11:24 p.m. - October 28, 2006
This time I’m previewing four sets for five people -one is a combo set given to two different Michganders – plus two New England mothers of children big and small, and a fellow Scorp’s birthday set. The people may know they’re getting mixes (ok, they really DO know) but they don’t know which of these songs they will get. Because that’s how I roll.
Anyway, shall we explore the goodness of the Smed tunes? We shall, we shall. And since there are 5 people involved, I’m going for 25 tunes in this exploration.
1. It’s So Easy – Buddy Holly. Many people of my generation take Buddy Holly for granted, I think. His music was always around and you could hear it in movies and on televisions retrospectives, but really the depth and breadth of his music is pretty amazing, especially considering he wasn’t recording for that long of a time. And the songs are pretty spiffy too. A lot of people would give their right eyeball (among other things) to write just one song like “It’s So Easy” and he’s got a whole catalog of ‘em.
2. Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) – The Delfonics. It’s always great to hear a classic slow 70’s soul jam, with lush arrangements and from-the-heart vocals. This one has some tricks up its sleeve, with an electric sitar, the use of a glockenspiel, and some unique vocal harmonies in the chorus (at least I think they’re unique). It’s definitely one to listen to you sweetie with, whoever that may be.
3. Little Lover’s So Polite – Silverspun Pickups. A refreshing discovery that I read about in Rolling Stone, the Pickups do channel a bit of the Smashing Pumpkins without being a total copy, nor being narcissistical fools. I need to explore more of the Carnavas album but I love what I hear thus far.
4. What You’re Doing – The Beatles. The first Beatle album I ever heard was Beatles VI, an American album taken from left over tracks of Beatles For Sale and Help! for the most part. This was the opening track on one of the sides, and I always thought it was a strong song. It has a unique opening with Ringo pounding a hard, steady beat and an interesting piano solo in the middle eight.
5. Off The Record – My Morning Jacket. I don’t know if they intentionally copped the lick from “Hawaii 5-0” or not, but they put it to very good use. The more I listen to this, the more I marvel at how well the song is constructed, and how the disparate parts really fit together.
6. Pretty Solvent – Arson Garden. A late, great, Indianapolis band that I’ve written about a lot in this spot. Maybe, maybe, this will get out and they will reunite. I may be about the only one who still gives a hoot about them, so perhaps if enough people hear their stuff they will live on, somehow.
7. …Baby One More Time – Fountains Of Wayne. Um, yeah, it’s THAT song, done by a group of merry pranksters from New Jersey. Actually, when you do it like they do it, it’s a pretty darn decent song (I can’t believe I’m saying that). But they’re not in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms, and for that we’re all thankful.
8. Hocus Pocus – Focus. Um, yeah. For some God-forsaken reason, this was a big hit back in 1973 (I think it was the residual drugs, to be honest). It’s basically a showpiece for the guitar wizardry of Jan Akkerman, even though Thjis van Leer yodels all over the place. Yes, I said yodels. No, I’m not kidding. Hey, go find this and then tell me that I’m a liar. I dare ya, punk.
9. You Wanna Get Me High – The Donnas. Oh, it’s a typical song by the Donnas. And what is a typical Donnas’ song? Well, simple and out front guitar riffs, double tracked vocals with lyrics about boys, sex, drugs and rock and roll in some combination. But this one has some cowbell in it. Yeah, cowbell!
10. Wake The World – The Beach Boys. The Friendsalbum had a bunch of quirky little songs, and by little, I mean short. This is barely 1:30, but it’s well worth it. It’s a gentle tune, featuring Al Jardine on lead, with a nice melody, and then when the chorus comes up the arrangement is neat, featuring all of the Beach Boys save Mike Love (who was in India at the time) and there’s a tuba. Hey, rock and roll with a tuba.
11. Modern Love Is Automatic – A Flock Of Seagulls. If people would have stopped concentrating on the hair and more on the music, they may have had a little more cache and a longer career. OK, maybe not, since they didn’t really write a lot of good songs after the debut. But still, this is a keeper.
12. Touch Too Much – AC/DC. Ah, yes, proper AC/DC, with Bon Scott. (Wait, did you just say ‘proper’ AC/DC, Smed? Like Angus and Malcolm Young would be having tea and scones with all the proper accoutrements. Right!) This is an underrated cut from Highway To Hell that fills their requirement of at least one song about a promiscuous woman per album.
13. Bastard – Ben Folds. Solo Ben Folds is much like his work with the Ben Folds Five, except he doesn’t quite have to fit into the trio format on a lot of songs. This one has a nice little horn line, but most of the other requisite Ben Folds touchstones are here.
14. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get – The Dramatics. Another slice of old-school 70’s with great singing, a great arrangement, and insightful social commentary if you care to listen to the lyrics. There’s an interesting fuzz guitar part that’s kind of hidden unless you search for it. The groove is great, and horn charts with the bass and drums after the chorus are first rate. Just a great old jam.
15. Friends – The Beach Boys. This one could really be a theme song to a 60’s TV sitcom, with its bass harmonica and arrangement. The singing is first rate, as always, and it’s a positive, upbeat, uplifting song in a waltz tempo. It’s no wonder that it stiffed in 1968, at it was totally anachronous to the times.
16. Mindrocker – Fenwyck. Yeah, man. Far out. A trippy hippy dippy tune with a pulsing tone, psychedelic vocals, swirling guitar solos, weird production effects, and just an air of, well, substances and love and peace and candles and hugging and sugar cubes and that whole thing.
17. Deliver Me – Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Randolph is a wunderkind on the pedal steel guitar. He originally came from a background of playing all church and gospel songs, but now he’s broken into the secular market and has arranged a funky backing band. On their latest release, they’ve moved past some rote licks and moves and have forged a sound of their own in a funk / soul / blues motif. It’s tasty stuff!
18. Fear Is Never Boring – The Bears. Take a three piece bar band from Ohio, add in guitar master Adrian Belew after Zappa and a stint with King Crimson, and you get the Bears, who recorded two albums in the late 80’s. This was some fun stuff, and Belew and the band sounded like they fit together really well. I do believe they have reunited, after the trio played together as the Raisings and the psychodots for a while.
19. One Chord Wonders – The Adverts. First wave, old old school, punk rock from the UK, circa 1977. You know, I did count more than one chord in this song, though it’s not many more than three or four. And that’s just dandy. The drums are pounding, the recording flutters in and out, the guitars press onward, the bass is throbbing, and the wankers don’t care.
20. Show And Tell – Al Wilson. Ah, yes, some more old school 70’s soul. You know, for some odd reason, this was included on a Dick Clark “Twenty Years Of Rock And Roll” collection released in 1973, which had rock and roll starting with “Crying In The Chapel” by the Orioles in 1953 (which was really an old school R & B slow one). And this wasn’t THAT popular, though it’s a heck of a song, and it’s not rock and roll, either. But I think Clark owned the record company or had an in for licensing, because it was there.
21. Chips Ahoy – The Hold Steady. Oh, my goodness! What goodness here! Sure, it’s a song with an odd subject matter – with girls that are clairvoyant about horse racing results and all. The organ is right and just and good, the guitar work is spot on and the song just works! Everyone MUST run out and buy this record. Buy it now! And it asks the eternal question, “How am I supposed to know that you’re high if you won’t even dance?” Well? How?
22. Dreaming – The Paul Collins Beat. For their second record, they changed from taut power pop to songs that were a bit more lengthy and sprawling, but still retained a lot of elements that made their first release delectable. Of course, since only about 98 people bought the first record and cared, not many people noticed. But songs like this show that ignorance was not bliss, not at all. The bass part is interesting (slung low like I like it) and there is good drumming and good harmonies. And right now, Ms. Designerchica, I’m playing AIR GUITAR, because the solo is just that good! Ah, Saturday night bliss!
23. Face Of Wood – Modern English. They do NOT have just one good song. They have “I Melt With You” and this moody little number that has always intrigued me, though it takes a long time to get going. I really like the transition between the long intro and the verse, and the changes in the first few bars of the verse – the way the snare drum stands out. Too geeky? Ah, it’s a good tune.
24. Only One Winner- The Nazz. It’s a crying shame that this song was foisted on Nazz III , released after the band had split and Todd Rundgren had already started a solo career. Of course, being the Nazz, Rundgren didn’t sing the lead vocals. Actually, this time because Stewkey erased Rundgren’s lead vocal. But this is a tremendous song, no matter who is singing it, and an American Idol contestant would serve himself well to resurrect it. Heck, anyone who can sing a medium slow love ballad that doesn’t want to overemote can sing this thing and sing it well.
25. The Christian Life – The Louvin Brothers. Now, I am going to church more and more, but I’m not one that throws the Bible around and preaches. I like this song because of the harmonies. Just listen to the harmonies. They enthrall you and do fill you with the spirit of music. Even the Wiccans of the group would say so.
Well, there you go. Who gets what songs? And don’t cha wish you had a mix God like me? Well, play your cards right! Heh.