Tuesday 5 April 2011

Hidden Gems

Over the years, artists have released songs that have mass appeal and it is these songs that we hear on the radio over and over again.

Such songs become anthems for fans of artists and when they release albums we tend to focus on those songs, choosing to treat the remainder of the tracks as fillers.

Some of the best work by pop and rock stars never get played on the radio and in many cases this is the best material.

I think it is a real shame.

I thought I would try to redress the balance and expose some of the better but less well known songs that I have enjoyed over the years.
These are mainly from the 70’s and 80’s. If you haven’t heard the songs before, let me know what you think.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Maximum Joy (from the album "Liverpool")

Frankie Goes To Hollywood were huge in 1984, the year I left university. Their first three singles all reached number one , a feat unheard of in those days before mass marketing and people like Simon Cowell ruined pop music. Sadly, their second album bombed massively, thankfully after I bought it. I actually think it is quite good and the song “Maximum Joy” is a fabulous little song that could potentially have been a single.

A-ha – Soft Rains of April (from the album "Scoundrel Days")

A-ha are one of my guilty pleasures and their second album, “Scoundrel Days” is my favourite. We all know the singles from that album but the final track is a haunting and fitting finale to a great album. I love this song.

Depeche Mode – Clean (from the album "Violator")

“Violator” is one of my favourite pop albums of all time and is an absolute triumph. Depeche Mode became much darker towards the end of the eighties and “Clean” demonstrates this perfectly. It is a fitting finale to a fine album. It is also my favourite song from “Violator” that is no mean feat against some pretty stiff competition.

ELO – Do Ya (from the album "A New World Record")

“A New World Record” was the second album I ever bought. I won’t tell you the first – it is too embarrassing. Nevertheless I am proud to admit that I played this record so much that I almost wore it out. The singles from this album are famous of course, but “Do Ya” is a gem that stands up with them and perhaps ought to have graced the charts.

Enya – No Holly For Miss Quinn (from the album "Shepherd Moons")

Let’s get mellow for a moment and enjoy a haunting piano masterpiece. I shocked Mrs PM when I played “No Holly For Miss Quinn” to her the first time during a romantic meal at home. “You actually like this?” she asked incredulously. “Yes,” I replied. “It is simply beautiful.” And it is – I hope you agree.

U2 – One Tree Hill (from the album "The Joshua Tree")

I think everybody in the world owns “The Joshua Tree” but I wonder how many of the other songs from the album people play. I am not a huge fan of U2 but they have peppered their back catalogue with quite a few gems. In my opinion, this is the best song on the album.

Whitesnake – Blindman (from the album "Ready and Willing")

I was very much into Whitesnake before David Coverdale left his original band behind and became huge in America with a whole new bunch of musicians. In my opinion, the earlier material is by far the best. It is bluesy and soulful and emotional (well some of it anyway). “Blindman” is a diamond that most Whitesnake fans will never have heard. I urge you to listen to this because it shows off just how great David Coverdale’s voice was in the late 70’s. I love this song – it is beautiful.

Genesis – Domino (from the album "Invisible Touch")

“Domino” is really two songs in one; a mellow first part that gradually draws you in followed by a more upbeat and progressive second part. As is typical with progressive rock, the song lasts for over ten minutes – probably a bit too long to be a single I guess. A great tune.

Chris Rea – Looking for a Rainbow (from the album "The Road to Hell")

I bought “The Road to Hell” because I liked the title track. Sadly, it is a little bit hit and miss (but that might be because I am not a huge fan of Chris Rea) but I do like “Looking for a Rainbow”. Coming in at a cool eight minutes, it is up there with the title track and “Working On It” as Chris Rea’s best songs.

ABC – 4 Eva 2 Gether (from the album "The Lexicon of Love")

ABC irritated the hell out of me in the early 80’s. Everybody raved about Martin Fry’s so-called wonderful lyrics. I found them cheesy and desperate. “The Lexicon of Love” was a huge album spawning a few well known songs that were at best okay. A few people I knew liked ABC and tried to convert me. And they almost managed it. Nestling towards the end of the album is “4 Eva 2 Gether” and I think it is a cracking little pop song (despite the lyrics). I saw Rush for the first time in 1982 and the band played various rock songs to entertain the crowd. And unbelievably, they also played this. It was like a cuckoo in a rock nest. And even more unbelievably it worked – that’s why I think it is a hidden gem (perhaps their only hidden gem).

That’s enough for now. I may return with a few more in future from my rock collection.

And now, dear reader, over to you. Have you got any hidden and unknown gems by famous artists?


Mind Of Mine said...

Impossible - Christina Aguilera.

River said...

I remember being a teenager and buying singles of the songs I loved on radio, then finding that a lot of the time I preferred the song on the B side. So I started buying albums instead and finding lots of songs that I liked a lot, not just the ones that got plenty of air time.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

I'm not a fan of Christina Aguilera - though Mrs PM is. That said, I think she has a great voice - whch would easily make the transition to rock music, should she choose to turn to the dark side.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Exactly how I feel. I saw the single as an open door to, in many cases, much better songs - an advert if you like. Some radio stations play album tracks - but very few sadly.




Kath Lockett said...

The only one I've heard before is 'One Tree Hill' which, I agree, is one of their best songs.

I'll make sure to check out your others soon.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I'm sure one or two might float your boat.




Anonymous said...

Yes I know some...but I think the artists I know are the artists you probably hate...hehehe...like Madonna's "Ain't No Big Deal."

Plastic Mancunian said...

Ah Bingkee,

You are mostly right but just a wee bit wrong - :-)

I love the album "Ray of Light" by Madonna and I present, just for you, a hidden gem from that album.


It's a great song - I'm sure you will agree.

BTW - I had never heard "Ain't No Big Deal - and you are right - not too keen on that one.