Poor neglected Wednesday Shuffle. How could I have forgotten you for three whole weeks?! Time to get back to business, indeed.
1. Lies / J. J. Cale
From Really (1972)
When the record company sent me this LP to review for my school paper in 1972, I knew nothing about J. J. Cale -- hadn't yet heard any of those Eric Clapton covers that paid J.J.'s rent for years -- but I immediately loved his slouchy blues-rock sound. Dig the bounce in its step, and that finger-wagging chorus, "Lies, lies, lies --- ".
2. Hey Hey Hey Hey / Chris Farlowe
From The R & B Years (compilation)
I picture drain-pipe jeans and all the Mod accoutrements to go along with this finger-snapping, reverbed bit of Brit R & B, circa 1964. A completely content-free exercise, but Chris Farlowe had the soulful pipes all right, and he was never afraid to emote -- so much for the cliche of the cold, reserved Englishman.
3. Long Gone / Albert Lee
From That's All Right, Mama (1969)
Serendipity indeed! Albert Lee (do NOT confuse him with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After) was probably the guitarist on that previous track; he played with Chris Farlowe from 1964 to 1968, before he followed his rockabilly heart into a band called Country Fever. Though the record is uneven, flashes of guitar virtuosity make it easy to see why British pub rockers like Dave Edmunds (and Nick Lowe) idolized Lee. I'm amused to see that this song was written by Neil Diamond -- that explains the corny yips in this classic I'm-outta-here song.
4. Mr. Churchill Says / The Kinks
From Arthur; Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire (1969)
Hard to believe that this record came out the same year as Albert Lee's rockabilly outing. Here comes yet another unjustly neglected jewel of satire from the mind of Ray Davies. In 1969, who wanted to follow a rock opera about a middle-aged working-class Englishman's disillusion with the dream of Empire? A few diehard fans, that's all -- and there's the Kinks history in a nutshell.
5. Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over) / Elvis Costello
From Mighty Like a Rose (1991)
Elvis wrote this one with Jim Keltner, long about the same time as Keltner was drumming with. . . (wait for it) -- Nick Lowe, John Hiatt, and Ry Cooder in Little Village. It certainly sounds like a song a drummer would write, with the tom-toms going crazy, getting all tribal. The rest of it is a dissonant polyrhythmic sonic tapestry (calling Brian Eno!), absurdist and surreal. I just could not get this when this album first came out. Love it now, though!
6. Just Like Joe Meek's Blues / Graham Parker
From Burning Questions (1992)
To think that Graham Parker was turning out music this tuneful and smart in 1992 -- and I wasn't listening! What a shame. Here's what I wrote about it when I finally woke up...
7. Call Me The Breeze / Alan Price and Rob Hoeke
From Two of a Kind (1977)
Hey, it's another J. J. Cale number! But sorry, no Amazon link -- I converted this one from vinyl, a decidedly obscure LP I found in a bin years ago. Alan Price has a funny habit of doing duet projects with other keyboardists -- Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, and here Dutch pianist Rob Hoeke -- somehow they inspire each other, kicking out a set of blues covers that's fine indeed.
8. I Should Know / The Mavericks
From Trampoline (1998)
Throw together country twang with a Latin horn section -- no one makes that combo work better than the Mavericks (who happen to hail from Florida, not Texas). Their ace in the bag is lead singer Raul Malo, whose supple, honeyed voice could make any song sound great.
9. Protection / Graham Parker and the Rumour
From Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
Yippee, another GP number, from his untouchably great New Wave album Squeezing Out Sparks. Snarky lyrics, snarly guitars, nagging keyboards (hooray, Bob Andrews), and whiplash syncopation -- modern neurosis never sounded so good.
10. Out of Touch / Daryl Hall & John Oates
From Big Bam Boom (1984)
Sheer 80s -- synths, reverbs, a whiplash beat, and soul on ice -- but hey, I never could resist these guys. C'mon, this is a freakin' great pop song, sleek and chrome-trimmed. Daryl's voice? Like buttah.