Friday, March 24, 2023

BW's 150: 81-90



Every one of these songs means something to me. Whether it's a lyric, a harmony, a chord change or a memory attached to it, these 10 songs all deserve to be in my Top 100 for one reason or another.

This list is flawed. The songs are just about perfect. But as expected, and as predicted by some of you, this task is daunting and will no doubt haunt me. What have I missed? Can I really include (insert song title) and not (insert song title)? Nevertheless, after considerable thought, and relentless editing, these songs make the cut.

These songs are sequenced in optimum playing order, not by rank. 

We are down to the Top 100. Now, we have a ball game. And this ball game, by the way, is getting more difficult as I countdown.


Heaven & Hell- The Easybeats
I have expressed my love for The Easybeats numerous times on these pages, but "Heaven & Hell" transcends all. It's a perfect record. It's record-making genius, from the opening five note riff to that sublime bass solo after the bridge. Chills.

Sometimes I Don't Know What To Feel- Todd Rundgren
This is the first Rundgren track to appear on my list and one of the first tracks other than "I Saw The Light" and "Hello It's Me" to make me realize, I was going to love this guy for life. "Got to keep on keepin' on." Damn straight.

If I Fell- The Beatles
The moment my ears separated John's low harmony underneath Paul's melody sealed the deal. 

(Baby) You Don't Have To Tell Me- The Walker Brothers
This is big! This beats Phil Spector at his own game. Harmonies again, seal the deal for me. "You don't have to tell me, baby, 'cause I already know, you see. Have a little mercy now." Wow.

The Worst That Could Happen- The Brooklyn Bridge
A Jimmy Webb masterpiece and a Johnny Maestro tour de force! How about that key change? Somewhere out there is a video of a Songwriter's Circle with Jimmy Webb and Jules Shear, among others, and Jules nails this. I'll be your friend for life if you have audio of that performance.

Company- Rickie Lee Jones
One of the most heartbreaking songs and performances ever committed to tape. If I happen to hear this track when I am already on the verge, it puts the final nail in. Stunning. "And I'll know I'll never have this chance again, oh no, not like you." 

Ol' 55- Tom Waits
Don't hate me, but I prefer the Eagles version. Their harmonies are to die for, and actually I heard the Eagles version first. But this is Tom Waits' song and so he gets the nod.

I'm Not In Love- 10cc
The first time I heard this was on Coney Island beach through a Norelco transistor radio, and it was the badly edited single version and I still thought it was special. When I bought the album, "The Original Soundtrack," I was floored by the production and livid that the label chose to cut the bridge, which is the whole damn song. Listen to the melody played on the bass during that instrumental stretch. Gorgeous.

Let's Stay Together- Al Green
Another Brooklyn memory, there was a record store in Sheepshead Bay called Rubber Band and you needed to look at the Cash Box magazine Top 100, which was posted on the front counter and order your 45s by chart position. "#6, #9, etc." I couldn't find "Good, Bad, Happy, Sad," which is what I thought this song was called. It took a while and some lame singing, but we found it. And it is one of the greatest of all time.

The March Of The Black Queen- Queen
Side Two or the "Black Side" of Queen's second album exemplifies all I love about Freddie, Brian, Roger and John and this track covers all the bases in six minutes.



Troy said...

Sal, have you heard Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne duet on Ol' 55? Talk about harmonies to die for... That's my favorite version (though I get you including the original on your list).

Sal Nunziato said...

Yes, love their version. You can't go wrong with this song. I played Ol' 55 in a band and even we sounded good on the harmonies.

Tinpot said...

Wow. Great group of songs. The ones I know, I love; the ones I don't know, I'll be checking out.

Shriner said...

Ooh, only one from this set of Sal’s shows up later for me.

A digression: I love “Get The Knack”. I think it’s a perfect Power Pop album — nay, a near-perfect overall record. But here’s where the *only* Knack song on my list ends up and it's in the middle of my list (“Ooh Baby Ooh” from Round Trip almost made the cut, but didn’t… ) I still can’t believe how many how many of my favorite bands are either under-represented on my list of 150 (or barely represented -- and in some cases not at all!). This is around the part of my list of 150 where everything else above it is *so* perfect to me, you have to avert your eyes to listen to the songs, but this round of 10 bubbles right under and is all over the place thematically.

I Believe In A Thing Called Love — The Darkness (this debut album blew me away in a way no other rock album had since Appetite for Destruction…)
Kentucky Rain — Elvis Presley (There were more Elvis songs in my starting list, but this story song rose to the top. This was a great example of how Elvis’ voice could sell a song. And that little guitar lick at 1:52 is brilliant.)
Everlong — Foo Fighters (Yes, it’s overplayed — but it deserves every play it gets!)
December, 1963 (Oh What A Night) — The Four Seasons (Is it a disco song? I guess it is? One of the best songs about a one night stand and quickly losing your virginity ever!)
Radar Love — Golden Earring (played this in a band and it never failed to get the crowd fired up. When those first 3 notes hit you start smiling And then the shuffle beat kicks in? Your head starts bobbing. Come on — you hear it in your head just based on the song title, don’t you?)
Midnight Confessions — The Grass Roots (One of the best driving pop bass lines in a song not written by Paul McCartney! Try singing over this one while playing it -- it's hard!)
Since U Been Gone — Kelly Clarkson (This is -- bar a few exceptions -- one of the greatest pop songs of the last 20 years and if American Idol did nothing else positive— it ended up giving us this song)
My Sharona — The Knack (what more can I say? — the guitar solo alone puts it on the list.)
Lady Marmalade — Labelle (another song that just lept out of the radio at the right time — man I miss the variety of 70s “top 40” radio…)
So It Goes — Nick Lowe (That opening lyric!)

Shriner said...

(I will add that the band I was in also did "If I Fell" -- considering there are almost no Beatles songs (solo or otherwise) on my list -- I can never deny the greatness of that one...)

Anonymous said...

This is the first group of songs where I know all of them. Each one is a home run. Great selection!

Sal Nunziato said...

"Since U Been Gone — Kelly Clarkson (This is -- bar a few exceptions -- one of the greatest pop songs of the last 20 years and if American Idol did nothing else positive— it ended up giving us this song"

I couldn't agree more.

Noel M said...

What a great series this continues to be. Great choices here!!

The Walker Bros song - which I've never heard yet - sounds like a close cousin lyrically to one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, Tenderness:

What can I do
What can I do
Much of what you say is true
I know you see through me
But there's no tenderness
Beneath your honesty

Oh, right and wrong
Right and wrong
Wuh, it never helped us get along
You say you care for me
But there's no tenderness
Beneath your honesty

steve simels said...

Heaven and Hell. You nailed that one, pal.

Michael Giltz said...

Another great batch of tunes, some new to me, and some great stories to boot. I see Sal beat me to it, but oh yes "Since U Been Gone" is an all-time killer pop tune.

Rick said...

Since you said "don't hate me" regarding the Waits song, I'll chime in that I prefer the Arlo Guthrie version of Percy's Song....

Noel M said...

Listening now and wow - "The Worst That Could Happen" !!! Dang, I love that song and had forgotten about it.

Sure sounds like a Walker Brothers song... I wonder if we can say the Walker Brothers were influencing Jimmy Webb, or vice versa? Thoughts?