1. Ian Hunter, "Once Bitten Twice Shy." After Mott the Hoople, Hunter teamed up with Mick Ronson of the Spiders from Mars. This was the first song from the first solo album ... it starts with Ian saying "Hallo." I guess you never know what will stick in people's minds ... despite four decades of fine work, Hunter is probably best-known in America for "Cleveland Rocks," which was used in the Drew Carey Show. And the Great White version of this song is likely more famous than the original.
2. Patti Smith, "Redondo Beach." Based on most of the songs on this list, you'd be hard pressed to know that punk was coming, and fast. Was here already, truth be told. The only hint comes with this song, about a place ... where ... women ... love other ... women. Horses is one of the best debut albums ever.
3. Bruce Springsteen, "It's My Life." From New Year's Eve, 1975. People who came late to Bruce shows (and by late, I only mean BitUSA) don't know what oldtimers mean when we talk about how Bruce used to tell stories. This was a famous one ... thanks to Storyteller, here it how he introduced "It's My Life": "I used to live in this, uh, this two-family house on this....like, main street in town....and uh....at night my father would always....he'd lock up the front door so that the kids, the kids had to come in through the backdoor, you know, and he'd be sitting....he'd sit all the time in the kitchen....with, uh, he'd turn out all the lights in the house and he'd just sit there....he did that for, for as long as I can remember, you know, until he moved away and....he'd just sit there and drink whatever he was drinking, you'd always see his, see his cigarette butt in the dark and....I used to be terrified to come in through the kitchen at night because the house'd be all black except for the TV....in the front room where....my Mom would sit and (?) my father sitting in the kitchen so....if you came in around, if you came in around 10, it wasn't too bad, or at 11, it wasn't too bad.....now, if you came in around 1 o'clock....after he'd been sitting there for a while....just drinking for a while, it'd be scary....so....I'd come in about....I'd come in late, you know, and I'd, I'd slick my hair back tight as I could so he couldn't tell how long it was or nothing and uh....I'd hope I could sneak by, like sneak through the kitchen before, you know, before he'd catch me ....so I'd sneak in the backdoor and just as I, just about as I got through, he'd call me and tell to come sit down for a minute, that he wanted to talk to me....first we wouldn't be talking about nothing special, just how I was doing....you know....then he'd start screaming at me and I'd start....and I'd start screaming back at him, he'd be telling me all the time what a bad world it was.... and I'd be telling him all the time how it was my life."
4. Bonnie Raitt, "I'm Blowin' Away." I know I'm in the minority, but I think Home Plate is her best album. It mostly lacks the blues that first got our attention, and it has slick production. Tough shit, it's great. The video ain't half-bad, either ... she's joined by Linda Ronstadt.
5. Earth, Wind and Fire, "Shining Star." Their first hit, although they'd been recording for five years.
6. John Lennon, "Stand By Me." You could make a better album by just pulling the covers John did with The Beatles, but this one has quiet merits of its own.
7. Led Zeppelin, "Trampled Under Foot." I don't know what people think of Led Zep at this point ... are they just bundled in with the other metal bands, or is the great variety of their work still appreciated? They did metal, of course, and hippie ballads, and straight blues, and lovely acoustic numbers. My fave Zep songs are inevitably the ones where Jimmy takes a simple riff and beats it endlessly into submission. Like "Trampled Under Foot," to be exact, which is like its album mate 'Kashmir" but doesn't have all that orchestration and extra stuff. In short, one of the all-time monster tracks from one of the all-time monster bands. OTOH, if you don't like the riff, you won't like this song :-).
8. Donna Summer, "Love to Love You Baby." Does it matter if I mention this is the 16 minute, 48 second version? While we're waiting for punk, disco is slipping into the gate. Summer was wonderful, BTW, speaking of artists that I assume are misunderstood.
9. Janis Ian, "At Seventeen." I know how important this song is to its champions, and it was nice to see her comeback so long after "Society's Child." But when she laments for "those whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball," I can't help but recall Christgau's review: "It was one thing for society's teenager to pity herself because she didn't have the integrity to stick with her black boyfriend. It's another thing for a grown-up to pity her teenaged self because she was always picked last in basketball. I mean, face it, Ms. Ian--you're short. B-"
10. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Cortez the Killer." Guess it figures that a rocking Canadian would be the one to best describe my personal relationship to my Spanish heritage.
He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
And the palace in the sun.
On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wandered
With the secrets of the worlds.
And his subjects gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.
And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.
Hate was just a legend,
War was never known.
People worked together
And they lifted many stones.
Then they carried them to the flatlands
But they died along the way
And they built up with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.
And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember where
Or how I lost my way.
He came dancing across the water
What a killer.