I have over 10,000 songs and stories on my iPod (well, OK, my iPad and my iPhone these days), and am sometimes astounded what crap has managed to land inside of that silly box of noise. So here’s the list of the 1/1000th of them I’m most ashamed to admit are in that pod-thing;
10. “Lady Of The Lake” by Starcastle (1974)
Few people have heard of Starcastle, but it’s safest to think of them as Yes-Lite. This corn-fed prog band arose from the same mid-western pond scum that belched forth Styx. Both Yank bands were masters of teeny-bopper prog that was dumb enough for Americans to comprehend. Styx made it big, Starcastle didn’t. "Lady Of The Lake" is a trippy bit of candyfloss is from back in the days when they were cloning Yes, replete with Jon Anderson-eque vocals, Ricky bass lines and Moog frosting. I suppose it’s only redeeming value today is that it’s a shade better than Yes currently is, nothing but a tribute-band version of their former selves.
9. “Bounty Hunter” by Molly Hatchet (1978)
A coattail act of Lynyrd Skynrd, from the same swampy shores of Northern Florida. Molly Hatchet was southern-fried rock pretending to be heavy metal, featuring Frank Frezetta album covers and generous guts behind their git-fiddles. This hook-laden bubba fantasy about blowing peoples heads off with 6-guns probably blared from the majority of rusting Chevy trucks in 1978. It astounds me that I admit to have a song on my iPod that opens with the boast “Hell Yeah!”
8. “Stargazer (Live)” by Blackmore’s Rainbow (1976)
Rock and roll comedy at its finest from Rainbow’s ‘Live In Europe’ release. Fusing Dungeons’n’Dragons with endless guitar solos, this 18-minute ego bath for Richie Blackmore proves that Spinal Tap was only slightest parody of 70s excess. This song about an evil wizard has the dubious distinction of being even more excessive that Yes and ELP’s most bloated moments. Nigel Tufnell ‘as met his match. These days Richie sports a curly black wig and strums for the Ren-Fest crowd, who no doubt are delighted that he doesn't play "Stargazer" anymore.
7. “Convoy” by C. W. McCall (1975)
Another swerve into Bubba-land, this was the battle-cry for the CB-Radio era (and the song lasts about as long as the Citizen's Band fad did). This tense bit of narrative melodrama in trucker lingo is pure good-ole-boy heaven - smashing toll gates, evading the highway patrol, ad nauseam. C.W. McCall’s deep-voiced monologue is offset by the pounciest backup vocals that sounds like members of the friggin’ New York Ballet. But this will always dredge up youthful memories of flipping around all 23 channels on the dial of our Realistic CB set. Duh.
6. “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” by Bad Company
To me Bad Co. represents everything I hate about the decade I grew to manhood in. If I had a goddamn dime for every time one of my blockheaded High-School mates who drove into auto-shop with this song or “Rock And Roll Fantasy” blaring from their jacked-up Chevy Novas, I’d be richer that Paul Rogers. A glance at their debut cover says it all - colorless, corporate and devoid of imagination. This particular boogie rave-up is so bland and bleak that it made the perfect anthem for all the booze/pot-addled brains at countless keg-parties across the USA. The band itself were the most unimaginative four-piece to ever turn tedium into platinum.
5.“I Wanna Know What You're Thinking (Pure Energy)” by Information Society
Wow, synthpop. The rise of drum machines and sequencers meant that every dweeb that could never get a job in a proper rock group, could suddenly have big hits. Even as stupid as “Safety Dance” and “Der Komissar” were, they are just eclipsed the one-hit wonder quasi-band, Information Society. Cursed with a vocalist that sounded like Phil Oakey on quaaludes, this one-joke turd turned a Star Trek sample into radio gold, then quickly evaporated into the hell that all synthpop bands currently infest.
4. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
Like many brainless youth of the early 80s, I fell under the spell of this ditzy tune, and recall singing it with my fellow fast-food workers as we closed down the slop shoppe every night. Journey was fronted by a lump of hair called Steve “Oh Sherry” Perry, who’s whiny vocals melted many an acne-pitted maiden’s heart. Perry was backed up by a combo of very competent musicians, who exchanged musical notoriety for wads of cash. This was the band’s big whoop single from their pop-apex album. These day's Journey is touring with a Perry-imitator on vocals (like Yes is touring with a Jon Anderson impersonator). One can only laugh at the 50-somethings at Journey concerts to weeping into their microbrews, romanticizing about their great old High-School days. Puke.
3. “Rock And Roll (All Nite)” by Kiss
This is the most popular Kiss song, if you can call it a song. Flaunting Kiss’s extremely marginal musicianship, this song is ideally suited for gratuitous on-stage posing between hefting blood and spewing fire. These New Yawkez who dressed like clowns going to a Broadway bondage pawty, made a big impression on my 13 year old mind. But as dangerous as Kiss seemed back in the 70s, this song proved that they were about as threatening as Billy Haley & The Comets. So we have this airheaded anthem to recall them by, as they safely hide their wrinkles and jowls under a slab of black and white makeup, delighting audiences in Native-American casinos across the continent.
2. “Lost In Love” by Air Supply
Ye gods, I can’t believe I actually have this song smelling up my Pod. Testing the limits of maudlin obsequiousness, these Aussies made one long for AC/DC after their pleading, love-drenched dribble. Their double-barreled attack of two vocalists, one pleasant, the other a squeaky li'l twat, couldn’t write a song without spewing “love” lyrics all over the place. This made Air Supply ideal music for nursing homes, until the practice was outlawed by the Geneva Convention. After listening to this twaddle, I need 3-4 Einstürzende Neubauten tracks to scrape the saccharine out of my system.
1. “The Last Farewell” by Roger Whittaker
As dreadful as this sappy folk tune is, it’s surrounded by wondrous ‘sea epic’ orchestration that makes it goofy enough to stay on the pod. Replete with nursery-rhyme lyrics, and a storyline right out of a Harlequin romance novel, this lilting ballad make the unique achievement of delighting and disgusting you at the same time. * Troubadour Whittaker has a pleasant, and irritatingly flawless, baritone voice, that made him the darling of the elderly matron set, and should I ever become one, I’ll listen to this all the more I’m sure.