Friday, January 17, 2020

1973 - "Dream On" - Aerosmith

In the early 80s, I spent my allowance on the essentials of the era: arcade video games and K-Tel compilation records. The latter were ideal for exploring a diverse range of music genres, from classic rock to new wave, even country. One such disk was Pure Rock, a tribute to the 70s. The lead track "Dust In the Wind" by Kansas and Cheap Trick's "Dream Police" were once fave tunes. But it's that side one second song, a poignant power ballad, that stuck out then, and stays with me now. 

Little did I realize that "Dream On" was Aerosmith's debut single. 

Those simple yet profound lyrics make "Dream On" by Aerosmith an eternal classic.

And there's something about the progressive intensity that's incredibly appealing. Other obvious highlights include Steven Tyler's insane vocal range and Joe Perry's effortless chord changes.

1973 Honourable Mentions:

"The Ballroom Blitz" – Sweet
An infectious glam rock classic guaranteed to fill the dance floor.

"Bad Bad Leroy Brown" – Jim Croce 
A fun, melodic number immortalizing King Kong and junkyard dogs.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

1972 - "Superstition" - Stevie Wonder

The clavinet grabs you right out of the gate and never lets go. Add in some funky bass. Then the horn section kicks in. 

Stevie Wonder doesn't want us to be superstitious. He also doesn't want us sitting down while he shares this message.

This pop-funk-soul groove summons you the dance floor, standing isn't an option. If it doesn't fill the floor at your watering hole, then you may want to leave. "Superstition" is often enjoyed in a loop binge. 

Fun fact: In 1973, adults, kids and puppets alike got their groove on when Stevie Wonder played "Superstition" live on Sesame Street. Watch for the kid at the top of the stairs.
The smooth "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder narrowly edges a couple other classics:

Other favourites from 1972:

"Do It Again" – Steely Dan
Addictive song about a myriad of addictions with a slick jazzy melody and latin rhythm.

"Horse With No Name" – America
Classic folk-rock jam about "plants and birds and rocks and things"

Monday, January 13, 2020

1971 - "One of These Things First" - Nick Drake

It was in 2005 when I first heard "One of These Things First" by Nick Drake, a British folk artist totally unbeknownst to me. Buried on the Garden State soundtrack from the 2004 film, this track is one of those wonderful gems you sometimes stumble upon.

The longing lyrics paint a sad "could of, should of, would of" anthem while the mellow vocals, running piano and acoustic guitar weave together to create an exquisite arrangement of uplifting folk jazz. I can envision the whimsical music appearing on a Charlie Brown special.

Too bad that Nick Drake's apparent reluctance to perform live or be interviewed contributed to his lack of commercial success. 

1971 Honourable Mentions: 

"Country Roads" – John Denver
That unforgettable chorus is burned inside ourselves for eternity.

"Get It On (Bang a Gong)" – T. Rex
It slinks and swaggers, a glam rock groove with an infectious hook. 

"Riders on the Storm" – The Doors
Pure atmosphere, the echoing guitar, that psychedelic melody. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

1970 - "All Right Now" - Free

Sure this song is overplayed. Forever a staple on set lists played by bar bands throughout North America, it's also immortalized on that TV commercial peddling Wrigley's gum. 

Still, I never tire of hearing it. You don't turn this song off, you turn it UP.

In one word? CLASSIC. There's something magical and reassuring about that guitar riff. 

And this sort of desert isle list just has to have at least one classic rock anthem. 

In fact, I'll posit that "All Right Now" may actually be THE original 'classic rock' tune before the genre of classic rock was even established. Discuss. 

1970 Honourable Mentions: 

"Cinnamon Girl" – Neil Young & Crazy Horse 
Wasn't this the beginning of grunge?

"Cecilia" – Simon & Garfunkel
Must be embraced - played everywhere, enjoyed by all

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

1969 - "Space Oddity" - David Bowie

1969 = "Space Oddity" - David Bowie.
These first few years will be the hardest ones since I don't have any actual memories of enjoying them when they were released. But thanks to the magic of the internets, I have access to a treasure trove of lists and videos. In an era highlighted by the Stones, Beatles and Led Zep, here we have fledgling folk artist David Bowie spacing out about outer space.

Fave lyric: "For here, am I sitting in a tin can". 

The dreamy atmosphere, irresistible melody and inspired vocals make this one a long-time keeper ever since I first stumbled upon the video during the early 90s on MuchMusic (remember when the station played music?). The video was shown as a segue to an episode of Mike & Mike's Excellent X-Canada Adventures about Cavendish, PEI, leading into a story about the juxtaposition of Anne of Green Gables and some of the newer commercial attractions of the day. Like a space shuttle replica...   

Back to Bowie..."Space Oddity" helped inspire Peter Schilling to write a sort of sequel in this 1983 new wave hit featuring the Major Tom character. At the time who could have ever imagined the legions of artists, musicians and trends later influenced by his work.

1969 Honourable Mentions: None