It's back! (Sorry for the week's lapse). And better than ever, I'm tempted to add -- except there's no way of knowing ahead of time.
1. "Heartbeat" / The Knack
From Get the Knack, 1979
Hard to resist a cheery power-pop gem like this one, on the same album as the classic "My Sharona." He's SO excited by his new lover -- "Heartbeat, why do you miss / When my baby kisses me?" One of the great philosophical questions...
2. "Broke My Heart" / Tim Easton
From Porcupine (2009)
Another bit of philosophy, delivered with alt-country twang, as Tim Easton hoarsely declaims: "There's only two things left in this world / Love / And the lack thereof." It's the flip side of love, after she's dumped him -- though it's quite a punchy rocker, with an insidious hook.
3. "Please Mr. Postman" / The Marvelettes
From Please Mr. Postman (1961)
All those early Beatles covers -- I still think of them as the originals. But there's a certain pleasure in hearing the classic girl group version, Motown's first #1 pop single back in 1961. I love the idea that the Beatles discovered all this American black music through records American sailors sold while in port in Liverpool. Most Americans weren't listening to it then!
4. "Flesh Cartoons" / Robyn Hitchcock
From Eye (1990)
Another whimsically surreal artifact from the master of folk-psych, Robyn Hitchcock, coolly distancing himself from a gallery of absurd characters. "I'm just watching on my own flesh cartoons" -- what the hell is going on in this song? Who cares?
5. "After Hours" / The 88
From The 88 (2010)
Hello -- you're not supposed to be hearing this song yet; it's from an unreleased album that I'm reviewing. Cute little indie-pop band from California, opened for Ray Davies last tour? Trust me, you'll like them.
6. "Business Time" / Flight of the Conchords
From Flight of the Conchords (2008)
Funniest Barry White send-up ever, from this New Zealand musical duo (you may have seen their HBO comedy show). "Next thing you know, we're in the bedroom . . . you're wearing that baggy old ugly teeshirt you got from your work several years ago . . . you know the one, baby, with the curry stain . . . You know when I'm down to my socks, it's time for business -- that's why they call them business socks!" Making love, making love for two, making love for two minutes!
7. "So Heavy" / Nick Lowe
From The Wilderness Years (compilation)
A deservedly obscure mid-70s Nick Lowe track, from those post-Brinsley Schwarz, pre-Rockpile years. Even Nick can't remember anything about this outtake.
8. "Drinkin'" / Reel Big Fish
From We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (2005)
An ebullient little bit of ska-punk -- "If I go out drinkin' / Then I can stop thinkin' / About how the world has done me wrong." Forget the usual lugubrious drunkard's anthem, this one staggers down the alley with a hectic tempo and a cheerful flourish of horns.
9. "Sing A Sad Song" / Merle Haggard
From Strangers (1965)
Complete change of pace here, slowing down to a spur-jangling country lilt, from Merle Haggard's debut album. Heartbreaks by the number, in true country style.
10. "The Right Place" / Monsters of Folk
From Monsters of Folk (2009)
More rootsy rambling, this time from the indie world, with Yim Yames (a.k.a. My Morning Jacket's Jim James) happily harmonizing with his fellow M.O.F.-ers M. Ward, Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis. I loved this album so much more than I expected to -- whether you call it a side project or a super-group, it's still amazing. Hope it's not a one-time deal!