Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s of Rock’n’Roll – Under The Gun

CamIt seems to sneak up every week, sometimes on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, yikes, need to get the column over to Bob. What column? What the hell I am going to write about this week? Unless I have been gallivanting from event to event for an entire week it becomes a bit of a chore to come up with 1,500 words on a weekly basis. The alphabet has come in handy and the letter of the week at least gives me some parameters to work within. We are at the letter U and lately we have been looking for song titles using a key word and because we are all “Under” something, that’s what we are going with this week.

“Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper

Although it was never a major radio hit this is one of Alice’s best known songs and was a staple of every decent bar band rockin’ the Gasworks or The Knob Hill Hotel back in the seventies.  It appeared on Alice’s second studio album release of 1971 “Killer” (they had released “Love It Do Death” back in February of 1971). It was co-written by producer Bob Ezrin with band members Michael Bruce and Dennis Dunaway but it was Neil Smith’s drum intro that made the song so memorable. There is a great cover version from Hanoi Rocks which appeared on their 1983 live album “All Those Wasted Years”.

“Under The Westway” – Blur

Released as a single only in 2012 this is one of the finest songs ever written by Blur and frontman Damon Albarn seems to channel both Ray Davies and The Beatles on this big ballad.  The joyful “hallelujah” near the end of the song is the total icing on the cake. The Westway is a piece of the A40 motorway which runs atop West London.  Astute punk fans should know that stretch of roadway from the great Don Letts directed Clash documentary “Westway to the World”.

“Under The Darkest Moon” – Boo Hewerdine 

“You don’t know me” sings Marcus “Boo” Hewerdine on this track and I would be surprised if many of you did. I first met Boo when he was the lead singer of the English band The Bible who recorded for the ever-brilliant Ensign label. One listen to their songs “Mahalia” or “Graceland” is a testament (sorry) to their greatness. After The Bible, Boo hooked-up with American alt. country artist Darden Smith and the two of them recorded the album “Evidence” which contains the gorgeous “Under The Darkest Moon”.  I wonder if Boo realises that the 17th birthday party I took him and the band to in Toronto back in 1991 was for the then relatively unknown Alanis Morissette?

“Under My Hat” – Goddo

The first big Goddo ballad and usually one of the longest jam songs they played during their early gigs. It was the first single from their eponymous debut and did a little bit of damage on FM Radio at the time. The album was released in 1977 after Doug Inglis had replaced original drummer Marty Morin joining Gino Scarpelli and Greg Godovitz in the Canadian three-piece rock band.  Even though this leads off their very first album it is still one of the band’s most loved songs.

“Under Pressure” – Queen & David Bowie

I think we all know those five seconds of horror when you hear that bass line coming out of the radio speakers and you wait to find out if it’s “Under Pressure” or “Ice Ice Baby”.  By 1981 Queen were recording their tenth album “Hot Space” and frankly I had pretty well lost interest in them as they had moved from the sound of their first five albums and moved from arena headliners to stadium superstars. I was still a fan of Bowie and at the time he was coming off his album “Scary Monsters” and seriously into his acting phase. Bowie had headed to Montreaux to record backing vocals on the Queen song “Cool Cat” (which he nixed) and it was there that he and the band jammed in the studio and came up with the number one hit “Under Pressure”, which is co-written by the four members of Queen and Bowie. Vanilla Ice swiped the bass line and released the single “Ice Ice Baby” without originally giving credit to the writers of “Under Pressure”.  The song would go on to become the first hip-hop song to top the Billboard charts much to the chagrin of all the original hip-hop masters.  Some 25 years later Macklemore & Lewis would do the same thing at the Grammy Awards with “Thrift Shop”. The times they ain’t a changin’ but at least they wrote their own song.

“Under The God” – Tin Machine

Speaking of David Bowie, in 1988 he decided to form a rock band called Tin Machine which would feature him on vocals and rhythm  guitar, Reeves Gabrels on lead guitar and, for my money, one of the greatest bass/drum combos ever in Tony and Hunt Sales (sons of Soupy!). Bowie was just a fourth of the democratic group and they went on to record two albums as well as tour the world as a band, not a Bowie project. Much maligned I was always a fan and this was the first single from their debut album and it still kicks ass.

“The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” – The Rolling Stones

One of the first  recorded shots at their record companies by a major band. Not nearly as vitriolic as Graham Parker’s “Mercury Poisoning” it still took a few low blows at the poor toupee and seersucker suit wearing promotion reps. The song was from the 1965 album “Out Of Our Heads” and harkened back to the band’s blues roots with the harmonica still quite prevalent in the mix. It was the “new” sounds of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Play With Fire” that would make that album such as transitional one in the Stone’s career. Good fun and  perhaps an early take on Artie Fufkin.

“Over Under Sideways Down” – The Yardbirds

Shortly after the Stones released “Out Of Our Heads” The Yardbirds released the album and single “Over Under Sideways Down”.  The guitar line is one of Jeff Beck’s best ever but did you know that he is also responsible for the bass playing on the track as well? The song was one of the band’s biggest hits in the United States reaching number 13 and was a top ten in the UK. The album was released under the title “Yardbirds” in the U.K. but is most often referred to as the “Roger The Engineer” album. It would be the only Yardbirds’ album that would contain all originally written material.

“Under The Table With Her” – Sparks

If I was forced under gunpoint to take one Sparks album to my lonely desert album it would be their 1975 release “Indiscreet”. Depending on my mood each islandy day I could rock out with “In The Future”, fantasize about “Tits”, ponder “How Are You Getting Home?” or dream of cutlets with “Under The Table With Her”. I could also laugh out loud at what is their greatest album cover ever. Depending on the location of the island I may or may not listen to “Pineapple”.  Keeping with the recurring David Bowie undertheme the record was produced by Tony Visconti.

“Under Cover Of Darkness” – The Strokes

This was from the group’s fourth album “Angles” and came after their two year hiatus after the record “First Impressions Of Earth”. The New York band that seemed poised to set the world on fire had not and this was deemed as a comeback record. With a guitar tone that was reminiscent of early Television records the song would have fit well on their debut album. I am still a huge fan of the band and Julian Casablancas’ vocals and hopefully they will one day make another album as great as their first (easier said than done).


Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

Cam’s column appears every Thursday

Contact us at:

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. There are heaters on the Bovine patio and great bands downstairs at the legendary rock bar. Fill up next store at The Rock Lobster and then get your rocks off at The Bovine. 

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s of Rock’n’Roll – Under The Gun”

  1. MISS YA BUDDY ,,,,,,, Stephano

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: