Get Rhythm

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STEVE WINWOOD: “Different Light” Play this track

Late-period Steve Winwood  conjures a magical groove on this tune. It’s both unusual and delicious. —Rock Stamberg

In the latter half of an artist’s career, he or she often writes songs that display their DNA sound but lack that special spark that makes a song last a lifetime and beyond. Brian Wilson in the last few decades has written songs that have that Beach Boys sound, but they lack those “timeless hooks” that appear on the Beach Boys’ greatest hits. “Different Light” could well appear and fit right in on some upcoming Steve Winwood Greatest Hits collection. Did I just give him a backhanded compliment? —John Stix

R.E.M.: “Finest Worksong” (Live) [Edited] Play this track

I’m not exactly a huge R.E.M. fan but the stuff of theirs I like, I *really* like. I’ve always loved the original studio version, but this live take is the one. —RS

ROGER DALTREY AND FRIENDS: “Baba O’Reilly” (Live) Play this track

Pete Townshend is the mouthpiece of The Who. Roger Daltrey is the voice of The Who. He sings all the songs that Townshend writes. This special version of a Who classic was performed at a Celebration of the Music of Pete Townshend show at Carnegie Hall in 1994. You have Simon Phillips, Pino Paladino, the Juilliard Orchestra, Daltrey and the Chieftains here. A totally familiar and totally fresh arrangement showcasing Daltrey and the Chieftains at their best. This comes from my “the best version” folder. —JS

THE TEMPTATIONS: “My Girl” (Acappella) [Excerpt] Play this track

This is perhaps the ultimate sing-along song exactly as you’d want to hear it. —JS

PAUL CARRACK: “I Need You” Play this track

John and I found we both loved Carrack’s Suburban Voodoo when we met back in 1985. I wish he’d do more in this R&B vein. —RS

The Suburban Voodoo album was Carrack’s ode to Motown. This song shows its roots to good effect. —JS

JAMES TAYOR: “Your Smiling Face” (Live) Play this track

One of my favorite love songs in its original studio version. This is the best live version I’ve come across and how I imagine it will always sound in concert (and doesn’t). —JS

Well, this is the version, isn’t it? —RS

THE BEACH BOYS: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (JS Mix) Play this track

This is another of the songs manipulated and created on my Nakamichi cassette deck. I noticed all the music was on one side and the vocals on the other. I started with just voices, dig the talking in the middle, and towards the end added the musical track. This is a fun perspective for a song I’ve heard thousands of times and still enjoy. —JS

PROCUL HARUM: “Whiskey Train” (Live on WPLJ-FM) Play this track

This came from a cassette of a WPLJ-FM radio broadcast. God, I love this guitar riff. It gets my vote for the underrated electric guitar riff of all time. I played this live version for Robin Trower and he loved it. He asked if I would send him a copy. While I said yes, he’s still waiting. —JS

MOUNTAIN: “Silver Paper” Play this track

I loved the Mountain Climbing album. Every song is killer. “Silver Paper” is both heavy and subtle at the same time. Leslie West roars on the chorus vocals and stings on the guitar. Yet melody remains king. Felix Pappalardi was an anchor for the band and an inspiration for West. To top it off Steve Knight’s organ adds a Celtic flavor. —JS

ERIC CLAPTON: “Motherless Children” Play this track

This track serves up a bubbling lope supplied by Clapton’s late drummer, Jamie Oldaker. Clapton’s voice is effectively plaintive throughout, and he and second guitarist George Terry perform some serious guitar weaving. A classic. —RS

One big ball of fire. And while the slide guitar parts are up there with “Whiskey Train” and “Silver Paper,” it’s the drum part that stokes the flames. The drumming here is as vital to this song as Steve Gadd’s snare hook is to Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” It’s a different vibe for sure, but just as important with the drums being the heart and soul of the song. —J. S.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: “Think” (From The Blues Brothers) Play this track

As good as it gets, and the best song intro hands down. —JS

RY COODER: “Get Rhythm” Play this track

One of my favorite openings to any song anywhere. My shoulders are popping up and down, I’m smiling, I’m laughing, and Ry hasn’t started singing yet. Gospel, Tejano, R&B and R&R. What a mix. —JS

JA’NET DUBOIS: “The Jeffersons Theme” Play this track

PAUL McCARTNEY & ELVIS COSTELLO: “My Brave Face” (Original Demo) Play this track

The bare bones duet here almost bests the official studio version. —RS

Is there a better Beatles song in the room? —JS

ELVIS COSTELLO: “Veronica” Play this track

Elvis at his most accessible. And he does it without selling out. —RS

Maybe this one? No, this is a Squeeze song. No it’s not, but it should be. —JS

ROD STEWART: “People Get Ready” (Gospel Version) Play this track

Gives the ’84 Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart version a run for its money. —JS

PAUL McCARTNEY: “Singalong Junk” Play this track

I heard this as an instrumental for years before I heard the vocal version. It just shows you how strong a melody it is. —JS

BOB DYLAN: “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie” Play this track

I heard this in my car and had to pull over to listen to the whole thing. A masterpiece of spoken word. —JS