Easy Money

When we put together the final version of NHT for podcasting I look over the tracks and make note of which ones are truly unique. Well, what do you know, this one is batting 1000%. It’s an NHT Hall of Famer. — John Stix

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Bruce Springsteen: “Stayin’ Alive” Play this track

Bruce Springsteen is among the finest cover song artists around. His attention to tempo is outstanding. This live take has strings and horns and passion. He totally reinvents and owns this Bee Gee’s classic. This is greatness. And this is why we do NHT. —JS

Lowell George: “Two Trains” Play this track

Little Feat, of course, have performed this song many ways in concert, but nothing, NOTHING sounds like this. The late, great Feat leader Lowell George cooked up this crazy/beautiful arrangement for his lone solo album, Thanks I’ll Eat It Here. Wonderful and weird … then it grabs you. —Rock Stamberg

Salads. The best ones feature multiple ingredients where each element stands alone and mixes well with its buddies in the bowl. Kind of like this groovin’ take on a Little Feat classic where Lowell George ups the bump. Ooh la la. —JS

Vulfpeck: “Rango !!” Play this track

An instrumental take on the same idea as Two Trains. Salads. See above or what Webster’s says about how to move the groove. Ry Cooder isn’t the only guitarist who knows how to shake a lot using very little. How about that Cory Wong! —JS

Vulfpeck never ceases to surprise me with their tuneful and juicy approach to both their original compositions as well as their cover versions of other artists’ tunes. What a masterful bunch of musicians they are. Funky and fun. —RS

Eric Clapton: “She Rides” Play this track

The NHT buzzer goes off with another classic song ,“Let It Rain,” with an alternate set of lyrics. Oh Yeah! —JS

An early version with different lyrics and a different mix. The track still hops, bops, and swings regardless. A good song is always a good song. —RS

The Beach Boys: “Vegetables” Play this track

This is classic Beach Boys from Smiley Smile, the album they put out after Brian Wilson abandoned Smile. Accompanied by a steady, loping bass guitar, the song includes their blowing into bottles plus sounds of vegetables being crunched (Paul McCartney chews celery on this — really). Of course, the singing is impeccable. One of Brian’s weirder songs it nonetheless captures the ear and sticks with you. —RS

Brian Wilson makes the ridiculous sound sublime. I still think it’s a joke, but a damn good one.—JS

Wings: “Love is Strange” Play this track

From Wings’ debut album, Wild Life, comes this unbelievably catchy pseudo-reggae and rock groove. Recorded quickly and spontaneously, Paul McCartney just shines on the loose rockin’ lilt that drives the track along. Originally a hit by Mickey and Sylvia in 1956, this revamped Wings version is stellar. —RS.

I did some Wikipedia digging on this one. The original song was written by Bo Diddley and based on his guitar riff. McCartney was intrigued with reggae and cut this track just to groove on the rhythm. He then realized they could sing “Love is Strange” over the instrumental track. Wow, an early mashup. This track, which Rock picked, would go in my music folder labeled, “What are you doing here?” Aren’t you glad we found it? —JS

The Meters: “Cissy Strut” Play this track

Booker T and the MGs were the sound of soul and groove from Memphis. The Meters were the same for New Orleans. Booker T gave us the instrumental “Green Onions,” The Meters “Cissy Strut.” On this flight, while you may be hooked by the melody, please focus your attention on the drums and know that it’s okay to move around the cabin while listening. — JS

Lowell George: “Easy Money” Play this track

Another tune from Lowell George’s only solo record. I think his version of Rickie Lee Jones’ great tune is the best version out there. A stunner for sure. —RS

Yeah, we do this a lot. We love an artist, head down a path, and low and behold somebody gets a double dip. You certainly don’t want to miss this Rickie Lee Jones classic as it bumps by getting the Louis Jordan treatment. —JS

Marvin Gaye and James Jamerson: “What’s Goin’ On” Play this track

Just the original voice and bass line from this all-time classic. Rock and I often discuss how a great song can be reduced to just voice and guitar, or piano, and now bass. — JS

Todd Rundgren: “Just One Victory” Play this track

First, what an amazing song this is. It was very difficult for John and me to find a live recording worthy of inclusion on an NHT playlist. Todd’s released a lot of live versions of this one, both solo and with Utopia and they’re all over the place in terms of performance and recording quality. Let’s face it, Todd the producer is a treble hog, but I love him anyway. We think we found a winner with this take. —RS

Todd fans know this has been his concert closer for decades. So, there are all kinds of versions to be heard. This one from his live recording of A Wizard, A True Star is my favorite. Which is yours? Before I leave, I want to say that as a music first guy, Todd is my favorite lyricist. —JS

Queen: “Crazy Little Things Called Love/We Will Rock You/We are the Champions from Live Aid” Play this track

Of all the performances at Live Aid, including reunions by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and CSNY, Queen was hands down the finest. This live television performance made me a Queen fan for life. The best part is that I don’t have to write about it, all you’ve got to do is listen and you’ll agree. —JS

I concur. This performance is what made me dig deeper into Queen’s amazing catalog. —RS

The Who: “Cry if You Want” Play this track

Pretty much forgotten, The Who’s 1982 album It’s Hard was meant to be their final record. Anyway, this song closed out the proceedings with a bang. Like, for real. Their power is palpable here. Kenney Jones’ military-style drum figure sets the tone and John Entwistle’s reliably thunderous bass revs the engine then throws the whole shebang into high gear. But just listen to Pete Townshend’s furious electric guitar jabs right into the fade out. A surprisingly mesmerizing jolt from a band some had already given up on. —RS

A great Who song that you don’t know. Isn’t that why you’re here? —JS

Buddy Miles: “Dreams” Play this track

Molly Hatchet used this 4/4 arrangement for their cover of this ABB classic. Now the Allmans were thinking, modal Miles Davis, Kind of Blue when they recorded it in ¾ time. It’s also noted that Dickey Betts did not record on this ABB track. Buddy Miles adds horn and a rockin’ soul groove to this chooglin’ train from 1970. All aboard! —JS

Eric Burdon & The Animals: “Monterey” Play this track

To follow Buddy Miles, we wanted to stay in the late ‘60s musical era. The vinyl 45 rpm single version of “Monterey” does the trick. The song celebrates the classic 1967 music festival (at which The Animals played, by the way) and delivers some of the finest name-dropping lyrics ever written. Plus, there’s some cool electric sitar! We know you’ve been waiting for that. —JS