Saturday, July 22, 2017

Complicated Romances: Great Progressive Rock Love Songs

Yes, yes, yes -- we all know the long-held rap against progressive rock in the 1970s: that the songs dealt with demons, wizards and dragons, usually in crazy 7/4 or 9/8 time signatures; albums with elaborate cover art featuring ornate compositions of faux-symphonic, epically instrumentalized, mellotronic noodling spanning 10 to 20 minutes in length; a genre that beckoned to middle-class college-educated nerdy guys who were more likely to complete a quest in Dungeons and Dragons or visit a comic-con in full Klingon regalia than actually go on a date with an actual girl.

But then again, we all know that false stereotype, foisted on the musical world by the same agendized rock journalists who soiled themselves in primal delight over the vacant four-chord strums, bed-head and unintelligible grumbles of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, or at the other end of the rock spectrum, pronounced Bruce Springsteen as the Second Coming, were as full of shit as their stained underwear bulging defecatingly under their baggy pants.

Yet the New York critics' heady prognostications of a revival of "real foundational rock" faltered nearly as soon as it was pronounced: punk rock-proper lasted for a few meteoric years before succumbing to music industry meddling, devolving into MTV marketable "new wave" pablum wherein "the look" trumped the music, and Springsteen's Dylanesque epics spawned a cottage industry of heartland crooners signing Midwestern ballads about the backseats of Thunderbirds and little pink houses. Save for a brief renaissance in the 90s with the grunge of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, rock never recovered; as a matter of fact, I read somewhere recently that hip-hop has overtaken rock as the most popular genre of music in the United States. I would argue the alleged musicality of auto-tune, mumbled doggerel verse, three notes plinking on a piano and drum machines, but I'll save that debate for another day.

Before my blood pressure rises to an unhealthy level, let us return to prog rock, and more precisely, songs that break the presuppositions and stereotypes. Let's shed the demonic, mysticism, sci-fi, Tolkienesque quests and Gollumization that is actually more a feature of 70s hard rock (Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Rainbow, etc.) than it ever was in prog. Let's talk about love songs, those plaintive tunes which have kept popular music...ummm..."popular" for centuries.

Certainly, the songs I will offer are from bands known for their progressivity, virtuosity and lengthy compositions, but, in the end, they were indeed superb composers who could craft love songs par excellence. Many of the songs themselves aren't necessarily "prog" in the strictest sense, but the bands I've selected couldn't really be pigeon-holed into narrow musical corners. I will also dispense with the stale debate over whether a band is considered "proto-prog" or "prog" based on the artificial belief that prog started officially with King Crimson's debut album in 1969. To say The Moody Blues, The Nice or Procol Harum weren't producing progressive rock in the 60s because the term hadn't been invented yet is superfluous and silly, given the compositions found below.

I will stick to albums running from the late 1960s up to the late 1970s, so as not to make the whole thing too cumbersome. I'll probably add a second part with later decades sometime soon. So, here's 25 songs of love, loss and romance from a progressive point of view. Enjoy, with a close, intimate friend. And for god's sake, take off those Spock ears!

From the Beginning - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
A big hit from ELP's Trilogy album. As I recall, the girls used to swoon over this song, so don't tell me prog ain't hip with the ladies. The song, mainly a Greg Lake vehicle, has that off-kilter Keith Emerson synthesizer section grafted on at the end.



C'est La Vie - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
From the Greg Lake side of ELP's album Works, Volume 1, featuring lyrics by King Crimson bandmate Peter Sinfield and a very French provincial instrumental feel. I could have easily added "Lend Your Love to Me Tonight" from this album, and "Still You Turn Me On" from Brain Salad Surgery, but I limited songs from each band to two. That's all you get.



And You and I - Yes
One of the most rapturous rock compositions ever made. Not much more can be said. So I won't.



Turn of the Century - Yes
Nice counterpoint between Steve Howe's acoustic guitar at the beginning and the electric at the end. One of Yes's lesser known classic tunes.



Wond'ring Aloud, Again - Jethro Tull
This song was actually released in two sections: the first half, "Wond'ring Aloud" appeared on Aqualung, and the second section "Wond'ring Again" (with its prophetic and somewhat bitter preamble) later offered on Living in the Past.  But here is the original version all nicely stitched together as it was first intended.



Reasons for Waiting - Jethro Tull
Featuring strings conducted by David (Dee) Palmer who later joined the band full-time as a keyboardist, this is one of the most lush and lovely songs Ian Anderson ever wrote.



Can't Get It Out of My Head - Electric Light Orchestra
This is ELO when Jeff Lynne hadn't yet become too pop to be prog any longer. I have always loved this song from the very first time I heard it.



Threshold of a Dream Suite (Featuring "Are You Sitting Comfortably", "The Dream", "Have You Heard", "The Voyage" and "Have You Heard (Reprise)" - The Moody Blues
A magnificent pastoral idyll with a mellotron interlude from the Moodies. As I mentioned in the preamble, if you don't consider this progressive rock, I am not sure I can take you seriously. The poem "The Dream" has been used during at least two weddings I have been to.



Nights In White Satin - The Moody Blues
One of the top ten love songs ever written in my opinion. On the superb album Days of Future Passed, the band and the London Festival take turns on separate passages, but on "Nights In White Satin" they finally join as one at the end for a tremendous finale.



En Pleine Face - Harmonium
My poor French translation is "In the Face" for the title of this song, but the line "C'est moi qui est tombé en pleine," is more like "It was me who fell on my face." Anyway, it doesn't matter. The great French Canadian prog band Harmonium could be singing about flies on shit and I wouldn't care.



White Queen (As It Began) - Queen
Again, not wishing to split hairs, but I consider Queen's first four albums (up to A Night at the Opera) as progressive rock. Symphonic, operatic choruses, wild time changes. Yep, all there. Here is an absolutely beautiful song from Queen II.



Love of My Life - Queen
A progressive recording writ small and precious in 3:39. The song was written for Freddie Mercury's girlfriend at the time Mary Austin. That's Brian May on the orchestral harp, by the way, which he learned for this song.



A Reunion - Gentle Giant
A song about a chance meeting after many years, hence the title.



Cadence and Cascade - King Crimson
A song featuring Greg Lake about a menage a trois. I think. It features a man named Jade where back at the hotel "Cadence oiled in love, licked his velvet gloved hand and Cascade kissed his name." I leave you to the inferences.



The Book of Saturday - King Crimson
A breezy song about the mind games two lovers often play, this one with bassist John Wetton singing.



Too Much Between Us - Procol Harum
As is much Procol Harum's A Salty Dog, the song has somewhat of a nautical theme, with the space between two people being "so much sea between us" when they're really sitting across from each other in a bedroom.



Ocean Gypsy - Renaissance
A melancholy plaint for love and freedom lost. I've always loved Annie Haslam's voice.



Pillow of Winds - Pink Floyd
One of my favorites from the album Meddle. Dreamy, mellifluous and certainly a song to listen to as you drift off to sleep with the one you love.



Stay - Pink Floyd
A Richard Wright piece from Obscured By Clouds. RIP Rick.



Hang On to a Dream - The Nice
From The Nice's third album Nice, or as it was titled for American release Everything as Nice as Mother Makes It.



Afterglow - Genesis
One of my favorite Phil Collins-era Genesis love songs, on this, the last Genesis album I really give a damn about, Wind and Wuthering. I didn't care for the direction the band took after Steve Hackett left. Few prog snobs did.



The Cinema Show - Genesis
Peter Gabriel narrates the first date of a modern Romeo and Juliet fresh from a London basement flat. Naturally, the love song devolves into an exercise in Greek mythology, but this is the Peter Gabriel-led Genesis, after all.


Lady Fantasy - Camel
Perhaps Camel and Andrew Latimer's best-loved song. Camel's Mirage also plays into the whole prog wizardry thingy with a suite entitled "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider", my precious-s-s-s.



McDonald and Giles - Is She Waiting?
Ian McDonald and Michael Giles, which is not to be confused with Giles, Giles and Fripp, all of whom formed King Crimson. But then McDonald and Giles left.



Refugees - Van der Graaf Generator
If you can take Peter Hammill's operatic vocal concatenations, you will certainly love this well-crafted tune about the love affair of his ex-flatmates Mike McLean and Susan Penhaligon, herein referred to as "Mike and Susie".





Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anthems for the Antsy: Fifteen Songs Under One Minute Long

Hello, so nice to be back after a brief hiatus. Well, perhaps not brief -- a few year hiatus, actually. Be that as it may, I have finally found some time to post an article or three in the intervening space between writing books, talking to publishers (an exercise in humility I despise), grudgingly maintaining a foothold on the corporate ladder, and acting as taxi and delivery service for my family.

And it is all about time, or lack thereof, in our post-modern, attention-deficited, instantly gratified, existentially bored society, isn't it? Heaven forbid we have time to listen to an album when it is so labor intensive to tax one's aural capacity with 45 minutes worth of music. So, in honor of everyone's complete and utter lack of patience, I've decided to offer Anthems for the Antsy: compelling songs clocking in at one minute or less so as not to take away precious moments from your Facebook or Instagram pages.

The only qualifiers I offer for these minute minuets is that they have what amounts to a complete songs structure - a start, middle and ending - are not spoken word poems, actual instrumentation is used, and the piece is not merely an adjunct or intro for a longer composition.

Her Majesty - The Beatles 
Twenty-nine seconds of Paul and his acoustic. McCartney never really gets credit for the short acoustic gems he released with the Beatles, "Yesterday", "Blackbird", "Mother Nature's Son", etc. Well, maybe he did. Never mind.



Grace - Jethro Tull
Like Paul McCartney, Ian Anderson always had a way with a well-written and compact acoustic tune. Songs like "Wond'ring Aloud", "Cheap Day Return", "Slipstream", "Only Solitaire" and "Nursie" are all around or under 1:30 playing time, but on "Grace" Anderson manages to compose a 37 second song complete with strings.



Old Mother Reagan - The Violent Femmes
Hey, a complete protest song in 32 seconds! This one always cracked me up.



Tommy's Holiday Camp - The Who
From the rock opera Tommy, "Tommy's Holiday Camp" features Keith Moon in his usual zany mood.



Hyperactive Child - The Dead Kennedys
No song title has ever been more apt. Thirty-seven seconds of mayhem.




Don't Start (Too Late) - Black Sabbath
"Embryo" from Masters of Reality may be shorter, but I think this song from Sabotage is more complete and less an intro than the former. Wonderfully creepy.



I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Million - The Moody Blues
The 33 second book end to another very short piece "I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred" (clocking in at a mammoth 1:07) on To Our Children's Children's Children. Justin Hayward's voice and acoustic always conjured "visions of paradise".



What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise) -  Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
So many Zappa snippets to mention, like "Zolar Czakl" from Uncle Meat and "Amnesia Vivace" from Absolutely Free, but this one from We're Only In It For the Money is a favorite.



Five Per Cent for Nothing - Yes
A Bill Bruford composition, primarily for percussion. This is what one would refer to as "syncopated".




The Ballad of Wilhelm Funk - Green Day
Thirty-two seconds is perhaps too short for a proper "ballad", but I don't think Green Day has ever been considered proper.



Bookends Theme - Simon and Garfunkel
Beautifully rendered and complete in 32 seconds.



My Mummy's Dead - John Lennon
The "Plastic Ono Band" album was cathartic for Lennon. His experiences working out his demons via primal therapy sessions is vividly brought to the surface on many of the songs found therein.




Little Room - White Stripes
It's sloppy and Meg White cannot even keep a damn beat on the bass drum, but the song does have its charms and is considered a breakthrough for the White Stripes.



Clang Boom Steam - Tom Waits
A happy little tune from Tom about his baby.



Goodbye Cruel World - Pink Floyd
Listed at 48 seconds on the album (minus the bleed over from the previous song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part III"), this is a cheerful little song of suicide from Pink.



BONUS:  SIX MORE TRACKS UNDER ONE MINUTE-THIRTY SECONDS

As I delved, I spanned, if I may paraphrase the Lollard preacher John Ball from the 14th century. Here are six short favorites under 1:30 for your further edification.

Pigs on the Wing, Part 1 - Pink Floyd
A quiet respite from the continual bitterness that pervades the Animals album.



Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin
Alright, technically a few seconds beyond the limit, but I was never one to follow rules that comprehensively.



Only Solitaire - Jethro Tull
Perhaps the only acoustic tune that refers to V.D. and toilet seats in such a mild and unoffensive context.



Aisle of Plenty - Genesis
Listed at exactly 1:30 on the album.


Eyes of a Child II - The Moody Blues
Edited from a longer take, obviously, but at 1:20 this is exactly how it appeared on the album.


Penny for Your Thoughts - Peter Frampton
At one time, Frampton was in Humble Pie. People often forget he was a great musician and not just a pop star with nice hair.


Thanks for stopping by. I may, in the near future, do some pruning and clipping on some sorely neglected previous articles (never trust the internet to stay the same in regards to pictures and videos), but I'll simply ponder such actions for the time being. You see, I am perfecting procrastination through creative indecision (I'll explain tomorrow).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Intro: The Greatest Beginning Riffs, Rants and Runs of Rock Songs

Author's note: Ah, so good to be back from my summer vacation! I took a few months off from my blogging duties for a research sabbatical as I continue to write books that are yet to be published. I must be saving them up until I can place them in one proud row, aligned in encyclopedic majesty along a book shelf. Anyway, thanks for looking in while I was farting around elsewhere.

===================================================================

Ahem, now where was I? Oh yes! Sometimes a single note can start a revolution. Often a few guitar chords are all that are necessary to identify a song, but sometimes it's just that one, singular, extraordinary strum. Don't believe me? How about this one to begin a song (thanks to Wiki for providing the chord):

The Chord

Ah, yes! you say to yourself. The legendary G7sus4 chord from The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night"! Well, maybe you're not up on guitar chords, or perhaps you are and will argue that the note is actually a G7add9sus4; in any case, there is a whole lore revolving around that single, amazing note.

Not all songs can be so readily identified by a single note as in "A Hard Days Night", but riffs in rock are what make the medium. So rather than just pick out a stray note or two from a few famous rock songs, I've decided to expand today's article to include those songs that have the first great, recognizable guitar riffs of said tunes, along with beginning keyboard milestones or unforgettable vocal introductions. Perhaps I'll even make this article more ponderous by including entire intro sections, and in a future article detail outro, or ending, sections of songs. I'm not sure. This is what happens when one types one's inner monologue, rather than setting parameters prior to beginning the exercise. Let us see where I go with this.

~~I CAN NAME THAT SONG IN ONE RIFF, ALEX (Or, The Rock Riff Hall of Fame)~~
For the uninitiated, a riff is different than a single guitar chord, in that a riff is a short repeated melodic phrase of several notes that often serves as the foundation of a rock song. Here are over 50 opening riffs that nearly everyone in Western Civilization should readily recognize. Just concentrate on the first 10 or 20 seconds of the songs or this article will take forever to get through:

Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
The first great rock and roll guitar riff.

Misirlou - Dick Dale & The Del Tones
The greatest Lebanese rock song of all time.

Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
The song that launched Julia Roberts into prostitution.

Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochrane
Amplified by The Who. "The numbers all go to eleven. Look across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and eleven."

You Really Got Me - The Kinks
The genesis of power chords, distortion and blown speakers. Actually, Ray Davies sliced his amp speakers with a razor. Because he could.

Day Tripper - The Beatles
Along with Revolution or Helter Skelter.

The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals
Once upon a time, every guitarist's first song.

Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
For having been satisfied on literally thousands of occasions, I find Mick's statement rather ironic.

Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
Clapton, the first guitar god.

Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
Might as well include All Along the Watchtower and Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).

Funk #49 - The James Gang
The sleaziest guitar riff on record.

Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
Either that, or Communication Breakdown, Heartbreaker, or Rock and Roll. A list too long to..ummm...list.

Mississippi Queen - Mountain
Fuck the cowbells, listen to the guitar!

21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
Of course the sax rides in unison along with Robert Fripp's guitar, but the ax is as raw as the sax, becoming even more industrial in later songs like Red.

Layla - Derek and the Dominos
A song for when you want to cheat with your best friend's wife. Then marry her. Then divorce her.

School's Out - Alice Cooper
Then there's Be My Lover and I'm Eighteen.

Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress - The Hollies
This great guitar intro seems like it should be part of a different song. It's like...ummm...what the hell just happened?

I Wanna Be Your Dog - The Stooges
A riff to fit the lyrics.

Paranoid - Black Sabbath
So many great Sabbath riffs! A few of my favorites are Into the Void, Supernaut, and Symptom of the Universe.

Radar Love - Golden Earring
Golden Earring's obligatory and only contribution.

Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
Ritchie Blackmore was a riff monster. Like on Burn from Deep Purple, and Man on a Silver Mountain and  A Light in the Black from Rainbow.

Aqualung - Jethro Tull
It had to be here, just like "Smoke on the Water".

Hocus Pocus - Focus
The word "spastic" in musical form.

Banga a Gong (Get It On) - T. Rex
T. Rex was better as a legend than as a band.

Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
Of course, the song following this on the album has a great riff as well Sufragette City, and let's not forget Panic in Detroit. Mick Ronson was Bowie's better half.

Bad Motor Scooter - Montrose
Yes, that is a guitar, supplied by Ronnie Montrose.

Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
The eternal question, still left unanswered.

Blitkrieg Bop - The Ramones
Hey! Ho! Let's go!

Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - Neil Young
I could have gone with Keep on Rocking in the Free World or Cortez the Killer. Let distortion ring!

Highway to Hell - AC/DC
I am and will always be in the Bon Scott over Brian Johnson camp. No comparison.

Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns N' Roses
So what if Axl Rose sings like an amplified Edith Bunker.

Enter Sandman - Metallica
I would like Metallica much better if James Hetfield didn't sing.

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
The song that made "grunge" a household word.

~~ACOUSTICALLY SPEAKING~~
Not all rock songs start out with a mammoth amplified electric guitar riff. Sometimes bands throw in a few chords on acoustic guitar just to see if anyone's paying attention. I am just talking about memorable acoustic guitar intros here, not great acoustic guitar songs. I have entire articles covering those. Here are a few acoustic intros you might recall:

The Weight - The Band
Just a few notes will do ya.

The Question - The Moody Blues
A strumming wrist destroyer.

Pinball Wizard - The Who
Another strumming wrist destroyer. And, on a more subdued note, Behind Blue Eyes .

Oh Well - Fleetwood Mac
Peter Green!

Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
An obligatory song for nearly every rock list ever categorized. Add in Over the Hills and Far Away and The Rain Song from the under-appreciated Houses of the Holy, if you wish.

My God - Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson made a career of acoustic intros, like in Thick as a Brick and Minstrel in the Gallery.

Roundabout - Yes
Another beautiful acoustic bit by Steve Howe: And You and I.

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Ah, those first five notes!

Crazy On You - Heart
Girls can play guitars too!

Blood on the Rooftops - Genesis
Genesis remained a great progressive band after Peter Gabriel's exit. They only became purveyors of commercial inanities after guitarist Steve Hackett left.

Ice Cream Man - Van Halen
This song always puts me in a good humor.

~~A HOARD OR KEYBOARD (Piano, Organ or Synth)~~
Although rock music is indelibly entwined with guitar strings, keyboards, too, have made their impact on this music genre. Here are some pitch-perfect beginnings of several classic tunes:

Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis

Green Onions - Booker T and the MGs
Steve Cropper and Booker T! Righteous!

Louie Louie - The Kingsmen
The only unintelligible song banned for having obscene lyrics that could not be understood by the people that banned it. Oh, but they're there, damn it!

A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum
Bach, resurrected and given a Beatles' wig.

When the Music's Over - The Doors
Or you could go with Light My Fire if you want a more commercial hit.

Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) - The Moody Blues
Mike Pinder was a mellotron wizard. Check out Isn't Life Strange.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - The Band
Love the grand piano roll up.

Let It Be - The Beatles
You could do a treatise on Beatles' keyboard openers. How about Strawberry Fields.

In-A-Gadda-Davida - Iron Butterfly
Just listen to the organ intro. The rest will take you half an hour.

In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson
Early masters of the mellotron.

Glad - Traffic
A title that mirrors the music.

Hold Your Head Up - Argent
Rod Argent, no longer a Zombie. Which means there is a cure.

Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull
The most menacing piano piece ever.

Lazy - Deep Purple
Jon Lord beating the hell out of his Hammond on this quintessential version of "Lazy" from Made In Japan.

No Quarter - Led Zeppelin
John Paul Jones was definitely underrated. I have always loved the intro to In the Light

Footstompin' Music - Grand Funk
And it is. Footstompin'.

Baba O'Riley - The Who
That's a lowly Lowrey Berkshire home organ and not a synthesizer like the ARP 2500 Pete Townshend usually used during that period.

Firth of Fifth - Genesis
Peter Gabriel may have had the spotlight, but Tony Banks was the most integral player in Genesis. See his understated style here: The Carpet Crawlers.

Lady Grinning Soul - David Bowie
That's Mike Garson playing manic piano on the album Aladdin Sane. Love his crazy intro on Let's Spend the Night Together.

Imagine - John Lennon
Simple but with immediacy.

Endless Enigma, Part I - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Of course, keyboardist Keith Emerson was lead player in ELP, so nearly everything starts with keys. But you get just about the whole ball of wax on "Endless Enigma". You could also choose Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part II).

The Golden Age of Rock and Roll - Mott the Hoople
Let's see, he's at a piano, he's wearing sunglasses and it's the middle of the night. It must be Ian Hunter, playing something like All the Way From Memphis.

Parallels - Yes
Rick Wakeman battles Jon Anderson, leaves, Patrick Moraz plays on The Gates of Delirium, and then Wakeman comes back to record on Going For The One, on which "Parallels" appears and the ethereal Awaken.

Funeral for a Friend - Elton John
Hmmm...you might as well add Take Me to the Pilot and Ticking.

~~BASICALLY THE BASS~~
Bass players. The guys that hide at the back of the stage while lead singers preen and guitarists make funny, constipated faces while they pluck. Here are some notable notes from the bottom of the register:

Badge - Cream
A song co-written by Clapton and George Harrison, but notable for Jack Bruce's bass.

White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
I wonder if any of the band members of the Airplane were even aware they were playing at this time.

Boris the Spider - The Who
Let's not forget John Entwistle's contribution to My Generation

N.I.B. - Black Sabbath
Geezer! Love Children of the Grave too!

Dazed and Confused - Led Zeppelin
I can imagine Neanderthals grunting in enjoyment.

Bouree - Jethro Tull
If only Johan Sebastian had a bass player like Glenn Cornick.

Moondance - Van Morrison
It's the bass that gives this song it's jazzy bottom.

I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band - The Moody Blues
Another great but underrated bassist, John Lodge.

Gutter Cats vs The Jets - Alice Cooper
Dennis Dunaway was a sadly underrated bassist.

Highway Star - Deep Purple
Known for Ritchie Blackmore's searing lead, you have to give props to bassist Roger Glover for driving this song.

One of These Days - Pink Floyd
Of course, you can add Money.

Low Spark of High Heeled Boys - Traffic
Hypnotic.

Heart of the Sunrise - Yes
The best bass line in rock. Thank you, Chris Squire.

Under Pressure - Queen w/David Bowie
Not even Vanilla Ice could ruin this bass line.

Schism - Tool
Justin Chancellor, the best of a new generation of bassists.


~~A CONCATENATION OF VOCALIZATION~~
They could be sung, they could be spoken, they could be shrieked; in any case, they started off a song, and they are indeed memorable:

Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis Presley
The first great utterance in Rock n' Roll.

Chantilly Lace - The Big Bopper
"Hello, Ba-a-a-a-a-by!"

Tutti Frutti - Little Richard
"A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!"

I Saw Her Standing There - The Bealtes
"One-two-three-FUH!" One of the early great count-ins.

Wooly Bully - Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs
Another prominent count-in. "Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro!" Math and Spanish were not Sam's specialty.

Help - The Beatles
Only one word you need to remember here.

Fire - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
When Arthur Brown bellows, "I am the god of Hellfire!" You tend to believe him.

Departure/Ride My See-Saw - The Moody Blues
Other than Jim Morrison, no one did in-song poems better than the magnificent Moodies.

The Soft Parade - The Doors
I want whatever Jim had when he recorded this song.

The Motorcycle Song - Arlo Guthrie
I don't want a pickle, I just wanna ride my motor-sickle.

Two of Us - The Beatles
Lennon says, "'I Dig a Pygmy', by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids! Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats!" Charles Hawtrey was an English musician and comedic actor. I have no idea who Doris was.

Kick Out The Jams - MC5
One of the most enduring examples of a rock and roll expletive.

Almost Cut My Hair - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
"I will now proceed to entangle the entire area."

American Pie - Don McLean
"A long, long time ago" it begins, like most great stories.

30 Days in the Hole - Humble Pie
They sound like they're having a riot.

The Ocean - Led Zeppelin
You can barely hear John Bonham (he is not mic'd) as he yells : "We've done four already but now we're steady, and then they went 1, 2, 3, 4!" Obviously, this is the fifth take of the song. Then there's the recording engineer complaining about an airplane flying overhead interrupting Led Zep's studio time: Black Country Woman.

Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
A great bit or rock bluster. Zep was never deep in the lyrics department.

Iron Man - Black Sabbath
An unnerving but effective way to introduce the character in the song.

Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
They sound a bit effeminate in their efforts to sound seductive (or whatever the hell that was) during the intro, but they kick in well enough during the song.

La Grange - ZZ Top
Gotta love Billy Gibbons voice on the intro. Even if it the beat and guitar were a direct lift from The Stones' Shake Your Hips, who in turn borrowed it from Slim Harpo.

Meadows - Joe Walsh
I can't make much sense of it, but the coke Joe had must've been pretty clean.

Diamond Dogs - David Bowie
"This ain't rock and roll, this is genocide!"

Excuse Me - Peter Gabriel
I just love the barber shop quartet opening.

Must of Got Lost - J. Geils Band
One of the greatest introductions to a live rock song. Peter Wolf is hilarious! Other memorable live lines are from Ain't Nothing but a House Party and Whammer Jammer/Hard Driving Man.

You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth - Meatloaf
"On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" Only if you say please.

Revenge of Vera Gemini - Blue Öyster Cult
That's rock poet Patti Smith saying: "You were boned like a saint, with the consciousness of a snake."

Rock of Ages - Def Leppard
I can't stand Def Leppard. But I do like "Gunter glieben glauchen globen." Checking with my German friends, it means absolutely nothing.

Dun Ringill - Jethro Tull
It goes like this: "Six. The Weather's on the change... Lines join in faint discord and the stormwatch brews a concert of kings as the white sea snaps at the heels of a soft prayer, whispered."

Know Your Rights - The Clash
"This is a public service announcement -- with guitars!"

Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
So ubiquitous, it is sung in commercials by children in car seats.

Liar - Rollins Band
Listen to the whole spoken intro. It's a scream!

Post-script: I know this list in no way encompasses all the great intros in rock history, so drop a line with your favorites that I missed. I'll be doing a follow-up article on the great outros and grand finales in rock coming up.