Friday, August 19, 2011

FRIDAY (or maybe Saturday now) SHUFFLE

Oy, it's been a while.  I have to admit that my Saturday evenings have been devoted lately not to blogging but to listening to the radio -- specifically Marshall Crenshaw's Bottomless Pit show on WFUV-FM (which you can listen to on the internet, either via live stream or in an archived version -- so now you've got no excuse for not checking it out.)  But if I can get the blog done before Marsh's show starts at 10pm Eastern time...

1. Monday Morning / Death Cab for Cutie
From Codes and Keys (2011)
Wow. I was just listening to this new Death Cab CD on a car drive today, trying to decide if I really needed all the tracks in my iTunes library. (Some of those long sonic collages I could do without.)  This song made the cut, though; it's tuneful and has a good beat.  Plus I like to imagine that it's about Zooey Dechanel.  "She may be young but she only likes old things..."  Then again, it does have that line about the vultures surrounding you -- ah, Ben Gibbard, you depressive little scamp.

2. I Love That Girl / John Hiatt
From Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns (2011)
What is this, New Release Weekend?  Now I really feel guilty that I haven't blogged yet about this brilliant new CD.  Because you know I loves me some Johnny Hiatt -- I even saw him live last weekend at City Winery -- well, there's just no excuse. And this jubilant song of love, so simple, so infectious, is a side I like to see him letting loose with. 

3. Wild Thing  / The Troggs
From From Nowhere (1966)
Did someone say simple and infectious?  A true British invasion classic.  "Wild thing, I think you move me..."

4. Got To Get Out Of Here /  Badfinger
From Wish You Were Here (1974)
Some day I really have to get down to business and listen to ALL of Badfinger's work, beyond the few big irresistible hit singles.  There's something sweet and sensitive and sincere about them, and so melodic -- no wonder Paul McCartney wanted to get them onto the Apple label -- and yet a dark underside that makes them really interesting.  This song is just draggy enough to make you wonder whether he is ever going to get out of here; compare this to the energy of the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" -- it's an entirely different thing going on.

5. First Day of Spring / Graham Parker
From 12 Haunted Episodes (1995)
If all you know of Graham Parker is Squeezing Out Sparks -- in other words, if you're like I was a year or so ago -- then you'll be amazed to see that GP also has this tender acoustic side.  He's got an astonishingly literary gift for metaphor -- but don't let me explicate this one for you, listen for yourself. The guy's a freaking genius, honestly. 

6. Woodcutter's Son  / Paul Weller
From Stanley Road (1995)
Probably Weller's best post-Jam album, although I have a sneaking fondness for all his Style Council experiments too. Weller's never shy about genre-crossing; here he lets his rocking-out get plenty funky, wandering off into jazzy backwaters and losing all pretense of being a "song." And yet it works.

7. The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys  / Traffic
From The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys  (1971)
Now there's a brilliant segue.  This extended Stevie Winwood/Jim Capaldi jam works pretty much as pure music too. Remember when a song could be 11:02 minutes long and it still wasn't pretentious?  They melded rock and jazz so effortlessly, we thought it must be easy.  Ha.

8. Modern Nature / Sondre Lerche
From Faces Down (2002)
The movie Dan in Real Life first introduced me to this quirky Norwegian singer-songwriter, with a fondness for the retro show-tunesy side of indie pop.  You could practically do a soft shoe dance to this track, but it's sweet as hell.

9. Tip of My Tongue  / Graham Parker
From From a Window: The Lost Songs of Lennon & McCartney (2003)
Hooray!  Another chance for me to badger you to buy this must-have album, wherein Graham Parker, Kate Pierson, and Bill Janovitz re-interpret various tunes that John & Paul wrote for other artists. As if we needed any more proof that they were brilliant songwriters.

10. Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast) / Lostprophets
From Liberation Transmission (2006)
Thus proving that shuffles are embarrassingly random.  Nevertheless, this is a fun top-of-your-lungs singalong, upbeat and pulsing with punk energy; these Welsh rockers have me preaching revolution without a moment's thought.  Makes me nostalgic for 2006 -- ah, yes, a simpler time.


Mervap said...

Definitely echo the Badfinger comments...catalog is deeper than most folks know.

Alex said...

Another vote for Badfinger -- an amazing band that goes far beyond the hits everyone knows.

Check out the closing cut on Wish You Were Here "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch/Should I Smoke" gives you a great taste of the direction they might have followed if... well, if all Hell hadn't broken loose.

wwolfe said...

I'm going to go against the grain a little with my Badfinger comment. Leaving aside the band's spectacularly disastrous luck in business, I think Badfinger offers a lesson in the limits of the usefulness of the Beatles' model of a democratic band. Pete Ham was a good and prolific songwriter with a strong melodic gift, and a distinctive singer as well. Tommy Evans was capable of providing Pete with an exciting harmony voice, as well as a couple of good songs per album to lighten the work load a little. Mike Gibbins by all appearances was a good bloke who provided a reliable backbeat and knew his role. Joey Molland was a mediocre-at-best songwriter and singer, who seems to have suffered from the mistaken convinction that he deserved a place of equal importance alongside Pete Ham. The result was a series of albums with good-to-excellent songs from Ham, interrupted by pedestrian or worse songs from Molland. Ham, and his audience, would have been better served had he worked as a solo, with support from Evans. (Having, say, Led Zeppelin' Peter Grant as his manager would have helped immensely, as well.)