Recommended Videos

These recommended videos follow no set rules. Some are great songs, some are great videos, some have historical significance and some are funny. In no way, shape or form is this intended as a top 20 list. It’s not even all rock:  “John Barleycorn Must Die,” of course, is not a rock song by any definition. Steve Winwood found his fame as a rock performer though and – since it’s a moving version – it’s here.

Portugal. The Man: Feel it Still. Terrific video and great song from the band hailing from the same Alaska town that gave us Sarah Palin. They owed us one.

Heavyball: Another Country. This is one of the best video/song combos I’ve ever seen. It’s stunning. Whoever directed the video will be famous someday.

Warren Zevon: Lawyers, Guns and Money. The Capitol Theater, 1980.

Keith Richards, Levon Helm, Scotty Moore and others: Duece and a Quarter. There are four great things about this video. First and foremost are the players. In addition to Richards, Helm, and Moore (Elvis’ guitarist), it features D. J. Fontana (Elvis’ drummer), Rick Danko, Jim Weider, Garth Hudson, Marshall Crenshaw, Richard Bell and Paul Burlison. The second great is that the song, which was written by Gwil Owen and Kevin Gordon, is terrific. The title refers to the Buick Electra 225, which is 225 inches long. The third great thing is that, according to the notes at YouTube, Richards brought along his father so that he could meet Moore, the guy who made him want to play guitar. I’m sure that Chuck Berry figures in there somewhere as well. And, finally, is the way in which the video is put together. Instead of a traditional video, it’s a collage of black and white stills from the session. It really works well.

Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood: John Barleycorn Must Die. This is a moving version. Rock songs make great when done acoustically. Another example is “Layla.” Clapton’s acoustic version of also brought out nuance and subtleties that are impossible to convey in rock versions.

The Guess Who: Clap for the Wolfman. I’m not sure if this is a fan video or from some Guess Who-related distribution or promotional company. In any case, it has a great sense of time and place. The Wolfman was an American original. What was groundbreaking decades ago seems tame today.

Grand Funk Railroad: I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home). We are all Grand Funk. Jokes aside, this is a really good song. I think I read that it was about The Odyssey or something like that.

Mountain: Theme for an Imaginary Western. This is a strange video. The guy is announcing the concert like it’s a ballgame. Since it is in stadium (old Crosley Field in Cincinnati), perhaps the guy was under contract and had to announce the festival. It’s a beautiful song and Leslie West was great.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads: Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick. I really don’t want to know what this song is about. It was a great band. Dury, by the way, coined the phrase “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.” The second line of the lyric is “Is all I really need.” He has quite an interesting background.

Moe. Kyle’s Song. Great jam band performance in a nice looking setting.

Dick Dale, Stevie Ray Vaughan: Pipeline. This odd number is from the movie “Back to the Beach.” Among those who show up are Gilligan and The Skipper. They are in character but not on the island. Surf guitar giant Dick Dale looks like Joe Pesci.

ZZ Top: I Gotsta Get Paid. It’s a cover of a DJ DMD’s “25 Lighters.”

Iron Butterfly: In a Gadda Da Vida. Seventeen minutes, in all its glory. I read somewhere that the title was a drunken person trying to say “In the Garden of Eden.”

Little Feat: Dixie Chicken. Lowell George was a studio musician who is said to have served as a studio musician for Frank Zappa and Frank Sinatra. It probably isn’t rare for real pros to back very different type musicians, but that’s quite a gap.

Levon Helm: Short Fat Fanny. This is a two-drummer cover of a song written by Larry Williams. The song is followed by an interview with Conan O’Brien, who does a nice job. Helm seems as if he was a quiet individual.

Linda Ronstadt: Blue Bayou. It doesn’t get any better than this. Strangely, this is a cover of a Roy Orbison song.

Imelda May
Imelda May

Jeff Beck/Imelda May: Remember (Walking in the Sand). This cover of the Shangri-Las great song is searing. Jeff Beck is terrific.

Donald Fagan: New Frontier. Fagan revisits the Kennedy years and no doubt his childhood. Not Steely Dan, but clearly peak Fagan:

Introduce me to that big blonde
She’s got a touch of Tuesday Weld
She’s wearing Ambush and a French twist
She’s got us wild and she can tell
She loves to limbo, that much is clear
She’s got the right dynamic for the new frontier

Do you have a steady boyfriend?
‘Cause honey I’ve been watching you
I hear you’re mad about Brubeck
I like your eyes, I like him too
He’s an artist, a pioneer
We’ve got to have some music on the new frontier

The Leningrad Cowboys/Red Army Choir: Home Sweet Alabama. To recap: At the end of World War II, the world split into east and west and the Cold War began. The east was led by the Soviet Union, our implacable enemy. The Red Army Choir was a potent symbol of the power and patriotism of the country and the majesty of its culture.

Eventually, rock music was born in the west. A subgenre developed in the southern part of the U.S. that very clearly illustrated the huge cultural gap between north and south. One of the great bands of the genre—perhaps second only to The Allman Brothers—was Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band’s song “Home Sweet Alabama” testified to the joys of living in that region of the country. It was a huge hit.

Over time, the Soviet Union’s economy cratered and, eventually, the nation fell apart. The Red Army Choir remained, however. Hard up for cash, the choir teamed with The Leningrad Cowboys who were from Finland, another traditional Russian/Soviet enemy (none of this makes much sense, so why not?). The cowboys and the choir covered “Home Sweet Alabama,” which was Russified. The singers seemed to be having fun for the first time in their lives.

The moral of the story is that the Cold War meant nothing, but was the reason thousands of nuclear weapons were built.

Neil Young: Fork in the Road. This is more or less a Neil Young home movie.

Michael and the Electric Flag: Over Lovin’ You. Bloomfield was an important guitarist. This video is important and interesting because it is from the Monterrey Music Festival.