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Posts Tagged ‘Elton John’

I was fortunate to grow up in the era of the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio format, which allowed DJ’s to play songs that weren’t necessarily released as singles.  This provided access to a treasure trove of great music that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard.  In the digital download era, listening to an entire album of music is almost unheard of, so that makes the concept of an album cut even more obscure.  Here are a few of my all-time favorite album cuts, which doesn’t include what is arguably the greatest album cut ever, “Stairway to Heaven”.

  • Scenes From an Italian Restaurant – Billy Joel

This dizzying ode to “Brenda and Eddie” contains all of the best elements of Billy’s classic recordings rolled into one song.  Coming from Joel’s breakout album, “The Stanger”, it stands comfortably amongst his best work.

  • Hitch a Ride – Boston

Taken from Boston’s remarkable debut album, this laid back rocker features some spectacular guitar work from Tom Scholz, and manages to stand out on a record full of standout tracks.

  • Shoot High, Aim Low – Yes

Die hard Yes fans often bemoan the success of the band’s revised lineup from the 1980’s, but I would argue that they were still making thoroughly original, and compelling music throughout those years.  This track combines the best of those different lineups, with its shared lead vocals, it’s weaved aural landscape, and some typically dazzling musicianship.  It is a great example of what made this band so memorable.

  • Bitter Creek – The Eagles

At the time the Eagles first formed, Bernie Leadon was arguably their most accomplished member, based on his time with the critically acclaimed, “Flying Burrito Brothers” and his work with Linda Ronstadt.  An exceptional string player, and able vocalist, his decidedly country bent was a significant part of the band’s early sound.  He both penned and sang this haunting tune from the band’s sophomore release, “Desperado”.  But as the team of Henley/Frey emerged, and the band’s sound developed more of a rock edge, Leadon’s influence steadily diminished, until he eventually left the group after the completion of the “One of These Nights” album.

  • Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding – Elton John

At the time of this medley’s 1973 release, Elton, his band, and his songwriter partnership with Bernie Taupin, were all at their peak.  This epic pairing starts off the classic double-album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” with a bang, and along with “Candle in the Wind” and “Bennie and the Jets” forms one of the greatest albums sides of all-time.

  • Toulouse Street – The Doobie Brothers

Though Tom Johnston was generally regarded as the bands lead singer, Patrick Simmons frequently sang his individual compositions, including the notable hits “Black Water” and “Jesus is Just Alright”.  On this darkly beautiful cut, the vocal harmonies, layers of acoustic guitars, and a lone flute weave together to create an ominous atmosphere akin to a late-night walk, down an unlit alley, somewhere in the forgotten edges of the French Quarter.  

  • Sister Moon – Sting

By the release of Sting’s second solo album, “Nothing Like the Sun”, he had become one of the most popular artists on the planet.  Only a few years removed from the Police’s spectacular, “Synchronicity”, and fresh on the heels of the triple platinum success of, “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”, his voice was all over the radio (and MTV) on both Band Aid’s “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas?”, and the Dire Straits smash hit, “Money for Nothing”.  This second record was by degrees more nuanced and complex than the first, which forecast the pioneering spirit that would ultimately come to define Sting’s solo career.  This straight jazz/blues tune was a throwback to a bygone era, and demonstrated the rapidly expanding range of his artistry.

  • Telegraph Road – Dire Straits

This sprawling fourteen minute opus demonstrates everything that made Dire Straits worthy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The writing, arrangement, production, and musical performance are nothing short of spectacular.   Like the movie soundtrack work done by frontman Mark Knopfler, this song creates a sweeping musical backdrop for a world weary tale of trying to pioneer a better future.  Though not their most commercially successful record, it may well be the bands most fully realized recording.

  • Nutshell – Alice in Chains

On the heels of the triple platinum success of their 1992 album, “Dirt”, Alice in Chains booked a few days in the studio to write and record some acoustic material.  Within a week, they emerged with seven songs that were eventually released as an EP (1994s – “Jar of Flies”).  Stripping the band of its thundering arena rock sound, allowed their raw artistry to emerge.  This track highlights both singer Layne Staley, and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, at the peak of their powers.    

  • Landslide – Fleetwood Mac

Though written before Stevie Nicks was actually a member of the band, this classic tune first appeared on 1975s “Fleetwood Mac” album.  Almost 50 years later, most die-hard fans still consider it to be her signature song.  Given that Nicks is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as both a member of the band, and as a solo act, that is no small accolade.

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