Guitar-Hero Face

I hit 10,000 songs on the laptop this week. If I played them all start-to-finish, it would take 724 1/2 hours—a whole month. So this seems like the time to put the stash on shuffle and check .001% of it.

“Max Is Making Wax (aka ‘Chance It’)”/Miles Davis Quintet/The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions. From a 1955 TV broadcast with Steve Allen. Davis Allen, a noted hater of rock music, didn’t seem to have much use for jazz, either—his introduction of Davis and a later interview on the same show are condescending and uncomfortable to listen to. As prideful and combative as Davis was, he can’t have enjoyed it one bit, although he did return to Allen’s show in later years.

“She’s Made a Fool of You”/Moon Martin/The Very Best of Moon Martin. When guys like Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe became stars in the late 70s, Moon Martin should have, too. His second album, 1979’s Escape From Domination, featured an actual Top-40 hit in “Rolene.” A year later, Street Fever included the completely ass-kickin’ “Five Days of Fever.” Martin’s career sank after his fourth album, however: On Mystery Ticket, producer Robert Palmer applied a coating of the same electronic goop that was derailing his own career at that moment. (Martin had written Palmer’s hit “Bad Case of Loving You.”) Thirty-plus years later, however, Martin is still around.

“Taboo”/Chet Baker/Young Chet. It’s surprising to me that with the preponderance of pretty-boy movie stars these days, none of them has gotten the idea of playing Chet Baker. It should be the kind of role that gets Oscar nods, plus it’s a damn good story. Baker was the top trumpeter in jazz (and an androgynous sex symbol as well) during the early 5os, but lived through a drug-fueled fall that took 30 years to play out before ending under suspicious circumstances.

“Goodbye to Love”/Carpenters/From the Top. According to Wikipedia (so who the hell knows for sure), the Carpenters actually got hate mail after this song hit the radio, thanks to its un-Carpenter-like guitar solo, played by one Tony Peluso. All these years later, it remains a unique moment—the only time in history anybody in their band ever made a guitar-hero face.

“Keep on Running”/Spencer Davis Group/The Finer Things (Steve Winwood box set). Muff Winwood’s bass stomps everything in its path on the original, but it’s Davis’ guitar that sounds especially great on this performance from Scandinavian TV circa 1967:

“Forever Autumn”/Justin Hayward/The Best of the Moody Blues. If forced to pick one, I might grab this as the ultimate October song, for lots of reasons.

“If Not for You”/Olivia Newton-John/Definitive Collection. Here’s a staggeringly young ONJ lip-synching her first American hit on Australian TV one million years ago:

“Soul Shake”/Delaney and Bonnie and Friends/To Bonnie From Delaney. If the phrase “good time rock ‘n’ roll” hadn’t been adopted by so many oldies radio stations, and thereby turned into a cliche referring to a particular pool of Beach Boys and Motown records, it might be better applied to this.

“Shake Your Hips”/Rolling Stones/Exile on Main Street. For those of you who dig ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” here’s one of its potential influences.

“Stay”/David Bowie/Station to Station. The video below is 4:58 of sublime goodness. It’s a performance of “Stay” from the Dinah Shore daytime variety show circa 1975, in which Bowie busts out some twitchy dance moves and lead guitarist Earl Slick burns the place down. Housewife TV in the 70s was awesome.


One response

  1. Brilliant post. The guitar solo in Goodbye To Love is one of my all-time favourites.

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