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6:33 p.m. - November 15, 2005
Smed's Early B-Day Present Is A Chance For YOU to Win, Too!
Ah, nothing like an early birthday present, even when it isn’t a present.

Yes, Smed’s birthday is coming soon (it’s Friday, for those who care). And yes, Smed is turning the big 4-0. Lawdy! Lawdy! That doesn’t bother me, really, because with my genes and the way things are going in this world, that won’t be middle age yet.

But the accidental birthday present was a package, sent all the way from Scotland. The lovely and talented Heeland Lass sent me this CD all the way across the pond.

However, there’s a catch. And it will pay for you to read on.

This is part of a CD chain. Now, I know that I don’t do memes (I’ve been thrice tagged and begged out each time, as it’s not in my idiom, really) but this is not one of those memes, it’s a chance to get music and send music on. So I went for it – I was first in line and won the prize.

She sent me 19 songs and didn’t identify them. I have to post a review, either in her comments, or notes, or wherever, and then she’d send me what these songs are. I decided to post my review here – it’s an easy essay and I was struggling with one today.

Where YOU, gentle reader, can profit from this will be listed after the review. So pay attention, you!

Ok, iPod at the ready, let us begin (or Begin the Begin, as REM would say – Miles Standish proud…oh, I’ll stop…). Now I know it may not be the most exciting thing to hear me describe songs that I don’t know the title of, so you can’t play the home game, but hey, I’ll refund your purchase price if not satisfied.

(And no, I’m not going to cheat and Google or use the All Music Guide.)

1. This sounds semi-familiar. Acoustic guitars at the fore at first, with some slide following. It’s got a loping groove with some interesting vocal harmonies juxtaposed with some foreign language stuff thrown in. The main verse has the words “Dead Man Coughing” as the last line. This be a keeper, as it is interesting, if not compelling.
2. Definitely a production – and definitely a record that has a lot of samples in it. It sounds built up from a lot of old records, as you can hear the scratches. The arrangement is lush and inviting. The groove is nice and not overwhelming. The lyrics seem to be secondary; I can’t quite pick them up – but the melody is nice. The ending is sudden, though.
3. Ah marimbas! Marimbas to begin a track are a bonus! (Captain Beefheart loved marimbas!) The arrangement is neat with what it sounds like “random” bursts of percussion thrown in. The record then speeds up a bit, then slows down to feature the lovely marimbas. A piano menaces in the background at times.
4. Oh, this has to be a new fangled pop-tart. (I called Stacey Q, Martika, and that ilk of 80’s singers pop-tarts. The ultimate pop-tart was Samantha Fox.) Anyway, it’s definitely a dance song, but they do some interesting things with the arrangement and the bass parts of the song. It’s a neo-disco retro-updated schwerve.
5. Gosh, if I didn’t know better, this sounds like they copped the bass and drums from a very obscure B-side of a single that my sister owned in the 60’s. Aside from that, it’s got an incessant gang-chanted chorus. An acoustic guitar is at the forefront, but electronic gizmos are also afoot. The bass line will be with me all night.
6. Oh! I know this one! It’s Genius of Love by the Tom Tom Club. It’s greatness is illustrated by the number of mix CDs I put out there with it on it this year.
7. It ain’t English, I can tell you that much. An interesting guitar intro, along with a mechanical dance groove, and what sounds like electronic horn things but they may be real horns. It doesn’t remind me of “Eres Tu” by Mocedades, really, but it could be that campy.
8. Another memorable bass line goes into a neat piano part and then a bombastic keyboard. I think that’s all there is – just an instrumental of a nice melody played on a synth that seems to be set on “Muted Keith Emerson.”
9. It starts out with a menacing bass and some electronic drums, then there’s this seemingly electronic monotone female vocals that’s kind of creepy. It sounds like she’s a robot who will do what ever someone desires. A guitar adds texture in the background, and it works in a very oddly compelling way. A lot more fun than Kraftwerk, I’d say. Near the end it repeats “I am new Cyber whore.” Freaky.
10. This sounds semi-familiar again, like I should know it, but I don’t. It’s kind of a neo-loungy thing after the intro, with an interesting guitar sound (a bit out of place with the distortion but it works) and some definite jazz-bo leanings during the chorus (or is it the bridge – it seems formless at times). The guitar solo (non-distorted) is neat as well. It’s got some swing!
11. Danceteria awaits! Oh, this guy’s French, isn’t he? I can tell by the smarm. It’s basically someone reciting things in a monotone over electronica, with some dude wailing in the background. I bet he has a thin moustache, wears wrap around shades, drives a sports car, and always offers you a smoke from an expensive holder. The hook seems to be “miss you less / see you more / I’d love to know you better.” Heh!
12. This is a forgotten hippy-dippy song from the 70’s, right? An earnest singer strumming some simple acoustic guitar chords, soon joined by a group chorus singing “everybody’s gotta live, and everybody’s gonna die.” It makes me want to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.
13. I love the opening riff! The bass line is neat and funky, and it soon just becomes a bass line, a repeated drum pattern, and the vocal, which is definitely got some bravado to it. I think this guys gonna party and he’s gonna get some. It’s in his house! In his house! You gotta set them up! I think I just woke up Kristin with my dancing about the room shakin’ my groove thang. It was a sight to see.
14. This is “In My Life” by Johnny Cash. Wow, I really need to get some of his interpretive work. I have a whole lot of his 50’s and 60’s stuff, when he kicked ass and took names. He still did until he passed on. A quick aside, this song was performed at a wedding of a couple of dear friends. I never thought of it as a wedding song until I heard it that day –it’s a lot better of one than “If” by Bread, I tell you what.
15. Crikey! It sounds like I should know this as well. It sounds like a mid-60’s dance craze kind of song with a horn arrangement and a definite Mersey-esque guitar sound, and then there’s a bunch of nonsense in the middle right before the guitar solo. Or it could be a put on of those kind of records. Excuse me while I frug and / or watusi.
16. This neo-euro-disco thang has a smarmy sounding dude talking about Miss G. It sounds like they’re having a dialogue, or something. The bass part is interesting, but this guy is just a bit oily! Miss G., or whoever, does have a nice voice, though, and some of the wordplay is neat. He said he’s been known as Giovanni, Mantovanni, and Barry Manilow. Ulp!
17. An interesting, yet sparse arrangement, with a menacing voice asking “who asked you?” at the beginning. Do I hear a marimba? Yes, yes I do! Now, it’s another spoken word kind of thing, but the guy sounds like a stalker, maybe. He does sing a bit later, and a disembodied female voice asks something rude. Menacing, yet intriguing.
18. Baby, we’re swinging now. I don’t know who does it – but it’s a lounge version sung by a breathy female of the infamous Dead Kennedy’s song “Too Drunk To ****”. Why didn’t someone think of this earlier? Hi-freakin’-larious. The bass line gave it away within five seconds.
19. A very solemn piece to start, with sitars or electronic versions of sitars and an organ. Then, the dance beat kicks in a little bit into it. It’s still rather solemn and moody, like a turbulent afterglow.

Well, there’s you review, Ms. Lass.

Now for you, the general public, here’s your chance to become part of the chain.

The FIRST PERSON who puts a comment in my comment section becomes part of the chain, and will get a mix CD sent by me. If you’ve recently received mixes from me, you still qualify!

Don’t despair, everyone who comments may be in line for a mix as well – not part of the chain and all the coolness that ensues with that – but a nice consolation prize. I'll pick some at random, throughout the next few weeks.

This CD will not have a track listing. What you must do is give me a review of the CD, track by track, as above. You can use my notes, you can email me, or use an entry in your space to give me the review. But I will not send the track listing until I get the review.

After the review has been sent on, you then can post these instructions, or a reasonable facsimile, becoming another link in the chain, so you can keep the chain going.

Here are the rules, though!

1. You must be able to burn CDs and send them along to someone. Because I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain.
2. You must have one of these here online journal / essay spots / blogs / whatever you call them – AND be able to accept comments or notes from the outside world.
3. You have not been a previous link in the chain.
4. You must have some sort of readership, and are not a lonely voice in the wilderness.
5. You will email me when you receive the CD, so I know I will expect a review soon.
6. You will NOT post these instructions until the review is sent.

That’s it!

This Mix Chain was started at mousemilk.

So the first one in the comments gets to be part of the chain, and hang with the cool kids. But all who comment may already be a winner. (Heck, you’re all winners in my book – GROUP HUG!)

Ready, set……GO!


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