So back in 2003, when we still didn’t know what we were doing, I started making mp3 CDs. Lots of ’em. When Sony introduced a Discman that played mp3 discs, I was ecstatic.
5 years later, I just unearthed a brand-new Discman in a box of stuff, so I’ve hauled out the mp3 discs again. The first one I ever burned was titled, simply enough, rock! I think I need to do a Nate Patrin (still one of my favorite crits) and attempt to write about every song on it, in random order. (Mostly in the time it takes to listen to the song, but I’m not limiting myself to that.) There’s 143 total. I started on the bus to work this a.m.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Deanna” (1988): Coming off like the ultimate lost trash-rock classic (cf. “Surfin’ Bird” – and can you imagine Cave putting his imprimatur on that?!), only slightly gothier. This is Cave at his vocal best, which is to say rather unhinged.
Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, “Gallows Pole” (1994): It’s certainly not “unLedded,” all advertising to the contrary. Pointing the way, clearly, to Plant’s Moroccan excursions to come, this proves that the dynamic duo can make music just as propulsive and full of life with acoustic instruments.
Temple of the Dog, “Hunger Strike” (1991): Quite possibly the best record any of its principals have ever been involved with. Apart from the “dirtier” (i.e. Mudhoney et. al.) school, this is to me what grunge was meant to sound like. Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell should cut a duets album, too.
Guns ‘N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle” (1987): Well, GodDAMN what can you say about this? As important if not influential as “Anarchy in the UK” or even “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (quick: name me a band more influential than G’N’R and/or Nirvana in the last 20 years), and taken in context it was an ATOM BOMB. I still remember the first time I heard/saw this, in the early ayem on Headbangers Ball. Seeing it, you (I) just knew they were gonna rule the world. Shoulda known they’d implode, too.
Manic Street Preachers, “The Masses Against the Classes” (2000): Exciting partially because it was the loudest, most punk-sounding thing they’d recorded post-Richey – but also because it’s the sound of an ace rock trio working in well-lubed harmony. Also: endearingly Socialist.
Pilot, “Magic” (1974): I’ll argue that the guitars make it rock; you can argue against, citing the blowsy horns, handclaps, and especially the poncy “la-la-la”s, but you do so at the risk of neglecting that a) this was during the height of glam, and b) it’s British. C’mon now. Roxy re-envisioned as a seaside resort hotel combo, as pop and queer as, well, Brittania itself.
Suede, “Trash” (1996): Speaking of pop/queer/Britishness… I swear this came up totally at random! At their best – combining Brett Anderson firing on all cylinders, both lyrically (sassy observations and pithiness) and vocally (like he swallowed Marc Bolan and Ziggy Stardust), with the best crunchy glamness this side of, well, ’74 – they were damned near unstoppable. This exemplifies it.
Queen, “Hammer to Fall” (1984): The last great rocking Queen single? You can have the likes of “Innuendo,” I’ll take this. Freddie’s still at the top of his form, the harmonies are classic Queen, Brian May’s doing his thing, dawg, and you can place the song itself up against their ’70s work with no regrets.
Scorpions, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” (1984): No shame in loving hair metal (even though this most definitely predates the genre) if it’s as good as this. The guitars simply shred, and Klaus Meine is at his best here, wailing away like the Berlin Wall’s already coming down. Are you ready, baby?