Huge work project, apartment renovation, crappy weather -- I've got a dozen reasons why the daily blogs just aren't happening. But when all else fails, we've always got the shuffle!
1. Hot Potatoes / The Kinks
From Everybody's In Show-Biz (1972)
Though everybody thinks of Muswell Hillbillies as the Kinks' "country album," plenty of twang was still hanging around for their next album, Show-Biz. If there's a theme on this album, it's about the hassles of life on the road: Here he longs for home cooking, specifically potatoes -- "boiled, french-fried, any old way that you want to decide." And whatever else she's serving...
2. Yolanda Hayes / Fountains of Wayne
From Traffic and Weather (2007)
Did you know that Fountains of Wayne re-united after recording the Kinks "Better Things" for a tribute album? To me, these guys carry on the Kinks spirit in so many ways. Somewhere in New Jersey there probably really is a drivers' license bureau clerk named Yolanda Hayes. I wonder if she knows that Adam Schlesinger (or was it Chris Collingwood?) read her nametag and wrote this utterly charming song while waiting in line...
3. Fluorescent Adolescent / Arctic Monkeys
From Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
Is this band officially defunct? I liked the whomp and jangle of their first two albums, and Alex Turner's guttural Sheffield vocals -- not that I ever thought they were the second coming, like some folks did. ("Bigger than the Beatles" . . . yeah, right.)
4. Selfless Cold and Composed / Ben Folds Five
From Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)
Don't be deceived by the smooth jazz grooviness of this tune -- Ben is telling this bitch off, in a storm of piano arpeggios and riffs and a few of his trademark vulgarities. Yes, the fine art of sarcasm is alive and well.
5. Twisted / Richard Thompson
From Henry the Human Fly (1972)
Jumping back in time -- same year as the Kinks' Show-Biz, as it happens -- another sarcastic kiss-off, this time dressed up like a robust English folk song.
6. In A Space / The Kinks
From Low Budget (1979)
The Davies brothers again -- with the album that re-launched their American popularity (for the third time). I've never quite gotten this song. It's like a mash-up of Dave's cosmic perspectives with Ray's neurotic desire to escape, cranked up like a punk anthem (listen to Ray's growled vocals). Enter the arena rock years...
7. Sure Pinocchio / John Hiatt
From Little Head (1997)
Word in the Hiatt camp is, this is his worst album. Doesn't mean it hasn't got some good songs on it, though, and I love this one, which was actually written by bassist Davey Faragher (now part of Elvis Costello's Imposters). Another spiteful kiss-off song.
8. Town Called Malice / The Jam
From The Gift (1982)
Paul Weller puts on his soul shoes, channeling his inner Supremes. Yeah, the satiric edge is still there, but the tunefulness of this track totally leaves punk behind.
9. Paper Sun / Traffic
From Mr. Fantasy (1967)
Ah, when psychedelia was young, and all that sitar and tabla and reverb seemed fresh and new. But if you want a hazy lush sound, turn loose Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi. Their first single, seemingly out of nowhere -- you could get a contact high from this one.
10. Didn't Want To Have To Do It / The Lovin' Spoonful
From Daydream (1966)
And only a year before, this was the sound of the moment: gentle jug-band music, filtered through a mellow Southern California high. (Different drugs.) The opposite of a sarcastic kiss-off, John B. is sending that girl out the door so tenderly -- "I didn't want to have be the one to say 'the end' (the end, the end...)"