Vinson: The 10 greatest rock songs
Tuesday, June 2, 2015 2:21 pm
By MIKE VINSON
An avid listener of radio station FM 105.9, I've been following its recent polling of the "10 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time." With that I'm going to list my personal picks for the 10 greatest rock songs of all time.
(1) "Rocket 88," officially released in 1951 by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats who, for all practical purposes, was Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band. Though marketed as a rhythm & blues song experts argue "Rocket 88" was the first true rock 'n' roll song in terms of bar format, instrumentation and lyrics to receive significant radio airplay and be a success in terms of records sold. (NOTE: Along with wife Tina Turner, Ike, years later, would form the Ike & Tina Turner Revue which burst onto the music scene with a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary," a mega hit for both groups.)
(2) "Rock Around the Clock," released in 1954 by Bill Haley & His Comets. Many will contend "Rock Around the Clock" was the first rock 'n' roll song to ever be performed. However, true rock historians counter that "Rock Around the Clock" was not the first rock 'n' roll song, referring back to "Rocket 88." However, from a commercial perspective "Rock Around the Clock" received major airplay, was a major hit and filled dance floors across America. "Rock Around the Clock" is still played on major rock radio stations to this day; it has weathered the test of TIME!
(3) "Johnny B. Goode," released in 1958 by Chuck Berry. A safe bet is "Johnny B. Goode" has been covered by more bands than any other song in rock history: It is a rock 'n' roll staple! As a musician friend said, "If your band can't play 'Johnny B. Goode,' you're in trouble."
(4) "Memphis," a guitar instrumental released in 1963 by Lonnie Mack. Mack's revved-up, adventurous cover of "Memphis" (written by Chuck Berry) was the "bridge" that connected the '50s rockabilly guitars of Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins, James Burton, and Duane Eddy to the more-out-there '60s guitar styles of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.
(5) "House of the Rising Sun," released in 1964 by The Animals. In addition to it remaining a timeless hit, the sultry, bluesy guitar intro, for me, is the most "recognizable" intro to any rock song ever recorded.(6) "You Really Got Me," released in 1964 by The Kinks. That first time I heard "You Really Got Me," I thought this tune has a harder drive and is more cutting-edge than any rock tune I've ever heard. Therefore, I'll say listening to The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" was my first experience with "hard rock."
(6) "You Really Got Me," released in 1964 by The Kinks. That first time I heard "You Really Got Me," I thought this tune has a harder drive and is more cutting-edge than any rock tune I've ever heard. Therefore, I'll say listening to The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" was my first experience with "hard rock."
(7) "Last Train to Clarksville," released in 1966 by The Monkees. Before you hardcore one-percenters jump on me allow me to argue my case here: Not only was "Last Train to Clarksville" a catchy tune it contributed to the making of the TV sitcom "The Monkees," which aired in 1966 and starred, yes, Monkees' band members. Children, teenagers, and grown-ups were glued to their TV sets enjoying good, clean comedy topped off with good rock 'n' roll. "The TV sitcom "The Monkees" helped tune in mainstream America to rock 'n' roll.
(8) "I'm Going Home," performed live by Ten Years After at the Woodstock Rock Festival in 1969, with front man Alvin Lee on lead guitar and lead vocals. Lee's guitar work on "I'm Going Home," live at Woodstock is my favorite rock guitar jam of all time.
(9) "Truckin'," released in 1970 by the Grateful Dead. Though "psychedelic rock" had already arrived on the scene, "Truckin'," with its cool, upbeat groove and heady lyrics, assured psychedelic rock it had a permanent home in pop culture and it helped connect Bible-Belters to West Coast hippies.
(10) "Rockin' in the Free World," released in 1989 by Neil Young. This song by the rustic, poetic Young helped usher in "grunge rock" which helped propel super-grunge groups such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
My personal "Top Ten," that's all.