170. I know I’m losing you

“By the time I was thirteen or fourteen and paying proper attention, there were three versions of I Know I’m Losing You percolating around the radio airwaves: The Temptations’ original, Rod Stewart’s stomping rocker, and Rare Earth‘s stretched out epic. Actually, make that four, because Rare Earth also had a live version which was the best of bunch – rock hard, funky, a powerhouse that just went on, on, on, because sometimes, what’s going down is just too good to stop, so you don’t. A lot of great early 1970s music had this, particularly on live albums. Like everybody knew the 1960s were over, but so what, just keep pushing, this superlative noise must never stop. And as long as I manage to hang onto albums like Rare Earth In Concert, I guess it won’t.” (Philip Random)

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(image source)

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289. Cyprus Avenue

“I saw Van Morrison once. 1986, I think. Underwhelmed would describe my response. Not that I was horribly surprised. I had been warned. Van was notorious for less than stellar shows. If he wasn’t feeling the gods own light in his soul, he wasn’t going to fake it. But on a good night, well, words don’t suffice. You’ve got to just shut up and listen to the likes of what happens here in Cyprus Avenue, recorded in 1973 sometime, final song of the evening apparently. Too late to stop now.” (Philip Random)

VanMorrison-1973-tooLATE

401. every step of the way

“Because there had to be some Santana on this list. Might as well go with the biggest, wildest, livest thing I’ve got. Because the force of nature known as Carlos Santana always sounded best to me live, from stealing the show at Woodstock (for a while anyway) to conquering Japan in 1974 with maybe the hottest band on the planet. I only wish I’d actually known about Every Step of the Way at the time. Would’ve allowed me to destroy all comers in all those stupid yet essential who’s-the-fastest-guitarist arguments we seemed to need to have in Grade Ten.” (Philip Random)

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415. carry on

“The original version of Crosby Stills Nash + Young‘s Carry On is entirely okay. It makes its point. The revolution may have peaked but, man, we’re still on the edge of something beautiful, man, so just carry on, man, to peace love and understanding, man. Live however, captured on 1971’s 4 Way Street, you actually believe it. Love is coming for us all. War shall be forever banned. Richard Nixon will not be re-elected in a year’s time by the single biggest landslide in history, America will not keep mucking around in Vietnam for four more bloody years. It’s the jamming, of course. Neil Young and Steve Stills facing off (with rhythm section Fuzzy Samuels and Johnny Barbata in strong support) riding the wave to heaven’s gate itself, leaving the original song far behind for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile in a hotel in Las Vegas, Hunter Thompson is glimpsing through ancient eyes what he’d come to call the high water mark. These things are not unconnected.” (Philip Random)

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620. like a rolling stone [live]

“It’s true. I wouldn’t be compiling this list if it wasn’t for Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone. Push comes to shove, it’s probably the single record I’d grab if the house was burning down (which it is, by the way). Because it marks the moment at which the Apocalypse got interesting to me, when the big story I care about kicked into gear. It’s the snare shot to be specific, the one at the very beginning. That’s what did it – kicked the proverbial door wide open, and it’s all been wild urgency ever since. But you’ve already heard that record at least a thousand times, so it doesn’t qualify for this list. But I bet you haven’t heard the live version, from 1974’s Before the Flood, Dylan and the Band raving it up like the anthem it is, saving the world one night at a time. Because everything just keeps on exploding. Same as it ever was.” (Philip Random)

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