Tuesday, July 16, 2013

12 Classic Rock Tunes to Turn Up, Not Off

While fishing at the cabin, I'll typically listen to one of the local "classic rock" stations.  Given my age and my love of music, the tunes played by the stations are ones that I've heard hundreds, if not thousands of times before.

There are some that, upon hearing the first couple of bars, have me running to switch over to the next station.  But there are others that, upon recognizing, I'm reaching for the volume.  Seems that while I've heard them all my life, I still can't get enough.

Here they are, my top 12 songs to crank up, regardless of how many times they're been heard previously:

Baba O'Riley - The Who.  No matter how many times I hear this song, once it starts, I simply cannot wait for the piano chords to kick in, followed shortly by Keith Moon's impeccable drum work, and Roger Daltrey's power vocals.  Pete Townsend always had a fantastic flair for the dramatic in his songwriting, and this is an awesome example.  

Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones.  To me, this song captures the Stones at the height of their powers.  Keith Richards guitar playing is off the charts, and Charlie Watts drumming absolutely makes the song.  I think this is the finest song in the Stones library, and by a long shot.

Surrender - Cheap Trick.  It could be the quirky lyrics, Rick Nielsen's guitar work, Robin Zander's power vocals, or the ending where "we're all all right!" but this is an awesome song. 

Fame - David Bowie.  My goodness, has this song aged well.  It is funky, gritty, and session player Dennis Davis' drum playing is out of this world.  Plus the close where John Lennon sings "Fame" at fast, normal, then slow playback speeds is still something that cannot get old to me.

Dreams - Fleetwood Mac.  This is the quintessential Fleetwood Mac song - strong rhythm laid down by Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, truly artistic guitar work by Lindsay Buckingham, and haunting vocals by Stevie Nicks.  This song is still best heard at night. 

Barracuda - Heart.  Perhaps the simplest guitar riff in all of rock and roll, but you cannot argue its effectiveness.  This song stills kicks ass.  

Black Dog - Led Zeppelin.  "Hey hey momma said the way you move, gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove."  That's pretty much anybody needs to know.

Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young.  Perhaps the best bridge in all of classic rock.  "Pa send me money now, I'm gonna make it somehow, I need another chance.  You see your baby loves to dance - yeah, yeah, yeah" followed by the "woo" in the guitar solo.  And if you ever hear a band cover this song and they don't do the "woo," then they really didn't cover the song at all.

Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd.  In a vastly impressive catalog, this is by far the best Pink Floyd song ever.  It is that way because it is equal parts Roger Waters (who does the gruff first vocals and drives the song via an awesome bass line) and David Gilmour (who does the airy second vocals, and absolutely kills on the two guitar solos).  This song, when done either by just Waters or just Gilmour, just misses.  It misses the synergy these two giants, combined, bring to it.   

The Spirit of Radio - Rush.  Classic Rush, as all three players are spotlighted.  Really listen to this song the next time you hear it and listen to the musicianship you hear.  It will blow you away.

Breakdown - Tom Petty.  This is Petty's signature tune (while most of the other ones above are not), but I don't care.  The funky vocals, power chorus, and soulful keyboard make this a song to turn up.

Black Cow - Steely Dan.  To really appreciate this song, you really need good acoustics to appreciate the musicianship.  That's hard to get that trolling on a lake while chasing walleye, but it is still enjoyable.

La Grange - ZZ Top  But only if it is the original version of La Grange

OK, which ones did I miss?

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