Written By Braddon S. Williams

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

I have come to realize that David Bowie has one of the richest catalogues in all of music. I previously reviewed 3 of my favorites by the legend, and discovered that choosing just one more was not going to be easy, considering just how many monumental disks were remaining that deserve to be on this list. Hunky Dory (1971) made the cut because it contains my all-time favorite Bowie song (Life On Mars?), as well as Changes, Eight Line Poem, Andy Warhol, Quicksand, Song For Bob Dylan, and the utterly amazing Oh! You Pretty Things.

Hunky Dory has been acclaimed as one of David Bowie’s best works, and has made many lists of greatest albums of all time.

I could have just as easily chosen Young Americans, Diamond Dogs, Station To Station, Heroes, Let’s Dance, or even one of the later ones like Heathen or his final album, Blackstar. Honestly, it came down to Life On Mars? That is just such a perfect song.

Rick Wakeman’s piano, coupled with those randomly poetic images that are totally open to interpretation, and that absolutely glorious voice!

David Bowie was eloquent, stylish, fearless, elegant, and an innovator in many styles of music right up until the end. There will never be another like him.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls

Some Girls (1978) by The Rolling Stones was arguably the last truly great album the venerable British rock royalty ever released, but it was certainly an amazing piece of work. Some Girls was the first album featuring Ron Wood as a full member of the band, and although he doesn’t get all the credit for its success, his style certainly meshed perfectly with Keith Richards’ guitar work.

Mick Jagger actually contributed guitar to several songs and generally took charge of the recording and writing of much of the material.

New York City was a big influence for Jagger and appears in the lyrics of many songs as a virtual character in the music.

The musical climate in 1978 was full of both disco and punk, and both of these clashing styles found their way into the Stones vocabulary.

Miss You, in particular, had one of the most recognizable disco bass lines of all time and became the last number one hit for the band.

Shattered, When The Whip Comes Down, Respectable, Before They Make Me Run, and the wonderful Beast Of Burden were all standout tracks. For me personally, one of my favorites was the country song, Faraway Eyes, where Wood played some tasty pedal steel guitar and Jagger did his best impersonation of a Southern American country boy. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) proved that the Stones could pull off r & b, too…the old Temptations song was handled with class and passion by Mick and the lads.

All in all, at a time when they had been kind of written off by the rock press, The Rolling Stones stormed back and proved conclusively why they deserved the title of “The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band!”

https://youtu.be/hic-dnps6MU

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare

Alice Cooper released his first solo album, Welcome To My Nightmare, in 1975. All his previous albums had been the Alice Cooper group. With Nightmare, the Coop had basically bought Lou Reed’s stellar backing band and enlisted the production wizardry of Bob Ezrin to create the fantastic concept of a boy/man named Steven and his nightmares.

Alice made a tv special based on the record and launched a massive tour in support of his new solo identity. I remember purchasing this album and spending considerable time investigating all the sonic possibilities within via a great set of headphones.

Horror movie legend Vincent Price performed a suitably creepy voice over for the song The Black Widow (that I have memorized still to this day).

Images abound in the songs, like the frozen lover in Cold Ethyl, the abused woman in Only Women Bleed, the spiders coming out to play in the bridge between Devil’s Food (with one of the heaviest riffs I had heard up to that time) and The Black Widow. Then, on side two, the cinematic trio of Years Ago, Steven, and The Awakening provided me with a mini-movie of the mind every time I listened to them.

The hard rocking Department Of Youth united all of us alienated teens, and the nearly punk energy of Escape brought the party to a satisfying close.

In 2011, Cooper even made a sequel, Welcome 2 My Nightmare (reminding me that I need to pick that up one of these days), another concept album that continues the story line, I believe. I have been an enormous fan of Alice Cooper since my very earliest days of being consumed by my lifelong obsession and love affair with rock music.

In July of this year I will be seeing him live for the 10th time. I am just as excited about this as I was the first time I saw him perform in 1978. Long live the Coop!

https://youtu.be/aOeP4p1fjMs

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band: Night Moves

1976 was the United States Bicentennial, and Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band broke through on a national scale with Night Moves. I can’t think of a more American rock and roll song than Night Moves, so perhaps it was fitting that Seger made his biggest success to date with that amazing song.

I saw the band live just 2 months before NIght Moves came out and there was a palpable feeling in the air that Seger was done opening shows…he was already a star.

Night Moves came out and proved that feeling was no fluke. Apparently, this was the first album that the Silver Bullet Band appeared on. They rocked side one, and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section handled most of side two.

The album as a whole featured Seger in fine voice; confident and full of swagger, and displaying a range of emotions from ballads for flat out rockers.

In addition to the legend making title song, other classics included Sunspot Baby, The Fire Down Below, Rock And Roll Never Forgets, Come To Poppa, and Mainstreet.

Bob Seger was no overnight sensation, either. The man had been around for a good long while paying his rock ‘n roll dues. Night Moves was his 9th studio album. Perseverance pays off…never give up on a dream!

https://youtu.be/axqwpWCXA3M

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells A Story

The early 1970’s was a golden time for Rod Stewart. He spent some time with the mighty Jeff Beck Group, then went on to front The Faces and made great music with both bands. After that, he launched an incredibly successful (and profitable) solo career.

Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) was Stewart’s third solo outing, and contained some of his most legendary work, including the #1 International smash hit, Maggie May. Other classics included a cover of Tim Hardin’s (Find A) Reason To Believe, a Bob Dylan song called Tomorrow Is A Long Time, the Motown hit (I Know) I’m Losing You (with The Faces as backup band), a song that was Elvis Presley’s first single, That’s All Right (Mama), a wonderful original by Stewart, Mandolin Wind, and the superb title song (with female vocals by Maggie Bell). My favorite part of the song Every Picture Tells A Story is the section where Bell and Stewart harmonize and sing together…perfection!

Ron Wood contributes some distinctive bluesy guitar throughout and Stewart sings with that raspy, blues drenched signature style of his, and rock music had another hall of fame album.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock

AC/DC were touring in support of Let There Be Rock (1977) when I saw them open for Kiss in December of that year.

To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard a note of AC/DC’s music at that point in time, but I had heard of the band. Little did I know that they quite nearly stole the show from Kiss (who were my undisputed favorite band at that time). Oh yes, and I was in the front row, so I witnessed AC/DC with Bon Scott at the peak of their formidable powers!

Anyway, Let There Be Rock has been claimed by Angus and Malcolm Young to be the first fully formed AC/DC album.

They were in danger of being dropped by their label at the time (crazy, right?) and they were pissed off about it. The result? Guitars…LOUD guitars…and a legend was born.

Bon Scott’s whisky drenched howling banshee of a voice rode atop the Young brothers’ wall of sound, and Mark Evans (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums) provided the granite foundation.

The songs would go on to be concert staples in the live show for decades to come…Problem Child, Whole Lotta Rosie, Bad Boy Boogie, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, and the crushing onslaught of the title track, Let There Be Rock.

Even the songs that didn’t become live classics (Go Down, Overdose, Dog Eat Dog) are completely badass.

Let There Be Rock is basically a perfect album…all killer, no filler…crank it up and bang your head!

https://youtu.be/3f2g4RMfhS0

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Led Zeppelin: IV

Shadows and Light…the monolithic grandeur of Led Zeppelin IV looms large over the landscape of ’70’s (indeed, everything to the present) popular music. Combining the best hard rock, heavy metal, blues, folk, and classic rock, Led Zeppelin IV set a standard of excellence in rock that imitators have yet to replicate.

Jimmy Page’s production, vision, writing, and guitar magic were at their peak, as was the presence of the Golden God himself, Mr. Robert Plant.

Plant composed some of his best lyrics and sang like a man possessed.

John Paul Jones, always the unsung hero of the band, played bass, mandolin, electric piano, synthesizers, and recorders. Jones has always been one of the most underrated musicians among elite bands, but true fans know Zeppelin would not have been the same without him.

John Henry Bonham laid down the thunderous drums and kept the rhythms flowing in unexpected ways. His drum intro to When The Levee Breaks is the absolute blueprint for how rock drums should sound (and was sampled in about a million rap and hip-hop tracks back in the day).

Stairway To Heaven was the big masterpiece that became the most-played song in FM radio history, but Black Dog, Rock And Roll, Going To California, Four Sticks, and Misty Mountain Hop were all absolutely brilliant and perfectly executed.

I think Battle Of Evermore may be my favorite Zeppelin tune of all, just something so astonishing going on between Plant and Sandy Denny’s vocal duet; the acoustic guitars and mandolins, Lord Of The Rings inspirations…like a Renaissance fair comes to life every time I hear that song!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind