Sunday, 29 September 2013

10 More Great Drinking Songs

Oktoberfest is upon us again and many of you might be searching for the perfect soundtrack to go along with your various festivities. Ol' Johnny is always happy to ablige. Now, not all these are necessarily about drinking, but have that vibe that goes so well with visiting pals and having a few rounds. 10 More Great Drinking Songs.

1. "Shakespeare Road" - The Mahones

What better place to start than with a band that was formed on St. Patrick's Day in Kingston Ontario? It was 1990 and while they were only slated to be a one time thing, their (at the time) unique blend of high energy Celtic music infused with punk rock made them an immediate fan favourite. They've been singing and swiggin' and drinking ever since.

2. "Mari-Mac" - Great Big Sea

This one isn't really about drinking, but rather an old timey east coast song about marriage. Great Big Sea's version is great though and it's fun watching drunk people try to keep up with the increasingly faster vocals.

3. "Have A Drink On Me" - AC/DC

I've made my feelings about AC/DC well known before, so no need to delve into that once again. This song with the right combination of brain lubrication can make for a fun section of an already care free night.

4. "Got Your Money" - Old Dirty Bastard

This one might seem a little out of place, but thinking back to my high school partying days this song was ALWAYS played. So now I can't hear it without craving a rye & coke or a Mike's Hard Lemonade. haha

5. "Chip" - The Real McKenzies

Vancouver's Real McKenzies have crafted a wonderful celtic/punk rock sound and once you hear that signature bagpipe sound you'll agree that having a drink or two with The Real McKenzies is as right as rain.

6. "Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer" - Billy Currington

Do I really have to explain this one?

7. "You Don't Know How It Feels" - Tom Petty

Almost any Tom Petty song could've been included here, "You Don't Know How It Feels" has that laid back, warm summer's day vibe to it that just goes so well with a few cold ones.

8. "Up The Hill" - Captain Tractor

Captain Tractor are another Canadian band famous for their Celtic inspired sound and are often confused with The Arrogant Worms, likely due to their cover of one of their songs. "Up The Hill" is nothing if not a great drinking song. It's fast paced, great to sing a long to and is actually about being drunk.

9. "Keasby Nights" - Catch 22

I included this one or will include it on my list of songs with great lyrics. Rightfully so, it's got one of the best/catchiest choruses i've ever heard. Incidentally that also qualifies for it for a great drinking song.

10. "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" - Tom Waits

Not every drinking song has to be high energy and all about the good times. The night needs to come to an end at some point. Tom Waits is great at capturing moments and emotion in his songs. This one is that perfect song for the end of the night, when the lights come on in the smokey old pub and you gotta go back to face reality again.

Enjoy Oktoberfest and all of October. The best month!

Drink responsibly friends!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

10 Great Live Versions Of Already Great Songs

Is there anything better than experiencing a song in it's truest most stripped-down form? The live show, when thought about, could seem like a silly expendinture. Going to SEE a band perform music that is intended for listening? As my fellow music lovers can attest to however, seeing one of your favourite songs blasted out right in front of you is the peak of musical nirvana. It would be nice to do a list of great live show experiences, but how would I share it with all of you? So i'll go with ten great performances of great songs, that were thankfully caught on tape...the audio kind or the video kind. 10 Great Live Versions Of Already Great Songs

1. "Run Like Hell" - Pink Floyd (The Wall Live, 1981)

Pink Floyd's The Wall is always included in discussions about the greatest albums of all time. It is perhaps the most famous concept album of all time and definitely Floyd's most well known effort. In 1981 (great year by the way) they performed the album in it's entirety. Now any Pink Floyd fan would know that the boys wouldn't simply be satisfied with just performing the music, this particular show featured visual and stage theatrics based on the album's continuous narrative. Thankfully it was all recorded and in 2000 the live double album Is Anybody Out There? was released. It was a great gift to a Pink Floyd fan like myself who was too young to enjoy this marvelous band at their peak. I fell of all the songs "Run Like Hell" got the best treatment on this album.

2. "Wolf Like Me" - TV On The Radio (David Letterman, 2006)

Brooklyn's TV On The Radio has yet to really crack the mainstream, but i'm sure if you ask them that's just fine. They've already earned respect among music critics and rabid fans alike. This performance of an already energetic song exemplifies that they're not only gifted musicians but genuinely love the music they perform. I feel like this performance alone made Letterman a fan of the band. Check out his reaction at the end.

3. "Surrender" - Cheap Trick (Live At Budokan, 1978)

 It's funny when a greatest hits record or live album is a band's most successful release for a band. That's exactly what happened to Cheap Trick in 1978 when they released a live album of 2 shows performed in Japan. For some reason Japanese music lovers were nuts about Cheap Trick and they let it known as the crowd's screams get so loud on some tracks it drowns out the band. Probably best known for "I Want You To Want Me" I became a fan of this group after I heard this album's version of "Surrender".

4. "Apollo I: The Writing Writer" - Coheed & Cambria (Neverender: Night 3, 2008)

Coheed & Cambria are notorious for their live shows. Full of energy, packing each playlist to the brim with crowd pleasers and standing to shoulder to shoulder with fellow fans in what has come to be known as "praise pools". In 2008 Co&Ca announced they'd be playing their 4 studio albums start to finish in a series of live shows known as Neverender with each album getting it's own night to shine. There are almost too many songs to pick from this catalog and this performance. "Apollo I" has always held a soft spot in my heart and for that reason it gets the nod here.

5. "All Apologies" - Nirvana (MTV Unplugged, 1994)

One of my favourite Nirvana songs. Here's my thoughts on the Unplugged album. Those who were in attendance i'm sure were a little let down at the time. They paid to see Nirvana live and while yes they got a very intimate performance of the band 6 of the 14 songs performed were covers and the most popular Nirvana song performed was "Come As You Are". "All Apologies" wasn't a hit until after this album was released. I'm sure if I ask those same people now how they feel about experiencing it live and I guarantee they say that they wouldn't have traded it for the world.

6. "Fuckin' Up" - Neil Young (unknown)

 For a long time this was the only version of this song that I knew. And looking back it's still my favourite. I don't know where it was recorded or when, but you can tell it's live. Listen around the 2:24 mark when Neil Says "Hey, wait a minute" the guy operating the recording equipment chuckles. Good little moment there.

7. "We Laugh At Danger And Break All The Rules" - Against Me! (unknown)

Again the when/where of this version is unknown to me and I would never of even heard it if it wasn't for Youtube. In all honesty this could be any Against Me! concert in any city. The crowds are very often louder than the band and everybody is there to enjoy the music. This song does feature some of Against Me's most sing-a-long-able lyrics. Enjoy!

8. "Live Forever" - Oasis (Late Show, circa 1996?)

I say Oasis but it's actually just Noel with an acoustic guitar belting this one out. I really prefer his version of the song. I'm not sure what show this is off or even what year, but it's likely a British talk show around the mid 90's. Maybe he was the sole guest or maybe Liam stormed off again. No matter Noel here nailed it.

9. "Runaway" - Jamiroquai (Abbey Road Sessions, 2006)

Daaamnnnn check out that bass! I know this isn't exactly a raw live performance as there is some sound engineering and production here, but the performances they recorded were all live and done in one take. Jamiroquai is really one of those bands that you can't describe. You can't compare to them to anyone else. Very unique....hmmm that gives me an idea about another list.

10. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" - Metallica (Day At The Green, 1985)

Definitely saved this one for last on purpose. It is well documented that Metallica are my favourite band but a small piece of me is dead because of the fact I will never get to witness them live in their original form. In 1986 Cliff Burton, the original bass player, was killed in a bus crash. This video really highlights his abilities and justifies many claims that he was the best metal bass player to grace the stage. Keep in mind this was before Metallica really exploded. After this they would embark on a European tour to open for Ozzy Osbourne and literally stole the show. It was during that tour that Metallica would lose Cliff Burton. Take a few minutes and enjoy his beauty.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

10 Great Songs Not Sung By The Lead Singer

Ever hear a song by a popular artist and for some reason it sounds a little off? You can't place it, but the style of song is right, however the vocals are completely different. Maybe the singer was tired that day or they used a different mic. It's not far off that other members of the group are talented singers as well, not just the one designated as the "lead singer". Here's 10 songs where the lead singer stepped aside to give someone else a shot at the chops.

1. "Mankind" - Pearl Jam

No Code has always been given a bad rap. Largely ignored by radio and slammed by critics. It's one of my favourite Pearl Jam albums though. It's got a wide variety of musical styles and influences that makes Pearl Jam great and it's a true testament to their longevity. "Mankind" perhaps is the stand out bizarre track as not only does it sound like it was written in the 1950's, it features guitarist Stone Gossard on lead vocals.

2. "Off My Line" - Spin Doctors

Along your musical journey when someone brings up the Spin Doctors there is typically only one song that gets mentioned: "Two Princes" or if they are a seasoned music adventurer they'll also discuss "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong". Such a shame as Pocket Full Of Kryptonite has so much more to offer, but couldn't shine out from behind the massive success of that one song. "Off My Line" is a funky track that I always felt sounded different from typical Spin Doctors songs...which is because as I recently found out, guitarist, pianist Eric Shenkman handles the lead vocals. You can still hear the familiar voice of Chris Barron doing the background "Yeah YEAHs"

3. "Absolutely Anytime" - The Watchmen

The Watchmen were one of Canada's most popular acts throughout the 90's. Their album Silent Radar was certified gold in 1998 and produced the hits "Stereo" and "Any Day Now" which are still played on mainstream radio. Different musical aspirations brought the group to an end in 2001, but not before they rewarded fans with a double disc of old favourites and new songs that had never seen the light of day. Among them was "Absolutely Anytime" which was not only written soley by guitarist Joey Serlin but also featured him on lead vocal duty.

4. "Shackled" - Vertical Horizon

On previous albums from Vertical Horizon Keith Kane and Matt Scannell would typically share songwriting and singing vocals, but on 1999's Everything You Want Scannell handled lead vocal duties on all but the last track on the album. "Shackled" features Kane as the singer and was written by him and in my opinion is the album's best track.

5. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult

I always wonder was the deal with those parenthesis in the title of this song. Just call it "Don't Fear The Reaper" nobody calls it just "The Reaper". Perhaps BOC's most popular song, if not only for that SNL skit with Christopher Walken, yet how many listeners knew that Blue Oyster Cult's guitarist wrote and sang lead on this song instead of usual vocalist Eric Bloom? Donald Roeser, also known as Buck Dharma sang a handful of BOC's songs yet most of them ended up being hits. See also "Godzilla" and "Burning For You"

6. "Bloodcot" - Rancid

The first single from 1998's Life Won't Wait featured Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen on lead vocals. Diehard Rancid fans will tell you that he and Tim Armstrong typically alternated lead vocal duties on previous albums, but most of their well known hits featured Armstrong on the mic. This was the first Rancid single and video that had Lars front and center.

7. "The Lines You Amend" - Sloan

While it's true all four members of Sloan are capable vocalists, the majority of their songs and hits in particular were sung by bassist Chris Murphy or guitarist Patrick Pentland. "The Lines You Amend" from 1996's fantastic album From One Chord To Another features Jay Ferguson on the lead. It's always been my favourite Sloan song. Don't worry Murphy and Pentland couldn't stay away, they sing the bridge on this song.

8. "I'm One" - The Who

I love how this song starts out mellow and eventually becomes a rock anthem of the dejected and solidarity. We know now that Pete Townsend had no problem stepping in front of the mic, but hearing The Who without Roger Daltry just brings another great aspect to an already great group.

9. "Don't Look Back In Anger" - Oasis

During the recording session of What's The Story Morning Glory? Noel Gallagher told his brother Liam that he wanted to sing vocals on either "Wonderwall" or "Don't Look Back In Anger". He was hoping he'd get to do "Wonderwall" as he wrote it as a love song for his girlfriend, of course Liam chose that one in an act of spite and Noel sang the lead on this track. I actually prefer Noel's voice to Liam's and this song ended up one of my favourite Oasis tunes. Noel would take over on lead vocals often as Liam would notoriously no-show concerts or simply storm off stage and refuse to perform.

10. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" - The Arcade Fire

Montreal's now world famous Arcade Fire boasts a line up of 9 musicians and are known for their diverse style and intricate performances. Typically group founder Win Butler handles lead vocal duties, but slowly Regine Chassagne has been taking the charge on various songs. Firstly the song "Haiti" on Arcade Fire's smash debut Funeral and more recently "Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" on 2010's The Suburbs.

Thanks for reading as always!

Gonna try to update more often....pesky life keeps getting in the way