Thursday, May 17, 2007

THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN

Ok, here we go! The first of the random I-Pod moments. After a crazed, obsessive weekend that saw me load over 360 CDs into I-Tunes (about 4,200 songs), I'm ready to give the thing a whirl. Pure shuffliciousness.

(Actually, I have no idea what's coming out here. I loaded my wife's music, some of my obscure titles, stuff I haven't listened to in 15 years -- L7, anyone? -- things I never liked. This should be quite interesting.)

My most incredibly self-absorbed & egocentric post after approximately 600 previous posts not exactly known for a lack of those traits. Yes, indeed . . . the moment has arrived.

But, contrarian that I am, I will not be doing this thing on Friday. No, no, no. Friday is (in theory at least) Movie Day. It's the day that Otto Man and George do their Friday Random Tens. I'm not treading on those toes. No sir. And Wednesday is Random I-Poddery over at Two Glasses, so Toast already has a proprietary interest in the day I'd have chosen. Nope, I'm doin' Thursdays.

And why Eleven, you may ask. Why not the standard ten? Or a clean dozen? Even the baker's dozen Toast tosses out there?

Because. That's why. If it's good enough for Nigel Tufnel, it's good enough for me. Enough with the preliminaries, let's get to it. Ladies & Gents, I present to you a post no one requested, no one wondered about, and in all likelihood, no one wants. Your first Thursday Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One™:

1. "Things We Said Today" -- Beatles.

Pretty solid early Beatles song. Paul sings, but this seems to have John's imprimatur all over it. The bridge doesn't sound like something Paul ever came up with.

Anyhow, not a bad start. No complaints about this one.

2. "Let The Devil In" -- TV On The Radio.

I like this album (Return to Cookie Mountain) a lot, but I haven't listened often enough to get a solid sense of which songs are my favorites. There's a decent variety in the tunes, but they all share a similar sound. This one's all right, but I think it lacks that sublime quality the best ones have.

3. "Oh, Atlanta" -- Little Feat (Live).

Waiting For Columbus is a fantastic live album. Rock solid grooves. Enough creativity to keep things fresh, but it's still tight. Not a lot of noodling & wacking-off. This cut's a good one, but there are far better ones on the album. I've seen these guys (post-Lowell, of course) a few times, and they usually do a good job with this tune.

4. "Changes" -- Sugar.

Copper Blue is one of those albums that gets lost in the huge late-80s/early 90's rock shuffle. So much good music, so many killer albums. So a solid-but-not-amazing effort from the former leader of one of the 80's seminal groups wasn't gonna get the notoriety it deserved. I always liked this album, even if it wasn't quite in the "leave the jewel box on top of the CD player" category.

(And it was better than "Frank Black.")

5. "Strange Loop" -- Liz Phair.

Speaking of early 90's greatness, and "seminal" music. (Pun intended.) The last cut on Exile In Guyville, this one's the cigarette after the action. Good lyrics, as usual. Man, early Liz was great.

(And on the personal front, I had a largely unrequited affair was obsessed with a girl named Liz during this time period. I referred to her as Liz Unphair.) Ok, moving along . . .

6. "Daniel & The Sacred Harp" -- The Band.

Not one of the songs off the great Music From Big Pink or The Band, this comes off some compilation album. An ok song. It has the Band's standard roots music + mystical lyrics combo, but it lacks that special something the boys had on their first two albums. Levon & Manuel share the singing here, but the latter doesn't have that mournful, soulful quality he had at his best. I love their first two albums (plus The Basement Tapes), but these guys had a long, slow decline over the 7 years following the release of The Band. By the time of their farewell show featured in the somewhat overrated The Last Waltz came out, they just didn't have what made them special earlier on.

(But I guess you can say that about a lot of groups & artists.)

7. "Dos Gardenias" -- Omara Portuondo.

Eh. I love the album this is on: a Cuban music compilation I picked up at a street fair a couple years back. But this one is one of the two or three songs I always skip: slow, not very rhythmical, and a cheesy 80's synth production sound. Boo, the first bad effort of the mix so far, and it comes off a CD with so much good stuff to offer.

(Ahhh, the risks of the Shuffle.)

8. "Rats" -- Pearl Jam

Back in The Neighborhood's early days, I wrote a post that was tenuously based on this album: Vs. Part music review, part travelogue. Check it out if you feel like it.

This song's pretty good. There's a line -- about "The Rats" -- where Vedder says they "lick the dirt of a larger one's feet." Back in the day I thought he said, "Licks the dirt off "Olajuwan's feet."

Hey, I knew the guys in Pearl Jam were huge NBA fans. Shit, their original name was "Mookie Blaylock," and their first album was named "Ten" because it was his number.

Ok, I'm rambling. Next song . . .

9. "State Of Love & Trust" -- Pearl Jam.

Whoa. That's really fucking random (which is the point of a Shuffle, right?). This is off the Singles soundtrack, which contains a number of "Seattle" cuts from the era: Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, Alice & Chains. With Andrew Wood & Layne Staley, all it needed was a Nirvana song to complete the "soon-to-be-dead singer triumvirate."

(And speaking of Seattle and the NBA, you may recall Xavier McDaniel's very funny cameo in Singles . . . even though he'd since been traded to the Knicks.)

Anyway, this is a good song; I always liked it, and wondered why it didn't get onto Ten. Strangely enough, I was never a really big Pearl Jam fan. I owned a couple their albums, but that was it. I preferred Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice In Chains in that "grunge genre." Whatever.

10. "Walkin' After Midnight" -- Cowboy Junkies.

Yes! The first "sweet cut" of the session. The Trinity Session is one of the true underrated albums of that late 80s/early 90s era. Margo Timmins voice is sooooo alluring. She's confident, and can really swing a song, which is a requirement if you're doing Patsy Cline. Plus she adds a coy . . . not quite vibrato, just a trill. Her voice chimes. Nice. And the harmonica is killer here.

On an album filled with unique covers of great songs, this one really stands out. It's no "Sweet Jane" (which is only one of the two or three best covers ever), but it ain't shabby. Now let's see if we can finish off this inaugural effort on a high note . . .

11. "Hallelujah" -- Django Reinhart.

Ohhhh, Django. As Otto Man says, "That Belgian gypsy could play some guitar." Yes he could. And that Frenchman with the Italian last name could rock the violin a bit too.

Nothing super special about this cut, but nothing wrong either. Grappelli opens it up, as usual, with some violin as Django plays rhythm. Then Django steps in with a tasty solo, before the piano takes over. Finally, Reinhart & Grappelli trade off licks. Hard to decide if Django's leads are actually better than the rhythm. That man could play some guitar.

So there we have it. The first effort in the books. Your comments? Thoughts? Criticisms? Words of censure & derision? Your own Eleven? Let 'er rip, folks.

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17 Comments:

Blogger Otto Man said...

Nice! Welcome to the club.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Mort said...

Cubbies 11
Mets 1

10:50 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

As I said at Taast's place, that 3-4-5 heart of the order is a murderer's row. All three of those CDs had definite "jewel box on the player" status for me in the early 90s.

Say I remember that Pearl Jam post, I beleive it was one of my first comments here, what convinced me to become a regular.

I'll be back later with my own list. [slips in earphones...]

11:01 AM  
Blogger Marked Hoosier said...

Your music sucks!!!eleven!

/runs away giggling...

12:22 PM  
Blogger George said...

I was a huge Copper Blue fan back in the day--in fact, about the only bass part I ever figured out on my own was the one for "A Good Idea."

Also, a mixed tape (er, yes, old cassette, made back in 1993) I was listening to on the ride in to work this morning kicked off with "Never Said." To think Liz went from much more than phair to phairly ridiculous. But Exile is still terrific. (Wonder if it's something about the Exile in... construction that means any artist who records such an album will dither on till uselessness.)

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Mike, nice list. One request: in addition to the song and the group, please identify the album in the song header. Maybe I'm being a stickler, but it drives me nuts when I don't immediately see this.

My unproofread comments:

1. Beatles -- no comment necessary, except to say that I think it's fitting that the Beatles kick things off for you.

2. TV On the Radio -- I'm surprised, considering how new this is and the fact that you've never mentioned them to me.

Oh well.

In any event, I actually sampled this album's tracks on Amazon a few months ago because I'd read really good things about them. The samples didn't sell me, though I didn't hate them either and it's often tough to get a good listen from the samples. I'd be interested in hearing more of this.

3. Little Feat -- I heard a lot of Little Feat in my college days as a bunch of my buddies loved them. I liked them, but they're in a genre -- "The Band" or "bandy" kind of music -- that hasn't really gripped me yet. I'm hoping to get into the Band...and maybe the others will follow.

4. Sugar -- you and my bro, independently, got me into this CD, I believe.

5. Liz Phair -- no comment. I have one CD by her with a really long name that I think is OK. I don't know anything about her music otherwise.

6. The Band -- See Comment 3. I liked the Last Waltz movie, but maybe that's because I didn't know didly about the Band except the handful of songs repeated on FM radio and the reverance with which they're remembered by critics and musicians.

7. Omara Portuondo. I'm taking note of this one. The wife likes to play this stuff when the parents or neighbors are over for dinner parties.

8&9. Pearl Jam. I hate to say it but Pearl Jam mostly bores me. I wish they didn't, because I feel like I'm missing out.

10. Cowboy Junkies. I have a wife-bought CD collecting dust out in the living room. Maybe I'll load it into iTunes and give it a few whirls.

11. Django Reinhart. I think I sampled some of his stuff when I sampled a bunch of other jazz musicians (would that make sense?) and I liked him. However, I limited myself to a few CDs and he just missed the cut.

Maybe I'll post my eleven or fifteen here later.

Applesaucer

2:27 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I remember L7. All I ever picked up from them was Bricks Are Heavy. Good album. Saw them play Lolla at Randall's Island on a brutally hot summer's day.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

OM - Thanks. You'll see this list tomorrow morning . . . with a self-audit.

Mort & Marked - If I knew "Eleven" would be such a source of humor, I'd have actually made a joke.

Furious - Yes, I remember you telling a pretty cool story in the comments to that one. I think Joshua Tree was involved.

George -

"A Good Idea." You mean "Bob Mould re-works 'Debaser.'"

"Never Said"

I love that song; you had it in my head all day. And I'm not complaining, by the way. "So don't look at me sideways/don't even look me straight on/And don't look at my face in the mirror, baby/I ain't done anything wrong." I love Liz' good lyrics.

Apple - Yeah, I thought the same about the Beatle leading off. Made me very happy.

TV on the Radio takes a few listens, but once you "catch on," it's really something. I didn't use the word "sublime" frivolously.

Django is really worth checking out. Beyond his ridiculous chops, he's got that "joyful" quality we spoke about last summer.

(Even though his life was anything but.)

Ded - That's the album I have. I liked it . . . in 1992. I think that was '92 Lollapolooza. The only one I missed in that stretch.

I was at Randalls in '94 . . . and it rained like a motherfucker.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Comandante Agí said...

360 CDs

damn, has your CD drive recovered from all the ripping? I went through that a few years ago, converting all my CDs to mp3s. Requires patience.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Agi -

I'm crazy when I set a goal. As Mrs. Mike and friends know, I get fanatical; very "orthodox."

6:17 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

You know, George, I think I misquoted the third line from the "Never Said" bridge: it should be "And don't look at my hands in my pockets, baby," but my line works too, somehow.

I have no idea where that came from.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

I rarely use the shuffle feature, since I have some of my better half's stuff on my iPod (Madonna? Erasure? not my bag baby). Plus, I have a lot of other stuff that is seasonal, and I would feel odd listening to Christmas music in July.

I have to be honest, I know 5 of the bands named, and only own music for 1 of them (I need to get some of The Band). I hate to admit this, but I do not own a single Beatles CD or song. I like them, I just never bought anything. Once the songs are available digitally, I plan to remedy that in a big way. I hope that I will still be allowed to visit the neighborhood in spite of that fact.

Ripping is long and tediuos, but the end result is joy. I really enjoy the iPod.

If you do not own anything by them, I recommend The Killers, both Hot Fuss and Sam's Town. ST is different from HF, but still quite good. Brandon Flowers is an odd guy, but damn good IMNSHO.

9:40 AM  
Blogger DED said...

I'll second Ed's recommendation for The Killers. Got both albums. And the wife loves them.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

the wife loves them

I tend to be of a mixed mind whether this is a good or bad indicator.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Let me once again mention checking out the library. I don't know what they have to offer for you in Queens (right?) but here in Ann Arbor I really stocked up on the music. In fact I got both of the aforementioned Killers albums as well as both Kings of Leon albums and countless others for the cost of going online, reserving them, and going to pick them up.

Greatest discovery of my lifetime. And they are great for the old stuff too: Extensive Elvis Costello and Springsteen collections, for instance. They are shocking poorly-outfitted in old Stones and Rush, two glaring gaps in my digital collection that I never upgraded from vinyl.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Sorry I never got back with my list. The Sox and Tigers had an afternoon tilt on Thursday, and I swaped iPod for AM at my desk. Never completed the "eleven."

11:33 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Let me once again mention checking out the library . . . glaring gaps in my digital collection that I never upgraded from vinyl.

I hear you. I plan to head over there when I get the chance. Pretty busy weekend here, so I didn't get the chance.

6:30 AM  

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