Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Random 10: Our Little Angels

It's Introspective Singer/Songwriter Day on this week's Friday Random 10, so everybody look down at your navels and think of the loves you've lost. It's either that or Angel Day, which is seasonally appropriate, at least.

"Runnin' Blue"/Boz Scaggs/My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology.
I wouldn't consider Boz one of those introspective singer/songwriter types, really. He's been more of a bluesman mostly (as on this early hit), except for a brief period in the 1980s when he could have been lumped with practitioners of yacht rock.

(The Yacht Rock link is courtesy of reader Dave P. It takes you to online episodes of a homemade sitcom that makes fun of early-80s stars like Kenny Loggins, Hall and Oates, Michael McDonald and--gasp!--Steely Dan. I've watched a couple, and they're pretty funny.)

"Tighter, Tighter"/Alive and Kicking/70s Smash Hits, Volume 3.
It wouldn't be a proper Random 10 without a dash of bubblegum, and this is state of the art.

"I Underestimated You"/Westside Andy-Mel Ford Band/Live on the Westside.
Madison's favorite blues band. This isn't one of their better tunes, but with these guys, even that's pretty good.

"Quittin' Time" and "Wherever You Are"/Mary Chapin Carpenter/State of the Heart and Party Doll and Other Favorites. Born in New Jersey, raised in Washington D.C., American Civ major at Brown (which she attended at the same time as sportscaster Chris Berman)--not exactly the life experiences that make you a country star, although she was one by the early 90s. "Country" is a convenient place to file her CDs in the music store, although she never twanged much, and nowadays twangs hardly at all.

"Angel"/Rod Stewart/Storyteller: The Complete Anthology. You're probably getting tired of hearing me bash Stewart's Great American Songbook series, but every time I hear one of his classic recordings, like "Angel," I'm reminded again of how much talent he's squandered. But it's not a recent phenomenon--it's been going on since the late 70s.

"That's All for Everyone"/Fleetwood Mac/Tusk. When Tusk was released in 1979, Lindsey Buckingham's odd, experimental tracks, such as this one, were offered as Exhibit A of the perils of the double-disc album--the need to fill four sides rather than two often means less-than-stellar tunes make the cut. However, some of the tracks we thought were filler back then sound OK now. Such as this one.

"Carolina in My Mind"/James Taylor/Greatest Hits. King of the introspective singer/songwriters. The Mrs. and I saw Taylor at Summerfest in Milwaukee this past July. In all my years of going to concerts, it was one of the dullest shows I've ever attended. Truly. I was (and I remain) surprised and disappointed by how much I hated it. So much so that I didn't write about it.

"Our Little Angel"/Rosanne Cash/Retrospective.
Some of Rosannne's best music--and this is an example--came when she was collaborating with her husband, Rodney Crowell. Of course, many critics think her greatest album is Interiors, the one that grew out of her divorce from Crowell.

"Rose Room"/Kenny Burrell/For Charlie and Benny. Charlie Christian was the first great innovator of the electric guitar, when it was little more than an acoustic with a wire sticking out of it. In 1939, talent scout John Hammond signed him to play with Benny Goodman's orchestra--without telling Goodman. So for the first number on the first night, Goodman told his band to play "Rose Room," an old song he believed Christian wouldn't know. Christian not only knew it, he soloed magnificently, and a legend was born. This version is by one of Christian's heirs, Burrell--although everybody who picked up an electric guitar before the late 50s was one of Christian's heirs.

Next Friday: an all-Christmas edition of the Random 10.


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