Tag Archives: Best Song On The Album

Best Song On The Album – Whaler By Sophie B Hawkins

Once upon a time, there was a song on the radio that I liked. Actually, the nineties was a pretty good decade for such things, but this was a while before things like realising Virgin’s “No repeat 9-5″ had virtually the same playlist every day (you could just about set your clock by November Rain at one point), or suffering “Chasing Cars” five times in one night shift.

So this song I liked, I didn’t really catch enough in the way of lyrics, and certainly nothing in the way of announcements, to find out what that song was.

Some years later, on a message board I frequented at the time, I mentioned some half-remembered lyrics, and some helpful person said something along the lines of “That kinda sounds like…”, then named a song, which quick research revealed to be the right one.

“As I Lay Me Down”, by Sophie B. Hawkins.

This turned out to be her last single, coming from the second of her four albums.

Some time after that (I have no idea how much time), I came across that album, “Whaler”, in a charity shop. Due to meticulous record-keeping (AKA “not peeling the label off”), I know I got it in Help The Aged for £2.99. Bit steep for a CD in a charity shop, but hey. I was young (ish) and reckless (well, perhaps, can’t say I really remember).

We have a 5-CD changer in the living room, and some CDs tend to be picked, stay in there for a while (a mealtime tends to take most of 1 CD, and if the player’s left going we’ll sometimes reach a third, and occasionally it reaches the end of the 5th). Then after a while, someone decides it’s time to change CDs, and we get another batch that lasts a while.

Recently, Whaler (from 1994) was brought into the playlist. It’s been played a few times. so what’s the best song on the album?

Sometimes, an album will contain tracks that are better than the singles (“you released THAT one as a single?”). And other times, the single tracks are the good ones, and the rest feels more like filler.

Well this time round, I can’t say that I put on headphones, and subjected myself to a close listening of the album 5 times before writing about it. I did notice that a bunch of the rest of the album had more of a pop edge to it, where if I was making a playlist and was familiar with those songs, I probably wouldn’t choose to listen to them.

Perhaps it’s familiarity with the track, perhaps this track is that much different from the others, but the only track that’s really stood out, in that “I want to hear this” kind of way, as the sound of the album drifts out into the house, is “As I Lay Me Down”. It’s so pretty. None of the other tracks made me want to come over and find out what the track was called. Of course, neither did this one, because I already know. But you know what I mean.

Best Track On The Album: Meat Loaf, part 2 – 2000-2015

Continued from yesterday’s post I’m talking a little about each Meat Loaf album and my favourite track on it. Yesterday I tackled everything pre-2000, today is everything between 2000 and now (it’s a bit premature to say what my favourite songs from future albums will be).

Again, the links to the winning songs are in the summary, at the end.

Unfortunately, today I must start with the one Loaf album I don’t like. So here goes…

Couldn’t Have Said It Better, 2003:
If I’d Lie For You (on Welcome To The Neighbourhood, discussed in part 1) was trying to be Anything For Love, the title track here was REALLY trying to be Anything For Love, and failing to live up to its predecessor even more miserably. Most of the rest of the album wasn’t any better. It seemed mostly defensive, but the shell was mostly hollow. But there are a couple of shining moments that contrast with the rest of the album. Narrowly missing out on being one of the shining moments is Because Of You, which has a cool chorus, but otherwise has absolutely no substance. Shallow, were Meat Loaf usually manages to run much deeper. The runner-up track is a cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. As a bonus, that song finishes, but the track continues in silence for a couple of minutes before bursting into a hidden song on the same track, a cover of Mercury Blues, which is a lot of fun. The shinier light on the album, though, is Did I Say That (the album version is a bit longer than the music video). It’s the end of a relationship, neither side is innocent, his thoughts are conflicted, switching between giving blame and taking blame… this song feels really honest, and the other songs on the album seem to lack that.

Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, 2006:
I remember finding out about this album while it was being highlighted by Ken Bruce on Radio 2. The long-awaited Meat Loaf studio cover of Jim Steinman’s Bad For Good hit the radio. Major geek-out moment, and ditching the “God Speed” section was absolutely the right choice. And the rest of the album, what a stunning return to form. Alive reminds me of Bon Jovi back when they were good (no offense, Mr Jovi. Remind me to do a post about Bon Jovi one day). The Steinman-penned tracks In The Land Of The Pig, The Butcher Is King, and If It Ain’t Broke, Break It. The absolute highlight of the album, however, hands-down, is Seize The Night.
On Steinman’s solo album Bad For Good, Track 10 was an instrumental called “The Storm”. It sounded like it could be from a movie soundtrack. On the song “Bad For Good”, it was easy to turn the lyric “You can hide away forever from the storm” to “You can hide away forever from Track 10″, for people who perversely enjoy doing such things. Like me.
Anyway, Seize The Night starts out with a redone version of The Storm, which was a total surprise to me when I heard it first. Big geek-out. At a point where The Storm shifts down a gear, Seize the Night transitions into a relatively soft section of singing. Which transitions again, and gears up and gears up, and runs screaming into Back Into Hell, a (technically) instrumental track from Bat II. The rest of the track switches between the song Seize The Night, and Back Into Hell. It’s a treat for fans who’ve followed both Steinman and Loaf over the years.

Hang Cool Teddy Bear, 2010:
A concept album, with the concept being a soldier dying on a battlefield, and possible futures flashing before his eyes, rather than his past. The songwriters weren’t told the concept, lest the songs become too literal, but knowing the concept you can see it. Very interesting. Also features Loaf’s first swear on an album (the word for female dog, in the duet with Jack Black, “Like A Rose”). I like Living On The Outside (very different from Standing On The Outside), the duet in If I Can’t Have You (reminiscent of the altercation with Cher in Deadringer), The Song Of Madness and its mythic imagery. The winner, though, is Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back. The character has obviously been emotionally hurt in his relationships. “Next time you stab me in the back, you better do it to my face”, perhaps intentionally quoting Firefly.

Hell In A Handbasket, 2011:
It took me a while to warm up to Hang Cool, Teddy Bear, so I listened to this album before I got it. The first three tracks (All Of Me, The Giving Tree, Live Or Die), were enough to convince me the album was worth getting. Think I like Live Or Die the most of those. I enjoy the antisocialness of Party Of One. I think the track I like most on the album is Stand In The Storm, a collaboration with other contestants on a Celebrity version of some reality show that Mr Loaf was in, but I didn’t see.

And I find out there’s a new album, Braver Than We Are, coming out either later this year or early next year. That one will have to wait…

Summary for part 2:
Did I Say That? music video / full version
Seize The Night
Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back
Stand In The Storm

Best Song On The Album: Meat Loaf, part 1 – 1977-2000

I first got into Meat Loaf around Christmas one year, when my uncle gave me a Walkman, and the #1 album at the time to play on it, that album happened to be Bat Out Of Hell II. The album intro to Anything For Love, with the guitar effects swirling around you while you have headphones on, was like nothing I’d ever heard before.

Over the few years following, finishing up at school and then the couple of years at college, I picked up the back catalogue, and have stayed pretty current since then. Thankfully for my wallet, he’s not very prolific.

Today and tomorrow, I’m going to try and pick my favourite song from each of his albums, and provide links where possible. Links will be in a summary at the end. Today I’ll take on the albums pre-2000, and tomorrow post-2000 to the present. Difficult to do much past that…

Bat Out Of Hell, 1977:
The title track is a strong contender, as is Paradise By The Dashboard Light, both with interesting stories. The last 40-ish seconds of All Revved Up are pretty fun, too. Ultimately, however, the winner has to be the beautiful Heaven Can Wait.

Dead Ringer, 1981:
Honorable mentions to Peel Out, I’ll Kill You If You Don’t Come Back, and the one I nearly picked, Read ‘Em And Weep. In the end, though, I’ll go with the almost-title-track, Deadringer For Love. The lyrical to-ing and fro-ing between Mr Loaf and Cher, apart from being hard to catch without the lyrics in front of you, are pretty funny.

Midnight At The Lost And Found, 1983:
Midnight At The Lost And Found is pretty fun, and I like The Promised Land (Elvis Presley sang it before, his version is in the movie Men In Black, it’s what Tommy Lee Jones is singing in the car before he makes it go Ludicrous Speed), but in the end this is a fight between two Songs Of Longing: Keep Driving (I can’t go home, don’t take me home, I can’t go home alone), and If You Really Want To (I can tell by the look in your tear-filled eye, you need somebody you can hold on to, if you really want to, I’d love to hold you…). The latter might be more on the creepy side, and the former more desperate. The latter still triggers a What Instrument Is That? in me. Hang it, this one’s a tie.

Bad Attitude, 1984:
The songs Bad Attitude and Piece Of The Action have a similar sort of theme. Bad Attitude is, paraphrased, “the only people who ever made a name for themselves, good or bad, bucked the system”, and the one with the same name as a TOS episode is more “I don’t want to be stuck in a dead-end job, I want to make something of myself”. I’ve listened to those a bunch, and Modern Girl (the line “Once a beautiful Miss America married Mr Right” stuck with me for years, and turned into my story with my wife, pretty much… though those are the parents of the protagonist and his young lady, in the story the song presents). I think the winner, however, is going to be Surf’s Up.

Blind Before I Stop, 1986:
Quite a few I like on this one, and talking about them all really would get convoluted and take a long time. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hero, One more Kiss (Night Of The Soft Parade) rolling into Blind Before I stop. The Song Of Longing called Standing On The Outside (Now I don’t want to live without love anymore, just want to live my life, and love’s going to open up the door…), which might on another day have one. Today, though, today Execution Day wins. It’s been one of my favourites for a long time. Fun fact: I entered a poetry competition at my college with two poems, one inspired by Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back, and one more loosely inspired by Execution Day. I preferred the Execution Day one, but the Life Is A Lemon one won me a prize. Guess I did get some money back.

Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, 1993:
This one’s been with me the longest, guess it’s going to be harder to choose. Anything For Love with its epic intro? Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, which I’ve listened to so much I know the backing vocal parts? (Keep on believing, and you’ll discover, baby!) So many others that have years of meaning. I’m going to go with the fun Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire).

Welcome To The Neighbourhood, 1995:
And this album only has two years less meaning. I’d Lie For You (etc) is running too close to Anything For Love, after a few listens. Where The Rubber Meets The Road is better. Original Sin would make a GREAT song in a musical (along with Sympathy For The Devil). Where Angels Sing is a beautiful song like Heaven Can Wait. I’m going to go with Amnesty Is Granted. The story is about two strong-willed people with relationship difficulties trying to get back together. It would be interesting to hear the other side’s perspective on this reconciliation attempt. Because there’s the possibility she might not take it so well (even with the “sorry” at the end).

Summary for part 1:
Heaven Can Wait
Dead Ringer For Love
Tie: Keep Driving and If You Really Want To (though, what on earth is up with that music video?)
Surf’s Up
Execution Day
Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)
Amnesty Is Granted

Best Song On The Album: The Simpsons Sing The Blues

How often do you listen to an album, and the best song on the album isn’t one of the singles released from that album?

I find this more common than all the good songs being the singles, though I can think of examples of that, as well. Still rarer is when the best song on the album is released as a single, but a single you never see in the shops, and you only find out it was released as one when you browse books that list each week’s Top 100 from decades ago til relatively recently, or you look online for discographies and you notice it, “hey, I never knew that was a single”, or you notice the music video on a music video DVD (or the old standby, YouTube).

Actually, one time, I knew a song was going to be released as a single, and never saw it in stores.

Anyway, abandoning this massive tangent to return to the point, as the end of Thursday approaches, it seemed that Throwback Thursday (it’s a thing I’ve noticed on Facebook the last few months) might be a good time to introduce what could become a good series (finding tracks could occasionally be a problem).

What could be more ’90s than the album The Simpsons Sing The Blues? (Well, OK, that Friends Introduce Windows 95 VHS, but apart from that…)

Some of the album approaches actually being the Blues, the rest of the instrumentation being … well, ’90s (you’ll see what I mean in a minute).

Do The Bartman was the big single from the album, incidentally also the least thematic song on the album.

Homer singing Born Under A Bad Sign, and the Moanin’ Lisa Blues, are the most bluesy songs on the album.

Bart’s Deep Deep Trouble is very catchy.

But the Best Song On The Album title really needs to go to Mr Burns and Smithers. Sometimes people are hard work. “I shouldn’t let it plague me, I shouldn’t blow a fuse, but…”