A Lynyrd Skynyrd Top 25

11.30 skynyrd at a festival

One weekend in the winter of 1976/1977, I was staying the weekend with my father as part of my parents’ divorce agreement. At the time, I was so mad at my dad for moving out and getting on with his life, that I attempted to make his life just a miserable as he had made mine. I felt betrayed by him. He was my way of dealing with my mother, and he bailed. Anyway, back in those days, if you needed something like furniture or some appliance, the store of choice around this neck of the woods was Service Merchandise. And, I never minded going there because, outside of the couple of independent record stores I knew back then, Service Merchandise had the best selection of albums anywhere in my limited mind. So, while Dad was off ordering whatever he needed for his newly established bachelor’s pad, I was flipping through the albums, which has always been something of a safe haven for me.

Since I have something near an eidetic memory that I rarely used academically at the time, I could remember every album review from Creem, Circus and Rolling Stone magazines, flipping through the albums became my method of synthesis and evaluation between the academic and physical states of these platters. So, on this day, I became intrigued by a recently released album entitled One More from the Road by the great Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was entranced by the album cover’s depiction of the band’s triple guitar attack supporting the lead singer, not unlike images I had seen of World War II soldiers backing up there unarmed leader as the charged into battle.

11.30 skynyrd group pic

Little did I know at the time that Skynyrd in the Seventies was just what I had described: a band of brothers thrown into a battle that would show that not all long-haired good ‘ole boys from the South were not the rednecks they sounded like when they talked. These young men were out to turn the Southern Man stereotype on its head all the while assimilating their natural sounds of Country and Blues musics into a totally new context known today as Southern Rock. The band’s lyrics, written mostly by the late lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, told the tales of these Southern Men who were not racists, and were appalled by the racism associated with their southern heritage, were out to buck the system by showing a whole new type of redneck who did not join the KKK, was not a supporter of George McGovern and who looked for a more tolerant world. And, when the band co-opted the flag of the Confederacy there were doing not as some sort of white pride symbol but as a symbol of a new south that put aside all of its stereotypes in order to develop a new standard. Unfortunately, all of that died when Ronnie Van Zant died in the famous plane crash on that fateful day in 1977 at the beginning of their triumphant return to form on their latest album release, the now-classic Street Survivors. We will never know how the band would have navigated the MTV days of the 80s, but they did have something of a photogenic image that might have translated on the small screen.

Unfortunately, the Skynyrd that tours and records in the place of the one that went down in the plane all those years ago is not the same band. Now, they play up that tired southern redneck image of God and guns, which Ronnie Van Zant was so aptly trying to subvert. Today’s soul of the band is nothing like the soul of the original line-up, though today’s band can sound exactly like the old band. Now, they lack the finesse to bring to life the parody and sarcasm of Ronnie’s original lyrics, diluting them down to anthems of the currently disaffected white man who peers an untrusting eye toward anyone of color.

Today, I will attempt to honor the original vision of the band, as immortalized by the great second-generation southern rock band Drive-By Truckers in their work. Today, I give my Top 25 Lynyrd Skynyrd songs with my eyes opened wide and proud that these men were singing about racial harmony and not the discontent under display today.

11.30 lynryd_skynryd_live Old Grey Whistle

So, the next time you yell “Free Bird” to a band playing live, do so with pride that the words of that song were from the heart of a man trying to buck the system and not play to it. “Soar high, Free bird!”

  1. “Gimme Three Steps” (One More from the Road, 1976)
  2. “Free Bird” (One More from the Road, 1973)
  3. “Sweet Home Alabama” (Second Helping, 1974)
  4. “Tuesday’s Gone” ((pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd), 1973)
  5. “What’s Your Name” (Street Survivors, 1978)
  6. “Simple Man” ((pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd), 1973)
  7. “That Smell” (Street Survivors, 1978)
  8. “Saturday Night Special” (Nuthin’ Fancy, 1975)
  9. “Call Me the Breeze” (Second Helping, 1974)
  10. “I Know a Little” (Street Survivors, 1978)
  11. “Down South Jukin’” (Skynyrd’s First…and Last, 1978)
  12. “Ballad of Curtis Loew” (Second Helping, 1974)
  13. “I Ain’t the One” ((pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd), 1973)
  14. “Workin’ for MCA” (Second Helping, 1974)
  15. “You Got That Right” (Street Survivors, 1978)
  16. “Gimme Back My Bullets” (Gimme Back My Bullets, 1976)
  17. “Comin’ Home” (Skynyrd’s First…and Last, 1978)
  18. “The Needle and the Spoon” (Second Helping, 1974)
  19. “Travelin’ Man” (One More from the Road, 1976)
  20. “Was I Right or Was I Wrong” (Skynyrd’s First…and Last, 1978)
  21. “Don’t Ask Me No Questions” (Second Helping, 1974)
  22. “Whiskey Rock-A-Roller” (Nuthin’ Fancy, 1975)
  23. “Honky Tonk Night Man” (Street Survivors, 1978)
  24. “Searching” (Gimme Back My Bullets, 1976)
  25. “On the Hunt” (Nuthin’ Fancy, 1975)

Here’s to Ronnie Van Zant!

Here Is a Surprise, My Top 40 Favorite Songs from the Extended Genesis Family

11.29 the reunited genesis
A reunited Genesis that really didn’t last that long.

Like most of the artists that I continue to follow to this day, I discovered Genesis in the mid-Seventies, precisely 1978, when the band was reduced to a trio upon the departure of two founding members, lead singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett, leaving drummer/singer Phil Collins, keyboardist extraordinaire and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford to carry on. I discovered Genesis upon the release of their first tentative album as a trio titled …And There Were Three. The single “Follow You, Follow Me” was the gateway to this album. And although Phil Collins was stepping up to become the lead singer, he had yet to develop into the Eighties icon of which we now know him.

During the Peter Gabriel-led era, Genesis was an English art rock band, with few singles hitting the British charts, let alone crossing the Atlantic to become a Top 40 hitmaker, as the Phil Collins-led band would become in a decade. With Peter Gabriel, Genesis had a focal point whose whimsical performance art gave the band live notoriety. What Genesis’ future was definitely unsure. But, Phil Collins lead the band into a more streamlined songwriting unit capable of writing classic rock hits that often crossover for Top 40 success.

If the survival of Genesis were not as unlikely, then to witness the success of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford AND Peter Gabriel’s solo careers was totally mind-boggling. Just as Genesis was taking off in 1980 with their hit album Duke, Gabriel found success and became a critical darling upon the release of his third album and first masterpiece, 1980’s Peter Gabriel, also known as III or Melting. While Genesis had Top 40 hits with “Turn It On Again” and “Misunderstanding”, Gabriel hit with “Games Without Frontiers” and “Biko”.

11.29 genesis in the 70s
This is Genesis in the ’70s, not Supertramp.

In 1981, Phil Collins entered the fray with his own classic solo album Face Value, which contains Collins’ trademark song (and drum solo) “In the Air Tonight”. Over the next five years, Collins became one of the most beloved musicians in the world for both his work as a solo artist and with Genesis. In 1986, Genesis, Collins and Gabriel all hit their creative AND commercial peaks with the music each released that year. Collins was still riding the success wave of his No Jacket Required album and its Thriller-like run of hit singles, while Genesis had its most successful album in Invisible Touch and Gabriel celebrated his first Number One album with his brilliant So album and its singles’ ground-breaking music videos, especially the hit song “Sledgehammer”.

All of this success allowed Mike Rutherford to form his own band, Mike + The Mechanics, who experienced their own hit albums and songs during 1987 and 1988. Rutherford’s band hit the top of the charts with “Silent Running” and “The Living Years” during that time frame.

As all versions of the extended Genesis family knows, all four related acts continue to release material, sell records and sell out tours. In 2010, the five original members of Genesis were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, followed by a solo Peter Gabriel in 2014. And, do not be surprised if Phil Collins were inducted sometime in the next decade.

Today, I would like to present My Top Favorite Songs by the Genesis Family. Enjoy!

  1. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986)
  2. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III), 1980)
  3. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981)
  4. “Biko” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III), 1980)
  5. “I Don’t Remember” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III), 1980)
  6. “Shock the Monkey” – Peter Gabriel (Security, 1982)
  7. “Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (I), 1977)
  8. “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins (Against All Odds OST, 1984)
  9. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986)
  10. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
  11. “Family Snapshot” (Peter Gabriel (III), 1980)
  12. “Follow You, Follow Me” – Genesis (…And Then There Were Three, 1978)
  13. “Big Time” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986)
  14. “Turn It On Again” – Genesis (Duke, 1980)
  15. “That’s All” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
  16. “Misunderstanding” – Genesis (Duke, 1980)
  17. “Mama” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
  18. “I Missed Again” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981)
  19. “Silent Running” – Mike + The Mechanics (Mike + The Mechanics, 1985)
  20. “Throwing It All Away” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
  21. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
  22. “In Too Deep” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
  23. “No Son of Mine” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)
  24. “No Reply at All” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
  25. “Don’t Give Up” – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush (So, 1986)
  26. “Man on the Corner” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
  27. “One More Night” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)
  28. “The Living Years” – Mike + The Mechanics (The Living Years, 1988)
  29. “Abacab” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
  30. “Illegal Alien” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
  31. “Taking It All Too Hard” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
  32. “Invisible Touch” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
  33. “We Can’t Dance” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)
  34. “Easy Lover” – Phillip Bailey with Phil Collins (Chinese Wall, 1984)
  35. “Separate Live” – Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin (White Nights OST, 1985)
  36. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)
  37. “Sussudio” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)
  38. “A Groovy Kind of Love” – Phil Collins (Buster OST, 1988)
  39. “Another Day in Paradise” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)
  40. “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)

My suggestion is that you go back to rediscover Genesis, Gabriel, Collins and Mike + The Mechanics’ hit songs and albums. And, don’t be afraid to dig back into the Genesis catalog to listen to the full band as they gel as a band and discover their own unique sound as a band.

“Weird Al” Yankovic Is No Laughing Matter

11.28 weird al yankovic 80s

Call me immature, silly or just roll your eyes at me, but I am a fan of the one and only “Weird Al” Yankovic. To me, no other parodist has been as consistently successful as “Weird Al”, especially when you consider that the man’s instrument is an accordion. And, the man pulls off his art without being mean or crass, without cursing or without repeating himself. And, he rarely runs a joke in the ground. The man is not just a genius in life, but a genius in the music industry where the term is easily tossed about yet rarely sticks to an artist.

In comedy, the true geniuses make their craft seemed so easy, as though any of could do it. Yet, who out there can do a pratfall like Chevy Chase or Chris Farley? Or, be fun on a surreal level like Steve Martin? None of us. That’s why they are entertaining us. Yet, because of the ease with which their comedy flows from them, we all attempt to mock them to our friends with minimal success. Same can be said of Yankovic.

Personally, I know I have been trying to write parody versions of songs since I was little. But, when you notice that your subject matter consists mainly of body functions and body types, you learn pretty quickly that your success will be nil. Then, you hear “Weird Al” putting the story of Star Wars to the music of the classic song “American Pie” or his polka version of Queen’s all-time great “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you truly realize that you are listening to one of the all-time greats.

11.28 weird al yankovic squeeze box

Recently, I noticed that “Weird Al” has released a box set that contains ALL 14 of his albums plus an album of rare cuts called Medium Rarities, which can only be purchased with the box set. This box set is called Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic. And for your information, six of those album have been certified platinum for one million in sales, while three more have been certified gold for a half-million in sales. The box also includes the first comedy album ever to debut at the number one position on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, 2014’s Mandatory Fun.

11.28 Weird Al Yankovic - Mandatory_Fun

During the heady days of videos on MTV, “Weird Al” was known to extend his parody brilliance into the song’s video. His videos for his Michael Jackson parodies on “Eat It” (parodies “Beat It”) and “Fat” (“Bad”) are two of the greatest forms of video and song parody that were coupled in the history of mankind. Sure, the Yankovic has only had three Top 10 albums, but the fact that eight of his 14 albums have reached the Top 20 is an unprecedented statement on its own. If it sounds like I am making the case for a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for “Weird Al” Yankovic, I am. Besides, artists of the Eighties and Nineties all acknowledged that they knew when they had made it as musical artists when “Weird Al” wanted to parody their song. Most took it as a badge of honor.

11.28 weird al yankovic recent

So, today, I would like to present My Top 30 Favorite Songs by “Weird Al” Yankovic, listed in chronological order.

“My Bologna” (1980)

“Another One Rides the Bus” (1980)

“I Love Rocky Road” (1981)

“Ricky” (1983)

“Eat It” (1984)

“Polkas on 45” (1984)

“I Lost on Jeopardy” (1984)

“Dare to Be Stupid” (1985)

“Like a Surgeon” (1985)

“Yoda” (1985)

“Addicted to Spuds” (1986)

“Fat” (1988)

“Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies” (1989)

“Smells like Nirvana” (1992)

“Taco Grande” (1992)

“Achy Breaky Song” (1993)

“Amish Paradise” (1996)

“Gump” (1996)

“The Saga Begin” (1999)

“My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder” (1999)

“Your Horoscope for Today” (1999)

“Couch Potato” (2003)

“A Complicated Song” (2003)

“Ode to a Superhero” (2003)

“White and Nerdy” (2006)

“Trapped in a Drive-Thru” (2006)

“Perform This Way” (2011)

“Handy” (2014)

“Mission Statement” (2014)

“Sports Song” (2014)

Now, that’s a playlist! Put it on. Kick back. And, enjoy the genius of “Weird Al” Yankovic. He really does keep getting better as he ages.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Raspberries!

11.27 raspberries in concert

Back during 1975, middle school-aged teens around the country were smitten with a song that perfectly depicted the angst felt by millions of teens around the world. And, this very song was the song of choice of that awkward form of middle school dancing that sixth and most seventh graders practiced. You know, that straight-armed distance away with hands on the shoulders, swaying back-and-forth. With our hormones firing at full blast back then, it was probably a good thing that we kept a distance away lest any embarrassing situations might arise that could traumatize one’s self-esteem. That distance we allowed between us was there so cold air cold flow between the pair, cooling down any uncontrolled heat which may be developing between the pair. Anyway, that song that hit us in that pre-bicentennial year was “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen.

11.27 Eric_Carmen_(1975_Eric_Carmen_album_-_cover_art)

Eric Carmen had just gone solo from a band called the Raspberries in 1975 when he released that gooey weeper of a teenybopper ballad. And, that song was hit my age group hard. It was perfect for post-breakup sob sessions, or that “just-started-going-with-her (or him) teens-in-love” euphoria. Whatever intensified feeling you were experiencing at the time, “All by Myself” helped you feel the situation further. Now, if you bought the album, you will remember the iconic bronze metallic sheen to the cover of it, showing Eric Carmen’s portrait. 1975 was the year for metallic sheen covers, with Daryl Hall & John Oates’ eponymous “Silver Album” being released during that year as well. However, what most of us did not realize is that Carmen’s previous group, Raspberries, was a super important band to the sound of many of our MTV-driven artists. People who came of age during the late-Seventies/early-Eighties did so during what is now known at the Golden Age of Power Pop. And, the Raspberries and their main songwriter Eric Carmen, being a HUGE influence on the artists during our time.

11.27 raspberries-by-raspberries11.27 fresh-by-raspberries

11.27 side 3-by-raspberries11.27 starting over-by-raspberries

Yes, many of you have heard of the Raspberries, and even a few of you are fans (like me!). But, just who are they? Let’s back up to 1972, when a quartet from Cleveland, Ohio, The Raspberries, released their debut album, whose cover contained a “scratch-and-sniff” gimmick that allowed the listener to smell the scent of raspberries on the album cover. That was strike one.

Next, when a critic popped the album on their stereo and put the needle into the groove, he/she did not hear a Led Zeppelin/Deep Purple blues-based, heavy, loud, bombastic hard rock band. No, instead, The Raspberries turned their clocks back to 1965, and looked for influences from the pop-rock era of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Who, The Kinks and The Byrds, where The Raspberries wrote concise three-minute pop ditties beefed up with Who-like steroids and Kinks-fuzz coupled with Carmen’s McCartney-esque vocals, Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies and some jangle guitars a la The Byrds. To those who missed that kind of sound, The Raspberries were a godsend. But, if you were looking for the heaviness of a Black Sabbath, then The Raspberries sounded a little teenybopperish. So, instead of the holy triune of rock magazines of Rolling Stone, Creem and Circus articles being written about The Raspberries, the band, consisting of Carmen, Wally Bryson, Jim Bonafanti, and Dave Smalley found themselves on the cover of teen girls’ magazines like Tiger Beat, following in the footsteps of The Monkees, David Cassidy and The Jackson 5. In other words, bands such as The Raspberries were not taken seriously by critics during their moment in the sun.

Ironically, it was the musicians who took the band seriously. Professional musicians as diverse as former Cream bassist Jack Bruce, grunge bad-girl Courtney Love and Ringo Starr have all sung the praises of The Raspberries. And like other power pop artists from the same time period, like Big Star, Badfinger and Todd Rundgren all faced similar fates commercially. Yet, today, those same artists are all held in high esteem by the punk, new wave, power pop, alternative, indie rock and indie pop scenes, making those artists much more widely influential than Metallica or any other metal band. So, I am holding out hope for many power pop artists to eventually be recognized by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

11.27 raspberries

Now, in 1972, The Raspberries scored their biggest hit with their debut single “Go All the Way”. That song is not a teenybopper song, with the female in the song begging the male to “go all the way with me, it just feels so right”. How could any male turn down an offer like that? “Go All the Way”, with it’s “Paperback Writer”-like muscle, peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s only Top 10 song. Subsequent singles, most of which followed a similar-sounding formula, did not fare as well. The band had two more Top Twenty hits. From the second album released in 1972, Fresh, “I Wanna Be with You”. Then, in 1974, the band released what may be considered to be their masterpiece, “Overnite Sensation (Hit Record)”. However, the single only reached number 18 on the chart. After the disappointment of that single’s performance and the lack of sales of their fourth album in three years, Starting Over, The Raspberries disbanded.

11.27 raspberries from 2004 reunion tour

Then, nearly 30 years later, the original lineup of The Raspberries reunited, which lead to the release of a live double-CD offering entitled Pop Art Live. That set was recorded during their last concert of the tour in Los Angeles. The CD provides proof as to the musicianship and sound of the band being a huge influence on current artists such as the Fountains of Wayne (“Stacey’s Mom), Jimmy Eat World (“The Middle”) and current pop punk darlings Paramore. Then, just this past Black Friday celebration of Record Store Day, Pop Art Live was released as a triple vinyl album, with record one being red, record two blue and record three orange, with all three being translucent. The colored vinyl was intended only for the first run of the album, with all other pressings being on black vinyl. Additionally, the vinyl version contains two extra songs not on the CD set.

11.27 pop art live-by-raspberries

Someday, on an October day in the future, I hope to wake up to the news that The Raspberries have finally been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Right now, I have the same hope for Big Star, Jellyfish, The Jam and The Smiths, along with many other Eighties alternative bands who deserve this recognition. I also hope that soon we will get off this classic rock kick we are currently experiencing with regards to Hall inductees. But, as I said earlier, that is a topic for the upcoming days. At least, The Raspberries are inducted into my Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is probably the preferred Hall of Fame for most rockers out there: to be loved by their fans.

My Thanksgiving Top 40

Guitar turkey

In the States, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day set aside for families to get together, eat and enjoy each other. Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, aunt, both boys, a daughter-in-law and my wife and I will be here at the Keller abode. In addition to eating, we will probably play board games and cards, listen to my boys make fun of me (I taught them well!) and just plain enjoy each other. Then, on Saturday, we will repeat everything with my wife’s side of the family where upwards of 20+ people will be there including my dad and stepmother. And although her family no longer has her mom around to hold the family together, my wife has stepped up beautifully to fill her mom’s shoes as the matriarch of her family, as well as mine. I sure married well.

turkey-band-245x180

Now, there are really not many songs about this American holiday of Thanksgiving. Most are actually religious hymns. Lately, some artists have been releasing songs about the holiday to varying success. I have created a list of songs for a Thanksgiving playlist that includes those few specific songs, as well as songs of thanks and brotherhood, of harvest celebration and of family. By the way, the playlist does include the 18-minute 1967 classic Thanksgiving song that chronicles a murder, sung by Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant”.

gene simmons serving thanksgiving

Here’s my playlist, in alphabetical order of the artist. Warning: there are two versions of the same song” “Harvest for the World”. I have the original, recorded by the Isley Brothers, which is terrific. And, then, I included a cover version by the Christians in 2002, which is a fantastic cover in its own right. Finally, I hope you will recognize some of the other songs on the list.

  1. Adam Sandler – “Thanksgiving Song” (1993)
  2. Alanis Morissette – “Thank U” (1998)
  3. Arlo Guthrie – “Alice’s Restaurant” (1967)
  4. Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama – “Mother Pray” (2004)
  5. Big Country – “Harvest Home” (1983)
  6. Big Star – “Thank You Friends” (1975)
  7. Bill Withers – “Family Table” (1975)
  8. Boz Scaggs – “Thanks to You” (2001)
  9. Brave Combo – “Thanksgiving” (2005)
  10. Drive-By Truckers – “The Thanksgiving Filter” (2011)
  11. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes – “Home” (2009)
  12. Graham Parker – “Almost Thanksgiving” (2004)
  13. Greg Kihn Band – “Family” (1982)
  14. Jellyfish – “Family Tree” (1992)
  15. John Mellencamp – “Check It Out” (1987)
  16. Johnny Cash – “I Am a Pilgrim” (2003)
  17. Kacey Musgraves – “Family Is Family” (2015)
  18. Lady Gaga – “Orange Colored Sky” (2011)
  19. Led Zeppelin – “Thank You”
  20. Loudon Wainwright III – “Thanksgiving (live)” (1993)
  21. Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” (1967)
  22. Mary Chapin Carpenter – “Thanksgiving Song” (2008)
  23. My Morning Jacket – “Thank You Too!” (2008)
  24. Nate Rateliff & the Night Sweats – “Thank You” (2015)
  25. Neil Young – “Harvest” (1972)
  26. Neil Young – “Harvest” (1972)
  27. Paul Simon – “Mother and Child Reunion” (1972)
  28. Phillip Phillips – “Home” (2012)
  29. Phish – “Farmhouse” (2000)
  30. Poi Dog Pondering – “Thanksgiving” (1990)
  31. REO Speedwagon – “Flying Turkey Trot (live)” (1976)
  32. Rumer – “Thankful” (2010)
  33. Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy – “A Family Dinner” (2013)
  34. Simon & Garfunkel – “Homeward Bound” (1966)
  35. Sly & the Family Stone – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1970)
  36. The Band – “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” (1969)
  37. The Christians – “Harvest for Home” (2002)
  38. The Hollies – “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1970)
  39. The Isley Brothers – “Harvest for the World” (1976)
  40. XTC – “Harvest Festival” (1999)

Let’s give thanks for rock ‘n’ roll! Have a great weekend! See you next week!

thanksgiving stones logo

Is That a Woman or a Man? My 25 Favorite Bob Seger Songs

11.21 bob seger in the 70s
Bob Seger in the Seventies

Now that Son #1 and his lovely wife have moved back to Indiana, all three Keller men will be able to attend one of favorite wastes of time, Black Friday Record Store Day. And, although this Record Store Day is no way as popular as the one in the Spring, you can still find the occasional special release. Personally, I have my eyes on a special release of the hard-to-find Richard Hell punk classic ‘Blank Generation’ album. Additionally, Omnivore Records is releasing a vinyl edition of the Raspberries’ double CD edition of ‘Live Pop Art’, the in-concert recording of the band’s 2007 reunion tour. Only, this vinyl release is a triple album with a couple songs not on the CDs, and each record in the triple-album release will be a different color vinyl (one is red, blue and yellow, sticking with the primary colors). Finally, of utmost importance for this Cheap Trick is to find the RSD release of their new Christmas album on vinyl. The album is called ‘Christmas, Christmas’ and only 2000 are being printed. Unfortunately, I have the CD and my beloved rockers from Rockford, Illinois, really stunk up the place with this album. On the other hand, only 2000 LPs are being printed, so this could be an oddity in one’s Cheap Trick collections. Other releases of interest are Nate Rateliff & the Night Sweats have a 7″ Christmas release of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Santa Baby.” Also, Rush is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of ‘A Farewell to Kings” by releasing a 7″ single of “Closer to the Hearts. U2 fans might be interested in a 12″ single of a song from their upcoming album ‘Songs of Experience”. Queen is putting out a 12″ single of their own in honor of its 40th anniversary, “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions”. And, finally, Frank Zappa has a 12″ single of one of his bizarre songs that’s neither “Valley Girl”, “Bobby Brown” nor any of his other inappropriately titled songs such as “Broken Hearts Are for A$$holes”. Not sure if the last one will interest Son #2 for his RSD Frank Zappa collection that he has going. I do know Son #1 and me are both looking for the Richard Hell album; so, I hope there are two copies at the store. If you want to see a full list of releases, check out the Record Store Day website or just show up to your favorite independent record store and browse.

Today, I have decided to tackle an artist for whom I have much respect, though of whom I am lukewarm fan. Obviously, this artist has quite a following to this day, as the man continues to sell-out tour dates. Additionally, this man has sold over 10 million copies of his first ‘Greatest Hits’ album alone, making it the biggest-selling compilation of the first decade of the 21st century, beating out The Beatles ‘1’ and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ ‘Greatest Hits’. From 1976 to 1982, Bob Seger had quite a run, with several Top 40 hits, a number one song (“Shakedown” in 1987), a number one album (Against the Wind in 1981), and five straight albums that sold in excess of five million copies a piece. In 2004, Bob Seger was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

11.21 bob seger today
Bob Seger today

Prior to the winning streak that Seger went on that began with his double-album ‘Live Bullet’ in 1976 through his aforementioned chart-topping single from the ‘Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack’ in 1987, Seger was a well-respected journeyman heartland rocker. Back in the mid-Seventies, I remember reading an article in which the author hoped that these five relatively unknown singer/songwriters would finally get a break and have hit songs and albums. Of the five, four are now in the RRHOF: Seger, Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and one of the stars of the movie ‘This Is 40’, Graham Parker. That is now quite a list, but at the time, few had heard of these budding rockers. Now, we are familiar with all of them.

11.21 bob seger - greatest hits
The biggest selling compilation of The Aughts

This past Friday, Bob Seger just released his latest album called ‘I Knew You When’, during which Bob is looking backward at his life and career. He even ends the deluxe edition of the album with a tribute song to his longtime friend and member of the Eagles, the late Glenn Frey. Does Seger’s new album stand up to his classic albums from the 70s and 80s? No. But, it’s not an embarrassment either. It is a solid addition to his extensive catalog, and he is not covering songs from the Great American songbook, as Rod Stewart did. No, the man stuck to what he does best, and what he does best is that type of rock that has a touch of country in it that keeps his fans engaged.

11.21 bob seger - i knew you when
The two versions of Bob Seger’s latest album, ‘I Knew You When’. Pay the extra $2 for the deluxe version so you can get three extra songs.

So, today, in the next-to-last blog post before Thanksgiving weekend, let’s take a look at My Top 25 Favorite Bob Seger Songs. Let the countdown begin!

  1. “Turn the Page” (Live Bullet, 1976) – This song was so ubiquitous in Central Indiana that we used to sing it at work when I was in high school and college, wherever work was. This is Seger’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
  2. “Travelin’ Man”/ “Beautiful Loser” (Live Bullet, 1976)
  3. “Even Now” (The Distance, 1982) – This is a totally underrated rocker from Seger. This should have been a HUGE hit.
  4. “Mainstreet” (Night Moves, 1976) – I love the sorrowful sound of the guitar in this song.
  5. “Katmandu” (Live Bullet, 1976)
  6. “Feels like a Number” (Stranger in Town, 1978) – If this isn’t the theme song of the working and middle classes, then everyone has totally missed the point!
  7. “Tryin’ to Love My Life Without You” (Nine Tonight, 1981)
  8. “We’ve Got Tonight” (Stranger in Town, 1978) – I dropped this song because Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton totally ruined it for me.
  9. “Hollywood Nights” (Stranger in Town, 1978)
  10. “Night Moves” (Night Moves, 1976)
  11. “Still the Same” (Stranger in Town, 1978)
  12. “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” (Night Moves, 1976)
  13. “Fire Lake” (Against the Wind, 1980)
  14. “Her Strut” (Against the Wind, 1980)
  15. “Sunspot Baby” (Night Moves, 1976)
  16. “Shame on the Moon” (The Distance, 1982)
  17. “Against the Wind” (Against the Wind, 1980)
  18. “Old Time Rock & Roll” (Stranger in Town, 1978) – I counted Tom Cruise’s underwear dance scene in ‘Risky Business’ against this song. Sorry, I am NOT a Cruise fan and never have been. His characters all seem to be the same…Tom Cruise.
  19. “The Fire Down Below” (Night Moves, 1976)
  20. “Betty Lou’s Gettin’ Out Tonight” (Against the Wind, 1980)
  21. “Shakedown” (Beverly Hills Cop II OST, 1987) – I like Seger songs without song doctors getting involved. Sure, it paid off for the man with his only #1 hit, but, much like Cheap Trick with “The Flame”, at what cost? This is an example as to why the whole music industry is in the garbage can right now.
  22. “Roll Me Away” (The Distance, 1982)
  23. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” (Against the Wind, 1980)
  24. “The Fire Inside” (The Fire Inside, 1991)
  25. “Like a Rock” (Like a Rock, 1985) – I know that our rock heroes need to make some cash on the side and that commercial usage is very lucrative. But, the length that this song was used forced me to drop this song to the bottom of the list. After hearing the song five-to-ten times per athletic event over what seemed like 20 years was too much exposure for the song. And, if you think about it, who wants a truck that acts like a rock? Rocks just sit there!

There you have it! My 25 Favorite Seger songs. See you tomorrow – Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel!

Could I Interest You in 25 Songs from REO Speedwagon? (This Is for You, My Dear Brother)

REO_Speedwagon_Hi_Infidelity_CD_cover

Here we are, going into a big holiday week. Thanksgiving is a great holiday in the Keller household. Lately, my beautiful bride will park her semi-truck and take a week off from the women’s wrestling tour in order to stay home to lead two families through the holiday. First, my side of the family, which is small, will feast on Thursday, as Son #1, with his mother’s talent for cooking will help out. Then, on Saturday, my wife will lead a Thanksgiving pitch-in on her large side of the family. She has taken on both Thanksgiving celebrations since my mom’s and aunt’s health have each deteriorated recently and since we lost her mother, the strong matriarch of her family. Still, these gatherings are always precious.

11.20 REO Speedwagon 1980
REO Speedwagon, before they hit the big time.

And, all of this makes me wistful for the days long ago where my biggest concern on this holiday was to survive my father’s family and lounge at my mom’s side. And, it is during these longing moments, that I dig deep into my music collection to find those albums that will take me back to those days of my youth. Today, I have dialed the Wayback Machine to the waning days of 1980, when a band from Champaign, Illinois had just released their latest album, Hi Infidelity. Of course, I am speaking about the biggest-selling album of that terrific journeyman band REO Speedwagon. REO had always been pretty well known in central Indiana since they toured the state hard every year. Back in the mid-Seventies, REO was getting airplay here in Indianapolis when they couldn’t use payola to get played anywhere else in the nation outside of the Midwest. But, all of that changed with this album. As a matter of fact, Hi Infidelity became the soundtrack of my senior year of high school.

11.20 REO Speedwagon on Midnight Special
REO Speedwagon on Midnight Special in early 1981.

That particular album broke REO throughout the country and the world. Instead of selling a million albums of their 1978 album You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish, they were pushing ten million in sales of this new album. REO had the biggest-selling album of 1981 with Hi Infidelity. And, while this breakthrough seemed to come out of nowhere, those of who had grown up with the band figured it could happen if the band’s songwriting could hit on all cylinders at one time. The band’s album sales had gradually been increasing starting when lead singer Kevin Cronin returned to the band after a short hiatus for an ill-fated solo career. Upon his return, the R.E.O. album sold respectfully. Then, the band met their Seventies requirement by releasing a double live album called Live – You Get What You Play For, which placed the band in the Top 40 for album sales.

In 1978, REO followed up the live album with their best album to date, the Tuna Fish album. That album produced two Classic Rock radio standards “Roll with the Changes” and “Time for Me to Fly”. Then, in 1979, the band’s new album was Nine Lives, but it failed to have the material that their previous album had. But, what that album did was back the band into a corner to get back to their multi-platinum album sales levels of Tuna Fish.a

As we now know, the band hit it out of the park with 1980’s Hi Infidelity. The album spawned three Top 10 singles: “Keep on Loving You”, “Take It on the Run” and “Don’t Let Him Go”, with a fourth, “In Your Letter” peaking in the Top 20. For that year, REO was on top of the world. And, even though their record sales were still big, the quality of songs were decreasing, especially as they moved from good meat-and-potatoes AOR songs to more schlocky ballads and soft rock songs. And, by the end of the 1980s, REO Speedwagon was yet another band primed for the nostalgia tour circuit, upon which they do extremely well.

11.20 REO_Speedwagon_2010
REO Speedwagon in 2010

So, in honor of the release of Hi Infidelity 37 years ago (!!!), may I present My 25 Favorite REO Speedwagon Songs list for you. Hopefully, writing this will get me out of my lost youthful idealism funk and put me back on my chosen track of cynicism and snarkiness about the world in general.

  1. “Ridin’ the Storm Out” (Live – You Get What You Play For, 1976) (Live – You Get What You Play For, 1976)
  2. “157 Riverside Ave.” (Live – You Get What You Play For, 1976). A little urban legend from my alma mater, Ball State University. The college’s fraternity row is on Riverside Avenue. As the legend goes, REO Speedwagon honored Ball State’s major support of the band (supposedly, many frats booked them to play in the early ’70s) that REO named this song in honor of BSU’s Frat Row. Now, I am skeptical about this urban legend since there is NO 157 Riverside Avenue. That address would mean the house would be located in the middle of the White River that divides the city. Second, other than David Letterman and former Three’s Company star Joyce DeWitt, few really famous things have come out of BSU. But, the story is still cool.
  3. “Don’t Let Him Go” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  4. “Tough Guys” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  5. “Back on the Road Again” (Nine Lives, 1979)
  6. “Shakin’ It Loose” (High Infidelity, 1980)
  7. “Roll with the Changes” (You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish, 1978)
  8. “Only the Strong Survive” (Nine Lives, 1979)
  9. “Time for Me to Fly” (You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish, 1978)
  10. “Golden Country” (E.O./Two, 1972)
  11. “Out of Season” (High Infidelity, 1980)
  12. “Say You Love Me or Say Goodnight” (You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish, 1978)
  13. “Take It on the Run” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  14. “Keep On Loving You” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  15. “Someone Tonight” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  16. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” (Wheels Are Turning, 1984)
  17. “In Your Letter” (Hi Infidelity, 1980)
  18. “Sophisticated Lady” (E.O. Speedwagon, 1971)
  19. “Keep Pushin’” (E.O., 1976)
  20. “Like You Do” (Live – You Get What You Play For, 1976)
  21. “Flying Turkey Trot” (Live – You Get What You Play For, 1976)
  22. “Keep the Fire Burnin’” (Good Trouble, 1982)
  23. “That Ain’t Love” (Life as We Know It, 1986)
  24. “Here with Me” (The Hits, 1988)
  25. “In My Dreams” (Life as We Know It, 1986)

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Whew! Now, I do feel better. I should have taken this writing thing more seriously when I was younger. I could have exorcised many more demons by now.