Piano Rock
April 15, 2004 6:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm making a "Piano Rock" mix. What songs should I include? [current list inside]

This mix was inspired by The Bad Plus, and I have four of their songs in the lineup. I also have "Inbetween Days" by Ben Folds, the acoustic version of "Anyway" by Dynamite Hack (awesome song!), "Mad World" by Gary Jules, "Halleluhah" by Rufus Wainwright, and various Fiona Apple and Tori Amos.

I'm at a loss for what else to include, though. I love the upbeat tempo of the songs from The Bad Plus and Ben Folds' version of "Inbetween Days". I'd love to learn of other, similar songs.

No Elton John or Billy Joel, please.
posted by jdroth to Media & Arts (71 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
maybe "Hometown" or "Right Here, Right Now" by Joe Jackson? or some Squeeze?
posted by amberglow at 6:38 PM on April 15, 2004

"Dead Bodies" by Air.
posted by mmcg at 6:41 PM on April 15, 2004

How about one of Brad Mehldau's excellent Radiohead covers?
posted by Hlewagast at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2004

Gary Jules' "Mad World" is Piano Rock?
posted by blueshammer at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2004

Gary Jules' "Mad World" is Piano Rock?

Liberal definition here. Liberal definition. (Besides, I'm a sucker for 80s covers...)
posted by jdroth at 6:50 PM on April 15, 2004

"Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" by Traffic -- or anything involving Bruce Hornsby, really. Almost all of the Tom Waits catalogue. Much of Nick Cave's later work has prominent piano, too.
posted by me3dia at 6:57 PM on April 15, 2004

Colorblind, by Counting Crowes, or almost anything off of New Radical's cd?
posted by GeekAnimator at 6:58 PM on April 15, 2004

"Uncertain Smile" by "the the"
I'm gonna go have a listen right now.
posted by Feisty at 7:01 PM on April 15, 2004

Fiery Furnaces - "Inca Rag / Name Game"
Sloan - "Chester the Molester"
Gord Downie - "Chancellor"
Hayden - "Bass Song"
Coldplay - "Everything's Not Lost"
Spoon - "Vittorio E"
Elliott Smith - "Baby Britain"
(and take your pick by The Beatles or Radiohead...)

on reflection, that's a lot of cancon. hooray!
posted by Marquis at 7:15 PM on April 15, 2004

"Oliver's Army", Elvis Costello and the Attractions
posted by crunchburger at 7:16 PM on April 15, 2004

Radiohead's karma police? If you don't mind live material, Led Zeppelin did a (very long but) very good version of No Quarter with a 15 minute piano solo.
posted by fvw at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2004

"Uncertain Smile" by "the the"
I'm gonna go have a listen right now.

I've got you under my skin, where the rain can't get in... : >

There's a piano version of "My Ever Changing Moods" by Style Council (or it could be Weller alone) that's excellent.

and Ultravox was always piano-y. "Reap the Wild Wind" maybe?
posted by amberglow at 7:19 PM on April 15, 2004 [1 favorite]

the first three tracks off of Depth Perception
Face To Match
Graceless and Unusual
posted by clockwork at 7:28 PM on April 15, 2004

oops. the first two are just samples. sorry. Posers is the entire song, though. enjoy.
posted by clockwork at 7:31 PM on April 15, 2004

If you mean business, ya gotta have The Killer.
posted by NortonDC at 7:37 PM on April 15, 2004

Warning: prog content.

John Cale. About three quarters of the songs on Fragments of a Rainy Season are piano-and-voice only (and there are some damn good songs on there—Close Watch, Chinese Envoy, Hallelujah...). Also, the album he made with Terry Riley, Church of Anthrax, is keyboard-heavy.
Henry Cow's "Beautiful as the Moon, Terrible as an Army with Banners" has a pretty awesome piano solo.
David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours".
A lot of Canterbury bands had prominent keyboardists. Some early Soft Machine, maybe.
Gentle Gitant's "Free Hand".
Sammla Mammas Manna (& Lars Hollmer's other projects) have some good piano tracks. "Frestelsens Cafe", say.
Mercury Rev, though I can't recall which tracks specifically.
Nick Cave's more mellow moments frequently feature his piano playing.

That's from looking through mp3s ... I'll go through the CD collection later.
posted by kenko at 7:59 PM on April 15, 2004

Wow. Thanks for the input. I ask a question on carpenter ants and I get like five answers in a day. I ask an off-hand question about a mix I've decided to throw together and everyone has an opinion. ;)
posted by jdroth at 8:04 PM on April 15, 2004

Get nerdy: add Dinner Bell by They Might Be Giants. (It's clearly a synth piano, though.)
posted by tss at 8:19 PM on April 15, 2004

Continuing marquis' CanCon motif:

"Beach Music", by the Watchmen
"Running for Home", by Matthew Good Band
"Slips and Tangles", by the Weakerthans
"Sad House Daddy" or "Stop Joking Around", by Hawksley Workman

</maple leaf>
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:35 PM on April 15, 2004

Wow. I must be an old fart.

Piano rock starts with The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, doing "Great Balls of Fire." He did a bunch of good stuff, bt that one's the particular one to grab.

And while we're looking at music recorded prior to Nixon, Little Richard's impeccable, red-lining performances of "Tutti-Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" are also effective as paint-strippers when the old lacquer on the stand-up in the corner needs fixed.

Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" is not as in-your-face and may be a bit overexposed as a result, but he was another first-gen piano-primary rock performer. He comes from a Nawlins school which leads me to the required work of Dr. John, who in turn learned from the inimitable Professor Longhair - the track form 'Fess you want is "Iko Iko."

I don't know if you care or not, but the reason the 'Fess is so dubbed is that he comes from the New Orleans tradition, where ragtime and jazz were both supposedly invented by Jelly Roll Morton around the turn of the century.

So, to summarize: in the Crescent City it's said that not only piano rock, but rock itself was summoned forth from swamp gas and lust to tickle yon ivories.

(on preview, thanks, NortonDC)
posted by mwhybark at 8:53 PM on April 15, 2004

ONE Ben Folds song?

And yes, dammit, you should have some Billy Joel, but it should be something from his debut, Cold Spring Harbor. Maybe "Falling of the Rain" -- that's a fine song by any standards and it won't make anyone think you less of a music connoisseur. If you're really worried that people will pre-judge the coolness of the mix when they see the name of the artist, do what one of the guys in a mix club I was in used to do: use an anagram like "Leo Jillby."
posted by kindall at 8:59 PM on April 15, 2004

Does anyone know the site that would pick out a theme, around once a week or something and people would submit songs to go with that theme? I can't seem to find it... and I think it would be relevant to this.
posted by geoff. at 9:01 PM on April 15, 2004

Let's go back to the well:

Fats Domino Christ, anything from the Specialty era
Little Richard Ditto, label included
Jerry Lee Lewis Duh. Even some of his country peeyaner sounds good.
Professor Longhair Invented an idiosyncratic boogie-woogie style that took over New Orleans.
Ray Charles "Mess Around," "It Should've Been Me" or "I'm Movin' On" for uptempo, or "Drown in My Own Tears" for down-tempo
Johnnie Johnson One of the true secret heroes of rock 'n' roll. Played on all the great early Chuck Berry hits and slotted in perfectly inside Chuck's six strings.

Meanwhile, a little later:
NRBQ Terry Adams can play a keyboard sideways, inside out, you name it. A little cute sometimes.
Mannfred Mann's Earth Band "Jump Sturdy" -- amazing. A nice modernist frenzy. Doesn't anyone know how great this band's eponymous album is?
Elvis Costello
Two pieces of genius crap piano playing:
Replacements "Androgynous"
Big Star "Holocaust"

And yes, I know, it's a "piano rock" mix, but Mr. Thelonious Monk ought to sit near the center of every genre he's allowed to. I'd go to some late-40's solo recordings of "Well You Needn't" or "Misterioso." Spooky, powerful.
posted by argybarg at 9:10 PM on April 15, 2004

Anything by Quasi might count. They're a two piece: electric harpsichord and drums. Not piano per se, but keyboard-based rock nonetheless.
posted by interrobang at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2004

(Thanks mwhybark -- didn't catch you on preview.)

p.s. Billy Joel ugh. If you want some good American cheese piano try Tapestry -- come to think of it, pretty good album, that -- or Bruce Springsteen "Racing in the Streets." Puts a lump in my throat, that last one.
posted by argybarg at 9:13 PM on April 15, 2004

Lemongrass or We Miss Our Lady by Parker Paul.
posted by dobbs at 9:22 PM on April 15, 2004

Dammit, one more amendement, re: Elvis Costello.

Of course, we're really talking about Steve Nieve here. So, "Oliver's Army," yes, but what about "Party Girl?" Or "Almost Blue?" Or (favorite) "Man Out of Time?"
posted by argybarg at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2004

Radiohead - Karma Police

Or A Punch Up at a Wedding, for some of the most bilious funk you'll ever hear.
posted by abcde at 9:30 PM on April 15, 2004

The piano is the anti-rock, except when you play with one finger:

Stooges-I Wanna Be Your Dog
VU-Waiting for My Man
posted by dydecker at 9:44 PM on April 15, 2004

Guns'n'Roses November Rain
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:48 PM on April 15, 2004

I am seconding "November Rain." That song rulz.

"One Summer Last Fall" by Jets To Brazil
posted by Quartermass at 10:01 PM on April 15, 2004

Early Tom Waits employs a lot of piano, and he trots it out later, too. You could do a lot worse than "Innocent When You Dream".
Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting for My Man
Bill Rieflin and Chris Connelly, of all people, did an album of piano-based songs called Largo, which includes a very decent cover of Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song".
posted by kenko at 10:03 PM on April 15, 2004

And here I was planning on making my next post asking for good piano-albumns. Rock on!!!
Also, Meatloaf's "Object in the Riew View Mirror" (even if it runs 10 minutes) and Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road"
posted by jmd82 at 10:05 PM on April 15, 2004

For the lesser known variety, I can not say enough good about Sarah Slean. Off the top of my head, go for "Bank Accounts," "Sweet Ones" (you can listen to it on her site), or "Duncan."
posted by rafter at 10:09 PM on April 15, 2004

Oh, and Imperial Teen's "Undone," as heard in this movie trailer is kinda Ben Foldsy.
posted by rafter at 10:20 PM on April 15, 2004

"Rock the Casbah". Seriously.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:25 PM on April 15, 2004

Piano only? Lady Stardust demo off the second disc of the reissue of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. One of my favorite songs ever. Email me and I'll send you a copy if you want. David Bowie, of course.
posted by headless at 12:29 AM on April 16, 2004

Life on Mars is also quite good.
posted by headless at 12:29 AM on April 16, 2004

The Cure's 'Mr Pink Eyes' is their most piano-driven tune.
posted by jonathanbell at 12:34 AM on April 16, 2004

Not rock exactly, but you might wanna dive into some boogie-woogie blues like Pinetop Perkins ("Pinetop's Boogie Woogie") or Roosevelt Sykes ("Training Camp Blues"). Which would lead nicely into Long John Baldry's "Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll", which according to me at least is rock, exactly. I seem to recall some top-notch two-fisted boogie on the Guess Who's "Runnin' Back to Saskatoon" as well.
posted by arto at 12:47 AM on April 16, 2004

"Big Shot" by Billy Joel

"Short People" or "Political Science" by Randy Newman
posted by skylar at 12:58 AM on April 16, 2004

More keep coming:

Belle and Sebastian: Fox in the Snow, We Rule the School, The Chalet Lines, Seeing Other People, more...
posted by headless at 1:03 AM on April 16, 2004

that should be Belle and Sebastian.
posted by headless at 1:06 AM on April 16, 2004

I'm sorry but Piano Rock aint Piano Rock without "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. Even that Ben Folds Five guy did a decent cover of it.
posted by inviolable at 1:07 AM on April 16, 2004

The Smiths Oscillate Wildly a brilliant piano instrumental, or the piano dirge intro of 'Last Night I dreamt That somebody loved me' again by The Smiths...............

Trust me!!!!
posted by kenaman at 1:21 AM on April 16, 2004

Hmm, try one of Jools Holland's collaborations. He's pretty well known in the UK (keyboard player with Squeeze, presenter of two decades worth of notable TV music shows).
posted by davehat at 2:12 AM on April 16, 2004

JD you should let us hear the result.........
posted by kenaman at 3:29 AM on April 16, 2004

Bob Geldof's I Don't Like Mondays
The live version of Radiohead's Like Spinning Plates
posted by pieoverdone at 4:22 AM on April 16, 2004

I'd through in Yellow or Clocks by Coldplay I think (most of their stuff is piano driven).

Ohh and be careful of the Jools Holland stuff - the guy is an AMAZING piano player (seen him live three times now) - but some of the tracks off his 'big world' albums are a bit duff.

You gonna post the playlist somewhere once it's done? Would love to read it!
posted by snowgoon at 4:42 AM on April 16, 2004

I'll second the David Sylvian "Forbidden Colours" suggestion. Though you might also consider "Orpheus".

I did a piano mix for a friend last year (though it was less "rock" and more mellow). I'll dig up the playlist later and see if there's anything else interesting on it.
posted by MsVader at 5:54 AM on April 16, 2004

Suddenly, Tammy!
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:21 AM on April 16, 2004

As far as blues goes, you'd be remiss if you left out Otis Spann. "Spann's Stomp" is a great instrumental. (available on Vanguard's wonderful compilation The Best of the Chicago Blues.)

You may also want to check out Johnnie Johnson. (He played on "Johnny B. Goode." That alone should secure his place in history, not to mention heaven.)

And +1 for Professor Longhair. And Pinetop Perkins.

Chuck Leavell plays with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, and many, many more. I happen to think his solo stuff is uneven, but there are some gems in there. (His intro to Clapton's "Pretending" -- especially on the 24 Nights live album -- is very nice.)
posted by Vidiot at 6:28 AM on April 16, 2004

The unaccompanied piano version of "Possession" that you can find hidden at the end of "Fumbling Towards Ecstacy" by Sarah McLachlan is really good.
posted by alphanerd at 6:41 AM on April 16, 2004

A great instrumental surf rock tune by Ben Folds is 'Theme From Dr. Pyser'.
posted by Bearman at 6:47 AM on April 16, 2004

"I Fall Down" from U2's October album.
posted by bondcliff at 7:09 AM on April 16, 2004

Oh, and Beatles - Sexy Sadie.
posted by abcde at 7:35 AM on April 16, 2004

"billy liar" by the decemberists!
posted by pikachulolita at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2004

Medeski, Martin & Wood released a live album a few years ago (If you're a Bad Plus fan, chances are you'd like MMW and especially this live album, "Tonic.") On it, there's a great cover of Hendrix's "Hey, Joe."
posted by emelenjr at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2004

David Bowie's "Bring Me the Disco King," off his most recent album Reality. Reality is his weakest album in some time, but that track (which runs about seven minutes and consists solely of Bowie on vocals, Mike Garson on piano, and Matt Chamberlain on drums with brushes) is one of Bowie's best ever.
posted by Prospero at 7:57 AM on April 16, 2004

R.E.M., "Last Date"
Squeeze, "Goodbye Girl" [live]
posted by kirkaracha at 8:00 AM on April 16, 2004

JD you should let us hear the result...

I'll post the results later this weekend. You guys have provided an overwhelming number of songs to check out. I'll be busy downlo...er, buying...music for a while now. :)

Actually, based on the recommendations, I think there's plenty for two different mixes: one more piano-centric, the other with "songs that have piano in them", if you know what I mean.

Thanks for all the suggestions!
posted by jdroth at 8:02 AM on April 16, 2004

I'm late to the thread, but here's one no one mentioned: "I'm Not Growing Old," by the Origin. Piano-driven in the right ways.

Elton and Billy are good pianists even if their songs are played out. "Bennie and the Jets" is a terrific piano song.
posted by werty at 8:55 AM on April 16, 2004

And don't forget about Moon Mullican!
posted by maurice at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2004

Velvets - White Light, White Heat. And if you've got 8 mins to spare, the Velvet's "Murder Mystery" is pretty good (though debatable whether it's "rock"). Oh, and "Killing Time" by - er - me.
posted by Pericles at 9:42 AM on April 16, 2004

I was just about to rant and rave that no one mentioned "Benny & the Jets" by Elton John.

Then I hit "refresh" and saw that werty beat me to it.

Another good Elton John piano song is "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)". Nice tempo and you can really rock out to it.

I'd also like to add one of my favourite piano songs, "The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby & The Range. It might be a bit too slow for "Piano Rock", but it's still good piano!
posted by grum@work at 9:44 AM on April 16, 2004

Anything from Art Tatum's Piano Starts Here
posted by whoshotwho at 10:12 AM on April 16, 2004

Add my vote for anything by Little Richard (who invented Rock and Roll as far as I'm concerned) and Professor Longhair.

  • What'd I Say by Ray Charles
  • Layla (Piano Exit) from the Goodfellas soundtrack, written and perhaps played by Derek and the Dominos drummer Jim Gordon, tragically confined to a mental institution after murdering his mother under the delusion that she was the devil.

posted by timeistight at 10:14 AM on April 16, 2004

Andrew WK. Or is that piano heavy metal?
posted by Gortuk at 3:30 PM on April 16, 2004

Oh, here's a good one that just came up on my iTunes rotation: Dire Straits' "Telegraph Road."
posted by kindall at 4:28 PM on April 16, 2004

OH! Late entry: The Beatles, "You Never Give Me Your Money".
posted by crunchburger at 10:51 PM on April 16, 2004

McCartney was a fine rock piano player, he is out of favor now but the wheel will turn.
posted by crunchburger at 10:53 PM on April 16, 2004

« Older Can you suggest a pair of cross-trainer shoes?   |   Looking for Lamprey software from early 90s Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.