Features

Mixtape Mondays: Rough Gems

Deep Cuts From Rock’s Most Legendary Albums

by Melanie Love

[Editor's note: Cover images of albums previously reviewed on the DV have been linked to the review.]


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"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" Led Zeppelin

Sweet and a little sad with a weaving skiffle beat, this is no Immigrant Song or Kashmir’s churning beats and relentless drumming; instead, there’s a lovely innocence in this ode to Plant’s blue-eyed Merle dog , while Page’s melodic guitar lines weaving through hand-clap accented verses add a catchy lightness not immediately associated with Zeppelin.
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"Something In The Way" – Nirvana
Propelled to the masses by the heart-pounding, dynamism of singles “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium,” 1991’s Nevermind was legendary. But closer “Something In The Way” takes a different approach, stripping the thick guitars away to a lone acoustic strum and Cobain’s low, strained vocals. Lines like “And the animals I’ve trapped / Have all become my pets / And I’m living off of grass / And the drippings from the ceiling” and the addition of strings and slow, uneven drums in the chorus make this a haunting yet oddly stunning song that will lodge under your skin like a splinter.

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"Slide Away" – Oasis

The Gallagher brothers may be assholes, but they could still pen those flawless, wrenching pop songs. “Slide Away,” despite being overshadowed by the four other singles off Oasis’ debut, is nothing short of gorgeous, all textured instrumentation, Liam Gallagher’s soaring vocals, and solid lyrics, plus a lengthy, swirling fadeout. It’s worthy of “Wonderwall,” to say the least.

 

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"’39" – Queen

A surreal, evocative tale of love and space travel, this Brian May-authored song is a gem in the Queen crown. May’s sweetly thin, reaching vocals are all emotion and imagination here, while the humming bass, breezy strums of acoustic guitar, and drummer Roger Taylor’s astoundingly high backing harmonies make this one not to be skipped over to get to the “Bohemian Rhapsody” head-banging.

 

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"Ride On" – AC/DC

It’s not often AC/DC scale back the surging beats and lascivious lyrics, but “Ride On” does just that (and still manages to stay catchy). Bon Scott is strangely endearing here, singing about loneliness and longing to light out rather than about his balls or offing someone -- add in a sing-along chorus and slow-building guitars that lead up to an epic Angus Young solo, and you’ve got a classic yet totally untraditional AC/DC track.

 

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"Think About You" – Guns N’ Roses

This is a love song as only Guns N’ Roses could do it: with blistering rhythms, Axl Rose’s caterwauling vocals, and a larger than life swagger. Legendarily misogynistic, Rose has nevertheless laid down here a straightforwardly sweet track that, if not for the epic, crunching backbeats, would be a touching ballad.

 

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"Acrobat" – U2

Slotted penultimately in a string of hits, “Acrobat” tends to get lost in the shuffle. Still, with sharp stabs of guitar, hazed-over drums and bass, and the scrape of Bono’s vocals on lines like “You can stash and you can seize / And dreams begin responsibilities…So don’t let the bastards grind you down” lend this track a dark, painful sense of reflection that epitomizes the groundbreaking disc itself.

 

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"Two-Headed Boy" – Neutral Milk Hotel

It’s tough to pluck a single cut out of this seamless album, a jaw-droppingly vivid, invigorating trip through Jeff Magnum’s mind. Still, “Two-Headed Boy” manages to jam in all of those elements: strangely gorgeous, surreal lyrics (“And through the music he sweetly displays / Silver speakers that sparkle all day / Made for his lover who’s floating and choking with her hands across her face”), Magnum’s rising, evocative vocals, and the punchy, everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach to instrumentation. “Two-Headed Boy,” like its title would imply, really is unforgettable.

 

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"Play With Fire" – Rolling Stones

This brooding, compact track is worlds away from the Stones’ riff-driven, Satisfaction-fueled fare. Propelled by Keith Richards’ distorted guitar line and Mick Jagger’s deep, clear vocals (plus, a studio janitor handling backup vocals, since the rest of the Stones had fallen asleep during the session), “Fire” is an ominous, uncharacteristically downbeat riff on high society (and its succinct chorus is also a good tool to shake “Satisfaction” out of your head).

 

 




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