Black Sabbath- Master of Reality (1971): 18 November 2019

Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (1971)

Welcome back to YDCS! Remember that you can check out a playlist of the top songs from the blog HERE on Spotify! This week we’re taking a look at Black Sabbath’s third album, Master of Reality. I actually planned on reviewing a different album this week until “Children of the Grave” came on at work and I said, ‘Now that’s an album I need to cover!’ Master of Reality is a significant album for the band for a few reasons. First, the production cycle on this record was double what they had for their first two releases, and that shows in the both the quality of the recording and the musicianship put forward on every song. Second, Master of Reality is the first example of a full-fledged “Black Sabbath sound.” Yes, Paranoid was probably one of the most influential albums in the early development of heavy metal, black metal, and sludge rock, but Master of Reality is the first Sabbath album to feature their signature down-tuned guitars, giving the album a deeper, darker sound.

As an album, I can’t get enough of this one. I prefer Paranoid as a full body of work, but some of the songs on this album are the stuff of rock gods (looking at you “Children of the Grave”). There were even some tracks that I was surprised I liked as much as I did, notably “Sweet Leaf” and “Orchid.” Some of the album’s main themes are a continuation of the anti-war themes from Paranoid, drug use, and Christianity. It’s an odd combination that works well for an experimental album that features everything from loud, rocking solos to classical guitar pieces. This is an album for everyone, and I think you’ll find something to like about it. Enjoy!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Sweet Leaf: Ahh sweet leaf. La ganga estranja. That sticky icky. A friend named Mary Jane. An ode to marijuana. I’ve never been a drug user so I’m not even going to try and explain the lyrics except as possibly the most striking and overt tribute to marijuana. Now musically, this is a hell of a way to start an album! The multi-track cough taking from Tommy Iommi actually smoking a joint in the studio is an ingenious way to start a song, nevermind an album! On top of that, the first time I heard the solo on “Sweet Leaf” my mind was blown. The energy in Bill Ward’s drumming is infectious and I love how the song picks up to a frenetic tempo. “Sweet Leaf” is one of those hidden gems that unless you’re a Sabbath fan, you probably won’t know, but I strongly recommend giving it a listen. Dad’s Rating 9/10

After Forever: “After Forever” is an interesting song that may have been written just to quiet those who believed Sabbath were a bunch of Satanists. The whole song’s lyrics focus overtly on Christian themes but they’re sung over hard rock backing instrumentation. The instrumentation is good but the song feels like it’s missing something. Maybe it was too much of a lyrical push in one direction, and maybe it was that the instrumentation just didn’t stand up to the rest of the album, but it feels a bit hollow. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Embryo/Children of the Grave: I’d like to combine “Embryo” and “Children of the Grave” as the first acts as a great introduction to the other. On “Children of the Grave,” this is one of the baddest, most rocking songs ever written. Hands down. Let’s break it down. Ward drums like a madman on those backing high drums, Iommi’s guitar riff is absolutely iconic, and Osbourne’s vocals howl over everything else. The loud instrumentals are a great contrast to the lyrics advocating civil disobedience and non-violent change. The solos are stellar, the music is amazing, the composition and production are top-notch, and this is a 10/10. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Orchid: After a track like “Children of the Grave” you almost need something to calm down, and Black Sabbath completely went the other direction on Orchid, making an entirely acoustic, soft, classical guitar song. It’s almost as if the civil disobedience advocated for in the earlier song has blossomed. This is a really beautiful piece and completely unexpected on a Sabbath album. I really recommend listening to “Embryo,” “Children of the Grave,” and “Orchid” in order to get the effect of a full story, starting with the beginning of a journey, the adventure itself, and the resulting peace. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Lord of this World: This is the Sabbath that I know and love. “Lord of this World” perfectly captures the final evolution of the dark, down-tuned, heavy metal sound that Sabbath would be known for. This bass driven track has a little bit of groove, one of the better instrumental sections on the record, and I think it’s bassist Geezer Butler’s best work on the album. They really let him shine through here and it paid off. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Solitude: Black Sabbath struck the perfect balance between soft tracks and head bangers on Master of Reality, and “Solitude” is a great example of how to do a peaceful song that stays true to rock roots. There’s no real build to a loud finish, just a peaceful solitude. You really get the sense that the band tried to show more of their colors on this record with songs like this. They were multi-faceted musicians capable of telling a deeper story of peaceful resistance, belief in a higher power, and coming to terms with oneself. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Into the Void: We’re going to finish the record off with a hard rocker! I’d like to take a moment to appreciate that the song is driven by a pounding percussion session from Ward and Geezer. Osbourne’s vocal work on this track is the best on the record. He’s keeping up with some quick, complicated phrases and the final take is a great reflection of his work on that. The band has said this was their hardest song to record, both because of the vocals and because the song has an unnatural, syncopated beat. Ending the way they did with no notice is a great way to “mic drop” on their way out the door. They put together an awesome album and tied it together with a rocker of a final track. Well done! 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.

Jim Croce- You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (1972): 11 November 2019

Jim Croce – You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (1972)

Welcome back to YDCS! We have a bit of a different album this week with folk rock artist Jim Croce’s third studio album, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. I consider Croce one of the best, if often overlooked, classic American singer/songwriters. The stories that he was able to craft through song still keep people listening to this day because of their clarity and ability to pull at memories and feelings they’ve forgotten. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim was Croce’s first big break in the music industry, and he would go on to release two more successful albums, with the last being a posthumous release after dying in a plane crash on his way to a performance in Texas.

There are two things that really stand out to me in You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. First is his ability to make a folk rock album that feels substantially like an album of soft rock ballads from the same period and not a straight folk album. Second is his ability to write and sing in a way that seems to pull you in to whichever story he’s telling. Throughout the whole album I could visualize his smiling face and the love of music that he felt and wanted to share with everyone listening. I hope you enjoy a bit of a different album, and as always, let me know what your thoughts on it were!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

You Don’t Mess Around With Jim: We’re starting off with the album’s namesake and it’s a big one! This was the lead single for the record and was Croce’s first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” sets the feeling for the rest of the album and is a great example of Croce’s songwriting ability. That’s one of the most exciting parts of listening to a Croce album, listening to the stories that he’s telling through vivid lyrics that, unusually, shine louder than the instrumentation. “Don’t Mess” is a perfect example of this phenomena; Croce’s lyrics and vocals are the feature, and this won’t be the only song that we hear this on. Don’t mess around, this is a great song with some great songwriting and rocking backing instrumentation. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day: Normally slower songs bore me, and I find that I have difficulty focusing during them. “Gonna Be A Brighter Day” might just be the exception to that rule. There’s something about Croce’s performance that makes you feel like he’s singing directly to you. You don’t have to have experienced the failure that he’s singing about, but you can feel the passion in his voice. The slow build throughout the song was perfectly executed and was a great representation of the brighter day coming tomorrow. I can’t speak to whether that was intentional or not but it helps the song. Dad’s Rating 9/10

New York’s Not My Home: Please copy and paste my comments on “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day” here. This is another fantastic example of a beautiful ballad where you can hear all the emotion in Croce’s lyrics. The strong backing strings are an interesting addition and help separate the song from others on the album while the harmonica helps the song stay true to its folk rock roots. Great song! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Hard Time Losin’ Man: “Hard Time Losin’ Man” is one of the best songs on the album and is a fantastic hidden gem. It hits every mark in the folk rock genre and harkens back to a classic Americana sound. The instrumentation almost has an infectious, bouncy swamp rock sound and Croce’s vocals slide all over the song just like the backing guitar. This is a top-notch song, and it’s been stuck in my head all week. Definitely give it a listen! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Photographs and Memories: “Photographs and Memories” is another beautiful ballad and the transition between the two musical themes in the song is really interesting and makes this one unique amongst all the others. Personally, I prefer this one less than some of the others on the album, but it’s a good song for sure! Dad’s Rating 6/10

Walking Back To Georgia: Mmm hmmm as Jim would sing! “Walking Back To Georgia” hits all the right notes. Musically, it’s probably the simplest song on the album, but it goes to show that you don’t need a large production and band to make a fantastic song. A beautiful voice, a smooth guitar riff, and lyrics written from the heart. That’s all it takes. Talent is talent, and talent has a way of shining through no matter what the case. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Operator [That’s Not The Way It Feels]: “Operator” is a thinly-veiled, heartbreaking song. The emotion in this song is almost overwhelming, mostly because I think everyone can relate to an experience of trying to get over a relationship. Musically, “Operator” has one of the best guitar lines on the album and lyrically, I almost want to cry listening to it. Give it a listen and see what it brings up for you. Croce hit the nail on the head and crafted a song that plays perfectly to the feeling of loss that so many others have felt. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Time In A Bottle: I had to really think about what I wanted to say about “Time In A Bottle” because there was no immediate impression. Going back and listening to it, that still holds true. It’s a fine song and has a very different, almost fragile sound to it, but it won’t stay with me. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Rapid Roy [The Stock Car Boy]: We’ve got another rocker on our hands! “Rapid Roy” isn’t as good as “Don’t Mess” or “Hard Time Losin’ Man” in my opinion, mostly because of the lyrics. That’s where Croce’s strengths are. They’re the hallmark of a good folk rock song, and unfortunately for “Rapid Roy,” they’re lacking here. The instrumentation is rocking, but the story just isn’t interesting. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Box #10: “Box #10” has a great build to it! That’s really the most defining feature of this song; how it builds throughout from a soft beginning to a really strong ending. Otherwise, it doesn’t have much else going for it and it blends into a lot of other folk rock songs. Dad’s Rating 5/10

A Long Time Ago: “A Long Time Ago” is such a sweet song and is another great example of Croce’s songwriting ability. He perfectly, succinctly, captures a young relationship in song in a way that many others were unable to do. Musically, this one isn’t a stunner, but it’s such a heartfelt song that it’s worth listening to. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Hey Tomorrow: We finish the album with a song that touches on subjects like addiction and recovery that we haven’t heard anywhere else on the album. I wasn’t expecting to hear that to finish out the record, but I think it’s good that he recorded a song like this as a rallying call for people in recovery. An unexpected finish, but well-performed and poignant nevertheless. 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.

Def Leppard- Hysteria (1987): 4 November 2019

Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987)

Welcome back to YDCS! Don’t forget that you can follow my Spotify playlist featuring all of the 10/10 songs from the blog by using the link on the right. Check it out! This week we’re venturing into new territory by taking on an album from the late 1980s, Hysteria by Def Leppard. This is the most recent album that I’ve covered on the blog, not for any reason in particular except that I really like the old school, sometimes bluesy, sometimes soft rock sound of the late 60s and 70s. This is an exciting one for me though because this is the rock that I grew up on. I recall very few times when my mom didn’t have Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, or Poison playing in the car. While this wasn’t Def Leppard’s first taste of success on the charts (their earlier album Pyromania brought them into the public eye with songs like “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages”), Hysteria arguably has bigger hits on it and was a much-awaited return after a car accident caused drummer Rick Allen to lose his left arm. The nearly four-year production period for the album was plagued with delays, including a change of producers, band members’ bouts of illness, nevermind the fact that Rick Allen re-taught himself to play the drums with one arm! The result of their persistence was an album coated in 1980s hair metal and sex appeal.

I really liked Hysteria quite a bit! I’m often critical of albums that bleed together and are of a similar sound, and yes, Hysteria does suffer from that a bit, but I found that there was enough variation in the songs to keep me interested. The production on this album is really some of the best that we’ve covered so far. Everything sounds very polished and incredibly well-balanced, not unlike a Bon Jovi album or going back as far as Kiss’ Destroyer. This is as classic of a 1980s rock album as you’ll ever find, and I think you’ll recognize a number of songs off this record. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Women: “Women” is one of the most underrated songs on this album. It’s quintessentially 1980s with its synthesizer intro but it knows how to rock! Stay on board until the chorus and you’ll see what I mean. This is a great song to open Hysteria because it lets you know exactly what you’ll be settling in for; pounding synths, guitars cranked up to 11, and lots of hair. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Rocket: “Rocket” is such a stadium jam and I love it! Imagine standing in the crowd shouting ‘ROCKET!’ back at the band during a concert. Musically, this isn’t the most exciting song on the record, but the lyrics are neat in that they reference some big songs that had come out of rock and roll up to this point like “Major Tom” and “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Solid effort! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Animal: We’re moving in to the strongest part of the album. I’m not sure why they decided to sandwich their best material in the middle of the record but it makes for a great couple songs in a row. “Animal” is an absolute classic 80s rock track and was the perfect song to be the lead single for the record. Everything seems to complement the lead vocals and be centered around that idea, really letting them shine through while leaving plenty of space through the song for a big guitar sound. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Love Bites: Were you a teenager in the 1980s? Did you ever have a high school sweetheart break your heart? Did no one understand you? If you can answer ‘yes’ to those questions then you probably listened to “Love Bites” at one point or another. This is an iconic breakup power ballad. The contrast between the soft verses and the rocking chorus would have had ME cry-shouting along with the song. This is such a good song that you could still do that today and no one would bat an eye. Sometimes, love bites…Dad’s Rating 8/10

Pour Some Sugar On Me: After “Love Bites” we get to see a different side of love…nah I’m just kidding. This track is all about sex, sex, sex, and it’s never pretended to be anything different. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” may be one of the most glam rock songs to come out of the late 80s, and it still holds up fabulously to this day. An instantly recognizable guitar intro, a rocking guitar riff and hyper-sexualized lyrics make this an anthem for the Era of Excess. I never get tired of hearing “Sugar,” in particular the opening riff. It makes me want to rock out every time I take a listen. Top-notch song! Dad’s Rating 9/10

Armageddon It: I actually didn’t recognize this song from the title alone, but once the song started I knew exactly which track it was! I’m a little ashamed of that too because this was one of my favorite songs from the album! This song doesn’t sound like anything else on the record and shows a great degree of musicianship, listening to each part in isolation. I really like the swooping lead-in to the chorus; I could listen to that over and over again. Great stuff here! Dad’s Rating 9/10

Gods of War: We have a rocker here! Listening to just the heaviness of the guitar you can really hear the latest influences on burgeoning genres like thrash and speed metal, most notably Megadeth. They would probably never admit that Def Leppard was an influence on their music, but specifically the heaviness of the guitar in the intro and the lyrics remind me a lot of some of their earlier work like Rust In Peace. “Gods of War” has everything you want in a hair metal song with great vocal harmony throughout the song, excellent musicianship, great lyrics telling the story of their fight with the Gods of War interspersed with news coverage and recordings of actual war sounds, and some moments of real shredding, both on the guitar and with some vocal screeches. Don’t skip this one! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Don’t Shoot Shot Gun: “Don’t Shoot” is one of the weaker songs on the album. It’s a rocker for sure, but like so many songs that I’ve seen before, it suffers from being placed after a series of great songs, starting with “Animal” and ending at “Gods of War.” There’s nothing particularly bad about the song, and I don’t think it’s the most forgettable of the album, but it’s just ordinary after a song featuring Presidential overdubbing and recordings of dropping bombs. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Run Riot: I really like the guitar on this track! Every piece is doing something completely different but complementary to the others at the same time. Outside of that, the song doesn’t do much to impress me, but it’s an easy-to-listen-to rock song so I can only complain so much. Give it a listen if it’s your first time listening to Hysteria, especially to hear the triple guitars, but otherwise I leave the decision in your hands. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Hysteria: At this point, I’m pretty sure that “Hysteria” has been used in every coming-of-age movie since its release, but that’s just something more to love about it. If it can be used in the late 2010s and elicit the same emotions and reaction that it did on its initial release, that’s just an example of its enduring quality. “Hysteria” is an awesome power ballad that hits all the right notes. It’s engaging and powerful, certainly enough to hold my attention (that’s MY major marker for a power ballad!), and really just an all-round emotionally charged, great song. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Excitable: What an intro! Starting off with a snarling voice asking if you’re excitable is a great way to grab attention! Unfortunately, this is probably the weakest song on the album so the snarl does little to help the song overall. It doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the record and feels almost more like a Huey Lewis song than a Def Leppard song; it’s just too poppy. Go ahead and skip it, I’m not too excited for it. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Love And Affection: Time to wrap the album up and we have a straight shooting, average kind of song here. There’s nothing to make “Love And Affection” stand out against its peers on the album; it’s very forgettable. We really could have ended this album with a runtime of a little over an hour at “Hysteria.” Not a bad song here, just forgettable. Dad’s Rating 5/10

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.

Ted Nugent- Ted Nugent (1975): 28 October 2019

Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (1975)

Welcome back to YDCS! We have another rocking album this week so strap in for the debut album by the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent! After the dissolution of his first band, The Amboy Dukes, Nugent decided to go solo and release his first solo studio album that would become a driving force in the heavy metal and hard rock genres. The ‘Nuge was on the forefront of the genre during its heyday, but was definitely more second wave heavy metal/hard rock, the first generation being acts like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. Nugent’s contemporaries were later acts in a more established genre like Dio, Judas Priest, and AC/DC. Ted Nugent showed what could really be done when you put the guitar in the front, keep the band small, and let natural skills shine through.

Ted Nugent is an interesting album. On one hand, it features some of its namesake’s biggest songs and displays a great deal of skill and versatility on the guitar. On the other hand, there’s a good amount of filler material that doesn’t help the album as a whole. This is one of those albums where the highs are really high and the lows feel lower than they really are because of how stratospherically good a few songs are. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Stranglehold: Just go ahead and open up the album with a heavy, eight-minute long guitar solo. It certainly sets the mood for the rest of the record! Nugent didn’t pull any punches on “Stranglehold.” This track became one of Nugent’s best-known songs and is regularly featured in concerts and on the radio today. When I was a teenager, “Stranglehold” was one of the first songs to open my ears to the sound of classic rock, particularly dark and bluesy sounds. Because of that, this song holds a special place to me. The guitar work is nothing short of amazing; it manages to be both melodic and feature big, loud power chords. That’s a true testament to Nugent’s talent on the guitar. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Stormtroopin’: “Stormtroopin’” is the less-impressive version of “Stranglehold” in my opinion. It’s less melodic and doesn’t show quite the range of ability. It’s still a fun song and the drum fill in the middle before the solo is a cool piece, but it isn’t special. Give this track a listen if you’ve never listened to Nugent before since this is one of his more popular songs, but don’t expect another “Stranglehold.” Dad’s Rating 6/10

Hey Baby: Now this is a solid blues-inspired rock track if I’ve ever heard one! This song rocks. Period. You have everything that makes a great blues-rock track; screaming guitars, blues scale, half-sung, half-spoken lyrics. It’s dirty, pure, and unabashedly rock and roll. Right on! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Just What the Doctor Ordered: If “Stranglehold” was the album’s opus, “Just What the Doctor Ordered” would be the runner up. The guitar riff on this track is so catchy that it’s hard not to sing along to this ‘infectious’ song! Musically it’s not the most impressive; the guitar solo is good but the rest of the song is an average rock song. “Doctor” is a fun song because of the stellar, bouncy delivery that makes you groove. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Snakeskin Cowboys: “Snakeskin Cowboys” is one of the more forgettable songs on the record. It’s got some good musical moments, but they don’t overshadow the fact that the song is little more than album filler. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Motor City Madhouse: I like this song from a music history perspective. You can hear the beginnings of a new generation of rockers being born out of “Motor City Madhouse.” Think about groups like Jane’s Addiction and Primus that got their starts in the late 80s during the alternative rock, pre-grunge movement. I believe that a lot of their sound can be traced back to songs like this that would have been popular during their formative music years. Musically, this is a neat song and the drum solo at the end was, in fact, a madhouse. The Motor City Madman delivered on this song. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Where Have You Been All My Life: This track suffers from “Snakeskin Cowboy Syndrome.” It’s not a bad blues rock song, but it’s mostly filler and doesn’t do anything to improve the album. The album wouldn’t suffer by its exclusion. Dad’s Rating 5/10

You Make Me Feel Right At Home: This was a new track for me, and I was actually surprised to hear almost a soft rock song on a Ted Nugent album, but it works really well! This is one of the only chances we get to hear more from his backing band, and they did a great job. The keyboard work, soft vocals, and great percussion work (check out that xylophone!) add different layers to the album and shows that the band wasn’t just a one-trick pony with hard rock. Great hidden gem here, don’t skip this one! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Queen of the Forest: We finish the album with a solid rocker. I would place this song one step above the songs that suffer from “Snakeskin Cowboy Syndrome” for two reasons: First, this is musically a more progressive song (evident during the solos) and the short period where we hear a choir in the backing vocals breaks this song apart from others on the record. This is the only song where we’ve heard anything like that. Not a terrible way to wrap up the record. Keep rocking! 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.

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.