The legendary BBC DJ John Peel once referred to this man as “Britain’s answer to Jimi Hendrix.” I don’t know how many people shared that opinion, but there is no doubt that Stuart Adamson could do so amazing things on his guitar. Adamson got his start in the post-punk band Skids, playing fantastic songs such as “Working For the Yankee Dollar”. Once Skids ran its course, Adamson really hit the big time, fronting the powerful Big Country. Big Country may have been a victim of “amazing first single syndrome,” as “In a Big Country” was so powerful, it was tough for the band to match. But Adamson and crew put out some fine records and he continued to grow as a guitarist (and, of course, he was famous for making his guitar sound like bagpipes). Sadly, Adamson passed away in 2011. In honor of Adamson on his birthday, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
All The Saints – Outs (Fire on Corridor X): This band put out one of the last releases on Touch & Go. I think I saw them open for Darker My Love at Subterranean and was impressed by their intelligent, slightly arty guitar rock. This song starts out with some pretty guitar work before heading to heavier territory and then bouncing back and forth from the lovely to the loud. Dynamics never fail.
Richard Thompson – King of Bohemia (Mirror Blue): An acoustic gem from an underrated Richard Thompson album. Linda Ronstadt covered this song.
Splitsville – Big Red Sun (Repeater): A sing-songy power pop song that would have fit well on a Greenberry Woods album (two-thirds of Splitsville used to be in that band). This song manages to have heavy guitar and a firm drum beat yet is still relaxed with a chorus that unfolds to reveal a big hook. Great tune, great performance.
Pulp – Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)(We Love Life): We Love Life is folky in some spots, which may have been aided by having Scott Walker produce it. This is about as pastoral as Pulp ever got, with what sounds like four or five guitars interweaving. A unique song in a great band’s catalog.
Rafael Saadiq featuring The Infamous Young Spodie and The Rebirth Brass Band – Big Easy (The Way I See It): While the title might imply full on New Orleans, this is actually a wonderful Motown inspired creation with nifty accompaniment from the Rebirth Brass Band.
Bob Seger – U.M.C. (Upper Middle Class) (Early Seger Vol 1): A bluesy tune that originally appeared on Bob’s Seven album, but since, for some unknown reason, Seger does not want a lot of his early stuff in print, this came off of a cheapie compilation he put out a few years ago. This is a bouncy social observation tune.
Sweet – Getting in the Mood For Love (Waters Edge): The penultimate Sweet album found them responding to new wave with a punchier, more concise pop sound. I really wish this album had done a bit better, as perhaps they could have kicked out a couple more of these poppy albums, as they were really good at this.
Lindsey Buckingham – Gift of Screws (Gift of Screws): Over the past eight years or so, Buckingham has put out some terrific solo albums. Mick Fleetwood plays on this track, which is an eccentric mid-tempo rocker with some great guitar work from Buckingham.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Don’t Abuse Me (Bad Reputation): As a singer, Joan Jett may not be technically adept, but she is fantastic at being pissed off. What I really like is that the chorus just adds a dash of melody.
Smoking Popes – Paul (Destination Failure): One of my favorite Popes tunes. Speaking of dynamics, this contrasts mellow verses, all the better for Josh Caterer’s crooning, which build up to a massive chorus. If this had come out in 1982, I think it would have gone Top 5.