1. The Beach Boys – Darlin’ (The Beach Boys in Concert, 1973)
Live version of a song that originally appeared on the ’67 album Wild Honey, being the second single after the title track. Songs like these (written by Brian and sung by Carl) can pep up any party thanks to the characteristic pace and vocal harmonies.
2. Peter Gabriel – Big Time (So, 1986)
Peter Gabriel had been collecting real rock gems on his solo records from the very start, but the absence of experimental excesses on this (fifth) album (which seems to contain nothing but FM hits) made that these were no longer kept a secret for a greater audience. Lots of guest appearances on So, for example The Police’s Stewart Copeland (drums) and Daniel Lanois (guitar) on this song, while Lanois (after co-producing some albums from an Irish band with Brian Eno) also produced the album.
3. The Go! Team – The Power is On (Thunder, Lightning, Strike, 2004)
Very turbulent song, which probably ended up on my shelf thanks to its use on the EA 2006 FIFA WC soundtrack. The resources for this album were limited, and that’s exactly what you hear. Not really something to remember in another ten years, just like the game it was used on.
4. Them Crooked Vultures – Interlude with Ludess (Them Crooked Vultures, 2009)
An album that was received with lots of uproar at the time, but one that seems to have ended up in anonymity, just like the band. It of course never reached the level of originality of the QOTSA and Led Zep works, but really offers some sharp and muscled tracks that make you search after your air guitar. Unlike this one, that sounds like a modern version of the intro of ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’.
5. Vampire Weekend – California English (Contra, 2010)
One of the truly indie bands of today that really matter. Surprising on their debut, expanding on this second album (this song being the ultimate example) and definitely affirming on their last record. VW showed guts and until now, that sufficed.
6. Robert Johnson – Preachin’ Blues (King of the Delta Blues Singers, 1961)
7. Big Star – Dream Lover (Third/Sister Lovers, 1978)
Fantastic album, that I only recently really discovered after lying around on the dusty shelf for some years (I now realize it was its fate). Big Star (Memphis) was one of those scarce rock bands during the seventies that didn’t go either hard rock or prog, but instead reverted to the lush but simple melodies of the sixties. With Alex Chilton and Chris Bell as their songwriting duo, they released two albums before breaking up in 1974. This third album was shelved and only released four years later as Third/Sister Lovers. Stripped dejection was never before alternated with unrestrained excitement in this way, drenched in a relaxed atmosphere that reminds of The Band’s Last Waltz.
8. Jefferson Airplane – Spare Chaynge (After Baking at Baxter’s, 1967)
The odd man out on this very interesting Airplane album. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen co-wrote this long instrumental with bass player Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden, while Kantner, Balin and Slick are absent. Forerunner of Kaukonen and Casady’s blues rock project Hot Tuna.
9. Led Zeppelin – Night Flight (Physical Graffiti, 1975)
Not much oeuvres can compete with that of Led Zeppelin: immediately settle a mythical reputation with your debut and freely preserve this the following six years, at a rate of one album a year (yeah, there’s a two year gap between Houses of the Holy and this one, but this is a double album). Really astonishing actually when considering the genesis of the band. This song is one of those great tracks on what is probably their best album: instrumental perfection that occasionally and deliberately gives space to Plant’s voice.
10. Anathema – Pitiless (Judgement, 1999)
Album I already ran into twice, but apparently forgot to throw away. Way too grandiloquent, over and out.