A+ List – 1984

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As much as the ‘80s are maligned musically, ’84 was an outstanding year for pop music. Check out my lengthy list of Honorable Mentions below #20, many of which are as good/even better than the twenty annotated below in alphabetical order.

Music As a Cultural Touchstone – Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

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On a personal level, my goal is to always extend that comfort zone. It’s hard to learn much in life if you are only willing to dog paddle within the same peer group. It’s a big, messy world out there. Go out and explore it with open ears and an open mind. You might discover that both Glenn Miller and Kanye West are pretty hep cats.

1983 – A+ List

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“Age of Consent,” New Order. Three years after permanent mope Ian Curtis offed himself, New Order effectively established a new post punk sound, sounding a bit like a less attention needy version of the The Cure. An unexpected entry on your “Songs About Jailbait” playlist.

The Crawford Family Southwest Vacation Songs

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Outside of Amarillo is a weird roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch – a line of ten Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground. Visitors are encouraged to spray paint graffiti on the Detroit relics. Noting one of the cars already was tagged with “Steve,” no work was required on my behalf.

1982 – A+ List

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Mrs. Lorene Burns, an Alabama woman that had the famous seven digits for her telephone number was not a fan. “When we’d first get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, my husband would answer the phone. He can’t hear too well. They’d ask for Jenny, and he’d say ‘Jimmy doesn’t live here anymore.’ Tommy Tutone was the one who had the record. I’d like to get hold of his neck and choke him.”

the Best of The Kinks Komplete

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Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” 1965. At the ripe old age of 21, poor rock star Ray is already wondering what’s happened to the worry free lifestyle of his youth. This sounds like a major hit, but was a B-side in 1965, then bombed as a single in 1973 (released after Bowie did his cover on Pin Ups). Is it just me or does the mother figure sound like a cougar?

The Best of The Kinks – Part II

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The picture is Waterloo Station in the mid 1800 but by the time young ray wrote about it, it was an industrial quagmire, Number One? Crawford had this to say: “Waterloo Sunset,” 1967. The most beautiful song I will ever hear.

The Best of the The Kinks – Part 1

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My first draft list had 25 entries, but with feedback from experts like Bill Holdship, John Kordosh, Iman Lababedi, Michael Bennett, A.C. Rhodes, and others, the list expanded to 40 and I could have easily included many others (“Powerman,” “Two Sisters,” “God’s Children,” and “Celluloid Heroes” are among the missing)

1981 – A+ List

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At the # 1 spot, American artist: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” Willie Nelson. One of Willie’s best – a beautiful lyric of self-less love matched with equally inspiring guitar work. A #1 country hit.

The A+ List – 1980

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Lemmy and the boys formed in 1975, but struggled in their native U.K. until the Overkilland Bomber albums dented the album charts in 1979. The band released their signature punk meets metal anthem “Ace of Spades” in 1980 and it even went to #15 on the U.K. pop charts. Kilmister’s work as a rock ‘n’ roll icon and independent lawn killer is a never ending mission.

My Ten Favorite Tunes By My Favorite Ten Bands

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It was suggested that I might want to submit an article on my favorite songs by my ten favorite bands or spend the rest of my career dissecting Peter Cetera’s contribution to the Mexican milkweed underwear industry for Granola Bong Hit magazine’s South American edition

1979 – A+ List

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. “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind, & Fire. EWF managed to be all things to all people in the late ‘70s – they had elements of disco and funk, but stayed safely within the confines of Top 40 music. Looking back, they seemed bigger than they were – scoring seven Top Ten hits, four in ’78 and ’79. This happy feet dance number, which included The Emotions on vocals, captured the giddy vibe of the disco era,.

The A+ List – 1978

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Van Halen erupted on the scene in ’78 with Eddie’s unmatched guitar pyrotechnics and David Lee Roth’s tongue-in-cheek (and elsewhere) macho posturing. Pretty much a coin flip on whether to select this one or “Dance the Night Away,” but the campy “I been to the edge” monologue makes the difference for me.

The A+ List – 1977

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“Alison,” Elvis Costello. Declan MacManus delivered a debut album that couldn’t be ignored; pairing pub rock licks with punk rock attitude and the wordplay/songwriting skills of a learned veteran, not a rookie that had just quit his day job. On “Alison,” he stumbles across an old flame that is drowning in unsalvageable sorrow

10 Essential Songs From the Pen of Gerry Goffin

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He is most famously known for his songwriting partnership with Carole King (the couple were married from 1959 to 1968). As a lyricist, Goffin was known for his acute writing from a female perspective and as King has noted, his ability to put “big ideas into simple words.”

1976 – A+ List

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“Anarchy in the U.K.,” The Sex Pistols. In November of ’76, a sea change occurred in the U.K. music scene as Johnny Rotten introduced himself as an anti-Christ/anarchist. While Rotten was declaring his goal to destroy passersby, the multi-tracked guitar of Steve Jones roared in violent agreement with the sentiment.

Casey Kasem – The Potentate of Pathos

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If Kasem had been simply spinning platters and telling chart positions, he would have been imminently replaceable. The bits of trivia, the stories about the artists and the songs, the dramatic build to the #1 hit of the week was all part of an ongoing narrative – part mystery, part discovery, always leading to the next week’s chapter in the ongoing saga of pop music history.

1975 – A+ List

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“Ballroom Blitz,” Sweet. Mixing bubblegum pop with Townshend power chords, songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman wrote a series of U.K. hits for Sweet, including “Little Willie,” “Wig-Wam Bam,” and the excitingly punctuated “Block Buster!” “Ballroom Blitz” is Sweet at their irresistible best and was a major international hit – it went to #2 in the U.K. in 1973 and #3 in the U.S. in 1975.

The A+ List – 1974

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John Prine penned “Angel” for his extraordinary 1971 debut album. Raitt gave this despondent tale of a woman living a passionless life an even more touching treatment. Always remember, common side effects of Zoloft include sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, abnormal ejaculation, dry mouth, and weight loss.

1973 – The A+ List

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“Love Train,” The O’Jays. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the kings of the Philly soul sound, wrote and produced this #1 hit. The O’Jays formed in the late 1950s, but had no success until 1972, when Gamble and Huff produced “Back Stabbers” for the group. The O’Jays smartly stayed with G&H for the rest of the decade. For the love of money, if nothing else.

Steve Crawford's Top 25 Songs Through May 31st, 2014

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This list heavy on alt-country No Depression Americana, but that’s just the way I roll these days. The #1 slot is by the band with the best album of the year so far (and the #3 slot comes from the second best album of the year). I have no idea if Parker Millsap is being sincere or ironic on “Truck Stop Gospel,” but in either case, he’s made me a believer. In Parker Millsap.

Tennessee City Can Change Its Name to Rocky Top

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The city council of Lake City has yet to formally vote on the name change, but that is most likely a mere formality. “Rocky Top,” a tune written in ten minutes to celebrate an idyllic, fictional Tennessee lifestyle will soon morph into a manufactured, t-shirt selling tourist trap. I bet Hooter’s is already looking for property.

1972 – The A+ List

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The common theme of ‘70s rock criticism was “this decade is horrendous, everything great happened in the ‘60s,” which is a sentiment that proves that The Beatles were more effective as a hangover than they were as an intoxication. 1972 was actually an embarrassment of riches and this listing could easily be doubled. So, let’s groove on back to the Nixon era without being nattering nabobs of negativity.

“Looking for Johnny”, Johnny Thunders Documentary, Reviewed

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Like most documentaries, this is a labor of love and director Garcia does a fine job at highlighting the key events in Thunders’ life. However, the limited ability he had for licensing is a shortcoming of the film – most of the music used in the film is clamorous stage footage that doesn’t adequately display Thunders’ skill as a songwriter

The Old 97’s “Most Messed Up” Reviewed

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Rambunctious and sloppy and chaotic and hysterical with songs that you can both sing with and scream along to. If you’ve forgotten how thrilling traditional rock ‘n’ roll can be, this is one hell of a reminder. Play it loud. Knock back a few shots. Piss off your uptight neighbors.

1971: The A+ List

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1971 was a great year for what we now call classic rock – Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who all released indispensable albums. Boiling down 1971 to 20 A+ tracks was no easy feat – my apologies to the Chi-Lites and the Stylistics, among others.

1970 – The A+ List

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This record gets the Best Supporting Cast award for 1970. Motown legends Holland/Dozier/Holland wrote the tune under a lawsuit avoiding pseudonym and The Funk Brothers played on the track. Ray Parker, Jr., who was still attending classes at Detroit’s Northwestern High School, played lead guitar.

Bob Wills Day, Turkey, Texas, April 25th, 2014

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Every year during the last weekend of April, the small West Texas community of Turkey, Texas celebrates the legacy of their most famous citizen with Bob Wills Day, as a huge fan of both Bob Wills and general weirdness, I’ve wanted to attend this event for years

Different Songs With The Same Name, Part II

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As attentive readers know, the theme of this piece is great songs by different artists that share the same title. In the first article on this subject, we learned to “Walk Like a Man” with The Four Season and Bruce Springsteen (but forgot Grand Funk), we observed “Love Is All Around” from the Troggs and Joan Jett, and we were infatuated with “Starry Eyes” by The Records and Roky Erickson.

Fourteen Fine Tunes from 2014

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Rachael Price, the great granddaughter of Seventh Day Adventist leader George McCready Price, is a superb vocalist and this song has a ‘70s classic pop structure. This is a band that displays retro influences without smelling like a pet rock.