Monthly Archives: September 2010

Alice in Chains-“Would?”-1992

I can remember being 8 years old and hearing this song played across the local rock station. I turned the radio up. I was enthralled. “Would?” is like a rainy, grey, Seattle afternoon-a little depressing, but not off putting, you’re drawn to it strangely; the desperation of it captivates you. It is an embodiment of the tabula rasa of the grunge scene and its origins.

This is an absolutely flawless rock-recording. It is the epitome of what a hard rock song should be; throaty lyrics, heavily distorted guitars and that desperate, wonderfully hopeless feeling which any good grunge song should offer.

This piece appeared on the 1992 album “Dirt” from Alice in Chains and is arguably their most well known song after “Man in the Box”. It also appears as a live performance in the 1992 film “Singles” which is set in Seattle during the grunge scene. I must say, with that as the backdrop, “Would?” is underscored as what the grunge scene was all about.


Chicago Transit Authority – “Introduction” – 1969

Ah, Chicago before they were Chicago.  The lead off track to their first album, titled “Chicago Transit Authority” (before the real CTA forced them to change their band name) is this incredible piece appropriately titled “Introduction.”

The song, sung by the late guitarist Terry Kath more or less gives a brief synopsis of the band’s intentions:

“So this is what we do
Sit back and let us groove
And let us work on you”

On paper it may sound a little facetious, but from the get-go the call-and-response introduction between the horns and rhythm section, it demands your attention.  It’s a driving song with different “movements” throughout the piece and a fantastic drum break by Danny Seraphine that I’m STILL trying to figure out!

If you want an Introduction to what I consider some of Chicago’s finest work, look no further.

Yes-“Owner of a Lonely Heart”-1983

Again, I return to the infinitely deep well of songs from the 80’s. Admittedly late to the party on this one as well, it was almost 20 years since the song’s birth that I discovered it. This piece really was a manifestation of Yes reinventing itself; lots of keys, riff-oriented, and heavier electronic influence. What I like most about this one is the sense of encouragement which it offers. I was going through a particularly “romantically-challenged” period in my life at the time and I would often choose this song to bolster my spirits. Perhaps I am strange, but the sound of a hit 1980’s progressive rock song can really boost my spirits. Apparently, my opinion is not unique to me-the song enjoyed a spot at the top of the American Billboard charts for a time.

The Zombies – “She’s Not There” – 1964

I distinctly recall the first time I heard this song.  I was five and it played over the credits of a “British invasion” documentary I taped off of VH-1 back when they still played programmes having to do with music.

From the first chords of the Hohner Pianet intro I was hooked.  By the time the snare drum flam overdubs came in I was mesmerized.  When the cool, breathy vocals came in that was it – I had to know.  Who is THAT?

“That’s the Zombies,” replied my dad.

This song has such a strong cool, airy atmosphere about it that it’s unbelievable.  On hot summer days listening to this song cools me down.

Unfortunately it took me nearly twenty years to finally hear more of the Zombies beyond “Time of the Season” and “Tell Her No.”  Better late than never.

INXS-“Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)”-1985

The year was 2002 and a young, slightly overweight 18 year old was sitting in his room getting his first taste of adulthood with the dulcet, soothing, oddly appealing croons of Michael Hutchence playing softly in the background. In authentic, 80’s style,  the loaded lyrics were complemented by heavy synth and distorted guitars giving way to a unique sound.  True, the song was first released in 1986 but I did not discover it until 2002 when it was part of the soundtrack to controversial and oft-imitated video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.  Strangely enough, “Kiss the Dirt” by INXS, the ’80’s hit which was once as high as number 24 on the Billboard charts, was part of the soundtrack to my 2002 and part of the proverbial Mt. Rushmore of hit songs by the band.