Category: songs

individual songs

Sidekicks Week: Wagon WheelSidekicks Week: Wagon Wheel

by Pat Buzzard

~ Someone you didn’t know, much less that he was a sidekick ~

Pat Buzzard was Marti Dodson’s guitar player in the band Saving Jane, and the only dent he made as a solo artist was … when Marti joined him on this cut …. covering a beloved tune that grew to much higher fame when… someone else covered it (paging Darius Rucker!)

So yeah, Pat Buzzard isn’t just a sidekick. He’s a sidekick covering a song you know best from a completely different cover version, with his original lead singer joining him, from a band you probably never heard of in the first place. I mean, if we’re going to go deep, let’s way deep, huh?

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

Sidekicks Week: You’re A Friend of MineSidekicks Week: You’re A Friend of Mine

by Clarence Clemons

~ Trading one legend for another ~

Clemons actually released a few different solo albums, just to get some things out of his system that didn’t quite belong with the E Street Band. Some of his better work actually came while Bruce and the E’s were on the outs in the mid- and late-80s. But Clemons only had one solo ‘hit’ and that was when he swapped out Bruce for Jackson Browne, and was still kicking around with a legendary lead man. So yeah, Clemons’ name is the first one on the title, and it’s his album it’s on, but he didn’t write it, the only hit he had as a solo artist was with another superstar, and yes, Daryl Hannah actually sang the backup lines in the real song, and not just the video.

Clemons was even a sidekick in the biggest hit of his not-just-a-sidekick solo career.

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

Sidekicks Week: Rumblin’ TrainSidekicks Week: Rumblin’ Train

by Badlands

~ Raw blues goes heavy ~

Badlands were the side project launched by former Ozzy guitarist Jake E Lee, who promptly got replaced in Ozzy’s band by Zakk Wylde (who himself launched a few different side projects but managed to never get replaced by Ozzy). Badlands also ended up with one-time Black Sabbath singer Ray Gillen out front, and even with both of those guys, the most successful sidekick in the band was future Kiss drummer Eric Singer (who I actually got to meet backstage at a Kiss concert on the “Revenge” tour when they came through Fayetteville in ’93). It says something about ‘Sidekick week” that the entire first paragraph for our first band just talks about where else these guys played, and not at all about the song, huh?

“High Wire” and “Dreams in the Dark” were the MTV hits, but this was the real standout, that tried to give listeners a solid, raw blues riff in the context of a hard rock song, and it works really well. You get Jake’s skills both carrying a tune on a great riff, and shredding some lead lines, in a type of blues he’d never get to play with Ozzy, and you get Ray unloading a powerhouse voice while the rhythm section holds down the fort. I may have very, very drunkenly performed this once or twice. Badly, I can assure you.

Badlands made it through 2 albums before music industry apathy torpedoed them. Unfortunately, their sidekick names weren’t enough to carry them through to greater success, but they did show that a bunch of talented guys didn’t have to live in someone else’s shadow to make great music.

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

By the WayBy the Way

by Red Hot Chili Peppers

~ The outlier of the outlier album ~

This whole album is full of things you wouldn’t expect from the Chili Peppers. Much more melodic vocals, and much more hummable melodies than you would ever expect from the punk-funk fusion that they were known for.

This album has John Frusciante all over it, as he was the primary songwriter for the majority of it. But even this is significantly different than you usually get from him. What’s interesting is that among an entire album of more mellow Chili Peppers songs that could almost get lost in a sea of mid-90s alt-rock, this one really sticks out as a louder, heavier, faster number.

The verses of the song aren’t even necessarily fully connected lines. The stray ‘nouns’ that pop up at the beginning of each verse don’t really seem to be connected at all, almost as if Anthony Kiedis was doing some sort of weird Rorschach test in the studio while recording it. The actual vocal lines are delivered in traditional Kiedis style with far more spoken word inflection than actual singing before a very singable chorus starts to show up.

Overall, this is the one song on the album that sounds the most like the Chili Peppers and it’s weird because it’s from the album that sounds least like the Chili Peppers.

Jackie BrownJackie Brown

by John Mellencamp

~ Really late nights ~

Somewhere along the way, I ended up with a mixtape of things I had recorded off of the radio, and this was one of them. While it was a classic rock station from back when I was in high school, this particular mix included a whole bunch of pretty mellow tunes that were good for very late nights over the summers when Headbanger’s Ball had already ended, and I was winding down to actually get to sleep. It’s far from Mellencamp’s best tune, but it fit very nicely with that playlist, and has always found a place on my mellower mixes ever since then. There’s not a lot of specific nostalgia associated with this song other than that odd independent feeling of those 2:00 a.m. unconstrained bedtimes

Rock N Roll BandRock N Roll Band

by Boston

~ The definitive song from this band ~

It’s not one of the well-known hits, or one of the power ballads. It’s a perfectly engineered track by the Masters of their craft, and not only tells the story of the band but sums up their sound as perfectly as any other song does for any other band.

If aliens landed on the planet and ask you who these Boston guys are, you could just play this song for them and it would answer all their questions.

Metal Monday: BoomerangMetal Monday: Boomerang

by Amaranthe

~ Melodic Hyperactivity ~

Somehow this band is really only a three-piece on the instrumentation, with three separate and distinct lead singers in front of them. as noted before, they’d be best off to drop the death growl guy as it’s not at all charming and lends nothing to the song. The rest of the band really knows how to rip the top off of some intricate arrangements underneath what is a fairly standard song structure.  It’s an unabashedly Scandinavian metal tune with some definite pop hook sensibilities underneath it.

And it doesn’t hurt that the video is a trailer for what’s probably a kick-ass heist movie waiting to be made…