Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Needle in a Haystack...

Good afternoon my children, today I will be discussing for your reading pleasure the fabled phenomena of 'great tracks on generally duff albums'. There have been many examples over the years, where after hearing a killer single you rushed yourself to the nearest record shop (or rapidly clicked the iTunes page depending whose side you're on) and instead of just purchasing the known single took a plunge and bought the whole album, only to be bitterly disappointed by the dregs that attacked your innocent ear drums once home.

My TOP 5

By John Lennon

The album is from the now infamous 'Sometime in New York City' an collection of protest and 'newspaper' songs written by Lennon and Yoko Ono in their 'political' period where everything from John Sinclair's drug bust to IRA leaning Irish independence was crow barred into 4/4 rock and roll with hardly any highpoints. The only real gem in the pile that stands up with Lennon’s greatest hits is 'New York City' which is good ol' fashioned Chuck Berry rock n'roll in it's most un-prentious form (the way it should be).

'Every Grain of Sand'
By Bob Dylan

From his 1981 album 'Shot of Love' that ended his run of Christian rock albums after a late 70's born again experience (don't ask). This track stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album's material and indeed above the majority of his other Jesus freak songs about the 'end times' and Sunday school pap. Apparently Bono is a big fan of the whole album but then again when has that ever been a solid gold endorsement? One of Dylan's best songs that has also had some excellent cover versions (see Emmylou Harris especially)

'The Rat'
By The Walkmen

'The Rat' is still one of the most exciting songs I have in my record collection and very rarely does a DJ set go by without me dropping the track into the running order. You'd think that considering the fact that I love this track so much that there would be at least 2 or 3 other moments on the album 'Bows + Arrows' that would appeal to me? But alas it seems that they only had the minerals to hit the ball out of the park once. I even saw them live and they waited till the encore to play it. It's as if they knew.

'Sail On, Sailor'
By The Beach Boys

From the 1973 album 'Holland' (actually recorded there as well). The album sessions were put into motion in an attempt to raise Brian Wilson out of depression and drug abuse and help reabilitate him back into the dynamic producer songwriter of only a few years previous. The attempt failed and even though the addition of Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin to the group did momentarily give the band a boost sonically the material just wasn't there. This highlight was a late edition to the track listings that was added at the insistence from the record company as they couldn't see any sizable sales or potential singles. The song 'Sail On, Sailor' was a Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks demo that was rearranged and finally completed by Wilson/Parks/Ray Kennedy/Tandyn Almer and even Beach Boys manager Jack Rieley who added some lyrical ideas. The final version is the stand out track and a live favourite of the group to this day.

'Sweet Hitch-Hiker'
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival were one of the most successful groups of their time and although they had many hits in the charts they unfortunately made the grave error of being a 'singles' group at a time when only 'albums' were taken seriously by the rock mainstream. John Fogerty was always the talent in the band, he wrote, sang and produced the songs that made them such as 'Bad Moon Rising', 'Lodi', 'Travelin' Band' and the classic 'Proud Mary'. Although with this level of success and talent the rest of the group started backbiting and fighting for their own level of attention and spotlight, after fraught recording sessions between John Fogerty and his brother Tom, John decided to write only 2 songs for their newest release 'Mardi Gras'(1972) and leave the rest of the writing to the group themselves. No surprises that the album sold poorly compared to previous releases and only managed to moderately successful singles (both written by John Fogerty) The first of these singles was 'Sweet Hitch-Hiker' which I have chosen, a classic Fogerty stomper and well worth investigating (as well as their greatest hits if you aren't already aware of the group).

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