"Fox on the Run" by SWEET:
Every time I hear this song played unexpectedly on iTunes' Party Shuffle, that goofy intro scares me into thinking that somehow the Steve Miller Band's "Swingtown" snuck onto my computer. Because, man, do I fucking hate me some Steve Miller. Luckily, it's just the opening notes of (the) Sweet classic "Fox on the Run," a sublime rollerskating jam that combines ELO and T.Rex. Of course, Sweet aren't completely innocent in my eyes, having scored a hit with another of my all time least favorite songs, "Ball Room Blitz."
"King of the Night Time World"
"Detroit Rock City"
"Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" by KISS:
The sound of that Sweet song makes me think of one thing: the original glam dorks, KISS.
Last post I covered The Runaways, and this afternoon Kiss brings us a link back to that band of bad ass rock chicks. How? Through the involvement of a man by the name of Kim Fowley. Fowley was a singer, songwriter and musician who eventually made his way into the more promotional side of the music business. . . basically by being an all around bullshitter and "svengali." The Runaways were essentially his creation, with Fowley putting the band together and giving them their jailbait image (and at one point, the backstory hype of them actually being runaways). One of Fowley's other great moves was penning, with the help of his writing partner Mark Anthony, "King of the Night Time World" for Kiss's break-out 1976 album Destroyer.
Now, I may have discussed this around these parts before, but Destroyer, released a month after I was born, scared the absolute shit out of me when I was a kid. The cover imagery, a painting of the band in their kabuki makeup dancing on a pile of rubble as cities burn at their feet, was partly to blame. Part of the blame also lies at my young feet. Not old enough to understand things like sexual innuendo, songs like "God of Thunder" sounded like the embodiment of evil. Little did I know that almost every song on this (and any) Kiss record was really just about fucking.
I'm sure it didn't help matters that the record starts out with "Detroit Rock City" (presented here in its radio-edited form, which excises about 1.5 minutes of "rock theater" where a guy gets into his car, cranks up the Kiss, and dies in a fiery crash), a song about rocking. . . and dying. Maybe if I'd heard a few more of the band's more lunkheaded songs, like "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em," I wouldn't have taken them so seriously. The fact that I did is a testament to the power of theatricality, especially in the eyes of stupid pre-adolescent kids.
"Move Over" by SLADE:
Really, if I wanted to personify the '70s at its most rockin', glammed out, cock flappin' best, I could choose pretty much any song from the Slade catalogue. Aside from penning one of the greatest Christmas songs ever ("Merry Xmas Everybody"), Slade basically created the template for 80s hair metal with tracks like "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" (covered by The Runaways and Quiet Riot, among many others), "Cum on Feel the Noize" (that's right, the other Quiet Riot hit), and more. Since the band was covered and emulated so often, today I'm including "Move Over," their semi-hit cover of a Janis Joplin song.
"Randolph's Tango" by THIN LIZZY:
I already wrote plenty about my love of Thin Lizzy back when I did an entire week of Lizzy posts, so I'll keep this brief. If I'm writing all of this month's posts under the guise that these songs would save you from getting your ass kicked if you put them on in the dingiest of biker bars, "Randolph's Tango" might actually get you laid. Or married. It's also one the most musically intricate and interesting songs of Lizzy's storied career. Man, I really do wish Phil Lynott were still alive, because I think he's one musician who had the skills to keep maturing as a songwriter without becoming a complete puss like Sting or Mick Jagger.
"Hair of the Dog"
"Whiskey Drinkin' Woman"
"Love Hurts" by NAZARETH:
"Love Hurts" by THE EVERLY BROTHERS
"Love Hurts" by GRAM PARSONS:
For a band from Scotland, Nazareth sure sounded like they belonged on the L.A. Strip with hard rockers like Guns 'N Roses and Motley Crue. From the opening cowbell of their hit single, "Hair of the Dog," they let it be known that they were here to bang heads. It's hard not to picture Axl Rose behind the microphone here (Guns would go on to cover the song on their patchy, almost hilarious covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?) especially with the tough guy chorus, "Now you're messin' with a son of a bitch!"
All of tonight's songs come from the Hair of the Dog album, including the sludgy Joe Walsh-ian "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman," and Nazareth's biggest hit, their cover of the Everly Brothers' "Love Hurts" (though I really think they based their version on Gram Parsons' cover. . . listen to all three and judge for yourself). Time for a slow dance between you and the old lady you met up with back on that Thin Lizzy number.
photo by Tom Gold
"Mississippi Queen" by MOUNTAIN:
Because you just can't do a tribute to 70s balls out rock without this song. You're supposed to play pool to this. . . or strip. I didn't realize until checking on the band's Allmusic entry that their fourth live performance ever was at Woodstock.
I've always thought one of the funniest and most telling (about the music industry and what it has become, at least) thing about 70s rock was the fact that you could be UGLY AS FUCK and still have a massive hit. You couldn't do that today. I think the last lump of shit to break the mainstream was John Popper. Seriously, check out Mountain guitarist Leslie West:
He looks like Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride! And yet, massive hit. Dude played Woodstock. Who is the ugliest person on MTV or the radio today? Can you name three truly ugly people? Back in the '70s, it was ugly for miles. Frank Zappa. Blue Oyster Cult. They had better looking dudes in 70s porn, and even those dudes were heinous.
"You Drive Me Wild"
"Cherry Bomb" by THE RUNAWAYS:
I think I've already said enough around these parts about how Joan Jett was the first woman I ever fell in love with. And that was only because of her early solo career. . . if I had seen her back when she was in The Runaways (she would have been about 16, and I not yet born), I would have run away from home to find her. A cute girl who loved Black Sabbath and AC/DC, and she rocks? Just kill me. Yep, it was her and Diane Lane for me. I'm still dying this day to find a copy of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, where Diane Lane pretty much plays Joan Jett in an all-female punk band. Anybody out there have this movie? Please? PLEASE?
Anyway, "Cherry Bomb" is probably the most recognizable of The Runaway's songs. I can't say for sure, but it seems like the soundtrack to Dazed and Confusled kind or rescued the song from obscurity. If you know anyone who likes The Donnas, I want you to slap them right in the mouth, stomp on the part of their hard drive that stores all their Donnas downloads and ringtones (because this person must be 14, right?), and replace it all with music from The Runaways. They did it so much dirtier, and so much better.
"Outta Love Again"
"Somebody Get Me a Doctor" by VAN HALEN:
Van fucking Halen.
I will never, ever make apologies for my love of David Lee-roth era Van Halen, and most specifically for the two self-titled albums they released at the close of the 1970s. Any doubters can just bow at the throne of "Atomic Punk," which pretty much laid out the blueprint for the band's entire M.O.: scream loud, play louder. Just clock the metal-ness of Roth bellowing, "I am the ruler of these netherworlds / The underground. . . oh yes! // Nobody rules these streets at night but me! / The atomic punk! UhAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAHAAAAA!!!!" followed by that absolutely insane no matter which way you cut it guitar solo. So their lead singer had flowing blonde hair and wore tights like a goddamned trapeeze artist? Van Halen fucking rocked. It must have really pissed off the punk rock kids that these guys stole their word so early on.
Then you've got a classic like "Jamie's Cryin'," which somehow pushes The Kinks through a Motown filter and cranks the shit out of it on the other end. Great backing vocals from Roth and the rest of the band, great melody, and it's a story song, to boot. I'm telling you, it's because of Roth's clown pants that these guys continue to get robbed of the credit they deserve.
For me, Van Halen II was the real gem. It's just a banger, from start to finish, and chugs along in a surprisingly groovy way. Since any Van Halen fan out there already knows the brilliance of songs like "Dance the Night Away" or "Beautiful Girls," I'm sticking to some of the deep tracks. "Outta Love Again" is just flat out bad ass, and Alex Van Halen's drumming is off the charts. You know when drummer's use the phrase "playing in the pocket"? This is what "in the pocket" sounds like.
Not bangin' enough for you? Check out "D.O.A.." Or try "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," which I'd use as my car chase music if I ever got to direct a movie. Still not bangin' enough for you? Go fuck yourself. Van Halen.
Metal fans: That guitar was buried with Dimebag Darrell
Last year I dedicated a post to a few of my favorite 70s jams. . . the kind of stuff you shamelessly crank up in your car on a road trip when all the music you're not embarassed to listen to starts to bore the living shit out of you. Go ahead, try putting on an Arcade Fire record 12 hours into a road trip. You've passed the cool point. Tossing that Grizzly Bear CD on may just get you a punch in the face from a grumpy travelling companion.
Here's how I described it in my K-Dilly post from last year:
While every era in music has its cheese, from the corny stuff in the '50s to the hippy-dippy shit in the 60s to the Candleboxian "grunge" of the '90s, I seem to have a soft spot for the 70s stuff.
The 70s produced a lot of bad music, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't even be afraid to say that some of tonight's music is, in some way, bad. I just don't care. This stuff isn't brain surgery. This is the 70s stuff that was custom made for a few specific activities. Drinking in your backyard. Lighting a shitload of fireworks. Watching, or participating in, a roller derby. Driving fast, especially in a Camaro.
For the entire month of September, I'm posting only the sweetest in 70s rawk. This time around, my idea was basically to construct a playlist of songs that, if played in a dingy biker bar jukebox, the kind of bar where Pee Wee Herman almost lost his life in Big Adventure, would NOT get your ass kicked.
"ELO Kiddies" by CHEAP TRICK:
What better way to start things off than with a couple of hello/ello's from Chicago's reigning pop rockers? Some of my earliest memories revolve around Cheap Trick, who -- though we may have forgotten this now -- were HUGE when I was young. Maybe it was just because I was growing up in the midwest, but the kids in my 'hood, especially the ones my older brothers' age, loved them. They had a great look, a cool name, a fantastic lead singer in Robin Zander, a goofy guitarist, and a drummer with one of the best names in the history of rock: Bun E. Carlos. "Hello There" was the song Cheap Trick played to open the majority of their shows, and it's easy to see why: it's punk as fuck. "ELO Kiddies," from the band's debut, is no slouch either, sounding like some crazy mix of Gang of Four and Alice Cooper.
"Toys in the Attic"
"Back in the Saddle" by AEROSMITH:
I have to admit, it took Guitar Hero 2 to re-awaken my love for old Aerosmith. There's a band who have not done themselves any favors (at least in my eyes) for at LEAST 15 to 20 years. "Love in an Elevator?" "Falling in Love is So Hard on the Knees?" They don't write songs anymore. . . they just go to Spencer's Gifts and lift lyrics off the worst bumper stickers they can find. Don't even get me started on all of those Dianne Warren soundtrack tunes they've been shitting out ad nauseum. But man, back in the day? Aerosmith were kinda the shit. Clock the stoned out brilliance of "Last Child," which starts out all slow like it's going to be another "Dream On," before turning into some kind of whiskey soaked porn soundtrack. (Is it a rule that Steven Tyler has to rhyme something with "sassyfrassy" on every song they do?) I was in grade school when I bought their debut album on cassette because it contained "Dream On." Once I got over that drag of a tune, I found the real gem in "Mama Kin" (so had Guns n' Roses, who covered it on the Live Like a Suicide half of their Lies EP). When I was 14 or 15, my mom and dad gave me the awesome gift of their Pandora's Box boxed set, which collected all kinds of great pre-Permanent Vacation/career revival music like "Toys in the Attic" and "Back in the Saddle." I stupidly sold the set in college, and now more than ever wish I had it back.
"Black Betty" by RAM JAM:
I can't say I own a single Ram Jam record (of course, there are only two). I honestly don't have any idea what the rest of their "catalogue" sounds like. All I know is that I'm dying to play this song on the 8-track player in a crazy souped up Camaro on a backwoods dirt road.
"Parchman Farm" by CACTUS:
Remember that scene in Ghost World, where Steve Buscemi goes to see a blues concert and is met with the white boy blues cockrocksanity of BLUESHAMMER? Yeah. That shit happened in 1970, and that band was Cactus. If scientists had to predict the sound it would make when you combine the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge with the vocalist from the Amboy Dukes and Mitch Ryder's guitarist, they'd probably actually come really close to predicting this sound. Their debut album, which spawned this rocking but totally hilarious cover of a blues classic, gets an incredibly overstated 4.5 stars over at Allmusic.com.
"New York Groove" by ACE FREHLEY:
As a show, Entourage sucks more and more as it progresses. Lately, however, they've at least been making some interesting musical choices. Digging up this glorious glam rock anthem, off of the Ace Frehley solo KISS record. Back in September of 1978 (29 years ago, Christ!), all the members of KISS released solo albums on the same day. The only one I ever bought (again, on cassette) when I was going through my KISS phase was Ace's, which was just a bit less spotty than the rest of them but still had some great songs like "Groove" and the ode to cocaine, "Snow Blind." I'll get to KISS a post or two from now, so I'll just leave you to enjoy Frehley's take on a song that had been a hit for a band called Hello a few years before this version was released.
Alright kids, that's all for now, but stay tuned all through September for more 70s grooves. . .