1. Holy Spirit (Third Day, Third Day)
2. Talk About Suffering (Phil Keaggy, Phil Keaggy and Sunday’s Child)
3. Curses (Steve Taylor, Squint)
4. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age (Holst, The Planets, perf. by NY Philharmonic)
5. The Finer Things (Steve Winwood, Back in the High Life)
6. Telephone Song (The Vaughan Brothers, Family Style)
7. Fire (The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?)
8. Give Thanks to the Lord (Christ Community Church, re:awakening)
9. Searchran Charin Tsiall (Clannad, Magical Ring)
10. Perpetual Change (Yes, The Yes Album)
“Perpetual Change” (#10 on the list) is a personal favorite of mine, even though I’m no longer the die-hard Yes geek I was when I was in high school. Here’s a very cool performance of this, with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson together with the Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars. Pretty amazing considering that the instrumentalists here are just teenagers!
1. Out of the Silent Planet (King’s X, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska)
2. Not Just For the Dead (King’s X, King’s X)
3. Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy)
4. Swlabr (Cream, Disraeli Gears)
5. Stomping Grounds (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Live Art)
6. Love Struck Baby (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Texas Flood)
7. On My Knees (Son Seals, Essential Chicago Blues)
8. Howlin’ for My Darling (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
9. In Your Own Sweet Way (Dave Brubeck, Ken Burns Jazz: Dave Brubeck)
10. You Should See The Way It Feels (David Wilcox, East Asheville Hardware)
This being Independence Day, I’m going to choose the “most American” song from the list this week to feature. I think that would be “Love Struck Baby” by Stevie Ray Vaughn. SRV embodied the very best of a truly American art form: the blues, and not just the blues but Texas-style blues. If you want to be proud that you’re an American, just watch this clip. Don’t miss the behind-the-back solo around 1:35.
Bonus: You know, Chicago blues is also a quintessentially American musical style, and it’s as fun and musical as Texas blues. To prove that most things are interconnected, here’s a clip of Son Seals (#7 on the list) doing “The Sky is Crying”, which provided Stevie Ray Vaughn with a posthumous radio hit back in the 90′s.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, for some reason:
1. Losing My Religion (R.E.M., Out of Time)
2. Baby Be Good (The Smithereens, 11)
3. He’s Misstra Know It All (Stevie Wonder, Innervisions)
4. Universe Next Door (Wes King, Room Full Of Stories)
5. Who Did You Think I Was (John Mayer Trio, Try!)
6. Hidden Charms (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
7. Time Stand Still (Rush, Hold Your Fire)
8. She Came In Through the Bathroom Window (Beatles, Abbey Road)
9. Wind and Spirit (Chris Rice, Past the Edges)
10. Somebody To Love (Queen, Greatest Hits)
The standout from this particular list is Stevie Wonder’s “He’s Misstra Know It All”. Here’s a live performance of this from 1974, when Stevie was at the height of his powers:
People tend to identify Stevie with either his child-star days or the banal soft-pop stuff he did in the 80′s, and forget that the man was a genius in his day, particularly in live performances.
As a bonus, here’s a clip of Stevie from about the same time period doing “Superstition” live… on Sesame Street! If only all kids’ music could be so good. Take that, Hannah Montana.
1. Lady Marian (Clannad, Pastpresent)
2. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd, Essential Chicago Blues)
3. I Feel So Good (Muddy Waters, His Best: 1956-1964)
4. Stone Cold Crazy (Queen, Classic Queen)
5. The Red Rooster (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
6. People Watching (Jack Johnson, Curious George soundtrack)
7. Donald Macgillavry (The Fight with the Blackfeet) (various, Lewis & Clark soundtrack)
8. On the Silent Wings of Freedom (Yes, Tormato)
9. Pleiades (King’s X, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska)
10. San Jacinto (Peter Gabriel, Shaking the Tree)
Gretchen Goes to Nebraska by King’s X (#9) is a landmark for me in my personal musical history. It came out in 1989, just after I started college and was in a storm of contention between my religious background and the academic climate I had just entered.
Just when I had started thinking that Christianity and I just weren’t meant to be — based on the lameness of Christian culture, especially Christian music, as well as my Christian community’s unwillingness to engage itself with the ideas I was learning in college — along comes King’s X with this album that combines outstanding rock musicianship with a deep understanding of faith and at the same time that wariness I had of Christian culture. They were definitely in the world but not of it.
“Pleiades” has always been my favorite from that album, and it’s without a doubt the finest rock song about the 38th chapter of Job that you will ever hear. And this homemade video from YouTube will probably be the only video you ever see which features Giordano Bruno.
You thought I’d forgotten all about the Friday Random 10, didn’t you?
- Robin & Marian (Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek)
- Another Record (Genesis, Abacab)
- One More Red Nightmare (King Crimson, Red)
- 83 (John Mayer, Room for Squares)
- Peace, Be Still (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Three Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
- Fortress Around Your Heart (Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles)
- Does Everyone Stare (The Police, Regatta de Blanc)
- My Redeemer Lives (Mark Heard, High Noon)
- I Get a Kick Out of You (Dave Brubeck, Ken Burns Jazz: Dave Brubeck)
- I Need to Know (Marc Anthony, Marc Anthony)
King Crimson (#3 in the list) came in many different varieties, each very different from all the others. But here’s a video of a more recent incarnation of the band doing “Red” from the Red album. I think this is from the mid-1990′s, since the band is in its six-man lineup from the tour supporting the THRAK album. Front and center is the incomparable Tony Levin on bass.
- Be Ever Wonderful (Earth Wind & Fire, All ‘n All)
- The Lighthouses Tale (Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek)
- Footprints (Kelly Joe Phelps, Roll Away the Stone)
- Shenandoah (Jefferson’s Theme) (various, Lewis & Clark soundtrack)
- Caritas habundat in omnia (Hildegard von Bingen, performed by Sequentia, Canticles of Ecstasy)
- Starless (King Crimson, Red)
- Lovely Rita (Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
- The Wind Cries Mary (Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?)
- I Should Have Known Better (Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night)
- Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (James Brown, The CD of JB)
I’m tempted to go dredge up some video of King Crimson doing something from Red, because that album is probably one of the finest rock albums made and the live shows that feature material from it are superb.
But instead, it’s Friday, so it seems appropriate to get as funky as possible. With that, here’s James Brown and his impossibly tight backing band doing “Sex Machine”. This looks like it’s from around 1975, which is when he was still at the height of his powers.
- Oh! Darling (Beatles, Abbey Road)
- A Kind Of Magic (Queen, Classic Queen)
- New Song (Howard Jones, The Best of Howard Jones)
- Love Is The Seventh Wave (Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles)
- Turn It On Again (Genesis, Duke)
- Strong Hand Of Love (Mark Heard, High Noon)
- Badge (Cream, Goodbye)
- Vital Signs (Rush, Moving Pictures)
- Hard Time Killing Floor Blues (Chris Thomas King, O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack)
- Tempus Fugit (Yes, Drama)
So last week we saw some rare Yes studio session footage from 1976, with a comment from me wondering how good Yes might have gotten if it hadn’t been for Jon Anderson’s faux-yogi lyrics. Fast-forward to 1980/1981 and you have the answer to my question in Drama, the one Yes album not containing Anderson or his lyrics. This album wasn’t supposed to be any good, with Anderson and Rick Wakeman having departed and replaced by two relative unknowns at vocals and keyboards. But in fact it’s one of their best. Here’s the video for “Tempus Fugit” (#10):
Trivia questions for the audience:
- Who are those newcomers at vocals and keyboards?
- What band were they previously in, and what is that band’s claim to fame?
- What band did guitarist Steve Howe and the new keyboardist go on to form the next year, and what was their big radio hit?
- What connection did the new vocalist go on to have with Yes in the early 80′s?
- The new vocalist here went on to produce albums for lots of artists, including one hugely popular singer in the 90′s. Who was that singer?
No cheating by using Wikipedia, please.
- How Many More Years (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
- The Girl from Ipanema (Astrud Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto’s Finest Hour)
- The One I Love (R.E.M., Document)
- Curbside Prophet (Jason Mraz, Waiting for My Rocket to Come)
- Montreaux’s Theme (Yes, Yesyears disc 3 (a.k.a. Going for the One session tapes))
- I’ll Cry Instead (Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night)
- I Will (Alison Krauss, Now That I’ve Found You)
- Going for the One (Yes, Going for the One)
- If I Needed Someone (Beatles, Rubber Soul)
- Shaky Situation (Mark Heard, High Noon)
Speaking of Yes’ Going for the One (#5 and #8), here’s a video from the studio sessions for that album from 1976. The band, minus Jon Anderson, is working out the song that would eventually become “Parallels”. And I do mean working. Chris Squire flat-out owns that Jazz bass he’s playing (although it’s strange to see him without his trademark Rickenbacker).
It’s also nice to see Steve Howe not looking like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, as he has for about 20 years now. The four of them play with such energy and tightness in this studio session that it makes you wonder how much better they would have been without Anderson’s quasi-spiritual nonsense. (“Heresy!” said the Yes purists.)
Last week’s Friday Random 10 is currently the featured article on the Wiggles Wiki. Sweet. This is just as awesome as an Instalanche and without all the crashing servers.
- Concerto for Violin, Oboe, and Strings in D Minor, movement III (Bach, performed by Akiko Suwanai)
- Sitting Along in the Moonlight (Bill Monroe, The Music of Bill Monroe)
- Pop Song 89 (REM, Green)
- Big Enough (Chris Rice, Past the Edges)
- Tie Your Mother Down (Queen, Classic Queen)
- With My Own Two Hands (Ben Harper, Diamonds on the Inside)
- Thirteen (Johnny Cash, American Recordings)
- Far East Medley (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Live Art)
- Cold Shot (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Greatest Hits)
- Miss Claire Remembers (Enya, Watermark)
In this week’s 5×5 I listed Stevie Ray Vaughan as one of the artists that I wish I’d seen perform live while he was still around. Thanks to YouTube, we can all get pretty close to that experience. Here he is with Double Trouble doing “Cold Shot” (#9) back in 1984. It’s incredible that he can get that much sound out of one instrument. And if you ever thought that bass playing was easy in the blues, check out his bass player’s awesome left hand technique.