My Back Pages – Six From the Vault

Astonishingly, I’ve been blogging for almost five years and haven’t said one intelligent thing in all that time. (But there’s hope). Like many of you who blog, I push out a hell of a lot of songs. And what I’ve been doing over time is adding some of my blog favorites to a Spotify list. Or two.

I hadn’t listened to either of the lists for quite some time as I’m always creating new lists and listening to them. But I did the other day and boy, there’s a lot of good shit on there. And I have quite a few new followers since I started and some people may not have heard these tunes or just need to hear them again.

And I got to thinking – when we turn on the radio are we always looking for something new? No, sometimes we just wanna hear some of the classics when we’re cruising down that long lonesome highway.

And so the idea for this occasionally recurring series was born. I will periodically dip into the vault and feature six tunes that I think are excellent. And then we’ll put them back in the vault till next time. For maximum laziness and zero effort on my part, I’ll pull quotes from my earlier reviews. Spotify list at end of post.

First up, from Lou Reed’s 1974 Rock ‘n Roll Animal. [ME] For this post, I’ll stick with the kick-ass, ferocious stuff. It’s another Velvet Underground song, “White Light/White Heat,” and it moves like a freight train, amps cranked to 11. For sheer rock n’ roll madness, it does NOT get better than this:

I love this tune so much I did a whole post on it. “Lipstick Vogue” is from Elvis Costellos’ second album, 1978’s This Year’s Model. Bruce Thomas on bass and Pete Thomas on drums are fucking insane on this one. [ME]. “Have you ever heard a great song and wished your best music friend was right there so you could grab him or her by the shoulders and say, “You have to listen to this right now?”

And absent said friend, would instead grab some random stranger and express this exact same thing but you can’t because A) they may hate it, causing your bubble to burst and 2) they may think you need to have your head examined.”

[ME] Los Lobos have earned a unique place in the pantheon of rock music. According to Wikipedia, their genres include Chicano rock, roots rock, Latin rock, Tex-Mex, Americana, heartland rock, and something called cowpunk. For the record, they are also quite an exceptional blues/rock band which is what I think drove me to listen to them in the first place.

“Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes” is one of my faves from the 1987 By The Light of the Moon album. T-Bone Burnett co-wrote with Cesar Rosas who handles vocals. Alfred Hitchcock guest stars:

Somehow this post has magically transformed into a bluesy thing. Not that anybody’s complaining. The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been around roughly since dirt was invented. Saw them a few years back, always great.

[ME] In addition to being a great group in and of themselves, Kim Wilson and Jimmie Vaughan are recognized as being two of the great practitioners of blues. Vaughan is not as flashy a player as his more rock-influenced brother but fits more into the traditional laid-back blues guitar mode. (Vaughan left the band in 1989 but this number “Wrap it Up” includes him).

Rockpile didn’t hang around a whole hell of a long time. But with guys like Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe in the band, you know sparks would fly.

[ME] Now I’ll cheat a little bit here and pull up a bonus track that is not on the original album but is on the inevitable reissue CD. But you know, fuck it. It’s such a great song. It’s “Crawling from the Wreckage,” written by Graham Parker.

Crawlin’ from the wreckage, crawlin’ from the wreckage
Bits of me are scattered in the trees and in the hedges
Crawlin’ from the wreckage, crawlin’ from the wreckage
Into a brand new car

You may or may not recognize the name Son Seals. But he was one of a generation of great bluesmen now gone. [ME] “Seals was discovered in a Chicago bar and wound up on the great Alligator records label. I used to devour his album Live and Burning with its rough, raw sound. Even though he didn’t tour much, staying close to Chicago, I have a memory of seeing him in a Cambridge club some years back.

This song is called “I Can’t Hold Out.” Recorded at a Chicago club and well, you’ll feel like you’re right there with the blood, the mud, and the beer. This shit will scorch the paint off your Chevy:”

11 thoughts on “My Back Pages – Six From the Vault

  1. I love this set. I have all those LPs excepts Seals. I am working towards both a T Bird and Wolves takes. That T Bird is just some great blues. Slick but still has an edge. The T Bird edge.
    I dont know about the Chevy buy it scorched the pants off CB. (Oh you wrote “paint”. To late)


    1. Such great fun to sit and listen to a bunch of stuff you know and dig without having to evaluate it. Maybe some of this stuff is new for some people but if they don’t dig some of, I can’t help them. But it moves my ass. The T-birds song was a pretty good hit for them but it doesn’t lose one bit of tough blues feel. PS. Go on line and listen to “Live and Burning” by Seals. You are there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a fascinating story about how Top 40 radio here in the States came to be. A Rolling Stone writer even wrote a book about it. But the short story is that sometime in the late ’40s, early ’50s a couple of DJs went to a local diner in Omaha, Nebraska. They were thinking about how to increase their ratings. They noticed that people kept going back to the jukebox and playing the same songs over and over. And Top 40 was born.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. IMHO, these are all great, Jim. As for walking up to people in the street who don’t know me and telling them they have to listen to a song right now, I do that all time! 🙂

    I knew the Lou Reed, Los Lobos and Fabulous Thunderbirds tunes – but don’t be sad, coz three out of six ain’t bad!

    Plus, I like the remaining three tracks as well, especially Rockpile (only had heard the name before) and Son Seals (had no clue about him!).


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