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10:40 a.m. - September 12, 2006
Smed's Top 40 - Part One
You all are in for a special treat this music week.

That’s right; Smed puts on his Casey Kasem shoes and does a countdown for you.

Back in the day, at times I had to babysit America’s Top 40 as it played on the radio station I worked on. Those shows actually came to us in records that we just played on the air. If there was a skip or scratch, hilarity would ensue.

The pop charts had more relevance then, really. It was a wide mix of songs that got onto the top 40, and radio stations would play pert near anything that was popular, no matter how off the beaten path it was. Now, not so much.

So what I did was dive into the stats of my iPod, and find out the top 40 MOST played songs out of my 11,500 or so. These songs probably got on the list by being on a metric ton of mix CDs for various and sundry people, or I just got into a jag of playing them. I broke ties by putting the earliest play date ahead of the latest play date.

I guess you could say that these are songs that I thought would put a charge into people at some point during the mix process. How many of these are on YOUR mixes?

Let’s begin the countdown, going from 40-21, with the top 20 tomorrow!

40. Her Royal Fisticuffs – Superchunk. A snappy little tune, and an obscure one to boot (not that Superchunk is particularly mainstream, but…). This was a favorite of mine to put on some mixes for a while, because of its energy and verve. Plus, the title phrase is pretty neat, too.

39. I Go Wild – The Three O’Clock. I usually put a Three O’Clock tune or two on mixes, because they are obscure, yet delectable (though I pick the wrong ones, sometimes, I’m afraid). This is a perfect representation of the Paisley Underground movement that I write about so often.

38. Waiting For The Sun – The Jayhawks. I think this would have had a higher count if I could have transferred the plays over from my other computer jukebox, plus all of the countless times I actually played it while making mix CDs. For a long time, the Jayhawks were standard mix fare, and this is one of my favorites of there’s. It’s powerful and poignant.

37. These Are The Fables – The New Pornographers. From their Twin Cinema release, this stars the vocal stylings of my girl, Neko Case. It’s funny, because I rotate a lot of Neko Case songs around, none of hers made the top 40, but this one did.

36. I’m Free Now – Morphine. I got into a Morphine kick on mixes for a while, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes I can’t get enough of this unique sound, featuring baritone sax and two string bass. It’s sad that Mark Sandman passed away, because they were really becoming an institution.

35. Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric. Good old Stiff records. They put out a bunch of singles from this guy, who was sincere and heartfelt, but he really couldn’t sing. But he was charming, and songs like this are fun, so why not? It’s cool, it’s catchy, it’s clever, and despite it all, you really root that he’ll find a girl to share the next of kin with.

34. Back In Flesh – Wall of Voodoo. Sure, everyone has heard “Mexican Radio”. Hardly anyone has heard anything more. This is a live cut that I found (that has a spot missing in it – I wonder if I need to download it again, or if that’s just the way it is) that I originally heard on the movie Urgh! A Music War. It’s interesting for sure, but very similar to the hit in style and tone.

33. Vibrations – Helium. Mary Timony reminds me of Liz Phair on cough syrup. She wrote interesting songs that always seemed a step slow and a step out of synch. And that makes for some interesting music, if you ask me. And you did, didn’t you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this!

32. Orphans – Teenage Jesus And The Jerks. A soft, sweet lullaby about freshly maimed orphans running in snow, this is always a good one to play at parties, if you want the unhip and uncool to leave. Musically, it’s about as subtle as a flying mallet.

31. 96 Tears - ? And The Mysterians. For the longest time, the record company refused to license this song on CD or online. Finally, they released it and many of us rejoiced. This is probably THE classic garage rock single, with a cool and clever farfisa organ line and sneering vocals from ? himself.

30. New Kind Of Love – The Mysteries of Life. Some Indiana homies made some great music not that long ago that no one heard because the record company forgot about them, or something like that. Anyway, this is a nice little ditty about finding a new love. You’ll sing and tap your foot, as you should.

29. No Matter What – Badfinger. Yes, it’s true that the Beatles are not on iTunes, but that also goes for other Apple artists, like Badfinger. So you’ll have to find CDs to buy, still. This is probably as close to perfect as a power pop song can get! From the harmonies, to the neat stair stepping guitar parts, to the sonic crunch, it’s a tasty treat for the ears.

28. Outside Chance – The Turtles. This comes from my Nuggets collection and it’s a strong and powerful song that always fits well when I compile a bunch of oldies. It fits with almost any style of oldie, plus it’s got a neat organ solo in the middle and the lyrics aren’t banal at all.

27. Copacetic – Velocity Girl. They were rather much lost in the haze of grunge. Velocity Girl had a pretty unique sound, with cascading guitars (a little bit like some shoegazing, but not pretentious) and some ethereal vocals on top of it. They made pop songs with that racket and it really worked, but were a bit out of step with the time. I think it was their choice of record company, as they were on Sub Pop when that was all grunge (at least the perception was that it was all grunge) and they deserved better.

26. And So We Run – The Three O’Clock. Another one from the Three O’Clock, and this one is a real treat. It blends all kinds of styles into one delicious stew. A bit baroque, a bit fuzzy, and all good!

25. Black Night – Deep Purple. This is a rarity from the band, as it was a stand alone single from their classic era. Deep Purple were always interesting, because of the intelligence of the players involved. Sure they had egos, but who didn’t? I’d seek this one out if you are into the Purple, it’s worth it!

24. Just Got Paid – ZZ Top. This showcases the glory that is Billy Gibbons. Wow, does this thing rock! From the Rio Grande Mud album, their second platter and a lot better than most of the stuff they released in the 80s. Gibbons spews bottleneck guitar all over the place, and all you can do is jump around.

23. Death And Angels – Green On Red. Another paisley underground band, Green On Red didn’t have the staying power that other bands did. This song, though, was killer, with a great organ riff and menacing deep bass line. Another one to go seek ye out.

22. Queen Bitch – David Bowie. Punk rockers liked Bowie, and it was songs like this that showed why. A great guitar riff, sassy singing, and a twisted and shocking subject matter drove this song home. It’s not played on the radio, because to this day cross-dressers squick people out a bit.

21. Bang-Shang-A-Lang – The Archies. Hey, EVERYTHING’S ARCHIE! This was the first big single, and it’s catchy, cute, and earnestly poppy. And it’s got a double entendre, if you can dig it. Veronica’s getting busy (or maybe it was Betty – who knows??).

Well, there they are, a pretty diverse mix for my top 40, eh? Tomorrow, the second half will be posted. What will be on the countdown? What song will be #1? Bets taken at the window. Thanks!


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