Our top 10 Y&T songs list digs deep into the music catalog of an American rock band that, despite not being overly successful, cut the path for other hard rock acts that came after it. Y&T was incepted in the early 1970s, with its name inspired by The Beatles’ album, Yesterday and Today. The band would soon become deliver a taste of their hard rock and heavy metal amalgam in clubs in the US.
Y&T put its name on the wall as one of the most inspirational heavy metal/hard rock acts of the ‘70s. The band’s unique selling proposition was its exquisite and energetic on-stage intensity, unmatched by most ensembles in the early ‘70s. This saw the band tagged as an opening act by reputable acts such as Journey and The Doobie Brothers. The reward of their intense and captivating live performances was a cult following in the US, even before the band made its first releases.
How Y&T failed to reach the epitome of rock and roll stardom still remains a puzzle for many. However, diehard fans of the band can easily trace where the band lost its luster. Uncalculated moves during its releases, poor promotions by record companies, and probably bad luck all played a role in the band’s failed journey to stardom.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Dave Meniketti is the only remaining founding member of Y&T. Over its career, Y&T has interacted, toured, and/or opened for other acts such as Kiss, AC/DC, Wild Cherry, Ozzy Osbourne, ZZ Top, Iron Maiden, and Mötley Crüe among others. Our top 10 Y&T songs article reviews the history and musical catalog of one of the bands that should have been huge in the heavy metal/hard rock music scene.
Y&T’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
In 1972, drummer Leonard Haze teamed up with bassist Phil Kennemore and rhythm guitarist Joey Alves to form a band. Initially, the trio didn’t have a stage name, only performing cover hits in California. Later on, the trio welcomed Dave Meniketti, who took on the lead guitar role. All the original members of the band had something to give in terms of vocal delivery. However, Dave would take the lead vocalist role, which he sometimes shared with Leonard Haze. Phil and Joey added backing vocals to the band making Y&T one of the most gifted ensembles at the time.
Eventually, the band settled on using the moniker Yesterday and Today (later shortened to Y&T), inspired by The Beatles’ album of the same name. Y&T would headline shows with other reputable acts, including Journey, Queen, AC/DC, Wild Cherry, and Kiss. The band’s fame and reputation saw it rewarded with a recording contract by London Records. London Records president had met Y&T at Queen’s tour Night at the Opera.
In 1976, Y&T released its eponymous debut studio album through London Records. Yesterday and Today saw the band deliver its usual amalgam of hard rock and heavy metal sonic vibes. However, the nine-track album failed to catapult the band to stardom. The band tried once more rising to stardom with its sophomore LP, Struck Down. Unfortunately, this eight-track LP was not enough to send Y&T to successful beginnings. This eventually led the band to part ways with London Records.
After struggling to find a reputable record label, Y&T eventually signed to A&M Records in 1980. The following year the band released its third LP release and the first issue under A&M Records, Earthshaker. Earthshaker marked the first release by the band with the moniker Y&T (shortened from Yesterday and Today). “Rescue Me” is one of the best Y&T songs from the album.
The LP has been lauded by critics for featuring some of the most energetic releases by the band. Dave Meniketti played the lead vocals role in all songs except in one song, which was handled by Phil Kennemore. Earthshaker had its name inspired by the band’s single “Earthshaker,” featured on the band’s eponymous debut album. The new album failed to take Y&T to its desired levels of success.
Y&T would later try again in 1982 with a fourth LP release, Black Tiger, issued through A&M Records. Black Tiger was produced by the legendary rock and metal producer Max Norman. Max Norman is best known for his magnificent work with other artists/acts, including Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, The Tubes, Randy Rhoads, Bad Company, Savatage, and Dangerous Toys. “Forever” and “Open Fire” are some of the best releases from Black Tiger. However, critics gave some negative remarks about the nine-track LP citing inconsistent songwriting.
The year 1983 was a more positive year for the band having it manage to rise to the Billboard 200, thanks to Mean Streak. Mean Streak marked the band’s fifth album release and third LP issued through A&M Records. The album saw Y&T add some glam metal influences to its hard rock/heavy metal sonic vibes.
Main Streak peaked at number one hundred and three on the Billboard 200, rising to number twenty-six on the Swedish Albums Chart. “Midnight in Tokyo,” “Mean Streak,” and “Sentimental Fool” are some of the best Y&T songs from the LP. Dave Meniketti handled all the band’s lead vocals roles, while Joey Alves and Phil Kennemore added their backing vocals to the tracks in the LP.
Y&T’s Album Releases over the Years
Y&T achieved even bigger success on the Billboard 200 with its sixth LP release, In Rock We Trust. In Rock We Trust is the band’s highest-charting album, peaking at number forty-six on the Billboard 200. “Lipstick and Leather” is one of the best Y&T songs from In Rock We Trust. In Rock We Trust also saw Y&T deliver an amalgam of glam metal, heavy metal, and hard rock sounds.
In 1985, Y&T was back with its seventh LP, Down for the Count. Down for the Count also managed to rise to the Billboard 200, peaking at number ninety-one. The album is home to the band’s trademark hit “Summertime Girls.” “All American Boy” is yet another reputable hit from Y&T’s LP Down for the Count.
Y&T released its eighth studio album, Contagious, in 1987. Contagious marked yet another album by the band to chart on the Billboard 200, peaking at number seventy-eight. The album was also the first album by the band to feature a different lineup, with heavy metal drummer Jimmy DeGrasso replacing Leonard Haze. The nine-track album also made it to the Swedish Albums chart, peaking at number twenty-seven. “Temptation” and “Contagious” are some of the musical gems from Y&T’s eighth LP.
Later in 1990, Y&T released its ninth LP, Ten. Ten was issued through Geffen Records after the band cut ties with A&M Records. Once more, the band was facing some lineup changes, with rhythm guitarist Joey Alves replaced by Stef Burns. Jimmy DeGrasso shared the drumming roles with Steve Smith.
Ten managed to rise to number one hundred and ten on the Billboard 200. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is one of the best Y&T songs from the album. Music on Ten saw the band take on some pop-metal sonic vibes. This was a slight departure from the band’s usual amalgam of hard rock and heavy metal. After the release of Ten, the band went on hiatus.
Y&T would later come together in 1995, releasing its tenth LP, Musically Incorrect. Musically Incorrect was issued through the Music for Nations record label. Two years later, Y&T released yet another LP, Endangered Species, through the same label. Y&T went on a hiatus after the release of Endangered Species.
The band would later return in 2010 after more than a decade under hiatus with the LP Facemelter. Facemelter marked the last LP to feature Y&T’s bassist Phil who succumbed to cancer in 2011. Since then, the band has not made any other release. “I’m Coming Home” is one of the best Y&T songs from Facemelter.
Y&T’s Other Musical Pursuits
In 1986, Y&T was involved in a charity record, Hear ‘n Aid. Hear ‘n Aid featured forty heavy metal artists as organized by members of the Dio, which was led by former Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio. The charity record purpose was to raise money to aid Africans suffering from famine. Hear ‘n Aid peaked at number seventy-six in the Australian Kent Music Report.
Y&T’s Accolades and Legacy
Y&T doesn’t have any accolades to show for its magnificent career. Despite lacking any accolades and not taking a big share of the rock and roll spoils, Y&T was able to make a name for itself in the ‘70s. The band is, to date, best known for its awe-inspiring live performances. Open Fire, the band’s debut live album issued in 1985, saw the band rise to the seventieth spot on the Billboard 200. This proved how influential and coveted the band’s live performances remain to be at Y&T’s prime years. Here we present the ten best Y&T songs from a band that could have made it big in the rock and roll scene were it not for some bad luck, poor promotion, and bad timing of its releases.
# 10 – All American Boy
Opening our top 10 Y&T songs list is the jaunty hit “All American Boy.” The song is among the musical gems from the band’s seventh LP, Down for the Count. Unlike most of Y&T’s songs which feature hard rock and heavy metal sounds, “All American Boy” takes on some glam metal sonic vibes.
“All American Boy” is among the few Y&T that made it to the charts. The song peaked at number forty-eight on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Initially, the song was released in 1983 by Stan Bush. Stan Bush is best known for his one-hit-wonder “The Touch.”
# 9 – Lipstick and Leather
Who do you trust? It’s almost a cliché that most will say, “In God We Trust.” However, 1984 brought quite a powerful vibe for all rock music lovers, with Y&T ushering in their album, In Rock We Trust. And as great as the title was, the songs disappointed not, with one of the favorites from the album being the song “Lipstick and Leather.” It’s the power in the vocals and instrumentation that makes the song tower over many songs from Y&T’s 1984 album, In God We Trust. You might trust in rock music’s greatness after listening to this song performed in Y&T’s prime years.
# 8 – Contagious
Featured on their eighth album, Contagious, the song contagious offers you three minutes and twenty-one seconds of a catchy and “contagious” rock vibe that all Y&T reckon with. Thanks to Taylor Rhodes and Y&T band member Dave Meniketti for the sublime lyrical content that gives the song “Contagious” its greatness. The song starts with some great vigor from the band, backed with some perfectly played instruments. However, it’s the backing vocals that make this song stand out among Y&T songs.
# 7 – Mean Streak
The song “Mean Streak” is the first song in Y&T’s 1983 album, Mean Streak. The band’s song shows what results from the collaboration of a band’s members to write and perform a song. The collective streak yielded to one of the band’s best songs that fans can never seem to forget to date. You ought to love the vocals in the song as they tower over the instrumentation bringing a clear depiction of the vocal capabilities of the band’s lineup. And the guitar solos are just sublime!
# 6 – Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Even years after what would be termed to be the prime years for the Y&T, it is by no surprise that the band surprised many with their song “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” Featured in their 2017 album, 20 #1’s: Power Ballads, the song “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” proves that old is gold. The band Y&T brings on some vibe from the 70s back to life with this song. And thanks to the band’s frontman Dave Meniketti for the sublime vocals.
# 5 – Rescue Me
Taking us back to the eighties is Y&T’s song “Rescue Me.” Coming from the band’s 1985 album, Open Fire, the song “Rescue Me” brings on Dave as the perfect frontman for the band. What could you possibly say of a man whose guitar skills are so excellent with a voice feeling like it’s sent from heaven? Well, this man is no other than Dave to whom the greatness of this song is credited!
# 4 – Don’t Stop Runnin’
What happens when a man loses what he possesses in this context, material things? To many, the answer is that he is quite prone to receiving a heartbreak from the fiancée, who he adored. Well, I can’t be sure since every situation can be judged best by those in it. In this song, the persona seems to have suffered heartbreak with the past lover who left after he had lost all he held in the palm of his hand. Men can always redefine themselves after a fall and do did the persona. And now that he did, the girl now comes running back. However, the persona says that she better keep running because she can barely get hold of him.
# 3 – Forever
Featured on Y&T’s 1982 album, Black Tiger, the song “Forever” proves that Y&T is among the most underrated bands. You can almost feel that it is such a crime that the band failed to become superstars in their time. From a great intro to a perfect chorus where the backing vocals adds to Dave’s great vocals, everything about the song proves that Y&T were true rock stars.
# 2 – I’m Coming Home
While there might be quite a number of songs by the title “I’m Coming Home,” Y&T released their version of the famous song title, which impressed their fans by far. Featured in their 2010 album, Facemelter, the song “I’m Coming Home” brings on the best of the band’s vocals and skills on the instrumentation, giving them the bragging rights of some of the best rock performers. It is the guitar, to be specific, that gives this song some sparkle that only a few songs can ever match up.
# 1 – Summertime Girls
Released on their seventh studio album, Open Fire, the song “Summertime Girls” is by far the best song from the Y&T band. It would also be featured on their album, Down for the Count. And in the charts, you have to admit that the song performed quite well, being the band’s best performing song on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 55. On the US Mainstream Rock Chart, the song would attain a peak position of number 16. All credit to the rocking performance by the band and great production by the record label A&M Records.