When Alice Cooper recorded “Elected” in 1972, it was a satire about a rich, grandstanding, self-obsessed celebrity running for president. He’s a “yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce”. We all laughed. That kind of thing could never happen in real life, right…?

“Elected” (Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith & Glen Buxton) Copyright 1973 Ezra Music Corporation, administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Some bands take time to develop a unique sound, but Queen sounded like Queen right from the beginning. “Keep Yourself Alive” was the opening track on their first album, and it contains all the requisite Queen elements: the heavy riffs & orchestrated guitars, the vocal harmonies, dramatic musical shifts and Freddie’s powerful voice. The band would go on to scale bigger heights, but the magic was there from the start. Let’s have a listen.

“Keep Yourself Alive” (Brian May) Copyright 1972 Queen Music Ltd

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Picture this: You’re a successful chart-topping band, but your managers are writing all your hits and ignoring the songs you’re writing. You wrote a track on your latest album that has potential, but the record company thinks you can improve it. So, without your managers knowing about it, you re-record it & release it as a single– and it’s a hit. That’s the story of Sweet and “Fox On The Run”.

“Fox on The Run” (Andy Scott, Steve Priest and Brian Connolly) Copyright 1975 (Renewed) Sweet Publishing Ltd. All rights in the US and Canada Administered by WB Music Corp. 

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It Came From Boston (Vol. 3): MIT graduate/Polaroid employee Tom Scholz recorded an album’s worth of songs in his basement in Watertown, MA after work, and somehow the record eventually sold 25 million copies worldwide. Along with Brad Delp, Sib Hashian and some other guys (maybe?), were they the inventors of Corporate Rock or the most successful DIY debut of all time? You decide.

“Hitch A Ride” (Tom Scholz) Copyright 1976 Pure Songs – All Rights Administered  by WB Music Corp.

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Pink Floyd released “Us & Them” in 1973, but it feels like it could’ve been written yesterday. Can we ever get past our compulsion to separate “us” from “them”? This is a song for the ages, with some brilliant performances across the board from everyone involved– band members, guest artists, backing singers and recording engineers alike. Let’s try to listen to this song afresh and rediscover what makes this classic track great.

“Us & Them” (Roger Waters, Richard Wright) Copyright 1973 Pink Floyd Music Publishers and Warner/Chappell Artemis Music Limited

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“War” was originally written for The Temptations, but when Motown was too squeamish to have one of their top acts release an overtly anti-Vietnam song, Edwin Starr stepped up and secured his place in history. His no-holds-barred delivery of “War” resulted in one of the most commercially successful protest songs ever recorded. Though Edwin Starr never reached these heights again, he left his mark with a song that transcended its Vietnam-era roots: It was one of the songs on Clear Channel’s no-play list after September 11, 2001.

“War” (Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong) Copyright 1970 Jobette Music Co, Inc.

On this episode, we revisit the great ’70’s hard rock/power pop album Attention Shoppers! by Starz. “X-Ray Spex” is a blast of punky pop with some interesting use of studio effects. Turn it up!

“X-Ray Spex” (Peter Sweval, Joe X. Dube, Michael Lee Smith, Brendan Harkin & Richie Ranno) Copyright 1978 Starzongo Music, Inc/Rock Steady Music, Inc/ASCAP

It Came From Boston: 5 experienced musicians come together to make something new: keyboard whiz Greg Hawkes; the bassist with the killer voice, Benjamin Orr; drummer David Robinson from the legendary Modern Lovers; one of the tastiest guitarists in the business, Elliot Easton; and singer/songwiriter/guitarist & mastermind Ric Ocasek. Merging classic guitar rock with the burgeoning synth-pop sounds to bring New Wave to the masses, The Cars defined that sound for the late-70’s/Early ’80’s. It all started on local Boston radio with this song. 

“Just What I Needed” (Ric Ocasek) Copyright 1978 Lido Music, Inc.

There’s no shortage of great songs in the Rolling Stones catalog, but “Gimme Shelter” may be the song that tops them all. Dark and foreboding as only the Stones can do, this track has all the hallmarks of the Rolling Stones at their best: iconic guitar riffs by Keef, Jagger at the top of his game, and the Watts/Wyman rhythm section doing what they do best (plus Nicky Hopkins on piano).  But what pushes this one from merely brilliant into sublime is the vocal performance by Merry Clayton– for my money, one of the greatest moments on record. All together, this one belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Rock. 

“Gimme Shelter” (Mick Jagger & Keith Richards) Copyright 1969 ABKCO Music Inc.

Stevie Wonder was on an unrivaled creative streak starting in 1972, releasing 5 brilliant albums in a row, culminating with Songs In The Key Of Life in 1976. That album spawned 2 hit singles, including “I Wish”, the subject of this episode.  A masterpiece blending funk with pop sensibilities, it’s a celebration of youthful innocence and simpler times.  How does this song make *you* feel?  Let me know on Facebook, write a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this show.  And share it with your friends!

“I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) Copyright 1976 Jobette Music Co. Inc, and Black Bull Music c/o EMI April Music Inc.