8:00 a.m. - September 13, 2006
Before we resume the countdown, here is a long distance dedication:
Thirteen years ago I was in love with a very handsome boy in my school, and he treated me right. However, my father forbade us from seeing each other, because he was from the wrong side of the street. I reluctantly obeyed my father and cut Chuck out of my life. Over the years, I have been in a few relationships but nothing could match the magic I felt with Chuck. Smed, I’ve recently found him again, and am thinking of going to see him soon. But I want to send a song out to him that was always one of our special songs. Smed, could you play “Desperado” by the Eagles. Yours, Kara.
Dear Kara - mmmmm…no
Let’s get back to the countdown!
20. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks. Ah, a band you are familiar with, hah! Yes, I was telling someone that these 20 will blend familiar with the obscure, because why give mix CDs to someone that has all of the songs on them? That defeats the purpose. This song is one of the Kinks all time best ones, but sadly it was released in a time when they had little commercial prospects in the States because of various and sundry issues. Still, there are a horde of great Kinks albums from the late 60’s to pick up and enjoy, and I recommend them highly.
19. Forever Lost – The Magic Numbers. Almost pert near contemporary, this one! Released in the States in 2005, this is pretty much a perfect pop single. A great melody, neat harmonies, and a cool retro-esque sound. I don’t think the rest of the record is up to this peak, but this is joyful and fun, and that’s all you need for a cool single.
18. Goin’ Back – The Byrds. Long time readers know that I posted a whole essay on the grandeur that is The Byrds, and this is personally one of my favorite cuts of all time by any artist, not just the Byrds. Recorded during a period of band crisis, as David Crosby refused to play on the song, and Michael Clarke was replaced with a session drummer, this gentle song belies those issues. The harmonies from Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman are impeccable and the arrangement is stunning, with great guitar work from future Byrd Clarence White. This was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and should have been a big hit by SOMEONE!
17. Somebody Told Me – The Killers. Well, raise my rent. Smed has a song on this list that people have actually heard, and bought, and enjoyed. Well, at least some of youse did. Why, Smed, why? Well, it’s simple. It spoke to me, and I dug it. So there.
16. Do You Wanna Hit It? – The Donnas. Leave it to the Donnas to cut RIGHT to the chase. Well, do ya? Do ya? I tell you what, four hot chicks spewing rock and roll like this is pert near irresistible.
15. Amsterdam – Guster. A favorite among the more plugged in crowd, this song by Guster is another example of a perfect pop single. I haven’t been floored by anything else that they’ve done, but this is pretty darn splendiferous.
14. Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney. An outstanding song from a band that’s sadly passing away before our eyes, this was a crucial piece of rock and roll that got me through a crazy summer of 2005 around when Kristin was born. Some may call some of their stuff a bit preachy, perhaps overwrought and heavy handed, and lacking finesse or subtlety, but the heck with the critics. They were a powerful voice in rock and roll, and will be missed.
13. Crazy – Pylon. Michael Stipe has stated that Pylon were one of R. E. M.’s biggest influences, and well, OK, but they’re nothing like R. E. M. They actually are a demented twisted version of the Gang of Four, with a vocalist (Vanessa Briscoe-Hay) that sometimes sounds like her vocal cords were replaced by a cat in heat. And sure, some of the lyrics don’t quite make sense in a linear manner, but linearity’s for fools! Get non-Euclidian, both in life AND in music! This is just a wicked cool song that needs to be played and heard as often as possible.
12. Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass – Buck Owens. Hee-haw Buck Owens? Oh, yeah. The reason I pick this a lot is not only the goofy sentiment and lyrics (“Who’s going to jump, when you say ‘FROG!’”) but the fact that it has a bad-ass fuzz guitar as the main riff, and it caused a lot of country music blue hairs panic attacks when they heard it. Darn it all.
11. Loved One’s Lies – The Jupiter Affect. Well, it’s NOT the Three O’Clock, but it is Michael Quercio, and well, since he was the leader of that band, there are a lot of similarities. And it doesn’t sound like much time has passed either from one band to the next, even though it is almost 20 years between them. This has a great riff, a neat melody and just a hint of edginess.
10. Vanishing Girl – The Dukes of Stratosphear. Sure, everyone knows it’s XTC in disguise. Oh, you didn’t? Sorry. But it’s a great piece of songcraft, with a delightful tune and the right blend of 60’s and 80’s. It should have been a big hit, but of course, if I ruled the world, it would have been.
9. Help You Ann – The Lyres. I got this on a Children of Nuggets collection, documenting songs by bands influenced by the garage bands, and this cut really leapt out at me. It’s a dazzling song with high, high energy and a manic vocal. I love the drumming as well. Oh, and I love the farfisa, and the neat guitar work Well, heck, I just love it. You will be guaranteed to bop around until you drop!
8. Happiness – The Anita Kerr Singers. A pleasant piece of pop piffle from the 60s, relatively unheard and unknown in its time or any time, this came to me via a Nuggets collection on Rhino Handmade. And it hooked me, line and sinker, with its pleasant pop craft and the whitest singing known to mankind.
7. Oblivious – Aztec Camera. A tremendous pop song from the 80s, this shows remarkably mature songwriting and sentiments, and it came from Roddy Frame, who was a precocious 18 years old when he wrote it. This was big in the UK, and deserved more of a listen here than it got. But go find it and you can start to correct that issue.
6. You Won’t Be Happy – The Paul Collins Beat. Smart, energetic LA power popsters fought a losing battle on several fronts. First, they were originally “The Beat” and of course there was an English two-tone band called “The Beat”, so Collins had to tack on his name to the band name to avoid confusion. Secondly, his brand of power pop was a bit early for the times with the nation still in the throes of disco-mania, and by the time his second record was released it was a bit too late. Timing, the key to life. Anyway, this cooks, so go dig it.
5. Goodbye June Fool – Madder Rose. This is a sultry, mysterious song featuring fantastic wah-wah guitar work, excellent interplay between the bass and the drums, and weary vocals from Mary Lorson. The guitarist wrote the song, and he’s a guy, so I’m still trying to figure out if they just didn’t change the gender, or if it is supposed to be a lesbian love that Lorson is singing about. Hmmmm….
4. Wasn’t Born To Follow – The Byrds. I often say this is my theme song. It was used with effectiveness in Easy Rider and it’s a perfect psychedelic pop song from the Goffin / King writing duo. It’s a bit hippy-dippy, sure, but it has a timeless message that needs to be heard.
3. Nobody Knows – The Raspberries. I think I’ve spewed a lot of bits and bytes on this already, so I won’t say much more other than go seek it out, ye lovers of rock and pop and just good tuneage.
2. This Whole World – The Beach Boys. Pet Sounds is THE best album of all time, and I’ll expound upon that on Friday, but this is the pinnacle of Brian Wilson’s post-Smile career. It’s an impeccable song with great singing, as you would expect, and fantastic production. When the music clears away, and Brian hits that high note before Carl cuts back in with the lead, you will weep tears of joy.
1. Blue Letter – Fleetwood Mac. This inspired its own entry, which I won’t link to because I know I’ve written better about it and other things. Of all of the songs on Fleetwood Mac, the first album with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, this stands out to me even though it was never a single. It’s perfect, just perfect.