In 1993, Tom Petty released his Greatest Hits album featuring 16 of his most well known tunes and 2 new ones – a cover of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and the (rightfully) presumptive hit “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. The album went on to sell over fifteen million copies and become the definitive Tom Petty recording.
The upsides to such a smash success are obvious – more money than you can count, your music is everywhere, parents have a concise collection to pass to their kids and thus your legacy lives forever, your concerts are one big singalong, etc.; but there are a few less obvious downsides that go along with the teritory (although I doubt they bother Mr. Petty all that much).
The Greatest Hits compilation ultimately went on to define Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for the millions of people who have purchased this disc, and the rest of his (really great) body of work has fallen by the wayside as far as the masses are concerned. Most of the criticisms about Petty evolve from “nothing but simple pop songs”, which is actually more of a criticism of the Greatest hits than his work at large. The Heartbreakers are one of the best and most consistent American bands in the history of Rock and Roll and the fact is they have much more to offer than “just the hits”. While I am not going to sit here and argue with the merits of one of the most beloved compilations of all time, I will provide a collection with 18 tracks of my own – none of which are on the Greatest Hits. Here is my “Tom Petty – Not Greatest Hits” collection.
Despite being a band for going on 30 years now, my personal exposure to Yo La Tengo has actually been quite limited. Here’s what I do know.
- Based on my three years of high school spanish, I think that their band name means something to the effect of “I have”, with some sort of feminine quality to it.
- Their seminal album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One was a constant staple in my buddy’s car in high school.
- “From a Motel 6″, “Our Way to Fall”, and “More Starts Than There Are in Heaven” have each made their way on to a mix tape of mine at one point or another.
- Their new album Fade has crossed the 20 listen mark on my Itunes library.
The aforementioned talking facts, topped with a date at the great Asheville venue the Orange Peel was more than enough for me to go spend my Saturday night rocking with the Hoboken Indie Rock mainstays.
Sans opening band, Yo La Tengo played two sets – in effect opening for themselves with an acoustic set before bursting into a full blown rock and roll set in Act II . The acoustic set showcased the benefits of being a band with the same lineup for 20+ years, sans the screaming guitars or drum sticks to hide behind the harmonies could be heard in their perfectly crafted glory. In between tunes, frontman Ira Kaplan kept things interesting, doing his best Al Franken complimenting a light and happy bunch of tunes.
When the band opened with the new album standout “Ohm” in the acoustic set, I was admittedly pretty bummed as I was ready to hear it in the experimental fashion that I have become accustom to – luckily we got a reprise in set two which more than satisfied. While the acoustic set did a fine job setting the table, the crowd came alive when the distortion pedals started howling. The last hour of the show was like a trip into the outer space of Rock and Roll – mixing old favorites with new tunes from Fade in all of their sonic glory.
The band both set it up, and knocked it down in what was a great night of music in a wonderful city. As the veteran three-piece continues touring behind their great new album, I will be going to work on expanding my list of things I know about Yo La Tengo.
The song that started it all. An unaccompanied Muddy Waters plugs in, plays the blues, and the rest is history. This one song was the namesake for the biggest rock band in the world, a little rock magazine you may have heard of, and one of the greatest songs ever written. All in a day’s work.
Brendan Benson has a knack for writing hooky classic pop songs, and ladies and gentleman, it doesn’t get much more catchy than this. This little ditty lived in relative obscurity for a few years pre-Raconteurs, but once it hit an Itunes commercial this one had us all tapping our feet. While this song was the breakout, the album “The Alternative to Love” is full of winners just like it.
Clapton’s lone songwriting credit for Blind Faith actually came from the Derek and the Dominoes sessions. Eric handles the guitar and leaves the vocals to Steve Winwood. Rounding out this original “super-group” Ginger Baker on drums and Traffic bassist Rick Grech.
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Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, known as Shovels and Rope are a husband and wife duo with a stripped down acoustic sound, straight out of the South Carolina low-country. Sounds pretty cute right? Yah, not so much. These two may turn in a tender moment or two when the time is right, but for the most part Shovels and Rope is a bad ass, ramshackle barn-rock duo.
Truth be told, these two aren’t really all that new. By the Grammy standard, and certainly the “new to most of us” rule of thumb, the “new” distinction works just fine. It’s a pretty cool story actually; married couple each honing their craft while doing their own thing, only to break through when they joined forces. What started as a little side project while Trent was playing in a band called the Films, and Hearst was touring as a solo artist turned out to be the magic combination for these two. After releasing their debut album in early 2012, they spent rest of the year vagabonding around the country, touring with the likes of Jack White, Jonny Corndawg and the Lumineers – winning over one fan at a time.
Hail Hail Rock and Roll, I love you till you slit my throat and swallow me whole…..
~Shovels & Rope – Hail, Hail
A mom and pop outfit if there ever was one, Trent and Hearst do a little bit of everything on the band’s proper debut album Oh Be Joyful. Joyful is an amalgamation of all the best parts of bluegrass, country, blues and sometimes even punk rock. Throughout the album you’re taken through a rowdy good time, 11 tracks full of piss and vinegar seemingly custom crafted for the back porch. The two pass around the instruments, take turns with the vocals -alternating at times, and harmonizing in others. Although on the surface there is a whole lotta stomp and hootenanny, there’s plenty of substance underneath, complete with a few tender moments in there to level things out. Did I mention the musicianship is off the chart?
Frankly they had me at the name, but after hearing just a few tracks I was all in. Now six months and what has to be at least 100 spins of the album later, I’m claiming Shovels and Rope as the MOR Favorite New Artist of 2012, which is saying something as this was a great year for new music. Give ‘em a spin yourself, or catch them on the road you won’t be disappointed.
The first time I heard Backstreets, I was thoroughly convinced it was the greatest thing I have ever heard. What starts as a doo-op veined pop tune turns into something else altogether. From the moment everything drops out but the piano to Bruce’s screaming crescendo at the end this one is something special. A high point off of an incredible album, this is one hell of a way to close out side one.
Even the biggest Rock and Roll band in the world has some winners that don’t get the respect they deserve. Let’s give Street Fightin’ Man and Satisfaction a well deserved break and give some lesser known jams their due.
1. 100 Years – Goat’s Head Soup (1973) Maybe it was the not so appetizing album name, or the bordering on creeping me out cover but it wasn’t til’ recently that I really got into Goat’s Head Soup. 100 Years gets on this list, but that disc is full of under appreciated gems.
2. The Spider and The Fly – Out of Our Heads (1965) One of the more unique sounding standard blues tunes I have ever heard. The whole song is slinky as hell – yes that is a technical term.
3. I Got the Blues Sticky Fingers – (1971) – The Stones doing their best Otis Redding impression. The slow build up to Billy Preston’s powerful Hammond organ solo shows the Stones carefully studied all the R&B masters.
4. I Am Waiting – Aftermath – (1966) – Yea, yea how can a song in a Wes Anderson movie be underrated? Well, before appearing in my favorite movie of all time, to most this was just another song on “that album with Under My Thumb and Paint it Black”. While the movie upped the profile a bit, I’ll do you one better. This is a top 20 Stones tune.
5. Stray Cat Blues Beggars Banquet – (1968) – A pretty straight up personification of The Stones bad boy image in song. Also moonlights as one of Brian Jones’ last significant contributions to the band.
Last night I was lucky enough to catch my second MMJ/BOH show in a week, this time was the last show of the tour in Raleigh, NC. In the encore of the My Morning Jacket set, their “good friends” the Band of Horses took the stage with them for a cover of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass classic “Isn’t it a Pity”. We had a prime spot in the GA pit up front, and I was able to bust out the ol’ Iphone and catch the performance. It’s not exactly pro shot, but it’s an up close and personal look at a really cool moment with two really great bands. Enjoy!
Today, a little more than 50 years after the start of his recording career Bob Dylan released “Duquesne Whistle,” the first track from his LP #36, Tempest. Penned with Robert Hunter of Grateful Dead fame the new tune finds Dylan alive and well and more than whets the whistle for the upcoming album. Fans of Dylan’s late career renaissance should find this one right in the wheelhouse, building on a wonderful arc that started with 1998s Time Out of Mind.
As for me, I listened to the new track on loop for an hour and I love it. As far as I am concerned, what is now going on a 15 year encore for Dylan couldn’t be scripted any better – and this jam fits right in. I can’t wait to drop the needle on what will undoubtedly be an immaculately pressed chunk of vinyl in just a few weeks time.
Click here to hear the new tune via NPR. Tempest drops on 9/11 via Columbia Records.
As the longtime frontman of the Alabama by way of Athens rock outfit Drive By Truckers, the name Patterson Hood generally conjures imagery of cranked up Gibson SG’s and whiskey soaked rock shows but the truth of the matter is there is a lot more to the man than that. While his day job for the last 15 years (damn, has it really been fifteen years) has been leading one of America’s hardest working rock groups on what could best be described as a brutal tour schedule, Patterson has regularly released solo albums showcasing his softer side.
His latest effort, Heat Lightning Rumbles In the Distance is set to be released on September 9th, and features the lead single “Come Back Little Star” which is streaming below. This gorgeous new tune was penned with Kelly Hogan, and serves as a tribute to their late friend and revered Athens musician Vic Chestnutt. The song is great, and serves as a wonderful tribute to Chestnut. Check out the tune in the player below, and get psyched on the new album this fall.
Among the albums I am extremely excited about this fall, Will Johnson’s “Scorpion” is near the top of that list. Johnson, who is known best as the front man of Texas indie rockers Centro-matic and for his work in Monsters of Folk and New Multitudes has released the first single to his upcoming solo album, titled “You Will Be Here, Mine”. Like a lot of his work, the single is quite chill and somewhat pensive but always creates a mood and paints a picture that sticks with you after the three minutes are long gone. Check out the tune below. “Scorpion” will be released September 11th via Undertow Music/Thirty Tigers.