Category: songs

individual songs

Thorn in my PrideThorn in my Pride

by The Black Crowes

~ They probably still hated each other back then, but figured out how to live with it ~

Here’s a valid question: do the Black Crowes belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? On the balance of their first three albums, you would think so. There’s people in the Hall of Fame with far less distinguished careers: lower quality output, over a shorter time span, with much less influence. 

Expansive, epic songs like this aren’t ever going to make it on the radio but are certainly not filler tracks on their albums. These are songs meant to be played with the rest of the album as you just lay back and settle in with a beer for a great afternoon of rock and roll. It’s a little surprising this one even got a video shot for it, since those are usually reserved for hit singles. While this hit #1 on the US “rock” chart (whatever that is) it only made it to #80 on the more mainstream “pop” charts.

As noted on more than a few of these song entries the production is top-notch. The band layers their sound together incredibly well and every note is perfectly placed. Rich Robinson is still building songs with his lead guitar work and isn’t trying to overwhelm anything, and Steve Gorman knows how to perfectly carry the song with the level of drumming that he provides a different stages in the overall tune.

Headstart For HappinessHeadstart For Happiness

by The Style Council

~ The modfather strikes again ~

How many hit singles with the hum-along riff are played on a fiddle? Seriously? This track from one of their best albums really drives home any number of mid 80s UK society talking points, while doing it in an upbeat and pop-minded track that just sounds great on a sunny afternoon coming out of the car speakers. The backup singers in the vocal chorus include his future wife DC Lee, and lend a more soulful sound to what was otherwise a pretty pale UK pop song

Paul Weller absolutely belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not just for his chameleon-like career, but for the influence he’s had on so many other artists, especially outside the US. The fact that a ‘filler’ track on the debut album from what was essentially a side project is better than 90% of what was out there at the time should give you some insight into the overall quality of his output.

The actual video is crap. Mick Talbot is hardly ever not seen with a scarf. The dude probably wears one with a swimsuit on the French Riviera in August. The girls pretending to play the horns look like they’re in a hostage video and trying to signal a rescue effort with their eyelids. DC Lee looks like she just rolled out of bed at 2am and told to try to look like she cares. It’s hard to believe they managed completely tank such an upbeat and remarkable tune with a shitty audio mix in the video and the band looking like they’re animatronics from Madame Tussaud’s.

Fascination StreetFascination Street

by The Cure

~ Would you believe this was a hype song? ~

I was a metalhead while growing up, and even though I lived in Europe in the mid 80s when The Cure were building a massive following on the continent, I never had checked them out, in part because their goth fans were kind of weird.

That changed in the late ’80s once I got back to the US, and I finally heard this one. I actually used to use this as my warm-up song getting ready before soccer games back in high school. This would be the one I would have playing on the bus, trying to drown out the rest of the morons around me and just focus on getting ready for the game. It’s not necessarily a song you would expect to get someone pumped up for a sporting event, but it worked for me.

It’s a repeated D-minor riff with variations on how you pick the strings, and a nice driving bass line, and it’s hard to believe I’m even trying to describe a song I’m pretty sure every one of the readers here already knows by heart. It’s plenty of oddball Cure-perfect lyrics, with all the doom-&-gloom you’d expect from the video.

Times Of TroubleTimes Of Trouble

by Temple of the Dog

~ Re-used Riffs ~

This Is a good song. Let’s just lead with that. It’s overshadowed by many of its compadres on the Temple of the Dog album, but this one is very clearly tied to the death of Andy Wood as the lyrics are obviously in line with the rest of Cornell’s odes to his best friend. 

However, the song shot to much greater prominence once Pearl Jam released “Footsteps” as the b-side to “Jeremy” in ’92. In that 2-year gap between Ten and VS, the world was starved for Pearl Jam recordings, and even the b-sides of their singles took on lives of their own. This one was aided by its appearance in the infamous Rolling Stone cover story about Pearl Jam that included stories from Eddie’s childhood and how they manifested themselves in a trilogy of songs, starting with “Alive“, winding through this one, and ending with “Once”, the lead track from Ten.

I had a quote from this one written in sharpie on the inside of the flap of the bag I used for school most of my sophomore/junior years of college. People largely forgot about this song, even though it was very well-written, and sung with heartbreaking conviction by Chris Cornell. Given what’s happened in the interim since Andy Wood’s death, to Layne Staley, and Cornell himself, this song, like many from this album, are even more painful.

Metal Monday: Be LegendaryMetal Monday: Be Legendary

by Pop Evil

~ Really wish these guys had a different name ~

Seriously, it’s a crappy name for a band as good as they are with as much lyrical and musical versatility as they have. They’ve got cheesy ’80s big hair sing-along girls-&-guitars riff-fests, extended thought-provoking tunes that border on prog rock, and then ones like this with solid inspirational musings and some killer riffs that would sound great pumping the crowd up before a game through a stadium PA if anybody could get past the name of the band on the CD.

You could legitimately play this tune back-to-back with something from Skillet and it would all fit together just fine, but no one wants to announce “Pop Evil” on the PA. It’s a dumb name that doesn’t really sound foreboding enough for the black metal guys to glom onto it, and the mere presence of the word “evil” ensures that no self-respecting radio station is going to touch it.

Sidekicks Week: No Bed of RosesSidekicks Week: No Bed of Roses

by Lynch Mob

~ Give that guy a singer ~

What was it about late-80s LA bands that made the guitarists always want to blow out of the band and give their own show a go? George’s solo effort after taking a break from Dokken showed some real pop sensibilities for great hooks, and an ear for great singers. Dokken always had some excellent songwriting that was mired behind Don’s rather listless vocals. On the debut Lynch Mob disk, George gets a singer (Oni Logan) whose provides a little more snarl and a lot my power. The guitar playing is just as good as anything he did with Dokken, indicating he wasn’t really holding the ‘good stuff’ for his solo work, but the production is definitely better than it was on the first 2-3 Dokken discs. There were 2-3 top-20-worthy tracks on this album, and the band definitely deserved a chance to run it back for another album or two.

This week we’re showcasing bands that were founded by guys who made their names as someone else’s sidekick.

Sidekicks Week: Atomic PlayboysSidekicks Week: Atomic Playboys

by Steve Stevens

~ Just to prove he could do it ~

Steve Stevens made his name as Billy Idol’s guitarist, and the punk ethos that Billy brought to his solo work always seemed to leash Steve Stevens from what he could really play when he wanted. The thing is, Stevens never really seemed to mind, and genuinely liked playing with Billy Idol. Still, though, he launched a one-album side project and recruited a whole lot of LA buddies to put together one of the better late-era LA hard rock albums before giving it about half of a tour and then going back to his ‘day job’ with Billy Idol.

Truthfully, this song, the video, the band, and the overall performance doesn’t really stick out from most of what else was being released at the time by the B-list of late-era LA-style hard rock (Law & Order, Savatage, Tyketto, etc) except that it had Stevens’ name attached to it and that gave it a bit of a novelty factor that the other bands didn’t have. Stevens definitely stretches himself more here than he ever did with Billy Idol, but does he really separate from the rest of the crowd?

This week we’re showcasing bands that were founded by guys who made their names as someone else’s sidekick.