Strange Magic

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XTC: “I’m the Man Who Murdered Love” Play this track

I just love XTC and this song is pretty perfect in my opinion. —Rock Stamberg

It’s pure pop for now people. But that’s Nick Lowe, you say! And now it’s also XTC. —John Stix

THE BEATLES: “Please Please Me” (Isolated Vocals) Play this track

Here we have unadorned Beatle harmonies. I believe this sound is one of the secret weapons they used to become top of the pops. The Stones had a singer, The Doors had a singer, The Who had a singer. The Beatles were a harmony group. —JS

RY COODER: “On a Monday” Play this track

This is the stuff. Everything Ry Cooder does exceptionally is on display. Wonderful. —RS

Sloppy syncopation, haphazard sounding rhythm guitar parts and a laconic vocal. Ah yes, Ry Cooder as we love him. —JS


I’ve heard Eddie Vedder sing with The Doors and The Stones, and now with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Each time he guests he nails it. Most times the special guest yields a better photograph than a musical memory. Not this time. He doesn’t transform the song; he adapts to it and sings from the heart. NHT material indeed. —JS

FOREIGNER vs. STEVIE WONDER: “Ice Cold Ground” Play this track

Rock comments on this song saying, “Who thinks of these things?” Bill McClintock does. He is hands down the Mr. Miyagi of the mashup world. Don’t take my word for it, just listen and enjoy. —JS

THE BAND: “Don’t Do It” Play this track

The funk, the vibe, the syncopation, the horns … the tune. —RS

Our theme was a song that deserved the standing ovation it surely got. If you only have one album by The Band, Rock of Ages is the one. They sound so relaxed and so tight at the same time. The horns add an unexpected punch to the tune while Levon turns in a pleading vocal. Yeah, I’m standing. —JS

TREY ANASTASIO BAND: “Blaze On” Play this track

I heard this tune and the bounce in my step doubled. Buoyancy and joy from the music, an up message in the lyrics and I’m hooked. The clincher was a tight guitar solo and a Dixieland band horn chart. This song went on every mixed disc I’ve made in the past 12 months. —JS

One of the few tracks played by both solo Trey and Phish. But this arrangement is unique. Never heard it played like this before. Goosebumps. —RS

THE FEARLESS FLYERS (VULFPECK): “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” Play this track

This is like a punch in the face. The rhythm section is not just tight, it’s taut. Riding over that we have a razor wire slide guitar. This is the song you know, just not like you’ve ever heard it before. It’s a ripper, and exactly what I like to hear in a cover: a song I know played in a totally unexpected way. —JS

NICK LOWE: “You Got the Look I Like” Play this track

I like it too! Infectious swampy rock that intentionally teeters a little. The lyrics! —RS

THE ROLLING STONES: “Rip This Joint” Play this track

Impressively fast, but with soul. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts both shine. —RS

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: “Strange Magic” Play this track

Randy Newman once sang, “I love that E.L.O.”

So do I, Rand. —RS

THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN: “Something in the Air” Play this track

All these years later I welcome this song every time I hear it. I am drawn to the melody and the orchestration. It also features one of my all-time favorite piano breaks. I looked up the word “jaunty” in Webster’s and it told me to listen to this piano solo. —JS

TODD RUNDGREN: “Parallel Lines” Play this track

Todd is my kryptonite. Whatever I am doing, his music stops me in my tracks. I am not a lyric guy first. I am a music guy first. Yet, with Todd music and lyric are of equal interest. In this performance at Notre Dame you can hear exactly why I love his music and his words. I hope you never have to relate to the lyric in this song. —JS

MARCUS KING: “Killing Floor” Play this track

If you are a fan of blues rock, then you should know Marcus King. He sings with soul and plays with fire and abandon. It’s all here on a guitar and voice performance that burns down the house. When he plays with his full band the flames grow even higher. Do you miss The Allman Brothers Band? Go see Marcus King and come alive again. —JS

THE ELECTRIC FLAG: “Killing Floor” Play this track

We follow Marcus King’s version with Mike Bloomfield’s. This is my favorite take on this tune. The horns are pumpin’, the vocal is rockin’ and the guitar explodes with the sweet blues of Michael Bloomfield. Check out the sax solo ending, and horn punches reminiscent of The Doors’ “Touch Me.” This is a classic rock tune that is way too often overlooked. —JS

NRBQ: “It Was a Accident” Play this track

Another great NRBQ track. Reggae? Rock? Pop? Ska? Omnipop! —RS

STEELY DAN: “I Got the News” (Early Demo for Aja) Play this track

A song is written and played over time. Who knows what twists and turns it will take until it’s placed in the amber that is a master recording. Here we get a listen to the embryo of a classic from Aja. Yeah, I like the final better too, but this ain’t bad at all; in fact, it’s pretty cool. —JS

EDGAR WINTER: “Re-Entrance” Play this track

Wow, do I like Edgar Winter’s Entrance album and this song. Ever the optimist, Edgar combines gospel, blues, soul and orchestration to celebrate beginnings and winning. Edgar told me a story about this album: He asked Epic Records if he could do one album just for himself (Entrance) and he would then give them a commercial record (Edgar Winter’s White Trash). Lucky for me, I love them both. —JS

THE BEATLES: “It’s All Too Much” Play this track

Well, it just had to be. This one’s been looking for a home on NHT for a while now. —RS

Our bonus track, not talked about on the podcast, is the ultimate psychedelic track by The Beatles. This Harrison composition, produced by The Beatles, is George’s take on an LSD trip. Enjoy the ride. —JS