Janis Joplin- Pearl (1971): 21 October 2019

A quick note before we hop in to the review: You can now listen to Your Dad’s Car Stereo on Spotify with a playlist of every song that’s been rated 10/10. The link is on the right side of the page where you can also take a look at other songs I’ve had on repeat this week! This playlist will be updated every time there’s another 10/10, so make sure to follow the playlist and keep on rocking!

Janis Joplin – Pearl (1971)

Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re covering the second solo studio album by Janis Joplin, and unfortunately, her first posthumous release, Pearl. Pearl was 95% complete before Joplin passed away in October of 1970, leaving only a partially finished song in “Buried Alive In The Blues,” which was sent to pressing without vocals. Joplin had direct input into the album’s content, this being her last album with that input. Pearl is atypical for an early 1970s rock album in that there’s a real variety of songs that you won’t hear anything else. There’s lots of ballads, funk and Motown influences, and even an a capella song. The other thing that stood out to me was that the produce for the album, Paul Rothchild, worked closely with the Doors through the late 1960s, and you can easily hear parallels to the keyboard forward sound of the Doors and the keyboard-centric mixing on the backing band.

Most of my experience with Janis Joplin’s music comes from her time with Big Brother and the Holding Company, particularly the song “Piece of My Heart,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect listening to Pearl and went in with an open mind. I’ll say that I was surprised! The powerful vocals that Joplin was known for were ever present but with the addition of what can almost be considered a funk element thanks to the backing from the Full Tilt Boogie Band.  Pearl is almost overwhelming because of the amount of heart and feeling that Joplin poured into each song. I felt like I needed to take a breath after the album was done. Pearl will make shivers run up your spine, that’s how good the vocal performance is. Sit through this one and enjoy it, this is a piece of art from the storyteller herself, Janis Joplin.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Move Over: “Move Over” is a great way to start off the album. We get a peak at the vocals that Joplin is known for with a funky rock track to boot. This is a sultry, up-tempo song that is really catchy and worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Cry Baby: Holy moly. You want to talk about powerhouse songs? Yes? Then you want to talk about “Cry Baby.” Although this wasn’t an original song, Joplin made this all her own and blew it out of the park! The vocals are so intense and full of passion that it’s almost overwhelming. Her ability to the highest, most earth-shattering highs to the most compassionate lows is unrivaled. This may very well be Joplin’s opus magnus, and it will go down in rock and roll history as one of the best vocal performances ever. Dad’s Rating 10/10

A Woman Left Lonely: I’ve said it before; slow songs don’t often hold my attention very well, but “A Woman Left Lonely” was able to do it. The vocals are, once again, spot on, and just as wild as they were on “Cry Baby,” if slightly more restrained. After a track like “Cry Baby” you almost need something more restrained, so credit goes to the production team for organizing the record. This is a great example of a ballad done right. Slow but powerful and building towards a great climax. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Half Moon: A return to a funk inspired sound waits for us on “Half Moon.” This is a great chance to talk about the backing band for the album, the Full Tilt Boogie Band. They don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution because they’re always overshadowed by Joplin, but this is a great example of the musicianship. At this point, funk was a relatively new genre (having originated in the 1960s) and the Boogie Band did a standup job of introducing it to a wider audience before it took the world by storm with the introduction of disco later in the decade. Great track and great chance for the other musicians to show off their stuff. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Buried Alive In The Blues: This was the only unfinished track on the album and was supposed to have a vocal accompaniment, but Joplin passed away before she could record the vocals. What we were left with is a blues track that would have made her proud. Listening to this, you can almost hear her voice and what she would have been singing. Full credit goes to the Full Tilt Boogie Band for laying down a rocking track. Dad’s Rating 6/10

My Baby: “My Baby” is the only song on the album to feature a backing choir, and while it wasn’t necessary (Joplin’s vocals could have carried the song easily), it’s nice to hear her interaction with other singers. This definitely feels like a southern gospel inspired song with the heavy emphasis on the organ throughout. It’s also a great tribute to Joplin’s southern roots.  Dad’s Rating 7/10

Me and Bobby McGee: “Me and Bobby McGee” may be Joplin’s most well-known song and helped propel Pearl to success. At the time, this was a recent cover, the original having been released in 1969. Musically, I love that Joplin uses this song to show off a wide range of her vocal talent, starting quietly and slowly before building into a rockabilly riot at the end while seeming to dance at will up and down scales. The beginning in particular shows that you don’t have to have a loud voice to be powerful; it’s all in how you use it. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Mercedes Benz: This is one of the most unique songs that I think we’ve listened to thus far. Recorded in one take, three days prior to her death, this a capella song is largely understood to be a rejection of consumerism. This is really a landmark song for a rock album. No one else at this time would have dared to put a vocal only track on a rock record, but Joplin did it. This is a true testament to her willingness to experiment with what rock music was and break the barriers of the genre. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Trust Me: “Trust Me” gives me an immediate feeling of the Motown sound. I really don’t have anything bad to say about this song; it’s got a great buildup, passionate vocals, fantastic musicianship, and is everything you would expect from Joplin. This is probably one of the most hidden gems on the album. Most people know about “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Cry Baby,” but this is one of the better ones that most people haven’t listened to. It’s worth a listen, so give it a shot! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Get It While You Can: We’re finishing Pearl off with a rock ballad, and it’s not a bad one by any means, but it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other songs on the record. “Cry Baby” and “A Woman Left Lonely” hold my attention better and I think they’re more interesting to listen to from a performance standpoint. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Steve Miller Band- Fly Like An Eagle (1976): 14 October 2019

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! We’re taking a listen to, what is arguably one of the most influential rock albums of the mid-70s, Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. Prior to the mid-70s, the Steve Miller Band primarily focused on making psychedelic rock music. It wasn’t until the release of their previous album, The Joker, that they started shifting to both a blues rock inspired sound that was common for traditional rock at the time. Some of those early influences are still audible on this album, particularly on songs like “Blue Odyssey” and “Wild Mountain Honey,” but it’s a different kind of psychedelic rock than you would normally think of. This is a more restrained psychedelic rock sound that serves to enhance another style instead of overtaking the album.

Fly Like an Eagle would go on to be one of the band’s best-selling albums, with the only equal being the sequel to Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams. This is often cited as one of the best rock albums ever made for a good reason; this is consistently a very good album. There isn’t a lot of filler, the production quality is great, the songs are dynamic, and they show a wide ability in terms of musical ability. Many of the songs from this record continue to receive heavy airplay on classic rock radio and you’ll find that even if you don’t know the song, you’ll be able to immediately identify the “Steve Miller Sound.” This is a great album and I hope you enjoy one of the greats!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Space Intro: “Space Intro” is a really neat way to open an album. Immediately, you know you’re being transported to another world, Steve Miller’s world, where psychedelic rock, folk, blues, and classic rock come together in harmony. The transition into “Fly Like An Eagle” is seamless too and even carries over into the song. Good start, but I wish it was a little longer. It’s hard to judge a one-minute long song like that. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Fly Like An Eagle: The title song for the album is such a fantastic piece of music. Let’s start with the instrumentals. Miller’s vocals are smooth as velvet and lightly processed to add to the spacey feeling of the song, amplified by the backing synthesizer. The syncopated drum beat during the chorus gives the song a little bounce, despite being a softer song on the whole. “Fly Like An Eagle” is dynamic in its approach to rock music and showcases a versatile style while harkening back to the psychedelic roots of the band. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Wild Mountain Honey: When I first listened to “Wild Mountain Honey” I wasn’t sure that the synth-heavy approach was going to work in the song’s favor, but with the infrequency with which it’s used it only helps to continue the spaced out theme from “Fly Like An Eagle.” I adore the vocals on this song and appreciate the fact that the band realized they were the feature on the song and put them forward. I don’t normally rate slower songs as highly as faster tempo songs (selective bias at play), but “Wild Mountain Honey” has a lot going for it. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Serenade: “Serenade” is the first ‘traditional’ rock song on the album and it’s a good one! If the whole album has continued the psychedelic feeling of the first three songs throughout the album it would have been overwhelming so I’m grateful for a break. Although this is a slightly above average rock song (with extra credit going to the vocal performance) it feels like one of the designated album filler songs. Hey, I wish every filler song could be this good so I won’t complain! Dad’s Rating 6/10

Dance, Dance, Dance: Including a song like “Dance, Dance, Dance” on this record was a brilliant idea. This is a reimagining of a classic folk song, made friendly for rock music. This was re-recorded very well and it fits squarely within the already present blues, psychedelic, and classic rock sounds of the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Mercury Blues: I’m a sucker for a blues rock/folk rock inspired rock song, and “Mercury Blues” hits all the notes. Musically it follows a traditional blues structure but tuned a little heavier thanks to the electric guitar. Sonically, it fits really well on this album, stuck between some ballads, some rock classics, and one or two other blues tracks. This is a solid song, but not the best on the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Take The Money And Run: This here’s the story ‘bout a guy who writes a blog. “Take The Money And Run” is another one of my favorite tracks that has made it onto my “Tops” Playlist. Maybe I’ll share that one day, but in the meantime, you’ll have to put it together by picking songs out of this blog! I really like the story that the lyrics tell on this song. I can’t often follow the lyrics of songs, but hearing the story about two lovers who go out and murder a gas station owner while robbing him, then taking the money and running is exciting! It’s an easy-to-follow adventure story in song format set to an infectious guitar riff. I almost feel like this song could be turned into a movie, that’s how good the detail in Miller’s storytelling is. “Take The Money And Run” will always be a frontrunner in my favorites. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Rock’n Me: I can’t believe that we go straight from a song as big as “Take The Money And Run” into “Rock’n Me!” These two are legendary rock songs that could have carried their own albums, but we get them on one album together! I’m not as much of a fan of “Rock’n Me” as the preceding song, but I recognize that it’s a solidly composed rock song that shows off the best of the band in a radio-friendly format. Dad’s Rating 7/10

You Send Me: This is one of the most surprising songs that I’ve listened to all year, and I never expected to hear it on a Steve Miller album. Maybe that’s what makes it more surprising. Immediately I get a 1950s doo-wop vibe from the vibrating, layered vocals and soft guitar. This is a peaceful song that manages to stay true to a rock sound by playing the notes and singing just a little more forcefully than normal for a doo-wop song. “You Send Me” is an absolute gem and worth your time. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Blue Odyssey and Sweet Maree: I’ve put these two together because I honestly thought they were the same song at first, and if you listen to them back-to-back, I think you’ll understand why. “Blue Odyssey” is a space-trek in 50 seconds. There’s lots of synth, but the surprising part is the transition into the Delta Blues track, “Sweet Maree.” It feels like you’ve travelled through space to get to a different part of the world and your introduction to this new world is a harmonica solo. I would have never expected that transition to work but it’s fantastic! This is just another example of how the band was able to pull on their early psychedelic influences to make a unique record that flows from one piece to the next. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The Window: I initially expected “The Window” to be a bit of album filler to round out the album, but I suppose I should have known better after having listened to the rest of this record. This is a great soft rock track that balances out every element perfectly. The vocals aren’t too far forward like was done purposefully (and rightfully so) on some of the other tracks, but are instead balanced by little asides on the keyboard and a strong bass line. Now that I’m at the end of the album, I think I can firmly say that this is one of the most enjoyable albums that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year. Stellar album and I’m looking forward to a review of Book of Dreams in the future. Dad’s Rating 7/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive- Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973): 7 October 2019

Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973)


Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re taking a listen to the second album from Bachman-Turner Overdrive (abbreviated BTO from here on out), Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. After their first album failed to gain a significant amount of traction, BTO kept on and published this second album which included, what would become the classic rock staple, “Takin’ Care of Business.” Bachman-Turner Overdrive II would pave the way for the band’s most commercially successful album, Not Fragile, released the following year with the hit single “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II had so much album appeal for me initially, but I was let down on the whole. There were some good songs that had great acoustic rock sound reminiscent of the Eagles or the Doobie Brothers, but a lot of the songs fell squarely into the “I won’t remember it in three days” camp. The highs are high, and the album features one of my favorite songs of all time, but the lows are just middle of the road rock songs. None of them are bad songs, in fact there’s even one or two hidden gems on the album, but on an eight-track album that means half the songs are average. Let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Blown: This is a solid start to the album. I’ve never heard “Blown” before, and honestly; I probably won’t remember it next week. This was never a big hit for BTO and it’s a pretty standard rock track. Not a whole lot to point out and nothing to really fault. Middle of the pack, solid start. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Welcome Home: “Welcome Home” has a little more spice to it! Immediately there’s a Latin flair that transitions into a surprising hard rock chorus! The juxtaposition is really interesting and the musicality is really great here. I like listening to the traditional rock sound over the Latin beat; that really works well for this song. Give this one a listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Stonegates: I wasn’t sure what to do with “Stonegates.” At first, it seems like it’s a fairly forgettable rock song. By the time the song is over, you realize that it has one of the shredding-est guitar solos you’ve ever heard and the buildup to that is what “Stonegates” is really all about. The song gets progressively faster from verse to verse, almost imperceptibly, and before you know it there’s a freewheelin’ twin guitar solo to wrap the song up. It’s done in a such a subtle way that I have to applaud it. This is a hidden gem worth checking out for that alone! Dad’s Rating: 7/10

Let It Ride: I LOVE “LET IT RIDE!” This is one of my favorite songs, period. I have a selective playlist of my favorite rock songs that only the best make it on to, and “Let It Ride” made the cut. The almost southern rock inspired strumming on the guitar, soft riffs, beautiful vocal harmony and driving beat; this song hits all the marks for me. “Let It Ride” is one of those songs that just puts me at ease listening to it, the other being “Wheels of Fortune” by the Doobie Brothers. Top marks. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Give It Time: Maybe it’s the fact that it follows one of my favorite songs, but “Give It Time” feels lackluster in comparison. None of the vocal harmony that I love, no soft rock sound, and no dynamicism. “Give It Time” just plays at one volume; loud. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just doesn’t do anything to wow me. This is an average rock song for me. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Tramp: “Tramp” is more exciting than “Give It Time” because it shows different styles in the same song, and I like that. The guitar riff doesn’t exactly do it for me, but the transition between the melodic verse and the hard rock inspired chorus is neat and well done. Dad’s Rating 6/10

I Don’t Have To Hide: I wasn’t sure what to make of “I Don’t Have To Hide” at first with its sound that’s like something straight out of a western movie, but the song really grew on me. It almost sounds like a lost Eagles song. The powerful, scream/sung chorus is very compelling and the musicality on this track is some of the better work on the album. This is a solid hidden gem and worth a listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Takin’ Care Of Business: We round out the album with a classic rock staple that still receives heavy radio play, “Takin’ Care Of Business.” I’m not sure there’s anything to fault with this song! It’s a fun song and a very strong finish to an album. You get a little bit of everything with “Takin’ Care Of Business;” some piano, a rocking guitar solo, and an upbeat groove. We don’t often see many cases where one of the strongest songs on the album is last on the track listing, but this works well as a bookend for the album. Dad’s Rating 8/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Grateful Dead- From the Mars Hotel (1974): 23 September 2019

Grateful Dead – From the Mars Hotel (1974)

Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re taking a listen to one of my favorite albums by the Grateful Dead, From the Mars Hotel. The Grateful Dead tend to inspire passionate feelings on both sides of the aisle, but From the Mars Hotel is the easiest transition into their music. We’ve already covered American Beauty on YDCS which was much more inspired by blues and acid rock. This seventh studio album still pulls from the blues roots that inspired the band in the first place but we hear more “jam rock” coming out of this album than the former. It’s one of the least acid-rock inspired albums in their repertoire, features a number of the band’s biggest hits, and is generally an easy-going kind of album to listen to.

There’s really a lot to like about From the Mars Hotel. All of the songs on the album work really well together as a cohesive unit but there’s enough variety to keep listeners interested. I found that a significant part of that came from putting songs with significantly different tempos back-to-back and using jazzy, syncopated beats to give up-tempo songs a groovy drive. There’s a lot of big hits on this one so enough talk, time to get to the album. I hope you enjoy it!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

U.S. Blues: You’ve got to open an album with a catchy song to capture interest, and “U.S. Blues” does a decent job of that. It’s not the strongest song on the record but it has its moments where it shines. I love the fuzz from the guitar that reminds you that this isn’t just a blues track, it’s a rock track too. “U.S. Blues” is a good song in its own right but pales slightly when you compare it to what’s coming up on the rest of the album. This is like the appetizer, good but you want more. Dad’s Rating 6/10

China Doll: “China Doll” is the first of a few slow tracks on this album. Slow tracks normally bore me and this is no exception. It takes a special ballad (like some of the others on this album to be frank) to hold my attention, and “China Doll” is one of those songs that remind you that you’re listening to the Grateful Dead and they were likely high when they wrote the song.  Dad’s Rating /10

Unbroken Chain: “Unbroken Chain” is one of the band’s best songs, both in terms of instrumentation, harmony, and story. Dissecting that, the instrumentation on this track is beautiful. The keyboard plays a more central role until the midsection where this becomes a spacey (maybe of Mars?!), faster-paced song. The synthesizer that creates spaceship noises helps to pull the whole song together and link the different solos. The vocals are top-notch and show off the range of Phil Lesh’s musical ability. Finally, the story. The rumor among Deadheads was that “Unbroken Chain” would be the last song the band performed live and would never be played before then. Almost true to form, “Unbroken Chain” was only performed on the band’s penultimate tour in 1995 then again at their last concert later that year. The story, the beauty, and the balance come together here for a fantastic song. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Loose Lucy: I’m a big fan of “Loose Lucy,” and I’ve kept it on repeat for a good portion of the week. What appeals to me is the groovy, slightly funky instrumentation driven mostly by the keyboard. Instrumentally this isn’t the most complex song on the album but it’s a fun track to groove out to. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Scarlet Begonias: “Scarlet Begonias” is one of my favorite songs, hands-down. There’s a lot to like about this song too, starting with the drums. The syncopated beat that Kreutzmann lays down initially gives the song a jazzy feeling, but then the dual guitars playing off-beat syncopated harmonies changes it to almost a reggae-track. You can use a variety of genres to try and define “Scarlet Begonias,” but it ultimately comes down to ‘jam.’ Matter-of-factly, the Dead would often turn this song into an extended jam session during their live performances because it lends itself so well to that idea. “Scarlet Begonias” is one of those songs that is simple on first listen but reveals more of itself the more you listen to it, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it among my favorite songs. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Pride of Cucamonga: “Pride of Cucamonga” was the only song from this album that was never played live. Yes, among the hundreds and hundreds of live Grateful Dead recordings you will never hear “Pride of Cucamonga.” Interestingly, the song starts off as a soft, easy-listening blues rock track, takes a break with a hard rock middle, and transitions back to the soft rock sound to finish off. This is a fun song that shows great musicality in the backing keyboard, attention-grabbers in the shouts of “oh-oh” during the chorus, and great band cohesiveness. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Money Money: This track sounds the least traditional Grateful Dead song on the album, and I’m okay with it. I dislike when albums sound the same throughout and “Money Money” pulls from all over the place to create a really unique song. The song is peppered with jazz chords to give it a funk sound but the guitar and vocals tell a different song and could have almost been copied from a Motown record. This is a great song that doesn’t get pulled out of the catalog much. I hesitate to call it a hidden gem because From the Mars Hotel is a landmark album for both the Dead and jam rock, but it definitely deserves a listen. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Ship of Fools: “Ship of fools, sail away from me.” That’s such a poetic way to end an album. When you listen to this track, you can feel the passion in Garcia’s voice, and the gospel inspired instrumentation helps lift the song to new heights, pausing only for a soft guitar solo as if it were a choir soloist. Wrap this one up. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Night Ranger- Dawn Patrol (1982): 17 September 2019

Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol (1982)

Another week and another album on YDCS! We’re taking a foray into the 1980s today with the debut album from Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol. This act out of California was best known for some of the biggest rock hits of the 80s in “Sister Christian,” and the first song on this album, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” featuring a heavy rock sound that was anthemic at the time but trended towards mainstream at the end of the decade. By the end of the 80s, a host of acts that included Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Ratt, Winger, and Bon Jovi.

Like a lot of people, I was only really familiar with the band’s biggest hits like the ones previously mentioned, “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “When You Close Your Eyes.” I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised to find that Dawn Patrol features that exact same heavy rock sound throughout the album. I dislike when albums feature the same sound across every song. If a song is meant to be a single act or story I understand it and actually like it, but when every song is about something different and sounds exactly the same as the one before it, I have about a two-song tolerance for that before I start getting irritated. My chief complaint with Dawn Patrol is that it falls into this trap. It has a few good songs on it, but the ordering and large amount of filler ends up hurting the album as a whole. There are still some bright spots and the self-titled song “Night Ranger” was a pleasant surprise, but the album left some to be desired. Let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Don’t Tell Me You Love Me: “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was born destined to be a big hit and nails all the marks for a power rock track. Big guitars, big harmonies, big solos, and generally insubstantial lyrics. I enjoy this song a lot, but like most of the songs on the album, I would classify them as ‘fun’ not ‘good’ from a musical standpoint. Many of the songs don’t display much musicianship and play to man’s more base listening preferences. Having said that, this track does it so well that it almost crosses the line from ‘fun’ to ‘good,’ and that takes chops. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sing Me Away: I like that this second song on the album, while decidedly more downtempo than the first, feels more technical than the first. The chorus is a joy to listen to and I enjoy the vocal harmony that the band uses here; it gives the song more depth and makes it more interesting. Not a bad one! Dad’s Rating 6/10

At Night She Sleeps: Unusually, I don’t have any strong opinions about a song. “At Night She Sleeps” just sounds like any other power rock song from the early 80s. It’s not particularly special and easily forgettable. This is a hallmark of album filler. It’s not bad, just neutral. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Call My Name: As power ballads go, this is a pretty good one! The buildups through the verses are adequate and the choruses are loud and passionate. I wish that there was more energy behind the song though. Everything feels a little flat and forced in a way. A power ballad should inspire you and make you want to cry and rock out at the same time. While “Call My Name” hits the marks from a technical perspective, it’s the passion that’s lacking.  Dad’s Rating 6/10

Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight: I will give “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” credit for one thing and that’s making me remember “He like to rock, he like to roll,” and having that stuck in my head. Otherwise, I find the lead vocals grating on this track and there’s not enough interesting instrumentation to hold my attention. It’s on this point in the album when all of the power rock starts to blend together into something that resembles the soundtrack from Heavy Metal. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Can’t Find Me A Thrill: “Can’t Find Me A Thrill” suffers from the same problem that we’ve been running into up to this point, it sounds exactly like the rest of the album and there’s no break or identifying features that make it stand out. If you’ve been listening along, you could skip this song at this point and not be any worse for wear. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Young Girl In Love: I was hopeful that “Young Girl In Love” would bring something new to the table. A ballad, an instrument that isn’t a guitar playing power chords, anything. I was disappointed. The sparks of hope here are that there can only be so much power metal on three more songs on the album and the vocal harmonies on the chorus break up the song the tiniest smidgen. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Play Rough: A BREAK FROM POWER CHORDS!! Nevermind…Dad’s Rating 3/10

Penny: I actually like “Penny!” Where a lot of the songs on the album could be classified as filler material, “Penny” feels like a well-planned out song from the beginning. In the first few seconds I sensed more musicality here than I had on a lot of the songs from that short guitar solo, and it actually reminded me of songs similar to what Duran Duran or Def Leppard would record. This is power rock done right. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Night Ranger: We’re finishing the album with something that sounds different! The syncopated melody and keyboard melody that appears throughout the track helps break this song up from the other songs on the album. The transition to a pseudo-speed metal track towards the end is a fun little twist and interesting way to end the album too. It might be a little while before I take on another power rock album, but this has been an interesting experiment to see where Night Ranger came from and what else they were capable of on their first album.

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Heart- Little Queen (1977): 9 September 2019

Heart – Little Queen (1977)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! I hope you enjoyed Boston last week. This week we’re going one year past the release of Boston to 1977 and the second studio release from Heart, Little Queen. Following the success of their first album, Dreamboat Annie, that was largely based on the success of its singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You,” there was a breakdown between the band and their label. Ultimately it came down to a difference in contract negotiations that led the band to sign with a new label for this album. Their old label still released another Heart album without the band using incomplete studio recordings that would become the third studio release, Magazine. Because of this, Heart had two albums on the charts at the same time, although Little Queen outsold Magazine handily. Little Queen spawned the band’s biggest hit, “Barracuda,” and solidified Heart as a major player in the hard rock genre. The album went multi-platinum and the band went on to create thirteen more albums, although none quite as successful as this one.

Little Queen surprised me. I didn’t expect to find much that I would like other than “Barracuda” since that’s the one Heart song that everyone knows, but I ended up finding so much more. There are a LOT of deep cuts on this album that deserve a listen and are going into my rotation, most notably “Dream of the Archer” and “Little Queen,” and to a lesser extent, “Say Hello.” All three of them are unique in their musicality, and I didn’t think I would like a ballad like “Dream of the Archer” as much as I did. It’s absolutely beautiful in its execution and I’m going to remember the vocals from that for a long time to come. This is also another one of those albums that is best listened to in one sitting in order. A lot of the songs flow from one right into the next seamlessly and breaking them up ruins the experience. Please enjoy this offering from Heart, and I hope you find a new favorite deep cut!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Barracuda: What a powerhouse of a song to start an album off with! “Barracuda” is an absolute classic and everything I like to hear in a rock song. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it’s driving, and it’s iconic. Ann Wilson’s vocals are shatteringly good and are matched equally by Nancy Wilson’s stampeding guitar part. This is a top-notch way to start an album. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Love Alive: “Love Alive” is one of those hidden gem songs that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you were a Heart fan; I know this was my first time hearing it. This is right up there as one of the best songs on the album. “Love Alive” is a dynamic song that starts out with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece and toned back vocals before building into a faster tempo rock song. Of note is the little acoustic riff every time Ann sings “Keep my love alive.” That’s a fantastic little part that you hear throughout the song. High marks for “Love Alive.” This is definitely worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Sylvan Song: “Love Alive” flows right into “Sylvan Song,” and I would almost consider them one in the same. This is a complete instrumental piece that ultimately plays into “Dream of the Archer.” The guitar on this is beautiful and elegant, and the use of the synthesizer in the background towards the end gives it a real depth of building presence. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Dream of the Archer: This is the third song to flow into one another, and I place it slightly above “Love Alive,” but not quite enough to earn a 9. “Dream of the Archer” is a beautiful piece that almost seems to be inspired by medieval music thanks to the contribution of the autoharp. Ann’s vocals crescendo and decrescendo throughout the piece, matched by the more and less frantic strumming on Nancy’s guitar, almost as if they’re taking you through a journey or a ‘dream.’ What an apt name for a song! The guitar piece stands out again on this track. It’s both light and powerful in its delivery at the same time. The soft vocal harmonies throughout the track lend credence to the musicality of the song. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Kick It Out: We’re back to a more traditional hard rock sound with “Kick It Out.” This is an average rock song and there’s not much to make it stand out. In a way, this track is a disappointment in the vocal department. We’ve heard Ann belt it out on other songs, and that makes this feel like a lackluster performance. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Little Queen: This is one of my favorite songs on the whole album. Period. I’ve had this song on repeat for the whole week! The album’s namesake (and hidden gem in a way) delivers with a funky, bass-driven track and some smoky vocals. All I can say is sit back and prepare to relax. It’s not as ‘hard rock’ as “Barracuda,” but it’s musically dynamic and fun to listen to! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Treat Me Well: “Treat Me Well” is a stripped back ballad and is the only song on the album that Ann Wilson doesn’t sing lead vocals for, instead handing over the microphone to her sister. There’s honestly not a lot to say about this song. This is a simple ballad that I’ll forget about by the end of the album. It’s boring and doesn’t stand up to the rest of the slower tracks on the album. It’s not bad, just forgettable.  Dad’s Rating 4/10

Say Hello: This song intrigued me on first listen, then again on second and third listens. There’s a really unique syncopation going on here (music that’s played on the off-beat as opposed to the on-beat) that gives it a jumpy, positive sound. “Say Hello” almost has a latin flair working for it, and it’s like nothing I’ve heard on a rock album yet. This is a cool, off-kilter song that deserves a listen for its uniqueness, and it might become one of my favorites in time. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Cry To Me: We’re back to ballads, but Ann has taken the lead again. I think that’s for the best honestly. Ann’s voice is much more dynamic and capable than Nancy’s. Even though this song has a similar tempo to “Treat Me Well” (which often makes me lose interest to be completely honest), “Cry To Me” is much more memorable. The high notes that Ann hits are beautiful in their lightness, and I could listen to them all day long. This is a memorable ballad. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Go On Cry: Two songs about crying, let’s do it. “Go On Cry” is another song that is a continuation of its former song. “Cry To Me” leaves us at a lull that the final song on the album takes two minutes to build in to, and the buildup through this track is so well done. The backing vocals give what would normally be a funky buildup a hauntingly funky feeling. I give a shout out to the drums for the jazzy, fast-paced, driving rhythm that they’ve developed. That’s really cool to hear over melting vocals and a wailing guitar. I’m particularly fond of how the album leaves you with a sense of quiet completion at the end of this song. Not every album needs to have a big finish, and Heart prove that it can be done here. They build up just to pull it back down and fade out. That’s unique and I’ll remember that for a while. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Boston-Boston (1976): 2 September 2019

Boston – Boston (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! This week we’re listening to one of the biggest debut albums ever released, the self-titled album Boston. While not as prolific as their contemporaries, Boston made up for their smaller catalog with incredibly high-quality albums and infectious songs that receive more than their fair share of radio play to this day. Boston was released in the year 1976, and I would posit that this album was one of the two released in 1976 that was responsible for bringing rock music from the outskirts of the music scene to the mainstream, the other being Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band. Think about rock music prior to 1976 and after 1976. 1976 was acts as a divider between the second generation of rock, led by acts like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, and the third generation which was characterized by the big arena rock acts like Twisted Sister, Poison, Bon Jovi, KISS, and Van Halen. Although many of the albums from the second generation were chart-toppers, rock started getting more attention thanks to albums like Boston.

Boston is a classic arena rock album and there isn’t a single bad song on the record either. Every song fits together perfectly, one into the next, there’s a demonstrated high level of instrumentation, the songs are dynamic, and they ROCK! The band made extensive use of vocal harmonization, big guitar solos, and backing keyboards that would start to come to the front of rock bands over the next few years as rock started to be influenced by New Wave. Despite this, many of their songs have calm elements that bring the listener through the highs and lows of the song with the band, and this dynamicism is why I think the band is so popular; they illicit an emotional response between the highs and lows from the listener, going from anticipation in the calmer sections to rocking out. Boston managed to put together one of the best-selling debut albums of all time and didn’t drop off afterwards, but this week please enjoy their self-titled debut, Boston.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

More Than a Feeling: We’re starting the album off with a big one, “More Than a Feeling.” This song does what every good debut album should do; give the listener an idea about what they’re going to be listening to! “More Than a Feeling” is a perfect example of Boston’s sound; calm, strummed lows, energetic highs played with big riffs, and vocal harmonization. It all adds up to a big track and a classic rock legend. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Peace of Mind: “Peace of Mind” is one of the best songs on the album. Period. Take everything that was good in “More Than a Feeling” and turn it up to 11. “Peace of Mind” feels like the more refined version of “More Than a Feeling,” and I would be willing to bet that it’s because they sped the tempo up a bit for this song. This is an easy listening, feel-good song that is perfect for blasting on your next car trip when your getting away from it all for some ‘peace of mind.’ Dad’s Rating 10/10

Foreplay/Long Time: Do you remember when I said that “Peace of Mind” was one the best songs on the album, I had to say ‘one of’ because it shares an album with a monster of a song in “Foreplay/Long Time.” This is Boston. This is what they stand for and what they sound like. If you ever had to explain this band to your friend from another planet who’s never heard them, this is the song you play. Musically this song is practically perfect. The long intro teases you along until launching into the first of two massive guitar solos on the song. The strummed choruses provide the perfect amount of breathing room between big (and I mean big) verses. The vocals are blisteringly powerful and only slightly tempered by the vocal harmonies. “Foreplay/Long Time” may just be one of the best rock songs ever written. High highs and low lows, this song takes you through them all. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Rock & Roll Band: “Rock & Roll Band” doesn’t get as much love as the first three songs on the album or the song that follows it up, “Smokin’,” but it rocks just as well as the others. I prefer this song over “More Than a Feeling” to be completely honest. I think the energy is better, both in terms of the vocals and instrumentation, and I think the guitar solo is better. Just my personal preference! Dad’s Rating 9/10

Smokin’: Can you believe that you’ve listened to over half the record already?! That’s the magic of Boston, you lose track of time because of how good the songs are! “Smokin’” is another one of those songs where everything comes together perfectly. As an added bonus, there’s a solid keyboard solo too, which is worth point out since we haven’t heard the keyboard take that leading role yet on the album. This is another top-notch song with that classic Boston sound. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Hitch a Ride: “Hitch a Ride” is one of the weakest songs on the album, and I think it’s because we’ve been bombarded with massive arena rock songs up to this point and a song that’s more of a ballad than a rocker is just a bit jarring. It’s certainly not because Boston’s sound doesn’t translate well into a ballad, because they did a great job of it here, and I can’t fault the track ordering for the first five songs because it’s absolutely amazing the way that it is. The song does build throughout, showing fantastic musicianship to make a ballad interesting and engaging, but I wish it showed a little more catchiness and memorability. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Something About You: If you’ve learned anything up to this point, then it’s don’t trust the first 20 seconds of a Boston song. “Something About You” is a return to that fantastic sound that we’ve heard all throughout the album, but transitions nicely from “Hitch a Ride” with that soft opening. Nothing more to say here, this is another great song! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Let Me Take You Home Tonight: At first, I wasn’t sure how “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” fit into the picture with its Western-style opening, but that’s a great cover for a soft ballad. I much prefer this to “Hitch a Ride.” It addresses all of my complaints about looking for something catchier and more memorable. The western sound actually doesn’t feel that out of place either and is incorporated nicely with a beautiful vocal harmony (one of the best on the album). And it wouldn’t feel right if the song didn’t spiral up into a big finale full of freewheelin’ guitars, so they did it. I’m particularly fond of how this is the closing song on the record. “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” is just about as fitting as they come to close out a record. Well played. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.