Thursday, July 26, 2007


Yeah, I know it's been a long time. So long, in fact, that a percentage of those who actually care won't ever see this. Which leads me to the philosophical question, if an I-pod plays on shuffle but nobody hears it . . .

You get the idea. But the idea isn't to philosophize, but to play some goddamn music. To rawk! That's right folks, after a too-long hiatus, after contentious social drama that saw the internets descend into rancor, it's time that I set the universe right again. It's time that I do a Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One. Let's hit it:

1. "Better Version Of Me" -- Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine):

Ahh, nice way to begin (although this "version" sounds like crap -- is my I-pod screwy?). Anyway, I like this song. It's not in the class of the incredible title song, but then again, what is?

2. "Throw Back The Little Ones" -- Steely Dan (Katy Lied):

I has myself a Steely Dan phase back about 18 or 19 years ago, but Katy Lied wasn't really one of my favorites. I preferred Royal Scam or Aja. As to the song, it's an instrumental, and it's feels weird waiting for Donald Fagen's distinctive voice to kick in . . . but it never does.

3. "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" -- The Flaming Lips (The Soft Bulletin):

Neighborhood regular Applesaucer recently lent me a whole bunch of CDs that I loaded up into I-tunes. A rather eclectic mix, and this 'Lips album was among them. This is a pretty odd song (not surprising), but it's also strangely slow, with piano and what sounds like strings. Eh.

4. "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" -- Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin III):

I love this album. In fact, I think III is my favorite Zep effort. I love its eclecticism, its unpredictable sounds. And this song one of the elements of that quality. Other than Plant's voice, there's nothing in this one that sounds like anything they did on their first two albums. In fact, not much that sounds like their subsequent releases either.

And it's not even one of the strongest cuts on III. Anyhow, we're picking up after that two song lull. Let's go, let's go . . .

5. "Shine A Light" -- Rolling Stones (Exile On Main Street):

Welcome to classic rock hour at Mike's Neighborhood! And speaking of "eclectic" efforts from otherwise hard-rockin' Brit groups of the late 60s-early 70s. What can I say? Just another of the 19 great songs on an album that needs little commentary. There are probably 10 songs off this album I'd rather hear (and from Exile's "slow song" category, what beats "Sweet Virginia"?), but this leaves little to be desired.

6. "Turd On The Run" -- Rolling Stones (Exile On Main Street):

Welcome to weekly I-pod weirdness! Ugh.

Not an "ugh" to the song. See "another of the 19 great songs," above. But when I want random, I want random. And with over 400 albums in the mix, this shouldn't happen. Ugh. This Thursday Mix is crashing in flames.

7. "Memories Of You" -- Ethel Waters (An Introduction To Ethel Waters):

Well, at least we changed up a bit. Ethel Waters was pretty amazing. A wide range of stuff, from early "pop" music, to a sort of proto-jazz vocal style, with a healthy divergence into some very bawdy stuff that would make Big Mama Thornton blush (when Ethel sings about "My Handy Man," let me assure you, he ain't fixing the pipes under the house. He prefers to use a location inside the house).

This song, unfortunately, is a tad less inspiring. Meanwhile, we've got four chances to salvage this growing disaster. C'mon 'Pod, gimme some lovin . . .

8. "Summertime" -- The Sundays (Static & Silence):

Pretty cool. I'll never complain about Harriet Wheeler's sweet voice piping into my ears in the morning. And this is a pretty little ditty from one of The Sunday's late-90's albums. I thought this song'd be a bigger hit than it was, but it never really caught on. After hearing it on some local radio station outside Seattle in the Summer of '97, I ran out to buy the album hoping I'd get something resembling their late-80s gem, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

I didn't. "Summertime" was about as good as it got on this one. But at least that's what we got today, so I can't complain. But I can wish for something grander, something more sublime, something special . . .

9. "Cruising In The Atl (Interlude") -- Outkast (Stankonia):

Hmm, this "song" ended before I finished typing in the name. As I mentioned a few times back, I'm not as big a fan of this album as I'm supposed to be. Whatever. Meanwhile, depression is kicking in . . .

10. "The First Taste" -- Fiona Apple (Tidal):

And what better cure for depression than a cut off Fiona's first album. Jeez. It's a beautiful song, with her sweet, smoky voice. But its pseudo-funky, slowed-down equatorial sound always reminded me of Sade. Of whom I'm not a fan. Oh boy, here we are, one chance to so much as arrive in the zone of salvation. I'm not hopeful, but here goes . . .

11. "Jesus (Closet Mix)" -- Velvet Underground (Peel Slowly And See):

Interesting -- a song I've never heard. Among Applesaucer's bestowal last week was this 5-disc set by VU, on which each "album" is supplemented by alternate takes, demos, songs that didn't make the cut, etc. And, while this one is "interesting," I can see why I didn't make the cut: "I'll Be Your Mirror" or "I'm Waitin' For My Man" it ain't. Nothing wrong with it, but we're talking a different league here, no?

And there you have it. After a long sabbatical, I return with the first full-fledged clunker of the Thursday Random Era. I'm ashamed, I feel chastened, I should probably have my I-pod taken away from me. Let at me.

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Anonymous Applesaucer said...

The eleven is back! Well, I for one, welcome it.

Here are my comments (NOT PROOFREAD!):

1. "Better Version Of Me" -- Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine):

I agree with your comment completely. By the way, on a barely-related note, I really like "Fast As You Can" off of When The Pawn...

2. "Throw Back The Little Ones" -- Steely Dan (Katy Lied):

I considered including my "Best Of..." Steely CD in the package, but I figured that by this time you've got everything you want from them.

3. "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" -- The Flaming Lips (The Soft Bulletin):

LOL. Yes, this is one of many bands that I figured you'd think I was out of my mind for listening to or including. I bought this towards the beginning of my current music consumption frenzy last Spring. It has "hipster appeal," if nothing else (it's a huge album among the hipster rock crits). In any event, I gave a few listens, thought the childlike sci-fi lyrics were funny, production and arrangements interesting, but couldn't get past a threshold boredom and forgot about it. Fast foward to a month or so ago when my kid bro lends me the Lips' "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots." It's similar, but more recent and accessible. And I really find it rather beautiful, actually -- particularly the third track ("Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part I"). You have it, so if you have the time or inclination to try to get into the Flaming Lips, that's where I'd go (particularly the first half of the album).

A Spoonful Weighs A Ton still kinda bores me, though.

4. "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" -- Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin III):

Yeah, we've argued about ZEP II's relative merits. I never disliked it -- I always pretty much "loved" every Zep Album except for Coda and maybe Presence (which is better than you give it credit for, by the way). But I thought it was weaker than I, II, IV, Houses, etc. Now I think I was very wrong on that. I don't really have a favorite Zep album at this point, however. I've burned myself out on their original, proper releases, actually, and tend to look for the uncharted Zep trerritory (maybe that's why Zep III has risen in the ranks for me, though I obviously wouldn't call it "uncharted").

5. "Shine A Light" -- Rolling Stones (Exile On Main Street):

I think Exile On Main Street deserves LOTS of commentary, actually: it seems to me to be high on the list of "Critically Overloved Albums." I'm not saying that I don't enjoy it. I do enjoy it. And I enjoy this song, too. But I like Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed more. Much more. To me, Exile has too many song "ideas" and "fragments" and not enough fully-developed "songs." Also, I think the production buried the guitars too much, which really come through great on Sticky Fingers, for example.

I've tried to figure out WHY Exile has such an ardent following (and I'm not questioning the sincerity of this following by the way -- i try not to do that these days), and what I conclude is that it comes from the Stones best musical era, but AFTER Hot Rocks and so, it doesn't have any songs on Hot Rocks AND many of its other songs barely get any play. It is "uncharted territory" -- free from classic rock tourists -- for music fans of this Stones era.

Just a guess.

6. "Turd On The Run" -- Rolling Stones (Exile On Main Street):

This is a prime example of an Exile "song fragment" and "guitar burial" (the harmonica dominates).

Maybe Exile devotees like that its song-fragment qualities. I guess I can kind of understand it -- here's a sort of a collection of ideas and experiments that don't overstay their welcome.

8. "Summertime" -- The Sundays (Static & Silence):

Yeah, I thought they would hit it big. If we're thinking of the same band, that lead singer had one of the sugary sweetest voices I've ever heard.

10. "The First Taste" -- Fiona Apple (Tidal):

This is a great song. I think I like Sade more than you do.

11. "Jesus (Closet Mix)" -- Velvet Underground (Peel Slowly And See):

I agree with you about the song. One geeky, nerdy suggestion: for songs that appear off this CD-set, state the disc number or, better yet, the disc equivalent and, if it's a tune that didn't make the cut the first time around, signify "bonus track."

Feel free to ignore that suggestion, by the way. I realize it's very Jack Blackian (from High Fidelity").

I don't think your Random 11 was a "clunker" at all. Not a Hall Of Fame or even All Star Random 11, but interesting, nonetheless.

By the way, REM seems to break my random generator, though I do have lots of their songs loaded. I like them, but I'm tired of seeing them pop up so much.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

I love "Summertime." I remember that getting lots of play on MTV -- MTV still showed some videos when this song hit. I, too, rushed out to buy this CD. Great song.

12:00 PM  
Blogger sideshow bob said...

At last the 11!

"Better Version of Me" is not one of my favorites, but Fiona is like beer or pizza - no such thing as bad, some are just better than others.

And my favorite of When the Pawn... is Paper Bag. Good stuff!

2:15 PM  

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