1. The White Stripes – Little Acorns (Elephant, 2003)
Great song from White Stripes’ fantastic fourth, on which this is the traditional song with ‘little’ in its title. The famous spoken intro was contributed by American TV anchorman Mort Crim, whereupon the combo of the heavily tuned guitar and White’s threatening voice gives this track its great verses.
2. Belle and Sebastian – Dress Up in You (The Life Pursuit, 2006)
Polished indie pop from Belle and Sebastian’s seventh album, loaded with sunny melodies. The Life Pursuit reminds of all the good things that sixties and seventies pop had to offer, including great vocal harmonies and well-balanced instrumentals, like the beautiful horn section in this song. Personal favorite.
3. King Crimson – Moonchild (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)
Longest track on this epic album, preceding the title track on side two. The track can in fact be separated into two sections. ‘The Dream’ is a ballad with a prominent role for Ian McDonald’s mellotron (and lyrics provided by English poet Peter Sinfield), while the band completely starts to improvise on ‘The Illusion’. This is in fact nothing more than an elitist patchwork, making it the most disappointing part on the album.
4. The Flaming Lips – Race for the Prize (The Soft Bulletin, 1999)
From bearded men in a dark cellar to an explosion of confetti on main stage: the transition couldn’t possibly be more abrupt. Defining album for the band’s later sound and live performances.
5. Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
Ultimate air guitar song, highlight on the notorious album and a crowd favorite at live concerts (including several improvisations). Interesting detail: the famous solo was recorded and added after the song was already ‘completed’, resulting in a somehow different guitar sound.
6. The Jam – The Place I Love (All Mod Cons, 1978)
From the third album of this late seventies mod revival band, with the title referring to this as well as the abbreviation of ‘all modern conveniences’, often used in housing adverts.
7. Guns ‘n Roses – 14 Years (Use Your Illusion II, 1991)
Best song (great piano playing) on the only GNR album that survived my record collection throughout the years. Never realized all these years however that it’s actually rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin on lead vocals. Stradlin had already left the band before the UYI-albums were released, after being detoxed from alcohol and drugs.
8. Radiohead – Paranoid Android (OK Computer, 1997)
Does this song need any more explanations? Maybe it’s still best described by Yorke himself, before the first time it was performed live: “If you can have sex to this one, you’re fucking weird.”.
9. Tool – Flood (Undertow, 1993)
Wow, the android perfectly fades into the guitar intro of this song. Subsequently the snoring bass tunes in and the drums brutally smash the song into your face. Penultimate song on this debut album, on my version at least, as most North American versions feature closing song ‘Disgustipated’ as track 69, after 58 silent 1”-tracks (you gotta love them).
And one more nineties track to close with. Just like last time, the Tremor Control makes it to the shuffle just on time, but with their second album this time. Love it or hate it.
1. Grandaddy – The Warming Sun (Sumday, 2003)
Indie pop from Modesto, California, with the voice of singer Jason Lytle (a former professional skateboarder) resembling Neil Young’s one on this track. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the lyrics.
2. Pixies – Vamos (Surfer Rosa, 1988)
One of the Pixies’ songs that open with a monologue, from Black Francis this time, after which the acoustic guitar and pounding bass drum kick off the song for real. The first version of this song appeared on the band’s debut album Come On Pilgrim, just like ‘Isla de Encanta’ (and ‘Crackity Jones from Doolittle ) drawing upon Francis’ adventures in Puerto Rico.
3. Spirit – Morning Will Come (Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, 1970)
Finally, seems like years ago that I listened to this. Penultimate track on the fourth and probably best album of Spirit, an eclectic rock band that was founded (like so many others) in California ’67. Released some very good albums during the late sixties, with Led Zeppelin being their support act at live gigs (Spirit’s influence is clearly traceable on later Zep records). This song at his turn reminds of David Bowie with a small touch of Josh Homme during the chorus.
4. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Foxy Lady (Are You Experienced, 1967)
King of riffs, that was also used by Jimmy Page during later Led Zeppelin gigs, when it was one of the many improvisations that would come up during the instrumental powertrip on ‘Dazed and Confused’. And of course a well-known favorite of Sir Paul McCartney, who plays it now and then after ‘Let Me Roll It’.
5. The Doors – Roadhouse Blues (Morrison Hotel, 1970)
Back to the American Westcoast with another uptempo track including shrilling guitars, while the other Jim of the ’27 club’ shouts. The Doors immediately abandoned the experimental direction from the previous album (The Soft Parade) on the very first track of Morrison Hotel, with a safe and satisfactory return to psychedelic and blues rock.
6. Queen – Don’t Try So Hard (Innuendo, 1991)
Death all over again, with Queen’s last album before the death of Mercury. No safe return to a familiar sound for Freddy however, as he tries to imitate Kate Bush here before the guitars give this track some dignity.
7. Robert Palmer – Come Over (Double Fun,1978)
That makes five death singers in a row (Spirit’s Randy California died in 1997). Funky song (Stevie Wonder will endorse that), being one of the highlights on a rather mediocre album. Palmer really shows his instrumental skills here, playing guitar, bass, drums, percussion, drums and keyboards on this one.
8. Beulah – Sunday Under Glass (When Your Heartstrings Break, 1999)
More indie rock from California, San Francisco this time. Band that was discovered by Apples in Stereo singer Robert Schneider from Elephant 6. Have to give it another try.
9. Meat Puppets – Lake of Fire (Meat Puppets II, 1984)
One of the three songs from this album that were covered by Nirvana during their legendary unplugged performance. This less polished version however creates the right atmosphere to its lyrics.
10. The Beatles – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
Closing with the circus song from Pepper, that was played live for the first time ever last year by Paul McCartney, after he revealed it is partially his song. Henry the Horse did not speak out on the subject yet.