Fleetwood Mac: Gold Dust Woman

In honor of Stevie Nicks’ birthday, today’s rock pearl comes from Fleetwood Mac’s second album, Rumours. Fleetwood Mac is perhaps best known for Landslide, The Chain, Go Your Own Way, and Rhiannon, to name a few. Out of a somewhat chaotic existence and the ousting of members, artistic differences and scathing love affairs came some incredible music for this London-based band. They have sold millions of records worldwide and even played at President Clinton’s inauguration. Each album featured multiple lead singers. Nicks’ voice is particularly beautiful and haunting at the same time.

“Gold Dust Woman” sounds much like a trip west. Haunting guitar sounds from Lindsey Buckingham and perfect melodies from Christine McVie and Buckingham compliment Nicks’ somber but captivating voice. Turn up the volume on your device, lie on the couch or roll the windows down in the car and enjoy this pearl!

Kansas: Belexes

In honor of Robby Steinhardt’s birthday, today’s Rock Pearl comes from Kansas’ self-titled debut album. Kansas is a progressive rock band hailing from, you guessed it, Kansas, more specifically Topeka (though Steinhardt was one of the few original members who was not from Topeka). With hit songs like Carry on my Wayward Son, Dust in the Wind, and Point of Know Return, they had multiple chart-topping albums and are recognizable across the globe. Their unique blend of classical training, synthesizers and Steinhardt’s violin set them apart from many would-be competitors and they still tour today.

Their debut album is surely something amazing to listen to. Any of their songs could really appear on a Rock Pearls post. Lonely Wind was the song that made it the highest on the charts from this particular album at #60, but like many of their albums, Kansas is one where the album as a body of work is the masterpiece as opposed to a few individual tracks. It’s an album one would prefer to listen to from start to finish instead of skipping around to find favorites.

My personal favorite from this album is a song called Belexes. The name drew me right away, but upon looking up its origin, I learned that Kerry Livgren would make up words for fun, and this song’s title is one of those words. The song features some very cool parts from everyone in the band, and Steinhardt’s speedy violin stands out at certain intervals, driving this epic song.

The Traveling Wilburys: Handle With Care

The perfect band to introduce the mission of this site, the Traveling Wilburys were a “supergroup” formed in 1988 and consisted of five legendary rock artists. George Harrison of The Beatles brought together Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. They quickly recorded an album in a matter of a few weeks after a song originally intended as a B-Side to Harrison’s Cloud Nine ended up being too good. Unlike many “supergroups”, ego didn’t interfere with some incredible music that is unknown to many. While the group had plans for more, Orbison’s tragic death at the end of 1988 derailed plans for more albums and a movie, and the band only produced two albums, Volume 1 and Volume 3. When asked why the second album would be called “Volume 3”, Harrison answered “let’s confuse the buggers!”

This site will attempt to expose some “deeper cuts” with a bit of history behind each song. In the history of music, billions of songs have been written, and millions have been recorded. Each decade, many great artists and groups have put out a lot of music, and radio stations were forced to pick the best ones fit for airplay, simultaneously ignoring some of the very good songs that didn’t receive attention. Going back and listening to these albums has been a lot of fun for me, and I’m attempting to expose some of my favorites from these albums that didn’t top the charts.

Without further ado, the debut song is the Wilburys’ best-known, “Handle with Care.” Harrison actually had the idea to write this song because they recorded it in an oversized garage that had boxes labeled “Handle with Care”, and it sparked a really nice lyrical piece with some signature Harrison guitar solos, Dylan/Orbison harmonica parts (who actually played the harmonica is up for debate), and beautiful vocal contrasts. Harrison provides the lead vocals for the verses, and Orbison follows with his signature, operatic voice (a voice that prompted Elvis Presley to say that he would never appear on stage with Orbison at the same time). A grungy, Dylanesque section ensues from Petty and Dylan to create a really cool part while the other three provide harmonies. It also bears noting that today is Bob Dylan’s 79th birthday. An iconic singer, Dylan inspired thousands of artists, including The Beatles, and he still writes and performs songs today. This is certainly a feel-good song with a catchy riff that will brighten your day and make you want to listen to more of this awesome supergroup.