The Everlasting Joys of "Let's Work Together"

Lonesome Onry and Mean was pondering the greater meaning of all things with the aid of a cold bottle of Thought Elixir when Dwight Yoakam's version of the old Wilbert Harrison R&B smash "Let's Work Together" came up in the iPod mix. Harrison's original has been part of our DJ sets since Day One, but hearing Yoakam's twang version reminded us of Bryan Ferry's glam hit with his cover of the tune which was tearing up Europe just as we arrived there in 1976.

Thought Elixir being what it is, down the YouTube rabbit hole we plunged in search of our past. While Ry Cooder and Buckwheat Zydeco, Bob Dylan, Kentucky Headhunters and others have covered the tune, these are our favorites beginning with Harrison's 1970 masterpiece.

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Almost Famous: 5 Millennial Bands Who Should Have Been More Successful

Photo by Cory Garcia
Nostalgia starts with burned CDs.
I recommend that once a year you dig out your old CD collection (or MP3 archive if that's how you roll) and give a spin to the music you haven't listened to in forever. Everyone should take a nostalgic listen down memory lane now and then; not only is it good to reconnect with old songs, but you also get to laugh about how wrong you were about certain bands.

We all have bands in our past that we thought were going to be more successful than they ended up being. They come in all different shapes: the band with a string of songs on the radio but no actual hits; the band with the unique sound that was too ahead of its time; the band with the mountain of wasted potential.

Twenty years ago, these groups would fade and you'd never know what ended up happening to them, but thanks to the Internet, no one ever really disappears. I dug into my own nostalgia vault to pick out some of the acts I was wrong about to see where they are now.

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10 Reasons to Hate Boyz II Men's "End of the Road"

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Twenty years ago this week, a slick R&B ballad appeared at the top of the charts and simply refused to go away.

One of the most successful songs of the '90s, Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks, setting a new record. The soundtrack single was a major triumph not only for Boyz II Men, but for producers L.A. Reid and Babyface and for mainstream R&B as a whole.

We hate it.

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Fred Eaglesmith: Dangerous To Himself

Fred Ealesmith's latest release 6 Volts is rapidly becoming our most played disk since we scored a copy at his recent show at Mucky Duck. Recorded live as a band with ONE MICROPHONE(!) as one track mono to a reel-to-reel deck (oh, you want lo-fi!), the album has drawn frequent comparisons to the last Neil Young album, Le Noise.

As usual with Eaglesmith, the album is packed with memorable lines and hard-bitten characters. We recently spent a sleepless night lying in bed with "I'm dangerous, I'm dangerous / I'm dangerous to myself" running on repeat deep in the cranium.

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Can't Get It Out of My Head: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"

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Jay Lee

Rocks Off would wholeheartedly like to wish Ms. Stevie Nicks a very happy birthday today; since she's the epitome of a rock and roll lady, we'll refrain from revealing her actual age. At Fleetwood Mac's Toyota Center concert earlier this month, Nicks seemed to be walking with a limp, and her voice was noticeably raspier than on record, but her performances of "Gypsy," "Sara" - during which she walked over to embrace Lindsey Buckingham near the end, a clearly unrehearsed and utterly moving bit of stagecraft - "Gold Dust Woman" and "Silver Spring" were nevertheless riveting.

Instead, this gives Rocks Off a chance to write a few lines about one of our favorite Nicks songs, her duet with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." The lead single from Nicks' 1981 solo debut Bella Donna, it rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, as Petty jokes on Peter Bogdanovich's 2007 documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, totally torpedoed the Heartbreakers' single at the time, "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)."

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Can't Get It Out of My Head: Anya Marina's "Whatever You Like"

So in addition to not being able to get T.I's "Whatever You Like" outta our skulls since last fall, here comes blonde pixie Anya Marina's sultry acoustic version of the hip-hop hit.

Marina is based out of San Diego, Calif., and when she's not writing sweet lil' acoustipop with her backing band, she's a morning DJ for one of the city's radio stations. She reminds us of another San Diego-area artist, Jewel, who wrote plenty of come-hither jams on an acoustic guitar, except Marina hasn't been on "Dancing With The Stars" or married a rodeo dude. Fingers crossed.

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Can't Get It Out of My Head: "It's Only Rock N Roll"

Live in El Lay, July 1975

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Sometimes you can just tell it's going to be a good week. Rocks Off heard "It's Only Rock N Roll" - the prize of the Stones' interregnum between Exile on Main Street and Some Girls (sorry, "Angie" fans) - on the way home last night and, sure enough, it does help ease the pain. You can almost see Keef nodding off during that extra-dirty riff, and Mick - as usual - is taking no mess: "Bet you think you're the only woman in town." (If anyone knows different, it's him.)

Be that as it may, "It's Only" makes a solid case that rock and roll will forever be the Stones' true mistress - and for a band that hardly needed explain itself in 1974, moves the curtain aside just enough to show that Mick sticking a knife in his heart and spilling it right onstage isn't just a metaphor.  

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Can't Get It Out of My Head: "New Madrid"

Wilco, "New Madrid," live at the Fox Theater, Boulder, Colorado, May 1995

Rocks Off is never really not on an Uncle Tupelo kick, but it sure came flooding back after he heard "New Madrid" on Fred Imus' Saturday-morning Trailer Park Bash satellite-radio show last weekend. Even among such future alt-country touchstones as "Acuff/Rose," "The Long Cut" and killer Doug Sahm duet "Give Back the Key to My Heart," "New Madrid" has always been Rocks Off favorite song on the late St. Louis band's final - and probably best - album, 1993's Anodyne. Only "Gun," from 1991's Still Feel Gone, keeps it from being his favorite Uncle Tupelo song, period.

Spurred by a loping banjo lick - played by Max Johnston, now of the Gourds - "New Madrid" is one of Jeff Tweedy's best Tupelo-period lover's laments, as well as one of the very few UT songs to still appear regularly on Wilco's setlist. His lyrics contain several references to the earthquakes near New Madrid, Missouri, in 1811 and 1812, still thought to be the biggest quakes in U.S. history. Had the Richter Scale been around back then, seismologists believe they would have registered around an 8.0, a category appropriately designated "megaquake." They were severe enough to alter the course of the Mississippi River - hence the line "Rivers burn, then run backwards."

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Can't Get It Out of My Head: David Allan Coe's "Whips and Things" (NSFW)

That lovable scamp Mojo Nixon just played this song on his Sirius XM Outlaw Country shift, and now only God knows when Rocks Off is going to be able to scrub his mind clean of "Pussy-Eatin' Pamela," "Suck-'em Silly Shirley" and a few others he can't bring himself to type. And, in case you are denser than plutonium, yes, this is extremely NSFW.

Allow Rocks Off to repeat: N. S. F. W. But it's a scream. 

Look at it this way: Rocks Off could have posted Coe's "Masturbation Blues"...

Can't Get It Out of My Head: Kleenex-Core with Justin Townes Earle's "Mama's Eyes"

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to music, I get misty at points. I guess it's the sentiment of a song, if it lines up with something that I could never intimate to someone else. Love, death, remorse, all the biggies that get that lacrimal gland going in our everyday lives. I have even frequently wondered if it's some evil recipe in the chords and sounds that makes me turn into a bald and tattooed mass of nerves.

Whenever a song makes me tear up, I get all angry at the artist. Like they sat in a studio and said, "Fuck that dude! Let's write a song that makes him cry in traffic like a bitch!"

When Justin Townes Earle recorded "Mama's Eyes," the first track released of March's Midnight at the Movies, he probably added "And let me make damn sure it reminds him of his spotty relationship with his dad and touches on the fact that he looks like his mom, but with a beard!"

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