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.

“Rain” was the first glimpse of The Beatles exploration of psychedelia. Perhaps more than any other Beatles track, this song highlights the rhythm section with brilliant performances by Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Add Lennon’s lyrics and great vocals, and you’ve got one of the best songs to come out of the trippy, mind-expanding ’60’s. On this episode, we take a closer look at the individual performances and studio trickery– backwards, forwards, sped up & slowed down– that went into this classic track. 

“Rain” (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) Copyright 1966 Northern Songs

The Kinks earned their place in Rock History on the basis of “You Really Got Me”, “All Day & All Of The Night”, and “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” alone.  But it didn’t take long for Ray Davies to stretch out beyond riff-driven, teenage anthems to write songs that could only have come from his imagination.  “Autumn Almanac” is one of the first Kinks songs to show Davies reaching for a whole new level of songwriting–  both musically and his interest in writing about characters, which would become the focus of his songwriting over the ensuing years.

“Autumn Almanac” (Ray Davies) Copyright 1967 Davray Music Ltd. Carlin Music Corp.

50 years ago today — July 16, 1969 — Apollo 11 was launched and human beings first stepped on the moon.  Let’s celebrate that occasion with the most famous song about space travel: David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, a song that exploits our fear and wonder of the final frontier. 

In lesser hands, this track could’ve been nothing more than a goofy, one-joke song for the Dr. Demento crowd, but the clever songwriting, brilliant production and a vocal performance that captures Bowie’s innate other-worldly, alienated style makes this track so much more than a novelty song.

“Space Oddity” (David Bowie) Copyright 1969 Onward Music Limited

Among the many high points in David Bowie’s catalog, “Station To Station” stands as one of his most epic compositions.  Written when Bowie’s life was at its most fractured point– having split with his longtime manager, suffering from cocaine psychosis and obsessed with the occult, “Station To Station” transcends the insanity to become one of his most monumental works.

This episode, we’re taking a deep dive into the live version of “Station To Station” from the 1978 Isolar II Tour, as captured on the Stage live album featuring brilliant guitar work from Adrian Belew.

David Bowie, circa 1976, drawing the Tree Of Life, a mystical
diagram referred to in “Station To Station”

Another overlooked song in the McCartney catalog, “Little Lamb Dragonfly” is an emotional piece, composed of 3 sections in different keys that effortlessly moves between each segment.  A wistful, haunting song about loss and the struggle to accept it.  How does this song affect you?  Let me know– write a review, post on Facebook, and share this episode with your friends.

“Little Lamb Dragonfly” (Paul & Linda McCartney) Copyright 1973 Administered by MPL Communications Limited

The Zombies only released 2 albums during their prime, so how did they get into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?  Because one of those albums is a bona fide classic: Odessey and Oracle is widely considered to be one of the greatest albums of the ’60’s, holding its own against classics by The Beatles, the Stones, Velvet Underground, The Who… by virtually any measure, it’s an iconic album.  And it was a complete flop when it was first released, along with its first single, “Care Of Cell 44”.  But over time, it’s been recognized as a true masterpiece.  Let’s give The Zombies their due and take a deep dive into their orchestral pop magnum opus, “Care Of Cell 44.”

Here’s a link to the article I mention in the podcast:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/danielralston/the-true-story-of-the-fake-zombies-the-strangest-con-in-rock

It’s definitely worth checking out!

The Zombies – “Care Of Cell 44” (Rod Argent) Copyright 1967 Verulam Music Copmany Limited

Why this song?  Simple: because Thin Lizzy was as good as a 4-piece rock band could be and this song has everything you want in a rockin’ song– a killer guitar riff, a singable chorus, a great hook for the lyrics, and a perfect performance.  Written by Bob Seger, Thin Lizzy took it to another level and added some of their special sauce to make this song their own.  I truly love this song!  Let me know your thoughts — write a review, leave a comment, share with your friends.

“Rosalie” (Bob Seger) Copyright 1972 Gear Publishing Co.