(Really) Deep Cuts: Classic Rock

An alert reader and good friend I’ll never meet brought up classic rock radio recently.  I’m paraphrasing here, but he mentioned that in the good old days of radio — say, 2005, for example — programmers would play the same damned songs until they were so completely fucked out that we’d rather jab pens in our ears than hear them again.  Classic rock radio still exists, of course, but now we have on-demand services ranging from iPods to Spotify that shield us from thrice daily repetitions of “Lay Down Sally.”

But here’s the thing:  The bands whose reputations were destroyed (or made, depending on your point of view) through saturation actually deserve their praise.  Here are some cuts that never get radio play, never get licensed for commercials, and never show up in films (except for Wes Anderson movies, maybe), and may restore your faith in the rockosaurus.

 “The Bewlay Brothers,” David Bowie.  You’ve heard “Changes,” “Let’s Dance,” “Fame,” and “Space Oddity” enough for one lifetime.  Try this bit of strangeness for a change.

“Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” Led Zeppelin.  “Stairway To Heaven,” “Immigrant Song,” “Black Dog.”  Zep were big noisy cock rockers with a Tolkien fetish, if you boil them down to the songs you’ve heard a million times.  But their catalogue is full of funk, country, and acoustic nuggets like this one.

“Naked Eye,” The Who.  “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Who Are You.”  Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard the same Who songs so many times that you don’t even hear them anymore.  “Naked Eye” has everything — the loud/soft dynamic, Pete and Roger swapping verses, and lots of angry power.

“You Know My Name Look Up the Number,” The Beatles.  Maybe the only Beatles song you haven’t heard to death.

“Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire),” AC/DC.  It’s true — AC/DC made music other than “TNT,” “Highway to Hell,” and Back In Black.  Occasionally one of their songs even sounds different.  Bon’s story song about life as a rock star likely was saved from overexposure by its length.  A tasty cut.

“Chiquita,” Aerosmith.  From Night In the Ruts,  one of their most reviled albums.  Cool song, and it isn’t “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” or one of those creepy overproduced joints they made during the ’90s.

“Sheer Heart Attack,” Queen.  I don’t know why radio didn’t play this cut to death, but I’m not complaining.  One of the many jewels in an amazing discography.  Or you can listen to “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” again, your choice.

Do you have a favorite deep cut from an overplayed artist?  Lay it on me, I’m listening.

Postscript:  “James,” I says to myself, because myself is named James, “maybe you’re being a bit harsh on the classic rock radio format.”  So today I took a little drive and turned on the EAGLE/ROQ/ZOO/etc.  During my little trip here’s what I heard:

  • “Fame,” David Bowie
  • “A Day In the Life,” The Beatles
  • “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” Tom Petty
  • “Take It Easy,” The Eagles
  • “Desperado,” The Eagles
  • “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” The Eagles

So no, nothing has changed in thirty years on classic rock radio — literally nothing.

14 thoughts on “(Really) Deep Cuts: Classic Rock

  1. Being old enough, gratefully, to have listened to vinyl, I know the glories of album song sequencing, track crossfade… bits of magic lost on the young track-downloader.

    Aerosmith was one of my first deep-cut injuries. “Kings and Queens” was not in the radio overkill rotation, so hearing it on vinyl introduced me to a new sonic flavor: a dirge of distortion, lament, longing… pain. The antithesis of radio singles.

    Deep cuts always drive me to this wellspring of a blog. They are often emotionally sutured to our memory. Sonically attached to overwhelming emotion, happy or sad… either almost indistinguishable to our soul.

    • “Kings and Queens” is an outstanding choice. I remember going around the horn over and over on my 8-Track player to catch that cut. You nailed it with “dirge…distortion, lament, longing…pain,” but what’s funny is that the lyrics are borderline nonsense. All of that emotion is carried in the performance, melody, and arrangement. Pretty damned cool.

  2. Oh! SO many – but the first one that came to mind was
    Springsteens “Roulette” – it was a no-album track from 1979, and I had a live bootleg tape of a concert of his from that year where it was performed. Imagine my despair when my extremely tired Walkman suddenly bit back at my ‘rewind’ abuse, and ate the tape.

    But, for folks who became “Born in the USA-ed out, it’s a nice three minutes of a frantic, dark, panicky 110mph ride. The YouTube ‘early mix’ of it is, I think, your best bet.

    And a different change of pace on the same guy, “Lost in the Flood” off of side two of “Asbury Park” has enough black, miserable mean drums and lyrics to make you almost wish you had not been born in the USA.

    By the way – I literally had to blink when I saw “The Bewlay Brothers” – I haven’t heard that weird song in….thirty-five years? Cooool.

      • “Nebraska’ (!) – the whole album counts as very deep cut, in my opinion. I loved it also, not only for its acoustic despair but because the newly fed “Born to Run”-ies, well, they ran away. We had him to ourselves again for a little while.

        If you do look for “Lost in the Flood” find the studio version – all of the live ones are too hard to hear what is going on. Quick correction- it’s the last song on side ONE of the album.

  3. There were great…haven’t heard most of these in a good long while. Can I just add that AC/DC is the shit, for real.

    I, not shockingly, will call out some Steely Dan. Sure, some of their cuts have been played to death. But how about some Charlie Freak? Any Major Dude? My Rival? Yum.

    • Steely Dan is another great example of a band reduced to the same old stuff: “Peg,” “FM,” “Hey Nineteen.” But man, what a great combo of songwriters and musicians — quite worthy of a deeper dive into their discography.

  4. Staley Dan will weigh in after his post disappeared and didn’t paste, after all that typing and having Lazarus on Firefox. To be brief, I listen to internet radio via the app Radio Sure and I enjoy music again. And I like your picks. Bon Scott.

    • Consider yourself fortunate for your web interface… craning to look through a knot-hole on a wooden fence is my web experience, with my little Android phone.

      I have lost many comments here before they would post. Now use Evernote, which I highly recommend. Edit and save comments on Evernote mobile app, copy and paste to WordPress page.

      THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU, STAFFORD!

  5. Go to WMMQ.com and click on ‘listen now’ or whatever on Saturday night at 7 o’clock. Larry Allens all request show starts then & it’s almost all deep cuts. Bob W.

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