Overlooked Gems – A New Series

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 –Β  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 –Β  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.

20 thoughts on “Overlooked Gems – A New Series

  1. Powerman is one of those great Kinks songs that got me headed back to revisit them after seeing The Darjeeling Limited. Some great choices and a cracking concept.

    Like

    1. In researching the piece I read that some Kinks songs had been used in ‘Darjeeling.’ Kinks aside, should I see that? As to the concept, I checked first to see if you or Christian or somebody had done it already. Apparently not. Staring us right there in our faces, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well it depends on how you feel about Wes Anderson as I know he has something of a marmite affect. I really enjoyed it – strong cast, great location and cracking direction

        Like

    1. Yeah, I wavered a bit on including that. But I did a little research and it was never “Roxanne” level popular. But I do love that band.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Sure, but the other side of that is what if the quality had gone downhill? So yeah I want more but given the choice, I’ll take a solid body of work over some great albums and then some sludge. Consider the last couple of Zep albums.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Maybe they could have put out an EP. But if you think about it, the last “new” song they released was a cover of their own “Don’t Stand So Close.” I think by then Sting had gotten tired of rock and roll and wanted to move into the soft-rock stuff on his solo album.

          Agreed about the few good songs. But album-wise, I could listen to every album up through Physical Graffiti all day long, Presence not so much. That said, it hardly mars their legacy.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Good piece Doc. Like all these tunes. Feat just keep sounding better. Really like the Stones tune. Always like it when they do the country twang thang. The Police cut is from when I really liked their music. Obviously I didnt know the Gilmore connection but I was all over Gary’s journey. Mikal wrote a good book called ‘Shot in the Heart’ Also dig Lizzy and the Kinks is a no brainer for me. But you know that. Again some choices that work for CB

    Like

    1. It’s always interesting to me how some albums have cuts that never (or rarely) make the radio but they’re good tunes. That Thin Lizzy tune kicks some serious ass but you have to go digging for the gold. I heard about that Gilmore book. May have to pick that up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We could give example after example on the “single “thing off of albums. How many bands and musicians fought with record companies on what and what not to release as a single. I have so many records that the so called single is pretty good (Hungry Heart) but the album has so many good songs. That’s why you and I are still mining the gold.
        Gary G got what he wanted and what he deserved at the end. He owned his shit.

        Like

  3. Nice idea for a series, Jim. I like all of your picks and only had known “Bring On the Night,” which I first heard on Sting’s live album of the same title from July 1986.

    Of the tunes I didn’t know, spontaneously, I think I like the Thin Lizzy song the best – love when they come it with their twin lead guitars, which I guess you could consider the equivalent of harmony singing. Speaking of singing, I also like Phil Lynott’s vocals. They were just a great band!

    I also dig that Kinks tune!

    Like

    1. Thanks for checking it out. It’s nice to get feedback on a new thing. Asked a few other people I know.

      “Bring On The Night” was the outlier. A little better known but not the biggest hit from that album. The Thin Lizzy tune is great. I think “Boys are back in town” took all the oxygen out of the room. Those were great days when you could turn on the radio and hear bands like that. The “Powerman” album is a good one. Like I mentioned in the piece, the Kinks were beyond their British Invasion years and that was prior to their becoming an arena-oriented band. I’d say they had a good 10-15 year run.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.