classic rock reviews


Songs You (Probably) Never Heard


Forgotten Classic Rock Album Cuts




Long Lost Album Cuts from The Golden Age of Rock


Top 10 Classic Rock Songs You (Probably) Never Heard


If anybody out there knows half these songs we’ll be impressed.

Through the Classic Rock Era A LOT of music got released. Some of it was great. Some of it was popular. Some of it was overlooked. Some of it was great AND overlooked. Programming Directors and Disc Jockeys at Radio Stations focused on more commercially appealing cuts. You heard them a lot.

We are not complaining. These people were in business. We respect that. To quote Peter Townshend, it was a karmic realty. If it wasn’t for that structure (a structure sadly missing today) we only would’ve heard a fraction of the music we enjoyed.

Meanwhile, a lot of album tracks went virtually undiscovered. That doesn’t mean these songs weren’t great.

Here we focus on obscure cuts that never got the recognition we feel they deserve.

10. "Dreamin'"
Paul Collins Beat
The Kids Are The Same


Quite apropos, perhaps, because nobody dreamed more than the legions of garage and bar bands cranking out rock across America through the 1970s, hoping to get record deals. A lot of them did. Us old Rock Journalists who managed to get our names onto Record Company mailing lists can remember how hard it was to get noticed among the sheer volume of albums getting released every month. I remember hearing “Magic Man” on the radio, waiting for the DJ to tell me who it was, and when he said “Heart” that sounded familiar. Digging through the stacks in my closet, discovered I’d had the record for months.

Among those legions were the Paul Collins Beat. Managed by Bill Graham their self-titled debut on Columbia didn’t meet with much commercial success. Neither did their second, The Kids Are The Same, released in 1982. Still, Kids featured four good tracks, “Dreamin’” chief among them. A really good rock tune, great guitar work. You should also check out “That’s What Love Is All About” and “On The Highway.”

Unfortunately for the band, their songwriting and music never resonated with a large audience. You can’t even call them One Hit Wonders.

9. "Trouble Bound"
The Blasters
Hard Line


The Blasters were a hot, fun band, played rockabilly and American rock ’n roll. We’re singling out “Trouble Bound” because we assume you are familiar with “Border Radio,” “Marie Marie,” “American Music” and “One Red Rose.” In that order. We also might’ve cited “Why Did She Stay with Him” off Dave Alvin’s Blue Blvd.

Formed by brothers Phil and Dave Alvin out of Downey, California, we saw The Blasters a couple times circa 1980. They rocked out. For the pure joy of Bad Boy rock ’n roll, don’t know you can top “Trouble Bound.”


“I don’t think twice when the sun goes down,

I’m trouble bound, trouble bound...”

christine lakeland, wife of j.j. cale, title track from first solo album veranda


8. "Veranda"
Christine Lakeland


Christine Lakeland’s main claim to fame was being the long time squeeze of the legendary J.J. Cale. After meeting backstage at a prison benefit, Lakeland joined J.J.’s band, appears on his albums starting with 5, released in 1979. Eventually, they married.

Veranda was Lakeland’s first solo album, released on vinyl in 1984 by Comet Records. Never released on CD, the J.J. Cale influence is unmistakable. That is not a bad thing. Veranda is a great record. Kinda like a female J.J. Cale album, it puts you into a funky little bluesy mood. Every song on the record is good, and three or four are excellent. The only real criticism we have of Veranda is that it’s over way too quick. Much too short. Only 24 minutes of music.

The title song (side one, track one) really sets the tone for this album. One of the sexiest woman’s tunes ever, an upbeat bluesy intro draws you into an eerie, kinda spooky little story, fraught with simmering tension. You can feel the heat, the humidity, picture the scenario, smell the honeysuckle. Globe Hansen plays congas. The rest is Christine. A great bass line overlaid with guitars and keyboards, one doing a vibe, lyrics and melody that really suits her ethereal vocal style. “Veranda” was recorded in five different sessions around North Hollywood, California, which would imply Christine cut a basic track, listened to it, then went back into the studio to add a little this and that. The end result is a true jewel.

After the title song every track on Veranda is worth a listen. You’ve got steady rockers like “Hard In Love” and “Movin’ Blues.” Then there are more textured tunes like “Piece of Guess I Lose,” “Let Me Give It To You” and the clever “Mr. Completely” on which Christine is joined by J.J. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the tasty guitar arrangement Lakeland does on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

An artist in her own right, Christine Lakeland released Fireworks in 1989 and Reckoning in 1992, a couple later works on Lady Fingers Records. They are worth checking out. Still, the strength of the material, the artistic spontaneity of Veranda makes it the crown jewel of her catalog.

7. "I'd Rather Go Blind"
Chicken Shack


Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack was an obscure English band in the mid-to-later Sixties. Part of the great British Blues Boom which gave us artists like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, John Mayall, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown this song features one of the few female blues artists of the time – Christine Perfect. Listen to the tune and her smooth carmel-coated voice might sound familiar. This single was recorded before she married the bass player for Fleetwood Mac and became Christine McVie.

Originally recorded by Etta James in 1967, “I’d Rather Go Blind” went on to get covered by Rod Stewart, Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Clarence Carter and Beyonce in Cadillac Records. Hard to top Etta, but the Chicken Shack / Christine Perfect rendition is, well… Perfect.

6. "Once In Awhile"
Rocky Horror


Most people have never heard this song. Unless they’ve got a Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff or Magenta costume in their closet. It was in the stage play of Rocky Horror but cut out of the movie. Exactly why has never been explained, however, we suspect it was because Barry Bostwick couldn’t sing it very well, though he looked okay in his tidy whities. The rendition we like is sung by Bill Miller on the Original Roxy Cast soundtrack.

A beautiful tune it’s the song that gets Brad and Janet back together.

bob seger title track from long lost masterpiece album Back in '72


5. "Back in '72"
Bob Seger
Back in '72


Just posted a new review of Bob Seger’s long lost album Back in ’72, which he has thus far blocked from ever being re-issued as a CD. A pity, because we consider it one of his best ever, the record which marked his transition from a singles band to an album artist, based mainly on the strength of the material. It’s hot and spontaneous, a bit unpolished.

A perfect illustration is the title track, one of the first songs Seger recorded at Muscle Shoals backed by the world-famous Swampers with Pete Carr on guitar. This tune rocks. Part travelogue, part retrospective, the lyrics tell a simple tale, but pack a punch. Pay particular attention to Pete Carr’s searing guitar. A stellar performance, he oozes from a hard-driving rhythm into great fills and transitions, squeezes in a couple tasty short solos.

Seger returned to Muscle Shoals to record songs for subsequent LPs, and you can hear Pete Carr’s guitar in songs like “Stealer,” “Travelin’ Man,” “Sunspot Baby” and “Main Street.”

4. "Samba Pa Ti"
Ottmar Liebert
Solo Para Ti


Hell and gone from Classic Rock, Ottmar Liebert is a German New Age acoustic flamenco guitarist. In 1992 he recorded an LP entitled Solo Para Ti which featured a new rendition of Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti” off Abraxas, one of the most beautiful instrumentals in Rock History. Somebody had a bright idea. “Hey, why don’t we call Carlos Santana to come in, overdub some lead guitar.” And Santana said okay.

Tough to concede it might be better than the original but this song is positively sublime. Acoustic guitar, congas, finger cymbals and then – Carlos.

3. "Rock Bottom"
Elvin Bishop
Rock My Soul


Off Elvin Bishop’s third album released in 1972, lead vocals by Jo Baker. “Rock Bottom” is an upbeat jump blues featuring a great guitar solo.

Departing Paul Butterfield Blues Band, his first release on Bill Graham’s Fillmore Records, the self-titled Elvin Bishop Blues Band, was so-so at best, but his second LP (Feel It!) featured a number of good cuts, most notably perhaps the world’s best rendition of “As The Years Go Passing By.”

It got Elvin a major label deal with Epic, though Rock My Soul was not a commercial success. Bishop insisted on being a little too down-home, embracing the Pigboy Crabshaw, naming a great instrumental “Hogbottom,” doing songs like “Party Till The Cows Come Home” and “Stealin’ Watermelons.” Okay, we get it. You’re country, grew up on a farm. Great you got roots, but it tends to limit any mass appeal. These days lyrics like “Gonna grab Hank Aaron’s baseball bat and tenderize her head” is gonna get you boycotted by a wide range of domestic violence groups.

“Rock Bottom” is everything that makes a great Elvin Bishop tune: an infectious up-tempo jump blues beat, no mention of farm animals, a great guitar part.

Rock My Soul also includes another great jump blues tune, “Holler and Shout,” could’ve cracked this list, though this original rendition featured organ and horns. Thankfully Elvin subsequently recorded a guitar version of “Holler and Shout” for 1975’s Struttin’ My Stuff with Mickey Thomas on vocals, the same album which included “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” and “Grab All The Love.”

2. "One Eyed Trouser Snake Rumba"
Humble Pie
Humble Pie


No Humble Pie song ever rocked out more than “One Eyed Trouser Snake Rumba.” That’s saying something. Off their self-titled third LP it’s got great guitar wrapped around some dirty-minded Steve Marriott lyrics which are thankfully only semi-understandable. Except for “You got the key, I got the door.”

A halfway decent LP all in all. “Live With Me” and “Earth and Water Song” are other standouts, along with a studio rendition of Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready,” which they later recorded live for Rockin’ The Fillmore, takes up half that album’s Side One.

Humble Pie hit their peak with their next LP, Rock On, the only tape I had to outright steal back from the friends I lent it to.

del shannon drop down and get me comeback album produced by Tom Petty with Hearbreakers as backing band


1. "Drop Down and Get Me"
Del Shannon & The Heartbreakers
Drop Down and Get Me


We still don’t understand why this album wasn’t HUGE. A “comeback” LP for the great Del Shannon, it was produced by Tom Petty at the peak of his popularity with The Heartbreakers playing Del’s back-up band. An excellent record, pure rock, no skippers, you can listen to the whole album all the way through.

Aside from superb covers of “Sea of Love” and The Stones’ “Out of Time” the title track is an all-time great. Mike Campbell’s guitar is outstanding.

Given what happened to Del Shannon a few short years later, perhaps we should’ve paid a bit more attention.

Near Misses & Notable Exceptions

"Shakin' Street"
Back in the USA


“Shakin’ Street” by the MC5 easily could’ve, probably should’ve made the Top 10. We could argue it should be ranked as high as Number One. But you start making these lists, writing down songs first, then ranking them. As it is our #1 changed four times already. One reason “Shakin’ Street” didn’t crack our Top 10 is because MC5 was a huge band back in the day, and this is their best tune, so we assume it probably doesn’t qualify as a “Song You (Probably) Haven’t Heard.”

“Kick Out The Jams” made the MC5. The song AND the album. They were more than a band, they were a cause. A freak flag. Fred “Sonic” Smith and Wayne Kramer don’t get the recognition they deserve as a two guitar team, especially if you ever saw them live. Loud and raucous and in your face. But great as that was, and maybe because, many who got into the band based on Kick Out The Jams felt their first studio LP Back in the USA was out of character. It’s like the world’s greatest high school garage band album, with short, bouncy tight compositions and the slick production of pre-Springsteen Jon Landau.

Opening with a cover of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” the record features a number of excellent simple rock tunes. “Tonight” and “Teenage Lust” precede the ballad “Let Me Try.” The raucous in your face sound is well represented with “Looking at You,” “Call Me Animal” and “The Human Being Lawnmower.” But the highlights are their great, great rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” (rivaling even Rick Derringer’s version off Edgar Winter’s Roadwork), one of the most politically charged rockers ever in “The American Ruse,” and the aforementioned “Shakin’ Street.” An anthem of the times, great rhythm and lead guitar, it encapsulates the restless and reckless yearning of the era, making the scene.


“The folks keep complaining they find it so shockin’

All the kids wanna do is just keep on rockin’”

"Why When The Love Is Gone"
The Inmates
Shot In The Dark


The Inmates were a great little band, sounded a lot like Early Stones, released First Offence in 1979 and Shot In The Dark in 1980. We think the latter’s better than the former, though First Offence featured great covers of “Dirty Water” and “Three Time Loser.” Their second LP includes a couple excellent tunes: “So Much In Love” (written by Jagger and Richards), “Talk Talk,” “I Thought I Heard A Heartbeat” and a nice cover of “Some Kind of Wonderful.” The best song, however, is “Why When The Love Is Gone.” It rocks.

"Born To Be Blue"
Steve Miller
Born 2 B Blue


Steve Miller doing a Mel Torme tune? Sounds off the wall. The title track from Miller’s only solo album, a jazz album if you please, it is an excellent guitar based rendition of a truly beautiful song. The record also features a great version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child.”

Jefferson Starship


This band’s third release marked a point when the Starship’s dilithium crystals began losing their charge. Decent enough, but been there, done that. The opening track “Cruisin’” may be their best song ever. Hard to believe it wasn’t written by Marty Balin, because it’s got all his earmarks. Electric folky pop. Balin does a great job on the vocals, but this song really belongs to Craig Chaquico, who plays some phenomenal guitar.

Craig Chaquico
Once In A Blue Universe


Long as we’re talking about Craig Chaquico, after leaving Starship he recorded a string of New Age-y instrumental albums. They are all quite good. We expected them to be more like jam albums, but they are intricately composed with textured instrumentation. “Dreamcatcher” may be one of the best instrumentals ever recorded. We’d rank it up there in the same League as “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run,” “Wham” and “Samba Pa Ti.” We realize that’s some exalted company. Seriously, folks. It’s worth checking out.

"Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer"
Popa Chubby
Booty And The Beast


We know Popa Chubby’s not technically a Classic Rock Artist, but he learned so much from the era (thanks to his parents) you can probably call him an Honorary Member. Check out Flashed Back, Old School, Electric Chubbyland, or the Black Coffee Blues Band. “Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer” is a great tune on a pretty good album, includes a couple other standouts in “Trouble” and his renditions of Freddie King’s “Palace of The Kind” and “Same Old Blues.”

"Time Was"
Wishbone Ash


Of all the songs mentioned we wouldn’t be surprised if the most ardent Classic Rock aficionados had heard this tune. Clearly forgotten, Wishbone Ash had their day. Long, flowing compositions with intertwining electric guitars, they flirted along the edges of the Progressive Rock Movement without totally succumbing. I remember buying their live album, it had three tracks: two on the front, only one on the back. Par for the course. The second side of their self-titled debut was only two tracks: “Handy” at 11 and a half minutes, “Phoenix” was 10 and a half.

Argus, their third release, came out in 1972, peaked at Number Three in the U.K. “Time Was” did get some FM airplay, so we would not be terribly surprised if you might’ve heard it. A catchy hook, it’s more or less the perfect Wishbone Ash song. These guys used electric guitars in an almost symphonic sense, with building themes and movements, still managed to feature a lot of flowing guitar solos.

“Blowing’ Free” is another excellent track off this record.

Interesting to note, it spite of the notoriety Wishbone Ash received for their twin guitars, the band was actually formed by the Bass Player and Drummer. Their harmonizing leads, were cited as an influence by bands Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, Iron Maiden and The Eagles.

"Hoochie Coochie Lady"


The opening track of the band’s self-titled debut album, released in 1972, produced by Ian Paice and Roger Glover of Deep Purple, it was the first we ever heard of vocalist Ronald Padavona, who later shortened that to stage name Ronnie Dio. Of all the guys in all the bands I met as a rock journalist through the 70s and 80s, Ronnie was one of the few I could call a friend. Met him backstage at a Deep Purple show in 1972. Elf was the opening act. A nice guy, down to Earth, we got along, kept running into each other around the music business through the years. In the early 80s he invited me to a get-together at his house in L.A. for the holidays, and it was party I shall not forget – a heavy metal Christmas, with guests like Glenn Hughes and the guys from Y&T, their girls in platform boots and feather boas, the blinking colored lights of a Christmas tree in the baackground.

The LP is basically hard-edged rock ’n roll featuring Ronnie’s powerful vocals with an excellent album-wide performance by guitarist David Feinstein. (If memory serves, believe he played a Les Paul Junior, same axe Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre used to do the solo in “Aqualung.”) Piano work from Micky Lee Soule is also outstanding.

A pure rocker, “Hoochie Koochie Lady” is the best track on the record. If you listen closely, though, you can hear the seeds of the Heavy Metal direction the band would take in “Never More.”

A couple years later Ritchie Blackmore would split Deep Purple and form Rainbow with Ronnie Dio and the other guys from Elf: Micky Lee Soule on keyboards, drummer Gary Driscoll and bassist Craig Gruber.

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