Yesterday, we ran down five great albums by classic rock artists from 2013. Today, we’ll return to 2013 again to look at some of the best songs by legendary artists: in some cases, they’re cherry-picked from the artist’s albums. In others, it was a one off. But they’re all great songs that you should know if you’re a fan of any of these artists.
1. Paul McCartney – “New”: Sir Paul’s latest, also titled New, saw him working with a number of producers, including Giles Martin (son of Sir George), Ethan Johns and Paul Epworth. On this track, the album’s standout, he’s collaborating with Mark Ronson, well known for his work with the late Amy Winehouse. Ronson DJ-ed McCartney’s wedding and is a multi-instrumentalist who is able to merge vintage and modern sounds, as evidenced on this track. Paul will likely play several New songs on his upcoming tour, but in a few years from now, expect “New” to remain in the setlist.
2. Elton John – “Home Again”: Sir Elton’s long-awaited The Diving Board saw him working with T-Bone Burnett again (they’d also worked together on the Elton/Leon Russell album The Union) and there were a lot of great songs to choose from on the new record. But none as good as this standout first track. This one is destined, like “Believe,” “I Want Love” and “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” as a latter day Elton classic.
3. Stevie Nicks – “You Can’t Fix This”: Stevie had a phenomenal year, between the Fleetwood Mac tour and being cast on American Horror Story. But there was also this song: her contribution to the Sound City soundtrack; a collaboration with “the Sound City Players,” aka Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, but this song was no thrown-off jam. It was Stevie singing about the drug-related death of her godson. The lyrics? Maybe not her most subtle, but her passion can’t be denied here, and Grohl deserves props for giving Stevie the space to do such a personal song, and the perfect musical backing as well. (Watch her perform the song on Late Show With David Letterman here.) Clearly they got along well: Nicks, along with John Fogerty, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Rick Springfield and Lee Ving of punk band Fear all joined up with Grohl and co. for a short tour promoting Sound City (a film well worth seeing, you should check it out).
4. Fleetwood Mac – “Without You”: Speaking of the Fleetwood Mac reunion, yes, they hit the road again in 2013, but they also released a new 4 track EP simply called Extended Play. The last time we got new music from the Mac was a decade ago, when they released the overblown and overthought double album Say You Will. “Without You,” reminiscent of Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” is a simple arrangement that sees Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham singing together. The exes sing “I can’t live without you,” and while that may no longer be true, it sounds sweetly poignant when they sing it, all these years later.
5. John Fogerty – “Mystic Highway”: Lots of opinions abound about Fogerty’s latest album, “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” where he revisits songs from his past (both solo and with Creedence Clearwater Revival) with duet partners including the Foo Fighters, Alan Jackson and Jennifer Hudson. Rolling Stone magazine named it the #10 album of the year which seems a bit unfair: you can’t compare these songs, songs that we’ve loved for decades, with new songs. We’d disqualify it and include and album of all new songs by, say, Eric Burdon or Elvis Costello or Black Sabbath. On the other hand, Entertainment Weekly said it was one of the five worst albums of the year. Then again, their best albums of the year includes Miley Cyrus. We’ll leave it at that. But Fogerty hasn’t released an album of new songs since 2007’s excellent Revival. “Mystic Highway,” one of the two originals from his new album, reminds us that he’s overdue for a new one.
6. Prince – “FIXURLIFEUP”: Technically it’s 3rdEyeGirl featuring Prince, but we know that the Purple One runs every show that he’s a part of. Earlier this year he hooked up with a three piece all-female band and rocked harder than he has in a long time on this jam. As he sings, “Girl with a guitar is 12 times better than another crazy band of boys,” and then they go on to prove it. Of course, we could have gone with one of Prince’s other songs from this year, the sex-jam “Breakfast Can Wait.”
— Brian Ives, Radio.com