Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Great songs, according to me (part 8)

I woke up this morning with a really bad headache. I hate that. Then I couldn't get back to sleep. I know that staring at a computer screen isn't the best way to alleviate a headache, but it's 6 o'clock in the morning and I'm bored. Headaches suck.

Anyway, I have a deadly serious post rattling around in my brain (and y'all know I'm all about the deadly seriousness!), so I thought I'd check out some great songs before I posted that. If you're terribly interested, the first seven parts can be found here:

Here's the next ten!

71. Boogie With Stu (by Led Zeppelin on the album Physical Graffiti, 1975): This is one of those songs that you can't help but love. Hardly any lyrics, and what lyrics there are are dumb, but just a foot-stompin', finger-snappin', head-boppin', body-movin' fun song. I always wonder about Zeppelin songs (and other bands' as well) on "classic" radio stations - why don't they play more variety? It's not like Zeppelin was big on the singles - most people know them from the albums, so playing "Kashmir" and "Stairway To Heaven" all the time makes little sense. Anyway, as goofy as this song is, Page makes it work with his finger-pickin' (is it a mandolin? probably).

72. The Boomin' System (by LL Cool J on the album Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990): Slide this disc in (or in my case, the cassette - it's old school, baby!). Turn up the bass. Bop your head. Sing along: "You know it's funky, funky, funky 'cause you heard from hearsay, a jam that you love that don't be gettin' no air play. Strictly for frontin' when you're ridin' around, 12 o'clock at night with your windows down. Headlights breakin' 'cause your battery's drained, Armor-all on your tires and a big gold chain ..." How can you resist? You can't, foolish white people! Most of this album is excellent, and LL sure knows how to start things off. It's a song about a stereo, for crying out loud, but it sure is excellent. "I'm frontin' and I don't care who knows." Damn straight, LL.

73. Born Of Frustration (by James on the album Seven, 1992): I first read about James in Spin magazine in the year this album came out, and for some reason, they sounded like a band I wanted to hear. Good call, Spin! They quickly became one of my favorite bands, and this song is one reason why. Ethereal yet still grounded music, metaphorical and powerful lyrics that never overwhelm you with cleverness, and Tim Booth's slightly off-key but yearning voice. This song starts off Seven, and it's a perfect way to get into James. It's a song with a theme that's common to some James songs - the desire for God in a world that no longer makes sense. You feel Booth's frustration (so to speak) when he sings, "I'm living in the weeds where nothing is the way it seems, where no one is who they need to be, where nothing seems that real to me." It's a powerful song.

74. Boys Light Up (by Australian Crawl on the album Phalanx, 1983): In case you can't guess, I learned of this band in Melbourne back in 1992. In the late 1970s and early 1980s they were the shit in Oz, apparently. They're actually not that good, but they actually came up with a few great songs, and this live recording from 1983 is one of them. The studio version of this song is lousy (yes, this is a case in which I actually like the live version better), but in concert, they speed it up and make it much more jaunty and obnoxious, which is a good thing, because it's an obnoxious song. In the live version, it's going along nicely, but when James Reyne (the lead singer) gets to the lines, "Later at the party, all the MPs rave 'bout the hummers she's been givin' and the money that they save," well, that's when it achieves greatness.

75. Brave (by Marillion on the album Brave, 1994): God, I love Marillion. I put three of their songs on my first Mixed Bag CD for my fellow bloggers in Chris Brown's grand experiment, and the reaction was decidedly mixed (so to speak). So they're not for everyone. That's fine. This album was a comeback from their attempt to gain a mass audience by "going pop," and it's a welcome return to form. Multi-leveled music, intense and introspective lyrics, songs that drag you in and lift you up, and the title track, an eerie, bagpipe-in-the-background, haunting song about a scared girl and the man who wants to love her. Or is the girl really you? Ah, the metaphors! I won't say you'd love Marillion, because obviously not everyone does, but you owe it to yourself to at least give them a listen.

76. Break Her Heart (by Carol Noonan on the album The Only Witness, 1997): This is a nasty little song, one that doesn't seem so because of Noonan's smooth vocals. But it tells a tale of Carol (presumably) watching an ex-lover making his move on another, young naïve thing (like she once was, presumably) and feeling contempt for both of them. She subtly sings, "Let me watch you break her heart like you broke mine," and you realize how evil this song really is. Nice.

77. Breakdown (by Guns 'N' Roses on the album Use Your Illusion II, 1991): On his Mixed Bag CD, Logan included this song, which reminded me how excellent it is. I really don't like G 'n' R all that much, but occasionally, they rock, and here's a good example of it. This is actually kind of a weird song, because it feels like the best parts of other songs all thrown together, but the effect still works. The best part of the song is when crazy man Axl sings "But now the damage is done and we're back out on the run, funny how everything was roses when we held onto the guns ... Just because you're winnin' don't mean you're the lucky ones." Not only is it actually a clever way to get your band name into the lyrics, but it is a nice statement on the excess of fame that killed this band (Chinese Democracy is due in November - yeah, right). Insight from Axl - who'da thunk it?

78. Breaking The Girl (by Red Hot Chili Peppers on the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, 1991): I'm not even going to get into how much I hate "Under The Bridge," the mega-hit from this album, or how this album was about ten songs too long, or how this album, although it contains some great songs (like this one) turned me off RHCP. Instead I'm going to focus on this song. Man, it's cool. Frusciante's (I think - they change guitarists like most people change underwear) guitars, all jangly and acoustic, lure you into thinking it's going to be a SoCal love song, then Kiedis wrecks it all (but makes it a great song) but singing about destroying someone you supposedly loved. Mean, yes, but true. The best kind of song.

79. Breaking The Silence (by Queensryche on the album Operation: Mindcrime, 1988): If you are a fan of heavy metal and you don't own this album, shame on you. It is possibly the finest heavy metal album ever released. Yes, that's a bold statement, but Fortune Favors the Bold! (I love that saying, especially because I am far from bold.) Yes, this is a "concept" album, and yes, it takes easy shots at organized religion (don't be too crazy, guys!), but the music and lyrics are impeccable. This song begins the endgame of the album, which includes the classics "I Don't Believe In Love" and "Eyes Of A Stranger." Geoff Tate's distinctive vocals and Chris De Garmo's crunching guitar power this song, and although it's loud and screeching and all heavy and shit, you can still feel the pain in Tate's voice when he sings, "Looking for you in the neon light; why don't you answer me?" Sorry, Geoff. We fell asleep. You understand.

80. Bridge (by Queensryche on the album Promised Land, 1994): Yes, it's two in a row from those wacky metal gods from the Emerald City! The vagaries of alphabetization! After Empire, Queensryche kind of dropped off the map, but this, their follow-up, is pretty good, even though Tate is going a little around the bend with his politics (in my opinion, of course - others probably like his politics). This, however, is a nice song about trying to reconcile with an absent father without the annoying pap of Harry Chapin (or is that a cheap shot at a dead man?). Powerful yet simple lyrics, too: "Trying to mend a bridge that's been blown apart, but you know ... you never built it, dad." A forceful, relatively quiet song with strong music driving it home.

Well, that's it. And my headache is gone! I guess sitting in front of a computer is good for you!


Blogger Johnny B said...

For further research: "Boogie With Stu" was lifted almost completely note for note from Richie Valens' "Ooh My Head" and retitled to avoid those messy rights fees and so on. Of course, Zep was notorious for doing that sort of thing.

Still, Valens' version didn't have that nifty mandolin solo!

7/7/05 8:57 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Johnny - I did not know that - it's certainly interesting. The cool thing about Zeppelin, though, was that I know they rip off a lot of stuff, but as you pointed out, they add just enough to make it their own - like the mandolin. Sure, they steal, but then they take it to the next level! That's why they get the love!

7/7/05 12:36 PM  
Blogger Aries327 said...

Greg --

I love James too. In fact, I love their entire Laid album. From Seven I prefer "Don't Wait that Long" the most. However, I'm with you on "Born of Frustration" being a great song, it's the song that made me buy the album.

The groove of "Don't Wait that Long" is damn sweet and completely different from anything else I've heard from them. Also notable on Seven is "Ring the Bells."

7/7/05 3:21 PM  
Blogger Aries327 said...

P.S. I'm moving to Mesa in two weeks. Where's the best place to buy comics?

7/7/05 3:42 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

"Don't Wait That Long" is the best song on the album. I'll get to it when I get to the 'D's.

Well, hell, if it's not too weird (since we don't know each other), let me know when you get here and I'll take you to Greg's Comics at Alma School and Guadalupe (it's not my store, unfortunately) and introduce you. More comic book fans around here are always welcome!

7/7/05 4:25 PM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

The Led Zep theft of some of those blues classics was not only crass, it was likely criminal, if someone had litigated in a timely fashion.

Chuck Berry got the Beatles for "Come Together" over what I would have considered a fair use snippet:

Weird -it was like Steve Stills suing Paul Simon for "paranoia strikes deep in the heartland."

8/7/05 7:58 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Roger - yeah, I know. I was just being facetious. The problem with stuff like that back in the day is, as you pointed out, litigation problems. I would call Zep stealing stuff less egregious than Pat Boone "whitening" all the rock and roll songs, especially because Boone was doing it with the full knowledge of everyone around him. It's the same thing these days with rap or even, if I can be a nerd, comic book covers - where do we draw the line between theft and "homage"?

Of course, thanks to you knowledgeable people, now I have to go hunt down Richie Valens' stuff and learn me some Beatles trivia.

8/7/05 10:48 AM  

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