Here’s Robert Gillies’ accompanying notes for the Doghouse radio show, presented by Chris & Neil on Derby Sound!
Hear the show on mixcloud HERE!
Robert Gillies here. I work with Johnson upon occasion, raised him from a pup, taught him everything he knows. I’m from the US, currently living near Lynchburg, TN, 13 km (we’re still miles – 8 miles) from the legendary Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Sometimes, if the wind is just right, you can even smell them cooking the mash. One way or the other, I love my rock and roll. I’m always looking for something new to give a listen, constantly on the search for that perfect rock song, and have been since Christmas 1976 when Mom gave my brother and I Kiss, Rock and Roll Over. I can remember hearing those first notes, and Paul Stanley singing, “in the morning I raise my head, and I’m thinking of days gone by, and the thing I want out of life is…” Those next notes struck me to my soul. That album, more than anything else in this world, set me on my lifelong quest for the perfect rock song.
Ace of Spades, Motorhead
And my monster for this week. From the first notes of Lemmy’sbass, you know that there is just no mercy coming fromMotorhead in this one. Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar and PhilthyAnimal Taylor on drums. That’s it. Three guys making that wonderful racket. Guitar, bass, drums. That’s rock and roll. Anything else, second guitar, keyboard, whatever, that’s all just window dressing. How can you make a song this huge with just three guys? Well, Lemmy is how. What a huge personality he was. And how can you fault a guy that drank more Jack and Coke than I have? One way or the other, this song, for me, just defines the entire genre of hard rock / heavy metal. It wasn’t the first metal song, but I think it might very well be the most perfect one ever. You want to discuss that? Let’s have a Jack and Coke and have it out, my friend!
When I was a kid, my folks always told me that as I got older, my musical tastes would change so that I didn’t listen to that loud, rude hard rock. Yeah, not so much. Duality (and Wait and Bleed) were kinda gateway songs for me to Slipknot, which is really one of the harder bands I listen to. This song, every time, I have to just stop and turn it up. Corey Taylor is just one of my favorite singers these days – great voice when he wants to sing a more traditional rock sound, and then he can just go into the screams. Plus, his lyrics are so powerful – a strange statement from me.
Stillborn, Black Label Society
Very hard for me to choose Ozzy (and with which guitar player!?!?) or Sabbath or Zakk… They are all the same “bucket” of songs, and in a short format radio show, I didn’t want to have a whole lot of songs from one bucket, and this one gets two in there – Ozzy on background vocals for Zakk on guitar, a kind of turn-about, if you will. For me, though, this song just bludgeons the senses. You turn it up, and the guitar can just be felt to your core. I think that Zakk Wylde is one of the best guitar players in metal music today.
The Bleeding, Five Finger Death Punch
Speaking of great guitar work, FFDP is always at the top of that heap. Talking about great metal guitar gods, you must have Zakk Wylde and the guys from FFDP (there have been a few). Their style is so different from Zakk, the production a bit more polished, the impact a bit less brutal, but man can these guys blaze. This is the song that got me into FFDP, and to this day I don’t think they have anything I like better. A great alternative is the “unplugged” version of this song – I love metal on an acoustic guitar!
Something Different, Godsmack
I remember hearing Voodoo on the radio for the first time. One of those songs that was like, “OMG – I have to get that like right now.” While I love so, so many of Godsmack’s songs, there is something about this one that just drives to my core. Once again, I’m a guitar guy, but the drums on this one are just amazing to me – not in a technical sense, but just the way they power the song. Sully never lets you down, and I just love the lyrics of this song. “Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way” – somehow, that just speaks to me, probably from some customer situations at work!
Bright Lights, Gary Clarke Jr.
So, while this has a harder edge, it also really has a strong, strong blues influence. I love blues – I think it is the core to where almost everything in music that I love comes from, from Robert Johnson and the other Delta Blues guys, through Clapton, Jimmy Page, Van Halen, and on to these metal gods we’ve been discussing. Gary Clarke, Jr. is an Austin blues player, growing up playing in the same bars as Stevie Ray Vaughn and many others. The guitar, to me, is so impactful, but the lyrics are fantastic. I mean, who here hasn’t woke up in New York City lying on the floor?
This might be the most accessible Pantera song, if you aren’t a real thrash metal kinda person. But that groove. THAT GROOVE. Man, this song and that groove really, to me, define the whole genre of groove metal. I’m a HUGE fan of rhythm guitar, I feel that guys like Eddie Van Halen are the best guitar players, not because of their lead, but because of the rhythm, and how that rhythm guitar defines the song. But not Pantera and this groove metal, oh, no. This is so different that what I generally listen to, but man oh man what a song.
Black Dog, Led Zeppelin
How do you choose the best Zeppelin song? Well, this one for me is special. When I was a young adult, many years ago, I was trying to learn to play guitar. Never good, but it was fun. And this song taught me a lot about timing. Sounds like something minor, doesn’t it? But sometimes it is the very, very little things that make something very special to us.
She’s Automatic, Rancid
So, Rancid. VERY different from anything else on this list. More punk than metal. But I’ll tell you, these guys with their very ska-flavored punk, for me, this is just another genre of metal. I got into Rancid because I was bored with what I was listening to. The old Windows NT had a screen saver that when you put a word or phrase into the settings, it would bounce around the screen. If you put the word “Rock” or something like that, it would bounce various band names. I’m in this class, and the band name “Rancid” pops up. I went and got “And Out Come the Wolves”, and just WOW. Again, a band that changed the way I listen to music. This song is one of my favorite Rancid songs (from a different album), and really one of the most accessible songs of theirs, and what hot blooded young man hasn’t known that girl that was, well, automatic?
Runnin’ with the Devil, Van Halen
I grew up in Oklahoma. We had, in 9th grade, Oklahoma History class. My teacher was, well, think of another Van Halen song “Hot for Teacher”. Young, blonde… Anyway, on Fridays we had a study day, and she let students bring in a boom box and play music. One day, this 10th grader who had failed the class the year before brought in the new Van Halen, the first album. Starts playing on side one, song one. At the time, with no big brothers to teach me what was good in the world, I was finding my own way. Kiss, AC/DC and Queen were about it, and I had all their stuff. Then there was this. Jaw hits the ground, immediately started thinking about whether I had enough to buy this album and how to get Mom to take me to the store to get it. This, quite frankly, was the first song I ever heard that made me think, “I really, really need to own that album”. This album changed everything in the music world. Very, very few players have been this influential, and I just still remember hearing this for the first time. Not the best Van Halen song, but for me, the fact that I remember hearing it for the first time just makes it perfect.
Stone Cold Crazy, Queen
You know, while they were never really heavy metal, and in many cases not even really hard rock, Queen are one of the more influential bands ever in the metal genre. This track, to me, is one of their harder songs. While I really love Metallica’s cover, I knew this one long before Metallica’s first album ever came out. I feel that you can really feel Brian May’s more hard rock tendencies in this song as much as anything they ever did. Queen has always been my favorite band of all time, and I think this song defines why that is, and that really makes a big statement about my long term tastes in music.
C’mon and Love Me, Kiss
As I said in my intro, Kiss broke me from being a kid listening to whatever my parents played to start on my search for more and better music all the time. But first, we got the fifth album from Kiss for Christmas. I went out and bought the first three studio and their first live albums as fast as I could make money to do so. For me, this song really crystalizes what I love about Kiss. Straight up, this song is about sex. And as a young man about 12 or 13 years old, you’re starting to notice that girls are, well, girls. The hormones are raging, and Kiss was singing about what I wanted! And to this day, I think that Paul Stanley’s voice is just the definition of what a rock and roll voice should sound like. But it still really comes down to “…touched her hips and told me that she’d let me…”