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Second Best

Bands' biggest hits aren't always their greatest

by Dr. Spin
July 25, 2005

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Second Best
Dr Spin,
 
I like The Steve Miller Band's "Big Ol' Jet Airliner" much more than their signature song "The Joker." And I like Lynnyrd Skynnyrd's "Gimme Three Steps" more than either "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Free Bird."
 
Are there examples of acts whose biggest hits are overrated, and you are even kind of annoyed by hearing them again, but who had another song that is one of your all-time favorites and is underrated?
 
Sincerely,
 
The King of Pain, not Every Breath You Take
 
Dear King,
 
Finally, a question I can waste a whole column on!
 
Let's begin with your examples; "The Joker" is a fine song and possibly Steve Miller's "signature" song, but I also like "Jet Airliner" a lot better. I also like "Take the Money and Run" and "Space Cowboy" (which "The Joker" makes reference to) better. And I know I'm not alone; Sheryl Crow liked "Take the Money and Run" so much, she rewrote it as "Steve McQueen" (complete with "whoo-hoos")
 
"Every Breath You Take" is not only overrated, it is often misused. Considered a beautiful love song, it is actually a song sung from a stalker's point of view. My favorite song off of Synchronicity however is the title track, which was a minor hit for the Police.
 
I have never been a big fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I like "Mr. Saturday Night Special" better than any of the songs you mentioned.
 
Can we talk about entire albums? The Beatles' greatest album is not Sgt. Pepper; it's Revolver. On Revolver, the Beatles perfected the pop-rock album, and I am convinced 90% of every rock album released after either consciously or subconsciously tries to duplicate it. Heck, Oasis has spent its entire career trying to remake Revolver.
 
Other examples; Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" over "Dream On" or "Walk This Way"; The Doors' "Peacefrog," "Moonlight Drive," and "Break On Through," I would all choose over "Light My Fire." My favorite Animals' songs; "Don't Bring Me Down" and "Sky Pilot" over "House of the Rising Sun."
 
I have often given my opinion (usually to my detriment) of how "Stairway to Heaven is one of my least favorite Led Zeppelin song and that the real gem of their untitled fourth album is "When the Levee Breaks." I also get tired of hearing "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream; I much prefer "Badge" and "SWLABR."
 
I could go on and on, but I think I've said enough. On the flipside of this, Traffic's best song is still "Dear Mr. Fantasy," Badfinger's best is "Come And Get It," and the Eagles were never finer than on "Hotel California."
 
Sometimes the best really are the best.

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Jack Williams writes:
July 31, 2005
AC-DC's Who Made Who instead of You Shook Me.

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