There is a light at the end of the tunnel -- spring vacation is here, and possibly, just possibly, I can get back to regular blogging very soon. Until then . . .
1. Seeds and Stems (Again) / Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen
From Lost in the Ozone (1971)
Now here's a little time machine for you: This track effortlessly induces a contact high, every time. It isn't just nostalgia -- I never had the pleasure of listening to this great stoner rockabilly stuff back in the day -- but thank god I found them since.
2. More and More and More and Then Some / Nina Simone
From Pastel Blues (1965)
Here's a two for one -- Nina Simone working a Billie Holliday song, and adding her own extra throb of bluesy desire. I certainly wasn't listening to this in 1965; I wouldn't have known what to make of it, anyway. But oh, what fine stuff this is, a shot of moaning late-night melancholy that's just about perfect.
3. Bingo / Madness
From The Liberty of Norton Folgate (2009)
Ska-flavored music hall soft shoe, full of Cockney smart-arse patter -- all in the service of a downright Dickensian panorama of London low-life. A seriously brilliant album, criminally unheralded this side of the Atlantic. I think I can safely say that anybody who loves the Kinks would totally dig this stuff.
4. She Said / Collective Soul
From Dosage (2008)
Funked-up loungy rock, craftily laden with hooky riffs, and cue the strings and synths. I love how Collective Soul pitches to their female audience with sensitive-guy "I understand your pain" lyrics, meanwhile baring their chests and tossing their long hair...
5. Live Alone / Franz Ferdinand
From Tonight (2009)
Talk about hooks -- these Scots rockers pump 'em out recklessly, along with charged-up tempos that sweeten the minor-key desperation of their songs. "I want to live alone / Because the greatest love is always ruined by the bickering / The argument of living..."
6. Nobody Told Me / John Lennon
From Milk and Honey (1984)
What a amazing groove John hits here, loose and comical and reconciled. "Nobody told me there'd be days like these / Strange days indeed!" He's just sitting back shaking his head, amused by the absurdity of it all. When I think that this was where he'd gotten, finally, and then to be shot down -- tragic.
7. Rain Coloured Roses / The Beatstalkers
From The Beatstalkers (1968)
Serendipity! Put together Franz Ferdinand and John Lennon and what do you get? "Glasgow's Beatles" -- or so this band was touted at the time. Sorry I can't post a link, as I only got these tracks from my Glasgow connection (thanks, Davy!). But they were clearly the peers of most British Beat bands of the period (even recorded some early Bowie compositions) and really should be better known.
8. Profoundly in Love With Pandora / Ian Dury and the Blockheads
From Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Best of Ian Dury (compilation)
Last week I finally watched Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the brilliant recent biopic of Ian Dury, so I'm very happy to have this 1985 gem shuffle up. "My mother's heart and soul have gone halfway up the pole / My father's on the dole / It's taking its toll..." As if Dury's clever subversive lyrics weren't enough, this band was an incredibly tight jazz-ska ensemble. Man, do I love them.
9. Further On (Up the Road) / Johnny Cash
From American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)
Late Johnny Cash, gravel voice and all. The fierce distilled intelligence of Johnny Cash at the end of his career is not to be rivaled -- talk about raging against the dying of the light!
10. Retrieval of You / Minus 5
From Down With Wilco (2003)
Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck's other other job, when they're not playing with Robyn Hitchcock. I love the copacetic groove of this "pop collective," which this time round enlisted Wilco to jam with them. It's all good.
BONUS TRACK!!! (Because I can't resist these guys...)
11. All Kinds of Time / Fountains of Wayne
From Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)
Clever AND tender -- that's the special thing about Fountains of Wayne. They gently satirize the football hero in slo-mo exultation at the height of his achievement, and yet make us feel wistful about how fleeting this moment is. It really is "all kinds" of time...
SECOND BONUS TRACK!!! (Because...well, it's Johnny.)
12. Learning How To Love You / John Hiatt
From Bring the Family (1987)
My very first Hiatt post -- loved it then, love it now.
And now I promise I'll stop -- even though Graham Parker's next...