My first announcement for the month is that I have put up a playlist on Qobuz under the title Headphone.Guru that has all of the songs I have reviewed including this month’s selections, as well as, a selection of the songs I use for reviewing gear (note: in the case of duplicates there will only be one entry). I will be updating the list as the months go on.
I have long felt that the ballad is the perfect form of music, it reaches into your chest and pulls out your heart for a look, so I thought I would change it up for this month and do a Top Ten Rock Ballads. Also for those paying attention, they will see that I have changed my reference system to the LSA VT-70 Tube Integrated Amp which I have fitted with Gold Lion KT88s.
1. “Look What You’ve Done” (“On the Waters” – Bread – 24-bit/192kHz – Qobuz) For a band known for ballads like Bread it is hard to pick out one, but I think “Look What You’ve Done” strikes the strongest chord, in fact, it was this song that inspired me to do this list. It is the perfect combination of world-class musicianship and heart-rending songwriting.
2. “Can’t Get It out of My Head” (“Eldorado” -Electric Light Orchestra – 24-bit/192kHz – Qobuz) Without question my favorite ELO song, the resonance of Jeff Lynne’s vocal during the chorus gives me chills, and is why it is numbered among my primary test tracks.
3. “Non Mi Lasciare” (Dario Baldan Bembo – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Possibly my favorite rock ballad of all time, certainly one of the best performed. One of two tracks I use to test sub-bass, it is also a great track for piano and of course vocal.
4. “Mistral Wind (Live)” (“Greatest Hits/Live” – Heart – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) It was a toss-up between “Mistral Wind (Live)” and “Dog & Butterfly” but the power of the live performance put “Mistral Wind (Live)” ahead.
5. “I’m Going Home” (“Rocky Horror Show” – Tim Curry – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) What can I say, Tim’s voice will make your socks melt with this cult classic.
6. “Love to Love” (“Lights Out” – UFO – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) When I think the term Rock Ballad the first song that comes to mind is “Love to Love” by UFO. With guitar god, Michael Schenker’s blazing guitar leads you wouldn’t expect the song to have such heart.
7. “Lights” (“Infinity” – Journey – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Another epic heavy rock ballad and my favorite Journey song.
8. “The Song is Over” (“Who’s Next” – The Who – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) With Nicky Hopkins at the piano and Roger Daltrey’s magical voice this is simply one of the greatest songs of all time.
9. “From the Beginning” (“Trilogy” – Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 24-bit/192kHz – Qobuz) What can I say, this song is just magical, from Greg Lake’s liquid acoustic guitar work to his lushes vocal, and of course, Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, what more could you want.
10. “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (“For Your Pleasure” – Roxy Music – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) I got to the end of this list and realized that there were dozens if not hundreds of songs I could add to this list, but I had to include my favorite singer Bryan Ferry with a very different subject matter for his ballad.
And that brings us to this month’s end, until next month, remember it’s all about the music.
Qobuz Playlist Link: