Sunday Song Spotlight

“Sabotage” Live on Letterman by the Beastie Boys on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Everybody loved “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys right from the moment it was released.  Eschewing some of the trappings of their more recent albums, the Beasties picked up some guitars and drum sticks and rapped over rock and roll.  With Ad-Rock on guitar and lead vocals, MCA on bass, and Mike D on drums, the band proved they could pull it off live on Letterman in 1994.

Ill Communication was one of the Beastie’s most successful albums thanks to “Sabotage”, entering the charts at #1.  The track was used in an episode of Futurama, two Star Trek movies, and a Weird Al cover on American Dad.

Live on Letterman, filled out with record scratching and organ breaks, “Sabotage” really comes to life.  The Beastie Boys always had a confident swagger, and they managed to maintain that vibe even when playing live as a band on national television.  This version of “Sabotage” kicks!

“Revolution Calling” by Queensrÿche on the Sunday Song Spotlight

In late 1987 and early 1988, Queensrÿche were at frigid Morin Heights in Quebec, recording what would become their most important album.  Their first true concept album (although you could make good arguments for Rage for Order) was in fact partially inspired by the perennial Quebec separatist movement.  Singer Geoff Tate envisioned the story and characters, with guitarist Chris DeGarmo joining him on the lion’s share of the writing.  Still, it was Tate and guitarist Michael Wilton who came up with “Revolution Calling”, the third track but in all fairness, the first song on Operation: Mindcrime.  Wilton co-write a huge chunk of side one.

The eerie thing about “Revolution Calling” is how it still applies today.  Direct references to characters like the evil Dr. X aside, so much of this song is relevant to current events.

“I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth.”

“Well, I’m tired of all this bullshit they keep selling me on T.V., about the communist plan.”

“I used to think that only America’s way, way was right.  But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.

I have criticised the Operation: Mindcrime for being too “comic-book-y”, a critique also levelled at the album by revisionist reviewers in the 1990s.  Now, I’m not so sure.  As the world teeters on the brink, a song like “Revolution Calling” impacts harder than it did in 1988.  How many Nikkis are out there ready to start their own revolutions?

As we look forward to the new Queensryche album Digital Noise Alliance, let’s also look back at one of their strongest songs from Mindcrime, “Revolution Calling”, on the Sunday Song Spotlight.

REVOLUTION CALLING (Tate/Wilton)

For a price I’d do about anything
Except pull the trigger
For that I’d need a pretty good cause
Then I heard of Dr. X
The man with the cure
Just watch the television
Yeah, you’ll see there’s something going on
Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It’s just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There’s a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due
I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
Well, I’m tired of all this bullshit
They keep selling me on T.V.
About the communist plan
And all the shady preachers
Begging for my cash
Swiss bank accounts while giving their secretaries the slam
They’re all in Penthouse now
Or Playboy magazine, million dollar stories to tell
I guess Warhol wasn’t wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale
I used to think
That only America’s way, way was right
But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
There’s something going on
There’s a revolution, there’s a revolution, there’s a revolution

“You Got the Best of Me” by Journey on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Journey is back!  Their new album Freedom will be out this summer (July 8) and one of the new tunes, “You Got the Best of Me”, is pure hot summer fun.  Built for the car, so hit the highway with the windows down.

It’s unclear who played on everything as yet.  Narada Michael Walden played some drums, as did Deen Castronovo.  There are two keyboard players in Journey now (Jason Derlatka and Jonathan Cain), and though Randy Jackson played bass on the album, he’s no longer in the band.  We know that Neal Schon sounds Halen-wailin’ on that stuttery main riff.  Arnel Pineda is strong as ever, the longest-lasting Journey singer ever, now surpassing Steve Perry himself in tenure.

“You Got the Best of Me” isn’t overly heavy, but is the kind of hard rocker that the band is known for.  The keyboard accents soften it up a bit, and you can clearly hear two keyboard parts simultaneously.  The star of the song is really Arnel Pineda, who delivers the endless hooks.

“Heaven Tonight” by Yngwie Malmsteen on the Sunday Song Spotlight

One of Yngwie’s most commercially successful records was 1988’s collaboration with Joe Lynn Turner called Odyssey.  Several of the songs felt like they were aimed at radio, most notably “Heaven Tonight”.  With prominent keyboards and an undeniable melody, it seemed Yngwie sought to emulate late 80s Rainbow.

With music by Malmsteen and lyrics by Turner, “Heaven Tonight” really checked all the boxes for an 80s rock hit.  Solid verses that serve to set up the release on the chorus.  Thick, memorable chorus.  Wicked guitar, though not overcooked as Yngwie has been guilty of in the past.  As a result, the album went Top 40 in the US.  Top 10 in Yngwie’s native Sweden.

The Turner/Malmsteen collaboration only lasted for one record, though a live album was also released (Live in Leningrad).  Turner returned to sing two Deep Purple tunes on Yngwie’s covers album Inspiration, but this here is the peak.  “Heaven Tonight” indeed because it never got better than this.

This feels like Paradise
We’ll be in Heaven tonight

Lost in a dream in the arms of the night
Two lonely prisoners of our own device
Don’t let me go, hold on together

You wanna know if love can be real
I wanna take everything I can steal
Love on the line, it’s now or never
Why can’t the night last forever?

This could be Paradise
Holding you here by my side
If we just close our eyes
We’ll be in Heaven tonight

Run through the night down streets of desire
Burning my soul, my heart’s on fire
Give up the fight, it’s sweet surrender

With trembling hands we reach for it all
Two desperate hearts waiting to fall
I need you now, now more than ever
Why can’t the night last forever?

This could be Paradise
Holding you here by my side
If we just close our eyes
We’ll be in Heaven tonight

“Sister Havana” by Urge Overkill on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Here’s a blast from the past for you 90s retro rockers! From their 1993 breakthrough album Saturation, it’s “Sister Havana” by Chicago’s Urge Overkill, and what a treat it is.  Did the Darkness rip off this riff for “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”?  Or were they at least inspired by it?  It’s that kind of drive.

With lyrics like, “I’m watchin’ you and Fidel Castro in the sand, assassin!” and “Girl, you got to roll, Sister Havana, Overthrow, Sister Havana,” I have to wonder if this song was banned in Cuba!  Singer Nash Kato seems to be urging (pun intended) a girl to assassinate Fidel Castro with lines like “Come around to my way of thinkin'”.  It’s a fun song from the days of yore when people didn’t get as worked up over some words.  Kato said, “We didn’t have any firm stance on America’s relationship with Cuba, but it sang well and sounded like a hook. There was no political commitment.”  He was right.

In fact the line “Come around to my way of thinkin'” was meant to be an invitation to would be fans hearing Urge for the first time on their major label debut.  Another fun fact was, when the band were first working on what would become “Sister Havana” in 1991, they were on tour with Nirvana since both bands were signed to Geffen.  At one soundcheck in Europe, Nirvana sat in with Urge Overkill as they hashed out the tune.  Nirvana had an impact on Urge Overkill who desired to write something simple that connected.

The music video is also a hoot, featuring the band getting parking tickets, cruising in a convertible, a swamp boat, and jamming.  Enjoy it below – “Sister Havana”.

Come around to my way of thinkin’
Don’t you want to, want to get along?
Everyday just like a vacation with you
When I’m watchin’ you and Fidel Castro in the sand, kissin’!
Girl, you got to roll
Sister Havana
Overthrow
Sister Havana
She’s comin’ on like a bicycle army
Everybody’s waitin’ for the man to come down from the tower
Every day is just like a vacation with you layin’ right here now
I’m watchin’ you and Fidel Castro in the sand, assassin!
Girl, you got to roll
Sister Havana
Overthrow
Sister Havana
Sister Havana
Sister Havana
Sister Havana
Sister Havana
I don’t care what they say, no!
(There’s no time to lose)
We could have a holiday, yeah
But there’s no time (there’s no time to lose)
For hesitation
There’s no time (there’s no time to lose)
No time for waitin’
There’s no time (there’s no time to lose)
So let’s take the time and get it on today
So girl, come on, you got to roll
Sister Havana
Overthrow
Sister Havana
Sister Havana (sister Havana)
Sister Havana (sister Havana)
Sister Havana
Come around to my way of thinkin’
Come around to my way of thinkin’
Come around to my way of thinkin’
Well, come around, sister

“Have A Cigar” by the Foo Fighters on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Rest in peace to drummer Taylor Hawkins, who died tragically at age 50. The B-side “Have A Cigar” (originally from the 1999 “Learning to Fly” single) is a Pink Floyd cover sung by Hawkins, later appearing on the album Medium Rare.

 

“Lord of the Flies” by Iron Maiden on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Having recently acquired a Japanese import double CD copy of the controversial X Factor album by Iron Maiden, I have been revisiting what is usually considered the strongest of the two Blaze Bayley albums.  In some quarters, the Blaze years aren’t even considered “real” Maiden, while in others, the man with the sideburns gains more appreciation over the years.  The X Factor is a good Iron Maiden album, but certainly a departure and sometimes hard to recognize as the once-stampeding band.

“Lord of the Flies” was the second single, and for good reason.  So many songs on The X Factor were slow or dour, but “Lord of the Flies” at least had tempo going for it.  Maiden made an interesting choice in Bayley, choosing someone with a far deeper voice than Bruce Dickinson.  The 90s were a sour time for bands of Maiden’s generation and you can feel the personal pain of chief songwriter Steve Harris, who allowed his feelings to come out a bit more than usual.

However you slice it, “Lord of the Flies” should be considered a worthy song.  Listen to Nicko given’er on the drums and learn to appreciate Blaze’s signature delivery.  It’s a different kind of Iron Maiden, but now that Bruce has been solidly in front of the band for the last 23 years, can we give some of the better Blaze tunes some love?  I think we can.

“Mrs Tibbets” by Jethro Tull on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Jethro Tull’s brand new album The Zealot Gene has people talking not just because it’s their first album without Martin Barre on guitar since their debut.  It’s also because it’s really good!  Christmas music aside, this is the first studio album under the Jethro Tull banner since 1999’s J-Tull.com.  It’s essentially an outgrowth of Ian Anderson’s solo band, which he finally felt comfortable bringing back full circle to Jethro Tull.  Whatever!  It’s all good.

“Mrs Tibbets” is the first song on The Zealot Gene, and a surprising one at that.  Thought it’s not short at 5:53 in length, it has distinct pop qualities.  The 80s keyboards certainly bring to mind a past era, when Van Halen was topping the charts with their own keyboard-drenched music.  The flute is a main feature, delivering the first melodies and, as always, many jaw-dropping passages.  Florian Ophale on guitar makes comparisons to past lineups unnecessary, when the track gets heavily progressive mid-way through.  The axework has a nice vintage sound to it.

The lyric book references Genesis chapter 19 verses 24-28.

24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

I don’t think this is a song I’m going to crack conceptually after a few listens.  Give it a go and see what you think.  Brilliant track!

 

Blinkered against the harsh and raging sun
They said, divert your gaze, don’t look behind
It was time, they said, to do that thing
Mindful, they, of peace and peace of mind

Don’t feel bad, they said, about the numbers
Don’t feel bad about the melting heat
The burning flesh, the soft white cell demise
And the shattered ground beneath the trembling feet

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

All for the good and ultimately
Saving precious lives in longer run
Set a course for home and happy holidays
Tell yourselves thank God what’s done is done

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

Maybe if Lot had stopped and stood his ground
And maybe if Peter hadn’t turned away
What if that Judas stole no kiss?
What if, what if, Enola Gay?

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas
Open parcels, gifts of different kind
A bigger bang will call for bigger bucks
So pay the ransom, don’t look behind

“Remember Me” by Journey on the Sunday Song Spotlight

It was a little shocking when Steve Perry left Journey in 1997 after a very brief reunion. Even more shocking was his swift replacement by Steve Augeri of the little-known Tall Stories. It did not take long for them to release new music with the fresh-faced singer. “Remember Me” came in the summer of ’98 on the back of the hit movie soundtrack for Armageddon.

The new track sounded exactly like Journey!  A little bit harder than much of the recent Trial By Fire music.  Notably (and noticeably), “Remember Me” also features their new drummer, Deen Castronovo.  The lead singer change was the bigger news of course, but with Augeri, Journey cut a hot first track.  The classic Journey hard rock anthem sound was recaptured.

“Remember Me” begins with the chyme of an acoustic guitar but soon bursts into life with the rest of the band.  Jonathan Cain’s tinkling keyboards create a melodic undertone, but Augeri is front and center of the track.  He can hit the notes with the right amount of power, and fooled a few people into thinking he actually was Steve Perry!  Not a bad debut.

 

Remember me
Find myself all alone
In darkness without you
Now I can’t turn away
From what I must do
You know I’d give my life for you
More than words can say
I’ve shown you how to love someone
I know you’ll find a way
Say goodbye
Close your eyes
Remember me
Walk away
The sun remains
Remember me
I’ll live on somewhere in your heart
You must believe
Remember me
No way I can change my mind
I don’t have the answers
If you could see through my eyes
You’d let go of your fears
And though I have to leave you now
With the thought of each other
I miss your touch
You call my name
I am with you forever
Say goodbye
Close your eyes
Remember me
Walk away
The sun remains
Remember me
With the change we can’t explain
Remember me
I’ll live on somewhere in your heart
You must believe
Remember me
You know I’d give my life for you
More than words can say
I showed you how to love someone
I know you’ll find a way
Say goodbye
Close your eyes
Remember me
Walk away
The sun remains
Remember me
Be there to watch over you
Remember me
Feel I’m gone
My heart lives on
Remember me
Don’t you think of this as the end
I’ll come into your dreams
Remember me
Close your eyes…
Say goodbye…
Remember me
Say you will

“Hard Times” by Paramore on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Here’s a song that you wouldn’t expect to see here amongst our hard rock and heavy metal heroes! Paramore generally are not our kind of band. They started out as a young emo rock quintet but have evolved into something more clever, nuanced and pop-oriented. Through lineup changes, drama, and perhaps even one asshole ex-member, Paramore have thrived and grown with five hit albums under their belts.

“Hard Times” is an 80s pop ditty brought into the modern day by singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York, and drummer Zac Farro. It was the premier single from their fifth record After Laughter. Any fan of 80s hits will find it easy to like. The music video emphasizes Hayley’s keen sense of image with splashes of colour. With all that neon, it sure does look like 1988 (The year of Hayley’s birth). It’s a far cry from the kind of emo rock they started out with in 2005. The best parts of the song are when Hayley forgoes the melody and gets all shouty (“And I gotta hit rock bottom!”).

Hitting #2 in Sweden and New Zealand, and #6 in the US, “Hard Times” was a bit of a hit. And you can easily hear why. Regardless of the dreary lyrics, the music is totally upbeat.  I love the dancey beat, and the way that Taylor York just rakes that one chord.  “Hard Times” may not rock, but it surely is a good song.

Paramore are working on new music in 2022.

All that I want
Is to wake up fine
Tell me that I’m alright
That I ain’t gonna die

All that I want
Is a hole in the ground
You can tell me when it’s alright
For me to come out

(Hard times) gonna make you wonder why you even try
(Hard times) gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
(These lives) and I still don’t know how I even survive
(Hard times)
(Hard times)
And I gotta get to rock bottom

Walking around
With my little rain cloud
Hanging over my head
And it ain’t coming down
Where do I go?

Gimme some sort of sign
You hit me with lightning
Maybe I’ll come alive

(Hard times) gonna make you wonder why you even try
(Hard times) gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
(These lives) and I still don’t know how I even survive
(Hard times)
(Hard times)
And I gotta hit rock bottom

Tell my friends I’m coming down
We’ll kick it when I hit the ground
Tell my friends I’m coming down
We’ll kick it when I hit the ground
When I hit the ground
When I hit the ground
When I hit the ground
When I hit the ground

(Hard times) gonna make you wonder why you even try
(Hard times) gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
(These lives) and I still don’t know how I even survive
(Hard times) (hard times)
(Hard times) (hard times)
And I gotta get to rock bottom