Ranking #54 singles, U.S. edition: 1971-1976

There isn’t a single James Gang album of my acquaintance which hasn’t made a comparable Eagles effort sound like Cat Stevens. It confirms why Frey ‘n’ Henley wanted Joe Walsh; it confirms why Joe Walsh wanted part of the increasingly multi-platinum act; it does not confirm why Walsh stuck around, although his weaknesses for theContinue reading “Ranking #54 singles, U.S. edition: 1971-1976”

Ranking #65 singles, U.S. edition: 1973-1977

Why Boney M didn’t cross over in America when all kinds of schlock from Alicia Bridges to David Naughton did mystifies me, especially when Frank Farian’s project had grooves as deep as Bellotte-Moroder-Summer; but if “Daddy Cool” leaves you stone-cold the Edgar Winter Band and the Allmans grooved.

Ranking #63 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1995

The stink from today’s Hague candidates is worse than last week’s turkey. Hung with rank fruit, “Secret Garden” is Springsteen in his least erotic mode: the whispery-hoary loverboy whose idea of come-ons is to recite the sewn-together of a hundred Old Testament-inspired songs. Fans will remember how more than a year later “Secret Garden” enjoyedContinue reading “Ranking #63 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1995”

Ranking #83 singles, U.S. edition: 1977-1981

To listen to “Belle” on Thanksgiving is just and necessary. Over a yearning synth line and a guitar plucked as cautiously as if he were starting a dangerous conversation, Al Green commits a sin while purportedly separating himself from temptation: he’s proud about abandoning his lover for the Almighty. That confidence, adduced by the undulationsContinue reading “Ranking #83 singles, U.S. edition: 1977-1981”

Ranking #82 singles, U.S. edition: 1980-1985

A testy reprobate whose ideas of femininity come from the flotsam he reconstitutes in his long (long, long) studio stints, Lindsey Buckingham is not a musician I’d invite to my birthday dinner. He strikes me as someone for whom the knowledge that “Holiday Road”is his most beloved solo single would pain his dreamless sleep. ButContinue reading “Ranking #82 singles, U.S. edition: 1980-1985”

Ranking #59 singles, U.S. edition: 1973-1977

As bleak as a young man could write before Ian Curtis danced, danced, danced to the radio, “Dream On” is a Rust Belt “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but instead of the wheezes and clanks and other aural gewgaws Aerosmith used Steven Tyler’s yarl. This version of “Dream On” sputtered before Boston radio found itContinue reading “Ranking #59 singles, U.S. edition: 1973-1977”

Ranking #94 singles, U.S. edition: 1982-1992

This list chronicles highs and lows. The ascending melody line in “Fall On Me” and Michael Stipe’s newfound legibility did not produce a musical statement, shall we say, any less obscure than R.E.M’S earlier singles, but Don Gehman’s mix put a spotlight on the bright chorus, its murmured Mike Mills harmonies, and the crispness ofContinue reading “Ranking #94 singles, U.S. edition: 1982-1992”

The worst of Neil Young 1968-2003

If Neil Young announced his conversion to Hinduism it would surprise no one, for the musician has treated repetition with mantra-like fealty. Mantras are mostly simple. His weakest moments happen when, stimulated by binge-watching several hours of Wolf Blitzer, he assumes fans want him to say Important Things. Whether rockin’ with Ronnie ‘n’ Nancy, mewlingContinue reading “The worst of Neil Young 1968-2003”