An eclectic bunch of tunes for the end of summer [sigh] . . . .
1. "When I Live My Dream" / David Bowie
From David Bowie (1967)
Before he was Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's first album featured a quirky mix of songs like this Anthony Newley knock-off. (Pizzicato strings! A triangle!) Insurance, just in case the rock-and-roll thing didn't pan out, you know...
2. "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" / The Walker Brothers
From Portrait (1966)
A trio from California, none of them really brothers, who found success by moving to the UK in 1965 -- payback for the British Invasion, I guess. Their first hit was Bacharach & David's "Make It Easy On Yourself" (remember the Jerry Butler version?); this single got a little more airplay in the States and cracked the top 20. I love how they copied that Righteous Brothers white-soul sound perfectly, all echo and back-up choirs and manly harmonies. "The sun ain't gonna shine anymore / The moon ain't gonna rise in the skies / The tears are always clouding your eyes" -- tear those heart-strings!
3. "You're Telling Me" / Alan Price
From Between Today and Yesterday (1974)
After O Lucky Man!, where could Alan Price go? Well, it took him a while -- the record company rejected his first try, Savaloy Dip (a long-lost album, until my friend Tony discovered a carton of 8-track tapes in a record warehouse's dumpster). But undaunted, Price bounced back with this masterpiece LP, perhaps best known for the UK hit "Jarrow Song." This song is the highlight of side 2, the "today" side, where Price finally unleashes the brooding, bluesy organ riffs we've been waiting for. "My friends all tell me, 'you should be happy, / You have more than many others in this town.' / But I can see now, just what they mean now, / They're my friends until my money lets them down." Yup, that's the cynical Alan Price we know and love.
4. "He's Evil" / The Kinks
From Preservation Act 2 (1974)
Another favorite album from 1974 -- totally different, of course, with Ray Davies leading the Kinks deep into campy musical theater. Dig the finger-wagging back-up choir in this snappy character sketch of dastardly Mr. Flash, the villain of this dystopian fable. Over and over, building to the finish, "He's evil (he's evil) / He's evil (he's evil) / He's evil, he's evil, he's evil." Get the picture? Yes, we see.
5. "What Good Am I Without You?" / Kim Weston & Marvin Gaye
From Take Two (1966)
Classic Motown duet -- what a groove these two hit together. . . .
6. "Am I Wrong" / Keb' Mo'
From Keb' Mo (1994)
Just Keb' and his steel guitar, with handclaps and a few grunts providing snappy percussion -- and it's divine. How can he be wrong, falling in love with her, when her other man was out there cheatin' and lyin' and steppin' all over her? Sexiest line: "Just want to make a home for you, baby / And all of your children too."
7. "You Are What You Love" / Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
From Rabbit Fur Coat (2005)
Jenny's spunky, tuneful first solo album, her breakaway from Rilo Kiley, was so good. . . .what's happened since?
8. "Ain't That Loving You" / Sir Douglas Quintet
From Soul Jam (2000 -- compilation)
South Side Chicago blues, filtered through Texas. You may know this old chestnut by Deadric Malone -- alias Houston black record producer Don Robey -- from the Grateful Dead's version, or Buddy Guy's. (Elvis Presley's was a different song -- man, this stuff gets confusing.) But man oh man, did Doug Sahm have a great voice -- I could listen to him sing the Yellow Pages and I'd be happy.
9. "These Roads Don't Move" / Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard
From Big Sur (2009)
Wonder what Kerouac would've thought of Jay and Ben turning his prose into Americana music?
10. "What Is Wrong, What Is Right?" / Herman's Hermits
From Very Best of Herman's Hermits (compilation)
This 1966 B-side proves that there was more to Herman's Hermits than the teen fan mags ever let us know -- just as I always suspected!