Giving Kid Rock His Due: My 15 Favorite Kid Rock Songs

Kid Rock performing on his last of six shows at the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI on September 20th 2017 Photo by Marc Nader

Hello again! I’m back again, but I still expect this blog to remain hit-and-miss for the immediate future. I’ve had to play babysitter with my wife one day and with my other daughter-in-law the other as the baby’s mom went back to work a week or so before their daycare would be ready for her. Of course, being a crazy grandpa is right up my alley. Then, on the other hand, I am also dealing with my mother, who is in failing health as she battles Alzheimer’s. What a sad disease. Just two years ago, she posed a rhetorical question to me, “Why did I work so hard to develop memories only to have them taken away?” At least that question better have been rhetorical since I had no answer. I still have no answer. Unfortunately, she is awaiting placement in the Memory Wing of a nearby nursing home. She could use the help, and my step-father, who has raised his profile with how he has taken care of my mom. Unfortunately, I am beginning to worry about his health as he continues to try to care for her. That’s why I am awaiting word from the memory unit to reluctantly move her in. I know the move is best for her, but it has been a difficult decision to go that route.

9.26 Kid Rock today

Now, on a less depressing note, 2018 has been heating up in the month of September with many great releases. Perhaps the biggest releases are Prince’s newly discovered in the Vault, Piano & a Microphone 1983, and a three-CD compilation of unreleased material from his own storage area called American Dreams. Additionally, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and Paul Weller have all released some excellent albums in the past couple of weeks. Additionally, rumors are swirling that Kanye West will follow up his June 2018 album, Ye, with the rumored Yandhi album. Keep your eyes open for that one being released shortly after he performs on Saturday Night Live this Saturday. And not to be outdone, Kid Rock has really released his first compilation of hits, entitled Greatest Hits: You Never Saw Coming.

9.26 Kid Rock live 1999

And, Mr. Rock, you’re right! I never saw a greatest hits album EVER being released by you. Honestly, I have never figured out Kid Rock. There’s a part of me that likes him and another that doesn’t. For the most part, I have maintained a strangely ambivalent attitude toward him. Sometimes, I really like his material, like the rock ‘n’ rap stuff he emphasized earlier in his career. But, I tend to be put off by his politics, and I have trouble letting that go. But say what you will, the man has done a great job by continually re-inventing himself, not unlike David Bowie or Madonna. But, Rock made these transformations from a macho American rock side, while the others did it from an artistic point-of-view. Kid Rock has successfully found his niche in a rich vein of American music that lies between country music of Willie Nelson, southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd, nu metal of Limp Bizkit, thrash metal of Slayer, Old Skool Rap of Run-DMC and the heartland rock of Bob Seger. The man has even adapted some of his swagger from ’80s-era Hair Metal bands. And, for that very reason, I admire Rock.

kid Rock - greatest Hits

Now, his Greatest Hits is short a couple of important hits, especially his political slice of populism anthem “Amen” in addition to any cuts from his 2017 album Sweet Southern Sugar. This compilation seems to focus on his window-rattling rock anthems and his sweet outsider ballads, a winning combo for Kid Rock. Maybe, “Amen” was his progressive side that was on display, and he is currently aligning himself more with Trump’s version of conservatism. Whatever his reason, he left off one terrific song that would have only strengthened this release.

9.26 Kid Rock 2018 Tour

So, when it comes to Kid Rock, here are my 15 favorite songs by the man himself. Some are on his current Greatest Hits package while others are not. So if you want to create a playlist for Kid Rock, you might want to combine my list with his new Greatest Hits and you’ll end up with a solid playlist for this future member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

9.26 Kid Rock - Bawitdaba

  1. “Amen” (2007)
  2. “Bawitdaba” (1999)
  3. “All Summer Long” (2007)
  4. “Picture (w/Sheryl Crow)” (2002)
  5. “Born Free” (2010)
  6. “Collide (w/Sheryl Crow & Bob Seger)” (2010)
  7. “So Hott” (2007)
  8. “American Bad Ass” (2000)
  9. “I Am the Bullgod” (1998)
  10. “Johnny Cash” (2015)
  11. “Single Father” (2003)
  12. “Only God Knows Why” (1999)
  13. “Rock N’ Roll Pain Train” (2003)
  14. “First Kiss” (2015)
  15. “Greatest Show on Earth” (2017)

9.26 Kid Rock - All Summer Long

And, that’s Kid Rock according to me. Hopefully, I will have a much better entry for you tomorrow. Until then, keep you feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars! Peace out!

9.26 Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow

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Arena Rock, A to Z: Day 5

9.18 Arena Rock

For better or for worse, Arena Rock has given us some of the most enduring music and artists of all-time. Think about it! These artists, either by themselves or collectively have sold HUNDREDS of millions of records throughout the world. And forty to fifty years later, they continue to pack arenas and outdoor amphitheaters throughout the States and world. The truly become some of the greatest artists in rock history.

9.22 Heart
Heart
9.22 Queen
Queen

Over the years, there have been many musical scenes that have popped up in order to challenge the status quo. I have lived through Punk, New Wave, Soft Rock (now called Yacht Rock), Heavy Metal, Glam (hair), College Rock, Grunge, Rap and all of its sub-genres, Alternative Rock, Girl Groups and Boy Bands, Emo, Indie Rockers and Popsters, Power Pop, and all the rest. And, still, these Arena Rock bands continue pull in the fans to their concerts. Their best-selling albums still register relatively large sales, along with these artists concise hits compilations. And, when these artists release special remastered editions of their best albums upon some anniversary, fans will scoop those up as well. I know, because I am guilty on all counts.

9.22 Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick

During our teens and early twenties, humans tend to intertwine emotional memories within the popular music of the day. Often, when I hear music from my youth, I will involuntarily travel back in time, remembering sights, sounds, smells and emotions surrounding that memory to which the music is tied. It’s crazy how music can transport us in time.

9.22 Van Halen
Van Halen (not Van Hagar!)

So, in honor of those artists who helped me get through those adolescent and young adult years, I finish off this week honoring these Arena Rock Bands and Solo Artists. Today, I present the final 20 artists of this dominant genre.

9.22 Steely Dan - Cant Buy a Thrill

  1. Steely Dan

Best Album: Can’t Buy Me Love

Best Song: “Reelin’ in the Years”

  1. Steve Miller Band

Best Album: Fly like an Eagle

Best Song: “Jet Airliner”

  1. Styx

Best Album: Pieces of Eight

Best Song: “Renegade”

  1. Supertramp

Best Album: Breakfast in America

Best Song: “Renegade”

9.22 Survivor - Eye of the Tiger

  1. Survivor

Best Album: Eye of the Tiger

Best Song: “Eye of the Tiger”

  1. Ted Nugent

Best Album: Free for All

Best Song: “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”

  1. Tesla

Best Album: Five Man Acoustic Band

Best Song: “Signs”

  1. The Babys

Best Album: Head First

Best Song: “Everytime I Think of You”

  1. The Cars

Best Album: The Cars

Best Song: “Touch and Go”

9.22 The Kinks - Low Budget

  1. The Kinks

Best Album: Low Budget

Best Song: “Lola”

  1. The Tubes

Best Album: The Completion Backward Principle

Best Song: “Talk to Ya Later”

  1. Thin Lizzy

Best Album: Jailbreak

Best Song: “The Boys Are Back in Town”

  1. Todd Rundgren

Best Album: Hermit of Mink Hollow

Best Song: “Can We Still Be Friends?”

  1. Toto

Best Album: Toto IV

Best Song: “Africa”

9.22 Triumph - Allied Forces

  1. Triumph

Best Album: Allied Forces

Best Song: “Magic Power”

  1. Utopia

Best Album: Adventures in Utopia

Best Song: “Set Me Free”

  1. Van Halen

Best Album: Van Halen

Best Song: “Jamie’s Cryin’”

  1. Whitesnake

Best Album: Whitesnake

Best Song: “Here I Go Again (Radio Version)”

  1. Yes

Best Album: Fragile

Best Song: “Roundabout”

9.22 ZZ Top - Eliminator

  1. ZZ Top

Best Album: Eliminator

Best Song: “Legs”

 

These artists from this weeks’ series have collectively gotten myself and my peers through life. I can sum this whole thing up in one phrase, taken from The Who: “Long Live Rock!”

long live rock
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

 

Arena Rock, A to Z: Day 4

9.18 Arena Rock

Growing up in Central Indiana was a relatively difficult place to be for concert tour stops in the 1970s and early 1980s. You see, in the early Seventies, the venues were the a couple of auditoriums, the Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds and the Indianapolis Convention Center, until Market Square Arena (MSA) opened in 1973. Finally, we had a world-class arena for my beloved Pacers, who were dominating the old American Basketball Association at the time, the long-defunct Indianapolis Racers of the old World Hockey Association and top recording artists who needed the big venue for their tours. Suddenly, there was an influx of artists who were outside the arena rock sound.

9.21 MSA
Market Square Arena
9.21 ACDC live at MSA 1979
I’m not kidding! Someone has posted AC/DC’s performance from my first concert! The camera had a much better seat than I did.

My first concert was Ted Nugent, AC/DC and the Scorpions back on August 1, 1979. Personally, I was there for AC/DC. I only had a passing interested in Uncle Perv Ted and no interest in the Scorpions. Six weeks later, right at the end of Cross Country season and before the beginning of basketball the following Monday, many of us runners celebrated our season by going to the Styx concert. For the next five years that I remained in the the state, I saw Tom Petty and Queen two times each, Elton John, Journey, The Cars, among several others. When MSA was finally knocked down in the new millennium, many memories went down with it. Except for one very important rock fact.

9.21 Ticket line
Presale ticket line for what ended up being the last Elvis Presley concert
9.21 MSA - Elvis Presley
Not mine! I did not go to the concert. No one in my house was a big Elvis Presley fan, though Mom loved Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand

Today, there is a historical marker place where MSA once stood, telling the story of the grand old arena being the sight of Elvis Presley’s last live performance. Shortly afterwards, the King died from an overdose of various medications at the age of 42. Since I have become an adult, the King’s age at the time of his death has always shocked me. I guess people just seemed to be so much older than I was. But, Elvis was still a young man. Now, the whole thing just seemed like a sad story, which it is.

So, in honor of the my memory of Market Square Arena, I give to you my fourth list of the greatest Arena Rock artists of the Seventies and Eighties.

9.21 Night Ranger - Midnight Madness

  1. Night Ranger

Best Album: Midnight Madness

Best Song: “Sister Christian”

  1. Ozzy Osbourne

Best Album: Blizzard of Ozz

Best Song: “Crazy Train”

  1. Pat Benatar

Best Album: Crimes of Passion

Best Song: “A Little Too Late”

  1. Paul McCartney & Wings

Best Album: Band on the Run

Best Song: “Maybe I’m Amazed”

9.21 Peter Frampton - Comes Alive!

  1. Peter Frampton

Best Album: Frampton Comes Alive

Best Song: “Show Me the Way”

  1. Poison

Best Album: Look What the Cat Dragged In

Best Song: “Talk Dirty to Me”

  1. Prism

Best Album: Small Change

Best Song: “Don’t Let Him Know”

  1. Quarterflash

Best Album: Quarterflash

Best Song: “Harden My Heart”

  1. Queen

Best Album: Jazz

Best Song: “Don’t Stop Me Now”

9.21 Quiet Riot - Metal Health

  1. Quiet Riot

Best Album: Metal Health

Best Song: “Cum on Feel the Noize”

  1. Rainbow

Best Album: Rainbow Rising

Best Song: “Tarot Woman”

  1. Ratt

Best Album: Out of the Cellar

Best Song: “Round and Round”

  1. Red Rider

Best Album: As Far as Siam

Best Song: “Lunatic Fringe”

  1. REO Speedwagon

Best Album: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish

Best Song: “Tough Guys”

9.21 Roadmaster - Sweet Music
Indianapolis’ own Roadmaster!
  1. Roadmaster

Best Album: Sweet Music

Best Song: “Sweet Music”

  1. Rod Stewart

Best Album: Every Picture Tells a Story

Best Song: “Ain’t Love a Bitch”

  1. Rush

Best Album: Moving Pictures

Best Song: “The Spirit of the Radio”

  1. Sammy Hagar

Best Album: Standing Hampton

Best Song: “Give to Live”

  1. Santana

Best Album: Santana

Best Song: “Winning”

9.21 Scorpions - Blackout

  1. Scorpions

Best Album: Blackout

Best Song: “No One like You”

That’s four days down with one more to go. See you tomorrow!

Arena Rock, A to Z: Day 3

9.18 Arena Rock

By the mid-Seventies, rock festivals had become blasé. Ticket sales had become soft, because few wanted to experience another Woodstock, with the mud and lack of food, or Altamont, where the Stones’ security solution was to hire Hells’ Angels, which lead to the death to a young black man Meredith Hunter. So, for the most part, festivals had fallen on bad times.

9.20 California Jam I
California Jam

So, the bigger bands began touring arenas and stadiums. Eventually, a couple of semi-famous festivals happened in California in 1974 and again in 1978 known as California Jam and California Jam 2. Of course, there were some other minor all day events, such as the Bay Area’s Day on the Lawn, but the big, multi-day festival was over, until the early Eighties. That’s when Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak started a three-day event he called the US Festival. Yet, this two-year adventure went by the wayside.

9.20 California Jam Poster

In 1985, in order to bank upon the momentum from charity singles by all-star line-ups to raise money for those suffering the effects of famine in Ethiopia. Thus, Live Aid was born. But, it too was only to be held one year. And, during the Nineties, we saw the traveling day-long festival being the new attempt at an old idea. First, there was Lollapalooza, followed by Ozz-Fest, Lillath Fair, the Vans Tour and others. But, eventually, they all fizzled out over time.

9.20 California Jam 2
California Jam 2

 

Then, upon the arrival of the new millennium, corporations began to organize festivals such as Bonaroo and Coachella, which are now held annually, along with other a multitude of minor festivals. Now, the only artists truly embarking upon tours were the artists of my youth, while today’s big names stuck to the festival circuit.

9.20 California Jam 2 Poster

So, that actually proves the longevity of those artists of my youth, the very same artists whom I am honoring this week. Today, I present Day Three of my run through My Favorite 100 Arena Rock Artists, A to Z.

9.20 Jethro Tull - Aqualung

  1. Jethro Tull

Best Album: Aqualung

Best Song: “Bungle in the Jungle”

  1. Joe Walsh

Best Album: …But Seriously Folks

Best Song: “Life’s Been Good”

  1. John Mellencamp

Best Album: The Lonesome Jubilee

Best Song: “Cherry Bomb”

  1. John Waite

Best Album: No Brakes

Best Song: “Missing You”

9.20 Journey - Departure

  1. Journey

Best Album: Departure

Best Song: “Walks like a Lady”

  1. Judas Priest

Best Album: British Steel

Best Song: “Living After Midnight”

  1. Kansas

Best Album: Leftoverture

Best Song: “Point of Know Return”

  1. Kiss

Best Album: Destroyer

Best Song: “Rock and Roll All Nite (Live)”

  1. Lita Ford

Best Album: Lita

Best Song: “Kiss Me Deadly”

9.20 Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus

  1. Little Feat

Best Album: Waiting for Columbus

Best Song: “Dixie Chicken”

  1. Lou Gramm

Best Album: Ready or Not

Best Song: “Midnight Blue”

  1. Loverboy

Best Album: Get Lucky

Best Song: “Jump”

  1. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Best Album: Street Survivors

Best Song: “Tuesday’s Gone”

  1. Marshall Tucker Band

Best Album: The Marshall Tucker Band

Best Song: “Heard It in a Love Song”

  1. Meat Loaf

Best Album: Bat Out of Hell

Best Song: “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

9.20 Metallica - And Justice for All

  1. Metallica

Best Album: …And Justice for All

Best Song: “Enter Sandman”

  1. Molly Hatchet

Best Album: Molly Hatchet

Best Song: “Flirtin’ with Disaster”

  1. Mötley Crüe

Best Album: Shout at the Devil

Best Song: “Looks That Kill”

  1. Motörhead

Best Album: Ace of Spades

Best Song: “Ace of Spades”

9.20 Nazareth - Hair of the Dog

  1. Nazareth

Best Album: Hair of the Dog

Best Song: “Love Hurts”

Two more days! Now, it’s all downhill for this topic. See you tomorrow. Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Arena Rock, Day 2: A to Z

9.18 Arena Rock

As rock music’s popularity rose, rock bands began to need to perform in larger venues in to play concerts in order to meet the demand of fans who wanted to see an artist perform live in concert. All of a sudden, The Beatles were performing in athletic stadiums across the United States during their last tour in 1966. And, they were followed by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Eagles, who were all selling out large arenas throughout the world in the Seventies. Suddenly, musicians had the ability to make larger amounts of money when they toured larger and larger venues.

9.19 The Beatles at Shea Stadium
The Beatles at Shea Stadium

The next big development that happened was the rock festival, which quickly rose and burned out in the States at the same time these multiple artist, multiple day outdoor gatherings were pulling in hundreds of thousands of young people. Yet, there was a major drawback to these huge venues, and that was the ability to reach the people who seemed to be miles away from the stage. Bands like the Grateful Dead were sonically innovated as their sound engineers were able to bring their fans top end sound, which left fans visually in wont.

9.19 Woodstock 1969
Woodstock Crowd
9.19 Led Zeppelin at Pontiac Silverdome
Led Zeppelin plays the Pontiac Silverdome to the largest indoor concert

Then, in the Eighties, acts such as the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, worked to bring the stage antics to the masses way back to those in the crappy seats with the development of large video screens. Those screen were used to big success to bring intimacy back to the concerts in huge venues. Now, huge high definition screens to bring the visual side of a concert to the masses. Now, a concert attendee can enjoy the concert. Those two technological advancements in sight and sound would allow festival planners to flourish here in the States, in addition to improving the whole experience for attendees.

9.19 Live Aid - JFK Stadium
JFK Stadium
9.19 Live Aid - Wembley
Live Aid Wembley

As rock fans demanded to see their heroes in a live setting, it became necessary to streamline their music for optimum effect. All of a sudden, a whole scene of artist whose music could artistically fill the stadiums with quality sound and bombast. And, thus, entered a group of musicians who were able to straddle these new requirements artistically, much to the chagrin of rock music critics. But, these people were filling a “need” within the industry, and these artists are finally receiving their due, as Journey, Boston, Foreigner and Styx became not only big sellers of albums but also of tickets for each of their tours. A whole new paradigm had been invented in rock music, which has evolved from auditoriums to arenas. stadiums, race tracks, and other large acreage farmland being used for a rock concert.

9.19 Coachella
Coachella

So, today, I bring 20 more artists who are the unsung heroes of this very influential genre. So, let’s get this countdown going.

9.19 Damn Yankees - Damn Yankees

  1. Damn Yankees

Best Album: Damn Yankees

Best Song: “High Enough”

  1. David Lee Roth

Best Album: Eat ‘Em and Smile

Best Song: “Just like Paradise”

  1. Deep Purple

Best Album: Machine Head

Best Song: “Smoke on the Water”

  1. Def Leppard

Best Album: Hysteria

Best Song: “Pour Some Sugar on Me”

Dio - Holy Diver

  1. Dio

Best Album: Holy Diver

Best Song: “Rainbow in the Dark”

  1. Dire Straits

Best Album: Brothers in Arms

Best Song: “Industrial Disease”

  1. Doobie Brothers

Best Album: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits

Best Song: “Another Park, Another Sunday”

  1. Eddie Money

Best Album: No Control

Best Song: “Think I’m in Love”

  1. Europe

Best Album: The Final Countdown

Best Song: “The Final Countdown”

9.19 Faith Band - Rock'n Romance

  1. Faith Band

Best Album: Rock’n Romance

Best Song: “Dancing Shoes”

  1. Fleetwood Mac

Best Album: Rumours

Best Song: “Tusk”

  1. Foghat

Best Album: Fool for the City

Best Song: “Slow Ride”

  1. Foreigner

Best Album: 4

Best Song: “Urgent”

  1. Genesis

Best Album: Abacab

Best Song: “Mama”

9.19 Grand Funk - We're an American Band

  1. Grand Funk

Best Album: We’re am American Band

Best Song: “We’re an American Band”

  1. Great White

Best Album: Once Bitten…

Best Song: “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”

  1. Guns N’ Roses

Best Album: Appetite for Destruction

Best Song: “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

  1. Head East

Best Album: Head East

Best Song: “Never Been Any Reason”

  1. Heart

Best Album: Dreamboat Annie

Best Song: “How Can I Refuse”

9.19 Jefferson Starship - Red Octopus

  1. Jefferson Starship

Best Album: Red Octopus

Best Song: “Miracles”

9.19 Roger Waters - The Wall Live
Roger Waters performs ‘The Wall’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, we have 40 artists listed, with 60 more to come over the next few days. Hang on! This ride will continue to build!

Arena Rock, A to Z: DAY 1

9.18 Arena Rock

Although I never saw Elvis during his prime nor did I ever get a first-hand experience of Beatlemania and the rest of the original British Invasion nor did I have a front-row view of Bob Dylan and The Band changing rock music’s direction. No, I learned all about them and the other original rockers who laid the foundation to the music that allowed me to escape the life I was mired in at the time. Sure, I got indoctrinated about Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Aretha Franklin and the others second-hand.

9.18 Arena Concert
Arena Rock not only focuses on the music, using speakers that will fill the arena or stadium with the artists’ sweet noise, but also top notch laser lights or LED lights that only enhances the concert experience.

But, it was cool, because I had a front row for what Lester Bangs referred to as the last gasp of rock music before the corporations took it over. When I was a teenager, movie stars were no longer the glamorous people, it was the rock stars. I became aware of music in the early ’70s, with Bubblegum, Glam, Power Pop and Soul being my favorite genres at the time. As I got older, I lived through the rise and fall of Disco, Punk and New Wave, though did they ever really die out? I got to hear Hip Hop grow up from party music, to the most important voice of society since Dylan and back again in the new millennium. In other words, my generation got to since rock expand and evolve. Sure, right now, the music on the radio does nothing to reflect what is artistically happening, but there are many interesting things happening, and not just with the established artists. As a matter of fact, Power Pop is currently going through what I consider to be its fourth generation Golden Era. Additionally, many artists are building upon the Pixies/Sonic Youth soundscape of the Eighties and Nineties to interesting effects now.

9.18 U2 at the O2 Arena
U2 is one of the world’s biggest bands, and they show it by filling stadium after stadium on the world tours ever since breaking into the stratosphere back in 1987.

This past summer, I went to more concerts than I had in years. This summer was one full of nostalgia acts for my age group, plus my pain level was good at the time, and we got great tickets at extremely great prices, so I got to see three shows: Weezer, Pixies and the Wombats; Styx, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Tesla; and Chicago and REO Speedwagon. To me, Chicago had the best performance, followed by Weezer, Pixies, Styx, Joan Jett, the Wombats, REO and Tesla, easily the most bland. Still, it was a summer to relive my high school and college days with all of these, what I call “Arena Rock” bands.

9.18 Journey
The lineup of Journey that originally broke the band across the country.

Arena Rock is the loosely-defined genre of artists whose music was mainly based in hard rock, although there were prog, folk or classical music touches, depending on the group. Also, their music were written with great melodies, ear worm hooks while maintaining all the hard rock gestures that allowed the bands’ music to maintain an obvious jolt of masculinity with strong guitar solos. Artists run the gamut from Pat Benatar, Rush and Journey to April Wine, Quarterflash and Triumph. And, really the only thing that connects these people is the fact that their music could be heard on the radio as they all sounded better in large arenas.

9.18 Styx in 70s
Styx, during the days in the Seventies when they were the biggest-selling albums band in the world. Yeah! You read that correctly!

So, this week, here’s to this much-maligned, highly underrated music, as I will present Arena Rock, A to Z. Today, I bring to you the first twenty artists of this genre, along with what I consider to be that artist’s best album and best song. Buckle up! This will last five big days!

9.18 38 Special - Wild Eyed Southern Boys

  1. .38 Special

Best Album: Wild-Eyed Southern Boys

Best Song: “Caught Up in You”

  1. AC/DC

Best Album: Back in Black

Best Song: “Highway to Hell”

  1. Aerosmith

Best Album: Toys in the Attic

Best Song: “Walk This Way”

  1. Alice Cooper

Best Album: Billion Dollar Babies

Best Song: “School’s Out”

  1. April Wine

Best Album: Nature of the Beast

Best Song: “Just Between You and Me”

9.18 Asia - Asia

  1. Asia

Best Album: Asia

Best Song: “Heat of the Moment”

  1. Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Best Album: Not Fragile

Best Song: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”

  1. Bad Company

Best Album: Bad Company

Best Song: “Rock and Roll Fantasy”

  1. Bad English

Best Album: Bad English

Best Song: “When I See You Smile”

  1. Billy Idol

Best Album: Rebel Yell

Best Song: “Dancing with Myself”

9.18 Billy Squier - Dont Say No

  1. Billy Squier

Best Album: Don’t Say No

Best Song: “In the Dark”

  1. Black Sabbath

Best Album: Paranoid

Best Song: “Iron Man”

  1. Blue Öyster Cult

Best Album: Agents of Fortune

Best Song: “Don’t Fear the Reaper”

  1. Bob Seger

Best Album: Night Moves

Best Song: “Turn the Page”

  1. Bon Jovi

Best Album: Slippery When Wet

Best Song: “Livin’ on a Prayer”

9.18 Boston - Boston

  1. Boston

Best Album: Boston

Best Song: “Foreplay/Long Time”

  1. Bryan Adams

Best Album: Reckless

Best Song: “Lonely Nights”

  1. Cheap Trick

Best Album: At Budokan

Best Song: “I Want You to Want Me (live)”

9.18 Chicago II

  1. Chicago

Best Album: Chicago II

Best Song: “Dialogue Parts 1 & 2”

  1. Cinderella

Best Album: Long Cold Winter

Best Song: “Nobody’s Fool”

And, that’s the first day. Tomorrow, we will cover Numbers 21 through 40. And remember, you not only get the artists’ names, but a small sampling of their work to boot!

Here’s to Tommy James & the Shondells

9.13 Tommy James & the Shondells in meadow

Let’s turn the clock in the Wayback Machine for November 1987. We can land just about anywhere in the United States, as the radio was being dominated by the singles from Michael Jackson’s Bad, whose title song had just finished a two-week streak at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. 1987 was a stellar year for music as U2, Prince, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, who, along with Michael Jackson, all released landmark albums. We also got to hear the first rumblings from a little underground band from Hollywood called Guns N’ Roses. Still, something far more interesting was happening on the Hot 100 Chart. You see, “Bad” was replaced during the week of November 7, 1987, by the debut single by a young teenage girl who went by the name of Tiffany. The song was a cover of the great bubblegum standard originally written by Tommy James and recorded by Tommy James & the Shondells entitled “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

9.13 Tiffany9.13 Billy Idol

You see, Tiffany took that beautiful slice of punkish bubblegum pop to number one, while the original only got to number four twenty years earlier in 1967. The song stayed in the top position the following week as well, for a grand total of a two-week streak at number one. Which means, that a new song pushed Tiffany off the top of the heap, and that artist was none other than punk/new wave/faux metal god Billy Idol with his live remake of the classic 1968 hit, “Mony Mony,” already considered to be a bar standard in its original form. But, now the song had ingrained itself into the dance standard it currently is today, when Billy Idol turned this number three hit by none other than Tommy James & the Shondells. That’s right! Tommy James had written TWO consecutive number one songs, and both of them were remakes of his own hit songs that had each stalled BEFORE reaching number one. We literally made rock history during those three weeks in November 1987.

9.13 Tommy James & the Shonells TV Show

Now, a handful of songwriters have written consecutive number one songs before. Barry Gibb holds the record for having written or co-written four consecutive number one songs in 1978 for his group the Bee Gees (twice!), his youngest brother Andy and siren Yvonne Elliman. Of course, John Lennon and Paul McCartney pulled off the feat a couple of times during their Beatlemania days, while Motown’s hit-making trio of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland did it for The Supremes and The Four Tops. However, in each case, these were new songs, while we are talking about two remakes of songs from the same artist that was written by that original art. And, it was Tommy James & the Shondells of all people!

9.13 Tommy James & the Shondells on TV

A quick look at James’ career shows he and his back-up band, The Shondells, had two number hit songs, the punkish “Hanky Panky” in 1966, and the original psychedelic pop standard “Crimson and Clover” in 1969. All told, the band had six other Top 10 songs, as well as another seven songs that stalled somewhere in the Top 40. And, all of those songs had been released during a period of time that ran from 1966 to 1971, with the years 1968 and 1969 being Tommy James & the Shondells’ finest years.

9.13 Tommy James & the Shondells on Ed Sullivan

So, what made this band so influential to Generation X? First, the older members of this generation were mere kindergartners when the band commercially peaked, yet they were all over those “Oldies” radio stations that played the hits of the Sixties. So, when the punk and new wave artists were looking for inspiration, they mined the garage rock field, as immortalized on the 1972 compilation Nuggets and bubblegum hits from those infamous K-Tel albums that were pushed on TV ads. From there, Tommy James quickly became one of the “go-to” artists, along with The Monkees and Paul Revere & the Raiders for songs to learn.

9.13 The Rubinoos9.13 Joan Jett

The first Tommy James cover song I really remember being played much was The Rubinoos’ 1979 remake of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” which has since become a Power Pop standard. Then, in 1981, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts covered “Crimson and Clover,” which became the band’s second Top 10 hit, following “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” And, after that fateful November, Jett went back to the James well in order to record a new version of “Hanky Panky” for her Fetish album. Most significantly, Prince, who rarely releases cover versions of other artists’ songs, put his version of “Crimson and Clover” on his 2009 double album Lotflow3r/mPLSound. I should note that Prince’s version of “Crimson and Clover” is the greatest versions of the song. It’s simply a shame that pop radio would not touch it a decade ago. I highly recommend all of the aforementioned cover versions, but Prince’s does standard out among them all, of course.

9.13 Prince

Anyway, I would love to present My 20 Favorite Tommy James & the Shondells Songs. I feel this has been long overdue. Enjoy!

9.13 1.Crimson & Clover9.13 2.Crystal_Blue_Persuasion_-_Tommy_James_and_the_Shondells

  1. “Crimson and Clover” (1968)
  2. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” (1969)
  3. “Mony Mony” (1968)
  4. “Draggin’ the Line” (1971)
  5. “I Think We’re Alone Now” (1967)
  6. “(I’m) Taken” (1968)
  7. “(Baby, Baby) I Can’t Take It No More” (1967)
  8. “Mirage” (1967)
  9. “Say I Am (What I Am)” (1966)
  10. “Do Something to Me” (1968)
  11. “Love’s Closing in on Me” (1967)
  12. “Hanky Panky” (1966)
  13. “Tighter, Tighter” (1976)
  14. “Somebody Cares” (1968)
  15. “She” (1969)
  16. “Getting’ Together” (1967)
  17. “Ball of Fire” (1969)
  18. “Sweet Cherry Wine” (1969)
  19. “Loved One” (1969)
  20. “Sugar on Sunday” (1969)

9.13 4.Draggin the Line9.13 5.I Think We're Alone Now

The songs in the second half are the lesser known songs by this highly underrated pop/rock band. But, I feel it is long overdue to bring some love to Tommy James & the Shondells. Hopefully, I will get to see them and another favorite from my preschool days, Paul Revere & the Raiders.

9.13 Tommy James & the Shondells

Have a great weekend all!