Another list

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006 05:20 pm
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[personal profile] caddyman
Well, I am still at home having woken up this morning feeling manky. Right now I feel a bit of a fraud as apart from the occasional coughing fit I am OK, so I shall probably be back in work tomorrow. There's only so much daytime telly any sane person can take, and I don't want to screw over my recovery by venturing outside for anything more prolonged than dropping rubbish in the bin.

I had intended to make use of the time in starting a new NWO character, but the inspiration won't come right now, so I am leaving it a few hours in the hope that the creative juices will start flowing.

I thought instead, that I'd put together the vaguely promised list of my personal favourite 10 rock songs, which will of course be entirely subjective and be entirely changeable, especially the deeper down the ten you get. I like to think the range is quite wide, for rock is a broad church ranging from the heavy acid teeth grinding stuff at one end, to the melodic almost orchestral at the other, with some quite poppy stuff thrown in at the lighter end. If nothing else, compiling the list will keep [ profile] telemeister quiet; he's been bugging me to make the list since I mentioned it in passing.

If you are interested (in fact, even if you aren't)

Starless: King Crimson, from the album Red. To my mind this track has it all and has never dropped off number one in my list these past twenty years. Doom-laden pretension in the lyric, John Wetton's driving bass line and growing maturity as a vocalist, Bill Bruford's drums slicing through the long grass; a percussive daisy cutter on full octane. Bob Fripp doing things to a guitar he's never quite managed since. Where else could you get a one-note guitar solo that's not boring?

I am the Walrus: Spooky Tooth, from the album The Last Puff. The first of two Beatles' covers that beat the masters at their own game. No longer a trippy psychedelic pop-rock song, Spooky Tooth come up with something darker, heavier and more atmospheric, with vocals that would have made Joe Cocker proud.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps: Jeff Healy Band. I have no idea what album this is from, as my copy is on a guitar compilation. A rawer and heavier take than the Beatles' version that retains all the important elements of the original. If you want an example of how not to do a cover, contrast this with Toto's attempt. It is to weep.

The Great Gig in the Sky: Pink Floyd, from Dark Side of the Moon. It doesn't feel right treating a single track from this album in isolation and I thought long and hard about it. Clare Torry's screaming vocals over Dave Gilmour's restrained guitar are quite literally breath taking. Check out the live version from Pulse, too where Joe Brown's little girl Sam, delivers an incredible performance.

Freebird: Lynyrd Skynyrd from any number of compilation albums... Despite [ profile] boglin's accurate deconstruction of the lyric, still one of my favourite rock songs of all time. Not as over exposed in the UK as it probably is on US rock radio. Anyone who is old enough to remember the band's performance of this song in what, 1978 on The Old Grey Whistle Test, will know precisely why this has to be in the top ten.

Psycho Killer: Talking Heads from Talking Heads '77. I'm not sure this is strictly a rock song, but who cares? The eccentric lyric and vocal performance by David Byrne is worth inclusion all on its own. As far as I am aware, I was the first person at Wolves Poly to pick up on the Heads, and I picked up a copy of their double single release which included their take on Take Me to the River. I cleared the dance floor with Psycho Killer when I played it in the union Friday night disco. Years later the buggers were all hopping to the Heads, but for one brief, shiny moment, and for the only time in my life, I got there first.

Tales of Brave Ulysses: Cream, from Disraeli Gears. Unsingable lyrics set to music and somehow sung. Could anyone other than Jack Bruce have done that? And then Messrs Clapton and Baker, too. Magic all round.

Do The Strand: Roxy Music from their eponymous debut album. Fast, unpredictable, raw and raunchy, before Eno went mad and the band became a vehicle for Bryan Ferry schmaltz. Probably the only rock song to name check the rhododendron. Fantastic.

Mockingbird: Barclay James Harvest from the album Live Tapes. Definitely the live version rather than the over-orchestrated debut of the song on Once Again. With the orchestra taken away, the stripped down version of Mockingbird is an effective and melodic little number that became the band's signature piece. They were not the Poor Man's Moody Blues.

Band on the Run: Paul McCartney and Wings from the album of the same name. Where rock meets pop, and arguably two songs glued together in the middle eight. Nonetheless, this song, as well as the album it comes from is one of my all-time favourites and somehow it all cheers me up whenever I am pissed off.

Ziggy Stardust: David Bowie from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Slap bang in the middle of an outrageous artist's most outrageous period when it was hard to tell where Ziggy Ended and Bowie began. Just a good tune with a good melody and an interesting riff. Bowie was never quite as good again, though he's picking up now, thirty years later.

Helter Skelter: The Beatles, from their eponymous 1968 album, forever and unofficially the White Album. First of the unexpectedly heavy, fast and raw songs from the Beatles'later career, showing how they may have developed if the symbiotic Lennon/McCartney relationship hadn't broken down. Sadly this song will always be tainted by association with Charles Manson and Sharon Tate. But by crackey, it's a corker.

White Rabbit: The Jefferson Airplane from (I think) Surrealistic Pillow. I always forget that this is a very short song, but it manages to pack psychedelic imagery, social comment, an armful of LSD and an eerie feel into just short of three minutes of vinyl. There are longer live jams, but for once, the studio version is best. Who'd have thought, listening to this that Grace Slick could crash and burn so badly in the 80s?

Next time I do this, it will doubtless be entirely different. And it will only be 10 tracks, not 13. So I got carried away; sue me.


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