Beastie Boys – Gratitude (music video)

Almost 25 years later, Check Your Head remains one of my favorite records. How could it not be, with songs like “Gratitude” on it? “Gratitude” stands alone as a song, but the video makes it even better. It’s an homage to Pink Floyd’s recording at Pompeii. The Beasties Boys didn’t play at Pompeii, I don’t think, but they did play outdoors, and filmed in the same style as the Pink Floyd Pompeii film. You will also notice the “Pink Floyd / London” labels spray painted on the sides of the speakers and other equipment, to make the homage complete. Check it out.

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Grace Potter, Joe Satriani, Steve Kimock, etc. – Cortez The Killer (Live at the Jammy’s in 2006)

The greatest cover of “Cortez The Killer” that I’ve ever seen. It’s from the Jammy’s in 2006, where I guess they threw together a bunch of disparate musicians and gave them a song to cover. Here it works incredibly well.

Bonus Neil Young quote that I grabbed from Wikipedia, from the Shakey biography:

What the fuck am I doing writing about Aztecs in “Cortez the Killer” like I was there, wandering around? ‘Cause I only read about it in a few books. A lotta shit I just made up because it came to me.

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Neil Young – Eldorado (Live in Germany in 1989)

Neil Young’s album Freedom was released in the fall of 1989. It’s most well known for the single “Rockin’ In The Free World”, with both an electric and an acoustic version on the album. It was Neil’s first record back at Reprise after his unrewarding stay at Geffen Records, which ended with a lawsuit.

Despite and/or because of that, Freedom is full of great music. “Eldorado” was one of my favorite tracks on the record. I loved the latin feel to it. So I was pleased when I came across this acoustic version the other day, with just Neil and Frank “Pancho” Sampedro playing. They bring that latin feel to their playing, and the audience is rapt. Or just really polite.

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My Morning Jacket – Holdin’ On To Black Metal (music video)

This is one of my favorite tracks from My Morning Jacket’s 2011 album Circuital. I was reminded of that when it came up in one of my Spotify mixes this morning. Kind of psychedelic, and definitely rocking, “Holdin’ On To Black Metal” has some great horn lines, plus a chorus of female back up singers. Awesome.

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Daryl Hall and Sharon Jones – Hot Fun In The Summertime (Live from Daryl’s House in 2010)

“Hot Fun In The Summertime” is the kind of song you want to hear when you’re sitting on your porch, it’s hot out, and you’re drinking something cold. It’s one of my favorite Sly Stone compositions, and the vocal team up of Daryl Hall and Sharon Jones does it justice. They threw in a few nice sax solos for free, too. Check it out while you’re drinking something cold.

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Get Your Neil On: Top Tracks From CSNY 1974

csny1974

If you’re like me, you’ve been an obsessed Neil Young fan since you were a teenager. And you don’t understand why Neil can’t get that Archives 2 box set out already. We want some 70s Neil! The unreleased stuff!

Enter CSNY 1974, a 3 CD boxed set that captures the 1974 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion tour in all its glory. And most of that glory, frankly, is Neil. He brought a bunch of new, unreleased tunes to the table, plus he had just released (or was getting ready to release) On The Beach. The whole boxed set is great, but it’s the Neil stuff that really stands out for me, and that’s what I’m going to highlight here. Five great Neil tracks that will make your day.

On The Beach: A friend of mine thinks On The Beach is Neil’s greatest record. I won’t go that far, but it’s definitely in the top 5. Here, with the edge Stephen’s guitar work adds, this song is a much bigger experience than the version on the album.

Don’t Be Denied: This, in my opinion, is one of Neil’s greatest songs. It was only officially released on Time Fades Away, which hasn’t been released on CD yet (Neil, I’m begging you, please!). There’s some great solo work from Stephen Stills in this one. The guitar interplay between Stephen and Neil is one of the things that made CSNY a great live band.

Pushed It Over The End: I first heard this on an Italian bootleg – Love Art Blues – that I bought at a place called Boogie Records in Kalamazoo, MI. It fuckin’ blew my mind. How did this not get released on an official Neil record? It has several different parts to it, and gives the band room to stretch out. Truth be told, I like the version on Love Art Blues better. That one is from Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey, on the same tour. But this one is still a moving rendition.

Hawaiian Sunrise: This is a bouncy little number that I can’t believe never made it onto an official recording until now. The harmonies are beautiful in this version. Neil gets a Hawaiian style guitar feel that gives it a relatively unique feel in the Neil cannon.

Helpless: You might think this an odd top track – it wasn’t a new or unreleased track – but it’s just an outstanding version. It’s the most rock n’ roll version of Helpless that I’ve come across. There’s a nice Stephen Stills solo about halfway thru, and it really rocks at the end. Great background vocals, which build up over the course of the song, and Neil nails the vocals. When Neil sings/shouts “The chains are locked and tied across the door!”, it’s really emotional.

These are five of my favorite Neil songs from CSNY 1974, but it is full of other great tracks, too. Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair” is one notable example. It’s totally worth picking up. My favorite live release in some time.

 

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Beastie Boys – So Wat’cha Want (music video)

“Sweeter than a cherry pie with Ready Whip topping.”

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