My first Burnes’ Turns in months highlights some early Hip-Hop classics, joyfully pissed off Hard Rock riffing and an urgently apocalyptic message from the dearly departed David Bowie that is more pressing than ever.
“Five Years” – David Bowie
When I was first getting into music and reading Rolling Stone, they published a playlist issue where artists picked their favorite songs from other artists. Bono picked out his 15 favorite Bowie songs and his list served as my introduction to the Starman’s music. At the time, “Five Years” may have been my absolute favorite (except, perhaps, “Space Oddity”), but somehow over the years I completely forgot about it. I dug up that playlist issue with the intention of listening to every song listed (it’s going to take a while) and I rediscovered this apocalyptic classic that sounds even more urgent today than it did when it was first nearly half of a decade ago.
“Gangsta Gangsta” – N.W.A.
Everybody knows “Fuck tha Police” and “Straight Outta Compton,” but upon my first listen to N.W.A.’s debut, I’m not sure “Gangsta Gangsta” didn’t overshadow both of them. It isn’t as culturally relevant as the previously listed classics, but Dre’s funky Prince-esque beat and N.W.A.’s gang-rapping (led by Ice Cube) that tells a violent-yet-humorous story similar to the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” leaves everyone else in the dust.
“Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” – Public Enemy
Like “Gangsta Gangsta,” “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” is overshadowed by bigger hits from Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back like “Bring the Noise” and “Rebel Without a Pause,” but to purists it doesn’t get any better than Chuck D’s downright scary tale of wrongful imprisonment and refusal to submit to crooked authority over a savage Isaac Hayes sample.
“What Do You Do For Money” – AC/DC
Everybody knows that “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are Hard Rock classics, but even I had forgotten how great “What Do You Do For Money” is. Conveying a joyful rage similarlyto what N.W.A. captured with “Gangsta Gangsta,” Bryan Johnson almost blows his voice out as he screams down a gold-digging woman over some of Angus Young’s greatest riffing on record.
“Hail Mary” – Tupac
As I found out when I re-listened to All Eyez on Me, Tupac’s catalog was not without a fair share of filler. But when he was in the zone as he was when he recorded the eerie “Hail Mary,” preaching from the pulpit of his ill-gotten Hip-Hop throne, nobody was better.
For more playlists, including my master Burnes’ Turns playlist that contains over 2,000 songs, search for Andrew Burnes or Burnes’ Turns on Spotify.