Search This Blog

Friday, January 25, 2008

TODD RUNDGREN : Slut (1972)

Todd Rundgren is an anomoly in rock n roll. Equally known for is mastery of writing a sweet pop song as well as his production abilities, that still doesn't even scratch the surface of his talents. He is one of those few artists that could be considered a musical 'chameleon', his sound (and interests) were always changing from album to album (and even within the same album!). He has covered almost every subgenre of popular music in the last 40 years.

And now he's touring North America! Coming to a town near you. The touring band includes his old Utopia bandmate Kasim Sulton on bass and vocals, Jesse Gress on guitar, and Michael Urbano on drums. This track is in his current setlist, and is from the classic third album (probably the one to start with). A straight-forward rocker (with catchy chorus, but oh-so-wrong!), it was recorded in one take, and one of the few to have a full backing band (3/4 of the album is completely recorded by Rundgren himself).
Song: "Slut"
From the LP "Something/Anything?" (Bearsville) Feb. 1972
Lineup :
Todd Rundgren : vocals, guitar
Rick Vito : guitar
Tony Sales : bass
Hunt Sales : drums
Charlie Schoning : piano
Jim Horn : tenor sax

Get it here : Slut

Monday, January 21, 2008

THE EASYBEATS : Friday On My Mind (1966)

In the beginning, there were The Beatles, then there was...everyone else! The Easybeats were one of Australia's top bands in the 1960s, bringing the British Invasion down under! This track was their biggest hit, mainly because it broke big in the UK and Europe. As such, these guys will always show up on almost every '60s Beat compilation. But truly, they had SO many more good songs than this one, so they're worth digging into.

Here's a blurb:

"Friday on My Mind" is a 1966 song by Australian rock group The Easybeats. Written by band members George Young and Harry Vanda, the British Invasion-style number became a worldwide hit, making #1 in Australia, #6 in the UK, #16 in the USA, and charting in several other countries. In 2001, it was voted "Best Australian Song" of all time by the Australasian Performing Right Association.

The minor-key verses of "Friday on My Mind" depict the tedium and drudgery of the work week, taking each day at a time ("Monday morning feels so bad/Coming Tuesday I feel better"). These verses are adorned with a Middle Eastern-sounding guitar figure. The build-up to the chorus features a slowly rising vocal, culminating with a shout of "Cos I'll have Friday on my mind!", and launching into a major-key refrain celebrating the pleasures of the weekend in the city.

Though the song has long been termed a "working class anthem", George Young maintained it had "more to do with their outlook on the world than any class statement". According to Harry Vanda, the track's distinctive guitar opening was inspired by a film performance featuring The Swingle Singers: "It went tudutudutudu, which made us all laugh. In the train back from the gig, we were imitating them and suddenly it sounded good. They became the first notes of Friday On My Mind." (Wikipedia)

Song: "Friday On My Mind"
Single A-side (Parlophone) Nov. 17, 1966

Stevie Wright : vocals
George Young : guitar
Harry Vanda : guitar
Dick Diamonde : bass
Gordon "Snowy" Henry Fleet : drums

Of course, after the band split in 1970, guitarists George Young and Harry Vanda went on to be successful producers in Australia, including the first SEVEN albums by AC/DC! (NOTE: George Young is the big brother of Angus & Malcolm Young from AC/DC). These guys will get their own post later...

Get it here :
Friday On My Mind

As a bonus, here is David Bowie's version of the song from his 1973 album "Pinups":

Get it here : David Bowie - Friday On My Mind

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Here is a classic track from VU, still surprisingly accessible after all this time (which is ironic, since the band didn't seem to have many accessible songs!). Below are a couple of blurbs...

From Wikipedia:
"Sweet Jane" is a song by the Velvet Underground, originally appearing on their 1970 album "Loaded". The song was written by Velvets leader Lou Reed, who continued to incorporate the song into his own live performances years later as a solo artist. The song is a fan favorite and frequently appears on classic rock radio stations.

When Loaded was originally released in 1970, Warner Brothers edited out the song's bridge, possibly to shorten the song for radio airplay. This greatly upset Reed, though since fans weren't familiar with the bridge, he would perform it as edited for years thereafter.

From allmusic:
How many times can one come across a Velvet Underground song and describe it as one of the all-time classic rock & roll songs? As many times as Lou Reed wrote one that deserves such an appellation, of course, and even his detractors will admit that "Sweet Jane" deserves every grandiose epithet that has ever been heaped upon its head. Like "Waiting for the Man" and "White Light/White Heat," its partners in the upper echelons of glory, "Sweet Jane" is little more than a memorable riff, buoyed by a lyric that is almost outspoken in its openness — all the ingredients of a classic rock monster. And Reed knew that from the outset — the group's fourth (and final) album, from whence "Sweet Jane" comes, was titled Loaded because it was. Loaded with hits, that is. Heard on the Live 1969 album, recorded the night the song debuted in the Velvet Underground's live set, "Sweet Jane" is already a jewel. Yet the version that emerged on the original Loaded album release was only part of the picture. Post-production, pre-release, and completely unbeknownst to Reed, an entire section was sliced out of the song, a dramatic surgery that may have tightened the song for radio play, but utterly eviscerated the song. CD repackages have restored the absent section but the damage was already done — of the multitude of covers that "Sweet Jane" has provoked over the years, few ( Lou Reed included!) render the song in its full glory; fewer still ( Reed presumably not included) were even aware that such a beast even existed. And that, perhaps, is the greatest testament of all. Even hacked in half, "Sweet Jane" was still more of a song than most folks could even dream of writing.

Song: "Sweet Jane"
From the LP "LOADED" (Cotillion) Sep. 1970


Lou Reed : vocals, guitar

Doug Yule : keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals

Sterling Morrison : guitar

Also released as a single, 1973:

Get it here :
Sweet Jane (album version)

And in 1995, the box set "Peel Slowly And See" was released, which included the original, unedited version of the song. Alas, after 25 years, most people preferred the 1970 release. But click below to check it out.

Get it here : Sweet Jane (full length version)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

ALICE IN CHAINS : Heaven Beside You (1995)

Let's start off 2008 rocking! I guess you could say this song is on the 'lighter' side, in terms of Alice In Chains' material, but there's plenty of implied heaviness with the dark melody and atonic sounds. Two things that make this band stand out from their contemporaries: 1. They can make a melody over any riff, and 2. They have great vocal harmonies, especially for a heavier rock band.

Here are some blurbs:

"Heaven Beside You" is a song by Alice in Chains,from their self-titled album. Written and mostly sung by Jerry Cantrell, a change of which due to Layne Staley being the lead vocalist. Heaven Beside You is a mid-tempo song that contrasts the general overall "heaviness" of the eponymous album.
The song later appeared on their "Greatest Hits" album in 2001 and "The Essential Alice in Chains album in 2006. An acoustic version also appeared on their "Unplugged" album in 1996.

Appearing on the band's final, self-titled album, "Heaven Beside You" continued in the vein of "Jar of Flies" with its lead acoustic riff and generally low-key presentation, at least at the start of the song. Though Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell once again can create a strangely beautiful harmonizing, it's not one of the band's more immediate numbers, partially heightened by Staley himself never completely letting go in his familiar fashion. The sense is subtle, heightened by the way that the song fires up on the chorus while never really exploding. Cantrell's electric work is some of his best, moving beyond the admittedly powerful blasts of feedback he was known for to find a new, textured approach that balanced volume with a richer, less oppressive feel. The unplugged flow of the song predominates, though, even though it certainly doesn't promise lighter moments all around, given the full chorus: "Heaven beside you, hell within." (allmusic)

Song: "Heaven Beside You"

From the LP "ALICE IN CHAINS" (Columbia) Nov. 7, 1995

Layne Staley : vocals
Jerry Cantrell : guitar, vocals
Mike Inez : bass
Sean Kinney : drums

Also released as a single, 1996:
Get it here : Heaven Beside You