Top 10 Mountain Songs

Mountain Songs

Photo: By Wilson Bilkovich (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wilsonb/2983572673/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1969. Long Islander Leslie West released his first album entitled Mountain. The album title is not to be confused with the name of the band he would form one year later. Leslie West’s first released vinyl record was a solo album called Mountain. The solo album featured Felix Pappalardi on bass, who would stay with Leslie West when the legendary band Mountain was formed one year later. The group’s debut album Climbin’ was released on March 7, 1970. The group featured Leslie West on guitar and vocals,  Felix Pappalardi on bass and keyboards, Corky Laing on drums, and Steve Knight on assorted keyboards.

One year after their debut album was released, the band returned with their sophomore effort Nantucket Sleighride in 1971. The band also released Flowers of Evil in 1971. The Flowers of Evil album contained one side of live material and one side of studio cuts.  The band’s final album of the 1970s and the last to feature Felix Pappalardi in the band, was released in 1974, entitled Avalanche.

Leslie West released two more solo albums to complete his 1970’s recorded output. In 1983, tragedy struck when former Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi was shot by his wife Gail Pappalardi in their home. Gail was later found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and released on parole in 1985.

During the 1980s, Leslie West was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show. His radio appearances helped Leslie West develop a new audience who may not have heard of the musician’s work outside of the song “Mississippi Queen.”

The band Mountain released eight albums over a forty-year career. Their last album, Masters of War, which was a Bob Dylan covers tribute album, was issued in 2007.

# 10 – Theme From an Imaginary Western

Everything we love about Mountain is presented in the first minute of this amazing ballad. Corky Laing’s semi-Keith Moon style of drumming, Leslie West’s iconic guitar sound, Steve Knight’s warm organ, and Felix Pappalardi’s incredible vocals are all defined in this great track. This is classic rock at its finest. It is also one of the most underrated songs of the classic rock era, just like the band itself. It is the perfect way to open up our top 10 Mountain songs list.

# 9 – Hard Times

Our second song on our Top 10 Mountain Songs list is the most recent song of the band’s catalog to be included on this list. The song was released on the band’s 1985 Go For Your Life album. The song “Hard Time” was the album’s opening track. Leslie West’s opening guitar line is to die for, as is the killer vocal on the track. In 1985, despite the unfortunate loss of Felix Pappalardi, Mountain was back.

# 9 – Crossroader

The song “Crossroads” was released on the album Flowers of Evil in 1971. That album contained one side of studio cuts and a live side that included “Mississippi Queen” tracks and a 25-minute melody of Mountain classics. The version we chose for our Top 10 Mountain Songs list was from the Mountain Live album issued in 1972.  Something about Leslie West’s guitar playing was very similar to Allen Collins of Lynyrd Skynyrd or the other way around. You can hear it on this track in the solo sections.

# 7 – Traveling In The Dark

Nothing is better than opening up a great rock song with a guitar solo. Leslie West comes flying out of the gate on this one. The song “Traveling in the Dark” was released on the band’s sophomore album Nantucket Sleighride. The album was released in 1972. Like every Mountain song, the tune features Leslie West’s phenomenal guitar work. However, listen to the great harmony vocals on this one. “How you’re going to feel when your woman’s with another man” is a chilling line. Superb!

# 6 – For Yasgur’s Farm

Mountain’s first album was such a classic record that it’s hard not to list every song from the album on our Top 10 Mountain songs list. The excellent track “For Yasgur’s Farm” again features the band’s unique talents. It is an outstanding track dedicated to the legendary Woodstock experience and the farm where it occurred.

# 5 – Sister Justice

When we write about the guitar players who composed some of the most iconic guitar licks in classic history we mention names like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Brian May, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, and of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Leslie West must be included in that conversation. While we have not gotten to his most famous lick yet, the simple concept of the classic rock guitar line is defined in the opening moments of the great Mountain track “Sister Justice.”

# 4 – Flowers Of Evil

“Flowers Of Evil” is the title track from the band’s third album Flowers of Evil. The album featured the classic Mountain lineup of Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Steven Knight, and Corky Laing. Flowers of Evil is an all New York album. The studio side was recorded at the legendary Record Plant in New York City, while most of the live material on side two was recorded at the Fillmore East Club, also located in New York City. Flowers of Evil was the band’s second record release of 1971.

# 3 – Nantucket Sleighride

So many Mountain songs would smack you right in the face on the opening note. However, the band also recorded some of the best classic rock ballads of the rock and roll era. “Nantucket Sleighride” was one of the band’s best ballads. Felix Pappalardi could sing a rock ballad almost better than anyone in the business. Steven Knight’s organ playing guided the chord changes, Corky Laing set the groove, and as soon as Leslie began to play, it was all over. Winner!

# 2 – Never in My Life

Howard Stern always talked about the song “Never In My Life” on his New York radio show. It’s hard to hear this song and not hear Howard Stern screaming the vocal line. This is one fantastic rock and roll track, and if it weren’t for the next song on the list, it would easily stand as the number one song on our top 10 Mountain Songs list. However, the genius of Leslie West wrote a tune even more substantial than this one. And away we go…

# 1 – Mississippi Queen

Four songs from the band’s first album appear on this top 10 Mountain songs list. The band’s first album was extraordinary in so many ways. Rock and roll bands set out at the beginning of their careers, hoping that they may catch that magic on at least one track that will become a rock and roll standard. Led Zeppelin did it right away with “Whole Lotta Love,” Bad Company with “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” Springsteen with “Born To Run,” and so on.

On Mountain’s debut album, the band secured its place in rock and roll history by recording the legendary track “Mississippi Queen.” It is by far the band’s most famous song. Even fans who may never have heard of the band Mountain listened to the song “Mississippi Queen.” Leslie West was and still is one of rock and roll’s greatest artists. His recorded output with Mountain and his solo work define the concept of rock guitar god. If you are unfamiliar with his work, we hope this list has served as a great introduction to one of the most underrated rock bands ever.

Top 10 Mountain Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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