Deep Cuts: Dave Matthews Band

“If your exposure to the Dave Matthews Band consists of the 40,000 times your girlfriend forces you to listen to “Satellite,” you probably can’t stand them. That’s fine. But if you’ve gone to one DMB show, you know that Dave is anything but some lone crooner softly singing sweet nothings.

Dave’s a man possessed on stage. Every photograph of Dave in front of a microphone shows him either coiled like a snake at the ready, or the moment immediately after, where he’s literally attacking it, leaning into the crowd like a thrill seeker on a beach in a hurricane leaning into the wind, almost held upright by the energy of the crowd which leans in equal dependence forward onto him. He is an aggressive front man, shouting out his music as if to shout harder would kill him.

It’s in that spirit that Deep Cuts DMB features a lot of live recordings. There are some studio cuts…most notably from 2002’s Busted Stuff, regularly cited as DMB’s best studio album. But to appreciate DMB, you must listen to them live, on stage, creating an incredible place that is, to paraphrase Dave, “better than this” to find “the best of what’s around.”

Founded in 1991 in Charlottesville, VA, DMB takes its spiritual lead from Dave, born in South Africa, a musical influence evident throughout the music. The best musician in the band, by far, is drummer Carter Beauford, who is regularly named as one of the greatest drummers who have ever lived. A musician friend of mine, asked to compare Carter to guys like John Bonham, Keith Moon or Stewart Copeland, once said that Carter is capable of executing riffs that none of those guys ever even attempted. At one show, I watched in amazement as he blasted out a solo more complicated than I could imagine, all the while smiling like this was the most fun he’d ever had…oh, and he was also chewing on bubble gum, and blowing bubbles. With violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard, keyboardist Peter Griesar, and saxman Leroi Moore, DMB creates a unique sound as identifiable as any rock band of our time.

So here are my DMB Deep Cuts. Be prepared: if you put all this on one CD (it’ll probably require two), you may be listening to it for months.

“Don’t Drink the Water” – Concert at Central Park
DMB often starts shows with this rocker, and you can hear the awe in Dave’s voice at seeing Central Park filled with humanity as far as the eye can see. His vocals are a tour de force.

“#41” / “Say Goodbye” – Crash
Two studio cuts to give you a breather after listening to “Don’t Drink the Water.” Rarely performed together on stage, but they work together incredibly well on Crash.

“You Never Know” – Busted Stuff
Not often played live. If you’re feeling down, listen to this cut. You’ll feel better. Dave has a way of making you feel better.”

Take a look at the rest of Tim Russo’s DMB Deep Cuts along with his Dave Matthews Band profile.


Deep Cuts: U2

The Joshua Tree was the very first CD I ever bought – can you believe that? It wasn’t Europe or Huey Lewis & the News or White Lion; it was arguably U2’s greatest album and maybe the best album of the decade. I listened to the disc over and over and when it became too scratched and my prehistoric CD player couldn’t play it, I went out and bought another copy. In those days, I didn’t explore a band’s back catalog like I do now. I think I may have bought a copy of Under a Blood Red Sky just to hear “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but I didn’t go out and buy The Unforgettable Fire or War to see what the boys from Dublin did before they delivered this beautiful work to me.

In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the band’s back catalog of album releases and most of their B-sides as well. Much like my Rolling Stones Deep Cuts article, I’ve compiled a list of all of U2’s best music that I feel is underappreciated. Take a listen to these album cuts spanning U2’s entire career and maybe you’ll discover a few new songs. Be sure to check out Part II of our U2 Deep Cuts, which features live tracks, non-album tracks, remixes and covers. Also take a look at the list of essential U2 and the band’s biography.

1) “An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart” – These two songs from Boy are listed as separate tracks but are seamless on the record. The group resurrected these tracks and performed them at many of the shows on their last tour. Both tracks are certainly raw, but you can hear the classic U2 sound starting to form. “An Cat Dubh” is Gaelic for “The Black Cat” – the song is apparently about a woman that Bono had an affair with after a falling-out with his longtime girlfriend and future wife. There isn’t much to the lyrics of “Into The Heart,” but they seem to be about growing up.

2) “Out of Control” – First released on the three-song single Three, this song was re-worked by producer Steve Lillywhite before appearing again on Boy. Bono has been quoted (Hot Press, 1979) as saying that this song is about “waking up on your 18th birthday and realizing…that the two most important decisions in your life have nothing to do with you – being born and dying.” Certainly one of the catchier songs off Boy, this track is largely ignored by casual fans.

3) “Fire” – This song from October was released as a single in parts of Europe, but not in North America. Despite being one of the more memorable songs off of the first two albums, it wasn’t really a hit for the band and was subsequently left off their Best of 1980-1990 greatest hits compilation.

4) “Gloria” – The second single from October was also never officially released in the US, though the import sold well enough for it to peak at #82 on the US singles chart. This track features great guitar work by the Edge and a rare bass solo from Adam Clayton before it kicks into high gear.

5) “Wire” – Released on The Unforgettable Fire, this song is about heroin addiction. U2 has stayed mostly drug free throughout their career, but had friends who died from various addictions. It did chart as a single, but it still remains unknown to a lot of casual fans as it rarely gets radio airplay. Listen for the growing U2 sound in Bono’s vocals during the chorus and the Edge’s stuttering guitar throughout the song.

I included 21 songs in Part 1 of my U2 Deep Cuts playlist, and another 16 live tracks, non-album tracks, remixes and covers in Part 2. And don’t miss my U2 Essentials and U2 profile.


Deep Cuts: Rolling Stones

Growing up in the ‘80s, I was always familiar with the Rolling Stones, especially their numerous radio hits, many of which have had a great impact on the world of music. In college, I went through a Stones phase that consisted of two purchases: 1) 1989’s three disc Singles Collection: The London Years, and 2) 1984’s one-disc Rewind. Both sets are good – Collection obviously covers more ground from the early years while Rewind focuses on the bigger hits from 1971-1984. Combined, these two collections gave me, the casual Stones fan, an adequate overview of their commercial successes from these years.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I began my second Stones phase. It started at The Black Watch, a dive bar in Huntington Beach where my rec league basketball team would go to down a few pitchers every Sunday. The jukebox there is fairly eclectic, but focuses mostly on classic rock. Just about every Sunday, I’d hear this Stones song that I had never heard before – and, like a nasty fungus, it grew on me. The song turned out to be “Jigsaw Puzzle,” six minutes of heaven off the 1968 album Beggars Banquet. Soon, it became one of my favorites and it made me wonder, how many other great Stones songs haven’t I heard?

This question prompted me to listen to just about every album cut I could get my hands on and resulted in the creation of an 80-minute CD playlist entitled Deep Cuts. While compiling, my main criteria were that 1) the song was not an established “hit,” and 2) the song had to kick ass. I concentrated mostly on the work done in the ‘60s and the ‘70s as this is widely considered to be the era in which the Stones put out their best stuff.

So, without further adieu, I submit Deep Cuts:

1) “Jigsaw Puzzle” – This beauty is sung from the point of view of a guy working on a jigsaw puzzle in the midst of chaos. A number of different characters wander in and out of the song and it gives the opportunity for lead singer Mick Jagger to comment on the times. I dig the country-blues slide guitar and Jagger’s vocals. It’s a great song to hear after a couple of beers.

2) “Salt of the Earth” – Also off Beggars Banquet, this country-blues track focuses on the everyday man – a rarity for a Stones’ tune from this era. It also features the first vocals (on a Stones album) from guitarist Keith Richards. This underlines the predominate theme of the unassuming common man being thrust into the spotlight.

3) “You Got the Silver” – Found on 1969’s Let It Bleed, this is another of the rare tracks where Richards took over the singing duties. His vocals – and the song – are rough, raw and sincere. “Silver” also features some fine slide guitar.

4) “Midnight Rambler” – Also from Let It Bleed, this song captures the Stones in full-on blues mode. I actually heard this song for the first time when they performed it live at a concert I attended in Memphis, TN. The guitar riff is simple yet infectious. The tempo changes a few times throughout the song, creating a rugged, sexy vibe. For brevity purposes, I had to use the studio version, but the longer live version rocks a bit harder and is worth checking out.

5) “Dead Flowers” – From the 1971 album Sticky Fingers, this is one of the Stones’ few straight-up country songs. In his version of a Southern accent, Jagger moves through lyrics that are both witty and catchy – it won’t be long before you’ll be singing along with this one.

Find out what other Rolling Stones songs I included on my Deep Cuts playlist here, then be sure to check out my Stones Essentials and Stones profile.


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