Wait, it's December already? Wait, it's Wednesday already?
1. "Changed the Locks" / Lucinda Williams
From Lucinda Williams (1998)
I think I'd like Lucinda Williams more if all you male music fans weren't always slobbering over her brassy-babe act. Okay, yes, the rootsy squawk and drawl of this song is appealing, and yes, it should be satisfying to hear a sister wash that man right out of her hair. It's just that I wouldn't trust her with my man for five seconds.
2. "This Empty Place" / The Searchers
From It's the Searchers (1965)
British Invasion bands sure did like to cover Burt Bacharach-Hal David songs. This was a hit for Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick, and the lyrics are really better for a girl singer -- borderline dopey Brill Building sentiments. But that cha-cha beat is beguiling, and I love the octave swoops in the lead vocal (either Frank Allen or Chris Curtis, in the Searchers' revolving door of personnel). The Searchers never quite got their due, IMHO -- they never had a compelling enough image or a distinctive enough sound to compete in that very crowded field -- yet they turned out a surprising number of great tracks, and this is one of my faves.
3. "One Bright Star" / Paul Weller
From 22 Dreams (2008)
A tango -- a tango! -- from the former Jam front man, whose music gets more eccentrically eclectic with every album.
4. "Hollywood Bed" / The Blasters
From Testament: The Complete Blasters Collection (compilation)
Back to classic rock and roll sound, though the track dates only to 1981. I came late to the Blasters, via Dave Alvin (Nick Lowe's Yep Roc label mate), who long ago played in this band with his brother Phil. That revved-up tempo, the hectic joy of this song -- this was SO not the sound of the 80s for me, but I'm glad I eventually found it.
5. "Whistle for the Choir" / The Fratellis
From Costello Music (2007)
A charming little shuffle of a song by one of my favorite young BritIndie bands. Melody is alive and well and living in Scotland.
6. "Don't Let Me Down" / The Beatles
From Past Masters Vol. 2 (compilation)
1969, and we knew the Beatles were pretty much kaput --for the first time, John Lennon was taking full songwriting credit for a song. And -- ouch! -- he's singing to Yoko, "I'm in love for the first time / Don't you know it's gonna last / It's a love that last forever / It's a love that has no past." Well, I knew what he was getting at, but I cringed for Cynthia's sake. Am I the only one who hears a veiled threat in this song, shades of "Run For Your Life"? Johnny, we hardly knew ye....
7. "My Blue Angels" / Jon Lindsay
From Escape from Plaza-Midwood (2010)
Hello, what have we here? Yesterday's brand-new find. Honest, I didn't rig this; I am NOT being paid to promote this kid, I swear. But seriously, you should check him out.
8. "Blank Expression" / The Specials
From The Specials (1980)
Aw, what a great album. It wasn't just ska, it was political ska with a low-fi punk edge. I love how the voices are just slightly out of synch as they sing, "Where did you get that / [blank] Blank expression on your face?" This lyric runs through my mind whenever I walk through hipster Williamsburg.
9. "Making Whoopie" / Ben Sidran
From Old Songs for the New Depression (2002)
Jazz -- because sometimes you've just got to. Ben Sidran sneaks on here as an acolyte of the divine Mose Allison, who slipped onto my radar courtesy of Georgie Fame and Van Morrison. It's just Ben and a piano, taking this silly old show tune through all its changes. Dee-lish.
10. "Beautiful Night" / Paul McCartney
From Flaming Pie (1997)
That searing solo John, and now some throwaway solo Paul. (Don't worry, I'll never switch allegiances.) Well, it is a beautiful night -- as Paul tells us (I've counted) thirty-nine times. A charming simple little tune which Paul then runs into the ground for the last minute and a half. Man oh man, this dude so needs me to help him edit his music . . . along with any other services I'd be happy to provide...