While there are many, many songs that rock my Abysmal world, these are the ones that find their way to my ear canal more frequently than any others. To my ears, they sound just as fresh after thousands of listens as they did the very first time we became acquainted. To listen to these songs for yourself, just click on the song titles which are linked to the songs (and the videos where there is one). They are in no particular order as each one is my favorite on any given day.
1. Wild Flower (The Cult) – There’s just something about the spirit and sound of this song that has commanded my full and undivided attention from the first time I heard it. Songs don’t come any more root-simple than this one, winning the day with a chorus that will have you singing along…and in my opinion the sexiest rock guitar sound ever conceived. I won’t mention the cheesy 80’s rawk dog soundstage video that accompanied this track…
2. Let The Good Times Roll (Tricky Woo) – This relentless headache of a song sounds like it could just fall apart under its own energy at any point, but it never does. Absolutely fun and chaotic beyond description, this song epitomizes the sound and spirit of the Sometimes I Cry album…a sound fueled by barely controlled electricity. And clocking in at a generous 1 minute and 55 seconds. (note: when you click the link to listen, Let the Good Times Roll actually starts at the 2:35 mark…you’ve been warned. Aspirin not included)
3. Middle of the Busiest Road (Badlees) – One of the greatest choruses of any song ever recorded in my opinion, and (with respect to their seemingly endless catalogue of great songs) the Badlees most shining moment. Upbeat and spirited, this song is just perfect…and a classic of the roots-rock persuasion.
4. Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked (Cage the Elephant) – A bonafide stone cold classic forever and ever amen. Period. End of story. Immediately infectious, this song was my introduction to this band and my favorite CD of 2009. Absolutely slammed it’s way into the 10 Most Truly Abysmal Songs of all time…there’s not a week that goes by where I don’t listen to this song and, indeed, this album. Just an incredible calling card from one of the best albums of the past 25 years.
5. The Dragonfly [live version] (Clutch) – No offense to the original version of this song on The Elephant Riders CD (still good), but the live version of The Dragonfly is my favorite song of alltime on any given day. Nothing makes my hair stand on end like Tim Sult’s guitar intro and the subsequent kick-in to the song live. And the song is about the Rites of Spring from the point of view of a newly hatched dragonfly. Just fun and exciting stuff!
6. Siva (Smashing Pumpkins) – Yeah, I know the Pumpkins have sold millions of pancakes, but I don’t personally know anyone with any recollection of this song – the very song which made a fan out of me. From their debut album Gish (when Billy Corgan sported long locks and a hippy disposition), this song just blew me away when I first saw the video back in 1991 (?). A careening rollercoaster of aggression, melody and effortless dynamics.
7. At Long Last (Swell) – One of those songs that takes me somewhere new every time I listen to it. Simple in its structure, it’s all about atmosphere as this was the first song I ever heard that melded acoustic guitar with distorted electric guitar in a way that just stopped me in my tracks. Made me an instant fan of this band, which I remain to this day.
8. Fire in the Head (The Tea Party) – A stone cold bonafide classic of indescribable proportions in my world, the grandeur and groove of this song still makes my hair stand on end even now…nearly 15 years after the fact. They were slagged by some “experts” for their sometimes overt middle-eastern Zeppisms, but for my ears it always sounded like inspiration rather than derision. Nice tip of the hat to the aforementioned inspiration with the Kashmir-ish symphonic touches that work magic here.
9. Moon June Spoon (Spot) – Infectious from the very first note, this song never really got the attention it deserved, though it was a minor hit in the alternative boom of the mid-90’s. Smart riffing, ludicrously catchy melodies and intelligent lyrics delivered with passion, Spot was just spot-on with this song.
10. Whiskey Pocket/The Lemon (Hot Head Show) – 2010 is the second year in a row where a new song has displaced one of the original 10 Most Truly Abysmal Songs, and on any given day the one-two punch of Whiskey Pocket and The Lemon from Hot Head Show’s The Lemon EP could be my favorite song of all time. I could not deny this tandem a spot on this list ’cause truth is there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t listen to it at least a couple of times. Almost beyond description.
11. Mental Hopscotch (Missing Persons) – Yeah, I know…this is new wave to the core, but there’s a certain magic about this song to me with Dale Bozzio’s quirky Betty Boop vocals weaving in and out and around a purely new wave soundscape punctuated by drummer Terry Bozzio’s always creative and interesting drumming. Gotta love those roto-toms and pouty posing for the video cameras. Yeah, I know this is supposed to be only a Top 10 list. These go to 11.
Long Gone (UFO) – When rockheads speak of UFO, it always seems to be about the 70’s era when the enigmatic Michael Schenker was serving up the licks to compliment the riffs. Maybe I’m missing something, but I always found his riffs to be very average though at times he could be brilliant, and I much prefer albums like Making Contact and The Wild The Willing and The Innocent over anything from the Schenker days. This song is from The Wild The Willing… and is just a classic and classy rocker radiating melody and a sense of dynamic and hook that not even a dry, blocky, plodding drum mix can ruin.
Circus Maximus (Clutch) – It was hard to not include The Mob Goes Wild as Clutch’s entry on this list, as that was the song that put me over the top as a die hard Clutch fan, but the truth is hardly a day goes by that I don’t listen to this song. Circus Maximus’ jazz-based central riff is one of the most ear-catching I’ve ever heard, punctuated by the relentless Maines/Gaster rhythm section and Neil Fallon’s inimitable vocals. “And just when you thought it could get no stranger, may I present the semblence of a Scandinavian doppelganger.” That line just cracks me up every time and might be my alltime favorite rhyme.
10. Little Face (The Cult) – Sporting a sound totally different than the pure rock stylings of the Electric album (though equally effective), this song just haunts me. The atmospheric electric guitar, peppered with some nice acoustic strumming, works to great effect along with Ian Astbury’s most passionate vocal performance weaving a romantic, if melancholic, tapestry of sounds. One of my 2 favorite Cult songs.