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10:16 p.m. - January 27, 2007
25 Shy Tunes - And Don't It Make You Feel Good?
Preface: The first time I tried to write this, it was on the airplane to Philly and the laptop keyboard is a bit hinky-dinky-doo, so after four songs, it ate the essay. And since the iPod was on random on a playlist, I can’t recreate it. So, the magic of those words are gone forever. Sigh. Anyway…I’m writing this in my hotel room in Philadelphia to pass the time. An exciting life as a business traveler, eh? It’s Saturday night, in a big city, and I’m too flippin’ tired to go out and do ANYTHING. Yeesh.

(Having a preface makes it sound important, don’t it? Heh…)

You know I have a lot of tunes on my iPod. And I talk about it quite a bit. (Note: I almost typed ‘a lot’ and even though I KNOW it’s two words, my English teacher in high school would fail us if we spelled it ‘alot’ on anything we wrote, so I avoid it as much as possible. It’s sloppy and easy. Just like using the word ‘very’. Here endeth grammar snob, 2007)

But there are songs that have fallen through the cracks. Ones that I didn’t deem mix worthy back when I had a space issue on my old iPod, but now have no issues with the new iPod. So, I’ve been reviewing these tunes and moving them into see if they are mix-worthy or not, and here is a sampling of those songs that I now deem “mix-worthy”.

So don’t be surprised if they come to a mix collection near you!

1. Behind The Crooked Cross – Slayer. Ok, we start out with a tune that I will be judicious in deciding who gets this great slab o’ metal riffage. I realize Slayer’s not for everyone. The wimps will just have to suffer. Actually, when you boil it down, this is just some great rock-and-roll, a bit heavy and amped up, sure, but you know, it kicks the living heck out of those ‘hair bands’ from the 80’s. I think Warrant would run in fear from Slayer.

2. Stained Class – Judas Priest. OK, Mr. Random iPod is saying this should be a metal essay, I guess. So Smash and Eve are digging this. This was the title track to the fourth Priest album, and yes, this was the album that those kids in Utah listened to before they decided to try to kill themselves, and their parents sued Judas Priest and we got to see them all in suits and all. And K. K. Downing doesn’t look right in a suit. Oh, the song. Well, it’s typical early-to-mid period Judas Priest, so it’s got good riffs, tasteful solos, and Rob Halford doing what Rob Halford does. In leather…of course. Heh. (BTW – I have my big headphones on, because they really cut down the noise in the plane. But they look like ‘cans’ that pros use in the studios. So, of course I’ve been doing my Rob Halford impersonation in the bathroom mirror with the ‘cans’ on.)

3. Leave You Behind - Sleater / Kinney. From All Hands On The Bad One this is rather a mellow cut from them, and it’s rather pretty as well. They used to be known as just a loud band that shouted slogans from the mountain top, but as they moved along, they made cuts like this which were just as powerful in their quietness.

4. Tenement Funster – Queen. Novices think that only Freddy Mercury was the voice of Queen. In fact, all four members wrote, and Brian May and Roger Taylor both sang lead on several tracks. This is one for Taylor, off of the Sheer Heart Attack album. They have some interesting production tricks and the playing is top notch.

5. Animated Airplanes Over Germany – Superchunk. I’m a Superchunk loyalist, but I haven’t been that keen on a lot of the newer stuff. It seems more dense, and quieter, and not exactly why I like Superchunk. However, they do still do quality work and this has the riffs and the power, but also shows a ‘sensitive’ side that the earlier stuff lacked.

6. Dance, Dance, Dance – Chic. Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah! What a great groove. Say what you will about disco – the good disco is just good music.

7. Kicked In – Superchunk. Yep, it’s random. Another Superchunk song, but this is a bit earlier and has more of the punky sheen to it. It’s a slower one, and kind of creeps along stalking its prey before killing you with a sonic assault.

8. Anonymus – Focus. As mentioned earlier, Focus was definitely prog-rock. This covers the gamut, with a horn based intro, and riffs trading off between Jan Akkerman’s guitar and Thjis van Leer’s flute, organ, and piano. It’s kind of neat, really. It settles into a groove and rocks out. But oh, so, arty!

9. Drag City – Jan And Dean. You know, this iPod automatically pauses when it senses the headphones yanking from the unit, because it just fell on the floor. Oh, about this song. Well, it’s not “Surf City”, it’s “Drag City”. And it’s basically the same thing, except it’s about cars instead of surfing. Got it?

10. Little Honda – Yo La Tengo. A noisy 90’s trio covering a classic Beach Boys song in a lazy, distorted way? Sure, why not!

11. Bottoms Up! – Van Halen. Oh, yeah, baby! Classic stuff from the boys when David Lee Roth was in control and the band was just loosy-goosy and going with the flow. Sounds great on cassette, on record, on CD, wherever. It reminds me of driving around Montgomery County with Moose doing God-knows what. C’mon mon mon mon mon baby….

12. It’s No Secret – Jefferson Airplane. Wow, this is old. How old? It’s before Grace Slick joined the band old. Way back in the day, this was a bunch of folkies with a blues guitarist, and Marty Balin was the leader. Signe Anderson was the female counterpoint, and the tunes were nice enough, and interesting. Grace Slick added something, sure, but they made some good music before then.

13. Detroit Breakdown – J. Geils Band. The hits were really few and far between, except at the end, but they were a darn good band for about 13 years or so. They had a good grove, and always put on a great show. Sure, it wasn’t rocket science, but it was rock and roll. This is the opening track from Nightmares…and Other Tales Of The Vinyl Jungle which is a fine record, indeed.

14. Every Day With You Girl – The Classics IV. It’s the FOURTH appearance of the famous guitar line that was also in “Spooky”, “Stormy”, and “Traces”, but it’s still a great mellow tune that you can karaoke to. Or make out to. Or other things…

15. Heartbeat – Buddy Holly. Why do you miss when my baby kisses me? Why? Why don’t more people understand how great he was? Why?

16. Quality Of Armor – Guided By Voices. An early cut off of Propeller, this basically is GBV in a nutshell. Great melody and hook, dense production because they had to record on a 4-track or 2-track or whatever Bob Pollard had at the time. But it’s still awesome, and in the shower, you will sing “Oh, yeah, going to drive my car. Oh, yeah, going to go real far.”

17. Nervous And Shaky – Del Fuegos. A lot of critics were all over them in the 80’s, but when I listened to them in the aughts, they didn’t seem to be worth ALL of that hoopla. Some hoopla, sure, like this song, but not ALL of that hoopla. But now, Dan Zanes is making music for kidlets the world over, and at that, he is deserving of the hoopla. Eat that, Raffi!

18. Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Elvis Presley. Well, this kind of like started that whole rock and roll thing, so you know it may be important or something. (Note: of course, there is a great debate on the FIRST rock and roll song, but Elvis’ Sun stuff is right on the edge of the Genesis. Perhaps he was Enos in the whole scheme of things…ok now everyone’s gotta reach for The Book of Genesis. Heh.)

19. My Mind’s Eye – The Small Faces. Oh, my, it’s hippy dippy stuff. Yeah, so what. The melody is great and all, and the bass line is fab. And those Nehru jackets, I think they’ll catch on!

20. Hard To Laugh – The Pursuit Of Happiness. They made a series of interesting power-pop albums in the 80’s and 90’s. Worshiping at the feet of Todd Rundgren, Moe Berg tried in vain to get the public to bite into tasteful hooks and harmonies during a time of hair bands. Sometimes the lyrics make you cringe (but not here), but it rocks. And the bass line here is tree-mendous. I love it down low. (Perv – stop that…)

21. Tommy The Cat – Primus. I used to be all about the Primus, but over time I realized that they have some flaws. However, they still have a lot of music of quality and distinction, and this is one. This cut is live off of the Rhinoplasty EP, which proves that Les Claypool can play all of that stuff on the bass, and that they’re pretty dandy live. Liz and I saw them at Lollapalooza back when we were young and…cool.

22. Satisfied – Bettie Serveet. They were alterna-darlings in the early 90’s, but Private Suit is their best record. It’s a lot more adult a lot more put together, and still has the sultry smokin’ vocals of Carol van Dijk. Go get THIS RECORD while you can.

23. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel. The only reason I don’t put this on mixes is because I don’t want the recipient to think I’m John Cusack standing outside the house holding up a boom box for days upon end.

24. Talk About The Passion – R. E. M. – Boy, you know, back in the day they could do no wrong. The guitar work by Peter Buck here is just tremendous, and Michael Stipe’s vocals and almost clear diction (which was an oddity for that era) really take this song home. And the cello in there? Genius. (That could be a great album title – “The Cello In There”. Make a note…)

25. Spellbound – The Smithereens. I’ve always been a big fan of them, because Pat DiNizio always wrote from the heart and the band really was together and focused on what they wanted to do. I think with their last project, a reverent cover of Meet The Beatles they’ve lost focus of why people love the Smithereens. But anyway, this song is just so good, doggone it. It’s a mellow love-type song, with a little bit of a creepy edge.

And there you go – 25 tracks that may or may not be on a mix coming soon to a theater near you. Or CD player. Or whatever. It’s late. Goodnight.

 

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