My Sunday Song – “Cops” by Needtobreathe

 

For My Sunday Song #161, we are now taking over with the next 10 songs coming from one of my favorite bands Needtobreathe. A rock band with a Southern Rock sound, folk, Americana, gospel all with a Christian background and some of the best songs I have ever heard.  I usually try to stick with the non-singles, but as I want more people to know this band, I won’t always stick with that philosophy…although this song is just that.  The song this week is called “Cops” and it is a B-Side for the song “Keep Your Eyes Open”. The song is also a bonus track on the LP version of the album ‘The Reckoning’ from 2011.  Yes, the LP has the bonus tracks!!

The song is one of the bands heaviest songs and completely rocks out.  The reason for that is the subject matter of the song. Needtobreathe has always been labeled a Christian band, but they are not.  They are a rock band that has a Christian upbringing and that subject matter bleeds in to the music from time to time.  But that is not their focus.  They don’t deny they are Christians, they just want to play music and have a good time…nothing wrong with that.

The song is about the Christian people that are trying to tie the band down as a Christian band.  The constant opinions about how they are disappointing God when they don’t sing about him and they should be out there spreading the word.  Sorry, they are a Rock band first and they are not apologizing for that.  The band likens this pressure to being chased by “Cops”…so there you have it.  I find it funny how Christians are supposed to be holier than thou, but yet they are the first to cast the stone and point the finger when they should be looking in to that mirror themselves.  Another problem I have with religion although I am a Christian, their hypocrisy is sickening at times.  Soapbox, getting down now.

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My Sunday Song – “Die Hard the Hunter” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #160 and the final in the Def Leppard series, I bring you “Die Hard the Hunter” from the multi-platinum album ‘Pyromania’.  The song was never released as a single; however, was played live back in the day.

The song opens with the sound of a helicopter and machine gun fire and is representative of war, the Vietnam War to be exact.  The song is about a war veteran who comes back from war, but can’t seem to let it go.  The battles the soldier faces being home as he can’t seem to stop fighting the battles and now they are in his mind.  The evils of war are following him everywhere and he is struggling to let go of the bad and find the good.  A common problem with soldiers then and even today.

What I love about the song is the seriousness of the music.  The heavy metal chords that are used give an impending feel of doom and gloom.  There is a darkness to the music, an eeriness, a sadness that captures the feelings the soldier is going through.  You can actually feel the heaviness of it all through the music.  It is quite fantastic how they captured that feeling musically.

Steve Clark’s solo on this is fantastic.  He has a really cool riff and along with Pete Willis’ rhythm guitar, the two made a great pair and helped deliver the sound that captured the essence of the song.  It was simple sounding, yet brilliant.  Not too flashy, but not understated either.  Joe delivers the vocals in a way to also help convey the emotions of the song.  Always has been one of my favorites on ‘Pyromania’.

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My Sunday Song – “Blind Faith” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #159, I want to discuss the  song “Blind Faith” off the self-titled album Def Leppard from 2015.  The final song on the album and not a rocker, but not sure it is a ballad either.  The album has helped see a jump in popularity for the band as it is probably the best album they have done in about the last 20 years.  And for me, this song is part of the reason.

“Blind Faith” was written by Rick Savage and Joe Elliott and is a commentary on religion and cult-like faith groups.  I think I connected to it due to his viewpoints are similar to mine.  It is not that he doesn’t believe in God, it is not a knock on religion, it is more that sometimes organized religion is kind of futile.

Joe said this about the song in an interview with Claire Sturgess for Absolute Radio:

“We’ve always touched on the real side of life if you like. Mostly it’s in with relationship stuff but with this it was like just observation of the that humanity can be abused if you like. And I set out writing this thing and I just had this stream of consciousness. It just came pouring out of me but I made a very conscious effort to not be preachy and finger waggy about it. If you actually read the lyrics. And I did say to the guy when he was putting the artwork together. I want a question mark putting at the end because I want everybody to realise. I’m asking a question and I’m not telling you what’s going on. I’m asking is it really what’s going on?. You know. Make your own mind up. So in that – it is poking a little bit but it’s not preaching. I want the listener to make their own mind up as to whether you know what they’re hearing is representative of what they’re thinking as well because it’s certainly what a lot of people think.”

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My Sunday Song – “Getcha Rocks Off” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #158, I bring to you “Getcha Rocks Off” from the band’s 1979 debut E.P. simply known as the Def Leppard E.P.  The song would go on to be re-recorded for the band’s debut full length album ‘On Through the Night’ but there it is known as “Rocks Off”.

What is cool about this song?  Well, everything actually.  It is as early Def Leppard as you can get.  It is raw, it is rough and it completely gets your rocks off…really!  The band sounds so young, so hungry and so damn good.  Steve Clark’s guitar riff instantly grabs hold of you and won’t let go.  And let’s talk about that solo.  Damn, Steve was immediately letting the world know that this band meant business.  There is a little back and forth on the guitars with Steve and Pete Willis and then Steve just tears into that solo with a blistering pace and so much fire and passion.  This is guitar rock at its best.

Another cool thing about this song is the drumming.  This is not Rick Allen on drums. This was before he joined the band.  The drummer on this is Frank Noon.  Frank  was a session drummer and wasn’t really a full member of the band.  He wasn’t the first drummer either as that was Tony Kenning, but he isn’t on this record so no more about him.  Frank did a great job and pounded the hell out of those drums.

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Lyrically there isn’t much to the song.  It is a pure rock & roll song about a beautiful woman that comes to the dressing room door and is looking smoking hot.  She wants to get her rocks off.  When the band goes on stage the girl is in the front and she has lots of pretty friends, enough for every one in the band…funny how that works out.  This song is really great for the music, not the lyrical content for sure.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Proud Mary”

For the next edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going with the classic song “Proud Mary” originally done by Creedence Clearwater Revival and covered by Ike & Tina Turner.  The song was written by John Fogerty and released in January 1969 on the band’s album ‘Bayou Country’.  This song has had 100’s of covers made of it, but in 1969 alone, there were 35 covers…35!!!  Unbelievable.

The song was written by Fogerty after he was discharged from the Army in 1967 which was the the “good job” he left in the city.  “Proud Mary” is the name of the River Boat and the song is about that journey down the river with the big water wheel rolling around and around pushing them down the river.  The song went to #2 for CCR and #4 for Ike & Tina on Billboard Hot 100 charts which is pretty respectable for both.

But enough about that.  Let us focus on the song and which version is better.  We will start as we usually do with the Original and then discuss the Cover ending with a wonderful Verdict of which one I like more.  And away we go…

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL

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My Sunday Song – “Blood Runs Cold” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #157, “Blood Runs Cold” from the 1996 album ‘Slang’ is our song of discussion this week.  The song is certainly a deep cut as it was never a single and not sure if they played it live.  ‘Slang’ was a highly underrated album and was at a time when Grunge had killed the 80’s rock so Lep went out and did their own thing.  Most people wanted more of the same, but this was from it. This song is a ballad, but not like any ballad they had done before.

The song is another tribute to their fallen comrade, Steve Clark.  “Blood Runs Cold” was written by Joe Elliott and Phil Collen and this is the second tribute they had written for Steve, the first being “White Lightning” which we discussed several weeks back.  This one was a cold, feeling ballad full of sadness and emptiness for missing their friend.

It really is a dark song and I love how the bass playing by Rick Savage is really the focused instrument.  Just give a listen to how he plays the song and how the notes are hit with the right tone and timing.  He does a stellar job with this song.

Joe’s sadness shines through as he sings the lyrics and I love in the middle of the song, Phil’s backing vocals sound amazing and adds an extra level of pain to the lyrics with his delivery of the lyrics.  Then the guitar solo also has the sad feel to it as well.  It is really a heartbreaking song especially when you listen to the lyrics.

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My Sunday Song – “Gods of War” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #156, we are going to talk about one of Def Leppard’s few politically charged songs and one of the few songs from Hysteria that was not a single.  The song is “Gods of War”.  It is an epic song at over 6 minutes and I loved it when they used to play this one live long, long ago.  They still do play it when they do the whole Hysteria album in concert of course.

This was the 80’s and there were all these little military skirmishes going on around the world and it was the end of the Cold War.  Ronald Reagan was President of the United States and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  Intermixed in the song were lines from the world leaders threatening the terrorists and even gun fire and battle sounds.  One of my favorite lines was towards the end when President Reagan said, “He counted on America to be passive, He counted wrong” and then there was gun fire and explosions.  For a teenage boy, that was really badass!  Plus, I can do a really great Reagan impression so I would say those lines in his voice every time I would sing it.

Joe came up with the song from watching the news and what was going on in the world. It was Def Leppard’s version of protest song which I am sure was overshadowed by the songs that the band was releasing such as “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.  People didn’t look at Leppard as a socially conscience band, but they could be and were.

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My Sunday Song – “Scar” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #155, we are on to a very underrated album called ‘X’.  The song is “Scar” and is another unsung classic in their catalog.  The album ‘X’  didn’t do terribly, it just didn’t do as well as a lot of their previous work. It peaked at #11 on the Billboard charts.  Part of the problem was this was not released as a single.  “Scar” has all the elements people love about the band.

The song is full of layer upon layer of vocals and harmonies that give it the unique Lep trademark vocals.  It has a power ballad feel to it which suits Joe Elliott’s vocal perfectly and it actually seems like it would have fit nicely on one of their best albums, ‘Slang’.  It has a lot of the same tone and feel of that album.

Another piece that I like about the song is the guitar playing of Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.  There is a hypnotic element to the riffs and when you get to the solo, the back and forth between the two is sensational.  It takes me back to when Phil and Steve would play off each other.  Overall it made feel good.

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My Sunday Song – “White Lightning” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #154, we are covering the 7 minute epic, “White Lightning” off the band’s 1992 release ‘Adrenalize’.  The album sold millions, went to #1 and released 7 singles (not all in the States) and this was not one of them.  This is one of those deep cuts that is actually probably better than everything else on the record.

The ‘Adrenalize’ album was the first album without Steve Clark and even prior to Vivian Campbell joining the band.  The song was written about Steve Clark and his addicitions and untimely death.  Steve’s nickname from the band was White Lightning as he normally dressed in all white on stage and ran around the stage like a bolt of lightning.  It is such a heartfelt tribute and you can feel the love and passion the band had for this man.

The song opens with a guitar solo by Phil Collen that was played in the style of Steve and his personal tribute to him.  The solo starts off slow, with an eerie feel to it…a sadness.  In fact, Phil played all the parts and even with the dual guitar parts he played as if it was he and Steve going at it together.  It is very touching.

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My Sunday Song – “Paper Sun” by Def Leppard

For My Sunday Song #153, we are exploring the great song “Paper Sun” from the band’s 1999 album ‘Euphoria’.  The song was released as a single in the U.S., but to little fanfare despite it being one of the best songs on the album.

The song is about the Omagh terrorist bombing on August 15, 1998 in Northern Ireland.  Here is what wikipedia says about the bombing…

It was carried out by a group calling themselves the Real Irish Republican Army, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) splinter group who opposed the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement. The bombing killed 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) and injured some 220 others, making it the deadliest single incident of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Lyrically and musically, the song is very dark and sad.  At over 5:26 minutes, the song takes you on a journey through the emotions of that sad day.  It feels like they are losing hope in humanity and in life.  The world is so fragile as if made of paper that could burn up in an instant.  Lyrics, like “Do you still hear ’em screamin'” is full of the pain that one would feel if they were at the bombing and could hear the cries for help and the cries of sorrow for those lost.

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