This Beatles cover appears on Burning Your House Down, a title which nicely describes the band‘s explosive thrash/punk/rockabilly sound. Wow. The intensity knocks me over. Here they are performing “High Horse” (an original) on Letterman in September.
3) Tubthumping They Might Be Giants feat. the Onion AV Club Choir 3:22
Recorded for the Onion AV Club earlier this year, They Might Be Giants‘ cover of Chumbawumba’s 1997 pop hit appears on the TMBG b-sides compilation, Album Raises New and Troubling Questions.
Aloe Blacc‘s soulful cover of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” (cleaned up for radio), which pulls in Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and James Brown’s “The Big Payback.” He performed the song on BBC Radio 1′s Live Lounge.
The Wombats cover Jessie J’s big hit, described by lead vocalist Matthew Murphy as “a massive bulletproof pop song with quite a nice sentiment.” I’m a big Wombats fan — if you don’t have their two LPs, well, what are you waiting for?
Such a beautiful cover of Ron Sexsmith‘s song, which originally appears on his Retriever (2004). Emmylou Harris likes the song so much that she also used it for the title of her album. She could sing almost anything and make it sound transcendent, but when she sings a song that’s already a good one — well, just give it a listen, eh?
This doesn’t actually stray that far from the Fruit Bats‘ original version, but there’s something about the Decemberists‘ ragged intensity that keeps bringing me back to their recording. It appears on their iTunes Session EP.
Beautiful, melancholic version of the Jackson 5′s 1969 smash hit. Sonos were one of the best groups on NBC’s The Sing-Off, sent home early for being a bit too experimental in their interpretations. That willingness to experiment, however, is precisely what made them — and Afro-Blue (another group that should have been a finalist) — so great. But the judges didn’t get it. Sonos also recorded a longer version of this for their 2009 record SONOSings. The version here comes from The Sing-Off: Season 3, Episode 4.
There’s a version of this on iTunes, but this is the recording you see in the video below… because I like this version better. Johnson and Stoner originally recorded their version of this Cole Porter classic for a Nokia advertisement.
Very nearly all of the covers on the Green Album (new versions of songs that feature in Muppet programs) are great, but I’m particularly fond of this one. Gonzo the Great brings some pathos to the original version, but Rachel Yamagata singing “There isn’t a word yet for old friends who’ve just met” should touch the heart of even the crustiest curmudgeon. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Statler and Waldorf!)
Last year, Nine Kinds of Pie presented seven Halloween mixes. This year, it’ll be just one new Halloween mix. (Feel free to check out the old ones, though. They’re still up on the blog!) The theme this year is all instrumental. Henry Mancini, Combustible Edison, Big Lazy, and others present some (mostly) spooky tunes without words. Enjoy!
“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone”
The theme to the classic television program, The Twilight Zone (1959-1964). Though this is the familiar theme, it wasn’t used on the first season (1959-1960) — that year used a theme by Bernard Herrmann (best-known for his Alfred Hitchcock scores). Below, the opening for the 1963 season:
And here is the original opening, with the Herrmann theme:
Luscious Jackson’s Vivian Trimble + the Breeders’ Josephine Wiggs = Dusty Trails, who put out just one LP. It’s a fine record, reminiscent of a particularly good soundtrack. Bonus: one of the songs includes vocals by Emmylou Harris.
Best known for his disco hit, “A Fifth of Beethoven” (1976), Walter Murphy composed a lot of film library music, including this track, which appears on Cinemaphonic: Electro Soul (a collection of such music by Murphy and others).
I’m sharing the abbreviated version used in The Exorcist, but you might want to check out the full version of “Tubular Bells, Part I.” This blog limits the file size to 20MB, and the full 25:33 track is 37MB. So, I’m unable to share the longer version here — even though that’s the version I’ve used on the iTunes version of this mix. On the original recording, Oldfield played all of the instruments himself. Below, a trio of videos in which he (on bass guitar, initially) performs it live with Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, Mick Taylor, and others.
As R.E.M. has called it a day this week, I’m paying tribute by highlighting a facet of their career that is not being talked about that much — or, at least, not in the articles I’ve seen. And that is… R.E.M., the cover band! One of their hits was a cover of the Clique’s “Superman.” Rather than focus on that, I thought I’d highlight a few covers that were not hits. To quote the (lesser-known) R.E.M. song from which this blog post takes its title, “Music will provide the light / You cannot resist.”
This one is part cover, part improvisation, and (at its conclusion) part mash-up. R.E.M. — performing under the name Bingo Hand Job — plays a version of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner,” which was then gaining notice because of DNA’s remix of the song. Billy Bragg joins on backing vocals, chiming in near the end with “Unbelievable” (from EMF’s song, very popular at the time). Recorded at the Borderline Club in London.
In which R.E.M. cover a song with a complicated history — “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a song written by Solomon Linda, who recorded it first (as “Mbube”) with his group the Evening Birds in 1939. Retitling it “Wimoweh” and adding some lyrics, the Weavers had a hit with it in 1951. Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore created a new arrangement for the song, added revised lyrics by David Weiss, retitled the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” — and gave themselves songwriting credit for their alterations to this allegedly traditional folk melody. I read about this in Rian Malan’s excellent piece in an issue of Rolling Stone in 2000. The Wikipedia page devoted to the song sums up many of its points, including the legal history which (ultimately) resulted in Linda’s heirs receiving some royalties for the song. Anyway, the Tokens recorded a hit version of the Peretti-Creatore-Weiss version in 1961, and the song has long been a staple for a capella singers. This recording appears as a b-side to R.E.M.’s “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”
A laid-back and probably improvised cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (1979) appears on a single sent to members of R.E.M.’s fan club in 1996 — the year before drummer Bill Berry’s departure. And, perhaps, one day, it’ll gain wider release on a big R.E.M. box set. Now that the band has decided to part ways, perhaps they’ll assume a curatorial role over their back catalogue & release such rarities? Well, one can hope….
It’s been said that, though the Velvet Underground had few fans, everyone who listened to them started their own band. In the interest of full disclosure, I heard R.E.M.’s cover of “Pale Blue Eyes” (on Dead Letter Office, 1987) before I heard the Velvet Underground’s original recording. The R.E.M. version first appeared as a b-side to “So. Central Rain” (1984).
The boys from Athens, GA cover … Audrey Hepburn… or possibly Andy Williams or, well, any of the people who recorded this song prior to them. Irrespective of which version inspired Michael Stipe to take it on, the first version of “Moon River” (music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer) appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), sung by Audrey Hepburn. “We’re after that same rainbow’s end, waiting round the bend.” Thanks for the tunes, Messrs Berry, Buck, Mills, & Stipe –
Today, the first of three Labor-Day-themed posts. Here’s a mix of songs about work. And, yes, I’m aware that many other songs that could be included here — I came up with enough additional songs to fill a second CD, and then some. Since much of this blog is devoted to children’s literature, I should also note here that a couple of the songs later in this mix have lyrics that include obscenity (mostly f-bombs): I’m thinking specifically of Cake’s “Nugget” and Cam’ron’s “My Job.” To begin the mix, here’s a song from the start of the Great Depression….
This One’s for the Workers: Labor Songs, 1929-2010
Probably the best-known song by West Virginia singer, songwriter and fiddler Blind Alfred Reed (1880-1956). Ry Cooder recorded it on his self-titled debut album (1970), and Bruce Spingsteen recorded a revised version of it for the reissue of his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (subtitled American Land Edition in this version). Springsteen retained only the first verse from Reed’s original; new verses address the failed government response to Hurricane Katrina.
To give you a sense of how popular this song was, two versions were hit singles in 1932 — one recorded by Crosby and the other by Rudy Vallee. With music by Jay Gorney, E. Y. “Yip” Harburg’s lyrics tell of working people abandoned by the country they helped to build, and for which they fought. During the third year of the Great Depression, the message resonated with the public. Harburg may be better-remembered today for “Over the Rainbow” (and other songs from the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz), “Old Devil Moon” (and other songs from the musical Finian’s Rainbow), or for “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” but this is one of his most powerful lyrics.
Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Millard Lampell — the Almanac Singers — recorded this song for their second record, Talking Union (1941; re-released with additional songs, 1955). Written by Seeger, Hays, and Lampell, the song uses a “talking blues” style later adopted by Bob Dylan.
An idol of Bob Dylan and sometime member of the Almanac Singers, Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) here sings in support of Henry Wallace, Progressive Party candidate for President in 1948. As the liner notes to Hard Travelin’: The Asch Recordings Vol. 3 (on which this song appears) tell us, Guthrie “was certain that if farmers and laborers joined together they could elect Wallace; they didn’t.” Guthrie is best-remembered today for his “This Land Is Your Land.” Of songwriting, he once said:
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built. I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.
A #1 hit in 1958, the Silhouettes‘ “Get a Job” has an upbeat sound that masks the more serious subject matter — unemployment. As the song’s protagonist says, his girl is “tellin’ me that I’m lyin’ about a job that I never could find.” The band Sha Na Na took its name from the backing vocal.
Another pop hit (#2 on the U.S. pop charts), this one about prison labor. Written by Cooke (1931-1964), the song is said to be inspired by his encounter with a chain gang. Cooke’s biggest hits — “Wonderful World,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “You Send Me” — tend to address more conventional pop-music subjects. But “Chain Gang” and the posthumously released “A Change Is Gonna Come” display Cooke’s social conscience.
The half-sister of Pete Seeger and an accomplished folksinger and songwriter herself, Peggy Seeger sings of how gender discrimination prevents women from getting the jobs (and salaries) they seek. Compelling narrative, strong message.
Joe Strummer sings about jobs he doesn’t want to do. “Career opportunities are the ones that never knock. / Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock.” Co-written by Strummer and Mick Jones (who actually had worked a government job opening letters to make sure they didn’t contain bombs), the song appears on the Clash’s self-titled debut album.
Bragg covers Leon Rosselson’s song about the Diggers, English agrarians (1649-1650) who sought to establish a more egalitarian society whose members could farm the common land for their mutual benefit.
In his cover version, Waits recasts the song as a minor-key lament, reminding us that those dwarves in Snow White were in fact miners. And mining is a tough job. From Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.
Inspired by John Ford’s film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (novel, 1939; film, 1940), Springsteen‘s song paraphrases Tom Joad’s speech near the end of the film. Joad, played by Henry Fonda, says: “I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too.”
According to Classic Labor Songs (Smithsonian Folkways, on which this song appears), “Californian Jon Fromer has spent a career working in television and radio. He is an active officer of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Communications Workers of America…. He is a member of the Freedom Song Network, an organization of San-Francisco-area musicians dedicated to social change.”
“It’s the flight of the salesman, death of the bumblebee, nothing left for the attorneys and the tumbleweeds.” A song about the Great Recession, featuring a rap from one of the best lyricists working today: Dessa.
25) Money Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (2010) 3:22
“Money. Where have you gone?” On I Learned the Hard Way, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings contribute another song to the music of the Great Recession.
In North America, those of us who are teachers or students are thinking about school. In August and September, the summer holidays end, and a new term begins. To commemorate (or commiserate?) this season last year, I posted Dark Sarcasm in the Classroom: A Back-to-School Mix. This year, I’m posting a mix about language. Enjoy!
Leading the mix itself and its “ABC” section (which concludes with track 7), it’s the vocalese trio of Dave Lambert (1917-1966), Jon Hendricks (b. 1921), and Annie Ross (b. 1930). From their album Lambert, Hendricks & Ross! (a.k.a. The Hottest New Group in Jazz!).
“West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe!” They Might Be Giants’ alphabetical trip around the world, from their second children’s album, Here Come the ABC’s. If I weren’t restricting myself to one song per artist, I would definitely include other TMBG songs in this mix.
I don’t know much about Gordon MacRae, but Jo Stafford was a popular vocalist in the 1940s and 1950s. With husband Paul Weston, she was also half of the deliberately off-key comedy duo Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. This song appears on the compilation Small Fry: Capitol Sings Kids’ Songs for Grown-Ups.
Steven Page mocks Ed Robertson’s attempts to write a new alphabet song. Appears on Snack Time!, the first BNL children’s record. Word is that the group (now sans Page) is working on a second children’s record.
“These are the books I like to read / Because reading suits me. / With every page I turn, the pictures coma alive. / Imagination takes what’s possible to new heights.” And the song name-checks both Harold and the Purple Crayon and Green Eggs and Ham! From Frances England‘s Fascinating Creatures.
The first of 6 songs from Schoolhouse Rock on this mix. Since I encounter students (yes, college students) who do not know what a noun is, I often wish that these were still airing during Saturday morning cartoons.
“Hey, you know what? A round cookie with one bite out of it looks like a ‘C.’ A round doughnut with one bite of it also looks like a ‘C.’ But it is not as good as a cookie. Oh, and the moon sometimes looks like a ‘C,’ but you can’t eat that.” Words of wisdom from the Cookie Monster. The song appears on Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music, and (I expect) on many other compilations.
A song of malapropisms, a term named for Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals (1775). This particular song, however, is from a different play — the Broadway musical Top Banana (1952), with music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer and book by Hy Kraft.
From the band’s debut — a 6-song cassette. This Canadian quartet were my favorite group of the 1990s. Their live shows were something to behold. Below, an example of their improvisational stage shows. The song itself starts at around 4:30. Warning to our underage listeners: in the live performance below, Jian Ghomeshi drops a bunch of F-bombs at around 7:40 or so. The audio-only version (above) is clean.
The jump blues of Louis Jordan (and others) helped create the sound that would become known as “rock ‘n’ roll.” From The Best of Louis Jordan (MCA Records, 1975), a solid single-CD collection of his work.
The final song in our “nursery rhyme” sequence appears on A Good Man Is Hard to Find: The Middle Years Part Two (1938-1940). One in Bluebird/RCA’s fantastic series of Fats Waller CDs — now, alas, out of print.
The song for which Barenaked Ladies named their 2000 album appears on Ken Nordine’s spoken-word/jazz classic, Colors. I’ve placed it here because, like nursery rhymes and playground chants, the song is as much about the sound of words as what they mean. And, linking us to the next song, the theme of the record is Nordine trying to describe colors — the sort of task for which one might want to unpack some adjectives….
The mix concludes with four Schoolhouse Rock songs. I generally don’t like to use so many songs from the same record (in this case, a 4-CD set), but since each track is performed by a different artist, I’ve given myself a pass here. Here, the late Blossom Dearie — of “Peel Me a Grape” fame — teaches us about the adjective.
32) Verb: That’s What’s Happening Zachary Sanders (1974) 3:00
“A verb tells it like it is.” In addition to teaching us about verbs, this cartoon features an African-American superhero — not a common sight on television either in the early 1970s or today. Zachary Sanders also sang the Schoolhouse Rock song “Electricity, Electricity.”
33) Interjections! Essra Mohawk (1974) 3:01
“Darn! That’s the end.” Essra Mohawk also sang the Schoolhouse Rock song “Sufferin’ Til Suffrage.”
They were hits. They were available on vinyl. But you can’t buy them now. They’re unavailable on CD or in digital form. Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes (Special Mix),” Opus’s “Live Is Life,” the English version of Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” (“99 Red Balloons”), the English version of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom (Coming Home),” the American Version of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus,” Blue Clocks Green’s “Hemingway.”
I have most of these on vinyl (photos below are from my collection unless otherwise indicated). But the audio comes from persons unknown who have shared the sound files. For the record (pun! pun!), I don’t condone piracy: I’ll only seek a “bootleg” copy of song if it’s unavailable commercially. As always, if you are the owner or if you represent the owners of this material, just ask and I’ll take it down.
Let’s start with the best unavailable song: Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes (Special Mix)” (1986). Here is an 8:20 version, which is longer than the 7:14 on my 12-inch. With the exception of the extra minute, both of these versions are very similar in that they’re a vastly different version of Gabriel’s original — a new arrangement, with much more of Youssou N’Dour’s vocal.
The 7:14 version is also available as a b-side to the original single.
Perhaps this can be had in Australia (the band’s home), but it’s out of print here in the States. At the time, I liked the song (I own the original 45) even if it sounded a bit like an INXS knock-off. Now, however, this Models song sounds like a lost INXS classic. Time has shifted my aesthetic evaluation, or perhaps I was unfair to the song when it was first out. The video (below) reflects fashions I would have thought were hip in the 1980s and which now look like… they were hip in the 1980s. Um, yeah.
The Australian rock stars just before they became superstars. From the 12” of “What You Need,” here’s a very 1980s remix by Nick Launay. I enjoyed it just as much as the original version, which was a top #5 hit in the U.S. It (the original) appears on INXS‘s Listen Like Thieves. The title track only made it to #54 on the U.S. pop charts, but their next album would yield four top ten singles in the US. That record was, of course, Kick.
Like Nena’s hit, the German version of Peter Schilling‘s song is readily available. The English version is not. A sequel to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (1969) and “Ashes to Ashes” (1980), “Major Tom (Coming Home)” appears on Schilling’s record Error in the System.
This is the closest to the “American Version” of Falco‘s song that I can find — it’s about a minute and a half longer, but it includes the spoken-word narrative of major events in Mozart’s life, and the other elements of the American release. And, yes, the video is as ridiculous as the song.
The b-side to the 12” single, this is not strictly instrumental. It’s absent RUN-DMC’s vocals but does include Steven Tyler’s vocal. On the original record, the inner groove had just the beats. So, when the needle reached the end, it simply repeated those beats endlessly.
And who can forget the video?
Well, that was fun. Perhaps, in another post, I’ll share other forgotten (but still available) music from the 1980s: Big Pig, Royal Crescent Mob, Toni Childs, David & David, Screaming Blue Messiahs, Red Rider, and so many others….
Image credits: from my record collection except for Nena (Wikipedia).
Happy First Day of Summer! Here’s a “Summertime” box set. I will now take your questions.
Q: Are there good “summer” songs omitted from these four mixes?
A: Yes, of course there are. I came up with an additional 133 songs that I did not use.
Q: Will you assemble more mixes including those songs?
A: If I had world enough and time,… I would. But…. [Long pause.] Yes — the young man in beige?
Q: Beyond “Summertime,” does each mix have any additional theme or mood?
A: Yes. The first three are all uptempo. The fourth is more midtempo, even quiet, and contains the highest proportion of melancholic songs. So, if you want something a little more calm, head for the fourth one.
“Let’s take a kayak / To Quincy or Nyack” or, no, “Let’s take a powder / To Boston for Chowder.” Love the couplets, and the band’s shouted responses to Anita O’Day’s vocals. “Let’s take a trip to Niagara. / This time we’ll look at the falls.” Band replies: “What? No romance?”
“And the sun keeps shining ’til it’s dead and gone. / And it must be summer ’cause I can’t go on.” Power pop with melancholic lyrics. Fountains of Wayne’s new record, Sky Full of Holes, is due out later this summer.
Covered by T. Rex, Blue Cheer, and many others — but here’s the original. For a guy who only lived to be 21 years old, Eddie Cochran had a remarkable impact on popular music. In particular, check out his “Somethin’ Else,” “C’mon Everybody,” and “Nervous Breakdown.”
“Can’t you dig the sunshine?” This ersatz pop group perform this song on a talent show (on their own hit TV series, The Brady Bunch), and place third. Hmm. I guess the judges had no appreciation for camp.
From the duo of Bill DeMain and Molly Felder (a.k.a. Swan Dive), a bit of happy summer pop. I knew Bill when I lived in Nashville. He once made me an incredible mix tape of Italian film soundtrack music. Someday, I should try to recreate it on CD — it was (and remains) one of my favorite mixes.
This “supergroup” (the late Robert Palmer, Chic’s Tony Thompson, and Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Andy Taylor) also had a hit with a cover of T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong.”
12) Summertime Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (1999) 2:10
With music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, this song from Porgy and Bess gets a punk make-over. This version appears on Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ Are a Drag — all covers of show tunes.
I’m a devotee of cover versions and I’ve heard the Van Halen rendition of this song, but I’ve yet to hear a recording that beats John Brim’s original. And yes, Mr. Brim is talking about what you think he’s talking about.
Unlike the last song, this one — as far as I’m aware — is just about ice cream. I mean, I’m aware that one could perform it to bring out other meanings. But, in this rendition, it sounds quite literal (to me, at any rate).
After Squeeze broke up in 1982, Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook cut a record as a duo. Released in 1984, it’s the “lost” Squeeze album between Sweets from a Stranger (1982) and Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985)
If you’re like me, when you heard that the world would be ending this Saturday, your first thought was: but what music would be appropriate for the occasion? And, if I were to throw a party, what sort of songs might be on the playlist? Well, your musical worries are over. (Do feel free keep worrying about the Rapture, of course.) Our research teams here at Nine Kinds of Pie have conducted a comprehensive, cursory survey of music to celebrate/commemorate/lament the end. And we’re pleased to present the results in the following series of seven (yes, seven!) mixes featuring all of your End-of-Times favorites!
Rapture Party I: It’s the End of the World (and I Feel Fine)
Sinners, this track’s for you! Or, you know, if you make the pronouns third-person, then it could also be for any of the saved who wish to pass judgment on those left behind. Title track from the final album to feature lead vocalist Bon Scott.
Because what would a rapture party be without Louis Farrakhan? Yes, you read that correctly. Before becoming a minister in the Nation of Islam, he was a calypso singer who performed under the name “Charmer.” Appears on The Best of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour vol. 2.
The first track on Horses, and one of the boldest opening lines to any song ever. So, if you enjoy blasphemy, this song’s for you! If not, well, then I suppose you can comfort yourself with the surety that Ms. Smith will not be among the elect.
“Well, I started as an altar boy, working at the church / Learning all my holy moves, doing some research / That led me to a cash box labeled ‘children’s fund.’ / I’d leave the change and tuck the bills inside my cummerbund.” From the album of the same name.
With a band name like “The Cute Lepers,” we might well assume that the group does not belong to the religious right, a sense which the lyrics confirm: “Headmasters, archbishops aren’t our best thinkers.” From Smart Accessories.
Hank Williams, covered by a band comprised of: Richard Julian (vocals), Norah Jones (vocals, piano), Lee Alexander (bass), Jim Campilongo (guitar), Dan Rieser (drums). From the group’s debut (and only) album, The Little Willies.
From Strange Angels, Anderson’s most accessible record, but also one of her best. Indeed, if you were to pick exactly two Laurie Anderson albums for your collection, you’d want to get this one and Big Science.
When I began this blog, I thought I would post more of the many mixes I make. I haven’t. But here’s the first uptempo mix of 2011 — a happy way to begin the year, and (for those educators and students out there) the new semester.
Adapting the bass line from Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” a title from Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (1984), and synthesizers from Gary Numan (well, that’s what they sound like to me), Cee Lo Green gives us some New Wave soul. It sounds like a lost soul classic from the early 1980s.
If you know about the Soft Boys, it’s probably because you know the work of the band’s lead singer and songwriter Robyn Hitchcock. But Soft Boys guitarist Kimberley Rew also has a knack for writing quirky pop. In addition to the smash hit “Walking on Sunshine” (after the Soft Boys, Rew was in Katrina and the Waves), he’s also released several solo records that are well worth your while.
According to iTunes, these are the songs released in 2010 that I played most in 2010. As such, the list is going to skew slightly towards the beginning of the year (since those songs have been in the playlist for a longer period of time). The number at the far right is the number of plays the track has received this year. So… here’s what iTunes tells you about me & my year’s musical obsessions — of tracks released in 2010, at any rate.
“The folks back east, they say the market’s fine. / I heard that before 1929. / When Black Tuesday comes, it’ll be a hit. / Right out of the air into the pit.” An uptempo — even danceable — song with a social conscience.
I can’t make out all of the lyrics, and frankly have no idea what this song is about. Its repeated plays in my iTunes may be, in part, a result of my attempts to decipher it. But I also simply like its sound.
“You’ll never listen to me. No, you’ll never listen to me.” Surprised that this is as high as it is in my top 50 most played — “Do-Wah-Doo” is a catchier song from this record. Apparently, my ear disagrees with the previous sentence. “Said you’d lend me anything. I think I’ll have your company.”
I know exactly why I like this one — something about the combination of catchy, uptempo pop with sad lyrics. Not that the lyrics are particularly profound. They aren’t at all. They’re of the person-I-love-doesn’t-love-me genre. We’ve heard this type of song before. Yet, inexplicably, Robyn manages to pull it off.
For this song, it’s definitely the hook. It’s a fantasy of getting “far away from a day job,” but the appeal for me is all about the sound of the song. And, yes, the Record’s do spell the band name with that gratuitous apostrophe (instead of The Records). From the album De Fauna et Flora.
You know Cee Lo Green’s The Lady Killer because of the hit single (the clean version of which is “Forget You”), but the whole album is fantastic. One of my favorite records of the year, hands down.
12. Satisfied Cee Lo Green 3:27 18
Another from The Lady Killer. I’m not going to include more than one track by any given artist, so you’ll have to seek this song yourself. (Support independent record stores and just buy the CD. Trust me. You won’t regret it.)
Beginning with a spoken-word suggestion that we “destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture,” the song then moves to its actual subject: desire. “One look at you, and Heaven’s on fire.”
More from A Badly Broken Code. This is the first Dessa song that I heard, and it’s the song that got me hooked. Since I’m not posting more than one song by any given artist, you’ll have to seek this yourself.
Retro-swing from her debut, Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor (released last year in Europe, and this year in the US — but only via iTunes). Big in her native Holland, but no one’s heard of her in the U.S.
Featuring none of the original members, the Pipettes return! Are they still the same pre-fab pop group that they were? Should we care? The new record isn’t as consistent as the debut, but there are a few strong songs — such as this one.
Mp3s are for sampling purposes. If you like what you hear, please go and buy it. Go to the artists' concerts. Tell your friends about them. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me: philnel at gmail dot com.