PIGS ON THE WING
Pink Floyd’s 1977 concept album is a largely dark affair. “Pigs on the Wing (Part One)” offsets the ominous mood that quickly overtakes Animals with a gentle acoustic guitar.
“Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)” is nearly identical to the first version. A praise of domesticity, companionship offers reprieve from a cruel world. Serving as cheerful bookends to a grim album, both versions are essential to the overall vibe of Animals.
MY MY, HEY HEY (OUT OF THE BLUE)/HEY HEY, MY MY (OUT OF THE BLACK)
Neil Young employed the same bookend approach on Rust Never Sleeps. Track one is a somber acoustic number. Decades later, Kurt Cobain quoted the song in his suicide note. Writing that, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away,” Cobain tragically claimed his life.
Rust Never Sleeps ends with an electric version, retitled “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black).” It’s little wonder that Young found influence with the grunge generation. Loud and brash, overdriven guitars provide a stark contrast to its acoustic counterpart.
WHAT’S THE UGLIEST PART OF YOUR BODY?
The Mothers of Invention continued to critique American population culture with the release of We’re Only In It For the Money. Artwork parodied Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and their harmony vocals rivaled the Fab Four. Unlike The Beatles, the lyrics could get really weird. Rather than focus on beauty, Zappa inquired, “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?”
Sargent Pepper had ushered in a new era of studio technology. The Mothers were not to be outdone. Side 2 reprised the undying question, “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” Taking full advantage of new recording techniques, Zappa filled the soundstage with sonic anarchy to create a dramatic ending.
JOHNNY THE FOX MEETS JIMMY THE WEED
Thin Lizzy reprised a familiar name with Johnny the Fox. Johnny had previously appeared in the songs “Showdown and “The Boys are Back in Town.” In his namesake track, Johnny is a desperate junky that murders a security guard during a botched robbery. Cops surround the building with guns drawn as the needle pushes into track two.
Johnny’s fate is unknown…until the listener flips the record to side two. “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed,” finds our hero a free man but still on the wrong side of the law. Reaching out to another dubious character, a “shady deal unravels” as two outlaws join forces in illicit activities.
NOW I WANNA SNIFF SOME GLUE/CARBONA NOT GLUE
The Ramones quickly established their brand of black humor on their debut album. “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” apparently mirrored reality. After several kids died from huffing glue, a British politician unsuccessfully attempted to ban the record. Perhaps Dee Dee’s response kept the censors at bay. “I hope they don’t really think we sniff glue. I quit when I was eight.”
On the second record, The Ramones made a point to show they had moved on from sniffing glue. The song “Carbona Not Glue” switches out huffing glue for a new toxic vapor. Ironically, THIS song DID get banned. There were no accidental carbona deaths. Rather, the record company feared litigation from infringing upon the Carbona trademark. Fortunately, the track has been restored to current pressings of Leave Home.
CYGNUS X-1 BOOK 2: HEMISPHERES
In the constellation of Cygnus
There lurks a mysterious, invisible force
The Black Hole of Cygnus X-1
Six stars of the northern cross
In mourning for their sister’s loss
In a final flash of glory
Nevermore to grace the night
So begins the spoken word intro of “Cygnus X-1.” A curious space explorer sets a course towards a mysterious black hole. He pays dearly for his troubles. As the spaceship draws closer to Cygnus X-1, it is caught in the gravitational pull of the black hole. In the end “Every nerve is torn apart.”
“Cygnus X-1” had been the final track on A Farewell to Kings. “Cygnus X-1 Book 2” opens the subsequent record with an 18-minute plus tour de force. On tour, Rush performed the tracks back to back, officially uniting the songs into one epic tale!
CHARLOTTE THE HARLOT/22 ACACIA AVENUE
Dave Murray made a rare songwriting contribution with the track “Charlotte the Harlot.” Charlotte is clearly a prostitute and Murray claims the song is a “true story.” This woman apparently made an impression as Charlotte has re-appeared throughout Iron Maiden’s lengthy career.
“22 Acacia Avenue” revisits Charlotte at her place of business. For a mere “15 quid,” Charlotte will fulfill any desire but if you namedrop a band member, “you might even get it free.” Still, Maiden worries about their friend and encourage her to give up her profession.
The Misfits released the “Halloween” single on October 31st, 1981. An ode to the spooky holiday was a no-brainer for the horror-punk outfit. The song was an instant classic and re-appeared on subsequent releases.
The b-side featured “Halloween 2.” With lyrics sang in Latin, this sequel assumed a creepy vibe that enhanced the sing-along chorus.
HOW WILL I LAUGH TOMORROW
Suicidal Tendencies grew by leaps and bounds over the course of three albums. By the time How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today hit stores, ST had evolved from punk rock to thrash metal. Their technical precision was on full display in the title track.
The next record contained a “Heavy Emotion Version” of “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow.” Despite a promotional video existing for the first version, Suicidal Tendencies filmed ANOTHER video to represent the powerful sequel.
HANGAR 18/RETURN TO HANGAR
Megadeth invoked UFO lore in “Hangar 18.” Conspiracy theorists claim an alien aircraft was transferred from Roswell to an airforce base in Ohio. The subject matter allowed for a campy video complete with aliens.
The World Need’s a Hero was touted as a return to form for Megadeth. One way to reconnect with past glories was revisit the popular “Hangar 18.” “Return to Hangar” finds long dormant alien corpses coming to life and slaughtering their human captors.
PLANET CARAVAN/ ZEITGEST
Sequenced between “Paranoid” and “Iron Man,” “Planet Caravan” offered a mellow reprieve from overdriven power chords. Geezer Butler has called the tale of floating through the universe a perfect song to “get stoned to.”
13 marked the first Black Sabbath album with Ozzy since 1978’s Never Say Die. Zietgeist sounded oddly familiar. Beginning with the lines, “Astral engines in reverse/I’m floating through the universe AGAIN,” it’s clear that Sabbath was revisiting “Planet Caravan.” This sequel is also quite suitable for herbal relaxation.