Join the Band

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Song Notes:

JONI MITCHELL & TOM SCOTT AND THE L.A. EXPRESS: “Big Yellow Taxi” Play this track

Tom Scott and the L.A. Express were Joni Mitchell’s touring band in 1974 and they provided a Steely Dan-like backing. With their jazzy flavor the L.A. Express was made up of musician’s musicians attuned to Mitchell’s directions but given enough space to make the music a living thing and not just a static portrait. — John Stix

I love this version so much it became my first Joni Mitchell purchase (on 45, of course) back in 1974. Definitive? It is to me. — Rock Stamberg

GEORGE HARRISON: “Something” Play this track

The studio version is so good, it’s hard to believe a live rendition could top it. I think this one does. And while we’re on this song, the version McCartney and Clapton performed at the Concert for George tribute concert is equally great. That one starts with a ukulele and grows into a full band performance. In fact every time I hear the whole band kick in, I get goose bumps. It’s that good. — JS

George Harrison once claimed his and Eric’s consecutive guitar solos on this live track from his 1991 tour of Japan makes it the definitive version of this Beatles gem. And it just may be. — RS

RANDY NEWMAN: “I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It)” Play this track

Which long-in-the-tooth classic rock act is Randy singing about here? Hmm.
“Each record that I’m making
Sounds like a record that I made
Just not as good” — RS

TEN WHEEL DRIVE: “Eye of the Needle” Play this track

I was a fan of jazz-rock and my LP collection contained failed horn bands like Chase, Lighthouse, and Ambergris. Ten Wheel Drive fit right in there but with better vocals and well-thought-out horn arrangements. Of course the unheralded jazz rock album that stands to this day is Blodwyn Pig’s Ahead Rings Out. But “Eye Of The Needle” has a great riff with a Blood, Sweat & Tears-like jazzy middle section. My high school buddy Scott Serden would play the riff on his trumpet while I played it on guitar. This was my “Smoke on the Water” guitar riff. — JS

FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: “San Ber’dino” Play this track

Napoleon Murphy Brock’s vocal is a keeper and Zappa & The Mothers rock out … hard. — RS

THE MOTHERS: “Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus” Play this track

Yes, this is what I think it sounds like in my brain. — JS

Zappa’s short-lived big band makes 1972’s mostly instrumental Grand Wazoo opus a unique entry in his catalog. One of a kind, the album — and this track in particular — are intricate, accessible, and musically special. “Eat That Question” indeed. — RS

THE BEATLES: “Outtakes Medley” Play this track

This shows the fun they had making music together. — JS

The Beatles. The Beatles. — RS

THE BEATLES: “Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 4]” Play this track

Just the four of ’em cooking up a basic track sans overdubbing. Magic. — RS

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS: “Pump It Up” Play this track

I like it when Howard Stern asks an artist about the original seed for a song. I asked former Knack guitarist Burton Averre the seed question and up popped this Elvis Costello song. Who’da thunk it? But now we know. — JS

Elvis Is King. — RS

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND: “Tougher Than the Rest (Live)” Play this track

To me, this is *the* version of my favorite Springsteen track ever. Perfect. Gary Tallent’s bass on this kills me. — RS

LITTLE FEAT: “Join the Band” / “Fat Man in the Bathtub” / “Rocket in My Pocket” (Medley) Play this track

Everything I love about music can be found in the band Little Feat. The funky percolation of a first-rate rhythm section, guitar parts that fit together like a 1,000-piece puzzle and rough and tumble vocals that deliver hooky melodies and clever lyrics. This version of “Fat Man in the Bathtub” is in my “best performances” folder. Need I say more? — JS

Little Feat again. We love ’em. R.I.P. Paul Barrere. — RS