10:49 a.m. - August 29, 2006
Time to get BACK on the horse and start making mix CDs again! I feel bad that I stopped and haven’t done some in a while, especially when people asked about being on my list, but then others have said they were sending me mixes and haven’t, and I totally understand life and all that gets in the way of fun.
So, the first recipient is someone who sent ME mixes, with no prompting. It’s the wonderful Sally, who had some fab choices on her mix.
I must reciprocate, so here is a sneak preview. I have 11,497 songs on the iPod. I’ll probably make her between 4 and 6 CDs. Here are 20 songs that are in heavy consideration. And no, if you haven’t heard of ANY of them, it’s OK. Go explore!
1. Bare Trees – Fleetwood Mac. Everyone remembers the later period Fleetwood Mac with ALL of the hits, and cocaine. Oh, and some Lindsey Buckingham weirdness. Guitar freaks and blues hounds know all about the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. Well, this era of the Mac is in the middle, seemingly forgotten and unloved. Yes, they made a series of albums that were OK, so-so, and blah. But Bare Trees is a fine record, and the title track is pretty nifty! This may be the best song Danny Kirwan ever came up with, and it really should have been a staple on some radio station, somewhere.
2. High Fidelity – Elvis Costello. From the Get Happy!! album, which was a great value on vinyl (I think it was 20 tracks) and a fitting tribute to soul and R & B. It showed Costello was trying to reach beyond his angry young man persona and expand his music horizons.
3. Sorry – The Easybeats. I don’t care if it WAS recorded in 1966; it’s still great rock-and-roll and sounds fantabulous to this day. Good music is timeless, peeps, and you don’t need all the whiz-bang doo-dads to make it sound great. This sounds fresh, alive, and organic, unlike some of the sounds of today, which sometimes are highly processed and filtered and sterile.
4. Ma and Pa – Fishbone. A fun, yet inconsistent band, Fishbone mixed ska and funk and a bit of punk rock freneticism into a delicious stew. They were socially aware and spoke from the heart. This cut from the great Truth And Soul album, the high point of their career.
5. Cry, Cry, Cry – Johnny Cash. He was a Sun Records artist, along with Elvis and Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins. What an era! This was rockabilly, and his first A-side on Sun. Luther Perkins cuts a familiar guitar figure, and Johnny sings about some woman who done him wrong, and starts him down the path that we know today.
6. Hollow Man – the Cult. The Cult’s early years are a bit confusing, with name changes and albums that were not released in the States. Love, I believe, was the first record by them to be released in the U.S. and it’s a record that offers a mix of psychedelic guitar patterns combined with classic hard rock riffs from Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury’s vocal stylings (the way he sings “Yeah Yeah” is unique and classic). Of course, they changed directions a few times later in their career. If I had to cover ONE Cult song, for some reason, this would be the one. Ok, the bass line is easy, and if I ever learn, I want to cherry pick the easy ones. But the song rocks and kicks and swings, too, and that counts just as much.
7. My Dark Hour – Steve Miller Band. The reluctance of ‘classic rock’ radio to venture outside its norms is regrettable. Back in the late 60’s, FM Radio played a lot of Steve Miller Band albums, and this cut was featured heavily. It features Paul McCartney on drums, bass and backing vocals and it also shows that Miller not only copped licks from bluesmen, he copped licks from his own work later in his career, as this is the first incarnation of the “Fly Like An Eagle” main riff pattern. But unless you really wanted to explore, you’d never knew it existed.
8. New Religion – Duran Duran. Ok, I’ll admit it. Back in high school, I really loved the Rio album. Well, it sounded new and fresh and funky, and it really was. Then Duran Duran spit the bit and released a horrible (to my ears) album, and that was that. But this record? Fine and dandy. This was the first cut on side two, featuring a great bass line, cool atmospherics and Simon LeBon sings pretty well even if it’s a lot of gobbledygook.
9. She’s A Runaway – The BoDeans. Yeah, they at first gave each other the last name BoDean. That gimmick was done. Yeah, later they did some OK stuff, and somehow lucked into a TV theme song, but their first record was pretty fine, since it was an antidote to a lot of the slick synthy stuff of the 80’s. This is a familiar tune and story, but it’s done well.
10. Love’s My Only Crime – The Laughing Hyenas. Not everything in life is pretty. Sometimes things are just downright ugly. This song, this band, this whole thing, is skuzzy. A crack rhythm section, shards of guitar from Larissa Strickland set the backbone of the song, but you-have-to-hear-them-to-believe-them-vocals by John Brannon color the song, and they paint a dark, disturbing, grubby picture. Yes, they have a MySpace page. I’d recommend “Blackeyed Susan” from that.
11. Eva Braun – John Strohm. The former guitarist in Blake Babies and leader of Antenna, Strohm recorded a few solo albums here in Indiana in the mid 90’s. This is an entertaining song, if not a bit twisted. I mean, what other song mentions Eva Braun AND Rosie Grier. Pass the needlepoint!
12. Make A Scene – Chris Bell. The former co-leader of Big Star with Alex Chilton didn’t have much of a solo career – his only album was released posthumously. But it could have been a power pop classic, full of great melodies and arrangements. Some of the production needed help, but I’m sure if it was readied for release it would have been fixed up.
13. Her Head’s Revolving – The Three O’Clock. They were twee figures, all dressed up in paisley and ruffles and evoking a different time and place, and their music (part of the “Paisley Underground” in LA) also was a throwback, with some punk elements mixed in early on. However, this is a bit anomalous, as it has a killer guitar riff from Gregg Gutierrez to add to the discussion. It was a single, it was on MTV, it didn’t sell, and that’s too bad.
14. I Felt Like A Gringo – The Minutemen. They were one of the most important bands in the LA scene in the 80s. Not really punk rock, but they were punk rock, ya dig? They did what they wanted to, sang what they wanted to (rhyming was for fools, you know), played in about 29,104 styles and was the soul and conscience of a scene that needed one. It all ended too suddenly with D. Boon’s death in a car crash, not two weeks after I saw them open up for REM.
15. Back In Flesh – Wall of Voodoo. They were a one hit wonder, sure, and a lot of their stuff is just mediocre past that hit. This one, though, is not. It was the opening song, if I recall, from the movie Urgh! A Music War, a fascinating document of the various and sundry styles of post punk in 1980 and 1981. It’s a sparse, minimalist sound that features unique percussion and interesting keyboard arpeggios. Hmm…familiar.
16. Planet Of Sound – The Pixies. Oh, man, crank this mother up. Kim Deal’s bass is thick, heavy and low and Joey Santiago cranks out the metal riffs. Black Francis is still Black Francis, so it’s not exactly a linear tune, of course. But this is a song that you need to bleed your eardrums while playing.
17. The Real Me – the Who. The Who always tried to make their albums grand events, going back to The Who Sell Out, but even to them Quadrophenia was a reach, as it told a too complicated story in too short a time, which didn’t allow the Who to do what they did best – make rock and roll songs that are memorable. This is an exception from that record (there are some others), featuring a kick-ass bass line from John Entwhistle, the Who’s secret weapon.
18. Looking For Clues – Robert Palmer. Before he became a video maven on MTV, he was a struggling artist that had a couple of hits, and some interesting flops in the States, like this one. The video was played a lot on MTV in the early days, and it was clever and inventive, like the song itself. It is MILES away from stuff like “Addicted To Love”, though, and that’s probably a good thing.
19. Why Does The Sun Shine – They Might Be Giants. The sun is mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace. Oh, what a trip! They take a song from an old science record, and make it their own.
20. That’s Entertainment – The Jam. The Jam had it all. It had the ferocity of punk, the homage to their idols, the brilliant writing, the energy, the diverse influences, the ability to grow and change with the times, and above all, a FEELING that is sorely lacking at times nowadays. Too Anglo-centric to be big stars here, I think they broke up at the right time even though it was traumatic for many people in the UK. Their recorded legacy will live on – go seek it out.
Well, that’s it. Those are twenty great and diverse tunes that may be headed to Sally soon. YOU could be next, if you’re on the list! And yes, I DO have songs recorded in this century on my iPod. It’s just that the random feature didn’t pop them up.