Thursday, August 26, 2010

Top Fifty Journey Songs

First thing's first: in order to unzip the file of Journey I am including here, you will need to download WinRAR, which can be done here: If you have a MAC you can use UnRarX:

Secondly, here is the link for the file download:
It should also be noted that I included two great Steve Perry solo songs in there for fun.

I apologize for the many delays this list has seen. While the writing has been done for a few days now, I had a lot of trouble uploading the files. I think we are all good now, but if you have any troubles, please let me know and I will do my best to help. On to the peas.

I have always been a huge Journey fan. From my past resemblance to the man with the golden voice, Steve Perry, to watching his original impostor (also known as Steve Permy) with handicapped people while Bobby Hansen was eating my dust, Journey and I have shared a special connection.

I always thought that Journey was a girl's type of rock and roll band because growing up I knew that was my mom's favorite rock group while my dad listened to people who, in his words, "rock harder" (you know, like Wings). Even with this preconception, I always gravitated towards Journey's smooth-but-tough sound. Steve Perry's voice is truly one of a kind, and when combined with a band whose musical pedigree speaks for itself, there is simply no stopping these rocking balladeers from finding a place at the top of the charts and at the center of our hearts.

This list wasn't terribly hard to create, though I am sure many will find fault with it. Unlike Fleetwood Mac, Journey doesn't have a ton of albums featuring music from various genres and line-up changes every other day. Also, I didn't even listen to the album with that Filipino guy. I don't at all consider that Journey - they found that faggot on youtube. Good for him and good for them, but for this list I am strictly going on any albums, singles, live cuts, etc. from Journey to Generations (which isn't featured on this list because it also blows). For this list, I will focus on any information I can find about the album/song, but really there's not too much to go on. Journey isn't extremely sophisticated in the lyrics department and really these are just a series of good pop/rock songs. I may speak on why I like them, but for the most part it's got a lot to do with Steve Perry's voice and Neal Schon's guitar. I didn't choose Journey so that I could blow your minds with musical analysis; I chose Journey because it was easy and would get me writing again. It's important to note that I created this list based solely on my own ears and not on how popular any one song is. In other words, I'm sorry "Lights" isn't higher. Anyway, here we go:

Making their case for ugliest band ever

 50. "Next" - Next. Written by: Aynsley Dunbar, Heidi Cogdell, Gregg Rolie

1977's Next is Journey's third album and very much follows in the footsteps of its predecessors. It was released in the band's "fusion" era prior to Steve Perry joining the band. While the album has its fair share of progressive-style rock and roll and jazz, the songs are relatively short and it is probably the weakest of the first three Journey albums, which I would rank in order of release. The failure of this album to do anything of significance would prove an important moment in the band's history. After the release of Next, Journey would begin the search for a frontman, eventually filling the role with Robert Fleischman. Fleischman would stay with the band for nine months before leaving due to personality/management differences depending on the version of the story you hear. While Fleischman had a hand in writing some of the songs that would appear on Journey's next album (a few of which are on this list), his leaving opened the door for Steve Perry to join the band, and that was the best thing that ever happened to Journey.

"Next," the title track from Journey's third album, is a straight-up rocker with vocals by Rolie. I've always been a fan of Gregg Rolie's vocals since I heard Santana's "Black Magic Woman," and while I love Jonathan Cain I always missed Rolie's vocals after he left the group. On this track, Rolie provides an excellent vocal track while the band rocks on. You can see somewhat of a shift in the band's musical style here, which points to the direction they would follow once Perry came on board. While the song isn't anything that will blow your mind, it's a solid track from a flop of an album with a cool solo from Schon. The man does great work in the last quarter of the song.

After revisiting this song a day later, I just need to make it clear how much I love Gregg Rolie's vocals on this song. He kicks ass.

49. "Still They Ride" - Escape. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

After six albums and a great deal of success with Journey, Gregg Rolie decided to leave the band to pursue his own musical interests outside of the group. Rolie left on good terms and even suggested his replacement, Jonathan Cain from The Babys. While this may have seemed like a large blow to the band, losing the only member who is currently a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (for his work in Santana), Cain fit in well and the following recording sessions resulted in the best-selling album of Journey's career, Escape. Though critics panned the album, it shot straight to number one on the charts on the back of its singles with three songs hitting the top ten. Also known as E5C4P3, the album launched Journey into superstardom and marked a slight musical change with Cain's increased use of synthesizers and addition to the writing team. An interesting note: this album would also spawn a video game for the Atari 2600.

"Still They Ride"was the fifth single from the Escape album and charted in the top 20. This song is not the greatest of Journey's rock ballads, but it has a special place in my heart. Perry's voice shines through while Schon has a nice guitar solo, but what I like about this song are the lyrics. "This old town ain't the same / now nobody knows his name / Times have changed, still he rides." We've all felt that way at some point, especially me, so it just seems like such a fitting song for a number of moments in life. This song gets the job done, but isn't indicative of the emotive power of Journey.

48. "Stay Awhile" - Departure. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

Departure, released in the spring of 1980, was Journey's highest-charting album to that point and cracked the Billboard top 10 (number 8). The irony of the title is that this would be Rolie's last album with the band before leaving the group entirely. The tour for this album would spawn a live album, Captured, which shows the band at an inspiring point in their careers as they were just on the cusp of breaking through. The album itself, while a decline in musical quality from Evolution (my favorite Journey album), features a lot straight forward rock and roll as well as some ballads and a blues number. Rolie's lack of input in the writing is noticeable and the album foreshadows the musical path the band would tread upon his departure.

"Stay Awhile" is a nice little love song, nothing more and nothing less. I really love the intro to this song, and when Perry first enters with that initial line, the song becomes special. The part that really gets me, however, is at the halfway point when Perry just takes over, which is more evident in live versions of the song.

47. "Too Late" - Evolution. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

Evolution, released in April of '79, is easily my favorite Journey album. Forget the hype of Escape, the excitement of Infinity, and the ridiculousness of Raised on Radio - this is the album that made me a Journey fan. When I was in high school I began seriously listening to Journey and I recall burning myself this album from the internet or someone else's music collection. I had enjoyed Infinity, but this album came out of nowhere and kicked my ass. From the opening guitar solo to the final notes of "Lady Luck," I was hooked. This was Journey at the height of their careers musically and creatively, and it shows with eleven well-crafted songs showcasing all the band has to offer. If there's one Journey album I could ever recommend to a serious music fan, it would be Evolution. Quick note: Aynsley Dunsbar was fired in '78 and this album marks the first appearance of Steve Smith, known for his fantastic slow motion drum fills.

"Too Late" is just a damn good song. With a cool intro (the opening track, a guitar solo called "Majestic), this song marks the true beginning of what can only be considered a masterpiece of an album. This song itself has everything you can look for in a Journey song: a stellar vocal, a great guitar solo, harmonizing background vocals, and a mixture of rock and ballad. That's what Journey's all about. I also really love the outro to this song with the piano flourishes and Perry's understated vocal.

46. "Only The Young" - Greatest Hits. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

"Only The Young" is jst a great pop/rock song penned by the three main writers of Journey in the '80s. The song was used in the Movie Vision Quest but was, in one of the most idiotic moves in Journey's long career, left off the Frontiers album. The song proved to be a big hit, dealing with the youth of the world and lives they have ahead of them.

The song was performed for the first time for a young man dying of cystic fibrosis whose last wish was to meet his heroes. The band flew to his bedside and sang for him. He would die the next day. Here's a look at the story:

45. "Signs of Life" - Arrival. Written by: Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Elizabeth Cain

After Journey's successful reunion in 1996, the band's plans to tour were put on indefinite hiatus when Steve Perry broke his hip the following year. Perry, not one to rush into surgery, held off on replacing his hip until the band could no longer stand it. Afraid that their momentum may have already been killed, the band said goodbye to Perry (which led to Steve Smith's departure), replacing the golden voice with Steve Augeri, or Steve Perry Lite. Deen Castronovo, the drummer of Bad English, also joined to line-up at this time. While Augeri is no Steve Perry, 2001's Arrival is the last good Journey album, and at least some of that can be contributed to Augeri's Perry-like vocals.

"Signs of Life" is a great track from this album. I really think this a strong vocal performance from Augeri and the keyboard is great as well. The lyrics are kind of wonky at times, but it's Journey, not Paul Simon, so it's forgivable. The point is, this song sounds like Journey and really hits the spot from time to time, which is more than can be said about a lot of songs. The general feeling of this song is optimistic, which is nice to hear from the band at this point.

44. "La Do Da" - Infinity. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

As mentioned earlier, Journey played with frontman Robert Fleischman for about nine months before Steve Perry was ultimately brought in to front the band. Perry, a Portuguese pimp, had fronted a band called Alien Project but left when the bassist was killed in a motor vehicle accident. At the behest of his mother, Steve, who had quit the music scene, answered a call from Journey manager Herbie Herbert. Herbert had heard Perry's voice on a demo and realized it was exactly what Journey needed to connect with mainstream fans. While the transition was a little rough for all involved, including long-time fans, the change elevated Journey to rock gods. Their first album with Perry, 1978's Infinity, was a special album that ended up going 3x platinum here in the states. Music fans around the world had spoken, and Steve Perry was the missing link that turned Journey into mega stars.

The album itself is ripe with fantastic pop/rock songs that were quite a departure from the music of Journey's past. While the music was definitely different, the band sounded rejuvenated and seemed to relish this new sound. A number of Journey classics were born on this album, and "La Do Da" is one of those tunes.

"La Do Da" is straight forward rocker penned by Schon and Perry who had incredible chemistry as writers. The song begins with an intense riff and some drumming from Dunsbar, who would leave the band after this album over musical differences, and then Perry comes in with some serious chops on the mic. The song itself is somewhat nonsensical when analyzed lyrically, but the groove and the feeling are so strong that it outweighs any negative this song may have.

43. "Line of Fire" - Departure. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

"Line of Fire" is one of the most intense songs in Journey's impressive catalogue. This song is about a dude holding his woman at gunpoint, questioning her faithfulness, and shooting her. Some people don't believe Frankie shoots Suzie, but those people are misguided. This song is one of the classic Journey rock songs and another reason why Departure is a must-own album. Also, the gunshot sound effect on this track is great.

42. "Walks Like a Lady" - Departure. Written by: Steve Perry

Our first song written by a sole composer, "Walks Like a Lady" is another standout track from Journey's sixth album. This song is one of the bluesier numbers the band ever wrote, which I find interesting because it was composed solely by Perry. I would have expected such a song to come from the more experienced musicians within the band, especially those with a background in the blues. Alas, the band left it up to Perry to funk up the audience's world, and I am alright with that. This song, while fantastic on record, is even better live.

41. "Daydream" - Evolution. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory

"Daydream," the second-to-last track on Journey's greatest album, is a musical landscape the likes of which Journey might never paint again. The song literally feels like a daydream and te imagery is completely surreal. This song may have the greatest feeling of any Journey song, and I truly appreciate that. You can tell this a full band contribution to the album, unlike other songs which are often easy to attribute to one or two authors. The intro to this song sets the mood, which is expanded upon by Perry's fantastic voice, before eventually coming to an emotional guitar solo from Schon before the song fades out. This is one of my favorite Journey songs and it deserves a spot on this list.

40. "Stone in Love" - Escape. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain.

From the opening riff, "Stone in Love" takes hold of listeners and doesn't let go. While the guitar is killer, this song actually has one of my favorite bass lines from Ross Valory. The lyrics often take me back to my high school days, reminiscing on summer hang-outs at the Jew's pond. This is really just a feel good rock song with some excellent musicianship. While "Stone" is a favorite amongst Journey fans, it failed to crack the top 10 and didn't make a huge impact.

39. "Look into the Future" - Look into the Future. Written by: Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Diane Valory

Look into the Future, Journey's second album, was released in relative obscurity in 1976. At this point George Tickner, one of the band's guitar players, had left the band and Journey was down to Schon, Rolie, Valory and Dunsbar. As a foursome, the band toned down some of the prog elements of the first album, but the record still has somewhat of experimental edge to it. Rolie takes the reigns on vocals as there are fewer instrumental tracks on this album. Overall, this is a great pre-Perry Journey album.

"Look into the Future" has the dubious distinction of being the longest song featured on any Journey album besides "Destiny," from their Japanese only soundtrack album. This is another Gregg Rolie song and I'm going to assume that Ross Valory's wife penned the lyrics. Rolie's voice is amazing on this song, as is his playing, but Neal Schon again steals the show with some great guitar work.

38. "Baby, I'm Leaving You" - Trial By Fire. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

1996 saw the release of Journey's final album with Steve Perry and the first album with the classic line-up since 1983. Trial By Fire is a great comeback album for the band that spawned a number of hits on adult contemporary radio. While some people will write this album off, I think it's on of Journey's greatest accomplishments and it completely revitalized their career. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, the success of this album and the band's unwillingness to wait for Perry to have surgery before going on tour would lead to his departure from the band. At least he went out on a high note. And the rest of the band should not be blamed for Perry's departure - it's understandable that they wanted to capitalize on the success of their reunion before the window had closed. Still, he's fucking Steve Perry.

"Baby, I'm Leaving You" is one of the more unique songs in Journey history. Starting with a Perry vocal solo into some cheesy drums, this song is full of reggae-style guitar and Mario sound bytes. This is the last song we will ever hear from Journey with Steve Perry and it blew me away the first time I ever heard it. I remember I was living in Alaska and I was shoveling snow after a 6' drop over the course of a day or two. I was trying to dig Donny Hoye's Toyota Camry out from under the snow and I was listening to my ipod, sweating balls in my super warm Alaska coat. As I'm shoveling with my ipod naturally set to "shuffle," Steve Perry's angelic tenor hit and blew me away. Since then I've been a huge fan of the song and have some sort of strange connection with it.

Also, while I love the other guys in Journey, I want to take this one moment to say "fuck you" to the members who thought bringing in Steve Perry was a bad idea. Even on his way out this man was kicking ass.

37. "Little Girl" - B-Side. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Gregg Rolie

"Little Girl" was the b-side to "Open Arms," but it was originally featured on a soundtrack called Dream After Dream for a Japanese film of the same title. (Awesome note - there's an instrumental song called "The Rape" on this album. What the fuck happens in this movie that the last two songs on the soundtrack are titled "The Rape" and "Little Girl?") Anyway, by the time this song was released Aynsley Dunbar had left the group (more on that later) and Steve Smith had come in as the new drummer. This song really doesn't sound much like a Journey song outside of the trademark Perry voice, but it's really one of the more underrated songs in their catalogue. While Perry sounds fantastic, Neal Schon steals the show here and takes this song to a new level. The song does a nice job of starting slowly, building to a crescendo, and coming back down. This is a great Journey song that most Journey fans probably haven't heard, so do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

36. "After the Fall" - Frontiers. Written by: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

1983's Frontiers is an album of mixed feelings for me. While the album is definitely strong and has some of my favorite Journey songs ever, the album could have been so much better. While the album put more emphasis on keyboards and featured Jonathan Cain as a much more prominent member both in playing and writing, the decision to leave off two great songs in favor of two terrible tracks boggles my mind. "Ask the Lonely" is on this list in a very nice position and we've already gone over "Only the Young." I can guarantee you that you won't see "Back Talk" or "Troubled Child," the two complete and utter pieces of shit that replaced those songs on the album, anywhere near this list. This is worse than Fleetwood Mac's decision to preempt "Silver Springs" with "I Don't Wanna Know" because the latter was still a great song. Fuck whoever made this decision (reportedly Michael Dilbeck but probably Neal Schon deflecting blame. Yes, that was an accusation with absolutely no basis).

I was actually thinking about how much I love this song today while I was at work. This is one of the Journey songs that I love for both the music and the words. While a lot of Journey songs don't say anything prolific or inspiring, and this song doesn't exactly go that far, "After the Fall" speaks words to which most of us can relate. A broken relationship, regrets, and heartache are feelings we've all had. I really love the line "What's left after you fall? / Not much, no." Simple, but true. An interesting note about this song: Randy Jackson of American Idol fame actually played bass on this track. No shit.

35. "If He Should Break Your Heart" - Trial by Fire. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This is a song I actually had never heard until I sat down to start this project. In case I haven't mentioned it, the way I do this is simple: I sit down and start listening to every album by whichever band/artist I'm reviewing in chronological order. It's not easy; some albums are great and some are a fucking chore. I had already listened to nine albums by the time I got to Trial by Fire, but it was honestly a breath of fresh air after some of the 80's Journey. The band seemed completely rejuvenated, and that's no more evident than on this track. As soon as "When You Love a Woman," the big hit from the album, finished I was prepared for a bit of a letdown. To my surprise, the following song blew me away. While the beginning and initial verse are don't necessarily grab you, once the chorus hit I was hooked. We've all held on to someone in our past, most often for worse rather than better, and this song hits the nail on the head concerning such feelings. I really love this song, and it proves that with any band you can find great music and songs that speak to you outside of the mainstream hits. These "deep tracks" or "album cuts" are what truly define bands and careers.

34. "Spaceman" - Next. Written by: Gregg Rolie, Aynsley Dunbar

This is a strange song, and another one that I came to love in Alaska. I did a lot of weird shit when I was living up there, including dancing alone to Footloose more times than I care to admit, and this song kind of spoke to me as I sat on the floor in my crummy apartment in Valdez. It was easy to feel kind of weird and disconnected to other people during that time, though I felt very connected to myself in some strange way I haven't since I came home. This song, in a strange way, sums that up for me. For that, I love this song (it's also a kickass song in its own right).

33. "Do You Recall" - Evolution. Written by: Gregg Rolie, Steve Perry

"Do You Recall" is both rocking and danceable, a common trait of Journey songs. A story of love gone wrong, this song is just extremely catchy and features both a stellar guitar solo and some ridiculous notes by Steve Perry. In fact, this song even has one of those awesome moments where the singer's vocals fade into a guitar solo. That's how freaking awesome this song is. This is just another reason why Evolution is the unquestioned champion of Journey albums.

32. "Dixie Highway" - Captured. Written by: The entire band?

Just a quick note on Captured: the album was Journey's first live release and was recorded on the Departure Tour. It's a fantastic live album that gave us two new songs, the live "Dixie Highway" and the studio "The Party's Over (Hopelessly in Love)." One a more interesting note, the album was dedicated to recently deceased AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, "a friend from the highway." That's both weird and stellar. I still remember when I bought this album on vinyl when I was a freshman in high school, opened up the four-LP set and saw the dedication. I just remember thinking "what the fuck?" and throwing the album on.

"Dixie Highway" is a song written about a "highway that runs from Detroit all the way down to Florida." This song is smoking and showcases the musical chops of early Journey. Though the band didn't always show it off, every once in while they wrote a song like this just to prove they could. It's like Larry Bird dunking - he does it every once in a while just to keep you on your toes and remind us he's capable of so many great things.

31. "When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy)" - Evolution. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

I don't know why I love this song so much; the lyrics are nothing special and the music isn't overly complicated. Perhaps it's the simplicity of the song and the lyric that keeps this song in my head. I've been a huge fan of this song since I was in high school and I can relate to the main lyric - being alone isn't easy. That being said, sometimes you've got to be on your way. I started my Journey quest before I left my girlfriend, and this song definitely spoke to me in ways I hadn't heard it in the past. Of course, for every song like this I had to listen to something like thirty billion "Open Arms" and "Faithfully[s]." Somehow I still got this one right.

30. "Lovin' You Is Easy" - Evolution. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Gregg Errico

First thing first: I have no idea who the fuck Greg Errico is and I don't care to research it. Nevermind - he's a member of the R&R Hall of Fame and played with Sly & The Family Stone. He also toured with Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour. Sorry I wrote you off, dude. Anyway, "Lovin' You Is Easy" is another phenomenal track of Evolution. The music is rocking, Perry sounds great asking some girl to "keep [his] botor humming," and the background vocals are spot on. This song also has a nice little piano breakdown in which Rolie reminds you your his bitch before vocal harmonies kick back in and remind you you're rocking entirely too hard to a Journey song. Truth be told, that's probably one of the better feelings in life.

29. "Message of Love" - Trial by Fire. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain, John Bettis

Just to get it out of the way, John Bettis is a lyricist who has written a number of hit songs for a number of artists, most notably The Carpenters. I love The Carpenters. This song is the opening track on Journey's comeback album, Trial by Fire, and it is a fantastic song that really has its own sound amongst Journey songs. The song begins with a little guitar lick and then hits you with a combination of keyboards and unintelligible vocals before going full-tilt into rock-and-roll mode. There is an intensity in this song, certainly in the music but more importantly in the lyric/vocal delivery, that is uncharacteristic of the band. This song delivers a message alright - Journey is back and running on all cylinders. Of course, Steve Perry was about to break a hip, so maybe I misinterpreted that message.

28. "Where Were You" - Departure. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

"Where Were You" is one of Journey's best rock and roll songs. Schon's guitar is relentless, Rolie's keyboards are on fire and Steve Perry own this song vocally. This is a prime example of Journey rocking, something many people refuse to acknowledge the band does quite well. The highlight of the song is Perry's line "I want to know what the hell's going on" as he belts out a spiteful rant on a woman who's been running around. I just imagine Steve Perry coming down on some woman while singing and shaking his head in a disapproving manner. Here's proof Journey can rock:

27. "Feeling That Way" - Infinity. Written by: Gregg Rolie, Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Perry
26. "Anytime" - Infinity. Written by: Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, Robert Fleischman, Roger Silver

These two songs will forever be linked in my eyes, even though they were written separately and at different points in the group's career. These songs once again combine Rolie and Perry vocals to create something special. While I prefer "Anytime" to "Feeling That Way," both songs are strong and show off the strength of Journey at this point in their careers. It's also interesting to note that Roger Silver co-wrote "Anytime" as well as Robert Fleischman. Silver had worked with the guys in Santana as well, and of course Fleischman was the band's frontman when the song was written. Here are a couple of videos - the first is the band playing both songs and the second is a crazy old live version with Fleischman posted on his own youtube account:

I can't embed the second video, but you can check it out here: I strongly suggest checking this video out as it is an interesting point in the band's storied career.

25."City of the Angels" - Evolution. Written by: Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Steve Perry

Another classic track from Evolution, "City of the Angels" is often heard riding the coattails of the more popular "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'." The song begins with some classic Journey harmonizing and then kicks into full force with the full band joining in and a nice solo from Schon. You have to be fucking crazy not to love this song, presumably an ode to Los Angeles much like "Lights" was to San Francisco. I really love the line "I've got this feeling that things will work out." That's pretty much my philosophy on life.

24. "Suzanne" - Raised on Radio. Written by: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

Raised on Radio, released in 1986, would be the last Journey album before ten-year hiatus from recording. Following the success of their last two albums as well as Perry's solo career, the band made some changes for this album. Original bassist and longtime drummer, Ross Valory and Steve Smith, were discarded in favor of studio musicians such as Randy Jackson and Larrie Londin. This is a great journey record, and one that I favor over Frontiers, but it did not fare as well as Journey's previous albums. Tensions over musical and creative direction led to the hiatus after the release of the album, and a lot of fingers have been pointed at Steve Perry.

"Suzanne" is a fantastic song with a great beat, rocking bass line and enchanting keyboards. While the song doesn't stray far from the successful Journey formula, it's haunting verse and soaring chorus raise this song above many other similar tracks. I had almost forgotten about this song until I looked at the track listing for the album as I was putting it on, which immediately excited me. This song screams Perry, and he did a brilliant job with it.

23. "Just The Same Way" - Evolution. Written by: Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory

Another classic track from Journey's best album, "Just The Same Way" is one hell of a rocker. Written by the core of the band for the early Journey era, the song takes Perry's talent and interjects it, much in the vein of earlier tunes like "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime." Rolie's vocals are particularly strong on this track and the song is even better on the live album, Captured. I also really love Schon's playing on this song.

22. "All The Way" - Arrival. Written by: Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Michael Rhodes, Steve Augeri

"All the Way," a hit for Journey on the adult contemporary charts, is one of the band's strongest ballads. Augeri's pipes fit in very well with the band here and it's almost like they're not missing Steve Perry here. Cain's piano is beautiful as always and Schon plays the perfect notes every time he strums his guitar. This sounds like a classic Journey track even though it's missing perhaps Journey's largest presence. It may not be "Faithfully," but the band takes that same formula and turns it into another golden moment.

21. "Sweet and Simple" - Evolution. Written by: Steve Perry.

This solo Perry composition is truly a masterpiece. While it isn't terribly high on this list, I cannot stress enough how great this song is. Apparently Perry penned this tune while observing Lake Tahoe, though I cannot substantiate that claim. This song is not overly complicated; in fact, its beauty lies in its simplicity. Perry croons over a relaxingly soft groove before the song begins to pick up after a nice Schon solo. Perry hits one of the most ridiculous notes I've ever heard a singer hit as the band launches into a grand finale including harmonized vocals, a thicker musical feel, another Schon solo and some vocal improvisation. This is, for my money, the standout track of Journey's Evolution album.

20. "Higher Place" - Arrival. Written by: Neal Schon, Jack Blades

I just want to throw a quick shout-out to Jack Blades for his contribution to this song. You might recognize Blades from stints in Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, or Shaw-Blades. The man is a great musician with true rock and roll sense. He and Schon came together here to create a fantastic rock song that opened Journey's post-Perry era. I can't think of a better way to usher in a new singer and sound than this song. "Higher Place" sound like classic Journey, yet at the same time it's different enough to set itself apart from Perry's sound with the band. Augeri's vocals are excellent and the band plays with a renewed vigor as they set out to prove they aren't a one-trick pony. Unfortunately, the next few albums would prove that Steve Perry was more necessary than the band thought. On a bright note, Steve Augeri is basically Steve Perry-lite. He looks like a broke-ass Steve Perry with a perm and he apparently hates wearing shoes:

19. "Lights" - Infinity. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

For many people, "Lights" is the song that defines Journey. The song, an ode to the band's musical hometown, was the first collaboration between Perry and Schon, a writing relationship that would spawn a number of rock and roll hits. This is the song that opened the Infinity album and introduced the new Journey to the world. Interestingly enough, the song's lyric was originally dedicated to L.A. Once Perry joined Journey and relocated to San Francisco the line "and the sun shines on L.A." was switched to "...the bay." A new lyric in a new town helped Perry become a superstar, but this song was never a big hit upon release. It failed to chart higher than #68.

18. "Mother, Father" - Escape. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain, Matt Schon

"Mother, Father" is the kind of song that made me want to start doing these lists. While never a single, this song is a career-defining track from Journey's best-selling album. People who have an idea of what Journey should sound like would never think of anything like "Mothher, Father." This dark, brooding tale of a family in disarray is felt in both the music and lyrics. Perry's delivery on top of Schon's guitar is very powerful and the song emotes underlying tension. It should also be noted that Journey has always been able to pull off any song live, and this is just another example:

17. "Escape" -Escape. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This is another fantastic album track that most Journey fans ought to be familiar with. This is a rocking tale of a young man breaking away and living the life he wants to, "Escape" is one of Journey's strongest writing efforts. While I love the edge behind the intro and first verse, I think the song really peaks at the beginning of the second verse. Steve's opening line in that verse takes the song into another stratosphere and makes "Escape" the classic we all love.

16. "Of A Lifetime" - Journey. Written by: Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, George Tickner

Journey's eponymous debut album is an eclectic collection of progressive rock and jazz-fusion. The band's original intentions after founding members Schon and Rolie split from Santana were to work as a backing band. Those aspirations were quickly changed and, along with Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar, and guitarist George Tickner, Schon and Rolie cut their first album as Journey. The album wasn't particularly successful and Tickner left after the album. While the album isn't Journey's finest, it's well worth checking out for any serious fans of music. Most Journey fans will find it hard to believe that this is even the same band as the Perry-led troupe.

"Of a Lifetime" is a fucking masterpiece of music. There's still a part of myself that hates me for not putting this song in the top ten, and I know Thomas Gill would argue that it should be number one. This song contains some of the greatest musical work the band has ever put together. I am scared to even explore the possibility of what this song might have become with the tenacious Perry/Rolie duo. If you love music, listen to this song. You don't even have to download the file, just watch this - it will change your life:

15: "Send Her My Love" - Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

I am not going to lie: this song brings back insane memories of Final Fantasy VIII. I used to listen to music while I played video games a kid. As a result of this, I now relate things like hearing journey to playing classic games like Final Fantasy. I did the same with Fleetwood Mac and Bomberman as well as Paul Simon (solo) and Breath of Fire. For some reason I am unable to separate these experiences these days, and I honestly think that's a blessing. Now, when I hear songs such as this, I don't just flash back to some point in time, but rather a specific sequence in a game or a time in my life when I sat on my dad's couch playing games I loved. The weird thing is this: there are only two Journey songs that have this effect on me: "Send Her My Love" and "Girl Can't Help It." Somehow, even though I listened to the entirety of Journey's greatest hits whilst playing, these are the only two songs that completely fuck me up with nostalgia when I hear them. For that alone, this song is in the top fifteen. Thankfully, this song has so much more.

14. "Who's Crying Now" - Escape. Written by: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This song has one of the greatest bass lines of all time, and the fucking keyboards ain't too far behind. Those two elements are the soul of this song. This song tears at my heartstrings, and the amazing melody fucking kills me. This song breaks my heart and that is honestly why I love it.

13. "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" - Evolution. Written by: Steve Perry

In the words of Bernard Anderson, Steve Perry "brought the soul" to Journey. For the man who was convinced he needed to begin a musical career when he heard "Cupid" by Sam Cooke, Steve Perry cemented his own legacy with the Evolution album, and "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" was a huge part of that legacy. Steve Perry brought soul and blues to a band already versed in the blues, and he somehow showed them what they had been missing. Perhaps the most impressive sole composition of the fifty, this song will forever live as one of the greatest of all time.

12. "Be Good to Yourself" - Raised on Radio. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This song is just a fucking fantastic song. I am going to warn all of you now that I really have nothing more to say about these songs other than praise them for how wonderful and imaginative they truly are. This a song that is all about treating yourself right, even when others don't. I think that's a great message for our generation. We all grew up with dicks, cunts, pricks, bitches, and shitbags that gave us shit for no reason. Hell, most of us gave people lower than us on the social ladder a fair amount of shit - Lord knows I did. The thing is, you've got to believe in yourself to make it, and Journey understands that. Fortunately, they were able to pass that message along with a kickass fucking chorus.

11. "I'll Be Alright Without You" - Raised on Radio. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This song is one of the penultimate journey songs. I cannot say enough great things about this song. If I were in any way subjective about this list this song would be number one. Probably my favorite Journey song, "I'll Be Alright Without You" speaks to all of us who have lost a love. My favorite part of the song is actually the fantastic backing vocals present in verse two. With this song, journey cemented a place in my heart for existence. Here's a great video (note Randy Jackson kicking ass):

10. "The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love With You)"  - Captured. Written by: Steve Perry

Another Perry solo composition, this track was the lone studio recording on the band's first live album. The song was recorded by the band in between Gregg Rolie and Jonathan Cain so manning the keyboards was Stevie Roseman, a local musician. While this song is often overlooked, it is easily one of Journey's greatest works. The opening guitar solo is fantastic, the riff itself is great, and the drumming is superb. Beyond that, Perry's voice just takes over and brings the song to that next level. For those who have never heard this song, I hope you can enjoy it as much as I do.

09. "Wheel in the Sky" - Infinity. Written by: Neal Schon, Robert Fleischman, Diane Valory

"Wheel in the Sky" actually dates back to the Fleischman days between Next and Infinty. While it actually pains me to admit that Perry had nothing to do with this awesome rocker, after hearing Fleischman sing "Anytime" I'm actually glad that I can't find any live footage of the original version. Fleisschman-bashing aside, this song is just catchy, has an excellent lyric, and contains one of Neal Schon's best guitar solos. The solo itself isn't the most impressive guitar work you'll ever hear, but it fits the song perfectly and leads right into a final, powerful string of choruses. I really love the opening line to this song: "Winter is here again, oh Lord / haven't been home in a year or more..." As a huge fan of winter and someone who's been away from his loved ones for long periods of time, I know that feeling all too well.

08. "Any Way You Want It" - Departure. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry

We all know this song, and for the most part we all love it (minus those poor souls unfortunate to have seen Salsa Snack - for those who aren't familiar, don't google). This song is a straight forward rock and roll song with a groovy chorus, burning solo, and what sounds like occasional fire extinguisher drumming. The words are concise which lead to very powerful verses where the music actually outshines the lyric. Add in some killer harmonies and Steve Perry and you've got one of the best rock songs out there. An interesting note: the song's style was partially influenced by Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. This song also had a pretty sweet video:

07. "Open Arms" -Escape. Written by: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

Jonathan Cain showed his worth right off the bat with Journey by teaming up with Steve Perry to write the mega hit "Open Arms." While he had written the music while still with The Babys, my main man John Waite thought the song was too sentimental and turned it down. After joining Journey, he and Perry worked the song out much to the dismay of the other band members, all of whom were against recording the ballad. Schon, the song's biggest critic, changed his mind after playing the song live and seeing the enormous crowd reaction, which pissed Perry off to the point that he "wanted to kill [Schon]." The song would stay at number 2 on the charts for six weeks and has become a Journey classic.

06. "Girl Can't Help It" - Raised on Radio. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

"Girl Can't Help It," the opening track from 1986's Raised on Radio, is a real gem of a song. The keyboards on this song really set the tone and eventually Neal Schon is given a bit of room to shine. Perry's vocals are once again top notch and help to push the song into the Journey elite. The verses are clever, the chorus is big and powerful, and the song just has that Journey feel to it. This song has perhaps the greatest harmony vocals of any Journey song, and that is really saying something. This is also one of my favorite times in Journey history because it combined more ridiculous hair, Randy Jackson and tailcoats than would ever seem possible. Proof:

On a completely serious note, Randy Jackson is hilarious in this video and I can't think of a better style from a frontman than Perry's tailcoat/jeans/sneaker combo. Fucking glamorous.

05. "Faithfully" -Frontiers. Written by: Jonathan Cain

Jonathan Cain would prove the ultimate Journey balladeer by composing "Faithfully" for the band's 1983 effort, Frontiers. The song about a music man and his fair woman stole the hearts of men and women alike and has become one of the band's most endearing songs. While I could tell you numerous reasons I love this song, the biggest selling point is Steve Perry's short-lived mustache:

In all seriousness, this is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard and that is one hell of a music video, which certainly has helped keep the song fresh in my mind over many years. An interesting note: The song's video probably has such an epic feel to it because it was recorded by the NFL Films crew. Those guys know how to do epic pretty damn well.

04. "Ask the Lonely" - Soundtrack. Written by: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

Another Cain/Perry collaboration from the 80s hits the top ten and it's easily one of their greatest. "Ask the Lonely" was omitted from the band's Frontiers album but was featured in the Travolta movie Two of a Kind. This song flat-out rocks and it rocks damn hard. The intro is epic with those keyboards, the verse is extremely intense and the chorus is simply rocking. One thing that I truly love about this song is the change of chorus and the easily-relatable lyrics. We start with the "hang on..." parts and the next thing you know the band are dropping out their instruments and reminding you that "when you're feeling love's unfair / you just ask the lonely..." The second chorus takes the song even higher and Perry's vocal improv at the end is an excellent addition. I have a feeling a lot of people won't agree with this song's position, but I couldn't help it - I love this damn song.

03. "When You Love a Woman" - Trial By Fire. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This was the track that single-handedly brought Journey back from the dead in 1996. With a heartwarming intro, Jonathan Cain sets the stage for my favorite Journey power ballad of all time. Perry's voice takes over the song and you can feel the emotion in his voice. The beautiful music combined with a genuinely wonderful lyric make this song stand out even amongst Journey's greatest tracks, and after ten years it was great to see that the band still had it and Perry's voice was a golden as ever. This song also produced another great music video, this one featuring an awesome Steve Perry air violin shot into a Schon solo. Wicked. Interesting note: The music video for this song was filmed at Skywalker Ranch.

02. "Don't Stop Believing" - Escape. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

This is just one of those iconic songs that stretches across genres and generations to find a place in everyone's heart. We all know the story of the small-town girl and small-town boy and we're all the better off for it. I could talk about this song and how it's affected me over the years, but I think that in this case the song and its amazing popularity speaks for itself. While the song is a pop culture staple, my favorite use of the song was the Sopranos finale. Apparently, Perry was hesitant to let the song be used for the final scene and only allowed the show to use it after David Chase assured him it would not be the soundtrack to Tony Soprano's demise. That's pretty fucking cool. This song also helped the White Sox win a World Series a few years back, which is also quite impressive (also, lolGiants): (unable to embed)

01. "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" - Frontiers. Written by: Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain

"Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" will always be the greatest of all Journey songs as far as I am concerned. This song has their greatest intro, greatest chorus, and greatest invisible instrument playing. I am not going to go into too much detail here - while "Don't Stop Believing" may be the band's iconic anthem, this is the song that all true Journey fans know to be head-and-shoulders above the rest. The song was inspired by the band's Motown roots and was written mostly by Cain and Perry as they sat down with a guitar and bass, respectively, and wrote the melody in one night and the lyrics the next day. Schon and Smith added a lot to the song to round it out not only as Journey's most rocking song, but also their best. I also want to comment on the fact that some asshole placed this music video at number 13 on MTV's 25 Worst Music Videos list. Whatever jackass added this video to the list should be fired. Steve Perry in a pink and black cutoff, invisible instruments, an abandoned Home Depot, a hot woman, serious-business fist pounds and slow motion make this easily the best music video ever:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WWF Review: July 1993

Serious Business

July was one seriously fucked up month in WWF history, and I’m talking fucked up in a good way. The champion loses his mind, random face turns are everywhere, rappers invade, a third Doink appears, America kicks ass and the burger king makes fun of old people. While the actual in-ring action was nowhere near as good as June, the out-of-ring escapades more than make up for it this month.

Perhaps the greatest moment in wrestling history occurred on July 4, 1993. Arriving by helicopter to the deck of the USS Intrepid, Lex Luger, apparently no longer narcissistic and now super patriotic, body slammed the hell out of Yokozuna for America. While Lex Luger respects Japanese people, what with their “technology and business acumen,” he hates fat Samoans pretending to be Japanese people almost as much as he loves America. I remember thinking this whole thing was great when I was a kid, but upon a second viewing it is terrible. Shout out to drunk Aaron Neville or whoever the hell that was singing the national anthem. It was hilariously bad.

This whole incident sparked a number of crazy developments in the WWF. Yokozuna came unglued and started destroying people and becoming much more violent, something I really enjoyed. Luger made the jump from helicopter to boat to bus when he boarded the “Lex Express” and started campaigning for a title match all over the US while wearing stars-and-stripes exercise pants. Here’s an example of this crazy storyline and how much Lex loves America:

This brings me to another point – random face turns. What the hell is going on in the WWF? Razor Ramon suddenly starts defending the 1-2-3 Kid after he stole his ten thousand bucks and Lex Luger is suddenly a humble patriot. What the fuck happened? I don’t know how any of this happened and it baffled me the entire month. I suppose I could do a little more research, but fuck that – this is seriously bullshit.

There was only one real big debut this month – MOM (Men on a Mission). They were literally called MOM like ten times on the air, which simply is not cool. This group is notable for two things: having the crowd chant “Whoomp – there it is” and Mabel, a man who will go on to win a King of the Ring, wear pajamas, get brainwashed by Undertaker and hang out with a naked Mideon. For now he just wears really bright clothing, waves his hands in the air like he doesn’t have a care, and kicks asses.


Superstar of the Month: Yokozuna. Combined with his performance on the USS Intrepid, Yoko also had a nice showing while destroying Crush. The WWF put a lot of time into making Yokozuna look unstoppable and unleashed, and he stands out this month as even more fearful as we’ve been led to believe.

Match of the Month: Shawn Michaels (c) v. Marty Jannetty. The 7/19 RAW opened with an absolute barnburner for the Intercontinental Title. I was on the edge of my seat the whole match, especially when Marty got the premature three count (Michaels had foot on ropes). In the end, Michaels once again proved why Marty Jannetty will forever be known as the “Marty Jannetty” of The Rockers. Nice to see Diesel beat up Marty, too.

Promo of the Month: Jerry Lawler. Lawler was growing tired of the “burger king” shit so he decided to harass Bret Hart’s parents during a match between Hart and Bam Bam Bigelow. Lawler made Stu Hart look like a dumbass and Bret lost the match when he was counted out chasing Lawler. I’d say Lawler wins.

Jobber of the Month: Aaron Ferguson. While I wanted to put the Brooklyn Brawler in this spot, I have to go with Ferguson. In a match against The Headshrinkers, Ferguson got mutilated by a back body drop. I don’t think he moved the rest of the match, which leads to our next award….

Quote of the Month: “He’s going to spend a weekend at Bernie’s.” – Bobby Heenan on Aaron Ferguson’s brutal bump

Greatest American Ever: Lex Luger. This guy seriously loves America. Close second goes to Jim Duggan.

Reflections: While it may have been light on great matches, July was great in terms of storyline progression and building hype for the upcoming Summerslam in August. Though I hate random heel/face changes, Lex Luger’s was handled so ridiculously brilliant that I am willing to throw logic out the window and simply embrace the entire situation. USA! USA!

WWF Review: June 1993

Excellence of Execution

June was another great month in the WWF, which is looking to shine throughout the summer of 1993. With the inaugural King of the Ring and an excellent line-up of RAWs, this month was filled with action and excitement. The WWF also plants the seeds to a number of feuds this month, most of which will culminate at Summerslam in August.

June saw a couple of debuts in the WWF (a ton of people have debuted already this year, it seems like), the most important being Diesel (Kevin Nash) Nash was a huge player in the Monday Night Wars as a successful champion in both WWF and WCW. He was brought in originally as Shawn Michaels’ “insurance policy” and was eventually given the name Diesel. It won’t be long until Nash is making his mark, and I cannot wait until he does. We also got Bastion Booger this month who was Friar Ferguson a few months back. He’s a pretty nasty dude whose name and gimmick just fit for some reason. I think Vinnie Mac really gets off on saying his name.

A really random note about this month – title changes are happening everywhere but television. Shawn Michaels shows up on RAW at the beginning of the month and is holding the IC title belt out of nowhere after losing it to Marty Jannetty a few weeks earlier. Then the Steiner Brothers show up as the tag team champs, apparently defeating Money, Inc. at some point. I don’t when these title changes are occurring, and I’m sure they were explained, but it still seems weird to have this happening outside of RAW or PPV. At the same time, there’s no way I’m going through the hell of finding and watching every episode of WWF Mania and other random shows.

Here's some awesome hype vid shown for King of the Ring in June:


Superstar of the Month: Bret Hart. While I was tempted to award Doink for his series of matches with Marty Jannetty, Hart had three matches in one night that were just as good, if not better, at the King of the Ring tournament. Hart didn’t really do much the rest of the month, but it doesn’t matter – that was a hell of a performance and he sold Lawler’s beating very well. Bret Hart is the man.

Match of the Month (PPV not included): Marty Jannetty v. Doink. Doink once again blows my mind with his amazing wrestling ability while Marty Jannetty has one of his strongest performances of the year. I’m not a huge Jannetty fan, but I really must admit that he is capable of putting on great matches any time he walks out to that ring. This particular match was a best two-out-of-three falls match which it seemed like Doink had won after interference from Doink #2. Unfortunately the refs would reverse the decision and Doink came out on the losing end with only one fall to his credit. This match was long, exciting, and filled with great spots – check it out if you have the chance.

Promo of the Month: Razor Ramon. This guy is always great on the stick, but after losing to the 1-2-3 Kid a few weeks back, Ramon has been cutting promos like crazy offering the kid first $2,500, then $5,000, then $7,500 and finally $10,000 to get back in the ring with him. Ultimately the Kid would swindle Razor out of his cash. Waltman was seriously over at this point.

Random Sighting: Tito Santana. Now going by the name “El Matador” and wearing entirely too much pink, Tito Santana is a glorified jobber. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the flying jalapeno; hopefully this time he won’t stay off my primetime television for so long.

Jobber of the Month: Barry Horowitz. Congratulations, Barry – you earned this for putting over the Smoking Gunns. Give yourself a pat on the back, buddy.

Million Dollar Moment of the Month: While cutting a random promo on Razor Ramon, IRS takes over from DiBiase and calls Hall “Razor Jabrone.” I laughed.

Botch of the Month: In the 1-2-3 Kid’s match with “The Bad Guy,” Waltman took a nasty spill from the top rope and landed face first on the concrete. I thought it was hilarious.

Ugliest Wrestler: Kamala. This guy looks like my boy Eli Porter from Iron Mic (pics for reference). Honorable mention to Bastion Booger. Congratulations, Kamala - you did it, man.

Quote of the Month: “That just shows me why they sold Manhattan for $24.” – Bobby Heenan on Native Americans

Reflections: With a kickass PPV and some solid television, June kept the momentum from May rolling and picked up some steam for the summer. I’m excited for July and the body slam challenge on the USS Intrepid and I can’t wait to see the complete change in Lex Luger’s character.

WWF Review: King of the Ring 1993

The first ever King of the Ring on WWF pay-per-view was quite a spectacle to behold. With a healthy dose of build-up, it was hard not to be excited for at least the tournament and the WWF championship match. As it turned out, both would satisfy (the tournament especially) while the other matches would predictably not carry their weight. Compared to Wrestlemania, however, it is hard not to be very impressed with this event.

A quick note on my personal history with this event: I recall watching this event multiple times when I was a kid, so I was pretty familiar with most everything that would happen. I don’t remember if I watched this event live, but I saw it enough to have it ingrained in my memory. For those who have not seen this PPV you owe it to yourselves to check it out, if only for the tournament matches, each of which were spectacular (barring Hughes/Perfect).

It’s nice to see Jim Ross is back to call the action here. Not only does he seem genuinely excited, he also seems much more natural in his delivery than Macho King or Vinnie Mac. It’s very easy to see even early on in his WWF run why JR would become the voice of wrestling.

This event is also significant for the fact that it’s the last WWF PPV featuring Hulk Hogan until 2002 or something. Though Hogan had carried this company on his shoulders for years as the Lennon to McMahon’s McCartney, the fallout from the steroids trial along with Hulk’s passion for acting and a hefty offer from WCW would lead to his departure from the WWF. While this was a sad moment for Hulkamaniacs everywhere and there was certainly a tough transition for the WWF, the move would payoff for all involved eventually; WWF would shift their focus to creating new stars, WCW gained a key wrestling figure and would play out the NWO angle, and Ed Leslie got another job.

Here's a sample of the action: 

Now that we’ve covered some of the historical bases, let’s move on to the matches themselves:

Bret Hart v. Razor Ramon was a great way to kick off the PPV. These are two of the biggest names in the history of this business, and both were at the top of their games at the King of the Ring. Fighting with the added pressure of a 15-minute time limit, these two athletes put it all on the line very quickly in this match. After a solid back-and-forth match, Bret got the pin after a superplex by Ramon ended with Bret rolling over the landing into a pin. This was a great match that left both men looking strong.

I should also note that, due to the bullshit finish to the championship match at Wrestlemania (which Jack Tunney refused to overturn), Bret Hart is the number one seed in this tournament did not have to qualify by winning a match like the other competitors did. Apparently Tunney thinks this is a fair way of handling the fallout from Mania. This makes the mark in me furious, which in turn makes the real-life person in me feel like an idiot.

Mr. Hughes v. Mr. Perfect was a pretty boring match considering how good both of these competitors are. While Mr. Hughes may not be a wrestling legend, he was a formidable opponent and a hell of a big man who had recently stolen Undertaker’s urn after demolishing Paul Bearer on Harvey Wippleman’s orders. We all know how much I love Wippleman, so it shouldn’t be a surprise how impressed I am with his latest acquisition. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with this match. There wasn’t a ton of action before Hughes grabbed the urn and attacked Perfect, leading to Hughes’ disqualification. This could have been so much better.

Bam Bam Bigelow v. Jim Duggan, while not spectacular, was a solid match. Neither man was overly impressive, but Duggan gave Bigelow a good run until ultimately falling victim to Bam Bam’s devastating flying headbutt. A decent match that showcased two pretty good wrestlers, this is an enjoyable match.

I’ll be perfectly honest with all of you – I was not looking forward to Tatanka v. Lex Luger. Luger, still "The Narcissist" at this point, had been crushing people with his bionic forearm (which has something like 3 steel plates and 6 screws in it) while Tatanka had remained undefeated as well, tomahawk chopping his way into the hearts of millions. Touted as a battle of the undefeated, the match began with the referee insisting that Luger where a pad over his forearm or be disqualified. Luger played up to the crowd before finally agreeing, and the match began. This match was easily the surprise of the night for me – I wasn’t expecting much (ws never a huge Luger fan) but both men really blew me away, scratching tooth and nail to a 15-minute time limit draw. You could see the frustration in both men’s faces, and Luger ended the evening by taking off the forearm padding and jacking Tatanka in the middle of the ring. This was one of Lex’s last heel outbursts, but also one of his finest.

Bret Hart v. Mr. Perfect was next following a heated interview with both men. While it was obvious that they both respect each other’s wrestling abilities, these two titans of the ring threw in a few personal jabs as well as some paternal insults. The war of words quickly moved to ring where both men put on a great performance. This was easily the match of the night. Both men attempted their finishers unsuccessfully, and in the end Hart would reverse a small-package by Perfect to steal the match in a hard-fought battle.

Hulk Hogan (c) v. Yokozuna for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship was up next, which really surprised me. This match had the biggest star in the industry, and was for the most prestigious title in the company, yet it preceded an 8-man tag match and a match featuring Crush. I don’t know if Vinnie Mac was making a statement to Hogan or what, but I was really sprprised to this match at this point in the card. Moving beyond that, I love this match. I think Yokozuna was an extraordinary talent, and watching him in the ring with Hogan was a lot of fun. The match was very much in the typical Hogan style – Hogan gets his ass kicked for a bit before Hulking up and whipping tail – but had a few key differences that made this more entertaining than most Hogan matches. Hogan tried to get Yoko up for a slam, reminiscent of his Andre moment, multiple times. He failed every time. Also, after Hulking up and giving a great “YOU!” finger point, it took Hogan three big boots to put the big man down. After an atomic leg drop, Yokozuna shockingly kicks out of the Hulkster’s legendary finisher. Now, it’s been rumored that Hogan was not willing to do the job cleanly and lose the title to Yoko, so the crazy ending the WWF came up with was a Japenese camera man’s (reportedly Harvey Wippleman!) camera exploding and shooting a fireball into Hogan’s eyes which led to Yoko getting the pin and winning the title. I remember thinking that was nuts when I was a kid, and I still think it’s a crazy ending to a big match. I’m also jazzed that I no longer have to watch Hulk Hogan for a while.

Oh yeah, I also want to add that Yokozuna has an amazing belly-to-belly suplex.

The Steiner Brothers and Smoking Gunns v. The Headshrinkers and Money, Inc. was a throwaway match if I’ve ever seen one. Nobody impressed me in this stinker, which is weird because there are a number of great wrestlers involved in this match-up. In the end, Billy Gunn takes advantage of DiBiase’s arrogance and gains the win with a small package. Dumb.

Shawn Michaels (c) v. Crush for the Intercontinental Title was a pretty stupid match. My hate for Crush is well-documented, as is my love of Michaels. Unfortunately, my hate outweighs my love here and even with Diesel and some excellent power spots, this match was just not very exciting. I don’t even remember how it ends, though I’m fairly certain it involves Doink distracting Crush and nobody caring. At least Michaels retains.

The final match of the night was the King of the Ring final, Bret Hart v. Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow had received a bye after the Luger/Tatanka fight, so he was fresh while Bret was wrestling his third match of the night. This was another great match for both men and with the odds stacked against Hart it looked like Bam Bam was going to make history. Even with an advantage over Hart, Bigelow and his main-squeeze, Luna Vachon, used illegal tactics to gain a pinfall over the Excellence of Execution. Luckily, my main man Earl Hebner spotted the chair shot and restarted the match. After the restart, Hart eventually gains the pinfall to win the first King of the Ring tournament.

One of the real highlights of this PPV event did not take place in the ring, but rather during Hart’s coronation ceremony with “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Jerry “The King” Lawler came out and threw a few insults at Bret, claiming to be the real king of wrestling, before Bret told him he was nothing but a burger king. With Hart leading the crowd in a “burger king” chant, Lawler hit Hart with the scepter and continued to destroy Hart until the show went off the air. I thought this was great, as it began an entertaining feud that would last for years.

Quote of the Night: “He’s the 14th of 13 children.” – Bobby Heenan on Bret Hart

Reflections: King of the Ring was definitely a step up from Wrestlemania in terms of overall wrestling matches sheer excitement. While Wrestlemania may have had a bigger build-up, King of the Ring actually delivered where they needed to as opposed to Mania. This is a great show from this period in wrestling and you should do yourself a favor and at least check out the Bret Hart matches if you ever get the chance. Hopefully the rest of June can live up to the standards set at the PPV.

Friday, August 13, 2010

WWF Review: May 1993

Bam Bam Bigelow is was awesome
In May of 1993, the World Wrestling Federation began the build-up for their latest pay-per-view, June's King of the Ring. The concept is simple - eight men fight their way through the brackets in a tournament where the winner is crowned the king of the wrestling world. Pretty much every Monday there was a qualifying match for the tournament. Add to that a few debuts, lots of Heenan, no more Rob What's-his-name, and all kinds of evil clowning and you end up with a pretty stellar month of television. Here's some RAW action from May 1993:

There were a few things I seriously cannot stand about the WWF at this time: Indians, Marty Jannetty and Crush. I still hate Crush, even after taking a few months off from viewing. This guy is terrible. I have two-and-a-half months worth of notes scribbled on a piece of paper from when I watched this stuff the other day and right in the middle in all caps (serious business) it reads "CRUSH IS TERRIBLE." I hate this man. I also hate Marty Jannetty for coming back to the WWF. He's always trying to rain on Shawn Michaels' parade and I am not having any of that. As for the Indians, I cannot stand to hear another word about how Tatanka is undefeated. So was Gene Snitsky, whoopdie-fucking-doo.

This month saw the in-ring debuts of The Smoking Gunns, 1-2-3 Kid and Adam Bomb. Adam Bomb was terrible, but he had weird eyes and was accompanied to the ring by Johnny Polo (Scott Levy - the future Raven), so he is tolerable. The Kid (Sean Waltman) was known as Cannonball Kid, Kamikaze Kid, The Kid, Thunderclap Newman Kid, etc. It's fucking ridiculous. Then he becomes the 1-2-3 Kid because he pinned Razor Ramon after an admittedly awesome moonsault. My favorite moment of his early time in the WWF, however, would come about five weeks later when he slipped off the top rope and landed head-first on the concrete. I laughed for days. The Smoking Gunns were just retardedly ridiculous. Who the fuck came up with this gimmick? I don't know if they are cousins or brothers (both have been said on air), but these two homos are out there rocking some nasty mullets and firing off cap guns like they're actual cowboys. Their promo videos look like two guys threw on some chaps and cowboy boots and filmed themselves giggling and playing grab-ass in the desert. Who the hell is responsible for this faggotry? I cannot wait to see Butterbean light up Bart Gunn. Unfortunately, Billy will be around forever, shaking his ass and giving fashion advice. Let's get to some awards.


Superstar of the Month: Bam Bam Bigelow. The man with the flame head tattoo was on fire during the month of May. He defeated Typhoon to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament early in the month (in what was a surprisingly good battle of big men) and had a great battle with Marty Jannetty for the intercontinental title. I always knew that Bam Bam was a great big man, but the things I remember most about him are Luna Vachon, Bastion Booger and that god-awful match with LT. It's nice to see him doing some quality work both in the ring and on the stick. Major props also to Mr. Perfect. If not for a throwaway match with Iron Mike Sharpe he may have had this spot.

Match of the Month: Mr. Perfect v. Doink the Clown. On the 5/24 episode of RAW, Mr. Perfect stepped into the squared circle to face Doink the Clown in a KotR qualifying match. I really wasn't expecting a lot from this match to be perfectly honest - Doink seems like more of a joke character than anything and Perfect was a face now so I saw him getting a fairly quick and easy win. I was way off with that prediction. The two fought back and forth with Doink definitely carrying his weight. I knew he had no chance of winning going into the match, but by the end I wouldn't have been surprised to see Doink victorious, especially with Doink #2 hanging out underneath the ring. This was a seriously great match from two awesome wrestlers.

Promo of the Month: Shawn Michaels. Shawn could always talk, and this month he gave us a great performance on the stick while putting Vinnie Mac down. There weren't a lot of stand-out promos this month, so VKM getting the lip-service from Michaels gets the cheap win.

Gayest Cowboys of the Month: The Smoking Gunns. Paragraph three says it all.

Mullet of the Month: Mike Chioda. This was a really hard call. While Crush looks like a moron and Waltman was rocking a truly nasty mullet, Mike Chioda was able to tame his mane and still call matches with the best of them. Color me impressed.

Million Dollar Moment of the Month: Shoeshine. Money, Inc. gave some fan the chance to earn $100 by shining Ted DiBiase's shoes in the middle of the ring. Not only was it awesome that some young idiot did this while DiBiase cackled maniacally, afterward IRS took the money and held $70 for taxes. I loved it.

Harvey Wippleman Accomplishments: Mr. Hughes. Good old Harvey landed the menacing free agent Mr. Hughes. With Harvey's help, I'm sure Mr. Hughes will go nowhere fast. Having said that, he did win a KotR qualifying match, so who am I to doubt Harvey's tutelage?

You've GOT To Be Fucking Kidding Me Moment: Marty Jannetty wins the Intercontinental Title. For some reason unkown to man, Marty Jannetty comes out of the audience during a kick-ass Shawn Michaels promo wearing some ridiculous outfit and challenges Shawn to a match for his Intercontinental Title. Michaels accepts because he isn't a pussy, and later in the evening we have a match. Marty comes to the ring in a leather jacket with cutoff sleeves and his old Rockers attire and somehow defeats Michaels. This is terrible booking - Marty Jannetty sucks. What the fuck?

Reflections: May was an insane month filled with some cool debuts, more Johnny Polo than we've seen up to this point, and some vintage mat classics. King of the Ring is looking great and if WWE can keep up this momentum it should be a fun summer. I'll be back with more soon.

Welcome to the blog

I have been meaning to set up this blog for quite a while and I have finally found the time to get it done. Here I will post a number of things, but mostly old wrestling reviews (working my way up from 1993), music reviews/lists, video game reviews/notes, current wrestling rants, and other random shit from my life. If you like any of these things please stop by and check in every now and again.

Things I am currently working on:

  • WWF reviews for May and June of '93 as well as a King of the Ring review
  • Top 50 Journey songs complete with accompanying download
  • This week in wrestling (Raw through Smackdown, Summerslam separate)
  • Possibly a Suikoden review
Thanks for stopping by,

Johnny C.

Top Fifty Fleetwood Mac Songs

First thing's first: in order to unzip the file of Fleetwood Mac I am including here, you will need to download WinRAR, which can be done here: If you have a MAC you can use UnRarX:

Secondly, here is the link for the file download:
EDIT: I put in tracks from Say You Will that aren't working. Here's a link for those four songs:

EDIT: This download includes all five of the Bob Welch era Fleetwood Mac albums - Future Games, Bare Trees, Penguin, Mystery To Me, and Heroes Are Hard To Find. A truly underrated era, I hope you guys can appreciate it!

If you have any issues, please let me know and I will try to help. Now onto the meat.

Fleetwood Mac is one of the greatest bands in music history. When I set out to rank the band's top fifty songs a month ago, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. After listening to every song on the band's 18 albums as well as a number of singles and live cuts, I finally narrowed it down to fifty. That was the easy part, believe it or not. The hard part was writing this evaluation. While I do talk somewhat about the musical aspects of each song, my main goal was to teach people about the band's storied history and provide some insight into some of their greatest songs. Hopefully I have done that. Also, my blatant bias for the Buckingham Nicks era of Fleetwood Mac is about to shine through - I apologize.

Anyway, let's get down to business. I hope you all enjoy and take the opportunity to listen to these songs!

NOTE: I wrote this in Word in various states of drunkenness/sobriety. There will most likely be errors, but I'm not about to pore over a 10,000 word document to find them all because it's just too much. Please ignore any stupid mistakes. Thank you!

You've got to love them.

50. “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love” - Bare Trees. Written by: Christine McVie

Bare Trees was Fleetwood Mac’s second effort with the wonderful Bob Welch, the man who kept the band together between the departures of Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and the arrivals of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The album, the last to feature guitarist Danny Kirwan, shows the band in the midst of a transition from blues music to a more pop-oriented sound, which is no more evident than on Christine McVie’s “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love.”

Christine had joined the band full-time in 1971 and was married to John McVie, the group’s bassist. During the writing and recording of Bare Trees, John’s growing dependency on alcohol eventually led to Christine having an affair with the album’s producer, Martin Birch. Once the affair was concluded, John and Christine decided to give their marriage another shot. It is believed that this song deals with Christine’s emotions at that time. This is a really great pop song, and I love the melody. Christine may be my favorite member of the Mac, and it’s fun, catchy tunes such as this that make her so special.

49. “Steal Your Heart Away” - Say You Will. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

The Mac’s last studio album to date, Say You Will, was released in 2003. While the album is certainly a return to form for the band, it is missing one essential piece of the puzzle: Christine McVie. After the success of their ’97 tour and the retirement of McVie, the remaining members of the band decided to push forward with her and make the most of their career revival by writing and recording a new album. Without McVie to balance things out, the album comes off as somewhat disjointed and really feels like two albums - half Stevie and half Lindsey. Having said that, the album is still spectacular and features a number of great songs, a few of which have made this list.

“Steal Your Heart Away” is a song that actually dates back to 1994. Lindsey had been working on a solo album and asked Mick to play drums for him which eventually led to the reunion in 1997. A lot of the songs Lindsey had been writing for his solo album ended up appearing on the next Fleetwood Mac album instead. While “Steal Your Heart Away” isn’t much more than a nice little love song (with a somewhat darker lyrical make-up), it is a damn good song and well-deserving of a spot in the top 50.

48. “What’s The World Coming To” - Say You Will. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

Another strong track from Lindsey in the band’s 2003 effort, Say You Will, “What’s The World Coming To” asks a question many of us have pondered in the last decade. Acting as the album’s opener, this song sets the tone for the return of the Mac ( and instantly brings the listener back to the late 70s, the height of Macdom. This song features a strong vocal from Lindsey (with Stevie backing him) and some nice guitar work, if somewhat sparse, but the song is really driven by Mick Fleetwood.

47. “Skies The Limit” - Behind The Mask. Written by: Christine McVie

Behind The Mask was released in 1990 and is one of the real disappointments in the Fleetwood Mac catalogue. Billy Burnette and Rick Vito aren’t necessarily poor additions to the group, but the absence of Lindsey Buckingham is a glaring one, and the rest of the band seems lost without him (though a few songs from this line-up have crept into this top 50). Between ’90 and ’95, Fleetwood Mac would become musically irrelevant. While Christine and Stevie tried to make things work, it just wasn’t believable as Fleetwood Mac. By this point, McVie, her ex-husband, and Mick Fleetwood had all experienced a number of lineup changes within the band, though none had really devastated the band as much as Lindsey’s departure (with the possible exception of Peter Green).

“Skies The Limit,” poor grammar aside, is another wonderful example of a tight, catchy pop song penned by perennial popster Christine McVie. There’s nothing too spectacular about this song (written by McVie for her new husband, Eddy Quintela), but it’s just a damn good love song with a positive message. While I would never place McVie anywhere near the top of a “greatest lyricists” list, she has proven time and again that she can write an amazing pop song no matter the lineup around her, and “Skies The Limit” is probably the best example of such talent.

46. “What Makes You Think You’re The One” - Tusk. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

Tusk is my favorite Fleetwood Mac album of all time, hands down. I realize that this is a bullshit statement, as I also recognize Rumours as the single greatest album of all time. To state things simply, I stand by both comments. While I love Rumours, it doesn’t have that raw, ass-kicking-yet-tear-demanding quality that Tusk brings to the table. This album was a miserable failure (at over 4+ million albums sold worldwide) after the success of Rumours. The Mac allowed Buckingham to produce this album and also gave him the room to allow for experimentation and new recording techniques, as well expanding the project to an ambitious double album. While many might argue that the album sounds like three solo albums – Buckingham, Nicks and McVie each providing unique sounds to their respective tracks – it is especially endearing, and has been cited as Mick Fleetwood’s favorite Mac album. Even more interesting, Tusk has been described as “the sound of a band imploding.” Perhaps that is why it is my favorite Mac album.

“What Makes You Think You’re The One” is a prime example of Buckingham’s experimentation on the album. It’s a very atypical Mac track, yet it feels right at home on Tusk. Driven heavily by an occasionally obnoxious drum track, this song is one of Lindsey’s favorite Mac tracks (obviously Lindsey disagrees with my ‘obnoxious drum’ comment):

“Oh yeah, that’s one of the classic drum tracks. I love that. That’s one of the great drum tracks that I’ve ever heard. That’s up there with ‘Instant Karma.’ That was a great moment. That was just Mick and myself late at night in the studio, me at the piano. We put a cassette player that has one of those really cheap mics in it, we put that right under his snare, and it was so explosive the way he heard it in the cans, he got off on it, and he just turned into an animal. And it was just two-piece, there was no Christine or anybody putting any constraints on what could or couldn’t be done. That has to rate as one of my top-five moments with the band.”

I think it’s funny that one of Buckingham’s top-five moments included neither Stevie nor Christine, but the sheer masculinity of this song added to the fact that it’s most likely about Stevie makes this believable. A truly great song from a criminally underrated album.

45. “Nights In Estoril” - Time. Written by: Christine McVie

We are going to make the write-up on the Mac’s Time album terribly brief: it fucking sucks. This album suffers from another major loss: Stevie Nicks. Without Buckingham and Nicks, Fleetwood Mac continued to struggle after the failure of Behind The Mask. I love Fleetwood Mac just as much as anyone and I have given this album a fair number of listens. It blows.

“Nights In Estoril,” however, is a stellar song. This really shows the versatility of Christine McVie; though she thrived in the Buckingham Nicks years, she has a number of classic songs both pre- and post-Buckingham Nicks. For lack of a better term, this is just a badass pop song. “Nights in Estoril” is the absolute only reason to listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Time. (Thankfully, I’ve created an outlet where one can listen to it without suffering the rest of the album!)

44. “Blue Letter” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Richard & Michael Curtis

Fleetwood Mac, the band’s second eponymous album (awesome word), is probably the most important album in Fleetwood Mac’s storied history. After the departures of key figures such as Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, and Bob Welch, the band struck gold with the addition of the little-known duo Buckingham Nicks. In 1974, Mick Fleetwood heard the song “Frozen Love” from Buckingham Nicks’ eponymous album and spoke to Lindsey Buckingham in a recording studio. When Bob Welch decided to leave the group later that year, Mick remembered the song and Lindsey and offered him a position within the Mac. Lindsey told Mick that he and Stevie were a package deal, and the classic Mac lineup was formed. The following year, they released their first album together, 1975’s Fleetwood Mac. The album, which has to date sold over 13 million copies in the US, spawned a number of hit singles (most of which are included in this list) and introduced Fleetwood Mac to a completely new fan base. The album also served as the band’s launching point to superstardom.

“Blue Letter” is a straight-forward rock track sung by Buckingham and driven largely by his guitar. While the track doesn’t necessarily stand out musically or lyrically, it is a fun rock-and-roll song that has always had an instantaneous effect on me. This song can make a man jump on a table, fist pump, and dick-laser (4:15 for reference - an entire room full of people.

43. “Night Watch” - Penguin. Written by: Bob Welch

1973 saw the release of Fleetwood Mac’s eighth album, Penguin. The album is the third in the Bob Welch era, and while not as strong as Bare Trees it is an excellent album. This album also is the first of two to feature Bob Weston and is the only album to feature Dave Walker in the lineup. The majority of songs on the album are split between Welch and McVie, with most being solid but not really standing out in the Mac catalogue. Also important to note is the penguin is the band’s unofficial mascot.

Bob Welch albums are some of the most important in the band’s history. Though they saw numerous lineup changes within those five albums, Bob Welch served as the connecting piece between the Peter Green era and the Buckingham Nicks era. Fleetwood has stated that Bob Welch kept the band together throughout those tough years, and it’s a crime that he was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of Fleetwood Mac in 1998.

“Night Watch” is a great song that screams “Bob Welch” from the very beginning. Much like a number of other Welch compositions, this song has a feeling of warmth to it with a somewhat menacing edge. The intro is fantastic, as is the ending, but in between you will find a beautiful, comforting song with a certain funk to it that is easy to groove to. A truly great song from an understated album.

42. “I Don’t Want To Know” - Rumours. Written by: Stevie Nicks

Rumours is, for my money, the greatest album of all time. With over 40 million copies sold worldwide, the album is a rock-and-roll juggernaut that doesn’t for one second disappoint (contrary to some peoples’ opinions of “Songbird”). Every song is a standout track, and all but one are listed here (my apologies to “Oh Daddy” – I love you). The amazing thing is that the band was able to launch themselves into the stratosphere of rock legends in their eleventh album just as every relationship in the band was unraveling. Before the band even began work on the album the McVies had been divorced, Lindsey and Stevie were in the middle of breaking up, and Fleetwood had discovered the mother of his children was having an affair with one of his best friends. By the time it came to start writing songs for the album, the three chief songwriters (McVie, Nicks and Buckingham) were all writing about their own personal troubles which often overlapped with those of other bandmates. The recording sessions also led the band into a lifestyle of excess, as the studio was often home to more than recording – elaborate parties and excessive drug use ran rampant during long sessions. While emotionally the band was at its worst, the members were musically at their best. I love this album.

“I Don’t Want To Know” is a very strange song for me; I really don’t know how to feel about it. On one hand, the song is one of the album’s few positive songs and is a really great and optimistic look at the end of Lindsey and Stevie’s relationship (though in hindsight, little optimism can be found in their subsequent personal relationship). On the other hand, this is the song that replaced Nicks’ masterpiece “Silver Springs.” I don’t see how they could possibly drop that song for “I Don’t Want To Know,” but luckily I was born late enough that by the time I was 12 I was able to hear “Silver Springs” at its finest without ever knowing it was intended for the album. As it stands though, I really enjoy this song. The bright sound of Lindsey’s guitar and the beautiful harmonizing between Stevie and Lindsey just fit together so perfectly and really push this nice little song to a new level. A great little song, but often overlooked due to the greatness around it on Rumours.

41. “Blood On The Floor” - Kiln House. Written by: Jeremy Spencer

Kiln House marks an interesting time in the band’s history – it is the first album not to feature Peter Green, the band’s founder, and is the last to feature original member Jeremy Spencer. Very much a blues-rock album like many Mac albums from the era, Kiln House is split down the middle with songs written both by Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, this is my favorite blues-dominated album from Fleetwood Mac. While I like Peter Green and the work the band did with him, I am a huge Danny Kirwan fan, and he really shines on this album, as does Spencer. Spencer’s contributions mostly pay homage to the 50s and a parody or two while Kirwan’s are more straightforward and rocking. On the tour for the album, Spencer would disappear for a few days, requiring the band to call in Peter Green to cover for him. Spencer was eventually found and was discovered to have joined a religious cult, leaving the band for good. Interesting note: Christine McVie drew the artwork on the album’s cover.

“Blood On The Floor” is the only Spencer song that appears on this list, and upon reflection it’s a bit weird because it is such a goofy song. A tale of a man on death row for having “shot [his] sweetheart,” the song is an obvious parody but it’s so well done that I can’t help but love it. For the creepiness and brutality of the lyrics, the melody and the backing vocals are so soothing and beautiful that it’s actually funny. Spencer’s vocals are absolutely hilarious, and while it’s not a perfect example of Mac at the height of their blues dominance, it’s truly a fantastic little song.

40. “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)” – Single. Written by: Peter Green

“Green Manalishi” was a song written in the last few months of Peter Green’s time with Fleetwood Mac. Though Green had originally formed the band with ex-Bluesbreaker members Fleetwood and McVie, his mental health was quickly deteriorating, and after suggesting the band give all of their money away (and the other bandmates disagreeing) Green decided to leave. The deterioration of his mental health had a lot to do with his use of LSD, which is rumored to be the source of “Green Manalishi.” Green, however, has stated that the song was about a dream and was more about money than drugs. Either way, the song is great and almost more prog-rock than blues. Green’s guitar is biting, the vocal is sharp, and the live version included here shows the band at their best in the Green era. While the song has become known as a metal staple thanks to Judas Priest’s rendition, it will always be one of the classic Fleetwood Mac tracks.

39. “Walk A Thin Line” - Tusk. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

After the tremendous success of Rumours, Lindsey felt a lot of pressure to follow it up with something even greater. Pair this with a number of things including his strained relationship with Stevie, Stevie’s emergence as the focal point of the group, and Lindsey’s own distancing from the band, and one can understand why Lindsey took Tusk in the direction he did. Let’s make no mistake - Tusk is Lindsey’s album, through and through. “Walk A Thin Line” is a wonderful little song that deals with some of these issues of isolation from the group as Lindsey straddles many lines – the line between he and Stevie’s love and hate, the line between commercial success and artistic integrity, and even the line between sanity and insanity. A very simple, folk-like song with a beautiful melody and an endearing lyric, “Walk A Thin Line” is one of Lindsey’s finest moments on Tusk.

38. “Running Through The Garden” - Say You Will. Written by: Stevie Nicks, Ray Kennedy, Gary Nicholson

“Running Through The Garden” is based on the short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In short, the story is about a young student, Giovanni, who falls in love with the daughter of Dr. Rappaccini, an introverted scientist. Rappaccini’s greatest experiment is that of his daughter, who is kept locked away in a beautiful garden filled with poisonous plants. While Beatrice (Rappaccini’s daughter) is beautiful, Giovanni notices that life amongst the plants has made her poisonous, seen when fresh flowers wither at her touch. Against the advice of his mentor, Giovanni visits and falls in love with Beatrice. Giovanni eventually learns of her toxic nature, but Beatrice asks him to look beyond her poisonous nature and see her for what she truly is – pure and innocent. The relationship continues and Giovanni begins experiencing ill-effects from the poison. In the end, Giovanni brings a powerful antidote to Beatrice to heal them so they can be together. Unfortunately, the antidote kills Beatrice. I wish I had been forced to read this story in high school rather than The Scarlet Letter.

In keeping with the theme of the story, the song is autobiographical and paints Nicks as Beatrice. She recognizes that within her garden of music, success, excess, etc. exists some sort of toxin when it comes to relationships. This song goes beyond Lindsey Buckingham and focuses more on Stevie’s general relationship failures, though with Lindsey providing some amazing guitar work, it’s hard to ignore the implicit nature of the lyrics:

“Never did I mean to
Imprison you
Here in my garden
Like I am imprisoned
For the love I have for your life
For the love I have for your life
Turn around”

A beautiful lyric acknowledging her toxicity, and a wonderful song. Stevie still has it and, more importantly, an appreciation for literature makes this song even more enjoyable.

37. “You Make Loving Fun” - Rumours. Written by: Christine McVie

“You Make Loving Fun” is another optimistic track from Rumours (interesting that the optimistic ones aren’t anywhere near the top of the list). The song is a crowd favorite and is one of the Mac’s greatest hits, but it was not written about ex-hubby John McVie. This classic pop song was written about Curry Grant, Fleetwood Mac’s lighting director. During her break-up and divorce with John, mainly due to the latter’s alcohol issues, McVie had an affair with Grant that helped rejuvenate her personally and obviously had an effect on her life musically. With McVie’s pop sense and some excellent guitar work from Buckingham, this song has wound its way into the hearts of all Mac fans.

36. “Sands Of Time” - Future Games. Written by: Danny Kirwan

Future Games is an interesting album; the first album to feature guitarist Bob Welch as well the first to feature Christine McVie as a full-fledged member, it is also the first album to start the Mac’s distancing from blues-oriented rock and roll to melodic pop music. Though Kirwan dominates the album moreso than anyone else, Welch has a strong debut, especially the amazing title track. This is really an essential album for Fleetwood Mac fans.

“Sands Of Time” is a great track written by Kirwan and is another knife in the blues-rock back of old Fleetwood Mac. A soft verse combined with a great chorus and excellent guitar work by Kirwan and piano from McVie really make this simple song into something special.

35. “You And I, Part II” - Tango In The Night. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie

Tango In The Night, the band’s fifteenth studio album, was a return to the success of Rumours, becoming the band’s second biggest album. The album began as a Buckingham solo album, a trend that would define not only this album, but also Tusk (my personal opinion) and Say You Will, which featured many songs Buckingham had intended for a solo album. While the album contains some of the band’s strongest material, it would once again lead to turmoil within the group. Though the band had intended to tour the highly successful album, a confrontation at Christine’s home in 1987 ended the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup when Lindsey reportedly told the band to “get that schizophrenic bitch out of this house.” (He was referring, obviously, to Stevie Nicks.) This led to a ten-year hiatus from the band for Buckingham as well as two shitty albums without him. The band added Billy Burnette and Rick Vito and hit the road anyway for a successful tour.

“You And I, Part II” is a strange song. A rare composition from the team of Buckingham and McVie, the song was the sequel to the original b-side to the mega-hit “Big Love” ( While not as atmospheric as part one, part two is infinitely better. It’s got a very non-Mac vibe to it and really makes me curious as to what Mac could have produced had this unique writing team come together for more songs. The song is light, simple, fun, and fantastic. While most might consider this a throwaway track, I think it’s a diamond in the rough and an amazing deep album track from one of the Mac’s finest LPs.

34. “Seven Wonders” - Tango In The Night. Written by: Stevie Nicks and Sandy Stewart

“Seven Wonders” is a great song, but it is neither amazing nor particularly endearing. Having said that, it is beautiful enough to warrant a mildly high position in this countdown. It is really rare to hear a Stevie Nicks pop song as straightforward as this. Stevie is known mostly for her darker, moody songs. She proves with “Seven Wonders” that is as capable of writing a catchy pop song as Christine McVie, but this is truly a rare gem in the Mac catalogue, as Stevie did not make a habit of writing simple pop songs.

33. “Thrown Down” - Say You Will. Written by: Stevie Nicks

Another wonderful pop song from Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks, “Thrown Down” is my favorite song from the amazing Say You Will album. While Stevie wrote the song, everything about it screams Lindsey Buckingham. From the background vocals to the guitar to the keyboard, Buckingham did everything (including percussion!) on this wonderful track. This is a prime example of how Lindsey has always been able to take the beautiful lyrics and melodies Stevie has written and turn them into songs that truly capture an audience’s imagination. This is one of the quintessential Fleetwood Mac tracks, if only because it shows that after all these years Stevie and Lindsey’s relationship, as fragile as it may be personally, is still musically provocative.

32. “Think About Me” - Tusk. Written by: Christine McVie

While this song is credited solely to McVie, this has the feel of another Buckingham/McVie collaboration. Lindsey’s vocals are prevalent in the chorus and the song’s stellar ending, and his guitar work dominates the majority of the record. At the same time, this song demonstrates the pop sensibilities of McVie, something Lindsey and Stevie rarely displayed compared to the former Ms. Perfect. While the song is not the strongest Fleetwood Mac effort, it’s the key pop addition to the Tusk album and is one of McVie’s greatest pop songs, which is saying a lot considering her resume.

31. “Storms” - Tusk. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Storms” is an interesting Fleetwood Mac song. The song is about as Stevie Nicks as a song can get, but at the same time it isn’t poppy or moody Nicks, but rather a reflective Nicks, something that isn’t often seen. While many see the song as another chronicle of the relationship between Stevie and Lindsey, it has also been interpreted as dealing with the short relationship between Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood. It is this relationship that I would like to focus on. The song itself is a beautiful song and one describing a lost love, though I don’t particularly see it as a great love, which is why I will focus on the Mick Fleetwood aspects of the song. Nicks and Fleetwood began an affair in late ’77, and though it ended early I can’t imagine it not seeping into Nicks’ writing. As far as I can tell, this song is the most likely candidate.

30. “No Questions Asked” - Greatest Hits. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“No Questions Asked” was a song recorded in 1988 by the Fleetwood Mac including Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. This is a rare Stevie Nicks love song in that I don’t see it in any way involving Lindsey Buckingham. While it’s tempting to say this a part of him in this song, as most Stevie songs contain a bit of Lindsey, I truly don’t think that is the case here. One of the first songs recorded after the departure of Buckingham in ’87, “No Questions Asked” is a straightforward pop song dealing with a seemingly lost lover who is desperately needed by the woman he is estranged from. From the details alone we can decipher it has little to do with Buckingham (unless of course it is a metaphor for their musical relationship, which the next few albums would prove that Stevie needed Lindsey for musical guidance). As it stands, it’s just a hell of a pop song with some decent lyrics, great music and a phenomenal vocal from Stevie.

29. “The Ledge” - Tusk. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

The Tusk album tends to deal a lot with Lindsey’s feelings about Stevie, even moreso than Rumours. This is a prime example of Lindsey’s conflicted feelings on the subject. Through the album, Lindsey is trying to deal with his lingering feelings about his relationship with Ms. Nicks, and this song is a strong condemnation of her actions and her future. A catchy rock tune, “The Ledge” contains disdainful lyrics that really add to the depth and lasting impression of the song. Add to that the upbeat nature and the great Buckingham vocals/melody, and this song is hard to forget.

28. “Man Of The World” – Single. Written by: Peter Green

“Man Of The World” is another fantastic piece of music written by the phenomenal Peter Green. This song is one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs as far as lyrical quality is concerned. It tells the tale of a man who has all that he could ever wish for other than the love of a woman. While the lyrics alone are enough to carry this into the upper echelon of Mac songs, the guitar work and the vocals/melody are both beautiful and accompany deep-reaching lyrics with an equal musical integrity. I love this song, and it’s a true gem in the early Mac catalogue. Also, the following lyric always grabs me because it often describes how I feel about myself:

“And I need a good woman
To make me feel like a good man should
I don’t say I’m a good man
Oh, but I would be if I could”

27. “Little Lies” - Tango In The Night. Written by: Christine McVie and Eddy Qunitela

While some might believe that this song is a leftover from Christine’s relationship with John McVie, I do not. Nor does she, apparently, as when asked by John in a joint interview if the song is about him, Christine replied that it was not. This is simply another mind-blowingly awesome pop song by McVie, who, as noted, is the greatest writer of pop music within the band. Here she and her keyboards take off on a sonic journey that helped propel Tango In The Night to the top of the charts. With Nicks and Buckingham backing her, Christine is unstoppable here in a song co-written by her new husband.

26. “Don’t Stop” - Rumours. Written by: Christine McVie

I will flat-out state my opinion on this song at the beginning: I am not a big fan of this song. I almost left this song off the list in favor of “Oh Daddy,” but then I heard it again and figured someone would give me a ton of shit for it so I included it. The song is a clear message to Christine’s estranged husband in the midst of their divorce – I still love you as a person and I wish the best for you in the future. This was probably easy for her to say as she was having an affair with their lighting director, but at the same time she had dealt with years of John’s alcohol abuse so I’m going to call this battle somewhat even. An interesting note: This song was played by a reunited Fleetwood Mac at President Clinton’s Inaugural Ball in 1993, as he had used the song as during his Presidential campaign. This was important as it sowed the seeds for an eventual reunion in 1997.

25. “Jewel Eyed Judy” - Kiln House. Written by: Danny Kirwan, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie

“Jewel Eyed Judy” is another great Danny Kirwan track, co-written by the rhythm section, and one of my favorite pre-Buckingham Nicks tracks. When Peter Green left, Danny Kirwan had to adjust quickly to becoming a focal point of the group. With “Jewel Eyed Judy,” the young man proved his worth. This song is soft and understated as well as rocking. This song is easily the crown jewel of the Kiln House album and showed that even without Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac could rock the shit out of people.

24. “Say You Love Me” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Christine McVie

It’s easy to read more into this song than there is, but in the end it’s simply another great pop song dealing with McVie’s somewhat troubled history with love. Written at a time when she and husband John were experiencing tough time in their marriage, this is Christine’s plea for John, an alcoholic, to ditch the sauce and come back to Christine. While Christine has always been great at inspiring love in a song, she was less successful in her personal attempts to drag John away from the bottle, eventually leading to their divorce, which would lend greatly to Christine’s writing on Rumours.

23. “Dust” - Bare Trees. Written by: Danny Kirwan

Danny Kirwan’s swan song with the Mac, the phenomenal Bare Trees, showcased the best the young guitar player had to offer. Described earlier in his career as someone so into his playing that he would cry as he played, Kirwan poured a ton of emotion into the album. This is no more evident than on the song “Dust.” While Kirwan wrote the music, he stole the lyrics from a poem by the popular 20th century poet Rupert Brooke. The song is an emotional tour de force, and although Kirwan did not write the words, they reflect how he felt at the time. Kirwan had become a raging alcoholic and was separating from his wife as well as the band. He and Bob Welch had never really gotten along, and by the time he was fired, Mick Fleetwood was the only band member still talking to him. Though it was a tragic end to such a talented songwriter with a great band, this is an amazing song with which to exit. Interesting note: Pink Floyd’s “The Gunner’s Dream” also borrowed from Rupert Brooke with the line “in the corner of some foreign field…” Brooke’s original line is as follows: "If I should die tonight, think only this of me/ That there is a corner of some foreign field, that is forever England."

22. “Gold Dust Woman” - Rumours. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Gold Dust Woman” is a song that has always captivated the Fleetwood Mac fandom. While on the surface the song seems to be about fame and cocaine abuse, it is decidedly undetermined whether or not there is an underlying meaning. Fans have discussed the possibilities of the song’s meaning for years, but in the case of a song shrouded in years of mystery, I think it is best for everyone to hear it straight from the band.

Christine’s take: "Stevie’s words can be pretty obscure… at best. Sometimes I didn’t know what she was singing about, but in her mind those words made complete sense and I often used to wonder what on earth she was talking about. But then, you didn’t care because the words just sounded so good."

Lindsey’s take: "This song is very dark and somewhat acrimonious. I’m guessing that the acrimony was directed at me at the time."

Stevie’s Take: "You know what, Courtney? I don't really know what 'Gold Dust Woman’ is about. I know there was cocaine there and that I fancied it gold dust, somehow. I'm going to have to go back to my journals and see if I can pull something out about ‘Gold Dust Woman.’ Because I don't really know. It's weird that I'm not quite sure. It can't be all about cocaine."

21. “Hold Me” - Mirage. Written by: Christine McVie, Robbie Patton

Mirage was a return to the pop music of Fleetwood Mac and Rumours after the ambitious Tusk. While the album was moderately successful, it was neither as successful nor well-received as said albums. The album was released on the coattails of Stevie Nicks’ and Lindsey Buckingham’s respective solo albums (one of which did much better than other – I’ll leave that for you to figure out) and though the Mac’s popularity was soaring, the album was not strong enough to propel them back to their status after 1975’s Rumours. While the album is not terrible, it pales in comparison to every other Buckingham Nicks era Mac album.

Though I’m not a huge fan of the Mirage album in its entirety, “Hold Me" is one of my absolute favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. Christine McVie strikes again with another catchy pop song that you just can’t get out of your head. This song is obviously about another man in her life, and the culprit this time is most likely Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys and Charles Manson fame). Her relationship with Wilson was tumultuous, but Christine seemed to love him despite their troubles. A year after this tune was written, Wilson drowned to death.

20. “Tusk” - Tusk. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

This is the key song on the Tusk album and it is one of the most important Fleetwood Mac tracks. The song features an enchanting drum beat with haunting lyrics and vocals as well as a marching band. There is so much to this song vocally and musically that one has to truly hear it to appreciate and even attempt to understand its greatness. At the same time, one has to wonder what Lindsey is addressing in his lyrics. Conventional wisdom would say that he is talking about the short-lived affair between Stevie and Mick Fleetwood, something that must have eaten at Lindsey. Buckingham was always in love with Stevie, and seeing her with another member of the band, as clandestine as the two tried to keep it, must have killed him. Tusk is Lindsey’s answer to the affair and another response in a decades-long conversation between he and Stevie.

19. “Everywhere” - Tango In The Night. Written by: Christine McVie

One of the Mac’s signature tunes, “Everywhere” is a ridiculously catchy pop song that once again showcases McVie’s innate ability to write a song that one cannot get out of one’s head. The enchanting keyboards on this song as well as the simplicity make it a wondrous love song that anyone can enjoy, and she turned a simple love song about Eddy Quintela into one of the most memorable and enjoyable Fleetwood Mac songs of all time.

As a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this song speaks to me in a number of ways. The biggest way this song has impacted my life, however, is through a friend’s voice. Every so often I get a phone call from a friend who is obviously as retardedly drunk as I am. Without fail, he always seems to be in the middle of singing “Everywhere” at least 60% of the time I answer the phone, and to be perfectly honest I don’t just appreciate it – I join in for a multi-state Fleetwood Mac singalong. Win.

18. “Never Going Back Again” - Rumours. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

“Never Going Back Again” is a rare moment for Lindsey Buckingham, as this song sees him in a relatively optimistic mood. After Lindsey’s breakup with Stevie he was involved in with another woman, and she is the focal point of this particular song. This song shows Lindsey in rare moment of understanding about his relationship with Stevie and even a defiance to never go back to such a thing again. As we would see over the course of the following years, however, Lindsey and Stevie have never truly been able to put each other aside. Though the story is tragic, the music is wonderful. This little acoustic ditty is one of my favorite songs from Rumours, and I would encourage anyone who enjoys this song to check out live versions, as Lindsey Buckingham really makes this song special in front of an audience.

17. “Songbird”/”Over My Head” - Rumours/Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Christine McVie

I included two songs at the position for two reasons:

1. I have a number of friends that hate “Songbird.”
2. I needed to fit both of these songs on this list and was too stubborn to compromise.

“Songbird” is a beautiful McVie composition. I really don’t get why there is so much hatred for this song. On an album full of songs written about fellow bandmates, “Songbird” is just a peaceful piano ballad that is largely believed to have been written as a message of love to the rest of the band amidst the turmoil of the Rumours recording sessions.

“Over My Head” was the first single released from the Fleetwood Mac album and its critical and commercial success surprised even McVie. This is a song about John and Christine’s somewhat tumultuous relationship, made worse by John’s constant drinking. Like most other McVie songs, “Over My Head” isn’t overly complicated. What it does, however, it does very well. So take whichever McVie long song you prefer in this slot, you really can’t go wrong with either.

16. “Go Your Own Way” - Rumours. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

“Go Your Own Way” is probably the ultimate break-up song. Written during his break-up with Nicks, the song paints a very different picture of their split than Stevie’s offerings (“Dreams” and “Silver Springs”). Lindsey is spiteful, hurt, confused, and angry with Stevie, and it shows not only in the lyrics, but also in the music. You can hear Lindsey’s pain and anger erupting from his guitar as well as in his strained vocals, and the shots he takes at Stevie are particularly harsh (“packing up / shacking up is all you want to do”). Of all the personal songs on Rumours, “Go Your Own Way” is the most scathing and pessimistic, which only helps to fuel its rock-and-roll fire.

15. “Black Magic Woman” - English Rose. Written by: Peter Green

English Rose is probably the height of Fleetwood Mac’s blues success. Easily identified by its frightening cover depicting Mick Fleetwood in drag, the album is full of great blues tracks and some of early Mac’s greatest hits from Green, Spencer, and Kirwan. If you like blues music you will love English Rose, simple as that. Though they aren’t listed here, “Love That Burns,” “Albatross” and “Something Inside Of Me” are all great tracks. If you’ve never listened to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, this is the first album I would suggest.

“Black Magic Woman” is a song that is almost universally known, though the most popular version is the Santana cover from a few years later. While the song doesn’t stray too far from the blues formula, it’s pretty much a perfect blues song. Even after Peter Green’s departure a few years later the band kept the song in their live repertoire, often being sung by Kirwan. While not as popular or memorable as the Santana version, this Peter Green composition helped solidify Fleetwood Mac as the premier blues band in England.

Interesting note: Fleetwood Mac and Santana were both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and Gregg Rolie, the badass keyboard player who sang “Black Magic Woman” in Santana, would eventually leave the band to form Journey with Neal Schon. In the end, everything comes back to Steve Perry.

14. “Monday Morning” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

As mentioned, Buckingham and Nicks were offered positions in Fleetwood Mac in 1974 based on a chance meeting of Buckingham and Fleetwood months earlier. Without even auditioning, the two accepted the offer over margaritas with the band in L.A. “Monday Morning” is the opening track to the Buckingham Nicks era of Fleetwood Mac and it’s obvious from the get-go that this was a reinvigorated band. Not only did Stevie and Lindsey add a new dimension to the band, but Christine McVie had stepped up her game to match the young duo. “Monday Morning” had been around since the Buckingham Nicks days and seems like a logical place to begin the album. With the rhythm section holding steady behind him, Lindsey Buckingham launches into an early tale depicting his already crumbling relationship with Stevie. It’s been said that Stevie and Lindsey were great lovers but never great friends, and songs like this tend to confirm that statement. They competed musically and personally, and their relationship is still strained today, as Stevie nicks mentioned in 2009: “Maybe when we’re 75 and Fleetwood Mac is a distant memory, we might be friends.” “Monday Morning” is a strong opening track that does a great job of ushering in a new era for Fleetwood Mac.

13. “Landslide” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Landslide” is another song that deals with early troubles in the Buckingham Nicks relationship. The story goes that while the two were in Aspen, Colorado, Lindsey and Stevie had a fight and Lindsey packed up the car and left, stranding Stevie in Aspen. The two were facing both professional and personal troubles as their band had recently been dropped from their record label. After Buckingham left, Stevie stared out at the mountains and contemplated her life and its recent changes, most notably her changing relationship with Lindsey. In an acquaintances living room, Stevie sat down and wrote “Landslide,” a song that will forever be identified with her, especially after 1997’s The Dance which gave the song new life. As always, however, the song wouldn’t be complete without Buckingham’s soothing guitar. This is yet another example of how Lindsey and Stevie wrote their best music when they were personally at their worst.

12. “Second Hand News” - Rumours. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

I still remember the first time I ever listened to Rumours. I was in maybe 6th or 7th grade and had randomly bought Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits CD. I used to listen to it all of the time while playing video games (images of Bomberman 64 still pop into my head while listening to certain Mac songs) and I remember talking to my aunt Bridget about the band. She lived down the street from me with her queer husband, Pete “Post-AIDS Freddie Mercury” Crivaro, and she let me borrow the CD one afternoon. I snatched it up, walked home, sat down in my room and popped it in. The album literally changed my life and the way I listened to music, and a lot of the credit goes to “Second Hand News.” Probably my favorite opening track to any album, this song provides the emotional and musical setting in which the rest of the album takes place, and while the music is optimistically upbeat, the lyrics tell a different story – one of sadness, bitterness and resignation. Another song about Stevie, “Second Hand News” is a thrilling pop song that gets stuck in your head for days, and the guitar solo at the end is excellent.

11. “Dreams” - Rumours. Written by: Stevie Nicks

As if in response to “Second Hand News,” the Mac moves right into “Dreams,” a poignant break-up song penned by Nicks. During the insanity of the Rumours sessions, Nicks isolated herself in an empty studio with a keyboard and wrote “Dreams” in about ten minutes. The band enjoyed it and recorded it the next day with Lindsey adding to Stevie’s arrangement. This song is such a stark contrast to Lindsey’s offerings, “Go Your Own Way” and “Second Hand News,” in that Stevie does not seem angry or bitter. While the lyrics paint a painful picture, the anger and resentment Buckingham shows is noticeably absent. This was Fleetwood Mac’s only number one song, and it will forever have a special place in my heart if only for the memory of a drunken Brian Doll’s imitation of the bass line.

10. “I’m So Afraid” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

“I’m So Afraid” is really an iconic Mac track. Opening with the rhythm section keeping things tight as Lindsey launches into a guitar solo, the song slowly builds to a haunting lyric, delivered in a few cryptic words. This song, which actually dates back to 1971, is one of the darker songs the Mac has ever released, and Lindsey sings with a surprising passion. While the vocals and lyrics are great, this is a guitar song through and through. Buckingham used this song live as a vehicle to show off his guitar skills (something we’ll see again later). Lindsey really is a unique guitar player with a sound and style of his own. This track also lets Fleetwood shine. Fleetwood is one of the more popular drummers in music, if not for his skills than at least for his facial expressions and his drum vest. He always puts on his “O” face for this song while he and Lindsey dominate the stage. Words can’t really do this one justice, so here’s my favorite version of this song:

09. “Oh Well” – Single. Written by: Peter Green

A quick Mac history lesson since we have reached our last Peter Green song on the list: Peter Green was Eric Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers along with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Mayall introduced Green to the rest of the band (Fleetwood had yet to join at this point) by telling them he was a better guitar player than Clapton. When Green decided to leave the band, he asked Fleetwood and McVie to join him, even naming his new band Fleetwood Mac to entice them. Fleetwood saw the potential and was on board from the start. McVie, however, preferred to stay with the constant work and steady pay of the Bluesbreakers. The original bassist, Bob Brunning, understood that he was only in the band until McVie came to his senses and joined, which didn’t take too long. With McVie finally joining and the addition of guitarist Jeremy Spencer, Fleetwood Mac was born.

Interestingly enough, here is an impressive list of musicians who played in the Bluesbreakers:

Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (Cream)
Green, Fleetwood, McVie (Mac)
Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones)
Aynsley Dunbar (Journey)

“Oh Well” is a special song for me. The song itself holds up as the greatest of the Peter Green era. The guitar work is phenomenal and the lyric and vocal are fantastic. At the same time, the song goes through a number of transformations, each of which is uniquely beautiful. At this time Fleetwood Mac was riding high as the greatest blues band perhaps in the world. It’s a true shame that Green went crazy and left, as he and Kirwan made a great team on guitar, with Danny adding lead guitar to this particular track.

Interesting note: In the five times I have seen Tom Petty live he has played “Oh Well” twice.

08. “Sentimental Lady” - Bare Trees. Written by: Bob Welch

“Sentimental Lady” is Bob Welch’s finest moment in both his solo career and his Fleetwood Mac career. The song is a loving message to his first wife, Nancy. I really love the softness with which Welch sings this song; the listener can feel the “sentimental, gentle wind” working its way through the song, and the lyrics are poetically romantic. This song serves as a clear indication that Fleetwood Mac is moving away from blues and into the pop arena, something that was solidified with Danny Kirwan’s departure after Bare Trees. As stated earlier, Bob Welch was a big part of this movement to pop music and he really held this band together in those tough middle years. Many Mac fans became fans during the Bob Welch era, and nothing proves why better than “Sentimental Lady.”

07. “Sara” - Tusk. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Sara” is probably the most interesting song Fleetwood Mac has ever released. Clocking in at over six minutes (though an early demo was over 15 minutes), the song is extremely ambiguous and thought to be directed at multiple people. As to who Sara is, there are two possibilities – Stevie herself (the “poet in my heart” line, a later Sara reference on Tango, her use of the name to check into a rehab clinic years later) or Sara Recor, later Sara Fleetwood. Recor moved in with Mick in 1978 after meeting him through Stevie with whom he was having an affair. As for the male character in the song, it’s probably an amalgamation of three people – Lindsey, Mick, and Don Henley (she was hitting that). “Sara” is a haunting love song that chronicles an undefined relationship. While the song starts with a shred of optimism (“when you build your house, call me home”), in the end it drowns within its own sea of love, leaving us with uncertainty but leaving the door open for something down the line (“when you build your house, I’ll come by). It’s rumored that the original demo contained lyrics concerning all of the members of the band and detailing in song their troubled relationships and affairs. I’ve been scouring the web for a bootleg copy of such a demo, but I have been unable to locate one. One of my favorite songs by the Mac, “Sara” is an example of Stevie at her best.

06. “Crystal” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Crystal” is a really interesting song. Originally released by Lindsey and Stevie on their first album, Buckingham Nicks, the duo decided to re-record it for their Fleetwood Mac debut. Also interesting to note, the song was written by Stevie and sung by Buckingham, which is very uncommon for Fleetwood Mac. Written around the same time as “Landslide,” “Crystal” deals with many of the same themes. The song starts with an auspicious beginning that builds to an atmospheric chorus. Lindsey’s soft vocals and pristine guitar sound combined with Stevie’s lyrics make for a truly beautiful song, and the addition of the rest of the band makes this version of the song easily better than the original. I have a feeling a lot of people won’t agree with this song being in the top ten, but I’ve always found it to be an extremely powerful record.

05. “Big Love” - Tango In The Night. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham

“Big Love” is another of Lindsey’s songs that was originally planned for a Buckingham solo album. As the solo album turned into a Mac project, the song was picked up by the band and turned into a top five song in the states. While I love the original version of the song, I greatly prefer the live, guitar-only version from The Dance. The original is too…poppy, for lack of a better term, while the live version allows Lindsey to show off his ridiculous guitar prowess as well as display his raw emotions, which adds greatly to the song. This is a killer performance that everyone should experience at least once, and the live version helped propel this song into the top five.

04. “Gypsy” - Mirage. Written by: Stevie Nicks

My Stevie Nicks bias is about to come out in a big way, so I will apologize now. I could go on forever about “Gypsy” and explain what it’s about and why I love it, but instead I’ll give you quote from Stevie:

"Oh boy, I’ve never really spoken about this, so I get verklempt, and then I’ve got the story and I start to screw it up. Okay: In the old days, before Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey [Buckingham] and I had no money, so we had a king-size mattress, but we just had it on the floor. I had old vintage coverlets on it, and even though we had no money it was still really pretty... Just that and a lamp on the floor, and that was it—there was a certain calmness about it. To this day, when I’m feeling cluttered, I will take my mattress off of my beautiful bed, wherever that may be, and put it outside my bedroom, with a table and a little lamp. That's the words: 'So I’m back to the velvet underground'—which is a clothing store in downtown San Francisco,where Janis Joplin got her clothes, and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, it was this little hole in the wall, amazing, beautiful stuff—'back to the floor that I love, to a room with some lace and paper flowers, back to the gypsy that I was.' So that’s what 'Gypsy' means: it’s just a search for before this all happened. And later, I tacked on a line for my friend Robin, my best friend, who died of leukemia: 'I still see your bright eyes.' But then, Robin wasn’t sick yet. She got cancer, and died within a year."

As for why I love the song, just put it on – that should explain everything.

03. “Rhiannon” - Fleetwood Mac. Written by: Stevie Nicks

“Rhiannon,” the song of the Welsh witch, is Nicks’ signature song. After seeing the name in a book she purchased in an airport, Nicks wrote the song and originally intended to include it on the next Buckingham Nicks album. Instead, Nicks and Buckingham were scooped up by the Mac and the song was released on 1975’s Fleetwood Mac. This is the song that began the Stevie Nicks craze, as she would perform in a trance-like state on stage in her flowing black gowns. Young women everywhere idolized Nicks, dressed like her and imitated her mannerisms. This song as well as Nicks’ persona is also partially responsible for her image as a witch. As a result of this, Nicks avoided wearing black clothes for a few years in an attempt to distance herself from such associations.

One interesting note about “Rhiannon” is that it fits surprisingly well with the history of Fleetwood Mac. When Nicks was initially asked to join the band, she knew very little about Fleetwood Mac. In an effort to understand what she was getting into, Stevie went out and got copies of each Mac album and gave them a listen. Though lineups had changed constantly up to this point, Nicks noticed one constant that defined and connected Fleetwood Mac throughout its various periods: a sense of mysticism. “Rhiannon” simply continues the tradition set forth in songs such as “Oh Well,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Dust” and “Revelations.” "Rhiannon" is a great song and truly deserves its spot in this list.

02. “Silver Springs” – B-side. Written by: Stevie Nicks

This song, blatantly written about Buckingham, is the greatest song ever left off an album. Dumped from Rumours for “I Don’t Want To Know,” “Silver Springs” finally saw the light of day (and got the recognition it deserves) in 1997 when it was included in the Mac’s live reunion album, The Dance. The song, which I would describe as eerily ethereal, reportedly first popped into Nicks’ mind while driving and spotting a sign for Silver Spring, MD. As the song evolved, it became a spirited attack on Lindsey Buckingham. As their love fell apart, Stevie wanted him to know that she would haunt him forever, an extremely accurate prediction. What Stevie didn’t see, however, is how the specter of their love would also cast a shroud over the rest of her life as well. One of the most powerful moments I’ve ever experienced in music is watching Lindsey and Stevie staring intently at each other in 1997 as she passionately sings “I’ll follow you down ‘til the sound of my voice will haunt you / you’ll never get away from the sound of the woman who loves you.” Lindsey and Stevie are both mesmerizing; unfortunately they’re tied together for eternity and doomed to live with each other in an endless cycle of love and hate for the rest of their lives. Not only does that relationship define this song, but it has come to define this band as well, making “Silver Springs” one of the most important songs in Mac history.

01. “The Chain” - Rumours. Written by: Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood

“The Chain” is a combination of a number of tunes put together to create the greatest song in Fleetwood Mac’s extensive catalogue. The song began with the outro, beginning with McVie’s bass solo. Having heard this, Stevie (who wrote all of the lyrics) and Christine went to work on the rest of the song. The last piece of the puzzle was the intro, which Buckingham stole from himself (the intro to “Lola (My Love)” from Buckingham Nicks). When all three parts came together, the result was a magical one. Amidst the turmoil of the Rumours sessions, the McVies’ divorce, Mick’s struggles and the break-up of Buckingham and Nicks, all five band members were somehow able to come together and collectively create an emotionally charged, musically provocative rock-and-roll anthem that has come to define the band. While it is unclear whether Stevie was writing solely about Lindsey or the band as a whole, the song has come to encompass the entire group and is the perfectly describes the relationship between band members from 1976 to present-day. While they may not always like or love each other, the chain will undoubtedly keep the members of Fleetwood Mac together for eternity and they are inextricably linked by their music as well as their personal intimacies.