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4:14 p.m. - January 02, 2008
Smed's Top 200 - The Honorable Mentions
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be profiling “Smed’s Top 200”, which will be the Top 200 songs in my iPod playlist in number of plays. That usually means I’ve mixed them early and often, and given them to others in hopes of joy, fun and seasons in the sun.

These will be interspersed with other writings (like the upcoming discourse on “Freedom Rock” (turn it UP!)) about tunes, tuneage, etc. etc. You know, the good stuff.

Of course, like any listing, there are those songs that just missed the cut. These songs all had the same plays on the iPod that the lower part of the top 200 had, but I have a scientific way to break ties, and these songs all missed the mark. But you know, since they came close I think it’s worthy to celebrate them.

(Note: I resisted puns using ‘celebrate’ and therefore spared you Three Dog Night, Kool and the Gang, and Kenny Loggins from infiltrating your head. Until now.)

So here we go!

207. I Felt Like A Gringo – The Minutemen. They were a ‘punk rock group’ but really weren’t in the most rigid definition of the term. But they really were ‘punk’ because they eschewed standard song styles and structures for the most part and trimmed the fat off of their songs down so that only the strongest, meatiest parts were intact. The lyrics of the Minutemen were mostly political in nature, and hearkened back to the populism of the folk movement, but with more visceral impact. They also were excellent musicians that didn’t hide it behind noise or inanity, and could swing a bit too as on this song above, which is probably my favorite Minuteman cut. Thanks to YouTube, here’s a live video of them doing this song.

206. Blue – The Jayhawks. This isn’t exactly the happiest of songs, as the opening lines attest. “Where have all my friends gone / they’ve all disappeared” isn’t sunshine and roses, and lines like “always thought I was someone / turned out I was wrong.” But it’s got real emotion and feeling, which is too often missing in songs nowadays. When I was first mixing songs, even before my iPod, I think I put this on almost every mix somewhere. They made an honest to goodness video for it and it may have been played by MTV when no one who appreciated this sound was watching. Hey, the album hit #92 on the pop charts, so, woot.

205. Darlin’ Be Home Soon – The Association. After a fast start with promising hits in the mid-60’s, the Association ground down to a halt in the early 70’s. They never really did a lot of their own studio work (except vocals, of course) but by this record they even had vocal arrangements done for them. Columbia Records thought they could revive their career, but the album only hit #194 and the single didn’t even chart. They released one further single on a small label and then ran toward the nostalgia circuit. But this song, a cover of a Lovin’ Spoonful tune, is a brilliant last gasp. I didn’t find a copy of them doing this on YouTube (no TV appearances) but I found a video of SLADE (of all people) covering it, so I thought post that. Imagine layered, ethereal harmonies and a more ‘adult’ arrangement.

204. Baxter – Superchunk. Superchunk is loud and squealy. Ok, were loud and squealy. They’ve kind of softened up recently (and are on hiatus or laying low or something, so I guess past tense works). This was an on an odds-and-ends collection, given to a compilation album, yet I mix it because the riff just totally kicks it with some neat harmonics through the squall, and the bass is out there and in your face. What’s this song about? I really don’t know. I googled the lyrics (and I think they’re off a bit, honestly) and I still don’t know. But it rocks, and it’s loud. What more do ya want?

203. (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man – The Brigands. This was one the first Nuggets CD collection, and by all rights it should have been a big hit. It’s a typical rock and roll story – poor boy loves rich girl and does everything he can to keep her in the fold and wonders if she saw that he was a workin’ Joe if she’d dump him for Chip McSnobby III. The fuzz guitar is great and screams 1966! The harmonies are dead on. Now, who WAS this band? I think they were a one-shot band that released this studio concoction on the B-side of their lone single, yet it seems too polished for a typical teen garage band. Hmmm…

202. Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers. Every once in a while someone remembers how good the Everly Brothers were, but then we go right on to forgetting about them. They had some big hits in the 50’s, and they signed a big deal in 1960 (did anyone cry “SELLOUT??” No? Imagine that…), but after a couple of years they faded. They did release an excellent album in the late 60’s, but then famously broke up on stage in the 70’s. Good times at family reunions, I’m sure. Anyway, they were telegenic back in the day.

201. The Musical Box – Genesis. I have to give this song its propers, as I just bought it in 2007 and it’s already climbed up this high, even though many other songs have a two-year head start on it. For those not in the know, this is the first cut off of the first album by Genesis that featured Phil Collins and Steve Hackett. Peter Gabriel is fantastic in this song, and overall the playing and singing is wonderful. Here’s a clip from Belgian TV of the band doing the whole shebang. This is before Gabriel went hog wild with costumes and all that. Still, Collins has hair and a beard, and no one is standing up besides Gabriel because they’re SERIOUS MUSICIANS, or something, I guess.

So what’s in Smed’s Top 200? Stay tuned!


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