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iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 8

March 23rd, 2010 8 comments

A couple of years ago I started an occasional series of songs that popped up on my iPod’s random shuffle. I had sort of forgotten all about it, but it’s rather good fun (and liberating) to explore these random songs instead of working from carefully compiled shortlists. So, here are five more in the Random 5-track iPod Experiment.

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Tracy Chapman – If Not Now (1988).mp3
I have many great memories which are soundtracked by Tracy Chapman’s excellent 1988 debut album, particularly a life-changing trip to Zimbabwe. I played Side One of the album to death, put off by a couple of songs on the second side which simply weren’t as good, especially the two openers, Mountain O’ Things and the cod-reggae of She’s Got A Ticket. If Not Now is the side’s penultimate song, preceded by the outstanding For My Lover. Great memories of Zimbabwe apart, the Chapman album now always reminds me of my wedding day in 1993, when my brother played the album loudly while dressing that morning. The wedding video film captures him binding his tie and singing loudly along to Behind The Wall, a song about…domestic abuse.

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Joy – Paradise Road (1980).mp3
Oh, great pick, iPod. Released in 1980, this was the first number 1 on South Africa’s “white” charts by a local black act, topping the Springbok charts for nine weeks. That was remarkable under apartheid, of course, even if the song is mainstream pop. Even more remarkable, it was quite evidently an anti-apartheid song, taking issue here with the laws that outlawed sex (and therefore marriage) across the colour lines. I’m not sure which Paradise Road is being referred to. There is one in Cape Town, in the upscale suburb of Claremont, but that isn’t near the tracks that separated white from black (as Tracy Chapman once put it). It is a fine song, with a most wonderful vocal performance by the late Anneline Malebo, who became the first South African celebrity to announce her HIV-positive status. Despite the mammoth success of Paradise Road, which remains a South African pop classic, and supporting such acts as Lamont Dozier, Timmy Thomas, Clarence Carter and Dobie Gray on their South African tours (before the cultural boycott took hold), Joy had split up by 1983. More on Joy and the tragic, inspiring Malebo.

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Bill LaBounty – Didn’t Want To Say Goodbye (1982).mp3
The iPod is caught in an ’80s vibe, it seems. Bill LaBounty’s self-titled 1982 album is a criminally overlooked gem. Perhaps it came three years too late, belonging to the AOR genre populated by the likes of Ace, Player, Rupert Holmes, Orleans, Ambrosia etc — the types featured on this mix, in which LaBounty was also represented with the stand-out track of the 1982 album, Living It Up. Another fine track from the album, Look Who’s Lonely Now, was also recorded in 1982 by Randy Crawford, but I don’t know which version came first. The eponymous album was his last for 12 years as LaBounty returned to writing songs for others. In the 1990s he branched out into country, writing several hits for Steve Wariner.

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Linda Lewis – Been My Best (1972).mp3

This is really nice. Not a song I’m particularly familiar with. Well, I wouldn’t have known it had you asked whether I have this song, even though I have played the album it’s from often. It resides in the middle of Side 2 of Lewis’ 1972 album Lark, a lovely affair in which Lewis creates a folky fusion of Joni Mitchell and Minnie Riperton. The shuffle function is a great way of discovering songs.  The versatile Lewis could do the easy folk thing well; I’ve know her better as the future soul singer who as a child actress appeared in A Hard Day’s Night, as a backing singer, with Tina Charles, on Steve Harley & the Cockney Rebel’s hit Come Up And See Me (she also did backing vocals for the likes of David Bowie and Cat Stevens), and for her glorious ’80s disco number Class-Style (I’ve Got It), which featured on Any Major Funk Vol. 4.

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Dean Martin – Everybody Loves Somebody (1964).mp3
Dino at his most languid. I don’t think that Dean Martin was very serious about this song, written 17 years earlier and recorded spontaneously at the end of recording session. His sardonic delivery, accompanied by antiquated backing vocals that just scream kitsch, is an indication. Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes became a massive hit and one of a handful of signature tunes for Martin. In fact, the title apparently is engraved on his tombstone. In the US, Everybody Loves Somebody took over the #1 spot from the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night — which he had predicted the song would do. He also sent Sinatra, who had recorded the song earlier, a telegram, telling his old pal: “This is how you do it”. While a huge hit in the US, Everybody Loves Somebody reached only #11 in Britain, a market which cannot be said to have been averse to easy listening schlock, as the career of the regrettable Engelbert Humperdinck illustrates.

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More iPod Random 5-track Experiments

iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 7

October 18th, 2008 7 comments
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The iPod Shuffle function is very useful in bringing to the listener’s notice songs that have bypassed them. Of course, there is always the temptation when being confronted with a song one is not in the mood for to skip subsequent tracks, thereby compromising the arbitrary purpose of the random shuffle. And sometimes iPod comes up with a fantastic sequence, as it did this morning, compelling me to violate my no-weekend-posting rule to resurrect the iPod Random 5-track Experiment series, which last ran in March.

Nick Heyward – Whistle Down The Wind.mp3
Alas, poor Nick Heyward. He was just too clean cut, too cute and too saddled with a insurance salesman’s name to be respected. When the barely pubescent girls put up their Nick Heyward posters from Smash Hits, the deal was sealed: Heyward would not, could not be taken seriously by the cogniscenti. It’s a pity. Haircut 100′s pop was better than it has been given credit for, and Heyward’s 1983 North Of A Miracle debut solo album is at least in part quite excellent. The album’s first three singles, including Whistle Down The Wind, made the UK Top 20, but none made the Top 10. Perhaps the catchy Blue Hat For A Blue Day is the better remembered song, but Whistle is the better song. The chorus is just lush and lovely, and much more mature than his age at the time, 22, might suggest. Heyward made some fine music in the 1990s as well. Check out the gorgeous Not The Man You Used To Be.

Bruce Springsteen – Hungry Heart (live).mp3
This version is from the box set of Broooce live recordings released in 1986. It captures the energetic bonhommie between headliner, band and audiences beautifully. You don’t need to see video footage to know that everybody is having a just great time. Springsteen lets the audience take the lead with the first verse and chorus. A minute in, Bruce roars some sound of approval and repeats what the crowd just sang. More than Born To Run, I think Hungry Heart is the quintessential Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band song.

Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today.mp3
I posted this before on the Teen Dreams mix, but can’t understand how No Milk Today failed to be included in the Perfect Pop series (which came to an abrupt end when I misplaced my shortlist of yet-tobe featured songs). Written by Grahame Gouldman, later of 10cc, the song was a massive hit in Germany, but did not perform as well as other Herman’s Hermit hits in the US, where the group in 1965 – the year before No Milk Today – outsold the Beatles. The arrangement is deceptively complex, featuring an orchestra and excellent use of bells.

Blondie – X-Offender.mp3
I posted this before in the 1970s Time Travel series. Few moments in pop music are sexier than Debbie Harry’s spoken intro. Oh, but the ’70s were an innocent age, when acts like Blondie were ordered not to feature the word “sex” in the title of a song which very much is about just that (a prostitute’s sexual attraction, possibly reciprocated, to the cop who bust her). Having said that, I think X-Offender is a better title than the original Sex Offender. Originally released in 1976, X-Offender didn’t attract wide notice until the following year. And soon after Blondie broke really big with Denis.

Weezer – Island In The Sun.mp3
I tend to make my own cellphone ringtones. At one point, Island In The Sun was the personalised ringtone alerting me to calls from Any Major Wife. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I note that my wife loves to phone. So I’d get lots of calls signalled by Island In The Sun. That kind of thing can spoil a song, especially when the “hep hep” causes interruptions in the midst of intensive concentration (as my prose here might suggest, my bids at intensive concentration are largely unsuccessful). I changed AMW’s ringtone just before the ringtone ruined the song for me. Happily, I still love this impossibly happy tune – which may or may not be about drug addiction. Weezer weren’t going to include it on their 2001 Green Album; it was included only at producer Ric Ocasek’s insistence. As it happens, it was released as a single, promoted with a great Spike Jonze video (actually, there were two videos), and became Weezer’s biggest hit.

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iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 6

March 31st, 2008 3 comments

To end off the month, here the five random tracks my iPod threw out for your pleasure. Actually, I’m cheating, because it listed a couple of tracks I recently posted…

The Band with Neil Diamond – Dry Your Eyes.mp3
From The Last Waltz. Neil Diamond must have retained some of the cool he had rightfully acquired before going all lamé on us (cf. Pissing off the Thought Police with Neil Diamond), else surely Messrs Danko, Robertson, Manuel et al would not have invited the man to jam with them. And the crowd seems happy enough to welcome him on stage. It’s all good. I like pre-lamé Neil, I like The Band, and I like this song. Thank you, iPod Shuffle Function.

Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You.mp3
Originally from the Moldy Peaches eponymous 2001 debut — and so far only — album, this is everybody’s favourite song from the quite wonderful Juno soundtrack (lovely film too). The one Ellen Page and Michael Cera sing at the end. Kimya Dawson, the female component of the Moldy Peaches, features very prominently on the soundtrack. Her solo albums are well worth seeking out as well.

John Barrowman & Kevin Kline – Night And Day.mp3
iPod loves soundtracks. First The Last Waltz, then Juno, now DeLovely. I was hoping it would give me chance to post something from Cabaret, actually. I may be committing some sort of credibility suicide here, but this is my favourite version (of those I know, which must be a dozen at least) of Night And Day, in terms of tempo, arrangement and vocals. A great though pretty difficult song to croon along to.

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up (Piano Version).mp3
Sometimes iPod surprises me. I didn’t know that this slowed-down acoustic version of the 1993 hit by Linda Perry and chums was residing on it, and I certainly can’t see why I might have thought it necessary to copy it over. Still, having listened to it again for purposes of this post, I think it’s quite a nice version, and a pretty good song, too.

Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Rattlesnakes.mp3
To me, this is the sound of 1984. The lines “She looks live Eve Marie Saint in On The Waterfront; she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance” (hey presto, and another movie reference) are among my favourites from the ’80s.

And for our listening pleasure, a song which iPod didn’t random shuffle: the original version of the Sesame Street/Muppets classic Mah-na Mah-na, by Italian film score composer Piero Umiliani, from 1969. Of the two muppetised versions, I prefer that of Sesame Street, also made in 1969, with the two female backing singers who communicate bemusement better than many a movie actress, and the singer who looks like heroin addict (video). The Muppets’ version (video) has a stoned hippie and some pink animals. Good, but not as good. By the way, links open in the same window, so click new tab/window, or you’ll lose this page.
Piero Umiliani – Mah-ná-mah-ná.mp3

And an added bonus for my fellow Weepies fans: the title track from their new album, due for release on April 22:
The Weepies – Hideaway.mp3

The iPod (non-)Random 10-track Experiment

February 5th, 2008 2 comments

I’m about to wipe everything off my iPod, and reload it (for housekeeping purposes). So, for the pure fun of it, here are the top 10 most-listened to tracks. I have arbitrarily decided to exclude anything from the Beatles’ Love album, because I didn’t listen to it more than once, though my nephews played it ad nauseam over Christmas. Where an artist was represented more than once, their subsequent tracks have been skipped for the purpose of this post. Tracks marked with an asterisk have been featured on this blog before.

1. Nicole Atkins – Brooklyn’s On Fire.mp3*
No surprise here: this song has been an constant earworm, and her wonderful Neptune City album a frequent companion. On the album Atkins hops across and fuses genres, being Abba-esque one moment, then grabbing the singing-torch before going all B-52s on our asses. It’s magnificent. “Brooklyn’s On Fire” has an abundance of exuberance, and probably is the catchiest thing on the album.

2. Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris – Love Hurts.mp3
If CD plays counted, this song would easily head the list. The arrangement and harmonies make this the definitive version of this oft-covered Everly Brothers song (certainly better than that by bloody Cher, or the ludicrously OTT effort by Nazareth). Gram and the lovely Emmylou persuade us that love is indeed “just a lie made to make you blue”. An all-time favourite.

3. Rilo Kiley – Portions For Foxes.mp3*
Strange that this older Rilo Kiley track should still appear ahead of the great stuff from 2007′s Under The Blacklight. Jenny Lewis has never sounded sexier than here. When she commands, “COME HERE”, I’m inclined to obey.

4. Colbie Caillat – One Fine Wire*
I have a fear that the Taste Police will before long declare Colbie Caillat a punishable offence, seeing that “Bubbly” is now a big hit and getting airplay on MOR radio stations. I suspect that Caillat’s success is in part due to the buzz created by the blogging community. So she is ours, bloggers and blog readers. Her stardom will be due not to The Man, but to the music blogs who gave her exposure and to the MySpace phenomenon. A reader of this blog had a brief but good discussion about how The Man will try to exploit music blogs and interactive sites like MySpace as a new form of marketing. But better that, with all the independence the credible music blogs can offer and the power of the My Space browser to click to the next page, than letting Sony’s A&R goons dictate public taste. Hopefully more people of genuine talent like Colbie will find stardom through that route, not via corporate manufacture.

5. John Denver – Rocky Mountain High.mp3
John Denver is overdue a rehabilitation. The music writer John Doran once responded to my point along the lines that those who would applaud Denver’s liberal politics are reluctant to like his music, and those who like his music are likely to detest his politics. My point is that there is much in Denver’s pre-1974 canon that should not be ignored, or subjected to clichéd jokes about straw-chewing hicks. 1972′s “Rocky Mountain High” is drenched in beauty and is free of the hackneyed shtick which by the late ’70s had turned Denver into a granny’s favourite and party-time Muppet.

6. Ben Folds – Gone.mp3
When I don’t know what to play, Ben Folds is always a safe bet. “Gone” is a great track to sing along to, at least the backing vocals. But don’t let that detract from the excellent lyrics addressed to a lover who left him and now won’t even write to him. He says he’s over her, but clearly he isn’t: ” I thought I’d write, I thought I’d let you know: In the year since you’ve been gone I’ve finally let you go. And I hope you find some time to drop a note, but if you won’t, then you won’t, and I will consider you gone.” I can empathise.

7. Billie the Vision & the Dancers (feat Hello Saferide) – Overdosing With You.mp3
One of the large group of fine Swedish Indie groups, this lot is as twee as they come, in a very enjoyable way (though clumsily monikered). This track features the wonderful Hello Saferide a.k.a. Annika Norlin, whom I’m possibly in love with. The lyrics to this song may be weak at times, but you have to love a song about couch potatoing the blues away with DVD box sets of NYPD Blue and Desperate Housewives (clearly not a bit too much sci-fi on Billie the Vision’s shelf, Ms Norlin). Did I mention, it has Hello Safreide, whom I’m possibly in love with, on it? You can legally download Billie the Vision etc’s albums on their webpage.

8. Scott Walker – Joanna.mp3
Walker’s vocal performance on this glorious Tin Pan Alley piece of treacle is stunning (it usually was stunning, but even more so here). Try singing this song; it is no accident that in the abominable Love, Actually, Liam Neeson mimes it to his son, doesn’t sing it. Which I would probably do, ill-advisedly or not.

9. Foo Fighters – Statues.mp3*
The more I hear the new Foo Fighters album, Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace, the more convinced I am that it is the best thing Grohl and pals have ever done, and that the album deserves to be regarded as a classic in its genre already. Without any hyperbole. Just as it had come out, I expressed my dislike for “Erase/Replace”. Someone commented that I was very wrong about the song. And quite rightly so. It’s majestic! But “Statues” remains my favourite song off the album, a track whose simplicity disguises its depths.

10. Perez – Picture Perfect.mp3
Perez were a South African rock group which subsequently split. Which is a shame, because they were pretty good in an alt.rock sort of way. “Picture Perfect”, from 2002, is certainly superior to much that has been released in the genre. A fine song to sing while driving, and not a bad way to spend five minutes secretly playing the air guitar.

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.5

January 7th, 2008 4 comments

When the mood grabs me, I scroll down to the Shuffle function on the iPod and see where it takes me. Here’s the first 5 that came up today:

Joshua Radin – Someone Else’s Life.mp3
A song from my album of 2006. I really like Radin’s calming voice, on this track almost a whisper. Comparisons to Nick Drake are easy when a dude sings quietly, accompanied only by his guitar, but Radin certainly is channelling Drake, with a hint of Simon & Garfunkel. This song was apparently written for his girlfriend, Schuyler Fisk, at a time when he was pursuing her. It must have been an intense pursuit: “Somehow, I’ll make tonight our own, show you every way I’ve grown since I’ve met you.” Some time ago I gave the We Were Here album to my 15-year-old nephew. He is now a massive fan. What better influence can an uncle have but to educate his nephews in the ways of good music? More Joshua Radin here.

Alan Price – Groovy Times.mp3
A beautiful song I don’t hear often enough. Released in 1978, when people weren’t saying “groovy” a lot anymore, it sounds like it was written at a time when people still were saying “groovy”. The arrangement is interesting: it is a mid-tempo ballad in the style of the groovy times of about 1972, but it features restrained Philly-soul strings and a funky disco guitarline. And Price is giving us a great keyboard solo at the end. An insanely happy song. More Alan Price here.

Dusty Springfield – Just A Little Lovin’.mp3
In the late 1960s, British songstress Dusty Springfield went to Memphis and, produced by the great Jerry Wexler, recorded the greatest ever soul album by a white singer. Including the efforts of overrated old Amy Winehouse. Having said that, Dusty in Memphis is a bit overrated itself. It’s a very, very good album and I like it a lot, but it is not quite the masterpiece the critics would have us believe it to be. “Just A Little Lovin” kicks off the album, and if ever there was a song Diana Ross should have sung to show that she was more than the radio-friendly soul-pop princess of Motown, this would have been it. Instead, Dusty nails it perfectly, with a restrained vocal performance and an arrangement that plays entirely to the singer’s strength. More Dusty Springfield here.

Dean Martin – Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.mp3
I cannot claim to be a big fan of the various incarnations of the Idols shows. I do, however, make it a point of watching the local auditions, because there will always be a few laughs to be had. Like the dude who turned up somewhere in South Africa, and announced that he’ll sing a song which he found on a Westlife album, but was originally recorded by Michael Bublé: “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”. He won in the end. The award for worst audition.

Ben Kweller – Until I Die.mp3
Another fine song from 2006, from Kweller’s self-titled album. A lovely but sad song, and the dude is a bit pathetic (in the proper sense of the word) in his fear that the relationship he is in won’t last. Newsflash, Ben: it probably won’t. If you have to beg her to phone you (“I’m in for the night. You’ve got a phone; keep me in mind”) and then ask her to give you a try, then either she’s not that into you, or your self-confessed paranoia and lack of confidence will drive her away. In other words (to quote another Kweller songtitle), this song tells a story many people know all to well from their own bitter experience.

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.4

December 13th, 2007 2 comments

For the sheer joy of it, five more of the random best:

Nicole Atkins – Maybe Tonight.mp3
Oh, I kissed the iPod when it threw up this gem first. I had just finished putting together my Any Major Awards nominations, in which I already awarded Nicole Atkins, for being a viable alternative to the horribly overrated Amy Winehouse. This song sounds like… Petula Clark meets Blondie meets Abba. It’s glorious pop. On other tracks, Atkins gets all soulful (“The Way It Is”), or goes into ’80s throwback mode, sounding like the B-52s as sung by Sandie Shaw on Broadway (“Love Surreal” or “Brooklyn On Fire”). Absolutely marvellous, and so much better than schtick merchant Winehouse.

Crowded House – Fall At Your Feet (live).mp3
This is from the Farewell To The World live CD, which was recorded in 1996 and released ten years later. That album was one of those rarities among live sets, where the stage versions almost invariably eclipse the studio originals. And so it is with “Fall At Your Feet”, one of Crowded House’s finest moments. The lyrics get me every time: “The finger of blame has turned upon itself, and I’m more than willing to offer myself. Do you want my presence or need my help…Who knows where that might lead.” Try hitting the high note of the ad libbed “I fall” rigtht after that verse (at 2:25).

Kevin Devine – Longer I’m Out Here.mp3
Why is Kevin Devine not more popular? This is a great Indie-pop-rock workout, from 2003′s Make the Clocks Move, with some seriously strange and beautifully poetic lyrics (“And you say that there’s someone that you need to reconnect with; some scarecrow from high school that you loved and never slept with; a baby with a pipedream playing hopscotch on your bandages”) .

Ennio Morricone – Deborah’s Theme/Amapola.mp3
I’m not big on movie soundtracks, unless it is a musical. But Ennio Morricone’s score for Once Upon A Time In America, itself one of my all-time top 3 favourite movies, is astonishingly beautiful. It can create emotions like few other albums I have. This track closes the soundtrack, reprising two running themes throughout the movie: “Deborah’s Theme” and the 1930s hit “Amapola”. The strings in the former can make a grown man cry; the latter, coming in at 3:30, might cheer the listener up, but here the tune induces a certain quiet wistfulness.

Radiohead – High And Dry.mp3
I revisited “Creep” over the weekend. Any Minor Dude’s friend brought his new PS2 Sing Star game along, and, lo, there was Thom Yorke feeling “so very special”. I totally nailed this song. As did Any Minor Dude. So we battled until I set an unassailable score. But I know that the very Minor Dude, with his musical talent and competitive streak, won’t let it rest there… Anyway, to the sing at hand. iPod has done well again with a topical pick: “High And Dry” apparently is about Evel Knievel, who has just died. Listening to it now for the first time in a long while, I’m reminded that this is a very good song.

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.3

December 4th, 2007 No comments

It’s fun, this iPod randomising thing. And, as Rol of the excellent Sunset Over Slawit blog pointed out in a comment (I do like comments), my iPod does have good taste. So here’s today’s lot, though it’s a 8-track experiment, iPod having suggested two songs I just recently posted, by Josh Rouse and Miles Davis, and Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing” which I just recently downloaded from the fine Don’t burn the day away blog, whose thunder I didn’t want to steal.

Foo Fighters – Statues.mp3
I love Foo Fighter’s new album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. It might well have replaced The Colour And The Shape as my favourite Foo album, even if the new set has no “Everlong” on it. Clearly, my iPod loves Foo Fighters as well, having featured Grohl’s lot in the first random experiment. “Statues” is turning out to be one of the best songs on the album, a fine piano driven number which however reminds me of some other song I cannot place. The line “we’re just ordinary people” is driving me mad, I’m sure I’ve heard it before.

Serge Gainsbourg – Cargo Culte.mp3
From 1971′s Histoire de Melody Nelson, a mindfuckingly great album on which the music tells you everything you might not understand from the French lyrics (the album is about our dirty old friend picking up young English girl Melody and, guess what, seducing her). Someone once said that listening to Histoire de Melody Nelson is like being fucked by Gainsbourg (don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re gay). Listen to this incredible track to know what my pal meant. It drips with sex, especially when Melody introduces herself 5:40 in. Is that what the “Porn Groove” category on WinAmps ID3 Tag manager refers to?

Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes.mp3
When I watch the Grammys and see how the music industry celebrates boring old dinosaurs (hello Mr Clapton), mediocre young boredom merchants (good evening Ms Jones) and assorted overrated nonentities (sorry, but who are you again?), I despair for all these great artists whose music stands well above these clowns, but receive recognition only in the blogosphere and, perhaps, on hip soundtracks of TV shows. Why is there no industrial felatio administered to the likes of Josh Rouse, Ben Folds, Joshua Radin or Ron Sexsmith. The latter has been around for more than a decade and a half, but while his fuckwitted compatriots Twain, Lavigne, Morrissette and Dion found fame and fortune, he remains a best-kept secret (one with the most magnificent surname). I love Sexsmith’s immensely warm and intimate voice, his songcraft and his variety. “Whatever It Takes”, from 2004′s excellent Retriever, has a great late ’70s soul influence, melodically rather than in its arrangement. It is a happiness-inducing song.

Howie Day – Collide.mp3
I don’t like the man’s name. It sounds like he might be a singer in a boy band. That he is not. Howie Day is, in fact, a singer-songwriter type. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of much of his work though there are three or four songs I really rate, and nothing I might despise. “Collide” is a very good, catchy tune. I think he sings it very well. It is Mrs Major Dude’s cellphone ringtone, and it reminds me of somebody I once knew. My favourite blogger in the whole world did the guitar tabs for the song. Check them out here.

Warren Zevon – Lawyers, Guns And Money.mp3
Everybody knows “Werewolves In London”, and maybe “Excitable Boy”. Fine songs both, but I think 1978′s “Lawyers, Guns And Money” is even better (though, perhaps, not as good as “Jeannie Needs A Shooter”). The powerful guitar and keyboard chords that drive the song grab your attention from the go, then Zevon tells his story about how “the shit has hit the fan” in a Central American cold war spy intrigue (which, one suspects, might be a huge bullshit story the waster scion tells his rich Dad). I love the “heya” at 1:35 and the “ugh” at 2:32, and the other assorted yelps, groans and exclamation marks. A fantastic driving song. If you don’t know much about Warren Zevon, try to get his live album, Stand In The Fire.

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.2

December 1st, 2007 1 comment

Another five random songs from my iPod’s Shuffle function. Like before, Any Major iPod was in a mellow mood. That is perhaps because a high percentage of the music on it is mellow…

Alexi Murdoch – All Of My Days.mp3
Murdoch’s “Orange Sky”, from the astonishing Four Songs EP, received a lot of coverage on several TV shows. Off-hand, I remember it featuring in The O.C. and Prison Break, as well as on that wonderful film Garden State. Alexi Murdoch remains a staple on TV drama series, and yet he is not very well known at all. That is a pity, because his Nick Drake-channeling music has greater depth than inclusion on the soundtrack of Brothers & Sisters, or whatever, might suggest. Indeed, his full debut, last year’s Time Without Consequence recalled Drake even in requiring a few listens before it really clicks. “All Of My Days”, which kicks off the album, manages to sound at once laid back and intense, gentle and urgent. Good choice, iPod.
More Alexi Murdoch here and here.

Missy Higgins – Nightminds.mp3
Apparently Missy Higgins is absolutely massive in Australia. Now that the Aussies have turned that objectionable shit Howard out of office, made fools of themselves at the rugby world cup and have given us the adorable, wonderful Melissa Higgins (and Bob Evans and Auggie March), I can now object only to their cricket team, with the spit-rubbing captain. “Nightminds” comes from Higgins’ excellent 2004 debut, The Sound Of White. It’s one of those rather intense ballads on the album. I take it that the song addresses somebody with either depression or an addiction, with Higgins offering support and understanding. In the initial verses, the solitary piano and Higgins’ delivery communicate a sense of emotional pain. With the chorus, a cello (or something with strings, I can never really tell) and drums come in, and the melody and lyrics become more hopeful. A beautifully constructed song.
More Missy Higgins music here.

Gram Parsons – She.mp3
Not to be confused with the Charles Aznavour hit covered by Elvis Costello. Here, Gram Parsons (one who is too easily overlooked in the “gone too soon” stakes) infuses his country/rock with soul, perhaps having just listened to Donny Hathaway (another one often easily overlooked in the “gone too soon” department). Of course, a song about a slave girl who could sing requires a soul influence. But what Parsons — formerly a Flying Burrito Brother and a Byrd — accomplishes on this track from 1973′s G.P., his full debut solo album, is to show just how close country and soul used to be. Parson’s lifestory can make you weep: his father committed suicide on a Christmas Eve when Gram was 13; his mother died on the eve of his graduation; and Gram was dead of a heart attack by the time he was not yet 27, leaving behind a rich musical legacy (without Parsons, no Wilco) and our regret at how much more he might have accomplished in shaping modern music. Read about Parsons’ death soon after the release of G.P. here.

Jam – Eton Rifles.mp3
This is the joy and the trouble with the iPod Shuffle function. You get into a particular mood during a sequence of certain kinds of songs, and then something completely different comes on. And so it is here: Alexi, Missy and Gram create a kicked-back mood, and then the sharply dressed threesome go all The Who on us, with ripping guitar chords and incendiary singing, punctuated by the menacing backing heys. “Eton Rifles” is an air-guitar anthem for those who would feel stupid playing imaginary instruments to “Freebird” or ’80s hair rock. Play it loud and don’t forget to time your triumphant leap in the air at the smack-in-the-gob end.

Dobie Gray – Drift Away.mp3
The soul song even soul-hating rock fans could love, sort of an inverse to Parsons’ “She”. The Rolling Stones covered it, Uncle Kracker (newsmaking sidekick to the revolting Kid Rock) covered it with Dobie Gray, even Michael fucking Bolton covered it before he decided he wasn’t Otis Redding after all, but Luciano Pavarotten. I don’t recall Bolton’s version, but surely even he couldn’t mess this song up. Or could he? The excellent Echoes in the Wind blog has a vinyl rip of the Dobie Gray album on which “Drift Away” originally appeared.

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 1

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.1

November 18th, 2007 1 comment

A little fun diversion. Put the iPod on Party Shuffle, and take the first five tracks that come up. It seems my iPod was in a kicked back mood, coming up with five songs that are pretty mellow.

Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life To Begin.mp3
I’m a great fan of the former Men At Work singer when he is in wistful mood. This song, from the great 2000 album Going Somewhere, is an anthem to restlessness, a “is this is all there is to life” song which hints at depression. Our man is unhappy, but probably is still good company. And what a great vocal performance! (More Colin Hay here)

The Weepies – All I Want (live).mp3
A Christmas song that works all year around. The lyrics basically say that getting the “you” in the song would be the perfect Christmas present. The studio version even has jingling bells, absent on this stripped down live version from the superb-quality (and artist approved) bootleg of a gig in Ohio in 2004 (find it here). I love the Weepies, name notwithstanding. I love them so much that I’ll repost the links for previous files I’ve posted. Listen to them, and then go and buy their CDs, including the lovely Deb Talan’s solo CDs. Check out the Weepies’ hompage.
The Weepies – Cherry Trees (live).mp3 (From this post)
The Weepies- Gotta Have You.mp3 (From this post)
Deb Talan – Forgiven.mp3
Deb Talan – Tell Your Story Walking.mp3 (From this post)

Judith Sephuma – I Remember.mp3
A late-night or Sunday morning jazzy vibe from South Africa, with keyboards that clearly are influenced by the Crusaders’ Joe Sample. Judith Sephuma, whose ex-husband, South African jazz guitar maestro Selaelo Selota, appeared on the album, fuses SA jazz (which tends to be melodic), Aftrican vibes and old-style R&B. Sephuma (homepage here) won an award for being Africa’s best female singer a couple of years ago for this album. Hear her, and decide that she is in fact one of the best singers in the world.

Foo Fighters – Walking After You (live).mp3 (link removed)
I’m never sure what the Taste Police makes of Foo Fighters. Well, those who don’t like them can get stuffed. The new album is excellent, especially since it guest stars the very fine and quite unique guitarist Kaki King. This classic is the live version from last year’s Skin And Bones acoustic(-ish) set. It is certainly one of the highlights of the album (great DVD, too), though the Foo’s take on “Everlong” is a real mindfuck. (More Foo Fighters here and download the acoustic version of Everlong here)

Phil Campbell – Maps.mp3
I don’t remember how I came across Phil Campbell, but his second album, Joy, was a very pleasant discovery, good enough that I set out to buy it. As if South African CD shops stock albums by obscure artists… “Maps” is great, in the folk-pop tradition, and a fine song to sing along to (which, in my book, elevates a song from being good to great). If this dude was not English but American, he’d be quite big, in a Ryan Adams kind of way. Checking on Hype Machine — the fools who won’t list this blog — there has been one blog featuring the music of Campbell, of all things the track off Joy I like least. On the album cover he looks like the actor Elijah Wood, which I find slightly disconcerting. His friends on MySpace look impressive: Ben Folds, Rilo Kiley, Ryan Adams, Ben Lee, Ray LaMontagne, Jesse Malin and a few more big names.

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