#1. ‘Surrender’ – Cheap Trick, Heaven Tonight (1978) – Of course shuffle starts me off with a recognizable hit that fits into the “classic rock” pool, a term I really don’t care for, but yes… ‘Surrender’, you want to rock out to it when it blares out your speaker. Cheap Trick knew how to mix rock, pop, and energy into songs like these. They just ooze a certain kind of cool.
#2. ‘Whipping Post’ – The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band (1969) – Early Allman Brothers, jamming, hard-driving blues-rock with an edge. This may not be a monolithic live version, but it’s quite raw and to the point. You can’t beat it.
#3. ‘Batman’ – The Who, Ready Steady Who EP (1966) – The great, thumping, badass bass-driven cover of the 1960s Batman television series theme you never knew you needed. You’re welcome.
#4. ‘Thank You Girl’ – The Beatles, 1963 single – As a huge Beatles fan, I am a bit biased… Even a not-so-great song from the band, I can’t call bad. For other folks, it’s easy to name a bad Beatles song. They’ll often point to things like ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, ‘Run for Your Life’ (that song’s lyrics are pretty bad, I will say that), ‘Wait’, ‘A Taste of Honey’, ‘Mr. Moonlight’, the like… For me, the worst Beatles song is simply a “doesn’t do much for me” kind of song, not an ear-grating one. ‘Thank You Girl’, the B-side of the peppy ‘From Me to You’ single from April 1963, was pretty much a treat for the female fans. It’s catchy enough, but it doesn’t hit you the way something like the quasi-blues of ‘From Me to You’ does, or the sheer energy of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, or even its stately B-side ‘This Boy’. Releasing it made sense, though the fan in me would’ve liked it if the 1963 version of ‘One After 909’ was the B-side!
#5. ‘We’ve Got It Goin’ On’ – Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys (1996) – Uh oh, nostalgia time! I admit that I have this typical 90s thing on my iPod because I was a kid when this came out, and I loved it then, I enjoy it now. No, it’s not a good song by any means, it’s dated as all hell, but it is upbeat and fun… So this is one of those… Guilty pleasures. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to say here, really.
#6. ‘That’s the Way of the World’ – Earth, Wind & Fire, That’s the Way of the World (1975) – Yes, some know Earth, Wind & Fire for their more uptempo hits (‘Shining Star’, ‘Sing a Song’, ‘Boogie Wonderland’), but their slower side is just as great – this song being a perfect example. Everything from the vocals to the arrangement, just pure beauty.
#7. ‘Miss You’ – The Rolling Stones, Some Girls (1978) – Ahhh, our dear old bad boys of rock in the early-to-mid 1960s! The Rolling Stones were thought to have fallen off after the release of the 1972 landmark Exile on Main St. (in my humble opinion, that is not their best album. Let It Bleed gets my vote.), but there are merits to be found in their overlooked mid-70s catalogue. Some Girls, released at the height of punk and disco, was seen as the “comeback”. It’s true that Some Girls boasted several strong songs and was overall a great spinner, and this track – the band’s foray into disco – is pretty darn successful. It has that Stones grit and style, while being fun to dance to, and not really sounding all that dated. I actually think it holds up better than some of the disco hits of that particular era.
#8. ‘Imagination Land’ – Michael Giacchino, Inside Out soundtrack (2015) – You can’t go wrong with a Pixar score, and Giacchino once again delivered the goods with Inside Out. Giacchino really sunk us into an atmospheric, almost psychedelic collection that perfectly aligns with the cerebral setting and themes. ‘Imagination Land’, bouncy and off-kilter compared to the rest of the ethereal tracks, fits the sequence it’s set in. A land of weird shapes and all kinds of colors and objects, it’s what you would hear in the imagination of someone who is in their preteen years, who was still holding onto the innocence they had as a kid.
#9. ‘Something’ – The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969) – Here we go, a top-notch Beatles song! What can be said that has not been said before about Abbey Road and one of George Harrison’s greatest songs? It feels like the true bridge between his previous work, and the angelic epics of his triple solo album All Things Must Pass. Love and godliness make for a song that may seem simplistic on the surface, but at its core is something truly special. You couple that with a layered, absolutely perfect arrangement and you get perfection.
#10. ‘Let’s Go Away for Awhile’ – The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966) – Would you look at that, a Pet Sounds track! I feel that Pet Sounds‘ instrumentals don’t really get enough credit, for they are lush, complex, beautifully-constructed pieces. ‘Let’s Go Away for Awhile’, with its classical structure, is no exception. On a side note, I saw Brian Wilson and his band (including original Beach Boy Al Jardine, and early-70s Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin!) play the entire Pet Sounds album live, along with many Beach Boys songs… Not only was it heavenly, but he and the crew did all of these songs justice. It was a truly excellent experience.