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5 Under-rated Bowie Deep Cuts 

I have not felt this bad about a legend passing since Lou Reed left us.  Today I have had nothing, but David Bowie on my mind.  I’ve eulogized about him on Facebook and been listening to him constantly on Spotify today.  Here are five Bowie deep tracks that you should check out as you explore his rich and inspiring catalogue.  I’ve avoided tracks included on the greatest hits compilations Nothing Has Changed and Best of Bowie. I’ll go chronologically.  A Spotify playlist of the tracks can be accessed by clicking here
“And I Say To Myself” (1966) 
“And I Say To Myself” was one of Bowie’s early singles pre-Ziggy.  It’s now featured on the collection I Dig Everything the 1966 Pye Singles.  He had not quite yet found his voice as a songwriter when he recorded this, but this track is a delight.  It blends a little bit of Sam Cooke with the Beatle-tinged tones of the British Invasion.  
“Queen Bitch” (1971) 
This gem is tucked towards the end of Hunky Dory.  It’s got bite to it and shows Bowie’s movement towards glam-rock as well as the influence of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. 
“TVC15” (1976) 
“TVC15” track comes from Bowie’s Thin White Duke era and is featured on the funk-infused Station to Station album.  It’s a great dance track that shows that Bowie was far beyond glam and finding new sounds. 
“Cactus” (2002) 
This Pixies cover is off of Heathen.  It’s got a groove and Bowie’s vocal is compelling delivered.  Just great.  
“Never Get Old” (2003) 
“Never Get Old,” from Reality, was played regularly on his 2003-2004 final tour.  Its energy and fight are a testament that Bowie will never get old or be forgotten.  His legacy is secure and his music makes him immortal.
There are many more great songs for you to find on your own.  Hopefully this gets you started and looking beyond the “hits.” 

5 Under-rated Classic Rock Albums To Hunt Down On Record Store Day 

With Record Store Day happening this Saturday, record collectors everywhere will go out and support their favorite independent record stores with the hopes of getting their hands on one of the many exclusive releases available that day.  For those of you participating: once you have tracked down the rare EPs and LPs on your list, you might finish your shopping trip by browsing selections in the used vinyl section.  You never know what you will find!
This list highlights five under-rated classic rock albums that do not get as much critical praise as they should.  They are not the most famous records by their respective artists, but each title is awesome and rewarding in its own way.  If you are a classic rock fan and want to get outside of the usual suspects that occupy most “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists, this list is for you . . .
The Raspberries – Starting Over
Cleveland’s Raspberries, like Big Star and the Velvet Underground, are one of those bands who never were truly appreciated properly when they were together, but nevertheless, were influential on a spectrum of artists from Bruce Springsteen to Motley Crüe.  Starting Over is the band’s final album and features some of their most beautiful pop ballads as well as some of their most boisterous rockers.  The opening track, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” is as inventive and lushly produced as anything by Phil Spector or Brian Wilson (the track even earned the praise of John Lennon).  Tunes like “Play On”, “Party’s Over” and “All Through The Night” fuse together the best elements of the Who, the Beatles and the Faces, thus creating some of the most infectious rockers known to man. 
Bob Dylan – New Morning

After throwing a curve to fans and critics alike with 1970's Self Portrait, Dylan released New Morning a short six months later.  Although, 1974’s Blood On The Tracks is seen as the marker of Dylan’s 70s renaissance, New Morning is no slouch.  The album is anchored by songs about domestic bliss such as the title track, the hit single “If Not For You”, and “The Man In Me”.  “Day of the Locusts” and “Went To See The Gypsy” are both strong and gripping works as well.  “If Dogs Run Free” is a strange jazzy song, but on the whole, New Morning is pretty damn good.  Check it out; it sucks you in deeper with each listen.
Graham Nash – Songs For Beginners

At the dawn of the 1970s, Crosby, Still, Nash and Young were releasing a tidal wave of great music - both as a group and as solo artists.  Of the four members, Graham Nash tends to get the least attention because he is not a guitar hero like Stills or Young and has not had as many run-ins with law as Crosby.  Nash’s 1971 solo debut, Songs For Beginners, can sit comfortable next to the best works of Nash’s bandmates and other contemporaries such as Carole King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens.  The album is poignantly political with tracks like “Military Madness”, “Chicago/We Can Change The World”.  It is also a very personally reflective collection with ballads like “Wounded Bird” and “Be Yourself”.  The chorus of “Simple Man”, which was written as his relationship with Joni Mitchell was falling apart, has some absolutely gorgeous harmonies.  Another gem is the folky “Sleep Song”, a tune Nash originally offered his old band the Hollies, but they deemed the lyrics too racy.  All in all, if you are a singer-songwriter fan, keep an eye out for this record.  It is a jewel. 
Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are?
Who Do We Think We Are? is an overlooked offering, because it followed Deep Purple’s smash LP Machine Head and their ground-breaking live release, Live In Japan.  While recording the album, the band’s Mark II lineup was falling apart.  Singer Ian Gillan was gearing up to quit and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was being his usual difficult self.  The album was released, but no tour supported it.  From it, the song “Woman From Tokyo” is its only recognizable hit.  The following year, the Deep Purple Mark III lineup premiered (featuring new singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes) and released its celebrated debut, Burn.  All these factors ultimately often leave Who Do We Think We Are? in the shadows.  Nevertheless, the album rocks.  Blackmore’s guitar riffs are tasty; the rhythm section of Ian Paice and Roger Glover is in fine form, as are Gillan’s vocals and John Lord’s signature organ playing.  Seek out heavy rockers like “Super Trouper”, “Smooth Dancer” and “Rat Rat Blue” and let the head-banging begin.
Chicago – Chicago II (although just labeled “Chicago” on earlier pressings)

Chicago gets a bad rap, because of their soft rock friendly offerings at the end of the 70s and throughout the 80s.  However, at the dawn of the 1970s the band fused rock, pop, soul, jazz and the threads of Beatlesque psychedelia into a series of ground-breaking double albums.  Their sophomore effort, 1970s Chicago II, is a rich work with a lot to appreciate.  There are the obvious hits like “Make Me Smile”, “Colour My World” and “25 or 6 to 4” as well as cool deeper cuts like “In the Country”, “Movin’ In”, and “Where Do We Go From Here”.  Each track flows seamlessly into the next as if it is all one giant suite.  Chicago II is great with its harmonies, horn sections and symphonic arrangements, but do not miss out on the late Terry Kath’s innovative guitar heroics.  When he get’s cooking, the songs really take off.  Even Hendrix was blown away by Kath’s playing.  In the end, if you stumble across this title when thumbing through the used vinyl, do not let your preconceived notions about Chicago get the better of you.  Chicago II is pretty cool. 

The 5 Best Speeches From The 2014 Rock Hall Inductions 

Living in Cleveland has its perks.  One of them was being able to last night watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony’s live satellite feed in the comfort of the museum’s Foster Theatre.  The environment was fun and lively and the broadcast’s picture and audio were great.  It was the next best thing to being in Brooklyn at a front-row table on the floor of the Barclay’s Center.  

As one would expect, there were a number of stand out musical performances.  The best was the five-song tribute to Linda Ronstadt featuring Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris and Glenn Frey.  Everyone sang and harmonized beautifully.  The Nirvana reunion that featured the surviving members along with Joan Jett, Lorde, Kim Gordon and St. Vincent was especially moving.  It was the first time Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear played Nirvana songs publicly since Cobain’s death.  The historical significance added a cathartic power to the four-song performance. 
On a night that highlights musical accomplishments and special collaboration, one aspect that is easy to overlook is the quality of the speeches.  There were all types of speeches given last night.  Some were funny, some clever, some heartfelt and some, unfortunately, that seemed to never end.  Below is my list of the best speeches from last night’s ceremony.  I have attached links to the few speeches I could find online, but I am uncertain how long each clip will remain posted before HBO forces them to come down, so that it will not take away from the network's May 31 broadcast of the ceremony. 

5.) KISS’s acceptance speech: For a short breath of time, the original members of KISS stopped behaving like angry toddlers and civilly accepted their awards together.  They paid compliments to their current and/or former bandmates.  Gene Simmons was unusually soft-spoken and kept his ego in check.  Ace Frehley was funny with his speech and talked about overcoming his drug and alcohol addictions.  Peter Criss briefly alluded to the KISS makeup squabble at the end of his speech when he defiantly stated that, in or out of makeup, he would always be the Catman.  Paul Stanley was polite, but took the Roll Hall committee to task about their criteria/lack of criteria for whom they induct.  No slapping fights, no name calling, it was surprisingly warm and . . . respectable.  Watch the speech by clicking here
4.) Chris Martin’s induction of Peter Gabriel:  The speech was heartfelt and described Gabriel’s influence on Martin growing up.  Martin started his tribute describing Gabriel’s as though he were reading scripture from the Old Testament.  The pieces were perfect considering Gabriel’s last name and the fact that his first fame came through the band Genesis.  It was very humorous and received a good crowd reaction.
3.) Yusuf Islam’s (Cat Stevens) Acceptance Speech:  It was easy to tell that Islam was very amused, as well as very pleased to be recognized for his accomplishments prior to his leaving the pop music world.  He earned some laughs when he stated that he never thought he would share a stage with KISS.  At the end of his speech, Islam also addressed the people who may doubt his qualifications for inclusion into the Rock Hall.  He said that inducting a man who does not throw TVs out of hotel windows, does not drink or do drugs and only sleeps with his wife is a very rock and roll and thing to do.
2.) Tom Morello’s KISS induction speech:  Tom Morello’s speech chronicled the plight of growing up as a KISS fan and having to overcome the snobbery of the rock establishment as well as school bullies.  He was great about recognizing the contributions of all of the band members both past and present.  Morello was articulate, passionate, but also very funny.  Morello stated that a band’s induction should be weighed by their accomplishments, influence and awesomeness.  He made a case showing that KISS met the criteria of all three in spades.  The members of KISS should at least be able to agree that they could not have asked for a better tribute than what they received from Morello.  Whether you like the band or not, find a clip of the speech.  It's great.
1.) Michael Stipe’s Nirvana induction speech:  Stipe’s induction of Nirvana explained why they were more than just musicians:  they were artists.  Their work influenced mediums far beyond music and brought a voice to a cross-generational demographic of disillusioned souls searching for a truth and a connection in the post-Reagan-Bush-senior era.  Stipe’s words were eloquent and moving, especially as he described the power of Cobain’s vocals and how much he is missed by the world. 

Text © 2014 DM Experience This Music LLC

10 Essential Nirvana Deep Tracks 

So much has already been said about Nirvana and the impact of their music.  The opening powerchords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are the sound of the 80s coming to an abrupt end.  Nirvana opened the door for the entire grunge-alt-rock music scene and Kurt Cobain’s songwriting still inspires countless artists (both excellent and terrible).  This Thursday, they will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The band unquestionably deserves the honor.  Although only in the spotlight a few years before Cobain’s tragic suicide, the records they made still sound as fierce and fresh as ever.  Many of the songs off of Nirvana’s three studio albums, Bleach, Nevermind, and In Utero, are constant staples of rock radio.  However, if you look beyond those three albums and the fabulous MTV Unplugged In New York, there are plenty of jewels waiting to be discovered. 
On this list are ten “deep tracks” that I enjoy whenever I am digging through the classic Nirvana EP compilation, Incesticide, or the With The Lights Out box set or just going through the bonus tracks and b-sides included on the recent reissues of Nirvana’s three studio albums.  If you want to listen to the tracks while you read, click here.  I made a Spotify playlist.  In no particular order, my ten picks are . . .
“Aneurysm” – Incesticide (Recorded in 1991)
There are a couple versions of this song.  All of them are good.  The above-mentioned version was recorded for the BBC during their Mark Goodier radio sessions and was released on the EP/rarities collection, Incesticide.  There are also some great live versions of the track as well as a studio take that was a Nevermind-era b-side.  That version was included as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of the album. 
“Sappy” – In Utero (2013 Reissue) (Recorded in 1993)
The version mentioned above was remixed last year and included as bonus track on the deluxe reissue of In Utero.  It was used as an In Utero b-side and was originally released on the No Alternative benefit compilation. 
“They Hung Him On A Cross” – With The Lights Out (Recorded in 1989)
When the band recorded their MTV unplugged special, Cobain delivered a haunting version of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”.  A few years before, he recorded a couple of Leadbelly tunes at an “off the cuff” recording session produced by Jack Endino.  “They Hung Him On A Cross” was one of them and features Cobain alone accompanied by a distorted acoustic guitar.
“Ain’t It A Shame” – With The Lights Out (Recorded in 1989)
This is from the same 1989 recording session of Leadbelly covers.  This song features a full band backing.  It is a harsh song lyrically and made even harsher by the instrumentation.

“Curmudgeon” – Nevermind (2011 Reissue) (Recorded 1992)
This track is also available on the With Lights Out box set.  Originally “Curmudgeon” was the b-side of Nirvana’s hit “Lithium”.  It is an aggressive track recorded after the initial Nevermind sessions as the band is transitioning from Nevermind into the In Utero material.
“Marigold” – In Utero (2013 Reissue) (Recorded 1993)
This was originally released as the b-side to “Heart-Shaped Box”.  It was recorded during the In Utero sessions.  “Marigold” is a unique Nirvana song, because it was written by drummer Dave Grohl and features Grohl on lead vocals.  It is a haunting and pretty track that foreshadows Grohl coming into his own as a songwriter and front man following Cobain’s death.
“Molly’s Lips” – Incesticide (Recorded 1990)
This is a cover of a song by the Vasalines.  Nirvana’s version perfectly blends grunge, pop and punk.  This recording was originally recorded for John Peel's program on the BBC. 
“Verse Chorus Verse” With The Lights Out (Recorded 1991)
“Verse Chorus Verse” is an outtake from Nevermind.  Though not stronger than anything that made the original album, the song certainly has its charm.
“Old Age” With The Lights Out (Recorded 1991)
Another delightful Nevermind outtake!
“Token Easter Song” With The Lights Out (Recorded 1989)
“Token Easter Song” was demoed when Nirvana was getting tracks together for the Blew EP.  The rawness of the guitar and groove of the drums unify the realms of underground grit and pop infectiousness.  Although gripping as it stands, you have to wonder what it would have sounded like if it had been recorded for a proper album. 

Text (c) 2014 DM Experience This Music LLC