Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Random 10: The Winner Takes it All

Time again for our every-so-often exercise in musical schizophrenia, the Friday Random 10. No, wait--not schizophrenic--eclectic. Yeah, that's the ticket.

"Everybody Plays the Fool"/Main Ingredient/Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 70s. Most people know who Cuba Gooding Jr. is. I am one of the few who knows who Cuba Gooding Sr. was: lead singer of this fine early-70s R&B group, heard here on its biggest hit.

"Roots Woman"/Corey Harris/Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection.
Corey Harris sounds like a Delta bluesman from back in the day, which is quite something given that he's not 40 years old yet. He's not copying the old masters, but he's taking their influence and turning it into a sound entirely his own.

"Haunted Heart"/Bill Evans Trio/Explorations.
The more jazz I listen to, the more I realize I have yet to learn about it. So far, I know what I like, and I like Bill Evans, whose touch on the piano is unparallelled.

"Rebellion (Lies)"/The Arcade Fire/Funeral. This was one of the most acclaimed debuts of 2004, and it's easy to hear why. Although it occurs to me that what this Montreal group is doing here is not all that far removed from . . .

"Crimson and Clover"/Tommy James and the Shondells/Classic Rock: 1968. To compare anyone to Tommy James or anyone to this song is not a slam. A love song that burns with the intense flame of adolescent desire, when you've got to have her or die, and a backing track that glows with all the trippiness of the 1960s. Truly, this is one of the greatest records ever made, in any genre.

"The Winner Takes it All"/Abba/20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection.
The last significant hit for Abba, from 1982, and a performance with more real emotion than the rest of their catalog combined. The sadness of this record is nearly overwhelming, in which a lover comes to grips with the knowledge that A) the affair is over, and B) there's no reason for it, except that humans are just pawns in a game we're not permitted to understand.

"Future Sighting"/I Am the World Trade Center/The Cover Up. I don't normally go in for synthesizer dance-pop, but this tune sounds pretty good to me. I Am the World Trade Center came up with their name in 1999, but after 9/11/2001, they were criticized for trying to capitalize on the disaster. (Coincidentally, the 11th track on their debut album is called "September.") They tried changing their name for a while, but eventually went back to it, and nobody's concerned now.

"The Sheriff"/Emerson Lake and Palmer/Trilogy. An Old West tale told by people whose knowledge of the Old West derives entirely from movies. Musically, it's a strange combination of barroom piano and oddly distorted organ. Once again, I wonder precisely what it was I saw in these guys back when I was a fan.

"Sierra"/Boz Scaggs/Some Change.
The loveliest song Boz had written since "We're All Alone." It's no wonder--1994's Some Change was his best album since Silk Degrees, and in the end, it's better.

"Got Lucky Last Night"/Lonnie Brooks/Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection.
A song about Friday night, as sung on Saturday morning, and a good way to launch ourselves into the weekend.


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