Great songs, according to me (Part 29)
First, as usual, the backlist: Parts 1-15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, and Part 28.
Now, let's get the next ten!
281. In My Life Today (by Lenny Kravitz on the album Circus, 1995): This is the last Lenny Kravitz album I bought, because it's not that good and I figured if he's going to keep making the same music, I can listen to the old ones, right? However, "In My Life Today" is a great Kravitz song, because it's the kind of sentimental tune that he does very well. Lenny is just singing to God, and he does it with such passion and power that we're swept away by it. His old-fashioned freak-out toward the end never gets old, even though it's a Kravitz staple. It's a song that makes you want to sing along at the top of your voice, and there's nothing wrong with that.
282. In My Time of Dying (by Led Zeppelin on the album Physical Graffiti, 1975): I'm sure, if Zep ripped this song off, that Roger will be nice enough to come by and tell me about it. But I don't care. This is an epic song off Zep's best album, and it proves that Bonham is the best rock and roll drummer ever - yes, better than Keith Moon and Neil Peart. Suck on that, Who and Rush fans! Plant's wailing is in fine form, but it's Bonham's amazing drums that keeps the song going through 11 eleven minutes or so - he slows and speeds the tempo at will and matches Jimmy's slide guitar wonderfully. This is the quickest 11-minute song you'll ever hear, and it's due exclusively to Bonham. Just a wonderful musical experience.
283. Incubus (by Marillion on the album Fugazi, 1984): Of Marillion's early albums (pre-1989), this is the weakest, because Fish got really weird with the lyrics and the sprawling music didn't help him. However, there are some gems on it, and "Incubus" is one of them. It still features the lyrical madness that Fish is so good at, but it's much less metaphorical than most of songs on the album and therefore more accessible. Fish gives it his all in the singing, as well, which helps sell the song. His weirdly delicate verse toward the end ("weirdly" because Fish is a giant man with a big set of pipes, and it's tough to imagine him being delicate), which ends with "You who wiped me from your memory like a greasepaint mask, just like a greasepaint mask" is wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time. It's a towering revenge song, which makes it all the more gut-wrenching.
284. Independence Day (by Elliot Smith on the album XO, 1998): It's difficult to pin down "great" Elliot Smith songs since they all sound alike, but a few stand out, and "Independence Day" is one of them. The wistful yet quirky music, a shade more upbeat than usual, helps, as the lyrics are more hopeful than Smith's usual stuff. It's hard to view his lyrics these days without thinking about his death (suicide? murder?) and if they portend things, and maybe that's why this song is better than others, because it is does point to a brighter future. A great song from a great songwriter.
285. Indian Summers Dream (by Stress on the album Stress, 1991): There have been more than one band named Stress, and this one broke up long ago and this album (their only one, as far as I can discover) is probably out of print, so I can find them nowhere in cyberspace. Oh well. This trio played that kind of 1960s-influenced rock so many bands played in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with some psychedelic influences and a definite nod to the Beatles. This whole album is pretty good, actually, and this song is definitely a highlight. It has nice melodies and some groovy sitar in it, and makes the whole thing an enjoyable listening experience. I'd say more about it, but Stress is long gone from the music scene, so it's kind of pointless. Anyone out there ever hear of them? I picked the cassette up in Australia, but I'm pretty sure they were British. Someone must have seen them on 120 Minutes at some point!
286. Indifference (by Pearl Jam on the album Vs., 1993): Ten is my favorite Pearl Jam album, but this is probably their best, and this final song is a big reason why. It's very moody and quiet, but Eddie mumbles with such conviction and then gives that howl when he sings "I'll swallow poison, until I grow immune," which caps the song. It's a powerful statement about getting through the tough times and surviving, which is what we need to do in this world occasionally.
287. Inertia Creeps (by Massive Attack on the album Mezzanine, 1998): This is the only Massive Attack album I own, and even though I like it, I don't really have a desire to buy another one. The songs are good, but nothing spectacular. "Inertia Creeps," however, is brilliant, with its sense of prowling menace and impenetrable lyrics. It has a nice electronic crunch to it, more than the other songs on the album, and it adds a nice touch of paranoia to your listening experience. Fine stuff.
288. Infecto Groovalistic (by Infectious Grooves on the album The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move ... It's the Infectious Grooves, 1991): The Suicidal Tendencies side project that is the Infectious Grooves made some brilliant music, especially on this first album, and this song is one of the great ones. As usual with the songs by the Grooves, we get some slap-funky bass, but Mike Muir reins in his usual venomous screaming to give us a bit more melody, even though the lyrics remain as embittered as ever. Trujillo's bass remains the backbone of the song, and keeps everything funky, which keeps everything pulsing nicely. A nice song to end the album.
289. Inside Information (by Foreigner on the album Inside Information, 1987): Mock all you want, but I like Foreigner, damn it! I recognize that most of their songs are pretty darned cheesy, and after 4 they really fell off the page musically ("I Want to Know What Love is"?????), but this album is pleasant enough, punctuated by a few gems, including the title track. Yes, it sounds like a lot of mid- to late-1980s cheeseball pop, but Mick Jones gives it a bit more bite than post-"Urgent" Foreigner usually had, with a bit of a nasty guitar slicing through the keyboards, while Lou Gramm, who often sounds bored on the album, actually puts some effort into it. The lyrics are goofy, but Gramm plays them to the hilt, and it helps put the song into more rarefied air. A classic? Maybe, maybe not. But a great slice of music. Too bad Foreigner didn't have more of them.
290. Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything) (by The Dead Milkmen on the album Bucky Fellini, 1987): The Dead Milkmen, who hailed from suburban Philadelphia (near where I grew up, actually), had a brief fling with fame with "Punk Rock Girl," but this album, which came out the preceding year, is probably their best (although Big Lizard in my Backyard has some great songs). This song, which is their snide retort to dance music, has some of the funniest lyrics you'll ever hear ("Don't try to tell me that you're an intellectual, 'cause you're just another boring bisexual"), a fantastic feedback guitar solo in the middle that totally crushes the boppy beat of the dance music, and finally, a list of Eighties bands the men feel are unworthy of your love even though you'll dance to anything by them: the Communards, the Smiths, Public Image Limited ... ending with a snarl about giving your money to "stupid Europeans" instead of giving it to a "decent American artist" like, say, the Dead Milkmen. Funny, funny stuff.
Well, that's another ten songs in the book. Next time I'll actually be up to 300 songs! Holy crap! Please, feel free to mock my affection for Foreigner. I can take it!