Posts Tagged ‘Van Halen’

I Love Music – The Cover Art

12 June 2010

The title says it all. Here are 16 songs about how good music can make you feel…

[front cover]

[front inside]

[back cover]


Here’s the playlist:

The O’Jays | I Love Music
Stevie Wonder | Sir Duke
The Spinners | Rubberband Man
The Rolling Stones | Dance (Pt. 1)
Wild Cherry | Play That Funky Music
Indeep | Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life
Metro Area | Dance Reaction
James Brown | It’s Too Funky In Here
Funkadelic | One Nation Under A Groove
Spearhead | Everyone Deserves Music
Black Mountain | Modern Music
Velvet Underground | Rock And Roll
The Blasters | American Music
INXS & Jimmy Barnes | Good Times
The Clash | This Is Radio Clash
Van Halen | Dance The Night Away

Weekend Playlist

26 April 2010

“All is spontaneity.” ~ Can lead singer Damo Suzuki

Junior Wells | Coming At You

Van Halen | Van Halen II

Guy Clark | Old No. 1

Ween | The Mollusk

The Meters | Cabbage Alley

The Incredible String Band | Wee Tam

Iron & Wine | The Shepherd’s Dog

Ray Charles | Ray Charles Live

Eric Clapton | 461 Ocean Boulevard

Little Feat | Waiting For Columbus

The Black Crowes | Before The Frost…

Ramones | It’s Alive

Metallica | Metallica

Miles Davis | Tutu

Lee Morgan | Lee Morgan

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Live At Clark University

Can | Ege Bamyasi

The Byrds | Untitled

Memphis Slim | The Blues Of Memphis Slim: Steady Rolling Blues

Lightnin’ Hopkins | Lightnin’ Strikes
[album cover not pictured]

Various Artists | I’m Not There Soundtrack

Weekend Playlist

11 January 2010

“What is a soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.” ~ Ray Charles

Hot Tuna | Burgers

Rolling Stones | Sticky Fingers

Dirty Three | Horse Stories

Blakroc | Blakroc

Dr. Feelgood | Down By The Jetty

Dr. John | Desitively Bonnaroo

The Four Tops | Anthology

Van Halen | Van Halen II

Louis XIV | The Best Little Secrets Are Kept

Various Artists | Ghana Soundz Volume 2

King Crimson | In The Court Of The Crimson King

Various Artists | Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era

The White Stripes | The White Stripes

Cream | Disraeli Gears

The Byrds | Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

Stevie Wonder | Forgivingness’ First Finale

Ray Charles | A Message From The People

Earl Hines & Roy Eldridge | At The Village Vanguard
[Album cover not pictured]

Miles Davis Quintet | Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

Nazareth | Hair Of The Dog

Thin Lizzy | Fighting

Brian Eno-David Byrne | My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

Captain Beyond | Captain Beyond

City Boy | Book Early

Various Artists | Westbound Funk

Weekend Playlist

30 November 2009

“If I’m going to Hell, I’m going there playing the piano.” ~ Jerry Lee Lewis

The Zutons | Who Killed The Zutons?

Jerry Lee Lewis | 18 Original Sun Greatest Hits

Jeff Buckley | Grace [Legacy Edition]

Thin Lizzy | Johnny The Fox

Various Artists | Gather In The Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974

The Blasters | The Complete Slash Recordings

The Specials | Guilty ‘Til Proved Innocent!

Listen: Running Away

The Rolling Stones | LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be

Various Artists | Sweet Relief: A Benefit For Victoria Williams

Listen: Crazy Mary [Pearl Jam]

Stevie Ray Vaughan | Blues At Sunrise

Listen: Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place In Town)

Brian Wilson | Smile

Listen: Surf’s Up

Various Artists | Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues

Iron & Wine and Calexico | In The Reins

Listen: Dead Man’s Will

Iggy Pop & The Stoogs | Live In LA 73

Listen: New Orleans

The Black Keys | Rubber Factory

Listen: Girl Is On My Mind

GZA | Liquid Swords

Listen: Shadowboxin’

Various Artists | Locations [Global Underground]

Listen: Mushrooms [Marshall Jefferson Vs Noosa Heads]

XTC | Upsy Daisy Assortment

Johnny Cash | Country Style 1958
[album cover not pictured]

Van Halen | Tokyo, Japan – 6/22/78
[album cover not pictured]

Weekend Playlist

26 October 2009

“We almost caved the roof in.” ~ George Clinton

Whiskeytown | Pneumonia
Whiskeytown | Pneumonia

Jerry Garcia Band | Cats Under The Stars
Jerry Garcia Band | Cats Under The Stars

The Rolling Stones | Tattoo You
The Rolling Stones | Tattoo You

M. Ward | Duet For Guitars #2
M. Ward | Duet For Guitars #2

Beastie Boys | Check Your Head
Beastie Boys | Check Your Head

The Black Keys | Thickfreakness
Black Keys | Thickfreakness

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Zeph & Azeem | Rise Up
Zeph & Azeem | Rise Up

Stevie Wonder | Songs In The Key Of Life
Stevie Wonder | Songs In The Key Of Life

Outkast | Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Outkast | Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Toots & The Maytals | Funky Kingston
Toots & The Maytals | Funky Kingston

Pink Floyd | The Wall
Pink Floyd | The Wall

Various Artists | Old School Vs. New School
Various Artists | Old School Vs. New School

Talking Heads | Remain In Light
Talking Heads | Remain In Light

Funkadelic | Cosmic Slop
Funkadelic | Cosmic Slop

Blue Mitchell | Blue's Moods
Blue Mitchell | Blue’s Moods

Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker
Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker | Mulligan/Baker

Marvin Gaye | Trouble Man
Marvin Gaye | Trouble Man Soundtrack

The Meters | Rejuvenation
The Meters | Rejuvenation

Van Halen | Fair Warning
Van Halen | Fair Warning

The 8-Track Diaries: Hard Rock

3 September 2008

Fire up the Camaro and let’s go for a spin! Today we’re going to take a look at some vintage hard rock/heavy metal 8-tracks…

Various Artists | Heavy Metal – Not the movie soundtrack of the same name, this Warner Bros collection features, among many other hard rock acts… Buffalo Springfield??

New York Dolls | New York Dolls – The New York Dolls’ debut was a signpost of punk music to follow, making this is a very collectible 8-track.

Iggy And The Stooges | Metallic K.O. – This compilation of two separate Stooges’ bootlegs captures a good portion of the original group’s final show. During that performance, Iggy taunted a room full of bikers until they beat him unconscious. Good times!

Black Sabbath | Master Of Reality – Sabbath sounds sludgy, 8-tracks sound sludgy – this is obviously a marriage made in heaven.

Thin Lizzy | Live And Dangerous – One of the most overlooked and underappreciated bands of the 70’s, Thin Lizzy featured the talents of frontman/bassist Phil Lynott, as well as a whole bunch of guitarists. This is generally considered to be one of the best live albums of all-time.

Led Zeppelin | Houses Of The Holy – Jimmy Page + Robert Plant + 8-track technology = Rock & Roll

Van Halen | Van Halen – David Lee Roth + Eddie Van Halen + 8-track technology = Party On Wheels

AC/DC | Highway To Hell – One of my favorite albums. Bon Scott’s last release with the group is also his finest hour as a vocalist.

Ozzy Osbourne | Blizzard Of Ozz – “Dogs smoke in France” – Ozzy

KISS | Dressed To Kill – When I was a kid, my best friend Bobby Evans had this album and I used to think it was one of the coolest album covers ever. Still do…

The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

17 August 2008

Some are born to sweet delight,
some are born to endless night.
” – William Blake


Some artists just get it right the first time. The debut album is meant to be a stepping stone to future greatness, but sometimes the pieces come together and magic is made on the first try. A great debut is no guarantee of future success (Moby Grape, NY Dolls, Dr. Feelgood), and conversely some legendary artists have coughed up sub-par debuts (Neil Young, Prince, Radiohead), but is there anything more exciting than hearing a lights-out debut album by an exciting new band?

One ground-rule: solo debuts by artists in well-known groups were not considered here. The two most wrenching exclusions under this provision were Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks (he’d been part of Irish R&B sensation Them) and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (Harrison was the guitarist for a band from Liverpool who’s name I’m presently forgetting). Alas, the lines had to be drawn somewhere.

Here then are 20 debuts that captured a musical moment in time, launched a great career, or simply rocked from front to back, over and over again…

The Doors | The Doors (1967)

Introduced the world to the dark charisma of Jim Morrison through hits like ‘Light My Fire’ ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ and ‘The End’. But the entire album is an assured and accomplished run through the sound that would make this group one of the biggest acts in rock.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Are You Experienced? (1967)

The electric guitar would never be the same after Jimi Hendrix dropped this love letter/anarchist manifesto on the world. ‘Purple Haze’ ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ and ‘Love Or Confusion’ are sonic assaults, while ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Manic Depression’ show a masterful depth of touch. The axis of Jimi’s work would forevermore trace a line between boldness and loveliness.

Moby Grape | Moby Grape (1967)

Columbia Records loved Moby Grape so much that they decided to take the unprecedented step of releasing five singles at the same time. This so confused the record-buying public that the album tanked, sending the band into an artistic spiral from which it wouldn’t recover.

Captain Beefheart | Safe As Milk (1967)

From the blues/rock of ‘Sure Nuff ‘N Yes, I Do’ and ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ to the straight doo-wop of ‘I’m Glad’ and ‘Call On Me’ to the savant ramblings of ‘Autumn’s Child’ and ‘Dropout Boogie’, Safe As Milk serves as a roadmap to the many places the good Cap’n would visit during his eccentric career.

The Band | Music From Big Pink (1968)

Music From Big Pink is a timeless masterpiece that changed the direction of rock music in the late 60’s. The Band eschewed psychedelic noodling in favor of solid roots rock, and inspired albums such as Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, Let It Bleed and the White Album.

Led Zeppelin | Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zep’s brand of bombastic blues rock may have sounded radical in the late 60’s, but it became the cornerstone for harder bands to come. The first of four self-titled albums is overshadowed by later releases, but ‘Dazed And Confused’ and ‘Communication Breakdown’ are among their heaviest songs, and ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ among their purest blues.

Nick Drake | Five Leaves Left (1969)

Nick Drake sang melancholy, confessional folk songs that came from the bottom of his heart. Five Leaves Left is light as a feather, but cuts like a scalpel, and while it sounds rather spare, it has much more musical accompaniment than either of the other two albums Drake would release during his short life.

Black Sabbath | Black Sabbath (1970)

If Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode “could play the guitar just like a ringing a bell” then Sabbath guitiarist Tony Iommi played the guitar just like he was ringing the bell of doom. Ozzy Osbourne sang like a demented loon, and Black Sabbath helped build the temple of heavy metal. This is the first brick…

John Prine | John Prine (1971)

Prine was among the unfortunate handful of talented singer/songwriters of the late-60’s to be hung with the title of the “New Dylan”. On his debut, Prine showed the songwriting chops to earn that comparison, but songs like ‘Illegal Smile’ ‘Hello In There’ and ‘Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore’ flashed a wit that Dylan would rarely display after Highway 61 Revisited.

Steely Dan | Can’t Buy A Thrill (1972)

In the grand tradition of Tropicalia music, Steely Dan disguised biting social commentary as mainstream pop fluff. ‘Do It Again’ raps about addiction, ‘Kings’ compares Nixon and JFK, ‘Midnite Cruiser’ is about growing old – and that’s just part of side one of Can’t Buy A Thrill. The Dan would create more sophisticated music, but none that sounded better.

Patti Smith | Horses (1975)

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” might just rank as the greatest opening line of any debut album in rock history. With that vivid declaration, poet/priestess Patti Smith expanded the scope of what constituted rock and who could be a rock star, and brought a genuinely artistic attitude to a genre (punk) that prided itself on artlessness.

Ramones | Ramones (1976)

By reducing rock and roll to its base elements – 2 minute songs, leather jackets, and absolutely no solos – the Ramones led the way for a fledgling musical movement called punk rock. In 14 songs and just less than 29 minutes, their debut album revolutionized and breathed new life into popular music.

Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

John Lydon understood that everyone loves a good villain, and he did his best to oblige. The Pistols were provocative, but they also made great music – Steve Jones’ layered guitar amounts to a Phil Spector-ish wall of punk, and still sounds fresh three decades later. A musical supernova, this group left behind just one perfectly anarchist album. Bollocks!

Van Halen | Van Halen (1978)

Van Halen was a four-headed rock and roll beast that came roaring out of the Los Angeles club scene during the mid-70’s. By the time they released their self-titled debut album, they were a well-seasoned live band, and Eddie Van Halen was a guitar god on arrival. Van Halen is loaded with great riffs, amazing tunes, and plenty of David Lee Roth’s groaning and gyrating. A classic party starter…

Joy Division | Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Ian Curtis was one glum dude. He dabbled in Nazi imagery, suffered from severe epilepsy and depression, and hung himself at age 23 in May of 1980, on the eve of Joy Division’s first tour of the United States. Unknown Pleasures is the sound of a bad dream, a horror movie, a primal scream – and just another day in the short, unhappy life of Ian Curtis.

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)

Jello Biafra really knows how to piss people off. Like Jonathan Swift, Biafra is a social satirist of the highest order, matching his uber-liberal lyrics with the Kennedys’ high octane punk to startling effect. ‘Kill The Poor’ ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ and ‘California Uber Alles’ constituted some of the best political commentary of the 80’s. The band would eventually end up fighting obscenity charges in a lengthy court case that bankrupted them.

Guns ‘N Roses | Appetite For Destruction (1987)

When punk rock cornered the market on nasty in the late-70’s, regular rock-n-roll lost its swagger for the next decade. It took Appetite For Destruction to reintroduce rock fans to razor blade guitar riffs, scandalous lyrical content, and a lead singer who just didnt’ give a f*ck. It felt damned good, and songs like ‘Mr Brownstone’ ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Rocket Queen’ still have the power to kick your ass.

Eric B & Rakim | Paid In Full (1987)

Paid In Full isn’t just one of the best debut albums of all-time, it’s also one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums ever produced, period. This masterpiece saw MC Rakim Allah displaying an effortless yet incredible verbal dexterity on the mic, while DJ Eric B spun pioneering beats that popularized the sampling of James Brown records. This album is so good that it’s a natural dividing line between Hip-Hop’s old and new schools.

Massive Attack | Blue Lines (1991)

Massive Attack’s debut seemingly came from a new place – half hip-hop and half electronica – that charted a fresh course for both genres. Tricky, Horace Andy, and Shara Nelson each took thrilling turns behind the mic for this shape-shifting musical entity. And while the album was a radical departure in its time, ‘Safe From Harm’ ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’ and ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ are slow-burning gems that still sound contemporary.

Jeff Buckley | Grace (1994)

Every track on Grace cuts to the quick about love lost (including the definitive reading of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’) and the entire album is nothing less than the sound of a human heart falling to pieces, one fragile, intricate piece at a time. Buckley drowned during a midnight swim the day before he was due to record his second album, so we’ll never know what kind of music he might have made. But Grace is such a unique and lovely masterpiece that it’s hard to see how he could have topped it.


And 40 more outstanding debuts…

Elvis Presley | Elvis Presley (1956)
Rolling Stones | England’s Newest Hit Makers (1964)
The Byrds | Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
Fred Neil | Bleecker & MacDougal (1965)
Neil Diamond | Just For You (1967)
Dr. John | Gris Gris (1968)
Funkadelic | Funkadelic (1970)
Lynyrd Skynyrd | Pronounced Leh*Nerd Skin*Nerd (1973)
Bob Marley & The Wailers | Catch A Fire (1973)
New York Dolls | New York Dolls (1973)
Tom Waits | Closing Time (1973)
Dr. Feelgood | Down By The Jetty (1975)
The Modern Lovers | The Modern Lovers (1976)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers | Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1976)
The Clash | The Clash (1977)
Talking Heads | Talking Heads: 77 (1977)
The Cars | The Cars (1978)
Dire Straits | Dire Straits (1978)
The Undertones | The Undertones (1979)
Black Flag | Damaged (1981)
Metallica | Kill ‘Em All (1983)
Stevie Ray Vaughan | Texas Flood (1983)
Beastie Boys | Licensed To Ill (1986)
Public Enemy | Yo! Bum Rush The Show (1987)
Nirvana | Bleach (1989)
Stone Roses | Stone Roses (1989)
The Black Crowes | Shake Your Money Maker (1990)
Pearl Jam | Ten (1991)
PJ Harvey | Dry (1992)
Wu Tang Clan | Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
Nas | Illmatic (1994)
DJ Shadow | Endtroducing… (1996)
Queens Of The Stone Age | Queens Of The Stone Age (1998)
The Strokes | Is This It (2001)
Kings Of Leon | Youth & Young Manhood (2003)
Arcade Fire | Funeral (2004)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)
LCD Soundsystem | LCD Soundsystem (2005)
Bon Iver | For Emma Forever Ago (2008)
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes (2008)


Further reading… – Instant Karma: 10 Great Debut Albums
Uncut – The 100 Greatest Debut Albums
Listology – Greatest Debut Albums

Masterpiece: Van Halen

15 August 2008

[Today: One of rock’s greatest debut albums…]

Van Halen’s debut opens appropriately enough with what sounds like a train bearing rapidly down the tracks. Eddie Van Halen comes in with some truly electric guitar licks, and David Lee Roth follows with a handful of “Yeah-eah-eah-ahs”, and there you have it: the classic components of a hard rock album in the first 20 seconds of VH’s first album.

‘Runnin’ With The Devil’ gets the party started, but track two, ‘Eruption’ is a statement of pure artistic intent. Eddie Van Halen shreds his way up and down this instrumental powderkeg, packing riff upon riff before leading into an epic reading of the Kinks’ classic ‘You Really Got Me’. If the first 20 seconds of Van Halen is eye-opening, the first three tracks are positively earth-shattering. Toss in ‘Jamie’s Cryin’ ‘Atomic Punk’ ‘Little Dreamer’ and ‘Ice Cream Man’ and you’ve got an album that’s better than many Greatest Hits.

It’s rare for any band to perfectly realize its sound on its debut album – especially a sound this audacious and forward-looking. Eddie Van Halen’s pseudo-classical guitar lines and intense speed made a neat template for aspiring metal bands, but his sheer skill on the instrument ensured that VH was always a step or two ahead of the pretenders. Diamond Dave is one of the most charismatic and loony frontmen to step in front of a mic, and the whole package was ready made for MTV’s brand of rock. Multiplatinum hysteria ensued…

In May of 1978, just three months after this album dropped, DLR told Sylvie Simmons that “The whole Van Halen concept is that we’re very straight ahead. No studio wizardry, no magic of multiple overdubbing or stuff like that. We just wanted to do a real solid, pure product without being too simplistic – that same old boring blues riff. Recording the album actually took two weeks. All of that stuff on the record is live. It’s all first take or second take stuff. I sang while the band played.”

Listen: Runnin’ With The Devil

Listen II: Eruption

Listen III: You Really Got Me

The 20 Greatest Bootlegs† Of All-Time

9 September 2007

†[’Bootleg’ is defined here as a previously unreleased work, such as a concert or a collection of demo recordings. A ‘pirated’ recording is an illegal copy of a copyrighted work. In other words, ‘bootleg’ good, ‘pirate’ bad.]


“Taste cannot be controlled by law.” – Thomas Jefferson


The term ‘bootlegging’ orignally referred to moonshine whiskey that was made and sold during prohibition, but the act of copying the artistic works of others goes back to Shakespearean times. In fact, if it weren’t for actors smuggling scripts, and audience members transcribing lines (the renaissance equivalent of wearing a mic into a concert) many of Shakespeare’s plays wouldn’t have survived to modern times.

In 1966 some enterprising souls marketed a set of alternate recordings by Bob Dylan under the title Great White Wonder. These records marked the first rock bootlegs (live opera, classical, jazz and folk had been recorded for years) and started a sensation that persists to this day.

Clinton Heylin’s excellent book Bootleg: The Secret History Of The Other Recording Industry is a must read for anyone with even a shred of interest in the topic. Bootleg weaves a spellbinding narrative around the renegades, music-lovers and money-grubbers who have perpetuated this black market industry.

Heylin’s book was written in 1994, so it ends before the advent of affordable recordable CDs, Napster, mp3s, and RIAA lawsuits against downloaders of music. These developments have made bootlegs much more readily accessible to the lay listener. Indeed, many savvy musicians now set up websites that allow their fans to download shows and demos – often at a price.

While some in the music industry claim that bootleg recordings eat into artist profits, in almost every case someone downloading a show will spend – or has spent – money buying the studio albums of the artist in question. Indeed, as bootlegs have become more readily available, it’s easier than ever to see that only the die-hard fans are interested in most of the marginalia floating around.

But for those with an insatiable desire for music, these below the board recordings are something of a Rosetta stone, used to try to unlock the hidden secrets of their favorite bands. Live music being what it is, you never know when a magic moment might occur. Thankfully, there’s usually somebody in the audience hiding a mic, and capturing this fleeting magic for the rest of us.


Lou Reed | American Poet

Lou Reed * 12/26/72 Ultrasonic Studios, Hempstead NY
(aka American Poet or Despite All The Amputations or Streets Of Berlin)

This is the show that every Lou Reed fan would love to see. It’s got minimal attitude, lots of great songs (including a generous smattering of hits) and FM quality sound.

Also check out: 6/22/03 The Warfield, San Francisco CA

Neil Young | Chrome Dreams

Neil Young * Chrome Dreams

This would-be 1976 release contains alternate takes of songs that would appear on American Stars and Bars, Comes A Time, Rust Never Sleeps, and Hawks & Doves.

Also check out: 5/16/74 Bottom Line, NYC & 11/15/76 Auditorium Theater, Chicago IL

The Rolling Stones | LiveR Than You'll Ever Be

The Rolling Stones * Live R Than You’ll Ever Be (11/9/69 Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA)

The first concert bootleg album – many still consider it to be the definitive live document of the Stones experience.

Also check out: The Alternate Exile On Main St. (aka Arcives Pathfinder) & The Trident Olympic Sessions, Volumes 1 & 2

Van Halen | Zero
Van Halen * Zero

The demos for Van Halen’s first album prove that the group was fully formed and ready to rip on their very moment of arrival. KISS’ Gene Simmons put the money up for these sessions, and he must have been very pleased with what he heard.

Also check out: 5/29/83 US Festival, Devore CA

Lynyrd Skynyrd | The Unreleased KBFH Show

Lynyrd Skynyrd * 11/4/75 Capitol Theater, Cardiff Wales (aka The Unreleased KBFH Show)

One of the best live groups of the 70’s swashbuckle their way through a great set. A ferociously focused band and sparkling sound quality make this the ultimate Skynyrd experience. Ronnie Van Zandt is pure badass, of course.

Also check out: 3/7/76 Winterland, San Francisco CA

Bob Dylan | Ten Of Swords [Box Set]

Bob Dylan * Ten Of Swords (Box Set)

Beautifully packaged box set of rarities was issued a few months before Dylan’s own Biograph box; many critics felt this was the better release.

Also check out: The Genuine Basement Tapes

Traffic | Fillmore East 11/18/70

Traffic * 11/18/70 Fillmore East, NYC

Bill Graham intones, “In association with her majesty the queen, we bring you Traffic” someone titters, and you’re off. The sound just jumps out of the speakers, making this a perfect timepiece from the Fillmore East.

Also check out: 1/23/70 Anderson Theater, NYC (aka Woodwind)

Grateful Dead | Barton Hall, Cornell University 5/8/77

Grateful Dead * 5/8/77 Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

The, er, users on Deadbase rate this the greatest Dead show of all-time, and they know of what they speak. Versions are in circulation with Donna Godchaux’ voice digitally removed, but with or without her, it’s a fantastic show.

Also check out: 9/15/78 Gizah Sound & Light Theater, Cairo Egypt & San Diego, CA 11/14/73

The Beatles | The White Album Demos

The Beatles * 5/68 George Harrison’s Home, Esher England (aka The White Album Demos)

Listen in as the Fab Four take a dry run through the songs that would comprise the White Album – plus a few that didn’t make the cut. Below average sound quality, but well worth the trouble.

Also check out: The Alternate Revolver & 8/29/66 Candlestick Park, San Francisco CA

Pink Floyd | Total Eclipse [Box Set]

Pink Floyd * Total Eclipse (Box Set)

A comprehensive collection of rarities from 1967 to 1990 spread over 4 discs and lovingly packaged like a real box set, complete with liner notes. The 8-Track version of ‘Pigs On The Wing’ should have been mastered from a better source, but otherwise, this deserves an A+ for breadth alone.

Also check out: Brain Damage & 9/30/71 Paris Cinema, London (aka Meddler)

Hendrix - photo

Jimi Hendrix * 2/24/69 Royal Albert Hall, London

While most Hendrix boots are of questionable sound quality, this Royal Alert Hall show is crystal clear, and (of course) a virtuoso heavy guitar performance by the master himself.

Also check out: Acoustic Jams

Ramones | On The Road To Ruin

Ramones * On The Road To Ruin

The hardest working band in punk was fairly new to the road when these nuggets were plucked from the soundboard. Take a band that gave their all every night, factor in youthful energy, and then take the best of the best of that, and you’ve got this stone classic.

Also check out: X * 7/23/82 Clutch Cargo, Detroit MI

Hank Williams | Live At The Grand Ole Opry

Hank Williams * 1949 Grand Old Opry, Nashville TN

The best sound recordings have the power to literally whisk you back in time. This is one of my personal favorite episodes of this phenomenon. Pull up your 200lb radio and listen to Hank Sr. crank up the hits and change the face of modern music.

Also check out: Johnny Cash * Unreleased Acoustic Demos

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant [1974]

Led Zeppelin * 2/12/75 Madison Square Garden, NYC (aka Flying Circus)

Even better than the 1972 shows that made up How The West Was Won, 2/12/75 features Robert Plant in a great mood (and voice), the usual bevy of hot licks, and crystal clear sound quality.

Also check out: The Alternate Physical Graffiti (aka Brutal Artistry)

Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Filthy Lucre...

Sex Pistols * Never Mind The Filthy Lucre… Here’s The Sex Pistols

Filthy Lucre… interweaves songs from the Pistols’ last show ever (from Winterland) with hilarious snippets of a SF radio call in show featuring the band fielding calls from haters, groupies, loonies, and one guy who simply asks “What makes you guys so great?” Essential listening for any fan of punk.

Also check out: The Clash * I Fought The Law (aka 1/3/79 London Lyceum)

mmj - photo

My Morning Jacket * 5/28/04 Opera House, Toronto ONT

Of the nearly 100 MMJ shows available on (if you love live music and don’t know about this site, do yourself a favor…) this takes the cake. A greatest hits-like set list, and above average sound do justice to a sizzling live band.

Also check out: Allman Brothers * 8/26/71 WPLJ-FM NYC

The Kleptones | A Night At The Hip Hopera

The Kleptones * A Night At The Hip-Hopera

This quantum level mash-up features hip hop’s best of backed by tasty power riffs courtesy of Queen. Spoken word segments from sources as far out as Dan Rather and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off add to the sense of joy ride.

Also check out: 24 Hours


KZEW (Dallas, TX) | Production Masters 1975

KZEW (Dallas, TX) Concert Promos * 1974-1979

A collection of 70’s concert promotion ads for Dallas/Ft. Worth radio station KZEW, these hilarious time capsules of rock hype are ready-made comic relief for your iPod or CD changer. The Alan Parsons Project and Aerosmith spots are particularly side splitting.

Also check out: There’s nothing quite like this one…

Calexico - photo

Calexico * 4/25/03 China Theater, Stockholm

Another steller outing from the Southwest’s finest. Calexico burn through a greatest hits-like set on a tape that is soundboard quality. This show also features a wide spectrum of guests and instrumentation to match the group’s cinematic vision.

Also check out: Michelle Shocked * 8/31/02 Strawberry Music Festival, Yosemite CA

White Stripes - photo

White Stripes * 3/1/01 Silver Lake, CA

There are plenty of really great Stripes shows out there, but this blistering set from 2001 gets the nod on set list alone. From ‘Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground’ to ‘Jolene’, this is a fine representation of one the best live bands around.

Also check out: “Mississippi” John Hurt * 1955 Youngstown, OH


20 more on the RIAA’s hit list…

Jeff Tweedy * 10/21/99 Chicago, IL
Bob Marley * 12/79 Santa Cruz, CA
AC/DC * 11/2/79 Hammersmith Odeon, London
Stevie Wonder * 7/4/73 Brighton, UK
Miles Davis * 11/6/67 Salle Pleyal, Paris
Beastie Boys * 5/22/92 Seabright, NJ
Radio Birdman * 11/30/77 Geelong, AU
Van Morrison * The Inner Mystic
Kings Of Convenience * 10/16/04
Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash * CBS Sessions – Nashville
Nirvana * 3/87 Raymond, WA
Eric Clapton * 6/6/04 Dallas, TX
The Yardbirds * More Golden Eggs
Iggy Pop * 8/20/88 The Ritz, NYC
Flying Burrito Brothers * 3/3/69 Avalon Ballroom SF
Elvis Presley * Elvis’ Greatest Shit
Steve Earle * 3/30/02 Byron Bay, AU
M. Ward * 9/22/06 Denton, TX
David Bowie * 10/20/72 Santa Monica, CA
Ween * 8/18/00 Bizarre Festival


General releases packaged to look like bootlegs…

The Who * Live At Leeds

The Beatles * White Album

Aerosmith * Live Bootleg

Joy Division * Still

Pearl Jam * Live Releases (’00 series)

Sublime * Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends

Led Zeppelin * In Through The Out Door

Pink Floyd * Wish You Were Here

Neil Young * Living With War


Bootlegs that became legit releases…

Bob Dylan & The Band * The Basement Tapes
The Beatles * Live At The Hollywood Bowl
Sex Pistols * No Future
New York Dolls * Seven Day Weekend
Frank Zappa * Beat The Boots Series
Elvis Presley * The Sun Sessions
Iggy & The Stooges * Metallic KO
Bob Marley & The Wailers * At The Roxy
The last disc of every box set in existence


Inspired by boots…

Beatles * Anthology I, II, & III
King Biscuit Flower Hour
Bob Dylan * Bootleg Series
Grateful Dead * Dick’s Picks Series
The last disc of every box set in existence

Hidden In Plain Sight: 20 Albums That Don’t Get Their Due

6 June 2007

Almost every well-known artist has an album tucked away in their catalogue that doesn’t quite receive its due credit. This can happen for a variety of reasons: it might be overshadowed by the album that was released before or after it, it may have been unfairly panned upon release and never quite escaped that bad word of mouth, and on and on through any number of possible bad breaks.

Here are 20 albums that deserve a better rep than what they’ve got. For the sake of brevity, I’ve only included musicians well-known enough that my grandma might have a good chance of recognizing the names.

And away we go:

Steel Wheels - album
Rolling Stones * Steel Wheels

Why it gets shorted: Most of their 80’s material blows. This album also marked a comeback for them that was met with a steady stream of ‘Steel Wheelchair’ jokes.

What’s great about it: The Mick & Keith ballads are each great. Easy to forget how good this album sounds because it hardly ever gets play.

Better than: Black & Blue, by a longshot, in my estimation.

Presence - album
Led Zeppelin * Presence

Why it gets shorted: Lack of an instantly recognizable single in the mode of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or ‘Kashmir’.

What’s great about it: See above. ‘Royal Orleans’ ‘Hots On For Nowhere’ and ‘Tea For One’ are as good as Zep gets, but many people aren’t familiar with these nuggets.

Better than: III

Oh Mercy - album
Bob Dylan * Oh Mercy

Why it gets shorted: Over-focus on Dylan’s trilogy of late great 90’s/00’s albums.

What’s great about it: First rate production. Killer songs. What’s not great about it??

Better than: Love & Death, by a country mile.

ZZ Top - album
ZZ Top * ZZ Top’s First Album

Why it gets shorted: Their MTV videos featuring leggy models and hot rods are ingrained in the public imagination, and the only frame of reference most people have of this band.

What’s great about it: Full-on Blues from the word go. Great batch of songs.

Better than: Anything else they did, save Deguello and Tres Hombres.

Kill City - album
Iggy Pop & James Williamson * Kill City

Why it gets shorted: Blotted out by The Stooges’ very long shadow. Iggy’s inconsistent solo career is maddeningly difficult for even the most diehard fan to hack through.

What’s great about it: Title track is upper-echelon Ig. James Williamson’s guitar playing is fierce. Much more loose and unfinished than even The Stooges rawest stuff.

Better than: All of Iggy’s solo albums except The Idiot and Lust For Life.

Beatles For Sale - album
The Beatles * Beatles For Sale

Why it gets shorted: Most sensible people prefer their early Beatles in compilation form.

What’s great about it: A true rock-n-roll album in the 50’s sense of the term. Probably the best example of the music that the group played during their Liverpool/Hamburg days.

Better than: Let It Be, Rubber Soul, and on a good day, Sgt Pepper’s.

Hendrix - album
Jimi Hendrix * Nine To The Universe

Why it gets shorted: Too many questionable posthumous releases. ‘Jam’ album that is short on song structure and lyrics and long on guitar noodling and improv.

What’s great about it: Jimi Hendrix and friends jamming in a studio after hours. Enough said.

Better than: Cry Of Love, First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, Voodoo Soup, and any of the other albums that try to piece together Jimi’s final recordings.

Funkadelic - album
Funkadelic * America Eats Its Young

Why it gets shorted: The P-Funk empire is a long and winding road. This album lacks any greatest hits.

What’s great about it: Scathing indictment of 70’s America that rings more true today than it possibly could have upon release. Still somehow retains P-Funk party vibe.

Better than: All P-Funk is equally super-awesome!

So What - album
Joe Walsh * So What

Why it gets shorted: Walsh’s tenure in the Eagles has overshadowed his estimable solo career and work with the James Gang.

What’s great about it: Perfect time capsule album from the 70’s. ‘Welcome To The Club’ is one of the best songs from that decade that you’ve never heard.

Better than: Any of that Eagles crap.

Powerage - album
AC/DC * Powerage

Why it gets shorted: Most people don’t recognize that this was a pretty different band before Bon Scott died. Dirty Deeds and Highway To Hell have cooler names.

What’s great about it: ‘Rock & Roll Damnation’ and ‘Gone Shootin’ rock hard. It’s just a step below their strongest work.

Better than: Anything after Bon Scott’s death, except for Back In Black.

Van Halen - album
Van Halen * Van Halen II

Why it gets shorted: Not quite as good as their self-titled debut. Ridiculously short running time that simply wouldn’t fly in the compact disc era.

What’s great about it: It’s early Van Halen and it rocks. ‘Women In Love’ is one of their best songs.

Better than: Anything post-David Lee Roth, by a long shot.

American Prayer - album
The Doors * American Prayer

Why it gets shorted: Band recorded instrumental pieces to go with Morrison’s spoken word poems/rants after the singer had died. Also, most of his written poetry is pretty shitty.

What’s great about it: The Lizard King was an over-the-top performer and these spoken pieces capture the bombastic side of his legend. And the instrumental stuff added by the band is actually pretty good. ‘Ghost Song’ ‘Stoned Immaculate’ and ‘The Movie’ deserve ‘best-of’ status.

Better than: The Soft Parade (which isn’t saying much), any of Morrison’s written poetry.

Sandinista - album
The Clash * Sandinista!

Why it gets shorted: It’s a sprawling, triple album mess.

What’s great about it: Contains several of the group’s finest moments – a bunch of which have never been anthologized. ‘One More Time’ and the Mikey Dread flavored ‘One More Time Dub’ are particular highlights, and ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is one of their finest songs, period.

Better than: Combat Rock

On The Beach - album
Neil Young * On The Beach

Why it gets shorted: Album inexplicably was not printed on compact disc until 2003 and faded from public memory.

What’s great about it: Another scathing indictment of the Nixon/’Nam era US that still sounds relevant and right on. ‘Revolution Blues’ and the title track are among Neil’s finest moments.

Better than: Tonight’s The Night, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Then Play On - album
Fleetwood Mac * Then Play On

Why it gets shorted: One word – Rumours.

What’s great about it: Best example of Peter Green era Mac. Dreamscape/Western quality sounds like Calexico 30 years before the fact.

Better than: Anything else in the Fleetwood Mac catalogue, in my opinion.

White Stripes - album
White Stripes * White Stripes

Why it gets shorted: Better was to come. Much more Blues-based than their subsequent albums. Group didn’t start gaining traction in public conciousness until DeStijl and White Blood Cells.

What’s great about it: Much more Blues-based than subsequent albums. Cover of ‘John The Revelator’ is breathtaking. First hint that Jack White had serious guitar skills.

Better than: Nearly all of the British Blues of the 60’s and 70’s.

The Byrds * Untitled

Why it gets shorted: Post David Crosby and Gram Parsons version of the band lacked the star power and hit singles of earlier incarnations.

What’s great about it: Album side ‘Eight Miles High’ absolutely cooks. All of the live material is hot, and side one is especially blistering with a great ‘Lover On The Bayou’.

Better than: Anything else the group did besides Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and Notorious Byrd Brothers.

Pink Floyd * Meddle

Why it gets shorted: Sounds like it was recorded approximately 25 years before Dark Side Of The Moon (it was actually just 2 years prior). Opens with 25-minute long ‘Echoes’.

What’s great about it: Last link to the Syd Barrett era Floyd, if only in sound. ‘Echoes’ is an epic journey.

Better than: The Final Cut

INXS * Shabooh Shoobah

Why it gets shorted: This album, along with The Swing, and Listen Like Thieves, gets lost in the mighty shadow of Kick.

What’s great about it: Moody, atmospheric pop that has a dark edge of sophisticated ennui. One of the great ‘lost’ albums of the 80’s.

Better than: Most of the garbage that was in regular rotation on MTV at the time.

Prince - album
Prince * Around The World In A Day

Why it gets shorted: Prince was just too good during the 80’s. Impossible for almost anything to stand up to 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign O’ The Times.

What’s great about it: Psychedelic-Pop masterpiece that sounds like music the Beatles would have made if they’d worked for Motown.

Better than: Anything released after Sign O’ The Times.


Read the second part of this post here.