8:29 p.m. - April 04, 2006
(That, and since I’m taking two days off this week, I actually need to work and stuff tomorrow. Yeah, work. Heh…)
This time, I’m in the process of making not one, not two, not three, but FOUR mix collections for some super swingin’ people out there. Those hep cats are going to get them soon, and then I’ll move on to other music projects, like my next set of three or four mixes.
So I’m going to select five songs from each of their four mixes and write about them. It will still be a surprise to them, because they won’t know WHICH mix it is on.
So let’s bring it on, shall we? We shall…
2. “Happiness” – The Anita Kerr Singers. This is pretty obscure, but they make Bread and the Association sound like James Brown. There is nothing whiter than this, nothing. The Mike Curb Congregation is Sly and the Family Stone compared to them. This is just incredibly…bland. I’m surprised it wasn’t a sitcom theme.
3. “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings” – ZZ Top. As much as one can cringe at the cartoon like incarnation of ZZ Top of the 80’s, with the beards and the car and the magic key chain, and sound of their 80’s music (robotic and monotonous), their 70’s work is pretty darn nifty. Billy Gibbons is a guitar god, and while Dusty Hill and Frank Beard aren’t quite up to his level, as a band they really cook when they’re on, which is most of the time. Some songs are still rather cringe worthy (“Mexican Blackbird” anyone?) but this one is not. Plus, you can also hear the beginning of their 80’s sound during the fade out, so it’s kinda historical, or seminal, or something.
4. “Party Till the World Obeys” – Meat Puppets. For one, you gotta love the title! I have a thing for some Meat Puppets songs. The singer no longer sounds like he was strangled by a dwarf, and they’re now actually trying to find the right key to sing in. They haven’t found it yet, but they’re at least in the neighborhood. The ZZ Top influence in their work is definitely heard here, and this tune cooks along rather nicely.
5. “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” – AC/DC. I went on a commenting binge on MySpace recently, thanks to this song. I didn’t really like it much at all, until I heard it at a Smithereens concert (no kidding – it was the last song over the PA before they came on). This is the absolute last gasp of the band, which is odd to say since they’ve continued to record 22 years AFTER this song was released. Sigh. It’s over dudes…
6. “Go Ahead” – Jennifer Trynin. I was mystified by the lack of attention that people paid to her in the 90’s. I think she was overwhelmed in the whole Lilith Fair thing, though she’s a much more viable artist than most. She’s a fine guitar player and a writer of insightful songs with some interesting arrangements. I think she’s playing guitar in a band now and just making music, which is all one would want at some levels, right?
7. “Dirty Creature” – Split Enz. America, you blew it. These guys were clever interesting, and never really duplicated themselves. But instead of embracing them, you threw yourself all over the feet of Men At Work. Bah. Humbug.
8. “Sketches of Winkle” – Ween. Ween is a band that I can take or leave, and I leave a lot. Like most bands of their ilk, a lot of their material falls flat, but this is a hilarious send-up of heavy metal. At least I think it’s a send up. It’s hard to tell. At any rate, it rocks AND it hits the target.
9. “Heartspark Dollarsign” – Everclear. Recently, I’ve been downloading some songs that I remember were all over the radio in the 90’s. Time has passed and I’m no longer sick to death of them. (There’s till NO room for Sponge or Candlebox, and there never will be.) I always preferred this to “Santa Monica”, as it’s punchier.
10. “72-74” – The Spinanes. The Spinanes were an unusual band. It was a two piece for the most part, with Rebecca Gates on guitar and Scott Plouf on drums. On some early records, they used a bass, but on most of their work, they just used Gates’ guitar and voice to create a unique sound, one that had no real bottom but was definitely heavy. Soon, though, Gates wanted to expand the sound and on this, the last release by the Spinanes and a year after Plouf left the band, it was basically a solo album. It still sounds great, though. Plouf was later seen drumming for Built To Spill.
11. “Eight Miles High” – The Byrds. They say this isn’t about drugs, and I do believe them. What I find hard to believe is that the opening guitar ‘tangle’ was all planned out, but it’s true, as I have heard some demos where the intro is basically extant as you hear today. I can never, ever, ever get tired of this song.
12. “Make A Scene” – Chris Bell. He originally founded Big Star, and then Alex Chilton joined up and made it what it was. Bell was unhappy and left after their first album, came back to write a few songs, and left again. He then recorded a solo album, but it never got released and he died in a car crash. Big Star mania hit the alternative world in the 90’s and the fine I Am the Cosmos record was released to the world. It’s a tremendous piece of work though some may say it’s derivative of the Beatles. (It’s a better version of Badfinger, really, and that’s just fine by me). Go dig this up and rock out!
13. “25 Minutes To Go” – Johnny Cash. I first heard this on my dad’s copy of “Live At Folsom Prison” and I always thought it was a really neat, albeit twisted song. This is the studio version, and you will notice that here, as well, some of the minutes are missing. Shel Silverstein wrote this, and it rather much fits his idiom. I still wonder what happened during the missing minutes. Hmmm…
14. “Western Union” – The Five Americans. Back in the day, any group with a catchy hook and a farfisa organ could make a big hit record. These guys made a few of them, though this is about the only one non-garage band junkies remember. I had a 45 of them doing a song called “Zip Code” that I thought was pretty neat as a kid, but it’s nowhere to be found online and I really don’t want to plunk down $15 to find it. Well, at least not at this point in my life.
15. “Bugler” – The Byrds. Yeah, another Byrds song. So sue me. But this one is a much, much different song. This is from their final album, Farther Along and it’s got a country rock feel to it. It’s a sad story about a dog and the owner who loved him, and it’s sung with great reverence by Clarence White. For those of you who don’t know, White was amongst the best country / bluegrass guitarists ever on this planet. This song deserved more than to be buried on a record no one bought by a band everyone had forgotten about in 1972.
16. “I Saw the Light” – Todd Rundgren. He opened his brilliant (if not overly long) Something, Anything album with this cut, because, like Motown he said, you have to open with the single. This HAS to be one of the most perfect pop-rock singles ever laid on wax, cats. And he did this all by his lonesome, every note of it (well, I think he had some help on backing vocals, but that’s neither here nor there). Tremendous, tremendous, tremendous. It’s too bad his ego got in his way after this one, because he was a master of pop-rock production.
17. “Brother Louie” – The Stories. Louie Louie Louie Looo-ee! Louie Louie Louie Looo-eye! The story behind this song is rather complicated. Ok, not the song itself, but anyway…this was originally a song by Hot Chocolate, yet the Stories snuck in and made it big, but only AFTER their leader quit the group and the song was originally left off their second album. They never followed this up, but how could you follow up “Louie Louie Louie Looo-eye!” anyway.
18. “Good” – Better Than Ezra. Yet another song reclaimed from my 90’s radio dustbin. This is catchy, harmless, and a rather good song for radio fodder. Honestly, that’s all it was, disposable alterna-ear candy. Yet it’s so scrumptious at times, isn’t it?
19. “Brand New Lover” – Dead or Alive. I’m surprised that the Roxbury dudes on SNL weren’t dancing to this before “What Is Love” came out. Disco never died, people, it just went into hiding over in England, to be exhumed by cross-dressers with pretty faces. And no, that doesn’t make me gay to call him pretty, not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Ok, when does that Seinfeld line lose effectiveness? Anyone??)
20. “Who Invited You” – The Donnas. Leave it to the Donnas to end this segment with a kick ass song about kicking someone’s ass out of a party. Sure, their music is a bit simple. It’s rock and roll, not brain surgery! Just crank it up and forget about the world. Plus, there’s an effective use of cowbell. It’s not prevalent, it’s subtle, but there is cowbell!
Well, there you go! 20 more slabs of wax for you, kiddies. Now go rock and roll all night, and party every day. I know I will, if I can get my kids to bed!