“Big Barn Bed”
Paul McCartney and Wings
The fourth time is the charm.
“McCartney” was underrated, primarily because it signified the breakup of the Beatles, but it’s unjustifiably forgotten. Sure, it’s slight, but that’s part of its charm, it feels like something you’d cut at home.
“Ram” was inferior.
“Wild Life” was nearly unlistenable.
The came “Red Rose Speedway.”
I didn’t like “My Love” then and I don’t like it now, I don’t think I’ve listened to it all the way through since the days of AM radio. And once I bought the album, in the eighties as a cutout, I got into “Medley: Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands of Love/Power Cut.”
But I loved “Big Barn Bed” from the first time I heard it, and can still remember times I did hear it, like on the drive to Watkins Glen, but after a couple of bummers I did not buy “Red Rose Speedway” when it came out and in that era if you didn’t own it, you were reliant on the radio and that meant “Big Barn Bed” was always special to me, just like Argent’s “Liar.” But in the internet era, everything is available for all to hear.
Truthfully, it’s the fifth album, “Band on the Run,” that broke the curse, that demonstrated not only that McCartney was fully back, but he was the equal of George Harrison and John Lennon in the solo era. And I love “Venus and Mars,” but after that it was up and down, unfortunately mostly down, despite the positive reviews, although I do love the title track of “London Town.”
So, “Big Barn Bed” is all about the background vocals, and the a cappella denouement at the end.
You cannot listen to “Big Barn Bed” and stay in a bad mood. I’ve never burned out on it and still feel as joyous as ever as I listen to it on the big rig right now. And I feel like I’m 20, instead of 67.
“She’s a Rainbow”
The Rolling Stones
This is not the best song on “Their Satanic Majesties’ Request” (did you ever find the four Beatles in the 3-D cover?), that would be “2000 Light Years From Home.” And the album might contain Bill Wyman’s best cut with the Stones, “In Another Land,” and there’s incredible energy in “Citadel,” but this is upbeat in a way the other cuts are not.
“Gorilla” came out in May and played the entire summer of ’75. The entire record was more upbeat than what preceded it, the LP was light, like the summer.
This was from back before any northerners went anywhere but Acapulco. Of course, Southern Californians went to Tijuana, maybe even Ensenada, but Cabo was just a fishing town, never mind Zihuatanejo or Tulum. This was in the pre-internet era, when what happened south of the border absolutely stayed south of the border, back when Mexico was seen as exotic as opposed to dangerous.
This is not Donovan’s best cut, that’s “Sunshine Superman,” or maybe “Catch the Wind,” but this was a gigantic hit just when America was waking up to recreational drugs. Was it about smoking electric bananas? I’ll leave that to you.
“Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me”
And I got the one I love beside me
My troubles behind me
I’m alive and I’m free
Who wouldn’t wanna be me
Powerful, with more than a little bass, the song is electric, just like the guitar, this is the kind of cut you put on loud to inspire you, not metal to squeeze out all the bad feelings, but to lift you above the earth, where nothing can impinge on your mood.
“Easy to Slip”
Now this is a conundrum, the lyrics disqualify this cut from this list, but the sound is a bullseye. This is the song I sang in my head when I skied the bumps in Utah.
This is from the second Little Feat album, “Sailin’ Shoes.” No one bought the first, which is maybe why they put “Willin'” on both LPs. And it wasn’t until the fourth LP that the masses caught on to Little Feat, and it took a long time for people to go back to the second, but this is the one with “A Apolitical Blues,” which Van Halen covered, amazing how other people listen to the same album cuts as you.
“‘Til I Die”
The Beach Boys
Possibly the last transcendent Brian Wilson track.
“Sunflower” got great reviews, but was unjustly ignored by the public. “Surf’s Up” was not as good, but it got ink and acceptance and suddenly the Beach Boys were rejuvenated and started their endless tour, which they’re still on, albeit in two camps. This is primarily dreamy, when you’re already in a good mood, lying on an inner tube, floating down the river, in your pool, or just in your mind.
Be Bop Deluxe
If the band is remembered, and it’s really not, it’s for two cuts on the previous LP, “Sunburst Finish,” “Fair Exchange” and “Ships in the Night.” But I always preferred the follow-up, “Modern Music.”
The title cut is the best, but “Down on Terminal Street” and “Honeymoon on Mars” are also excellent.
The double album follow-up, “Live! In The Air Age,” was excellent (did you have the original, with the white vinyl?) And “Drastic Plastic” then pushed the envelope, but was still listenable and good. Then Bill Nelson broke up the band and slipped into marginality. At the advent of the century there were all these stories how he was broke, how his lack of cash had broken up his marriage, how he did work for EMI in promise of payment and didn’t get it and…I have no idea how he’s doing today.
“The Finer Things”
Yes, Keith Urban covered “Higher Love” on that Covid-19 telecast, and that is certainly an upbeat song, but at this point I prefer the second side of the unjustly reviled “Back in the High Life.” Winwood pointed the way to the future, gave up the roots for the modern sound, sold incredibly and was accepted by everybody, but now in today’s only stripped-down roots have credibility somehow the viewpoint on this album is different.
While there is time
Let’s go out and feel everything
If you hold me
I will let you into my dreams
My ex had moved out the year before. To quote another cut from this LP, “Here am I, where are you?” It’s very difficult when they leave, they were here and then they’re gone. And this was before the internet, never mind Zoom. But a year later I had a new girlfriend, I played this cassette as we drove up Pacific Coast Highway with my hand between her thighs.
“Highway to Hell”
From the Bon Scott era. “Highway to Hell” incorporates the ethos of yesteryear, when music was us versus them, when you listened to your tracks as a badge of identity. You were proud you were on the highway to hell, you could make it on a minimum wage job, the music was enough to get you through.
Living easy, living free
There are bands you hate and then you love.
What seemed like mindless boogie back then is genius today, if only we had rock bands with this kind of energy these days.
I heard these songs all the time on KMET and KLOS and didn’t realize I missed them until KMET changed formats.
Between heaven and hell, check into the Boogie Motel
Yup, there’s that same metaphor, when hell was a regular feature in rock music.
“Flying High Again”
This was from when he was still seen as the Prince of Darkness, before we found out on MTV he was a lovable Beatles fan. Like Foghat, I hated Ozzy, except for this one track I could not get enough of on KMET and KLOS, and then I went to see him on the “No More Tears” tour and it was all over.
“I’m a Believer”
At this point, Dann Huff is seen mostly as a producer, but before that he was a studio gunslinger and then formed his own band with his brother and tried to make it and…
For a long time this was unavailable online. If you know it, you love it, if you don’t, get ready to have your head explode.
“A Place in the Sun”
At this point, Pablo Cruise is reviled, maybe because after having success they moved to the middle of the road, but if you can’t get happy listening to this, if you can’t enjoy the guitar work, if you can’t get behind the energetic uplifting chorus…
You’re probably at home in all black listening to punk records, waiting for everybody to notice and pay attention to you, not realizing that era is over, nobody cares.
“Play on Love”
From the humongous “Red Octopus” with Mary Balin’s exquisite “Miracles.’ This song opens the second side, this is when the Starship was celebrated, before the Mickey Thomas era.
“Playing in the Band”
Everybody bought Jerry Garcia’s initial solo LP, which opened with “Deal,” but this is the solo track that is remembered and still played all these years later.
“Dance to the Music”
Sly & the Family Stone
Talk about exploding out of the gate…
This was the act’s initial single, heralding their arrival, who knew what would follow would be even better.
The Steve Miller Band
He didn’t write it, but he killed it.
Steve faded out, then he came back with the previous year’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and then doubled-down with “Book of Dreams,” this was the initial single, with the s-word intact on FM, but not AM.
The second side opener from his breakthrough “The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get.”
Which I didn’t own for years, but I did buy the live album, “Don’t Argue With A Sick Mind” and drove from Salt Lake to Connecticut listening to the live take. By this point, I-70 was four-lane over Vail Pass. And at the top there are meadows, I listened to this over and over and over again as I drove through.
“Let it Rain”
Seen as a disappointment back then, “After Midnight” and “Blues Power” have become standards. The best cut is “Easy Now,” but this is close.
“Only You Know and I Know”
Speaking of Clapton…
“Alone Together” came out the same time as Clapton’s debut…
For a long time the known take was the live one done by Delaney & Bonnie, with Clapton (and Mason!), and it’s more energetic, but this studio version is more soul-fulfilling.
“I’m Into Something Good”
“Mrs. Brown” was bigger, but this initial track is just so magical it’s undeniable.
“Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)”
The Mamas & the Papas
Yes, I could have used “Words of Love,” or “I Saw Her Again Last Night,” but this is now my favorite track by this act. This contributed to the legend of Laurel Canyon…we dreamed of setting ourselves free and moving there, but we didn’t have the balls, to jump the track and go for it.
Huh, get a job?
Yes, from “Cosmic Thing,” with “Love Shack.” From a curio, stars of the underground, the band lost a member and then went to the top of the chart. This is my favorite cut from the album, there was a great video on MTV of the band just hanging out, like in the clubhouse of the “He-Man Woman Haters Club”…you could envision Spanky and Alfalfa grooving with them.
“Live for the Music”
The opening cut of “Run With the Pack,” this is the essence of being a rock fan. If Paul Rodgers had died in a plane crash, or O.D.’ed at the height of his career, this band would be enshrined in the Rock Hall and revered, but his crime is staying alive and still delivering.
“Hand in My Pocket”
She could never follow up “Jagged Little Pill,” but we all wanted to hear what we she did next, now we don’t care. Sure she did “Uninvited” subsequently, but that’s all. She got back together with Glen Ballard, but it’s hard to recreate the magic, but it’s hard to live through this instant fame. Will Billie Eilish suffer the same fate? Then again, “When We All Fall Asleep…” won all those awards, but has only a smidgen of the talent and greatness of “Jagged Little Pill.”
The Barenaked Ladies
The band played the 2002 Olympics and that inspired me to download as many of their tracks as I could from Limewire, and this is the one that stood out. And, the lyric is kinda critical, but the chorus and the bridge are so magical, you can only listen and smile. Then again, the words are inspirational:
You can’t live your life in the baby seat
You’ve got to stand on your own, don’t admit defeat
Was the problem he was on MCA?
He had his moment, then he went into the mortgage business, but he was more than a one hit wonder.
Now people know “Dirty Mind,” but for a long time they didn’t.
It’s a masterpiece.
This song about the hip part of Minneapolis is sure magic.
The album is only 30 minutes long, but that shows it doesn’t have to be long to be good. In the CD era there was too much filler. In the internet era it seems all we get is filler.
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
People seem to forget that this was the initial single, the breakthrough on “The Game.” Which is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is the band switched producers, from Roy Thomas Baker to Mack, and still had success. This stripped-down rockabilly cut is so infectious, I had to run out and buy the album immediately upon release.
“Sailing Shoes/Hey Julia/Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley”
I bought the following LP first, with the amazing “Give Me an Inch,” and then went back to this, to this day people don’t know this medley, they should.
A harbinger of the Swedish hitmakers to come.
Sure, this was a giant track on MTV and radio, but then the label was in flux and the act no longer got a push in America. Divorce yourself from the era, just listen. Those edgy guitars, this is what Max Martin has built his reputation on, not an unnecessary note, just magic. He followed in Per Gessle’s footsteps.
“Larger Than Life”
Speaking of Max Martin…
To think our biggest complaint at the turn of the century was boy bands…before “Idol” and the “Voice” and…makes you yearn for what once was.
I actually bought “Millennium.” I had to hear “I Want It That Way.” I was stunned how good the LP was, this was the opening cut, it was more rock than most of what was on the rock charts. Backstreet Boys had something to prove, and they did.
“Gimme All Your Lovin'”
I was tempted to include “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” but I’m using this because it was the breakthrough. Sideshow Texas band changes its sound just a tiny bit and via the equivalent of what was then a viral video becomes part of the firmament, loved by everybody.
“Can’t Get Enough”
I know, one of the “W” bands, but…
This is heavy, magical and mind-blowing, this is the power of rock and roll. Turn it up and squeeze the coronavirus right out of your brain.