Thursday, May 24, 2007

THE ELEVEN

Well, here we are, back with round two of this testament to my self-absorpsion and geekiness. That's right, another episode of The Thursday Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One.

After last week's outstanding debut, I can literally feel the reversal of Fortuna's Wheel bearing down on the I-Pod. The suck lurks just inside the shuffle function. Oh well, what can we do? Not all of my wonderful tunage can appear in any given day. Sometimes they're shy. Oh whatever, I'm rambling yet again. Letter' rip:

1. "Monkey Gone To Heaven" -- The Pixies (Doolittle).

Ah'ight, not a bad leadoff effort. This wouldn't even qualify as one of my 4 or 5 favorite songs on the CD, but let's not forget, this album is loaded. Doolittle is among the Abbey Roads or Dark Side of the Moons of that magical late-80's/early-90s period that I can't stop blabbing about.

2. "A Mistake" -- Fiona Apple (When The Pawn . . .).

Yeah, like I'm writing out that CD title. This is a good song, a real winner from a somewhat uneven album. When you think of those unique, pretty-but-rough things that Fiona does especially well -- off-kilter cadences & phrasing, jaunty rhythms, aggressive-but-erudite lyrics -- this one's got it. This album isn't as good as her initial effort, which had non-stop great songs. And it's not in the league of her latest effort, simply because it doesn't have anything to match the sublimity of "Extraordinary Machine." But it's a decent album, and this is one of its best songs.

3. "La Chinita" -- Manu Chau (Proxima Estacion Esperanza).

Sweet! We're rocking the house so far. A solid effort from everyone's favorite Spanish-speaking Frenchman. Whether it's one of his solo efforts, or with Mano Negra, this dude brings the musical chops. I highly recommend checking him out. Funky, rocking songs & trilingual lyrics about girls, music, chiba, and his own weird philosophical musings that make little sense in any language.

This one's less complex. La Chinita literally means, "Little Chinese Girl," and Manu sings about how she likes to dance. Of course he sings it in Spanish.

4. "Money Won't Change You" -- Aretha (do you need a last name?) (Lady Soul --Bonus Track).

I don't know this song well, but it has all the expected ingredients: the rock-solid Memphis sound (if that's not Steve Cropper on the guitar, it's a helluva imitation), tight-as-hell grooves, soulful backup singing, and of course, the Queen herself rockin' the mike. What more do you need? If you've never heard this song you still know exactly how it sounds.

5. "I Would For You" -- Jane's Addiction (XXX).

I know the real name of this live album is Jane's Addiction, but we always called it "Triple X," after the label's name. This was Jane's first album, and it contains lots of great stuff: a little suite of "Sweet Jane" into "Sympathy For The Devil" which played a major role in getting this "classic rock junkie" into modern music back in the late-80s. Also different versions of "Pig's In Zen" and "Jane Says" than you'll find on Nothing's Shocking. I love the disc, but this slow number is only a so-so effort. Nothing wrong with it, but it lacks the gut-punch that most of the other songs deliver.

6. "Life Is White" -- Big Star (#1 Record/Radio City).

Like most people that own Big Star on CD, my version has the first two albums on one disc. This is the second song on Radio City, essentially an Alex Chilton solo effort, since Chris Bell died after the first album (the #1 Record, you might say). It's an ok song, most notable for its arhythmic barrelhouse piano solo in the middle. It ain't no "September Gurls," that's for sure.

7. "Lady Day" -- Lou Reed (Rock n' Roll Animal).

Another so-so cut off a fantastic album.

(Ahhh, the pitfalls of The Shuffle).

Actually, this isn't a bad song at all. It just isn't the best on the disc. Anyhow, if you don't know this album, it's really great: Lou Reed doing some of his best Velvet Underground & early solo songs, backed by a top-notch band. Excellent stuff.

And, by the way, is this about Billie Holiday, and if so, how many songs have there been about her?

8. "Sincerely Diana" -- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (A Night In Tunisia).

Blakey's backed by Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, and Jymie Merritt on this session from 1960. A fairly typical early-60's jazz sound: Blakey's distinctively powerful drumming, and that angular, pushing-the-modern-jazz-sound in the trumpet and the sax solos.

(Oh whatever, I barely have any idea what I'm talking about. I love Lee Morgan, and all I'm thinking is that I wish I was listening to one of the cuts off his own album right now.)

9. "Annie" -- Elastica (Elastica).

Elastica! Wow, this album was really popular in 1995. I wasn't crazy about "Connection," the hit off this disc, but I liked the rest of it a lot. Hell, I even saw them at Tramps in NYC that spring. Helluva show actually. They were very energetic, very tight, Justine Frischmann was a natural-born performer, and the place was absolutely crawling with hot chicks. Oh, to be 27, single, and listening to good live music at a NY club.

(A moment of reflection for me, if you will . . . ok, I'm back. Let's move along)

10. "When I Get Home" -- The Beatles (Hard Days Night).

Whoa. This week's Random Momentâ„¢. Last week's first song was "Things We Said Today," and this is the next song on the same album. And a good song it is. John really "rock stars" this one in the raspy frontman voice he busted-out on certain numbers back in the Beatles early days. Plus, he's not singing about holding hands or anything like that in this one -- "When I get home/I'm gonna hold her tight/I'm gonna love her til the cows come home." Go Johnny go.

Plus, as a bonus this song just roars out of the opening, and has some good George backup vocals.

11. "Blood" -- Pearl Jam (Vs.).

And yet another Random Momentâ„¢. Hmmm. Last week we had back-to-back Pearl Jam songs, including "Rats," which appears only two songs after this one on the same album.

To repeat from last week: I own only two Pearl Jam albums (out of ~375 I've loaded into I-Tunes) and yet they've appeared in 3 of the first 22 songs in this series so far.

And I don't even like Pearl Jam that much! Just when it looked like I'd escape Fortuna's Wheel . . .

Anyhow, an ok second effort. Plenty of good artists and good albums too, but we managed to miss a lot of good songs. Feel free to add comments, criticisms, stories, or your own 11 songs.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Kelly said...

Entry #10 (and #1 from last week) written as if by a true Beatles fan. Right on, Mr. Mike, right on.

Signed, Kelly

(a.k.a. former and current nerd: my high school best friend and I knew every Beatles lyric, harmony, and trivial fact; she was Paul - I was John; I'm still going to hold her to our years-old pact to sing Lennon/McCartney at Karaoke during our upcoming girls-getaway trip this summer...).

9:42 AM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

Interestingly, the way I got exposed to Jane's Addiction was through my mother - she loves JA.

And I'm feeling the pride and kudos, even though I'm not a fan of the Dead.

9:59 AM  
Blogger George said...

Weirdo that I am, "Life Is White" is actually one of my favorite Big Star songs (though it is no "September Gurls" which might be the best pop song of all-time). I love its lurchiness. Indeed, one time I saw Chilton live and shouted it out as a request and I swear he nodded like, "Oh, good call" but of course he didn't play it. (No piano, so no solo, so not quite the same song, as you point out.)

It's funny that twofer Big Star we all own omits "In the Street" which then became the theme to That 70s Show but it was Cheap Trick doing a cover, so poor Big Star got rooked out of even that much fame. That's the Alex Chilton and Chris Bell story in a nutshell.

11:41 AM  
Blogger George said...

Almost forgot--no Hoboken, so I have a shot tomorrow to be the first to have NJ represent.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Kelly - she was Paul - I was John

Good to hear. Clearly, you were the cooler of the two.

And I'm feeling the pride and kudos, even though I'm not a fan of the Dead.

Well done, Maurinsky.

George -- I have "In The Street" on my CD. IT's song number three.

10:40 PM  
Blogger George said...

No fair! I guess I got mine a longer time ago, for they even explain why the cut "In the Street" out to fit everything onto the CD.

It plays at 78 rpm, too.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

That still doesn't explain it. If they had to skip a song, it could've been "Ballad of El Good-oh" or something along those lines.

6:20 AM  
Blogger George said...

Turns away ashamedly...I like "Ballad of El Goodo."

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

1. "Monkey Gone To Heaven" -- The Pixies (Doolittle).

I've owned this CD for like 10 years. Just started listening and haven't gotten into it yet -- maybe there's not enough "groove" for me. I know that you, my youngest bro and many others are way into it, so I'm gonna give it every benefit of the doubt.

2. "A Mistake" -- Fiona Apple (When The Pawn . . .).

I actually think that "Fast As You Can" is a tremendous song. I totally dig the backbeat; I tend to think the backbeat is uniformly strong on this record.

3. "La Chinita" -- Manu Chau (Proxima Estacion Esperanza).

What do I know from Manu Chau?

4. "Money Won't Change You" -- Aretha (do you need a last name?) (Lady Soul --Bonus Track).

Indisputably great singer; I used to have a "Best Of" in High School; don't have one anymore.

5. "I Would For You" -- Jane's Addiction (XXX).

I was soooo in to Jane's Addiction before you were.

6. "Life Is White" -- Big Star (#1 Record/Radio City).

I have the same CD. To me, the first CD is very derivative, with average vocals at best. The second CD is not so derivative, but...I don't know. I like the whole thing, but don't come close to loving it.

7. "Lady Day" -- Lou Reed (Rock n' Roll Animal).

All I have is the "Peel Slowly and See" box set, which is pretty much everything the VU ever did. No Lou solo though.

9. "Annie" -- Elastica (Elastica).
Yeah, the wife and I went to a show, too, and thought it was great. Ran into our friend, JF, there.

10. "When I Get Home" -- The Beatles (Hard Days Night).

I've never had this one, I'm ashamed to say.

11. "Blood" -- Pearl Jam (Vs.).

I'm with you on Pearl Jam. I actually want to love them, but I can't.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I've owned this CD for like 10 years. Just started listening and haven't gotten into it yet

It may not happen. I know a few people with great musical taste who just aren't into The Pixies. It happens. Based on me and other fans I know, they aren't one of those bands you need to "get used to," you just dig em from the get-go. I loved them on first listen. I don't see this getting off the ground.

What do I know from Manu Chau?

Probably nothing. His "most well-known" song -- which isn't very well known -- has him singing "Me Gusta . . . a whole bunch of things.

I was soooo in to Jane's Addiction before you were.

Oh snap! You win. Just take everything: this blog, my CDs, my wife, my apartment . . .

the wife and I went to a show, too, and thought it was great. Ran into our friend, JF, there.

I'm sure you remember the story, but I bumped into him at a Sonic Youth show in '92.

I've never had this one, I'm ashamed to say.

Oh snap! There goes your win. I'll take back the blog, the CDs, and everything else, if you please.

8:27 AM  

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