1:27 p.m. - June 05, 2007
Oh, I dunno. Follow the first rule of Smed. When in doubt, write about tunes.
But first a question – where have all of the harmonicas gone? I’ll give you time to answer that.
Right now I have a mix of 5 CDs sitting there. The songs are segregated but I haven’t put them in order yet, nor do I know who exactly I will give them to. I may just let everyone have a shot at ‘em.
(BTW – coming soon is your chance to get some mixes I’ve already done – with no guarantee of quality except that they’re from me. Stay tuned!)
So let’s discuss these mixes, shall we? Here are 5 songs from each mix.
2. Play The Hits – Hal. This is a tuneful little thing about…well…playing hits on the radio so the girls will swoon. You know, that happened to me when I was a DJ on super CVL, except they really weren’t hits, per se, and the ‘fan club’ I had were all sixth graders. Um, gee thanks. This is an Irish band with sweet harmonies and a knack for a melody.
3. It Dawned On Me – Calla. Part of my project brought a lot of songs that I had buried on mix CDs that people sent to me out into the forefront. This is one of them that I rather much dismissed on first hearing, but got a second chance. (They all got a second chance.) It’s moody and tuneful and has a lot of good things going for it. Enjoy, whoever gets it! Enjoy!
4. Flash Lightning – Papas Fritas. Not only is it an inspired name, it’s also an inspired story of, well, something. They really didn’t take their music too seriously, but did tour a bit. They had a charming sound that really sounds like they’re out there just having fun. Oh, and one song became the music for a Dentyne Ice commercial. That helps the bank account.
5. True – Concrete Blonde. I’m going to angry up some people, but I’ve never really been much of a fan of Concrete Blonde. Their debut record had some good songs, but I always thought that they were a bit pretentious at times, and then they got that hit and all of a sudden you HAD to like them if you were a hipster. Well, I don’t cotton to that peer pressure. This is a good tune, though.
6. Song #1 – Fugazi. At times, this band can be a bit over-earnest and over-zealous. But I guess without those qualities then there wouldn’t be much point to it, would there? Certainly Ian MacKaye has never been one to quash his feelings. Unlike Minor Threat, I can listen to an entire Fugazi album in one sitting. This is one just to crank up as loud as you can and thrash about the room.
7. He Got Himself A Young Girl (And He Can’t Keep Up) – The Long Ryders. Bands have to demo and do pre-production before they record albums, and sometimes those demos are better than some of the songs and sounds on the actual albums. This was demoed for Two Fisted Tales but didn’t make the cut even though it probably was better than most of the songs on that record. Being a demo, this has a live, loose quality that’s essential for music like this. And there’s a harmonica, too. See, back in the 80’s they still used harmonicas.
8. Time For Truth – The Jam. When I was mowing the lawn, I heard the demo version. This is the studio version. Actually, there’s not a whit of difference, really. Maybe a couple of whits, but nothing substantial. It’s still loud and angry and what you need.
9. Storybook Love – Mark Knopfler. Oh, you know this one. Just watch “The Princess Bride”. Willy DeVille on vocals.
10. Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing – Chris Isaak. He made a lot of records, and only a couple of songs on movie soundtracks gave him a popular cache. You wonder why no one paid attention before hand?
11. Too Much Monkey Business – Chuck Berry. You tend to forget his overall brilliance because of some of his unfortunate circumstances later in his life, but you have to be a genius to write a song like this. No really, a genius! Aaaaaah!
12. Are You Lonely For Me – Freddie Scott. In the 60’s, there were a whole slew of soul singles released that were absolute cookers. Some were big hits, some were regional hits, and some were forgotten. This was a moderate success that people may remember more as “The Last Train To Jacksonville”, but the vocals by Scott are impassioned and soulful and the arrangement tight.
13. Our Dream – The Munx. And then there was the sunshine pop movement in the last 60’s. A lot of singles were released and only a few hit. You know, there’s a lot of product out now, but back then there were a lot of songs out too. It was all singles, though, and if one hit then you made an album. This didn’t hit, even though it came close and after one more single…pffft.
14. Break It All – Los Shakers. You listen me, break it all!
15. Heather Honey – Tommy Roe. For almost 10 years, he kept coming back and coming back, making singles that the teens dug for a month or so and filled up the airwaves, and then in a year or so he released another one and people went “didn’t he do….” Yes, he did “Dizzy”, “Sweet Pea”, “Sheila”, “Hooray For Hazel”, “Jam Up And Jelly Tight”, etc. etc. and not a downer or a ballad in the bunch.
16. Driven To Tears – The Police. Not only is this a great groove, with great atmospherics by Andy Summers, but Stewart Copeland is the master of the cymbals. Listen closely, and you’ll hear what I mean.
17. I’m All Fired Up – Junior Brown. I said that one of these mixes was all whacked out, and this is that portion of it. Brown’s smooth deep voice matches well with his guit-steel pyrotechnics. At times, his material is slight, but when he puts it all together it’s a wonderful thing!
18. Positively Fourth Street – The Byrds. This is Dylan’s most vicious put down song, and the Byrds make it their own, as McGuinn spits it right to the people who criticized their late-career transformation into one of the first country-rock bands. Clarence White’s guitar is masterful.
19. Burn For You – INXS. It’s hard to believe, but their second US release (The Swing) didn’t exactly rocket up the charts, and it seemed a departure from Shabooh Shoobah. Actually, this was a departure, as it was more new-wave and dance oriented than any other album they did.
20. Doing It To Death – James Brown. I wrote about James Brown and this single right here!. Good God, y’all!
21. Lazy Waters – The Byrds. One mistake Roger McGuinn made was firing John York and bringing in Skip Battin to play bass. Battin was attached at the hip to Kim Fowley and they provided the late period Byrds with some songs that didn’t fit them at all. However, this one, from their swan song, does fit them. They self-produced it, and you can tell it’s the bass player’s song because the bass is really mixed to the forefront! Heh. And there’s a harmonica to boot!
22. Try To Make It – Sloan. Actually, almost all of this mix is weird. And that’s how I like it. This is just classic power pop from our neighbors to the north. Nothing weird about that – it’s just moving from the Byrds to this. Hmmm…I’ll have to see how I transition it. A challenge!
23. New Toy – Lene Lovich. See, weird! A perfect slice of early 80’s new wave wackiness. But it’s got a great hook and you can’t resist it. Not at all!
24. Fountains Of Wayne Hotline – Robbie Fulks. If you love the Fountains of Wayne, or Robbie Fulks, or just like them, or have heard of them, or know about how musicians talk in the studio, you NEED to find this on iTunes! It’s classic!
25. Don’t You Want Me – Moonshine Willy. Part grunge, part bluegrass, all demented. And yes, it’s THAT song done that way.
Well, whoever will get this mix will definitely have some fun with it. And many people may get it. Who knows? I gots some time on my hands now!