A Dynamic Duo: My Favorite Songs By Daryl Hall And John Oates

Daryl Hall and John Oates

As much as I have been an outspoken critic about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their inductees, the year 2017 brought a few deserving acts that were inducted , including Daryl Hall and John Oates. I have been a fan of their music for years, especially in the 1980s when they dominated the radio, MTV, and other video programs. I remember seeing their album covers all over the record stores during the time. The duo had around 30 Top 40 Hits in the U.S. from 1976-1990.  After finishing reading the recent memoirs of John Oates, I decided to focus on some of my favorite songs by Hall and Oates. In no particular order, here are a few of my suggestions to check out of their vast collection.

 

  1. “So Close” (1990). This song was from their “Change of Seasons” Album. It was the lead single released, hit #11 on the U.S. Pop Charts, and also hit on several other charts, including the AC Charts.  One of the co-writers of the song was Jon Bon Jovi.  I like the opening line of “They met on the dance floor in the old high school gym,” which brings back a bygone era where gym dances were the place where memories were made. I also love the chorus line that says “We believe in tomorrow/Maybe more than today.” Even though the song did well on the charts, it seems to be a forgotten mention when discussing the duo’s work.
  1. “Getaway Car” (2003). The duo’s “Do It For Love” is one of my favorite albums that they recorded, especially the post 1980s. There are many great songs on the album, but one of my favorites is “Getaway Car,” which wasn’t written by either Hall or Oates. The song was written by Billy Mann and Gary Haase, and has been recorded by country acts.  The song hit #21 on the AC Charts for Hall and Oates. The song is a great tale of a guy and girl being frustrated with their lives and wants to start anew, which is shown in the line “Let’s disappear and start all over again.” I can picture the couple driving out of the city limits into the county with the radio playing this song. The tempo of the song is great for the telling on the song. This is one of my favorite all time songs that the duo recorded.

  1. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” (1984). This song is another one that hit the charts but seems to be not played as often on 1980s Radio shows.  This song was off the mega album “Big Bam Boom,” and hit #18 on the U.S. Charts. The slow build at the beginning of the song ends up with a big, loud ending.  I used to use the chorus of the song for using song lyrics as poetry when I taught as an English Teacher, with the lines like “Some lies are better off believed,” and “Some hearts are better left unbroken.”  Even though the album gave hits like “Out of Touch” and “Method of Modern Love,” this song, written by Hall, should not be overlooked.
  1. “Method Of Modern Love” (1984). This song makes my list, off of “Big Bam Boom,” because of the memories I have hearing the song when it first came out. I remember the video of the song, along with the video for “Out of Touch.”  The song peaked at #5 on the charts, and stayed on the charts for 19 weeks. Today’s music fans may not know that during the 1970s and 1980s, songs did not just debut at number one, and then disappear like in today’s downloadable music times. Many songs worked their way up to make the Top 40 and slowly moved up to the Top 10. I remember standing on the corner of our school parking lot in junior high singing this song along with the cassette tape my buddy would bring in and play on his boom box radio.  We would mimic the videos of the songs that we saw on our local music channel (Channel 23 in Ohio was our popular one, with host Billy Soule, because we didn’t have MTV), and this song was one I always sang along with during recess. The song also shows Hall’s soulful voice in the time when music was more about image.
  1. “It’s A Laugh” (1973). This song came off of the album “Along the Red Ledge” and was a Top 20 single for the duo. The album had guest musicians such as Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Rick Nielsen, and Robert Fripp.  I love the introduction of the song with the saxophone solo, along with the lyrics about a man looking back at a failed relationship.  This was a great song from 1970s.
  1. “One On One” (1983). As I said in the introduction of this blog, posters of Hall and Oates Albums were all over music store during the 1980s, including the “H2O” Album, which is where this song can be found. I can’t listen to this song without picturing the cover of the album in my mind.  This song hit #7 on the Pop Charts, along with #4 on the AC Charts. The song is a great life reference by using basketball themes. The soul, smooth voice of Hall helps the song not be outdated, and could been a hit in the 1960s-1990s.  I also love the basic line of “It seems I don’t get time out anymore,” which is what many of us want in our busy lives, and is not just an athletic reference.  This is a great song combining love, life, and sports.
  1. “Did It In A Minute” (1982). This single was off the album “Private Eyes,” which was the album the MTV Generation of fans started jumping on the Hall and Oates train, even though the band was recording for years. The song hit #9 on the charts, and was the next to last single released from the album.  I love the line “And if two can become one/who is the one two becomes.”  This has the Pop feel of the duo, as opposed to their Soul records. The song fit along the others that were being released at the time, with a focus of the keyboard up front and center of the songs.  This is one of my favorite early 1980s songs by the duo.

Hall and Oates are still touring today as a duo, and releasing songs as solo acts. There are many great songs that the duo has recorded that I love, like “Rich Girl,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Out of Touch, ” and Hall’s solo “Dreamtime,” but I wanted to focus on some of the songs that are rarer or not played as much on 1980s flashback radio channels. The duo finally getting into the Hall of Fame is something that should have happened years ago, but deserving nonetheless.  This duo has had successful and memorable songs that have lasted many decades.

Rollermania Still Rollin’ : My Favorite Songs of The Bay City Rollers!!

rollers-on-kraftrock-n-roll-love-letter-cover

 

 

 

 

One of my earliest memories of music (besides Kiss) was Scotland’s The Bay City Rollers.  I remember as a child watching the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday Morning TV Show, “The Krofft Superstar Hour” (later named “The Bay City Rollers Show”) when the Rollers were on hosting the show while performing every week. One of the earliest records we had in our house was the band’s U.S. Album “Rock And Roll Love Letter,” which was a greatest hits release, with a few new songs, geared mainly to capture on the U.S. success the band had in the late 1970s.  The band is usually considered One Hit Wonders with their song “Saturday Night,” but they actually had six Top 40 U.S. hits, along with world-wide success. Throughout several member changes and the success before and during the Disco craze, the band had several underrated songs that were not just Disco (check out their VH1 “Behind The Music” show on them-it’s pretty amazing).  Here are some of my favorite Bay City Rollers songs (in no particular order) featuring the band  consisting of Les McKeown, Eric Faulkner, Alan Longmire, Stewart Wood, and Derek Longmire.

 

1.“Eagles Fly” (1975). This song was on the 1975 “Wouldn’t You Like It” Album, along with  1976’s “Rock and Roll Love Letter.” This song shows an Acoustic Pop feel, which was different from the Dance/Disco songs the band gets lumped into. This song could have been on any Adult Contemporary or Pop Charts from the era.

  1. “Dedication” (1976). This song was the title track of the 1976 Album where Ian Mitchell, who replaced Alan Longmire, sang lead vocals on the song about a listener wanting the radio deejay to play a song for him. A year later, a single with Les McKeown on lead was released. The song hit #60 on the U.S. Charts in 1977. The song reminds me of the days when I would listen to the Top 40 National Radio shows, like Casey Kasem and Wolfman Jack, where fans would dedicate songs on air. It reminds me of a lost time in radio.
  1. “You Made Me Believe In Magic” (1977). This song, from the “It’s A Game” Album, which hit the U.S. Top 10, with McKeown singing lead. The song was a mid tempo song that was a perfect fit for the music scene of the time. The vocals are perfect in the song, which starts off soft and builds in the chorus. This is a great dance song.

4.”The Disco Kid” (1975).   From the albums “Once Upon A Star” and “Rock And Roll Love Letter,” this song was one I played over and over on the album I had as a kid. I always enjoyed the song, and even the drumming is somewhat different from the normal dance songs of the time. I liked the lyrics on the song and the phrasing of the lyrics. The production on the song, especially on McKeown’s vocals is pleasant and unique as well.

  1. “Don’t Stop The Music” (1975). This song, also on the U.S. Album “Rock And Roll Love Letter” and the album “Wouldn’t You Like It” was a favorite of mine by the band. This song is a great Disco Song of the era. I always wanted to play this song in the bands I played in, but for some reason, the members never liked it. I always thought the song would be a good crowd pleaser and get people dancing. Listen to the instruments at the end of the song, softly layered, which also showed the musicianship of the band.
  1. “The Way I Feel Tonight” (1977). This song is a ballad from “It’s A Game” Album. The band was musically gifted, which is overlooked when looking at the band (most of the songs were written by Stewart Wood and Eric Faulkner). The band, as mentioned before, was always mislabeled as a Disco band, and had plenty of good Pop, Ballads, and Rock songs.  This is one of their great ballads. The song ended up being the band’s final charted hit in the U.S., hitting #24. The songwriter of this song was Harvey Shield, who worked as a drummer with Ian Gillian and Dusty Springfield among others, along with becoming an actor.

A few other songs that are a must listen by the band are “Too Young To Rock And Roll,” “Wouldn’t You Like It,”  “La Belle Jeane, ” “Rock N Roller,” and “Maybe I’m A Fool To Love You.” Even though several people viewed the band as teen idols only, the music proves otherwise. I encourage you to go deeper into their songs, besides “Saturday Night.” You may be surprised by how talented the band really was.

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Clicking Back to the 1970s-My Favorite TV Theme Songs

As a sequel to a previous post on my favorite TV Themes of the 1980s, I decided to visit the topic again, only a decade before- the 1970s. There were some great theme songs from that time (and some not so great) that once you hear the song, you know immediately the show. These are in no particular order. So once again, hum or sing along.

  1. “Moving On Up” (The Jeffersons). One of the more popular theme songs is from this second spin off of “All and The Family,” which ran from 1975-1985. The song was written by Jeff Barry, who wrote or co wrote songs like “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “Chapel of Love,” and “Sugar Sugar,” along with actress Ja’net Dubois, who also sang on the theme for “Good Times” and played the character Willona Woods on the show.  The choir in the theme is a great addition to the clap along song about moving up to the rich side of town. Also of note, Barry is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and helped on songs like “Hanky Panky,” and helped produce songs for The Monkees.  With all of the success of the show and co writers, it’s kind of surprising that this song did not chart in the Top 40.

 

  1. “The Streetbeater” (Sanford and Son). This funky song by Quincy Jones is a favorite of mine, and when I hear it, I can think of that pickup truck coming down the road filled with junk for Redd Foxx to sell. Some may not know that the show, which ran from 1972-1977 was actually based on a BBC show called “Steptoe and Son.” Nonetheless, the show was not only great, but this theme song as well- it also makes a great ringtone!!
  1. “The Theme to Barney Miller.” Barney Miller (1975-1982) was a favorite show of mine growing up. It was a different type of cop show- it was a comedy but not slap stick comedy. The characters were great, especially Fish, the grumpy old New York cop.  The theme was performed by Chuck Berghofer, who worked with Glenn Campbell, and Nancy Sinatra. He also played on themes for “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Carol Burnette Show,” and a few of the Rocky films. We would play the theme during sound checks when I was a local drummer in several bands.
  1. “Those Were The Days.” (All in the Family) One of my favorite shows of the 1970s was this one featuring Archie Bunker. During the 1971-1979 run of the original show, it was one of the top rated shows of its time. The opening was different, seeing actors Caroll O’Conner and Jean Stapleton sitting at the piano singing. The theme song actually charted on the AC Charts in 1972, reaching number 30. The writers were Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, who are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their works that include “Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and the film “Bonnie and Clyde.”  The theme is perfect for the character of Archie Bunker, a man who is set in the old ways of life.
  1. “Come On Get Happy” (The Partridge Family). This theme song was the second one used for the show, and is the most famous. The show about a traveling family in a rock band was based on real life band The Cowsills, and ran from 1970-1974. The show made David Cassidy a superstar and start a singing career (he and Shirley Jones were the only two actors allowed to sing on the recordings).
  1. “Welcome Back” (Welcome Back Kotter). One of the best own TV songs of the decade was this one by the Lovin Spoonful’s singer, John Sebastian, and hit #1 on the charts in 1976. The song was rumored to be called “Kotter” but Sebastian changed it due to not being able to find words that rhymed with the name, so the TV executives changed the title of the show. Not only was the song popular, but the show also brought comic books, clothing, and action figures. The show about a teacher coming back to where he went to school had great characters like Freddy Boom Boom Washington and Vinnie Barbarino, who was played at the time by an actor named John Travolta.  The theme song is one that fits with the idea of the show perfectly.
  1. “Happy Days.” (Happy Days). This was the second theme used by the show. In Season 1, the theme song used was Bill Hayley’s “Rock Around the Clock” which tied in with the 1950s theme of the show. There were a few different singers that worked on this theme, but the producers decided on the one that became the most known by Pratt and McClain, which hit #5 on the charts in 1976. The theme was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, who worked on the themes for “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” and “Laverne and Shirley.” The Pratt and McClain version started in Season 3-10.  This show was also known for creating the TV term “jumping the shark,” which means that there is an outlandish plot in order to get ratings. This happened in 1977 when the character Fonzie went waterskiing over a shark. The show did continue a few years after this and even had two spin offs, “Laverne and Shirley” and “Joanie Loves Chachi.”

 

The 1970s had some great shows, along with great music. However the 1970s did not seem to be the decade of top charting songs compared to the 1980s.

 

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The Rare Mighty Oaks: Songs You May Not Know

american made album pic

 

The year was 1980, and for Christmas I received my first drum set, along with my first album that was all mine, not one I had to share with my older brother. The album was The Oak Ridge Boys Greatest Hits and as soon as my parents put the record on, without even hearing the songs, I was playing along with the songs as if I heard them before. From that day on I was a fan of the Oaks, even though my love for Country Music (especially today’s acts) has declined majorly.

I was a member of the Oaks Fan Club back then as well, which was a several page paper magazine with photos of the band which was free in the mail. I studied their records, especially the different vocal parts, although I could never sound as good as they were-at least I had the drumming to fall back on while playing in area bands.

I had the opportunity to see them live once in 1999 in Canfield, Ohio at the Canfield Fair. There were a few times when I got tickets to see them when nearby Salem, Ohio tried to restart Ponderosa Park, but the park kept cancelling the shows. I am waiting in anticipation to see them this August in Chester West Virginia, which will be my 50th concert.

Even though the band traces back to the 1940s, the band became the most popular in 1977 when the lineup of Duane Allen, William Golden, Joe Bonsall, and Richard Sterban crossed from the Gospel genre to Country (and even had a few hits on the Pop Charts with “Elvira” and “Bobby Sue.”).  Bonsall has some great books out as well, which I have the Kindle Editons , especially  2015’s “On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys,” and “From My Perspective” from 2010.

I want to list a few of some of the band’s rarer songs that people may not be familiar with, or should check out. I am also focusing on the era of Golden, Bonsall, Allen, and Sterban, not the Steve Sanders years (that may be a future post because Sanders was a great singer as well).  In no particular order, here are some rarer Oak songs you should check out.

 

  1. “Hold On Til Sunday” (1980) This song was the b-side of “Trying to Love Two Women,” which went to #1. I had the 45 single and, no offense to those that love the song “Women,” I listened more to “Sunday” than the A- side.  The song has a pop feel to it, but I loved how smooth Duane Allen’s voice is in the song, who is one of the most underrated musicians in music history. When I found the song on youtube, I was transferred to my youth and how much I loved the song. I miss B sides on songs, especially songs that didn’t make the albums.
  1. “Live In Love” (1981). While talking about B-sides on songs, this ballad was the B-side to the Pop Hit “Bobbie Sue.”  This song could have been played on AC Charts on any channel during the 1980s.  I like most how the pace of the song switches after the second chorus and at the end. Once again, I spent hours playing this song on my record playing trying to be as smooth as Allen’s voice.
  1. “Down The Hall” (1983). There are some gems on the hit album “American Made,” such as “Heart on the Line (Operator, Operator)” with Joe Bonsall’s voice, but one of my favorites is this one. “Down The Hall” was one of the songs back in the day I would record from album to cassette tape and pass around to my friends to introduce them to some of the bands other songs. The song was written by Mike Reid, who wrote songs like Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger in My House” and had a solo career in the 1990s. The song talks about a man who have not been to the big sites of the world, but he “hasn’t missed a thing at all” because he’s in love. Great written song. If you can find it, check it out.
oaks albums1
The three Oak Ridge Boys Albums of my collection. The covers are a bit worn out, but I still kept them.
  1. “Baby When Your Heart Breaks Down” (1999). When I saw the band at the Canfield Fair, they were promoting this song off of their Voices Album. Although the rest of the album was not that great, this song was wonderful, and I was shocked how great it sounded live. The song was written by Kix Brooks before he joined Brooks and Dunn, but I like this version better, which all the vocals adding to the song. This song is great because it is a fairly recent song, which shows how the band still has their harmonies years after their heyday.
  1. “Dancing the Night Away” (1979). The Oaks have been known to do several remade songs and make it their own, such as ‘Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” (1979) and “Dream On” (1979), which were both on the same album. This song is one of my favorite off of the album “The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived,” and was a concert favorite for years, although I’m not sure why it is no longer used. The song was originally recorded by The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and Tanya Tucker at one time. Leo Sayer also had a great version of it, but I think the Oak’s version has a rocking beat to it, as opposed to the mellower versions. I couldn’t imagine anyone but Bonsall singing this one in the group.
  1. “Any Old Time You Choose” (1983). This was off of the “American Made” album and is a great ballad sung by Allen again. Written by J.L. Wallace, Ken Bell, and Terry Skinner, who also wrote Air Supply’s “Even The Nights Are Better, “the song has a slow start that builds with a big orchestration that reminds the listener of Air Supply. The blends of the famous Oaks harmonies compliment the arrangements. It also has a nice guitar solo that would have fit in the AC or Pop Charts of the 1980s.
Oaks CDs 1
My Oaks CD Collection.
  1. “I Would Crawl All The Way (To The River)” (1981). The Oaks have never shied away from the Gospel roots, although some fans criticized them at first for leaving the Gospel scene, but even on major labels like MCA records, the band still threw on a Gospel song or two on their albums. As a whole, I think the “Fancy Free” album is one, if not the best album they recorded track for track, and one of my favorites is the last song on the album, which is “River.” Not only is the song have a southern gospel feel to it, but it also isn’t a preaching song that may turn audiences off. This is one of my favorite Gospel songs the Oaks ever recorded.
  1. “When Love Calls You” (1981). I could list the whole “Fancy Free” Album to listen to, with even the rare tracks, the whole album just flows (as mentioned in a previous blog I wrote https://lancewrites.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/not-skipping-around-albums-that-must-be-heard/). This song isn’t just a sad Country ballad, but when listening to the lyrics, the listener will find that it’s a song of hope of the future in spite of a bad past. This is one of the themes I love about Barry Manilow’s music as well. With the orchestration again bringing more power to the song makes it almost a soft rock song. This was one of my favorite songs from my youth.

Everyone knows the famous songs by the Oaks but hopefully these may help you dive deeper into their catalog, especially if you are like me and are frustrated with the lack of good music being released. Feel free to comment, email me your Oak Ridge Boys stories and favorites.

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Over and Over – The Most Overplayed Rock Songs of the 1970s

One aspect of music is that it is subjective. One person thinks is a great song, another may hate. Granted, musicians may have more liking to songs due to its complexity or lack of, but music is a major part of life. We remember where we were when a song is released (back in the day, when it was actually released on radio and was charted, unlike the downloaded society we have now). The song brings back certain memories of where we lived, what we were doing, or who were with when that song has that special meaning.

However, songs end up being overplayed throughout the years, and with today’s limited radio format, the same songs get played every hour. That is why I made this list of overplayed songs of the 1970s (I will do one of the 1980s later).  Keep in mind that a regional aspect is also in play in my list. I may hear this song every hour in Ohio, but someone in California may not hear these on their radio stations. I do not have satellite radio either, so that is a non-factor. The qualifications are that it is overplayed throughout the years in my area. I also want to state that these songs are not bad songs-they are remembered throughout the years for a reason, but I would like a break from these songs.

So here are my picks for the Most Overplayed Songs of the 1970s (in no particular order). Feel free to dispute them.

hotel-california
Eagles Hotel California Album
  1. Hotel California-The Eagles (1977). I like the Eagles, and a lot of their songs are classics. This song made it to #1 on the charts, but it is long and a guitar player’s song. As a drummer, I can’t tell you how many bands I was in that had to play this song just because the guitar player wants to solo for 5 minutes. The audience got bored very quick playing this in a cover band. Many people still dispute what the song is about (Christians claim it’s about the church, which was disputed by the band themselves, to others saying it’s about the record company).  Regardless of what the song is about, this is a song that the deejay steps out of the booth to take a lunch break. There are other great songs that the band does not get played on the air (I love 1974’s “James Dean” and “Ol ‘55” from “On The Border” album).  This Hotel needs to shut down for a season.

 

queen
As great as the band Queen is, they do need a few songs to go into the vault.
  1. We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions- Queen (1977). This song is played together at every sporting event in the world it seems. I think it is one of Queen’s lesser quality songs. I can’t name the many Queen songs that I’d rather hear than this one (“Bohemian Rhapsody” is another one that can be added to this list). Freddy Mercury was one of the greatest singers is all music, and I feel gets ignored in the Greatest Rock Singers of all time argument.  I think many people are tired of this song.
ronnie van zant
Ronnie Van Zant
  1. Freebird- Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974-1977) . This song charted a few times, with the most famous in 1975 at #19. The live version hit #38 in 1977. Like “Hotel California,” this is a guitar player’s song, and when it comes on the radio or a band plays it, it is bathroom break time. The song is very long, and I got tired of it being a pro wrestling fan when The Fabulous Freebirds used it during their runs. I have never been a fan of Southern Rock and every band ends up playing the song if they play covers. By the time the song is over, the band could have played 2-3 more songs in their set list. The song is usually played late at night or after midnight on the radio stations. Some stations have limited it’s play due to it being so long, but it’s still play too much.  If I don’t hear this song for 20 years, it’ll still be too soon. Plus the fact that every person on the planet shouts out the name of the song at every concert, regardless of the artist, makes me hate the song even more.
bob seger
Bob Seger
  1. Turn The Page-Bob Seger (1977 studio track, 1979 live version). Much like other songs in the 1970s, this song was never released as a single, but the way it gets played, you’d think it was a #1 hit worldwide. It seems everyone has done a version of this song. I saw Garth Brooks perform it when I saw him in concert once. Seger is another artist that I am not a major fan of, so it may sound bias, but this song is another too long to be played on radio. Yes, I know albums were huge in the 1970s and people wanted longer songs, and listened to the album in whole, as opposed to today’s single downloaded songs. This song is as long as the road trip it describes in the song. The song is slow and boring-it does not rock.
cheap trick
As much as I love Cheap Trick, one song could use a rest.
  1. I Want You To Want Me-Cheap Trick (1977 studio, 1979 live). I love Cheap Trick, and even though they have been finally inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame, they are still underrated. I have seen them in concerts several times, and I know they have to play some of the hits, but this is a song I could handle if it was retired for a while (it’ll never happen even though the band does a great job mixing their set lists). Most casual fans do not know that the studio version is different and is used to the live version.  This song was tough for me to add to the list because it rocks, and has a catchy guitar and drum beat, but it seems to be the only song played on radio by the band besides “Surrender” or “The Flame.”  I’d love to hear “Voices,” or “I Can’t Take It” played on the radio.

 

kiss shirt
Most Kiss fans would agree to this song on my list.
  1. Rock and Roll All Night-Kiss (1975 studio, 1976 live). I love Kiss. Kiss, The Beach Boys, and The Oak Ridge Boys were the earliest music experiences I had as a child. I like all the versions of Kiss- I am particularly a big fan of the Eric Carr Years. I am not one of those fans that say that Ace and Peter are not in the band, so Kiss does not exist. That being said, I know this is a song that put the on the map and is a Rock and Roll Anthem, but I could handle the song being less played on radio and at events.  Even though the live version is better than the studio version, I was never a huge fan of the song. The same goes for “Detroit Rock City.” I would love to hear songs like “Mr. Speed” or “Crazy, Crazy Nights,” or “Reason to Live.” Radio stations; play something from Revenge album, which I feel was one of their best albums. I am older now, and don’t need to Rock and Roll All Night.
led zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
  1. Stairway To Heaven –Led Zeppelin (1971). This is another song that you’d think was a huge hit all over the world, but the song did not chart in the U.S.  Another thing that amazes me is how some people claim that this band is the greatest band in music history. I have nothing against the musical talents of the band members, but I would state bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and The Who could be listed before I’d named Zeppelin.  The song is credited as one of the greatest songs of all time, but there has been several lawsuits stating the song was ripped off (as of this writing, the matter has enough steam to go into the courts).  If it is the greatest songs of all time, what is it about? Many cannot even tell you what all the words are to the song either. I think the greatest Rock and Roll Song should actually be Rock and Roll, not an orchestrated ballad.
doobie brothers
It may be a guitar classic, but give this Doobie’s hit a rest.
  1. China Grove-The Doobie Brothers (1973). This song has been taught in many guitar lessons ever since it came out and hit #15 on the U.S. Charts. The song has a basic beat to it, but is played to death in my area. To me the song bores me musically. If someone was going to have me suggest a song by the band, I’d choose “The Doctor” from 1989, which was their last hit on the charts.  China Grove is another guitar player song, where guitar players in cover bands always want to play the song. From the Classic Rock to the Oldies Radio stations, this song is heard almost every hour or two hours of the day, and always ends up being played on top of it whenever the stations have caller requests. This song amazes me of its popularity and it’s continued playing.

 

 

 

frampton
Stop showing me the way Mr Frampton.
  1. Show Me the Way-Peter Frampton (studio 1975, live version 1976). Most people know this song by the use of Frampton’s talk box effect during the song, which helped the song go to #6 on the U.S. Charts. Frampton wasn’t the first artist to use the effect, but many fans of the 1970s think of him when that effect is discussed.  This song has been covered by many artists, but it seems this song is played almost every hour on Classic Rock and Oldies radio stations. This is another song that can retire for several years from radio rotation.

 

 

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My Rare Favorite Manilow Songs, and Why I Like Barry!

There are several early childhood memories I have concerning music. I started playing drums around 5 or 7 years old, and have gotten to play with some great musicians throughout the years. Some early records I can remember are The Oak Ridge Boys, The Bay City Rollers, Andy Gibb, and even The Village People. I remember seeing the cover of Kiss’s “Alive II” at my older cousin’s house, and my uncle had his own record store for a while, where I remember seeing some of the posters and album covers throughout the store.
One artist I remember listening to in my grade school and junior high years was Barry Manilow. My parents had 2 of his 45’s in the house, “The Old Songs/”Don’t Fall in Love with Me,” and his “Memory”/”Heart of Steel” singles. I would listen to them many times over, and even though I was into the Pop Hits of the time, I still enjoyed these two records.

Manilow CDs DVDs
My Collection- a few DVDs, Cassettes, and Cassette Single. I ran out of photo room. There are maybe 3 or more CDS I also have.

Flash forward to my first year of college, and I somehow stumbled onto his music again. I’m not sure how or why, but I just had to see him in concert. In 1994, I was convinced I had to see him live. I stood outside of the local National Record Mart store and waited in line to get my tickets. I had my cash with me, and I remember that the price was expensive for me, including the service charges (at the time it was $40.75 a ticket, not sure what the charge was). My mother just happened to have some extra money, and I’d never forget that she helped me cover the rest of the cost. After seeing him live at the show, I was hooked even more on his music.

Manilow Albums
My Collection. A few are just the covers. These are called Albums, for those that may not know.

The first Manilow CD I ever purchased was his 1989 “Barry Manilow” album, the first cassette I bought when I joined Columbia House Record Club in college was his red covered Greatest Hits. I have seen him in concert a total of 6 times, more than any other artist. He was also the only artist I paid over $100 to see (the tickets with the service charge combined sent it over that number).
Even though I listen to different types of music, from The Beach Boys and Kiss, my friends still wonder why I like Manilow so much. Besides the small history I just gave, his music shows not just sappy love songs, but themes such as mistakes, missed and failed friendships, to fighting for your dreams when no one else believes in you, or everyone wants to hold you down.When I felt like nothing went right in college, to feeling there were no friends around, he was the one artist I could listen that kept me going. He was also the only artist that my parents, my uncle, and my grandmother seemed all to like-it was a common thread. My father took me and my Uncle to see Barry in 2004 with a company he worked with and we saw his concert at The Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, in the lodge seats. I have seen Manilow in Pittsburgh, PA, 4 times, Cleveland, Ohio, once, and in Youngstown Ohio with the Youngstown Symphony.

1st Shirt Front
My faded shirt from my first Manilow Concert. I used to wear it on campus at Kent State, and I remember this one girl coming up to me and saying “Nice Shirt. I love Rod Stewart.”

One of my best concert experiences ever happened in Pittsburgh the first time I saw Manilow when I took my friend to see Barry in concert days after he broke up with a girl named Amy. Thinking he would like to get out of the house and see someone (not the best artist for a breakup looking back), Manilow was going into a Broadway song he recorded called “Once in Love with Amy.” We were back 12 rows back from the stage and he yells “NOOOO!” Barry laughed and said something like “I guess someone knew Amy.”
There are many big hits that Manilow has recorded by I’d like to list a few of his maybe not well known songs that I like, and the album you can find them on. Maybe you’ll like some of these underrated ones.

 

 

1.”Lay Me Down” (1975 “Trying to Get the Feeling Again” Album). This song was written by Larry Weiss, who also wrote “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Bend Me, Shape Me,” and the theme to the TV Show “Who’s The Boss.” I first heard this song when Trisha Yearwood sang it on CMT’s 2000 Special “Manilow Country” and the lyrics blew me away. The song is about a man who’s reading the goodbye letter to himself and fighting to get over the girl when he runs into her on the street with a new person. The song was also recorded by Anne Murray and Glen Campbell. But Manilow has the touch one this one. Very Sad song.

 

2. “The Old Songs” (1981 “If I Should Fall in Love Again” Album) As I mentioned earlier, this song was one of my first experiences to Manilow’s music. The song dealing with trying to get a relationship going and if nothing works, he’ll try the old records to help him out. This song shares the power of music in people’s lives, and has so many memories for me. It hit #15 on the Pop Charts, but it is not well talked about when Manilow’s music comes up.

 

3.”Read Em And Weep” (1983 “Greatest Hits Vol. 2” Album). This song was originally written and recorded by Meatloaf for his 1981 “Dead Ringer” album, but was not a hit until Barry took it over. Written by Jim Steinman, the song takes a love song and ads a literary and acting aspect to it. I just recently discovered the Meatloaf version last year, and although it is good, it seems to lack the emotion that Manilow adds to it. This was also Barry’s last Top 40 Hit on the Pop Charts, hitting number #18.

4. “Why Don’t You See The Show Again” (1976 “This One’s For You” Album) Even though he didn’t write the lyrics, he did write the music, and has to be autobiographical about a man that is surrounded by people when he plays his music onstage, but once the show is over, what’s next? This song is a favorite because usually when played, it’s just Manilow and his piano. Frank Sinatra recorded this song later on. I discovered this one during his “Music and Passion: Live From Las Vegas DVD.” This song any musician can relate to.

 

Books and Programs
Two Concert Programs from my collection. Also is Manilow’s book-I have the Hardback and Paperback.

5. “The Best Seat in the House” (1990 “Live on Broadway” and 2012 “Live in London” Albums). Much like “See the Show Again,” the song combines the musician on stage with love for a person. This song can not only be interpreted for a lover, but even a friendship. Being a drummer, I was able to look around the crowd or people while playing in the audience and maybe see friends out there that I had great memories with that I can sit and reminisce. This is just a great song with symbolism in it.

Some other Honorable Mentioned songs- “”Sweet Heaven “ (1985 “Manilow,” “2 Nights Live,”), “You Ought to be Home With Me” (1976 “This One’s For You”).

Manilow Shirts
3 Concert Shirts I still have (some I outgrew and had to get rid of) and coffee mug from my collection.

 

Maybe you haven’t heard these songs before, or maybe you had the albums and forgot about them, but give these songs another chance. You may find a new appreciation to them. With that, I wanted to add a final video, which is one of my favorites, found on his “Live on Broadway.

The Write Songs

Music and writing are two of my favorite things. When they are combined, it’s even better. I have made my top 10 Best Songs about Writing. Keep in mind; the songs are about writing, not songs that are named after writers or book titles.  Maybe some on here you may have not heard before or forgot about. Here we go:

 

10. “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter” (various artists). This song is the oldest on the list, dating back to 1935, but it was made famous by Frank Sinatra and has been covered by Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, and Barry Manilow. What better than writing yourself your own love letter and having it come from your crush, because they are not going to write to you? This song can appeal to a young teenager’s love to an older love. Because of the age of the song, it shows it belongs on the list. Check out Manilow’s version as well-it’s great.

tay swift
Taylor Swift

 

9.“Dear John”-Taylor Swift (2010). Say what you want about Swift being Country/not Country or Teen Music, but this song showed me her great songwriting. The song is rumored to be about John Mayer from her “Speak Now” CD. My favorite line is “Wondering which version of you I might get on the phone tonight/Well I stopped picking up and this song is to let you know why.” A great “I’m over you after breaking my heart song.”

8. “Blue Letter” –Fleetwood Mac (1975). This song has personal history for me because when I was a drummer in one cover band, my guitar player would always play this song at practice. I have no idea why we didn’t play it in our setlist. This was off the first album that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came on (yes they weren’t original members of the band). I like the rhythm and tone of the song. It’s a basic rocking song about being dumped. The song was produced by Keith Olsen, who worked with Heart, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and on my favorite album, Rick Springfield’s “Working Class Dog.”

 

7. “In Your Letter”- REO Speedwagon (1981). I was a late REO fan. I liked the hits that they have, but several years ago I listened to the whole “Hi Infidelity” CD and liked the other songs. This song was a single, but I didn’t remember it. Written by Gary Richrath, this reminds me of a girl writing a breakup letter  but the guy edits it for content. “You Could’ve Said it Better.” You may dump me for another guy, but at least I can write a better send off.

 

6. “If You Could Read My Mind” –Gordon Lightfoot (1970). This song was rumored to be written after a divorce, but there is so much substance in this timeless song. There is a gothic feel with ghosts and wishing wells, to comparisons to a drug store book novel. I used to show the lyrics to students when I was teaching English during poetry sessions. Just reading the words are powerful, but with the music, it’s even better. The song has been covered by Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis, Glen Campbell, among others. Surprisingly, the song only hit #5 on the U.S. Charts, while it hit #1 on the Easy Listening Charts.

 

5.”Please Mr. Postman”- The Marvelettes (1961). This song was the debut of the girl group The Marvelettes and was Motown’s first #1 single. It is rumored to be written about a girl waiting for a letter from her man who is away at war, but there is no mention of war in the song. Nevertheless, back in the Pre-Internet days people had to write hand written letters and hope they were not lost in the mail. The song reminds me of the days when you would wait for the post man to come and deliver mail to you. The Beatles had another famous version of it a year later. A little trivia note: the drummer on the Motown version was Marvin Gaye.

 

4. “Western Union”-The Five Americans (1966). This is the only hit for this band, but it was a great one. The birth of the song came when guitar player came up with a sound on his guitar that made him think of a telegraph key. It’s a medium tempo song about a girl that’s leaving her man via telegram. It has such a catchy hook and is one of the under looked songs when you think of great songs from the 1960s. And the chorus is pretty easy to remember, although pretty high at times to sing.

 

3. “The Letter”-The Box Tops (1967). The title of this song says it all on why it’s making this list. A guy has to find any means of transportation to get back home because his girlfriend wrote him a letter. This song is one of the shortest songs in length to hit #1 on the U.S. Charts. Many other artists recorded this, including Joe Cocker, The Ventures, and several disco versions, but the original is still the best version.

 

2. “I Write The Songs”-Barry Manilow (1975). Next to “Mandy,” this might be Manilow’s most famous song, but it was written by The Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston and was recorded by Captain and Tennille, and even David Cassidy, before Manilow released it, which became a  #1 hit. The song describes how music is created and written and it’s effect on those that listen. He almost always closes his concerts with the song.

 

the beatles
The Beatles

1.“Paperback Writer”- The Beatles (1966). This song is the first song I think of when I see lists about writers or authors. The background harmonies were rumored to be inspired by The Beach Boys, and the song was rumored to be created when Paul McCartney saw Ringo Starr reading a book, but the story has changed several times throughout the years. Nonetheless, the song about a writer who finishes his novel and needs someone to give him a break , which any writer can relate to. In today’s society it may be hard to grasp the concept of having to write a paperback novel and try to get it read, but it is still a timeless song, as most of the Fab Four’s songs.

10 Songs of Summer

beach

 

This past weekend we celebrated the first official day of summer, although most people think summer starts the first weekend of June and ends at the end of August, the calendar really states that summer starts the end of July and goes until towards the end of September. What better way to kick off the season than my lists of ten of the best summer songs you need on your listening playlist. Now there are unlimited songs about summer or that people love to hear, but these are my top ten, and they are all Rock Songs. Whether you agree or not, maybe you’ll find something on the list you may not have listened to before.

 

BANANARAMA-Cruel_summer
10. “Cruel Summer” –Bannarama. This song wasn’t a big hit when released until it was played in the movie “The Karate Kid.” Now everyone knows the song. Even though it’s be remade, the best is the 1984 version, talking about the heat of summer and wanting to be with a certain person as the season moves on.

 

 

Undertheboardwalk

9.”Under the Boardwalk”-The Drifters. One can’t imagine a better song than this 1964 hit taking the listener to the piers of the beach and smelling the “French Fries and the hot dogs that they sell.” John Mellencamp’s version is good too, but the original still gets me in the summer mood.

journey_escape

 

8. “Stone in Love”-Journey. This 1981 song is not as known as Journey’s other hits from the “Escape” album, but it gets heavy play in their concert set lists through the years. The heavy rock of the drums and guitars while the vocals sing about “Those Summer Nights Are Calling” makes the listener think they are spending their time with the “Blue-Jeaned Girl.” Hey even rockers need their summer songs too.

dock of the bay

7. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”- Otis Redding. This was a hit in 1967, even though Redding died before the song was released. A sad summer song about a man that leaves broken hearted and decides to just sit and watch the “ships roll in.” Another great thing about this song is that it is only less than three minutes long and has the catchy whistling at the end of the song. One of the greatest songs ever recorded.

 

 

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6. “Surf City”-Jan and Dean. It’s not summer without the guys that helped the surfing craze of the 1960s. Along with the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean made America want to be beach bums and spend all day surfing. This hit from 1963 promised us “Two girls for every boy” and parties all the time.

220px-Beach_Boys_-_Getcha_Back

5. “Getcha Back”- The Beach Boys. It’s hard to choose just one Beach Boys song on a list of summer because, let’s face it, they ARE summer. I decided to go with my personal favorite, from 1985. This song was their come-back song after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, and it still sounds modern. Mike Love sings about listening to the song of his ex on the radio and takes him back to the night they break up. He wonders if he leaves his girl and the ex leaves her man is they could “Get it back again.” When most people remember “Kokomo” from the later Beach Boys catalogue, Mike Love’s band still plays this one on tour. This song reminds me of my summer days when I was younger.

Richard-Marx-Endless-Summer-Ni-36986

4. “Endless Summer Nights”- Richard Marx. It’s hard to believe that this song was passed by almost every record company when Marx was trying to get a deal. Any child of the 1980s grew up with this song blaring on the radio. The great saxophone solo throughout the song is perfect for the 1980s (almost like a John Cafferty song). Marx once described this song as a “summer love not lasting.” Nonetheless you can “remember every moment of those endless summer nights.” A 1988 classic song, and one of my favorite of Marx’s songs.

 

BrownEyedGirl

3. “Brown-Eyed Girl”- Van Morrison. Everyone knows the words to this 1967 classic song, even when it is played at weddings, people jump out of their seats to start dancing to the catchy melody. This song sings about waterfalls and green grass and sunlight. How can this not be included in a summer playlist? And the fact that you don’t need to know the words, except the sing a long “La La La’s” shows how this song has stood through time. This is one of the few songs that I have played in every band I have ever been in and not get tired of the song. A total feel good song that if it is not in your playlist, throw your list away then.

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2. ‘The Boys of Summer”- Don Henley. When Henley started making solo records in the early 1980s after The Eagles broke up, many people finally started realizing what a great songwriter and vocalist he really is (outside of the die- hard Eagle fans). This 1984 song is usually the song people think of when Henley’s solo projects are brought up (maybe tied with “End of The Innocent”). Several others have re-made this song, but Henley’s is still the best. Although it’s about the end of summer, it’s still descriptive about the girl walking with her “Wayfarers on” and her “Brown skin shining in the sun.” Surprisingly the song only hit #5 in the U.S. , since it has become synonymous with summer songs. It is in my Top 5 of all songs from the 1980s.

 

Olivia-Newton-John-Summer_Nights_5_(2)1. “Summer Nights”- Olivia-Newton John and John Travolta. How can this not be the best song on a playlist about summer from the 1978 Movie “Grease?” Yes, “Grease” was a musical on Broadway before the movie, but most people know of the movie and this version. The song is also usually in the top 3 songs ever to be sung in Karaoke parties in the U.S. The song even hit #5 on the U.S. Charts and even did better around the world. Although the song takes place in the 1950s-1960s, it has not been dated with its chorus and lyrics. Whether you’re with a group of friends singing the words or by yourself, you have to say “Oh, those summer nights!”

 

Not Skipping Around-Albums That Must Be Heard!

I had a few people submit me some topics for future writings, and this one caught my eyes when I read this. Being a drummer since I was around 6 or 7 years old, and being a lover of all music, I was asked about albums that I could listen all the way through without skipping a track. Now we all have favorite artists but sometimes they have filler songs on albums that were just made to complete the project, or use a B-Sides of singles. So I thought I would list some that have no bad songs on it (in my eyes, or ears if you want to be technical). Keep in mind that Greatest Hits and Live projects are not counted in this list, only official studio albums. (U.S. compilations that were from other foreign albums do not count either). Some may be rare and surprise you. Now, in no particular order:

kiss

1. Kiss “Love Gun” (1977). Even though my favorite KISS albums of all time are “Revenge” and “Crazy Nights,” they have a few songs that I skip over. However “Love Gun” is pure joy to listen to, and at a run time of under 33 minutes, it doesn’t drag on. Of course many die hards like this because of Ace’s “Shock Me” on the album, I like everything on it, including Peter’s “Hooligan.” I remember getting this on cassette and listening to it constantly (I still have the cassette).

rick springfield

2. Rick Springfield “Working Class Dog.” (1980). This is the album many discovered Rick, even though he had several albums before this. This one made him into a star. Even some of us who weren’t familiar with him as Noah Drake on General Hospital, were hooked on this album, which had the #1 Hit “Jesse’s Girl”, and the remake of Sammy Hagar’s “I’ve Done Everything For You.” However, the deeper cuts like the ballad “Inside Silvia” and “Daddy’s Pearl” are true pop gems. This album was s staple growing up for me in Grade School and even in my college days. A true masterpiece.

beach boys
3. The Beach Boys “The Beach Boys” (1985). This album was, again, a big album of my childhood (on cassette). This was the first album since the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, and went into the 1980s synth-pop sound, but the harmonies and summer feel is still intact. It only had 1 Top 40 Hit, the underrated “Getcha Back,” which is a classic boy loses girl, boy meets girl years later. I still listen to this on CD and takes me back and reminds me of my best friend growing up in Junior High.
huey
4. Huey Lewis and The News “Picture This” (1982). This album is where most people discovered the band (they had one before this one). Even though most think of “Sports” as THE Huey Lewis album (it was the most popular), this one still is my favorite. It is not as polished as “Fore” (another one with no bad songs), keeping it raw feel to it. It only had 2 Top 40 Hits, with the most popular being “Do You Believe In Love,” but songs like “The Only One,” and “Is It Me” are my favorites.

oaks
5. The Oak Ridge Boys “Fancy Free” (1981). The first album I ever had was their “Greatest Hits”, but this studio record (which I still have on vinyl) is true Oak classic. The self titled single, along with their best-known hit “Elvira” both topped the Charts. However the deeper cuts like “When Love Calls You” and “Somewhere in The Night” show not only how underrated Duane Allen’s voice is, but also the arrangements that he helped orchestrate the band to become one of the biggest acts in the 1970s-1980s. The last track “I Would Crawl All The Way” keeps their Gospel roots history going, which is something since they were considered a Country-Pop act. Good vocals hold up in any era, and this never sounds outdated.

warrant
6. Warrant “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” (1989). In the so called Hair Metal decade (I do hate that term!!), one of the big acts was Warrant. This was their first CD, and I remember proudly wearing their T Shirt in High School, much to be laughed at by the die-hard Metal fans. However, to this day, the CD holds up. It had 3 Top 40 Hits, including the famous “Heaven,” but there is not a song that can be skipped. Cuts like “In The Sticks,” and “32 Pennies” still rock. Most forget the lead single “Down Boys,” but I was hooked on them when I first saw that video on MTV.

skid
7. Skid Row “Skid Row” (1989). Also the same year was this band that somehow got lumped in the Hair Metal genre, even though they changed that with their second album a few years later. I cannot really name a bad Skid Row album with the first singer Sebastian Bach, but I’m picking this one as one that I cannot skip a track. Most know “Youth Gone Wild,” and the ballads “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” but “Can’t Stand The Heartache” and “Big Guns” are true Metal classics. I liked this band from day one, and still like the stuff they are putting out.

van halen
8. Van Halen “Van Halen II” (1979). Van Halen is a strange band for me. I LOVED them in my High School Days, especially with Sammy Hagar as the singer (it was the first concert I ever saw in 1991). But throughout the years, the band has just dulled me out. I still think Sammy was a better VOCALIST but David Lee Roth was a great front man, and very few of their albums I can listen to anymore without some of the songs sounding dated. However this one still has the great songs on it, such as “Dance The Night Away” and “Bottom’s Up.” Even though “You’re No Good” as the opener is a cover, it’s not bad that you have to skip it. Ending the album with “Beautiful Girls” is a nice touch of some humor added that Van Halen sneaked into their songs. I still enjoy “Women In Love.” Most people pick the first album as their favorite, and I have no problem with it, but I think “Running With The Devil” is very overplayed so it lessens my love for the album. This one I still don’t get tired of.

nelson
9. Nelson “After The Rain” (1990). Most people laugh when I say I am a huge fan of the Nelson Brothers. I loved Rick Nelson, their father, and his music as well. Most people unfairly judged them by the hair, but not realizing 1. They haven’t had the hair for years and 2. They paid their dues just to get to the first record. This album had 3 Top 40 Hits (most people wrongly thought they were a One Hit Wonder), and was some great Pop Hard Rock tunes on it, along with some ballads, all with vocal harmonies thrown into the mix. Songs like “Everywhere I Go” and “Only Time Will Tell” are great ballads that would fit in that era’s Power Ballads. One of the best concerts I have gotten to see in the past 10 years was getting to see the brothers perform, although it was a tribute to their Dad’s work, it was still a great show. These guys are great musicians as well. For those that always made fun of them, this album put them in the Guinness Book of World’s Records for being the first 3rd Generation Act to have Top 40 Hits.

poison
10. Poison “Open Up and Say..AHH!” (1988). This was the album, like many that got hooked on the band, with the hit “Nothin’ But A Good Time” and “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” Although one of my favorites is their first album, it had some fillers that I tend to skip. Even though I think “Rose” is overplayed (I was a roadie for a local Country Band that played the freaking song-Line Dancers and Power Ballads-made me sick!), I can still tolerate it. The rare songs on here like “Back To The Rocking Horse” and “Bad To Be Good” are enjoyable. I always thought that “Fallen Angel” never gets the respect it should when it comes to Poison songs. I never get tired of hearing “Good Love” on the album. From beginning to end, this was a solid Poison album, which is not always the case in their catalogue in my view, but I still like the band.
There are some of my picks for albums that I do not skip a track on. What’s your take? Care to tell me some of yours? There are a few others I probably could name, so maybe that’ll be another time.

Covering The Originals

I love music.
I grew up with music, from playing drums at age 5, to graduating to several local bands in the Youngstown, Ohio area; music has been a major part of my life. I used to listen to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” every Saturday morning with my boom box waiting to record on cassette tape my favorite song (this is a dated reference I know, but this was pre internet and downloads).
Recently at my work place, a colleague and I were discussing music and the topic became “What cover song is just as, or even better than the original?” This got us on a several day tirade and I decided to share a few of my favorites on the subject.
Now keep in mind that I am not including songs that are most popular associated with remakes, for instance, Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” or Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along With Watchtower,” are just as good (or in my opinion better than their originals as does Elvis Presley’s version of “Hound Dog.” I want to focus on rare songs that most people may not heard or even forgot about when discussing the topic. These are a few of my favorites (it is my blog) and hopefully you will check it out on youtube or whatever music channels you use and discover a few gems. None of these are in order, so the number listings are just for separation purposes.

1. “Stuck In The Middle With You”-The Jeff Healey Band. This song has a personal happiness for me because I used to play this version in one of my early bands in the late 1990s. Healey’s version came off of an all covers album, and has a more blues/rock feel to it, as opposed to the original by Stealers Wheel from 1972. Healey’s version is a more crunchy sound as well, opposite of the original’s funky bass line. The fact that Healey was very underrated as a guitar player, his solo is rocking and incredible in this song.

2. “This Old Heart of Mine”-Wild Cherry. Most people know Wild Cherry as the band that hit the charts with “Play That Funky Music,” but they recorded some great songs in their brief four-album career. The band from Steubenville, Ohio’s (not far from where I live) take on the old Isley Brother’s 1966 hit, is probably my favorite version of the song, even better than the more famous 1989 version where Ron Isley sang with Rod Stewart. Wild Cherry’s was a very good band that most people lump into One Hit Wonder status. Check out Wild Cherry.

3. “Radar Love”- White Lion. White Lion was a very underrated band in the 1980s-1990s , and did not get their just recognition. They are lumped into the “Hair Metal” genre (a term I HATE-a rant for another time), and I think their version of the #13 hit by Golden Earring is actually better than the original. I think the original sounds dated, even though White Lion’s take only reached #59 on the U.S. Charts, the video was in heavy rotation on MTV in the day. Most people forget about White Lion, but they were a great blues-rock band (I tend to lump them more with Cinderella) and all their music should be checked out.

4. “Just My Imagaination”-The Rolling Stones. This song is kinda rare when talked about The Rolling Stones, but this is one of my favorites. I love Motown music, but this more up-tempo version of The Temptation’s 1971 hit is better than the original. There are a few versions of this song, which debuted on the “Some Girls” album in 1978, but I fell in love with it during the “Shine A Light” concert movie.

5. “That’s Rock N Roll”-Shawn Cassidy. This cover of Eric Carmen’s song became a #3 hit for Cassidy in 1977, when the 1970’s Teen Idol explosion was happening and Cassidy was having many hits. The brother of David Cassidy puts more feeling into the song than the original, and is great teen pop.

6. “Da Do Ron Ron”- Shawn Cassidy. I was never a fan of the Crystal’s 1963 hit, which reached #3 on the U.S. Charts, but in 1977 Cassidy took it to #1. As the same with “That’s Rock N Roll, “ Cassidy put more feeling into the song. Cassidy was one of the top Teen Idols during this time and had several chart hits. This one is one of my favorites that he recorded (His version of The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” is one of the worst). This version has a more rock sound and doesn’t seem as dated as the original

7. “Dream Lover”-Rick Nelson. I am a fan of Bobby Darin’s music, but I would name Rick Nelson (who by this time changed his name from the teen Ricky) as one of my all time favorite artists. Most of his really creative works were done later in his career, even though many forgot about him at the time. This song was not released as a single that I know of, but he did perform it in 1979, when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” in hopes of a come back. According to VH1’s’ Behind The Music,” Nelson’s record company sat on the single for months until a full album was made, which killed the momentum he had from his TV appearance. This version is a slower ballad version, and shows Nelson’s crooning voice, which made him famous early in his career.

These are just a few of the songs I feel are just as, or better than the original recordings. A few more Honorable Mentions goes to: Poison’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” Phil Collin’s “A Groovy Kind Of Love,” Rick Nelson’s “I Shall Be Released,” and Nelson’s “She Belongs to Me.” Hopefully you will check out some of these, and feel free to send your own comments and suggestions