to do. We've all heard "Hunger Strike" from that release, but there is so much more to love – believe me.

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






TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - The Righteous Brothers 2. Be My Baby - The Ronettes 3. Let It Be - The Beatles 4. River Deep Mountain High - Ike & Tina Turner 5. My Sweet Lord - George Harrison 6. Da Doo Ron Ron - The Crystals 7. Instant Karma - John Lennon 8. Walkin' In The Rain - The Ronettes 9. Then He Kissed Me - The Crystals 10. Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry - Darlene Love
 

Comments:
It's a joke to try and list Phil's best 10 records – there are 30 more that belong on the list, but it's mathematically impossible to squeeze them in. Get the incredible box set Back To Mono (1958-1969). Although Spector's "Wall Of Sound" was the magic ingredient on his string of huge hit singles including John Lennon's Imagine, he did turn in some classic albums as well. First off was A Christmas Gift For You featuring his entire roster of artists at that time. It may be rock's first concept album and it came out years before Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds. It has become a holiday classic and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band used Spector's album arrangement on their version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I often felt that during Springsteen and The E Streeters glory days back in the late 70's, their concerts were the closest thing to hearing a Phil Spector record live.

Another great album that Spector produced is The Beatles' Let It Be. The project was abandoned by The Fabs and sometime later John and George gave the tapes to Phil to see if he could salvage any of it. The result, even though Paul hated it, is stunning. (See the archives section for a humorous view of this project called The True Story of Let It Be Naked). And when The Beatles split, both John and George chose Phil for their initial projects. He produced Harrison's 3 record masterpiece, All Things Must Pass. Spector's lush arrangements propelled the set to the top of the charts. He also produced the live Concert For Bangladesh with Harrison, Dylan, Clapton, Starr, and others.

Then there was the controversial teaming with punk rock pioneers The Ramones for their End Of The Century LP. Strings on a Ramones cut? Some punk fans never got over it. Others found it fun and adventurous. Truth is that it's a one of a kind LP. Neither Phil nor The Ramones needed to do it, but they did because they are true artists. Who knew what the collaboration would bring? It was a ballsy move by all concerned. Interestingly enough, Baby I Love You became the group’s biggest hit in Britain. The fact is everybody wanted to work with Phil Spector, but Phil understood who The Ramones were and wanted to work with them.
Phil working with The Ramones was just as, or even more significant as working with The Beatles. Too bad he never got around to the Stones.

One more note of interest from the man who gave us the classic rock and roll Christmas album, he also gave us Happy Xmas (War Is Over) which was co-produced with John and Yoko. What would Christmas be like without this skinny Jewish kid from the Bronx? Listen to any of the records mentioned here to experience what mere words cannot express about this brilliant artist. I once asked Brian Wilson who he thought was the greatest rock and roller. He answered, "Phil Spector . . . I think."

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Jungleland 2. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) 3. Thunder Road
4.
Lonesome Day 5. Kitty's Back 6. New York City Serenade
7.
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out 8. Racing in the Street
9.
Mary's Place 10. Born to Run
 

Bonus cuts:
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town / Spirit In The Night / Darkness On The Edge Of Town / Radio Nowhere / Badlands / Into The Fire / For You / Candy's Room / Waiting For A Sunny Day / Glory Days / Prove It All Night / Girls In Their Summer Clothes / and The Entire Live 1975 -85 Boxed Set. (That set includes the classic E Street lineup: Bruce Springsteen - lead vocals, lead guitar, harmonica, Steven Van Zandt - rhythm guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, Garry Tallent - bass, backing vocals, Clarence Clemons - saxophone, backing vocals, percussion, Danny Federici - organ, glockenspiel, Roy Bittan - piano, synthesizer, backing vocals, and Max Weinberg - drums, backing vocals).

Comments:
Mid-seventies, I was N.Y. local promotion man for MCA Records, and I took the lovely Carol Miller out to lunch. She was either working at the short-lived WQIV or WPLJ, hard to remember.
What I do recall was that all she could talk about was this Jersey group, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I mean, the lady got it real early on and she was spreading the gospel. I thought I had seen an album in my sales manager's office and when I went back I picked it up and brought it home. It was 'The Wind, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle." Carol was right! In the age of disco and pretentious corporate rock here was the ultimate undisputed world's heavyweight champion bar band kicking ass and leaving their prisoners begging for more.

Next the "Born to Run" album was released and I heard the band destroying New York City via WNEW-FM who were broadcasting a gig from The Bottom Line. I got the album and after several listens wondered, is there a better rock and roll record than "Jungleland?" All these years later I have the same answer I had back then. No, it is the best. A short while later I saw them at the Palladium on 14th Street, a funky venue that was perfect for their throw back to Stax-Volt meets Phil Spector with an energetic front man who wrote lyrics like Dylan rock and roll extravaganza. Chuck, Richard, Roy, Jerry Lee, Elvis, James, and the Stones all led to this group who were keeping rock and roll alive while taking it to new levels. They made you feel good.

It was great while it lasted, but then came the picture of the Boss' back on an album cover (still don't get that), the slick videos where starlets were taken out of the audience to dance on stage, and the firing of the band. The glory days for me had past. Nothing against Bruce really, it was just that I was a fan of him and the whole E Street Band, the second greatest rock and roll band of all time.

In the spring of 2008 I found myself sitting with Gary U.S. Bonds. He played me some sensational music from an album he wrote and recorded ten years ago. He had actually lost the tapes, but now they were found. I hope he or somebody puts this stuff out because it is just great. During the course of our conversation we spoke of "Dedication," and "On the Line," the two albums he put out with the assistance of the Boss and Steven Van Zandt back in the 80's. The following day I dug them out and listened again. They are remarkable recordings - actually two E Street Band albums that feature Gary as the lead singer.

Those two albums brought me back to those first five Bruce & The E Street Band records…what a body of work! They are just as much a joy to hear now as they were then. Of course, there's "The Rising," and "Magic" also, but that early stuff…..man!

This Best Of does not cover Bruce Springsteen's entire career. He is an artist and has turned in many interesting and enlightening projects sans The E Street boys, but this is about when he was, and when he chooses to be, the leader of the greatest American rock combo of all time. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are the best of the rest.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Rikki Don't Lose That Number 2. Reelin' In The Years 3. Do It Again
4.
Black Cow 5. Bodhisattva 6. The Boston Rag 7. Pretzel Logic 8. Peg
9.
Babylon Sisters 10. Deacon Blues
 

Bonus cuts:
My Old School / Your Gold Teeth / Aja / Josie / Everyone's Gone To The Movies / Haitian Divorce / Kid Charlemagne / I Got The News


Comments:
Steely Dan was the brainchild of keyboardist Donald Fagan and bassist Walter Becker. The two met in college and started performing in bands together, including the Bad Rock Group, a unit that featured future comic star Chevy Chase on drums. Eventually they began composing songs together and became members of the Jay and the Americans backup band. Things began to fall into place when they were asked to become staff writers for ABC Records in Los Angeles, and it was there that they decided to form a band to record the material that they had been collaborating on for the past several years. In 1972, Steely Dan began work on their first album, "Can't Buy A Thrill," which turned out to be a huge success, yielding 2 top 10 hits, "Do It Again" and "Reelin' In The Years." The band went on to record 2 more gold albums, "Countdown To Ecstasy" and "Pretzel Logic", after which Fagan and Becker decided they no longer wanted to deal with the pressures of touring. Steely Dan was now a studio-based band with the pair hiring musicians to record the sessions. Despite the fact that they were no longer a touring band, Steely Dan continued with their string of hit albums, culminating with their biggest hit, the jazz-influenced "Aja" in 1977. After the release of "Gaucho," their excellent follow-up to "Aja", the two decided to go their separate ways and in 1981 Donald Fagan released his highly-acclaimed debut album "The Nightfly." Since then, Fagan and Becker have reunited and continue to record successful releases as Steely Dan.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Tonight's The Night 2. Reason To Believe
3.
Every Picture Tells A Story 4. You Wear It Well 5. Maggie May
6.
Young Turks 7. The First Cut Is The Deepest 8. You're In My Heart
9.
Forever Young 10. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy
 

Bonus cuts:
Handbags and Gladrags / Gasoline Alley / Mandolin Wind / Twistin' The Night Away / This Old Heart Of Mine / The Killing of Georgie parts 1 & 2 / I Was Only Joking / Hot Legs / Downtown Train / People Get Ready (with Jeff Beck)


Comments:
Rod Stewart paid his dues so to speak, and superstardom did not come his way overnight. He spent a number of years performing with local British bands before becoming a member of the Jeff Beck Group in 1966. After leaving The Yardbirds, Beck had put together a powerful unit featuring Ron Wood on bass and legendary British keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. Stewart, with his gravelly, soulful voice was perfect as lead singer and the band went on to record several successful heavy blues/rock LPs. When the band split in 1969, Stewart and Wood teamed up with The Small Faces, just as lead singer/guitarist Steve Marriott was departing. The band shortened their name to The Faces and became an international sensation, recording a number of hit albums and scoring with the smash single, Stay With Me. While still a member of The Faces, Stewart began to release a string of very successful solo albums, and even though the band split in 1975, Stewart continued on with his very lucrative career. He has become one of the most successful British rock vocalists of all time and has recently taken his career in a new direction by recording several albums of classic songs from the 1940s.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Search and Destroy 2. 1969 3. No Fun 4. Raw Power
5.
Down on the Street 6. Loose 7. 1970 8. We Will Fall
9.
Dirt 10. I Wanna Be Your Dog
 

Bonus cuts:
While the double CD Double Danger may sound like it was recorded in a closet, and with the worst sound equipment ever made at that, it's still a great document of what the late period Stooges live shows were like. The set features two complete shows (a lot of the same songs on each) and is great if you love the Stooges – and probably awful if you don't.


Comments:
The Stooges re-united in the summer of 2003 for a tour, featuring Mike Watt of Minutemen fame on bass, and then later that year, recorded together for the first time in over twenty years. The small batch of songs that they did appear on Iggy's latest solo record Skull Ring, which also features Stooges disciples Sum 41 and Green Day backing Iggy up. A full on Stooges album is scheduled for next year.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Sowing the Seeds of Love 2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
3.
Shout 4. Closest Thing To Heaven 5. Advice To The Young At Heart
6.
Head Over Heals 7. Woman In Chains
8.
Call Me Mellow/Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
9.
Break It Down Again 10. Change
 

Bonus cuts:
Mothers Talk / Pale Shelter / I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording) / Pharaohs / Mad World / Famous Last Words / Johnny Panic & The Bible Of Dreams.


Comments:
In the early 80's a group called Graduate released an album called "Acting My Age." When they broke up, two of the original members, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, formed a band called History of Headaches. They were a new wave synthesizer-driven band inspired by Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and others. Soon they changed their name to Tears For Fears. Many of the tunes listed above came from albums such as "Songs From The Big Chair," and "Seeds Of Love." When the band split in the late 80's Orzabal kept the band name going with CD's "Elemental," and "Raoul and The Kings of Spain." Then in 2000 the team reunited and in 2004 released "Everyone Loves A Happy Ending," a collection that sounds like the natural follow up to the Seeds CD.

Tears For Fears weren't the biggest band of the eighties, but they produced and recorded the epic song of the decade, the deliberately Beatlesque "Sowing The Seeds of Love." This often overlooked and underplayed on the radio gem is on the same shelf as "I Am The Walrus" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." In a word, it is magnificent, and if you've only heard it casually on the radio back then, it demands a more focused listening. "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" is one of the all-time great classic tracks. The video of the tune is equally spectacular.

Footnote: "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" was the theme song for HBO's "Dennis Miller Show."

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 2. My Girl
3.
Ain't Too Proud To Beg 4. Papa Was A Rolling Stone
5.
I Wish It Would Rain 6. (I Know) I'm Losing You
7.
I Can't Get Next To You 8. You're My Everything
9.
The Way You Do The Things You Do 10. All I Need
 

Bonus cuts:
Ball of Confusion / Since I Lost My Baby / Psychedelic Shack / Don't Look Back / Get Ready / Cloud Nine / I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with The Supremes)


Comments:
Before the Temptations: The Moonglows, The Dells, The Harptones, The Drifters – During their classic era: Smokey & the Miracles, The Manhattans, The Four Tops – After the era: The Spinners, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Boyz II Men – all spectacular, sensational R&B vocal groups, but . . . but . . . but . . . when you speak of the absolute BEST OF THE BEST, you are speaking of the tall, tan, and tempting TEMPTATIONS!

The classic line up – Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, David Ruffin, and Eddie Kendricks – set the standard and, although several of the groups mentioned above have come close, no one has ever equaled their awesome magnificence. They were incredible vocalists, sensational showmen and the ultimate Motown act. Nobody had the "steps" like The Temps, the moves, the grooves, the style. They were it and everyone else never came close. They were beyond soulful and nobody dressed like The Temps. They were clean and mean and bad before bad was good.

Smokey Robinson played a big role in The Temptations story. He wrote My Girl, Since I Lost My Baby and The Way You Do The Things You Do. Then Norman Whitfield got involved as both writer and producer with tunes like Ain't Too Proud To Beg and Cloud Nine.

There have been many changes in The Temptations lineup over the years, but one man who came in after the original lineup deserves special recognition. He is Dennis Edwards. He was a member of The Contours and came in to replace David Ruffin with an even rougher and more powerful voice. Check him out singing, "It was the third of September, a day I'll always remember . . . " on Papa Was A Rolling Stone.

Whatever the lineup, The Temptations tradition is the apogee of smooth. If you hear only one cut, check out Eddie Kendricks' incredible lead vocal backed by the group's amazing harmonies on Just My Imagination. That recording alone earns the mighty Temptations the title of "Best of the Best."

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Rock & Roll Lullaby 2. I Just Can't Help Believing 3. Hooked On A Feeling
4.
(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
5. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry 6. Most Of All 7. Don't Worry Baby
8.
Everybody's Out Of Town 9. No Love At All
10.
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
 

Comments:
B.J. Thomas is an American original. Nobody else on the planet sings like him and he sings great!

Its 1966, The Young Rascals got "Good Lovin'" goin', The Stones were screamin' "Paint It Black," Donovan was tripping on "Sunshine Superman" and Brian Wilson's masterpiece "Good Vibrations" was all over the radio. In the middle of it all, a gentleman who was raised in Rosenberg, Texas had a hit with his group The Triumphs written by Hank Williams called "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." He was too young to know you can't cover a Hank Williams classic, let alone have a debut hit that goes all the way to number 8 on the Billboard charts, but he did it anyway. As a result, the world first heard of B.J. Thomas. Since then he has sold more than 70 million records and won 5 Grammy awards.

Every now and then a perfect record is released, for example Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Dion and the Belmont's "I Wonder Why," or Pink Floyd's LP, "Dark Side Of The Moon." They all consist of incredible production and performance. B.J. Thomas' "Rock and Roll Lullaby" is one of those perfect records. It may just be my favorite record of all time.

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote it. When it was released in 1972 many believed that the Beach Boys were backing up B.J. on the tune. Although it sounded like Brian and his crew it was in fact The Blossoms and Dave Somerville of The Diamonds. The amazing guitar work came from the great Duane Eddie. This disc, which rivals "Good Vibrations" and 10 CC's "I'm Not In Love" achieved the number 1 spot on the adult contemporary chart. I don't even know if the adult contemporary chart exists today. It sounds like some bogus industry hype, but as Duke Ellington once said, there's only two kinds of music. It's either bad or good. This record is gooder than good. It's great. It came from a hard to find masterpiece of an album titled "Billy Joe Thomas" produced by Steve Tyrell and Al Gorgoni. Find this album! It is a classic with titles like "Roads," "Sweet Cherry Wine," "That's What Friends Are For" and "Happier Than The Morning Sun" written and co-performed by Stevie Wonder.

B.J. Thomas is a one of a kind brilliant American singer. In a word he is smooth, in another word – classic.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Dear Mr. Fantasy 2. Empty Pages 3. Heaven Is In Your Mind
4.
Paper Sun 5. Smiling Phases 6. Feelin' Alright
7.
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys 8. Coloured Rain
9.
Freedom Rider 10. Shanghai Noodle Factory
 

Bonus cuts:
No Face, No Name, No Number / Glad / Hole In My Shoe / Dealer / Medicated Goo / John Barleycorn / Rock and Roll Stew


Comments:
Steve Winwood was only 18 years old when he left the Spencer Davis Group and formed the multi-faceted jazz-rock quartet Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason and Chris Wood. They were signed by record executive Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, and released their debut single, "Paper Sun" in July 1967. The single climbed to the U.K. Top Five and also made its mark on the American charts as well. By the end of the year the band released their debut album, "Mr. Fantasy," which made its way to the upper reaches of the British Top Ten. The following March, Traffic debuted as a live attraction in America where "Mr. Fantasy" (initially titled "Heaven Is in Your Mind") reached the U.S. Top 100.

In late-67, Mason decided to leave Traffic but rejoined in the spring of '68, contributing heavily to the band's second album simply entitled "Traffic." He wrote a good portion of the material, including "Feelin' Alright," which went on to become a rock standard. "Traffic" was released in October 1968, reaching the U.K. Top Ten and the U.S. Top 20. As the band embarked on a U.S. tour to promote the album, Mason left again, and at the conclusion of the tour, Winwood announced that Traffic would be splitting up. In 1969, Capaldi and Wood rejoined Mason in the band Wooden Frog, and Winwood teamed with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech in Blind Faith. This short-lived supergroup made one album, "Blind Faith," which topped the charts in the U.S. and U.K., and played one American tour before disbanding.

The following year Winwood, Capaldi and Wood regrouped and the band recorded what is considered to be Traffic's greatest musical work, "John Barleycorn Must Die." It immediately went gold, soaring into the U.S. Top Ten, and the U.K. Top 20 during the summer of 1970. The band, which saw a lot of personnel changes at this point, went on to record classic albums like "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," "Shootout at the Fantasy Factory," and "When The Eagle Flies," before Winwood decided once again to call it quits. The band split after its final American tour in 1974 as Winwood and Capaldi set their sights on solo careers.

After a very successful run with multi-platinum albums like "Steve Winwood," "Arc of a Diver," "Back in the High Life," and "Roll With It," Winwood announced a Traffic reunion with Capaldi in 1994 (Wood had since died of liver failure). A new album entitled "Far From Home" and a follow-up tour were both commercial disappointments, leading to yet another split-up, but the band's fate was pretty much sealed for good when Jim Capaldi passed away on January 28, 2005. Traffic may be gone, but the music created by this extraordinary band will live on forever through CD reissues of all their albums plus some excellent compilations including "Smiling Phases" and "Feelin' Alright: The Very Best of Traffic."

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Fight The Good Fight 2. Bringing It On Home 3. Hold On 4. Magic Power
5.
24 Hours A Day 6. Lay It On The Line 7. A World Of Fantasy
8.
Time Goes By 9. Takes Time 10. Somebody's Out There
 

Bonus cuts:
Never Surrender / Stranger In A Strange Land / Little Texas Shaker / New York City Streets - Part 2 / Killing Time / Spellbound / Street Fighter Man / Say Goodbye / Be My Lover


Comments:
Ahh Triumph, the other Canadian band. They released their self-titled debut in 1976, two years after fellow Canadian power trio Rush debuted with their self-titled disc, and the band has always been viewed as two steps behind ever since. The fact that they are both from Canada, and they are both 3-piece bands, and they both have an ear piercing high tenor for a vocalist made people express themselves with words like "ripoff" and "copycat". Okay, I guess they are a bit similar, but I love the stuff.

As an American rock fan, I was introduced to Triumph with a record we (as Americans) called "Rock 'N' Roll Machine". Little did I know that this was actually a compilation of the bands first two records. You see, in Canada, they got two records called "Triumph" and "Rock 'N' Roll Machine" - and their "Rock 'N' Roll Machine" was not my "Rock 'N' Roll Machine"! The Attic Records release in Canada had songs called "Little Texas Shaker" and "New York City Streets". Ain't that a kick in the ass?! The Americans don't get the songs that include the names of two of the country's states in them!! I'd still like someone to explain that one to me. But, I digress. I'm here to tell you about the ten great Triumph songs that I picked, so let's get to it.

One of Triumph's best selling albums, if not the best, was their "Allied Forces" release. This was a record that had two radio hits in "Fight The Good Fight" and "Magic Power". Although the songs didn't chart extremely well, they still remain songs that can be heard in classic rock radio rotations on a daily basis. Most would site this disc as the band's best work, and although my favorite Triumph song is on the record, I would disagree. I think the band's strongest work appears on their first two records (in Canada, of course), or perhaps even their 1984 album, "Thunder Seven". I have drawn the rocker, "24 Hours A Day", from the self-titled debut; "Bringing It On Home" and "Takes Time" from the real "Rock 'N' Roll Machine" record; and "Time Goes By" from the fabulous "Thunder Seven" album. Like I did with "Allied Forces" and "Rock 'N' Roll Machine", I have chosen two tracks from another classic Triumph LP entitled, "Just A Game". Another radio hit called "Lay It On The Line" is here, along with yet another called, "Hold On". Their impressive "Never Surrender" record is represented here with, again, a radio favorite called "A World Of Fantasy"; and even the less than impressive "The Sport Of Kings" album lends its' hit song, "Somebody's Out There", to the list.

As you can see from my list, I like Triumph's radio hits; and that's a really strange thing for me, too. If you look at some of the other Best Of The Best features that I've done, you'll see that I will tend to gravitate toward "the tunes that radio forgot". But, this is a band that became hit or miss after the first two records. They had some really great tracks that they released as singles, and then they had . . . the others. I think the only Triumph record where I can say that every song is superb, is the "Thunder Seven" record. But rest assured, Triumph is a band loaded with musical talent, and every Triumph album has a handful of extraordinary songs, and the ones listed above are truly the best of the best.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Natural Thing 2. Mother Mary 3. Out In The Street
4.
Only You Can Rock Me 5. Love To Love 6. Rock Bottom
7.
Doctor Doctor 8. Lights Out 9. Darker Days 10. Too Hot To Handle
 

Bonus cuts:
Electric Phase / Built For Comfort / The Writer / Love Lost Love / Mystery Train / Highway Lady / Cherry / Shoot Shoot / Too Young To Know / On With The Action / Timothy / Oh My / Venus / Let It Roll


Comments:
Any fan of straight forward hard rock is a fan of this band. This is one of those bands that had no gimmicks, no real image that catapulted them to stardom. They had nothing but the ability to write great rock songs . . . and guitarist Michael Schenker. Yes, Schenker is a guitar god. Listen to any of the songs above, and the solos that rip through them. This guy was amazing. Take the element of a guitar maestro like Schenker, and put a polished, resonant voice like Phil Mogg's next to it, and it turned into pure magic. The addition of bombastic bassist Pete Way and drummer Andy Parker was just the proverbial "cherry on top." Many consider the 1973 album Phenomenon to be the band's first release, when in fact the band had three records prior to this. The self-titled UFO release in 1970, 1972's UFO 2 - Flying, and a Japanese-only live release entitled Lands In Tokyo. It wasn't until Michael Schenker left the Scorpions and joined the ranks that the band truly started flying, though.

Every song on the list above features Michael Schenker on lead guitar. Did I do this consciously, because I'm a huge fan of Schenker's playing? No. Make no mistake, I worship daily at the altar of Michael Schenker; but I am a devout UFO fan, pre and post Schenker. I considered great songs like Timothy and Prince Kajuku, but the fact is simply that the Schenker material is just better. The guitar work from Mick Bolton on the early records is extraordinary, no doubt – but the production and the overall cohesive sound of the band improved greatly starting with Schenker and the Phenomenon record. I lifted Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor from the latter release, and it took all I had to keep their killer Willie Dixon cover of Built For Comfort from making the cut also. The band went on to release my personal favorite LP, Force It, and gave us a whole album chock full of ambitious rock and roll. Two of the top three cuts, Mother Mary and Out In The Street, are taken from that record, which is arguably the definitive UFO song collection. I say arguably because most would consider the Lights Out album to be the pinnacle for this band, and it is very difficult to disagree with that line of thought.

I have selected three tracks from the Lights Out record here. The radio staple Too Hot To Handle; the best power ballad ever written, Love To Love; and the title track, which is truly electrifying on their classic live album, Strangers In The Night. Oddly enough, it wasn't until their No Heavy Petting record though, that I found my favorite UFO song. Natural Thing is a song that just attacks you like a rabid dog as soon as it starts off. With the clean, razor sharp riff that leads to Mogg's brilliant vocal work, and a rhythm section that's firing on all cylinders, this is the ultimate rock song. It's no surprise that, even in recent years, the band kicks off their live show with this tune. When Schenker left the band after the Obsession record, which yielded the radio hit Only You Can Rock Me, UFO continued to put out some good material. The Wild, The Willing, And The Innocent was a very good record, as was the Mechanix LP and Making Contact; but nothing quite equaled the magic of the Schenker stuff. It wasn't until 1995's reunion LP, Walk On Water, that the band recaptured that song magic once again. Songs like Venus and Darker Days returned the band back to the realm of rock royalty once again.

If you want to teach someone what great rock and roll is, you give them Force It or Lights Out and let them lose themselves in the glory of it all. I have a 7-year old son that gets on the bus every day and goes off to elementary school. When he gets off the bus he goes to school all over again . . . Dr. Music's Rock School – and it's only elementary that UFO is one of those at the head of the class.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Mean Street 2. Eruption/You Really Got Me
3.
...And The Cradle Will Rock 4. Hot For Teacher
5.
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love // 1. Best Of Both Worlds
2.
Summer Nights 3. Poundcake 4. Right Now 5. Dreams
 

Bonus cuts I:
6. Everybody Wants Some! 7. Unchained 8. Panama 9. Runnin' With The Devil 10. Beautiful Girls . . . and then Jump / Dance The Night Away / I'm The One / So This Is Love? / Ice Cream Man / Where Have All The Good Times Gone / I'll Wait

Bonus cuts II:
6. Runaround 7. Amsterdam 8. Feels So Good 9. Top Of The World 10. Finish What Ya Started . . . and then Man On A Mission / Cabo Wabo / When It's Love / Love Walks In / Why Can't This Be Love

Comments:
Doing this Best of the Best was like making The Stones and The Beatles one band, and then picking only ten songs between the two of them. Like the contrast between The Stones and The Beatles, there are two versions of Van Halen. Whichever version of the band you tend to gravitate towards (and everyone has a favorite), I think we can all agree that the two are very different.

With David Lee Roth fronting the band, they had attitude and sex appeal. The early songs were fun-in-the-sun, driving fast, scoping-out-chicks tunes. Calling Roth "Diamond Dave" is like calling the sky blue. Nobody fits their nickname quite like Dave, a big-mouthed flamboyant, cocky, smart ass – gosh, I love that guy. He was the perfect frontman for the "cock rock" type of songs that the band was writing early on. When the band fired Dave and hired Sammy Hagar, you could say the band grew up. The songs were drawing inspiration from love and despair more than just a nice "pair." Sammy brought a stronger voice, and perhaps a more productive chemistry to the band. The songs were emotionally deeper and a bit more elaborate. Sammy had the band near the top of the charts time and time again. The more adult content seemed to appeal to a wider audience. In other words, your mom likes the Sammy version better.

So . . . what to do?

I still decided to obey the rules and pick a total of ten songs (I just couldn't ask the guys at Are You On Something if I could cheat and make two separate lists), but wrote them out in a very unorthodox manner. I chose five songs from each version of the band – the Sam . . . and the Dave. You will notice that I continue the respective lists in the headings entitled BONUS CUTS I (Dave) and BONUS CUTS II (Sammy). I hear a lot of you asking, "Well, which Van Halen do you like better?" To that question, I always reply with an answer like this: I love Sammy. I loved his work in Montrose. I love a lot of his solo work. I think he has twice the pipes that Dave has. And, without being harsh, I think Dave is a smug jerk. So, of course, I prefer the Dave version of Van Halen! Call me crazy, but I just think that Van Halen is a party band. They're more Stones than Beatles. More Motley Crue than Journey. If I was to hear Sammy say "I like the little way the line runs up the back of the stockings", I would probably just laugh at him. Lines like these are for the savvy and smug Diamond Dave, not Sammy. To hear Sammy say, "You reach down between my legs, ease the seat back", I would be thinking that someone was about to get his Cabo Wabo Margarita for him. Although I do like the less adolescent attitude that Sammy brought to the band, I do ultimately prefer
the raw raunch that Dave gave us.

As far as the songs themselves, I think the first Van Halen record is one of the greatest albums of all time, and unfortunately, the band could never come close to repeating it. 1984 is a fantastic record, but I still feel that it falls short of the debut. I always find myself going back to that Mean Street riff from the Fair Warning album though. With drummer Alex Van Halen adding a wicked rhythm to Eddie Van Halen's guitar magic, I think it's a song that demonstrates exactly how tight this band was. Eruption is, of course, one of the revolutionary guitar pieces of the twentieth century, and having the band follow up with one of the best covers ever done (You Really Got Me) makes this a true masterpiece. Most of the other Roth songs I've listed here have his sexual savvy attached to them. Everybody Wants Some!, Panama, and Beautiful Girls all have attitude and a raw, savage urgency – something that comes with the David Lee Roth package.

Although three of the five Sammy songs that I chose are from the 5150 release, I think all of the Sammy albums are about the same in quality – with the possible exception of Balance, which doesn't quite measure up to the rest. Consistency was at its best within the band when Hagar was in the lineup. Songs like Feels So Good, When It's Love, and Top Of The World are all songs that have a similar tone and feel to them. The formula never varied too much with Sammy. They kept to the radio single formula, and never took too many chances. A good thing? I'm not so sure.

And no, I didn't forget about the Gary Cherone version of Van Halen, but like you, I'm trying.

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





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. You Keep Me Hangin' On 2. Shotgun 3. Take Me For A Little While
4.
People Get Ready 5. Ticket To Ride 6. Look Of Love
7.
Season of the Witch 8. Bang Bang 9. Some Velvet Morning
10.
She's Not There
 

Bonus cuts:
With the exception of You Keep Me Hangin' On, The Vanilla Fudge were never a hit singles act. If you want to know what all the fuss was about, you can't go wrong with their first or third LPs, Vanilla Fudge and Renaissance, respectively. For an overall sampler of their career, check out Psychedelic Sundae, a "best of" collection featuring songs from all their albums. Their second LP, The Beat Goes On, has been called a masterpiece by some and the worst album ever made by others. You'll want to check it out and decide for yourself, but that's for later. First go with the CD's mentioned above.


Comments:
The Vanilla Fudge were one of those "you really had to be there" kind of deals. Back in the late 60's all kinds of weird stuff was going down. A guy named Arthur Brown used to come on stage with his head on fire, groups were no longer called The Four Tops or The Searchers . . . now we had Country Joe and The Fish and The Strawberry Alarm Clock. Lots of fans had mother nature or other mind expanding substances flowing through their minds. FM radio was playing entire album sides, blues, and sitar music. Into this scene came The Vanilla Fudge: Mark Stein, Tim Bogert, Vince Martell and Carmine Appice. Together they created some of the most innovative eclectic and psychedelic albums in history. They were and still are to this day the all-time Heavyweight Champion Cover Band of the World. They covered everyone including The Beatles, Sonny Bono and Cole Porter.

The Fudge were originally called The Pigeons, and along with The Vagrants, The Hassles, and The Illusion, their sound focused around the mighty Hammond B3 organ and were all part of what was called the "Long Island Sound." What made The Fudge unique was their slowed-down and stretched-out versions of hit songs. Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple: "They played eight minute songs with dynamics. People said, What the hells going on here? How come its not three minutes?" This pre-dates the jam band scene by decades. No question the band was great, but truth is they couldn't have done it without their producer George "Shadow" Martin. Before the Fudge, he had produced The Shangri-Las, and one of my all-time favorite tunes, Society's Child by Janis Ian. After the Fudge, he produced Too Much Too Soon for The New York Dolls. I had the pleasure of chatting with him one night in a bar. I credited his production as the key that separated The Fudge from all the rest of the Long Island bands and told him the idea of slowing down the tunes was genius. He laughed and then told me how the Fudge came up with their unique style. He was out at The Action House, a popular club at the time on Long Island. It was late afternoon and Mark Stein was alone rehearsing at the Hammond B3. He had a portable record player and on it, The Supremes hit single, You Keep Me Hangin' On was playing at the wrong speed. Shadow asked him why he was playing a 45 at 33 rpm? Stein explained that's how he learned a song. Then once he had it down he'd teach it to the other guys. The hits at a slower speed! That was the hook. Shadow had found what would become the Vanilla Fudge sound. It worked and was a lot safer than setting their heads on fire.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Pride and Joy 2. Tightrope 3. Leave My Little Girl Alone
4.
Couldn't Stand The Weather 5. Look At Little Sister 6. Crossfire
7.
Wall of Denial 8. Love Struck Baby 9. Ain't Gone n' Give Up On Love
10.
The House Is Rockin'
 

Bonus cuts:
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) / Scuttlebuttin' / Life By The Drop / The Sky Is Crying / Let Me Love You Baby / Travis Walk / Riviera Paradise

Comments:
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a native of Dallas, Texas and along with his older brother Jimmie, took an interest in music at a very young age. Jimmie played guitar with a number of local bands and finally made the charts with his group The Fabulous Thunderbirds in the early 80s. Stevie followed the same path but was much more successful after forming his trio Double Trouble. Vaughan and Double Trouble were signed to Epic records and in the summer of 1983, their debut album, "Texas Flood" was released. With Vaughan's blistering blues licks and the powerhouse rhythm section of Double Trouble backing him up, the album was an artistic and commercial triumph. From 1983 to 1989, the band went on to record 5 excellent studio albums that stand today as a testament to Vaughan's brilliant and enduring guitar work. Unfortunately his career was cut short in the early morning of August 29, 1990 as Stevie Ray Vaughan lost his life in a helicopter accident. He was on tour with his band and had just finished an encore jam session in East Troy, WI with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, and his brother Jimmie, when he boarded the craft to take him back to Chicago. The weather conditions and visibility were poor as the copter crashed into the side of a mountain at 12:30 a.m. killing Vaughan and the other 4 passengers aboard. Thus ended the life and career of one of the most gifted, most versatile and most respected guitarists of all time.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Oh Sweet Nothing 2. Sweet Jane 3. Rock and Roll 4. Heroin
5.
Pale Blue Eyes 6. Sister Ray 7. White Light/White Heat
8.
I'm Waiting For The Man 9. Some Kind Of Love 10. The Gift
 

Bonus cuts:
Lou Reed's version of "Sweet Jane" on his solo live album Take No Prisoners which contains tons of great extra lines including my favorite, "Don't you hate it man at those academy awards when they say here's Barbara Streisand and she's like I wanna thank all the little people there's too many little people I can't thank them all. Fuck her and her little people. Fuck short people and tall people I like middle people." Also cool is the live version of "Sister Ray" from the Velvet's official bootleg box set The Quine Tapes, which clocks in at almost forty minutes.

Comments:
The Velvets last album, Loaded is one of my favorite records of all time. The band Phish obviously feel the same way. On Halloween 1997, Phish played Loaded from start to finish as their "costume". The 4-Disc live album Live Phish #16 contains the entire performance as well as two full sets of Phish tunes and is well worth checking out. For even more Loaded, check out the 2-Disc "Fully Loaded" edition of the album which contains the original album, a completely different version of the album, and a collection of outtakes and additional songs that didn't make the cut. The harmonica laced, Bob Dylan-esqe alternate version of "I Found A Reason" blows the album version away.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. El Scorcho 2. My Name Is Jonas 3. No One Else
4.
The World Has Turned and Left Me Here 5. Buddy Holly
6.
Undone (The Sweater Song) 7. Surf Wax America
8.
Say It Ain't So 9. In The Garage 10. Holiday
 

Bonus cuts:
There are those who say that Weezer's debut album, known as The Blue Album (not to be confused with their second self titled album which is known as the Green Album) is the only thing that they ever did that's worth owning. I almost agree. The problem is that my all time favorite Weezer tune is on their second album, Pinkerton. If you know your Weezer, you know that the above top ten list consists of one song from Pinkerton, El Scorcho and nine of the ten tracks from the Blue Album. Here's my bonus cut, Only In Dreams . . . .shhh it's the missing Blue Album song. Okay, so I'm being a little hard on Weezer. There are songs on all four of their albums that I like. The fact is though, that The Blue Album is one of my favorite albums of all time. I've listened to it regularly for the last ten years, and it's never gotten even a little stale. As a result, every time Weezer puts out a new record, none of which to date have even come close to their debut, I initially hate it. As time passes, I find those few tracks on each one that actually are really good. Some of those would be Hash Pipe, Simple Pages, Dope Nose, Pink Triangle and Possibilities.

Comments:
If you're like me, or even a more hardcore Blue Album purist, you should probably check out the 2-disc tenth anniversary deluxe edition of the album that came out earlier this year. The second disc features Blue Album era b-sides, alternate takes, and live cuts, and is a nice addition to modern classic.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Won't Get Fooled Again 2. I Can See For Miles 3. My Generation
4. Pinball Wizard 5. Baba O'Riley 6. The Kids Are Alright
7.
Behind Blue Eyes 8. You Better You Bet 9. Love Reign O'er Me
10.
We're Not Gonna Take It
 

Bonus cuts:
Can't Explain / Pictures of Lily / Magic Bus / Join Together / The Real Me / Squeeze Box / Who Are You / Happy Jack / I'm Free / Bargain / Substitute / 5:15 / Slip Kid / Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere / Long Live Rock

Comments:
One of the most explosive bands to emerge from the British Invasion, The Who conquered the world of rock and roll with their massive sound and imaginative writing. In 1963 guitarist Pete Townsend, bassist John Entwistle, vocalist Roger Daltrey, and drummer Keith Moon formed The Detours and soon became regular performers at the Marquee Club in London. Changing their name to The High Numbers then eventually The Who, they secured a recording contract and released a number of Top 10 singles in England. Their debut album, The Who Sings My Generation, was an instant hit in Britain, but it wasn't until the following year that they broke into the American market with their second album A Quick One (retitled Happy Jack for its U.S. release). In 1967 The Who gained more recognition with their legendary appearance at The Monterey Pop Festival, but it was the release of Townsend's groundbreaking rock opera Tommy in 1969 that garnered them worldwide fame. They went on to record a number of classic albums including the legendary Who's Next and their second rock opera, Quadrophenia, but on September 7, 1978, just months after the release of their eighth studio album, Who Are You, Keith Moon died of a drug overdose. He was replaced with former Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones, but without Moon, who was a major part of their sound and image, the band was never quite the same. After releasing two more studio albums, they finally split in 1984, but did reunite on various occasions throughout the next few years. In June 2002, just prior to the band kicking off another North American tour, John Entwistle passed away of a heart attack, and in his honor it was decided that they complete the tour with bassist Pino Palladino. The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Tracks compiled by Lowell "Big Boy" Jones / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. I Saw The Light 2. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry 3. You Win Again
4.
I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind 5. Move It On Over
6.
I Heard That Lonesome Whistle 7. Long Gone Lonesome Blues
8.
You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave) 9. Hey Good Lookin'
10.
Honky Tonkin'

 

Bonus cuts:
Hank Williams is arguably the only artist who can claim to have had as much influence on rock music as Robert Johnson. While it's impossible to say who is the more important of the pair, it's easiest to say that Hank Williams was by far the most productive. While the "Complete Robert Johnson" compilation is only 40 tracks and legitimately does contain everything that he did, the "Complete Hank Williams" is a ten disc, 222 song box set, and all of the customer reviews for it on Amazon are people complaining about one thing or another that's missing! A great way to check out Hank if you're just getting into him is the two disc set "The Ultimate Collection". The name's a little silly considering as I've mentioned that there's a set out there that's five times as ultimate, but the music is great. The Ultimate Collection" contains 42 tracks by Hank, and his alter ego Luke The Drifter, and includes all of the tracks I listed above.

Comments:
It's hard to miss Hank's influence on the likes of Paul McCartney and most of the Sun Records roster, including Elvis, but if you doubt my estimation of his sway, check out the tribute compilation "Timeless" and listen to folks like Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Tom Petty and Johnny Cash pay homage to him.

Tracks compiled by Mike D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Lonely Teardrops 2. I'll Be Satisfied 3. Baby Workout
4.
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher
5.
Whispers (Getting Louder) 6. That's Why (I Love You So)
7.
To Be Loved 8. Doggin' Around 9. Night 10. Reet Petite'

 

Bonus cuts:
Talk That Talk / A Woman, A Lover, A Friend / Am I The Man / I Get The Sweetest Feeling

Comments:
"Seen a show with Marvin Gaye last night,
It had me shook, sippin' peppermint schnapps
With Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke."

Those lines are from "Thugz Mansion" by Tupac Shakur and Nas years after Wilson's death. Sure Van Morrison paid tribute with "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)" on his "Saint Dominic's Preview" LP (Dexy's Midnight Runners covered it too), and The Commodores' big hit "Nightshift" was written in tribute to Jackie and Marvin Gaye, but even the rap stars like Tupac were aware of the tremendous contribution made by the man known as "Mr. Excitement," a title he earned with his dynamic stage performances.

In the early 50's he replaced Clyde McPhatter in Billy Ward & The Dominoes and sang on their hit "St. Therese of The Roses." In 1957 a tune called "Reet Petite," written by future Motown founder Berry Gordy, was Wilson's first solo record. He cracked the Top Ten with "Lonely Teardrops" in 1958 and followed it up with most of the tunes listed above in a recording career that went from the 50's to the 70's.

Unfortunately, Wilson was singing "Lonely Teardrops" when he suffered a massive stroke at a Dick Clark show in 1975. He was bed ridden and comatose until his death at age 49. Al Green was one of the few entertainers who frequently visited in the hospital, and Wilson's medical costs were paid for by Elvis Presley.

In 1986 "Reet Petite" became a posthumous number one hit in the U.K. due to an animated clay model of Wilson in a music video, and the following year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Phoenix 2. Way of The World 3. Living Proof 4. All Mighty Blues
5.
Blowin' Free 6. Number The Brave 7. Ballad of the Beacon
8.
Throw Down the Sword 9. Mountain Side 10. The King Will Come

 

Bonus cuts:
Genevieve / Real Guitars Have Wings / Handy / F.U.B.B. / Jailbait / Ancient Remedy / Blind Eye / Errors of my Way / Standing in the Rain / Wings of Desire / Hold On / Strange Affair

Comments:
Who knew that 35 years ago that this relatively unknown band, Wishbone Ash, would still be going strong today in 2005. Sure, they have seen many a personnel changes over the years, but the core component, lead guitarist, songwriter and singer Andy Powell, remains a constant guiding the band into the new millennium.

If you're not familiar with the sound of the band, one only needs to listen to their first album released in 1971. The harmony guitars and twin lead attack will draw you in. No, it's not the same as the Allman Brothers although they have been called at times the British Allman's by the music press. Hell, when the band first started out they had no knowledge of the Allmans and what was happening in the states. They found their niche and an audience thirsting for an alternative to the formulated music of the 70's. This band was the real deal and could hold their own musically with any of the top bands of the day. Their third album "Argus" is considered the crown jewel in the bands career and a must have for any serious collector. It started out as a collection of songs, but more or less became a concept album that spans time and space, hope and disappointment, and offers an insight into ourselves.

Under the leader ship of Andy Powell along with Bob Skeat, Ray Weston, and Muddy Manninen the band continue on the fine tradition set forth three decades ago by sticking to the foundation set forth by the founding members. This is a class act that need to be seen live. Keep a look out as they are constantly touring all over the world and continue to fly the Wishbone Ash flag for all to hear.

Tracks compiled by Leon Tsilis / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Heart Full of Soul 2. For Your Love 3. Shapes of Things
4.
Happenings Ten Years Time Ago 5. I'm A Man 6. The Train Kept A Rollin'
7.
Over, Under, Sideways, Down 8. You're A Better Man Than I
9.
I'm Not Talking 10. I Ain't Got You
 

Bonus cuts:
Still I'm Sad / I Wish You Would / Evil Hearted You / Good Morning Little Schoolgirl / A Certain Girl / I Ain't Done Wrong

Comments:
What do Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page have in common? At various times they were all members of the legendary British band The Yardbirds. Clapton joined in 1963 just as they were starting to make a name for themselves playing London's rapidly exploding R&B circuit. During his tenure as lead guitarist, The Yardbirds served as the studio backup band for Chicago blues great Sonny Boy Williamson and also recorded their debut album, "For Your Love." Dissatisfied with the commercial direction in which the band was headed, Clapton decided to leave and soon became a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Clapton's spot was initially offered to Jimmy Page, who turned it down figuring he could make more money as a session player, but he did however recommend Jeff Beck, who accepted the offer to become Clapton's replacement. Beck's stint with the band lasted only 18 months, but his guitar wizardry propelled the band to great artistic heights. His musical vistuosity is displayed in all its glory on many of the Yardbirds classic recordings, including their delicious slice of psychedelia, "Shapes of Things" which became a Top Ten smash worldwide.

In mid-1966, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith left the band and Jimmy Page, tired of doing session work, eagerly joined and eventually assumed the role of dual lead guitarist alongside Beck. This was a remarkable pairing of 2 brilliant musicians, but unfortunately only one single was recorded with the Beck/Page lineup – "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," – another flawless example of psychedelia at its best. By late-66, Beck was suffering from nervous exhaustion and decided to depart, leaving Page as the sole lead guitarist. The Yardbirds split in 1968 after an artistic rift tore them apart, but in the wake of their breakup, Page decided to assemble a new band called The New Yardbirds in order to fulfill existing concert commitments. A year later that same band was to become known as Led Zeppelin.

The Yardbirds played a very significant role in the development of British rock, pop and blues, accumulating along the way a vast catalog of classic material that record labels over the years have reissued with varying degrees of sound quality. One compilation that comes highly recommended is the Rhino 2-CD set entitled "The Yardbirds - Ultimate." It's a tasty collection of tunes featuring contributions from Clapton, Beck, Page, and all the other great musicians that played a part in making The Yardbirds a truly legendary band.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. Heart of Gold 2. Southern Man 3. Cinnamon Girl
4.
Down By The River 5. Old Man 6. The Needle and the Damage Done
7.
Rockin' In The Free World 8. When You Dance You Can Really Love
9.
Cowgirl In The Sand 10. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
 

Bonus cuts:
Harvest / Are You Ready For The Country? / Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere / Harvest Moon / Comes A Time / The Loner / The Days That Used To Be

Comments:
Neil Young has established himself as one of the most influential singer/songwriters of his generation. Born in Toronto, Canada, Young started playing music in high school and performed in numerous rock and folk bands during his teen years. In 1966, he ventured to Los Angeles where he and Stephen Stills formed the quintessential folk rock band, Buffalo Springfield. The group quickly became an integral part of the music scene in California, but despite their success, they were only together for 2 years due to the constant friction between its members. In 1969, Young was signed to Reprise Records and released his debut album simply titled "Neil Young." His second release, "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," recorded with his new band Crazy Horse, was his breakthrough album, and featured classics like "Cinnamon Girl," "Down by The River," and "Cowgirl In The Sand." In 1969, Young joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, performed in their '69 tour, and was part of their infamous Déjà Vu album, but after the 1971 release of their live set, "Four Way Street," Young decided to go solo once again. The following year he had his first number one album, the country-rock flavored "Harvest," from which his one and only number one single, "Heart of Gold" was taken. Since 1969, Neil Young has released well over 40 albums. Some were artistic masterpieces and some were sub-par, but there was always one thing that was constant throughout - he was never afraid to speak his mind and do what he firmly believed in, and that is a very admirable trait in any great artist.

Tracks compiled by Brian McAlley / Back to index





TOP 10 TRACKS:

1. She's Not There * 2. Time of the Season * 3. Tell Her No *
4.
Hold Your Head Up ** 5. Maybe After He's Gone *
6.
Say You Don't Mind *** 7. God Gave Rock And Roll To You **
8. Care of Cell 44 * 9. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914) *
10.
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted ***
 


* The Zombies / ** Argent / *** Colin Blunstone

Comments:

Thanks to the urging of Al Kooper, the Zombies album "Odessey & Oracle" was released after the original group broke up and went on to be called the "defining pop album of the sixties." In 1998 The New York Times wrote, " Over the course of the ensuing decades, (The Zombies) final album…'Odessey & Oracle' – a beautifully arranged, harmony-drenched, pristine pop paean to memory, changing seasons, the passage of time and lost love – slowly began to be recognized as one of the greatest albums of the 1960's." (By the way, Odyssey is spelled wrong on the cover).

Of late there is "Live At the Bloomsbury Theatre, London" and it is very different from the above. Here the band mixes blues, jazz, and rock with their amazing vocal harmonies. This is the current 2000's version of the band doing Zombies, Agent, and Colin's solos stuff as well. You're rock CD collection is not complete without this double disc, period. There is a shorter version of the concert available on DVD.

Underrated genius is the best way to describe the music of Blunstone and Argent. They are a lot more than their three brilliant Zombies singles from the 60's. Santana, Kiss, The Dave Matthews Band and many others have covered their songs. Tom Petty said, "If the Zombies appeared now they would rule the world." The good news is that they are back together and sensational live. As the Chicago Tribune wrote, "The aura still remains!"

Tracks compiled by Ray D'Ariano / Back to index


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