Five Of The Greatest & Least Known UK Hard Rock Songs (Unless You’re a Fan Of The Band)
Slade on stage photo Paul Cox
I’ve seen hundreds of rock bands live. Working in the music industry afforded me a close-up look at greatness. Unfortunately many times the public does not recognize, let alone buy greatness. Continue reading →
Badfinger (l-r) Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans, Joey Molland
There are literally hundreds of songs that qualify for this category: hit songs, that are not the original version. Among these are some songs you probably never knew were cover versions. We’re focusing on classic rock songs so let’s cut right to the chase.
First we’ll present the more famous cover version, followed by the original.
Hanging on the Telephone
Blondie’s 1979 breakthrough album, Parallel Lines, opens with a telephone ringing which is the intro to the frantic opening track Hanging on the Telephone. The album contains one catchy song after another. In a June 2008 interview with Sound on Sound magazine, producer Mike Chapman says he told the band, “Think of being onstage. Imagine you’re playing this to an audience, because we’re trying to record something that you’re going to have to listen to for the rest of your lives. So if this is not a high-energy performance, you’re going to say, ‘How come we now do it better live than on the record?’ In the case of ‘Hanging On The Telephone‘, that’s probably the best track on the album in terms of energy, although ‘One Way Or Another‘ has a similar edge.”
The Nerves, were a power trio comprised of Jack Lee, Paul Collins and Peter Case. They released only one four song EP in 1976 which included Hanging on the Telephone. In 1973 composer Jack Lee came up with the title for the song after reading The Illustrated Beatles. The book contained a cartoon of a woman with a phone wrapping around her neck. The illustration was above the lyrics of All I’ve Got To Do. Lee thought Hanging on the telephone and kept repeating it to himself.
The next day the lyrics just came to him in a flash. He began playing G and E flat chords and banged out the song. Lee says, “the quality of hanging of the telephone is a lot was sacrificed in time and in tension into that song and I think it really gave me such confidence in my skill. Because before anybody gave me any validation on the song I know I was on to something
and also the reaction I was getting from people that had other agendas other than to give me unsolicited compliments that I knew that I was on to something.”
The Nerves never broke big, but Hanging on the Telephone results in a continuing music publishing income stream for Jack Lee.
Harry Nilsson had a string of top 10 hits in the late 60s through the mid 70s including Everybody’s Talkin’; I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City, Coconut; Jump in the Fire and many others. But Nilsson’s career defining song was a 1971 release, Without You.
Without You was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger and released in 1970 on the album No Dice. Badfinger is much better known for No Matter What, Baby Blue, Come and Get It (written by Paul McCartney) and Day After Day. Their catalog of great songs runs deep.
But due to mismanagement, most music fans are familiar with songs the band released during its abbreviated period of popularity. Stan Polley, manager of Badfinger, should have his picture in the dictionary next to the word evil. Ham hanged himself in the garage of his Surrey home in 1975 implicating Polley for his despondency. In his suicide note Ham wrote, “P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.” Eight years later in 1983 Tom Evans, was arguing with bandmate Joey Molland about the royalties for “Without You.” Evans put down the phone, went to the garden and hanged himself. Many of Evans friends believe he had never gotten over Ham’s suicide. A sad story attached to a sad song.
There Are Kids Who Are Learning What Music Really Is
Maybe There’s Hope For The Appreciation of Rock n’ Roll
Believe it or not I’m not that old. But I have lived long enough to have witnessed the virtual death of rock ‘n roll and the talent that is necessary to compose and perform it. To clarify, perform on an actual instrument, not a computer. An instrument that requires thousands s of hours of practice to not just have competence but to excel and display true talent.
Yet, when you go into almost any store like Sephora, Pac Sun or Hollister, in any mall in America you are bombarded by some loud sounds emanating from the store’s sound system. It’s the popular music of today.
It’s an assault on any adult entering with kids but that is why they are playing; A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Bebe Rexha, Rich The Kid, Lil Dicky, or Nipsey Hussle.
The stores play the Billboard Hot 100 pop dreck, hip-hop, or heavily computerized, synthesized autotune junk that appeals to kids and teens. Stores want them to shop there and that is what kids listen to and have grown up on for the last three decades. These kids and many of their elders know no other form of what they think passes for music. They like the instrument-less, undifferentiated ear candy which has permeated the minds of malleable Millennials and Generation Z for over 30 years.
But not all kids.
Here is the evidence. In Easton, PA in 2017 Houseband, apparently from the local School of Rock comprised of teens, playing Deep Purple’s “Burn.”
Realize, throughout history every adult generally despises music that is popular with their kids. Continue reading →
Hearing Classic Rock’s Greatest Voices Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before
Rare Audio From 10 Great Rock Bands With The Vocals Isolated
Unlike the garbage pop music that is popular today, the vocalists of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s did not have an array of modern gadgets to fix their voices. Either you could sing or you couldn’t. In the pre-digital era there was no autotune and multi-track studio trickery was limited to looping and a few other production tricks.
So it should come as no surprise that their were once were musical giants that walked the earth. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Heart, Queen, Boston and dozens of others where the vocalists could not only cut it live, but could go into a recording studio and leave pure magic on tape and vinyl.
Without having access to the master recording tapes, some enterprising music fans have made a hobby of isolating each individual part of a band’s recording to see how the song breaks down. The most interesting of these efforts are the vocal isolations.
If you ever had any doubt as to how much talent each of these musicians had, then prepare to be blown away by these performances.
First up, if Heart’s Ann Wilson doesn’t have the best pure voice in rock n’ roll then I don’t know who does. 40 plus years later Ann Wilson hasn’t lost much of her range. The singing on Barracuda is a careful balance between pyrotechnic raw emotion and incredible vocal control.
There are a handful of people who still dismiss Led Zeppelin and the vocal prowess of a young Robert Plant. For those who think that Robert Plant and Zeppelin were nothing special check out the unadulterated vocals with absolutely no effects from Ramble On off of Led Zeppelin II.
Probably the song with THE single greatest acrobatic vocal performance EVER in rock ‘n’ roll. Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan hits unimaginable heights on Child In Time from 1970. Continue reading →
Lord who had been battling pancreatic cancer, died unexpectedly at the London Clinic of a pulmonary embolism. He leaves behind his second wife Vickie, their daughter, Amy, and Sara, his daughter with his first wife Judith Feldman whom he married in 1969 and divorced in 1981.
I grew up admiring Deep Purple and they have always been one of my favorite bands. I had seen them perform live which was a very festive and loud experience. After seeing them live I came away with the first hand knowledge that Jon Lord was without a doubt one of the most exciting and greatest rock keyboard players ever.
Being an extremely amateur musician myself, there are two things I wish I had the ability to do. One is to play stride style piano like James Johnson or Fats Waller and the other is to flawlessly play the guitar solo or keyboard solo to Deep Purple’s driving locomotive of a song, Highway Star.
Jon Lord was a classically trained musician and that training always came through in Deep Purple’s music. The structure of many of the bands songs are clearly classically influenced and this is due to the fact that both Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore drew a lot of their inspiration from the classical realm.
(l-r) Ian Paice, Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Jon Lord
In rock n’ roll there are many talented composers that are not great performers. There are great live bands, without good original songs. Then, there are phenomenal studio bands who can’t cut it live. During the height of their fame in the 1970’s, I don’t think there was a more talented group of individuals playing together as a band than Deep Purple. What I mean is each individual was a virtuoso in his own right, a master at their instrument. Together they were able to write great songs, record them in the studio and play them effortlessly with an edge in front of a live audience as few rock bands could. To do any one of these three things well is an accomplishment. Deep Purple was in a rare class as they did all three. Continue reading →
In this fascinating interview with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, he briefly explains and demonstrates how he came up with the riffs to some of Deep Purple’s greatest songs, including Mandrake Root, Black Night, Speed King, Smoke On The Water, Lazy and Highway Star.
Musicians and public alike look at Blackmore and see a complicated and private man who has an immense talent for songwriting.
What Blackmore acknowledges in this interview (which I wish was complete) is that previous works by others can play a big part in your own creativity.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. From Mozart to Jimi Hendrix.
Playboy After Dark – Featuring the Original Deep Purple
Hugh Hefner’s swinging, late 1960’s TV show, Playboy After Dark had a wide variety of musicians, comedians and interesting people appear as guests. This clip recorded in late 1968, is one of the earliest television performances and one of the last to show the original Deep Purple performing their breakthrough song Hush.
This line-up is known as Deep Purple Mark I. By the time this segment aired November 14, 1969, original vocalist Rod Evans and bass player Nick Simper, both founding members of the band, had been out of the band since July 1969 and were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. The new incarnation of Deep Purple would go on to have worldwide commercial success and set a standard for other hard rock and heavy metal bands to follow. Continue reading →
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame’s 5 Biggest Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Snubs
I am not one for lists. They are subjective and open to arguments.
Having written that, I will still compile a few lists here and there on this site and possibly instigate something Palin-esque (Michael not Sarah.) So, with that warning, this list concerns one of the most meaningless institutions ever created – the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Who cares about who is in and who is not? I certainly don’t. The idea that you are given an award or recognized by some all knowing group of people has never excited me. I’m sure most bands really don’t care and it makes no difference in validating their career.
Yet to legions of dedicated fans of various bands, it does matter. They start online petitions, vent in Rolling Stone or on blogs about their band not being included in The RNRHOF. Every year when the inductees Continue reading →