Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hoping for a little summer serendipity on today's shuffle...

1. "The Islands" / Black 47
From Bankers and Gangsters (2010)
Which reminds me -- I owe a review of this new album by Celtic rock stalwarts Black 47. Dig this nostalgic horn-filled ode to the auld country -- sweet and soulful and just a tad sad.

2. "Flying High" / Jem
From Finally Woken (2004)
I know nothing about this singer; I barely know how this got on my iTunes. But it's such a wistfully sexy number, I never can quite bring myself to delete it. High breathy vocals, with just a touch of synths underlying the delicate acoustic guitar -- so girlish, but just LOADED with desire.

3. "Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" / Elvis Costello
From My Aim Is True (1977)
"Oh, I used to be disgusted, / Now I try to be amused / But since their wings have got rusted / You know, the angels want to wear my red shoes." And didn't we all want to wear Elvis's red shoes back then? Jangly punk-pop with more than a touch of snarky attitude -- this guy was this good from the very start.

4. "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" / The Animals
From Animal Tracks (1965)
I'd have run off with him, wouldn't you?

5. "Inch By Inch" / Elvis Costello
From Goodbye Cruel World (1984)
I wonder how much Style Council music Elvis Costello had been listening to when he put out this wickedly tasty album. Goodbye Cruel World certainly added a heaping helping of soul to the by-then-getting-stale EC formula (remember the lead-off hit "Only Flame in Town"?). Didn't care for it at the time; adore it now.

6. "You Got My Number" / Dr. Feelgood
From Brilleaux (1986)
Throw together soul, punk, and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, and you have the recipe for Dr. Feelgood. Even on this later album, when the band had moved to the Stiff label and adopted a more radio-ready sound, their stuff just sizzles. Churning automotive guitar riffs, the punctuations of horns, and Lee Brilleaux's savagely sexy voice -- that's a number I'm definitely dialing.

7. "Right Place, Wrong Time" / Dr. John
From In the Right Place (1973)
And now here comes a second opinion from the Other Doctor -- Dr. John, a.k.a.Mac Rebennack, that mighty practitioner of soul pumped up with New Orleans funk. This is one of those radio hits I always turned up louder when it came on, but it took 30-plus years for me to finally buy it, just last week, in anticipation of a trip to New Orleans at the end of the summer. Swampy, and just a little bit nasty. Whoo-hah!

8. "Back To You" / Bill Jerram Band
From Bill Jerram Band (2005)
Bill Jerram -- a.k.a. Billo from the Ray Davies fan forum -- surprised us all with this sprightly album, full of melody and bop and crunchy guitar. Reminds me a lot of Steve Miller -- which reminds me, I've been meaning to do a Steve Miller for a few days now...

9. "Love Is An Outlaw" / Tom Gallagher
From Age of the Wheel (unreleased)
Talk about talented friends from the Ray forum -- Tom Gallagher was one of the great undiscovered rockers. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Tom's magnificent unreleased album shortly before his untimely death in 2007. This track really shows off his lazy drawling vocals and his plangent guitar work. Peace on you, Tom.

10. "I Believed You" / The Kinks (then called the Ravens)
From The Kinks (1964)
Inevitably, it all comes back to the Kinks. This early unreleased Ray Davies demo -- Beatle-sweet and teen-pop perky -- was appended as an extra track on the reissue of this debut Kinks album. Slight, yes, derivative, yes -- but Ray Davies' songwriting talent was clearly already in gear.

Well, I'm on to "Have A Cuppa Tea" from Muswell Hillbillies -- the official shuffle stops here, but if I'm on a Kinks roll, I'm not turning off my computer!

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