Anybody else watching The Singoff on TV? I have to admit, it has screwed up my Monday and Wednesday night schedules. But I can't pass up the chance to watch Ben Folds deconstruct each a capella group's technique (the other night he actually told a bass percussionist that he sounded like James Jamerson). So yes, the Shuffle's a little late tonight...
1. "Lie Still, Little Bottle" / They Might Be Giants
From Lincoln (1988)
It's probably just aspirin in that bottle, but the Johns make it sound totally wicked and depraved. I love it when they go finger-snapping jazzy like this.
2. "Wild Honey Pie" / The Beatles
From The Beatles (1968)
Filler? Sorry, but not one note of this album is filler. I prefer to think of it as an essential segue -- it's impossible for me to hear this sloppy bit of cacophony without expecting the Spanish guitar fill to lead us next into "Bungalow Bill."
3. "Holloway Jail" / The Kinks
From Muswell Hillbillies (1971)
My favorite album from my favorite band, and -- since my middle name is Holloway -- I've always felt a particular connection to this song. A droll bit of comedy, about a floozy who takes the rap for her no-good lover, but the Kinks absolutely nail that old-timey country sound. Nail it.
4. "I Forgot to Remember to Forget Him" / Wanda Jackson
From I Remember Elvis (2006)
Talk about old-timey country -- here's the queen of rockabilly, strutting her sassy way through a tongue-in-cheek kiss-off song.
5. "Moments" / The Kinks
From Percy: The Soundtrack (1971)
More Kinks? I'll take it -- even though this is one of their lesser albums, it still offers up a few incredible gems, including this winsome track. "We got to learn to share these moments in our lives," Ray warbles, and campy as it is -- dig those movie music strings! -- it also makes me mist up.
6. "Too Hot" / The Kinks
From Word of Mouth (1984)
No misting up here. As the mid-80s Kinks impersonated arena rockers, Ray Davies leaned heavily on the social satire -- like here, where he lampoons the fitness craze. (Remember leg warmers?) Best part: the steel drums in the middle-eight.
7. "Windfall" / Son Volt
From Trace (1996)
Back to the country, son, with Jay Farrar's post-Uncle Tupelo act, Son Volt. Lots of wheeze and twang, with more fiddles than you can shake a stick at, but I love this track's gently rambling valediction: "Let the wind take your troubles away..."
8. "Artificial Man" / The Kinks
From Preservation Act 2 (1974)
A fourth Kinks track! What a coincidence. Well, here's Ray in campy vocal mode again, and deep into the satire as well. Preservation is not for the casual Kinks fan, but it goes without saying, it's one of my faves. Even this cobbled-together mess of a track is near and dear to my heart.
9. "I'm Ready" / Muddy Waters
From Fathers and Sons (1970)
One of the reasons I had to buy a turntable again was to listen to this amazing blues album, which brought old masters Muddy Waters and Otis Spann together with a new generation of acolytes like Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield. One of Muddy's iconic tracks, played with reverence and joy.
10. "Bidin' My Time" / Georgie Fame
From Somebody Stole My Thunder (compilation)
British 1960s pop star Georgie Fame kept defying the hitmakers to indulge his twin passions for soul and jazz -- or rather, for a snazzy fusion of the two. This track's a perfect example, ineffably cool and yet upbeat. "Bidin' my time / My heart is beating faster / Hope it's the time / To make you happy ever after..." Makes me want to put on a mini-skirt and white lipstick and tease my hair.