Sirius XM has a channel called Deep Tracks. All in all, it’s one of the better channels on a service that I largely think could be vastly improved. (Note to Sirius – it’s a good channel but please note that sometimes there’s a reason a track is deep. Sometimes they should stay that way. And some of the supposedly “deep” tracks were actually modest hits.)
Anyway, I figured I’d do my own version of this with Songs You May Have Missed. Now, it’s entirely possible that some of the songs I post may have been minor (or even big) hits in other parts of the world. So in this occasional series, I’ll just go by what I’ve heard (or I should say, not heard) on the radio that often in the good old US of A. (Interestingly, I didn’t intend for this to be a 70s roundup. Just happened.)
First up – Back in 1970, after the initial “British Invasion,” the Kinks were getting their second wind. They had gone somewhat from being A-list rockers to (at least over here), almost a cult band with a rabid set of fans. In 1970, they released an album called Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.
“A concept album, it is a satirical appraisal of the music industry, including song publishers, unions, the press, accountants, business managers, and life on the road.”.(There really was supposed to be a Part Two but according to Ray Davies, “we had to do another tour, we had the RCA deal, and we had other recording projects that we had to work towards, and it got lost, unfortunately.”
“Lola” – a song way ahead of its time – was a pretty good hit and is now a classic rock staple.* You may also know “Apeman” and “This Time Tomorrow.” (There is a new book out with that title and the author said she named it after the Kinks song.)
But for this occasion, I’m going to go with the driving “Powerman” which I will dedicate to Donald Trump.
If you want your money, better stand in the line
But you’ll only end up picking up the nickels and dimes
You call him names and he sits and grins
‘Cause everybody else is just a sucker to him
Thin Lizzy’s breakout album was 1976’s Jailbreak with the title song and of course, the magnificent “The Boys Are Back in Town.” But you never seem to hear the tune “Emerald.” “It is inspired by traditional Irish music and utilizes a 6/8 rhythm. The guitar riff uses an “Irish” melody with its use of triplets.”
Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson go nuts here on guitar. Slash and Ace Frehley covered this tune and had to play it “together 15 times to get it right.” (Note – I don’t know why that’s so consequential. Bands play songs dozens of times to get them right.)
The Rolling Stones released Goat’s Head Soup in 1973. For me, this was a good, but lesser album, and who knew at the time that their run of great albums was (largely) over.
The first time I ever heard “Silver Train” was on Johnny Winter’s Still Alive and Well album. (If you don’t know it and you’re a blues lover, go listen to it). Johnny released his version even before the Stones released theirs and it always puzzles me how that happens.
Anyway, a good if naughty tune:
The Police released Reggatta de Blanc back in 1979. “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” pretty much overshadowed everything else. And while it may be pushing the edge of “deep,” I’m gonna go with “Bring On The Night” which gets played occasionally but which I think is a terrific tune.
However, Sting (ominously) said this: “After reading The Executioner’s Song, Sting felt that the words fitted Gary Gilmore’s death wish, and says that since then, ‘I sing it with him in mind.'” (Ouch. BTW, I read that book years ago and it was a damn good read.)**
Little Feat released an album in 1979 called Down on the Farm. According to Wikipedia, “The album was completed and released shortly after the death of the band’s founder and frontman, Lowell George, in 1979. It was their last original work for nine years. The band had announced their break-up in June 1979 during the making of the album. Little Feat would reform in 1987.”
You could easily make a case that this whole album is deep cuts as you don’t hear it nearly as much as, say, “Dixie Chicken” or “Willin'”. But I like the title cut which is a nice slice of LIttle Feat pie.
*In one of my favorite music stories ever, the BBC banned “Lola” because of the use of the words “Coca-Cola” in the lyrics. Since the Beeb had a policy against product placement, Ray Davies had to interrupt an American tour – their first in years – to make a 6000-mile round-trip flight from New York to London and back on June 3, 1970. He changed the lyrics to cherry-cola. Today he would likely record it on a mic in his hotel room to a computer then email that to the producer.
**Gilmore’s brother Mikal is a music writer and has written for Rolling Stone. I found this out once when I was reading a story in RS and Mikal slowly revealed this fact. Chilling.