Well, here we are again. Or rather, here you are again, since I am somewhere else, remotely blogging from some rocky New England beach. (Lobster dinner, anyone?) But so long as I don't get my iPod waterlogged...
1. "The Colour of Your Eyes" / Dusty Springfield
From Dusty . . . Definitely (1968)
Written by Dusty's partner Norma Tanega, this shimmering tone poem may not rank up there with Dusty's great soul numbers, but for pure late 60s schmaltz -- turn on the strings! hear that quivering flute! -- it's pretty darn lovely.
2. "Be My Love" / Geraint Watkins
From Dial W for Watkins (2004)
Maybe I first discovered this guy's work because he plays keyboards for Nick Lowe. So what? That's Watkins' dilemma --he's so in demand as a session man, somehow he never got around to the solo career he deserves. "Come on, little darlin' / Be my love" -- Geraint trips pleadingly down the scale, dropping into a throaty coax. There's just a whiff of zydeco in the rhythm, and a touch of twang in the chugging chorus -- pitch-perfect Americana, served up by a Brit.
3. "I Want to Break Free" / Queen
From The Works (1984)
Of course I listen to Queen -- what are you, some kind of rock snob? I love the over-the-top drama, Freddie Mercury's histrionic vocals, the synthesizers, even the arena-rock guitars. (Only when Queen is doing it, that is -- they're just having so much fun.)
4. "Pieces of What" / MGMT
From Oracular Spectacular (2007)
Reverbs, synths, the whole electronica package, mixed up with yelping vocals that sound just amateur enough to make this endearing. In fact, I sometimes mistake this for a Minus 5 song when it first comes up -- that's how loose and genial it is. I enjoyed this debut album so much more than I expected.
5. "Wine Do Yer Stuff" / Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
From Lost in the Ozone (1971)
Why, oh why, oh why didn't I discover these guys back in the 70s? I would have had SO much fun listening to this in college. Laidback country-rock, topped off with a little psychedelic druggie culture -- Americana begins here.
6. "Solar Sex Panel" / Little Village
From Little Village (1990)
I amuse myself, when listening to Little Village tracks, by imagining which one of the talents in this all-star project contributed what. The piled-on puns have to be Nick Lowe, but I'm betting John Hiatt was right there, throwing in all those car puns. Yes, it's ultimately a stupid song, hardly worthy of their talents. But Hiatt sings it as if it mattered.
7. "Six-Fingered Man" / Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
From The River In Reverse (2006)
Elvis gets funky -- as who wouldn't, with Allen Toussaint sitting over there at the piano, tossing off those elegant little riffs? It's a wonderful swampy stew.
8. "I Think We're Alone Now" / Tommy James and the Shondells
From I Think We're Alone Now (1967)
THE perfect groping teen make-out song.
9. "Ten Girls Ago" / Graham Parker
From Struck By Lightning (1991)
Resurrecting a perky New Wave beat, my (new) idol Graham Parker trotted out this endearing track on Struck By Lightning, one of the best albums I've ever heard. He's not slamming that old romance, more poking fun at himself (and grateful that now he's in a better place). The sound, though, takes me back to my own crazy 80s. "It was just a crazy thing / Flying an airplane made of string / Sweet pain of a needle's sting / Ten girls ago...."
10. "Woman In a Bar" / Lloyd Cole
From Antidepressant (2007)
Here you go, Uncle E -- I am listening to Lloyd Cole. And I like it. Witty, articulate lyrics and a sweetly rocking beat.