My Best Rock Albums 2018
my pick for 2018 so far
JUDAS PRIEST - FIREPOWER
JOE PERRY - SWEETZERLAND MANIFESTO
JACK WHITE - BOARDING HOUSE REACH
EUROPE - WALK THE EARTH
EVANESCENCE - LOST WHISPERS
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS - STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
I cannot believe how good Judas Priest, Firepower is. Their best for many years. Not bad riffs for someone with Parkinson disease - keep going Glen. Rob Halfords voice is as good as ever.
Artists playing and times of all our shows.
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My Top 100 tracks.
I've compiled this list by only using one track from any artist or band. That way I get a better broad spectrum of music in the list. It's mainly based on rock music but there are a few tracks that I just could not leave out. The criteria for the list ? Can I listen to each track at least three times over without getting bored.
That's the Way I've Always Heard it Should Be.
I've loved this track from the first time I heard it. It was the first hit for Carly Simon from her debut album Carly Simon in 1971. Lyrics by Jacob Brackman, music by Carly Simon.
From their second studio album of the same name in 2007, Blackbird features a great guitar solo or it's maybe a duet ? by Tremonti and Kennedy. Guitar magazine called it the greatest guitar solo of all time. Ahem, maybe the reviewer was a real Alter Bridge fan.
Born to Run
The Boss. Born to Run was the first single released from his third studio album of the same name. Released in 1975 it finally brought fame to Springsteen. His best song in my opinion.
More Than a Feeling
From their award winning debut album Boston in 1976. This is one of America's biggest selling albums at over 17 million sales. Written by founding member of the band, guitarist and keyboard player Tom Scholz.
Rollin' in the Deep
From her second album titled 21 in 2011. I like the album as it has a taste of folk, soul, blues and country and you can't say that about many albums. For me Rollin' in the deep comes out just on top. Released as a single just before the album 21 was released.
Close My Eyes Forever
Lita Ford & Ozzie Osbourne
Ford has sung this with many other rock stars but none quite hits the spot as the Ozzie duet does. This was Lita Ford's second solo studio album titled Lita and was produced by Ozzie's wife Sharon Osbourne in 1988. Ozzie needs no introductions but you may not know that Lita Ford started out with Joan Jett in the all female band The Runaways.
No ! It's not a mistake. This is my favourite 100 songs and if I could pick more than one track per artist there would be at least one more from Deano. This song was first heard in the 1953 film The Caddy with Jerry Lewis. This huge hit became Deano's signature tune and was known all over the world.
Take Me to the Church
Irish guy from County Wicklow, fairly new on the scene. He released his debut EP which included the track Take me to the church in 2013. Hozier included the single again on his self titled first album Hozier in 2014. Perhaps I like him because he comes from Bray, where a couple of my good friends are from. It's a good song though and been covered a few times already.
Another Irish guy but a bit of an older one this time. I'm not a great fan of Van Morrison but his 1970 Album Moondance is a gem. The title track is full of blues, rock, folk and soul. A brilliant array of musical instrumentation, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, wind, percussion.
I like Rod the mod and I thought he should be in my top 100 tracks. Deciding which track was a bit difficult. I like Mandolin Wind, Handbags and Gladrags but Maggie May won out. Rod wrote the song for his 1971 album Every Picture Tells a Story.
There was always something about Donna Summer that I found most appealing. When I found that she started her career as a hard rock singer, I realised what it was.
She even had Skunk Baxter rocking into a guitar solo on this track.She released this as the lead single for her 1979 album Bad Girls.
Difficult to choose one of Jackson's singles but this one just wins out for me. Having witnessed Jennifer Batten and Jackson performing this track at Wembley I feel this is the most exciting.
The song didn't get very good reviews when this single was released from his 1988 album Bad but reaching No 1 in the US proved all the critics wrong.
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Not the only cover in my list and Richie Havens has recorded a lot of covers especially Dylans. Seen this guy a couple of times and he is just great live. This track only just beat his live version of Freedom, which I heard at the Isle of Wight Festival 69/70.
Very nearly everybody has covered this Dylan track from his 1965 album Bringing it All Back Home but Havens, who had been singing it for a few years, finally released a recording on his 1970 album Stonehenge.
Diamonds and Rust
I must be in a folk rock mood. Talking about Dylan, Havens and now the fabulous Joan Baez. This track describes her relationship with Bob Dylan, diamonds and rust.
The song is from her gold album of 1975 Diamonds and Rust and is considered by most of her critics including me, as her best. I can listen to this several times over.
This is a bit of a jump. Frank Sinatra. If I listen to Frank, I have to listen to just him all day or maybe mix it up a bit with Satchmo, Ella Fitzgerald et al, the only Jazz I can listen to. But, this is one track that I can listen to at any time and in any mood. You can't say that about many songs.
" The summer wind came blowin' in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me "
What an opening lyric. Just so soft ! The song was originally German and translated by Johnny Mercer and sung by several people until Sinatra featured it on his 1966 album Strangers in the Night.
The Righteous Brothers
A lot of folks would probably put You've Lost that Loving Feeling before Unchained Melody but not me. The title comes from the original 1955 version which was written for a movie called Unchained.
There are many versions but when the Righteous Brothers version came out as a solo by Bobby Hatfield in 1965 it quickly became a favourite. It's fame was resurrected once again when it was used as the theme for the 1990 movie Ghost.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Some of my friends would think I would prefer the Creedence Clearwater version but nobody has sung this as good as Marvin Gaye.
An old quiz question as the first recording was not the first released and neither of these were Marvin Gaye. To clear up the confusion the first recorded version was The Miracles who released it in 1968 and the first released version was Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1967. Marvin Gaye released the track on his 1968 album In The Groove.
Simon and Garfunkel
There's a vocal hook in this track that is better than anything I've heard. I'm not a huge fan of Paul Simon and even less a fan of Garfunkel, who just sits and does very little, but I really like this from their award winning album of 1970 Bridge Over Troubled Water. There's a great version by Emmylou Harris also.
The song is about loneliness and poverty and was recored in many different locations, even positioning a drum kit in front of an elevator shaft to get the memorable crashing sound.
Stand By Me
Ben E King
When King wrote Stand By Me he wanted the Drifters to record it, but they decided it wasn't for them. Luckily King decided to record it himself. The song is one of the ten most earning songs of all time and was used as the title track for that great movie Stand By Me. King featured the recording on his 1961 album Don't Play That Song. The track has been covered hundreds of times not least by John Lennon.
Famous Blue Raincoat
This is another guy that makes it hard to choose the best track. At the end it came to Famous Blue Raincoat. I love the track, they way it is contrived and the story attached to it. It is sung as a letter to Cohen's brother who was guilty of stealing his girlfriend. At the time of writing Cohen had his raincoat stolen.
From his 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate.
A great song. Everyone knows it's about the plane crash that took the life of Buddy Holly as well as Richie Valens and the Big Boppa in 1959 " the day the music died ". The song is from McLean's album of 1971 American Pie. It only reached No 2 in the UK but a shortened version by Madonna got to No 1 in 2000.
Ashes to Ashes
From Bowie's Scary Monsters album of 1980 and the title track of that great TV series of the same name. Another difficult choice from a really huge portfolio but his revisit to Major Tom and that track, Space Oddity, being my second choice, I had to go with this.
I'm not a real fan of Elton John. I've always thought of him as a clown and a pub pianist from Watford. I saw him once at Crystal Palace bowl. He put on a big show but Yes, Rory Gallagher and Tir Na Nog were better. This track is good though.
Quite different for Rush, bassist Geddy Lee ditches the guitar for a synthesizer and produces one of their best songs and a regular player on the radio. From their 1981 album Moving Pictures, this is the only Rush track I like, but why the critics call it hard rock I cannot imagine. This is Rush catching up on the progressive rock scene.
For The Love of God
Not the only instrumental in my top 100. Steve Vai has an interesting history. He started out with Frank Zappa who eventually gave him a start. He had been taught to play guitar in the early seventies by Joe Satriani. This track comes from his 1990 album Passion and Warfare.
I may have included this track just so I could look through all the photos of the Wilson sisters to choose one for this bio. I chose Nancy but it could so easily have been Ann. This is their best known track from their second album of 1977 Little Queen. The title is probably what the sisters thought about their early record company when one of the execs tried to spread a rumour of an incestuous relationship between the sisters, just to gain publicity. Needless to say they dropped that record company pretty quick.
Turn the Page
A song about bands being on the road and the hassle they encountered. Seger was touring with the Silver Bullet Band when something a guy in a roadside cafe said triggered thoughts for a song. Bands were always getting ribbed for their long hair and getting called girlies and the bands would retort " put another record on " or, " come up with something different " or " turn the page ". Seger featured the track on his 1973 album Back in 72.
Ride a White Swan
Marc Bolan said that he got the title from a time when someone spiked his drink with LSD. I'm pretty sure that it didn't bother him too much. I love this song because it brings back memories of sitting over coffees in an all night cafe waiting to hear where that nights party was being held.
Bolan had recently changed from an acoustic line up and shortened the bands name from Tyrannosaurus Rex to T Rex and was starting to get some acclaim. This single from 1970 was just before he entered his glam rock period.
Marc Bolan died as a passenger in a car crash in 1977. He had never learned to drive, ironically saying that he feared death from driving cars.
Ace of Spades
Motorhead are one of the great British bands and in my opinion this is their best track. It was released as the lead single from their 1980 album of the same name Ace of Spades. A great bass intro by the late lamented Lemmy Kilmister. Great track in the car.
A Day in the Life
Now, when John, Paul, George and Ringo put this as the last track on their 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, do you think they had any idea that this track would be voted by most people and all the critics as the best Beatles track.
I took a long while to really get the Beatles and I'm not sure I'm there yet as can be seen by my placing, what I see as their best at number 71. It is good though.
Strange guy Ted Nugent. A real hard rocker. This particular track stands out from his portfolio though. Actually he only performs part of the lyrics, most of which are sung by Derek St Holmes who joined Nugent as a rhythm guitarist. It’s the stand out lead guitar solo though, that gets him in this list. The track is a single from his 1975 album Ted Nugent.
Most of the rock critics would put this track much higher in the list. It’s a great record but as I explained earlier The Beatles are not my favourite band. The album is great and this is the best track from it but 69 is as high as I would put it. Could you listen to it twice over? I couldn’t.
I’m not a massive fan of drum solos. I would usually get to the bar when the drum solo was on. John Panozzo uses this track to hike his drum solo when played live. I still can’t rave about it. The song is about an outlaw awaiting the hangman. It’s unusual in that songwriter Tommy Shaw who usually played lead guitar on his writings asked James Young to take lead on this track. A classic rock radio favourite the track is from their 1979 album Pieces of Eight.
Blinded By The Light
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
You may or may not know that this song was written by and recorded first by Bruce Springsteen on his debut album Greetings from Asbury in 1973. The single was poorly received and didn’t chart anywhere. Along comes Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976 and takes the song to No 1 in the US and a top ten favourite all over the world. The single sprung from their 1976 album The Roaring Silence. The Boss probably wasn’t too miffed as it would prove to be his only No1 as a songwriter.
Riders on the Storm
During the sixties and seventies I listened to the Doors quite a bit. Unfortunately I never quite got the hype that was coming out of America and the mouths of some British critics, especially mags like Sounds and NME. As I’ve always been a cowboy fan ( John Wayne no less ) and this song alludes to being inspired by a cowboys song, Ghost Riders, I can listen to this quite often. The album L A Woman is pretty good for 1971 but I like this track just a bit more than Love Her Madly.
Whisky in the Jar
Whisky in the Jar is a song I could listen to without the music. Not many songs in this list hark back to the seventeenth century. A well known Irish folk song which has been covered by bands as far apart as The Dubliners and Metallica. I much prefer this version from the early seventies even though Metallica won a Grammy for their 1998 version.
You Really Got Me
Another song with a strange history. The song written by Ray Davies was recorded twice, two completely different versions. One was a blues version and the second was rock influenced. They decided to release the second version on their 1964 album Kinks. Ray’s brother Dave plays a very heavy guitar riff that has proven to be a precursor to Heavy Metal.
Edge of Seventeen
Love her. She is so good. She really rocks. Difficult to choose her best track but as she features later with the band Fleetwood Mac I get a choice of two. I love the lyrics:
“ Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song
Sounds like she's singing
Ooo, baby, ooo, ooo “
From Stevie’s debut solo album Bella Donna in 1982.
In the Air Tonight
More history. This track was written during a period of grief and anger following Collins divorce from his wife. It has become a signature tune and is heard regularly on TV and radio. Known for a fabulous melodramatic piece of drumming the single was taken from his debut solo album Face Value in 1981.
Juke Box Hero
A great track from the eighties this was the third single from the album 4. They must have taken ages to come up with the album title in 1982. The song is about a fan who because he has trouble getting into concerts decides to buy a guitar and become a star himself and how he struggles to stay as a Juke Box Hero.
Walk On The Wild Side
I like Lou Reed and all his solo stuff but I never quite got his band Velvet Underground. Too much talking. This track has a chequered history as it deals with drugs and oral sex and during the seventies when this was released they were taboo subjects on radio in the US and the UK. This is a single taken from his second solo album of 1972 Transformer.
A Horse With No Name
I couldn’t tell you another song by this band and I only know of one album and that is because it is eponymous ie America from 1971. They must be a one hit wonder for me. Never mind, this single is excellent.
We're An American Band
Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk’s first No 1 in the US. A huge hit. Maybe the switch of vocals to the songwriter Don Brewer may be responsible. From the 1973 album of the same name this is a great hard rock track.
Bad to the Bone
I didn’t know where to place this song. I thought that around halfway was about right. The song harks back to Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters especially the guitar riff. When first released on the album of the same name in 1982 it wasn’t much of a success but continual playing as descriptive music in films and commercials has brought the song to the fore. Love it when he sings “ bad to the bone “.
Can't Find My Way Home
Another track where I have a few choices for the artists. The song was written by Stevie Winwood for the band Blind Faith on their Blind Faith album of 1969. Blind Faith featured Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Winwood and an old acquaintance of mine from The Farinas, Ric Grech. The Farinas, from Leicester who used to be nearly resident at Baldock, my home town, were to become The Family.
Don't Bring Me Down
Electric Light Orchestra
This song was originally from ELOs 1979 album Discovery but Jeff Lynne also had some success with his 2012 version released on the Mr Blue Sky compilation album. I always thought of ELO as a pop group, mainly because all their songs appeared to be written to sell singles. A lot of people disagreed with me. That’s life.
Carry On Wayward Son
I always found Kansas to be a most underestimated band, especially in the UK. This maybe because it is difficult to pigeonhole the band. Are they classic rock, progressive rock, folk rock, heavy rock? They’ve played it all and this is the best. This track reminds me of other progressive rock songs so there I’ve placed it. It’s from their 1975 album Leftoverture.
The Guess Who
Another underestimated band in the UK. As they were Canadian they probably had some work to do in the US as well. This is a great track. Lenny Kravitz covered it but not as good as the original. This is from their 1969 album of the same name.
I probably couldn’t play this twice over but of course I wouldn’t have to as every time you turn on the radio it seems to be on everyone’s playlist. A real raunchy rocking track from Cooper’s fifth album of 1972 and by the same name.
Live And Let Die
Paul McCartney & Wings
I couldn’t have Guns and Roses for this track as they appear later, but in any case this is a great track from McCartney and Wings. A very good movie and the soundtrack is excellent as you would expect from a Bond movie. There’s something about McCartney that I just don’t like but I have to admit he is a brilliant songwriter. From the 1972 album of the same name it was the biggest Bond theme hit for many years.
The Eagles received a Grammy in 1977 for this single voted “ record of the year “. It very nearly didn’t make it as a single as, being over six minutes long, the record company thought it too long to release as a single. As the band had put so much into the track they held out and refused to budge. Lucky for us, as the track may have ended up in album obscurity. It was included on their 1977 album of the same name and at the close of the track features a great guitar battle between Glen Frey, whose idea the song was, and new boy from ’75 Joe Walsh.
Up Where We Belong
Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
Beautiful song from the film and album of 1982 An Officer and a Gentleman. I love the Buffy St Marie version with the throaty lyrics and native American accent but I think this version is more polished ( and Buffy features elsewhere ). I’m a big fan of big Joe and I miss him a lot. He seemed to deliver every song at a perfect pitch and an interesting voice. I loved the film as well, brilliantly acted.
Kiss From a Rose
The song that causes more arguments than any other and Seal refuses to discuss the lyrics so it seems that each answer to the question “ does he sing grey or grave” is correct depending on your point of view. I’ve put it in the mixer and he definitely sings “ grey “. Anyway the song is about using cocaine, so grey fits. Strangely this song may never have seen the light of day had not it featured in the 1994 movie Batman Forever.
Buffy St Marie
This is the Buffy features elsewhere. A powerful movie that makes me squirm every time I watch it. I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for native americans ( even though I am a cowboy fan ) and I listen to Buffy St Marie quite a lot. This is a track from 1970 that I listen to over and over again, powerful like the movie.
Since You've Been Gone
It’s quite amazing that this band ever managed to achieve any recorded music. They’ve had more line ups than any other band. This was mainly due to Ritchie Blackmore continually sacking members that he had only just hired. He even sacked recruits from his previous band Deep Purple after spending precious time trying to recruit them. Ronnie James Dio and Cozy Powell were the only two spared his Alan Sugar tactics. This track from their 1979 album Down to Earth was their first commercial success.
Everybody Wants Some
One of the best rock guitarists of all time Eddie Van Halen was a real showman and alongside his two brothers and great vocalist David Lee Roth Van Halen became very popular during the 80s. Roth left the band to be replaced by Sammy Hagar in 1985 but Roth has since rejoined the band after a falling out with Hagar. I think this track is better than Jump although that one reached the top. From the 1980 album Women and Children First.
I Feel Like Making Love
From the 1975 album Straight Shooter this band were one to receive the title supergroup. Meaning the members had found fame with other bands before coming together. The best known members being Paul Rogers and Simon Kirke from Free. Mott the Hoople’s Mick Ralphs played lead with King Crimson’s Boz Burrel on bass guitar were the other members. The press have often struggled to place their genre, but for me classic rock sounds best.
Sultans of Swing
Every time Dire Straits released a single or album you just had to go out and buy it. Not only were they easy to listen to but they were regular diet for parties. The girls just loved them, where Zeppelin, Floyd, Hendrix and Sabbath may have struggled. For me this is their best by far. The track had to be recorded twice as the record company didn’t like the first version. Sometimes Dire Straits are too “ nice “ and need to rock it up a bit. Early recording for their first album Dire Straits in 1977.
Emerson Lake & Palmer
Not the version by The Verve, although I do like that one, but not enough for this list. This track always reminds me of living in a flat in Hitchin and wet afternoons and listening to music. This piece of vinyl from 1970, the album Emerson, Lake and Palmer, very nearly wore out during the early seventies. Amazingly this song was written by former King Crimson frontman Greg Lake when he was 12 years old. The track features an early Moog Synthesizer solo by former Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson.
Sweet Child of Mine
Guns and Roses
Getting a bit raunchy now with Guns and Roses. I saw these live at Milton Keynes Bowl, a great venue for the acoustics due to the mounding. I had three sixteen year olds in tow. Actually it was my daughter and two friends. My daughter has good taste in music. Great track that started G&R on the road to stardom. Mind you, with their line up, I don’t know why they didn’t make it earlier. Must have been the material. The track is from their 1987 debut album Appetite For Destruction. It also features one of my favourite guitarists Slash.
Probably the band that I have seen live the most. Every time they came to England I was there and UB40 who always seemed to back them. They were always good value as well.
I could have chosen another Santana song, I like Samba Pa Ti, Black Magic Woman, Smooth and so many more.
This one though is so nostalgic, harking back to Woodstock and the festivals of the late sixties and early seventies.
From their debut album of 1969 Santana and another instrumental. Great percussion as well as Carlos' guitar.
Obviously bit of a toss up between this and Sweet Home Alabama but the guitar solo at the end of Free Bird just buys it for me. I like Ronnie Van Sant's vocals and Allen Collins guitar solo at the end is just sublime. This is really the band's signature song and I have a live version over 15 minutes long.
It's from their debut album of 1973 Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd. The single was released in 1974.
I have always believed that Steve Marriot was an underrated guitarist, he never got the recognition he deserved until he died. This may have been because he had such a great singing voice.
This song, released as a single in 1967 is definitely one to hear in mono as the stereo version dilutes the flanging effect of slowing down a second recording played over the top of the first and the two forming the final mono issue. This isn't pop, it's classic rock.
Derek and the Dominos
I was a bit shocked myself as I have always rated this higher, but I thought very seriously about it and I think 37 is about right. It's a fabulous intro and the first half of the track is very good but it does wander off a bit towards the end.
Inspiration for the track came from a love story by Nizami, Layla and Majnun, and only coincidently related to Clapton's obsession with George Harrison's wife Patti Boyd, who Clapton later married and ironically soon separated from and later divorced.
When the track was originally released in 1971 it didn't achieve much success, but subsequent releases, including an acoustic version have gone down a bomb. This is probably due to the lyrics being attributed to his desire for Patti Boyd more than the very long tail that this track has.
It's also a bit ironic that the opening riff, which is just brilliant, was composed by the late great Duane Allman.
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Considering the band achieved phenomenal success during the five years being active it is so surprising they had such an acrimonious ending in 1972. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called their music " roots rock " but for me it will always be " southern rock " which they never strayed from. In the three years from '69 to '72 there were a string of hit singles and albums but I like this one best from the'69 album Willy and the Poor Boys.
Bring Me To Life
Great track and another from a debut album. The album Fallen was released in 2003. I love Amy Lee's voice. The track won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock song and only narrowly missed out to Seven Nation Army for Best Rock Song.
The song is a sort of gothic nu metal and it is about changing direction in your life and waking up to all the things you have missed out on.
Another One Bites The Dust
Bit of a rebel here. Didn't choose Bohemian Rhapsody ! I haven't included Whiter Shade of Pale in my top 100 either. If everybody liked the same, how boring would it be.
Of course this track was a huge hit too. From their 1980 album The Game, this track was No 1 in the US for several weeks, a feat for a British band. The single even outsold Bohemian Rhapsody. It really rocks !
It was difficult to place this track. I love Billy Gibbons on guitar and I love the story of this track. All about a little whorehouse in Texas. The same one that Dolly Parton featured in the movie.
I believe its a bit like Layla, a great opening guitar riff, great opening vocals, then it drifts away a bit.
From that great album of '73, Les Hombres, the track is quite bluesy.
A lot of people will recognise this track as the opening music for CSI New York. It's the opening track from the 1971 album Who's Next . They played the song at the London Olympics in 2012.
Lots of plaudits. The song was written by Pete Townsend and he takes over the vocals from Daltrey for the middle of the song singing about " teenage wastelands " which was the original working title for the song.
Living in the Past
Complicated releases of this song. When it was first released in 1969 it did OK but not great. It then featured on a double album of the same name in '72 and really took off. Tull then released it as a bonus track on a re release of the album Stand Up in 2001.
I remember in '72 and '73 I thought I would get sick of hearing it on the radio, but no, I can listen to this song several times a week.
Jethro Tull are entitled to call themselves Progressive Rock musicians as the phrase comes about from the unusual time signatures of the music for which this track is well known.
Guitarist Mike McCready plays the riff composed by Stone Gossard but it's the percussion that really takes centre stage in the problems recording this track. It had a hundred takes before it was recorded for their 1992 grunge album Ten.
The singles on sale in the UK feature a different drummer Dave Abbruzzese. This was generally considered to be the better version and featured on their Greatest Hits 2004.
The song is about a homeless man who is mentally ill, which is the reason why he is homeless. Eddie Vedder ( pictured ) is a great singer of grunge and hard rock.
Like a Rolling Stone
Another very difficult choice. I love so many Dylan songs. Jokerman was my first choice with this second, but I listened to both tracks three times over and came to the decision that this track wins by a whisker.
This song was to change Dylan’s direction for ever. He had been to Britain in ’65 and obviously did not enjoy the tour and was in a bad place. However, he managed to put music to a poem he had been working on and Like a Rolling Stone was born. It changed Dylan from a folk singer into a major rock star. Dylan included the track on his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. Strangely his record company Columbia didn’t want to release the single as they thought it too long and outside of Dylans comfort zone. When they eventually released the track as a single it went to No 2 in the charts.
From the first solo album of Ozzie Osbourne, Blizzard of Oz in 1980, this was the first single to be released. It features the late great guitarist Randy Rhoads. Rhoads had to run between two floors to record the guitars for the Crazy Train riff as each floor was too small for the amount of guitars needed. Mr Crowley is another great track from the album.
Rhoads died tragically in an airplane accident caused by their tour bus driver who was high on cocaine stole an aircraft and was trying to fly all the crew in stages after the bus broke down, but decided to buzz the tour bus on the occasion that Rhoades was in the aircraft. He hit the bus and the plane burst into flames on landing killing everyone aboard.
I love the comment from Ozzie about Rhoads “ Why would such a talented young guy want to hang out with such a bloated alcoholic wreck like me. “
Don't Stop Believin'
This would be in most peoples top ten. I like the song and especially the lyrics, most of which everybody knows. Steve Perry’s voice makes this the perfect hit song.
The single is from the 1981 album Escape. The track is different in that the chorus is left to the end when the title is heard for the first time.
There is a huge mistake in the song’s lyrics though. There is no “ south Detroit “ in Detroit. It’s actually in Canada.
Ozzie is back, but this time with Black Sabbath. The track is on their second 1970 album of the same name. The single, their first reached No 4 in the UK but didn’t do so well in the States. The song had been written as an afterthought as they needed a filler for their second album.
Another snippet in this list – the title is never mentioned in the song.
Tony Iommi shows some great guitar work and Ozzie’s voice is as great as ever. The song is heard numerous times in many movies and gets a tremendous amount of airplay.
One of my favourite ballads from a great progressive metal band. From the 1991 album Empire the track features a cello playing the Brahms’ lullaby at the ending. The track reached No 1 in the US rock charts and No 9 in the main billboard chart.
The song is about dreaming, written by guitarist Chris Degarmo and sung beautifully by Geoff Tate.
You, Shook Me All Night Long
Difficult choice yet again. I didn’t choose this because it’s Brian Johnson’s first single with the band as I actually liked Bon Scott’s voice better.
Many of the lyrics have been borrowed from the Willi Dixon number “ You Shook Me.“ There’s just something about this song and riff that gets me. I’m not sure what it is but it is there.
From that fantastic album Back In Black from 1980.
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Great band and a great song. Played extensively at American Football venues but has feared the limelight since the terrible hurricane of New Orleans.
From the 1984 album Love at First Sting. Nothing more to say, great hard rock song.
This will definitely be controversial, especially in the US. Not only is an Aerosmith track not in my top ten, the track is a ballad and not “ Sweet Emotion “. If you regularly listen to Aerosmith, as I do, you will find that Dream On sticks in the mind better that all the other tracks.
Again it’s a track from a debut album, their 1973 album Aerosmith. I always find authors do their best writing in their debut novels.
Written and performed by the famous Steven Tyler, made more famous by his daughter, with great guitar work from Joe Perry.
You Give Love a Bad Name
You Give Love a Bad Name is a hard rock song from a mainstream rock band. That’s my opinion and the reason I didn’t pick Livin’ On A Prayer. From their breakthrough album of 1986, Slippery When Wet. Very similar to “ Shot Through The Heart “ on a later solo album.
Like many rock songs the lyrics describe a woman who has jilted her lover.
Another list snippet – Jon has stated that he is a blood relative of Frank Sinatra.
I had to use Fleetwood Mac here as I had used Stevie Nicks for Edge of Seventeen. I have never understood why this fabulous song didn’t appeal to the masses neither in the UK nor the US. The track is off the Fleetwood Mac album 1975 and was released as a single from the album in 1976.
The song was written by Stevie and is well known for her live singing which gets very gothic theatrical. The name of the girl in the song is inspired by the Welsh goddess Rhiannon which she got from a book. She was later to write about the goddess in the song Angels.
I’m never quite sure how much influence Felix Pappalardi had on Leslie West, that mountain of a man who played a very bluesy guitar in the late sixties. He had produced a couple of Cream albums and contributed to them on the organ. At the time West met Pappalardi, West had already decided, I believe, to change style and play a more hard rock sound. He had already released a solo album with Pappalardi on bass guitar called Mountain because of his immense size, when he decided to form a hard rock band.
In any case Felix played bass guitar and contributed to the vocals, whilst Norman Smart was recruited for drums and Steve Night for keyboards.
I am told that all of their music was heavily influenced by British band Cream. If that is so, why do they feature keyboards and sound completely different especially in tempo. Funnily enough they don’t sound like New York either, which is where they are from. I think I know why they had that tag.
After an early performance at Woodstock, Corky Laing took over the drumming and Mountain were properly formed and produced the fantastic album Climbing! Once again a debut album hits the mark. Mississippi Queen was the lead off track for the album from 1970.
Now, I believe Pappalardi put it around that Mountain were just like Cream to gain some momentum and when Jack Bruce joined West some years later the rumour was confirmed. Mountain are a great band on their own and this is their best track.
Is This Love
. This is another British rock band with an ever changing line up. Why didn’t Dave Coverdale call it the Dave Coverdale Band. It’s so obvious he was egoistical about the band, not unlike Ritchie Blackmore with his Rainbow. Obviously a Deep Purple thing.
I had to look up which line up came up with this single, but I remembered John Sykes on guitar collaborating with Coverdale to write the song.
Fans are usually torn between two songs for which Whitesnake song is the best. I like this one best but the other one Here I Go Again is nearly as good.
I’m not usually known for liking this type of song, as both these tracks were clearly written for the commercial market, the main thing that Coverdale left Deep Purple to pursue, but as I stated before this list is about songs that you can listen to time and time again.
From the album Whitesnake, it was released as a single in 1987 and again in 1994. It was a huge success reaching No 9 in the UK and No 2 in the US.
Snippet – The band were called after a Deep Purple backing band, The White Snake Band.
Angel of Mercy
Black Label Society
I love this track. Absolutely sublime guitar playing. Too look at Zakk Wylde you would never believe he was capable, but listen folks, its only hair. Ozzie Osbourne, who knows a good guitarist when he sees one quickly signed him up. Wylde was the third replacement after the death of Randy Rhoads who co incidentally had influenced Wyldes career. Actually this probably wasn’t a coincidence, as Wylde had auditioned for the place. He has left Ozzie twice and returned once but at the time of writing I believe he is due to return once more.
Wylde formed the band Black Label Society and it took nine studio albums before,, in my opinion of course, they really cracked it. Catacombs of the Black Vatican was released in 2014 and feature this as its fourth track. Angel of Mercy was the second single to be released in the same year.
Snippet – Black Label Society had four different drummers in less than two years and since 2014 Wylde has formed a tribute band called Zakk Sabbath !
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Another fantastic guitarist. SRV Stevie Ray Vaughan. I could have chosen ten different tracks but Little Wing is a favourite of mine when played by Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately the Hendrix version is only two minutes long. SRV lengthened the track to over six minutes, without me even asking him !
If only we could have had Jimi’s singing:
“ Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind, that’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras
And moonbeams and a fairy tale “
It would have been nearer to number one. The track is featured on the 1991 album The Sky is Crying which was released one year after SRV’s death in a helicopter crash at the age of 35.
Somebody to Love
Strange that this song featured so well during the hippie period of free love. It’s all about truth, family values and monogamy. The song was written by The Great Society guitarist and brother in law of Grace Slick, Darby Slick.
Grace Slick always seemed to be in the news in the late sixties and usually in a state of undress and on the arm of several different musicians whilst invariably smoking a joint. She thought this song could be a success and when she left her previous band The Great Society and joined Jefferson Airplane, she took this song with her.
The track had previously been released by The Great Society in 1966 but it did not do well. When Jefferson Airplane featured it on their classic album Surrealistic Pillow of 1967, the San Francisco Bay music area had really begun to take off and the track was open to more of the public. Grace Slick had revitalised the song into a more menacing and rock version to suit the times.
Snippet – Jim Carrey sings the song in the 1996 movie Cable Guy.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Many critics have described this track as the “ ultimate rock song “. It’s also been described as the song that brought alternative music into mainstream pop. Kurt Cobain writer and vocalist for Nirvana has said that he admired the band Pixies and had tried to copy their style and rip them off in the pop scene. Most critics, myself included actually believe the song was influenced by Boston 1976 single More Than a Feeling.
The reference to the Pixies is that they play verses subdued and quiet while the choruses are hard and loud. This is now a feature of alternative rock music.
The 1991 album Nevermind, with the iconic baby underwater with a dollar bill shot to the top of the charts mainly on the success of this track.
The band had a torrid time settling on a drummer and they went through several until settling on Dave Grohl and the rest, they say, is history.
Kurt Cobain shot himself at the age of 27. He had been a user of heroin and strong alcohol all his adult life and unfortunately his wife and mother of his child, Courtney Love was also a user, so he never had any help with his habit except to help him continue. It was his second attempt at suicide.
Snippet – The title comes from a friend writing on Cobain’s wall that the smell of his then girlfriends eau de cologne, Teen Spirit, had gotten onto him, Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit, she wrote.
Stand By You
She fights with Stevie and Grace for my favourite female singer. In fact I probably prefer female singers as I listen to so many. This song is a classic though. I rank this higher than their big 1980 No 1 hit in the UK, Brass in Pocket which yearns back to their punk roots. Although at this time every track coming out was excellent.
During the early eighties The Pretenders were nearly finished by the abuse of herion. It lead to the eventual death of three members of the band, which left just Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers.
The band soldiered on and during 1993 released the album Last of the Independants which features this fabulous track. The single in 1994 reached No 10 in the UK.
Snippet – Chrissie Hynde took the band’s name from The Platters song The Great Pretender.
The song, which was written by Jagger and Richards has been described as influenced by the Vietnam war. Keith Richards has said that the inspiration for the song came from a cloudburst that he witnessed during a visit to a friend in London – people scurrying about looking for shelter.
He said that the song developed along the way about the times of the late sixties where violence, war, rape and murder were everyday occurences.
This song features a female vocal which is the biggest contribution by a female to any Stones song.
It has never been released as a single but features on their 1969 album Let it Bleed.
Snippet – On the original album cover Gimme is spelt Gimmie.
Close to the Edge
It’s a pity that Close to the Edge doesn’t feature on the album Fragile, as it would have been a masterpiece. There are a few tracks on Fragile that could have given way and the second side of the album Close to the Edge 1972 is not the best from Yes. At over 18 minutes long, Close to the Edge is the type of track you need to give plenty of relaxation time. Just get lost in the spiralling up and down manoeuvres of Rick Wakeman’s Hammond organ.
I’ve always found it strange that Bill Bruford should up and leave to take over the drumming at King Crimson where the drumming does not influence songs as much as at Yes.
Snippet – Strangely for rock bands, bassist Chris Squire founding member of Yes stayed with them throughout his playing career from 1969 to 2014 and his death in 2015.
Child in Time
I don’t want to get into talking too much about the type of music that is portrayed by Deep Purple with this track from their 1970 album Deep Purple in Rock. It has been described as
“ Art Rock “ but I’ve never been quite sure what that means. I can understand if they use the term “ avant-garde “ because I can understand that. However I do believe this is progressive rock as it deals with the political situation of the time vis-à-vis the Cold War. To be progressive the music has to have some symphonic content with classical instrumentation, which is exactly what Deep Purple were experimenting with at the time.
The 10 minute track is based on a psychedelic song Bombay Calling by a band It’s a Beautiful Day. It’s a very popular song for covering and many different versions have been recorded. It’s generally considered to be an anti-war song and a heavy metal anthem.
Snippet – This is the last song that Richie Blackmore recorded using his Gibson guitar which he ditched for the Fender Stratocaster.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
This is another track that critics have called “ the best rock ( heavy metal ) song ever made “. Obviously I don’t think so as I have it at No 9. It is brilliant though and I rate it the third best metal song.
The song was written by bass player Steve Harris for their 1982 album The Number of the Beast. There is also a brilliant live version on the 1993 album A Real Dead One. This was recorded as a single and reached No 9 in the UK charts.
One of the reasons I chose this song from all the great tracks that Iron Maiden have in their portfolio is the lead vocal. In my opinion the best singer with them was Bruce Dickinson and the live single is the last time Dickinson performed on a single with them.
I have been proved correct about Dickinson because after rejoining the band in 1999 the band’s popularity has rocketed and a fabulous album The Final Frontier has been recorded.
Snippet – Iron maiden have their own charter aircraft called Ed Force One. The Ed refers to Eddie, the artwork that features on every Iron Maiden album. The plane is piloted by Bruce Dickinson.
Another great metal band with brilliant guitarists. The opening riff is one of the better known pieces of music today. The track was released as the first single from their self titled album of 1991 Metallica.
The lyrics are about a child’s nightmares written by rhythm guitarist James Hetfield. This song amazingly features in every live album since it was written. After the opening guitar and subsequent riff the song turns into a scary movie recital of old bedtime stories. The song reached No 5 on the UK singles chart and subsequent album debuted at No 1 not least by featuring this track as well as several other brilliant songs. A must have album.
Snippet – In 1989 Metallica had been nominated for a Grammy for their album And Justice for All. They had been told they were the winners and were standing off stage ready to receive the award when the announcer said that Jethro Tull were the winners for their album Crest of a Knave. Jethro Tull weren’t their as they had been told Metallica had won. Oh dear ! Just like the Oscars.
Pour Some Sugar On Me
This was a toss of the coin for me. This one or the Marilyn Monroe inspired Photograph. This was released as a single from their 1987 album Hysteria and reached No 2 in the US and No 18 in the UK. After the song was heavily promoted in the US, the album , which had not made its production costs up to then, had record sales and made Def Leppard into a household name.
The song very nearly didn’t make it to the album. The album was completed but well known producer Mutt Lange thought it just lacked a big song. Lead singer Joe Elliot was playing about with riffs on an acoustic guitar whilst having a break, Lange thought it sounded really good and wanted it expanded. The band worked on it and Pour Some Sugar on Me was finished in two weeks and included as track 12 on the album.
Snippet – The song is the No 1 track in the US for strippers.
Originally I didn’t include this song in my top ten and I was concerned about not using the J J Cale version ( which my pal Nikos will chastise me for ). But then I could also have included the original by Robert Johnson if I could have found an unscratched record from 1936.
It was because I listened to this song so many times and still loved it that I had to include it in my top ten. I found Clapton’s live 1968 version at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom the best. It was just that bit more polished than Cale’s.
The song is about Johnson selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical talents, of which he had plenty, superb guitarist. He titled the song The Crossroad Blues.
Elmore James revived the song by recording it during the fifties and Cream brought it further into the public eye with their live version included on their double album Wheels of Fire.
Snippet – Robert Johnson sang a fair bit about the devil. In another song Me and the Devil Blues, Johnson expands his meeting with Satan where he agrees that for his musical prowess Satan can harvest all his children when they reach the age of 27. An age that Johnson died at as well as many other brilliant musicians.
Back to difficult choices. Everlong, Learn to Fly, Best of You, Arlandria all competed but The Pretender won out. From their 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace.
For me the song is a well balanced hard rock track, maybe a little heavy on guitar but of course I like that as can probably be seen from my choices.
This is another song that nearly didn’t make it. The album never featured the track and was nearly completed before they decided to record it as an opening song. Dave Grohl described it as perfect.
Foo Fighters won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2008. The band were born out of the demise of Nirvana when Kurt Cobain committed suicide and they disbanded.
The Foo Fighters got their name from WWII pilots using that term for unidentified flying objects.
Snippet – Guitar, vocals and writer of the track Dave Grohl has admitted that the song may have been influenced by a song from Sesame Street.
Stairway to Heaven
Everybody else’s No 1. My main description for this song. This song is the most played radio song of all time and the most requested on the radio in the US during the seventies. The song was released on the bands 1971 fourth album which is untitled but often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.
The track has never been released as a single but did reach 37 in the UK singles chart of 2007 due to digital downloads from the promotion of their album Mothership. In 1971 they did release a promotional single to the US for playing on the radio.
The song was thought about at the bands Welsh hideaway Bron Yr Aur and developed at the country mansion Headley Grange in Hampshire. It’s a fabulous song, great lyrics, some of which are taken from the book Magical Arts of Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence, and the guitar solo at the end is just fantastic.
Snippet – The guitar that Jimmy Page used for the original recording was given to him by Jeff Beck who had used it throughout his time with Yardbirds, a band that Page played with.
( You've Got ) Another Thing Comin'
Another great metal band and this time they’re British. Another great heavy band from that music city Birmingham. Brummies are always telling me that music was born in Birmingham and not Liverpool. If you like your rock very heavy then it’s true.
Their formation reads like a novel. The original line up called Judas Priest in the sixties did not feature in the band that started out in the seventies. The band had disbanded before Kenny Downing, Ian Hill and John Ellis learned to play their instruments and wanted to start a band. Before they had completed the line up they ran into Al Atkins, the vocalist for the sixties band Judas Priest who suggested he be their singer and they could use the name of his previous band Judas Priest taken from the Bob Dylan song The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.
Unfortunately the band ran into financial difficulties and Al Atkins left the group. Ian Hill was dating a woman who had a brother that she suggested could join the band. His name was Rob Halford.
During the seventies the band got steadily heavier with their music and by the time their 1980 album British Steel was released they had a very big metal fans following. Tracks like Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight were regularly played on the radio.
After establishing themselves as a heavy metal band with mainstream overtones, in ’82 they released the album Screamin’ For Vengeance. The album became double platinum mainly due to this track which was a huge radio hit in the States and Electric Eye and Chains.
I think this is definitely the best hard, heavy, heavy metal whatever track so far.
Snippet – Rob Halford used to ride a Harley Davidson motorbike onto stage before each live show. During a show in Toronto, Halford rode his bike onto the stage but dry ice had obscured a drum riser and he hit it causing serious injury to himself. At the end of the tour Halford left the band but told journalists it had nothing to do with the accident. I leave you to decide if this was true.
My favourite band, just in front of Led Zeppelin. A great pity that they had to have a falling out, but so many bands do. Maybe not quite so acrimonious as this parting was.
I saw the band perform in their home town of Cambridge, in a pub garden during the mid sixties and I’ve been a big fan ever since. I was never able to catch them in London as I was always doing something else, but I’ve drooled over every recording they’ve ever made.
When they released Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 with record sales and with such big hits as Money and Time, we all wondered if it was possible to produce anything better. Then along came The Wall in 1979.
The album is about an embittered and alienated rock star called Pink. Comfortably numb, which was originally called The Doctor features lyrics from Pink’s doctor and lyrics from his inner self which feels nothing as an adult but remembers feverish times during childhood.
The two guitar solos have been called the best ever and have been voted No 1 as best guitar solos by several venerable publications.
I also think they are brilliant but there is one just that bit better.
Snippet – After Waters left the band following The Wall, which he insisted belonged just to him, he performed Comfortably Numb at the The Wall – Live in Berlin concert in 1990 to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Van Morrison took Gilmour’s lyrics and Rick DiFonzo playing the guitar solos with Snowy White. Martin Scorsese used a recording of this for his Oscar winning movie The Departed. I bet Gilmour never speaks to Scorsese.
All Along The Watchtower
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Wow, number one. It’s been a lot of thinking, a lot of typing and a lot of checking with Wikipedia.org for spelling, infilling forgotten information and checking reliability of my sometime erratic memory. Thank you Wikipedia and all the contributors to Wikipedia.
Many people will have guessed my number one by now, especially friends, rockers and anybody who studied the list.
I saw Hendrix at the Isle of Wight festival and have never forgotten the ease with which he played that guitar. This track vied with Purple Haze which could also have been my number one.
I wonder if all those modern rock bands from Seattle like Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam etc knew that Jimi was from Seattle when they started out.
This track was written and first recorded by Bob Dylan on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding. Coincidentally Dylan has performed this track live since 1970 more than any other song *
Hendrix covered the song on his 1968 album Electric Ladyland. The album was criticised upon its release but critics since have called it one of the best rock album of all time. The song was released as a single and became his biggest US single hit at No 20 and it reached No 5 in the UK where Hendrix had his biggest fans.
It’s just a great listen !
Snippet – * When Bob Dylan heard the Hendrix version, he agreed that was how the song should really be played and adopted it slightly for his live versions.
MY TOP 20 GUITAR RIFFS
For the uninitiated, a riff is usually described as a short series of melodic chords. Thus my list generally contains riffs as the basis of the songs and not the short, played once chords. I've only taken one track from the bands as is my usual way of doing these things. Of course they are all rock tracks.
|1. LAYLA||DEREK & THE DOMINOS|
|2. BACK IN BLACK||AC/DC|
|3. VOODOO CHILD S.R.||JIMI HENDRIX|
|4. SMOKE ON THE WATER||DEEP PURPLE|
|5. SATISFACTION||ROLLING STONES|
|6. YOU REALLY GOT ME||THE KINKS|
|7. BRIANSTORM||ARCTIC MONKEYS|
|8. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE||CREAM|
|9. SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT||NIRVANA|
|10. BEAT IT||MICHAEL JACKSON|
|11. SWEET CHILD OF MINE||GUNS & ROSES|
|12. WHOLE LOTTA LOVE||LED ZEPPELIN|
|13. PARANOID||BLACK SABBATH|
|14. MASTER OF PUPPETS||METALLICA|
|15. THE TROOPER||IRON MAIDEN|
|16. CRAZY TRAIN||OZZY OSBOURNE|
|17. SEVEN NATION ARMY||THE WHITE STRIPES|
|18. MONEY FOR NOTHING||DIRE STRAITS|
|19. KILLER QUEEN||QUEEN|
|20. LONELY BOY||THE BLACK KEYS|
Do you agree, disagree ?
Use the comment block to list your best riffs and I'll publish them if I think they are good. You may even get me to change my list. There's a lot I could have used although some are single riffs. Love Spreads Stone Roses, Stairway to Heaven Led Zep, Iron Man Sabbath, Enter Sandman Metallica, Walk This Way Aerosmith, Johnny B Goode Chuck Berry, Highway to Hell AC/DC, Purple Haze Hendrix etc.