Thursday, March 31, 2011


Back again by popular demand -- for this week at least!

1. Flying / The Beatles
From Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Okay, so it's mostly an instrumental, and a woozy, loungy romp at that, full of organ and bass. But I love it when the Beatles break in with those lusty "La la la las," dissolving into that space-age scrum of random noise--psychedelic, man!

2. Senior Service / Elvis Costello
From Armed Forces (1978)
Vicious jerky rhythms on the verses, insinuating legato choruses, and a riff that roars up the scale like a fighter jet taking off--wowza!  Tons of Angry Young Man aggro here: "I want to chop off your head and watch it roll into the basket . . . ." Nasty as hell, but this song is SO much fun to dance to.

3. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go / Madeleine Peyroux
From Careless Love (2004)
Sometimes I don't even want to hear Bob Dylan's original versions of certain songs. I am quite happy to leave this one with Peyroux's exquisite finger-snapping cover--it's like skipping through Paris with Django Reinhardt in my head.   

4. Gasoline Baby / Marshall Crenshaw
From Jaggedland (2009)
Very few instrumental tracks make the cut onto my iPod, but somehow Marshall's always do. I like to imagine he dreamed this song up while he was at the self-service pump one day -- okay, there's  singing, but it's just variations on "Gasoline baby, gasoline girl, gasoline baby, suck it on down" over and over, with rat-tat drums and a wash of brilliant guitar riffs. Any excuse to listen to Marshall play guitar!

5. I Knew It All The Time / The Dave Clark Five
(1963 single)
Hard to believe this song was just four years before "Flying." One of my fave DC5 numbers, though, with those pounding heartbeat drums (Clark always kept himself high in the mix) playing against a lonesome harmonica. I even love those growly vocals, though it's hard to believe that's Mike Smith. Could it be Dave took over lead vocals on this one?  Anybody?  

6. Love Attack / James Carr
From You've Got My Mind Messed Up (1966)
Same era, but oh, what a different sound! Memphis soul, a slow-dancing seducement that was James Carr's second hit single, peaking at #21 on the R&B charts.  Think Otis Redding with a little extra honey...

7. 36 Inches High / Nick Lowe
From Jesus of Cool (1978)
Oh yeah, and while he was producing Armed Forces for Elvis, Nick Lowe also tossed off his own brilliant LP, lighter on the anger but just as witty. Nick always tucks in a few covers--just to keep himself humble--in this case a Jim Ford gem delivered in lazy, smoky style. It's like he's sitting in a rocking chair, spinning tales of his past as a soldier, a tax man, a king, and why he's only 12 inches high I don't know, but I believe the operative word is "high."

8. Planet of Weed / Fountains of Wayne
From Traffic and Weather (2007)
And speaking of much fun is this track? That fuzztone guitar, the clink of glasses, voices murmuring in the background: It's a ready-made party, in two minutes and 46 seconds. "We've got magazines to read / We've got Doritos to eat / So lay back on the couch / And kick up your feet" -- why, yes, I think I will.

9. Hangin' Your Life on the Wall / Guy Clark
From Dublin Blues (1995)
One of the great storytellers, and totally underrated.  Here Guy duets with Ramblin' Jack Elliott on a wry-but-wise Verlon Thompson song. Like two cracker-barrel philosophers, they recall foolhardy past glories -- as lover, bullrider, baseball player -- chuckling as they push back their Stetsons and put their boots up. "I used to be forever chasing firetrucks / I sure could raise me some hell" -- emphasis on the past tense.

10. Kansas City / Sir Douglas Quintet
From Soul Jam (compilation)
Must be my day for sorta-instrumentals. For years, all I knew was the Beatles' cover of this Leiber/Stoller standard, but now that I've heard Doug Sahm's swinging version--dig that horn section!--I'll never go back. Only problem is, there's just not enough of Doug's soul-shivering singing on this track.  I always want more Doug.

1 comment:

wwolfe said...

That is Mike Smith. One of the underrated singers, in my judgment, and maybe the first in a long line of British singers to closely model themselves after American soul singers. I have every DC5 album, thanks to eBay ("Where Pig Latins go to shop!"), but I've never heard this song.