Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Random 10: The Voices in Your Ear

Into the forest of randomness we go, for 10 more songs adding up to one big reason why my taste in music is weirder than yours.

"Superstition (Ultimix)"/Stevie Wonder.
I subscribe to a feed from Hype Machine, a site that aggregates MP3s posted around the web. This version of Stevie's 1972 classic comes from Digital Eargasm, which specializes in remixes of everybody from the usual dance and rap suspects to people like Jefferson Airplane and the J. Geils Band. I wouldn't want to listen to a whole album of this kind of thing, but every now and then it's fun.

"Six O'Clock Blues"/Lucky Peterson/Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection.
Peterson made his first hit record, "1-2-3-4," in 1970, when he was six years old. It was produced by blues legend Willie Dixon, it got him on the Carson and Sullivan shows, and it led to a career that he continues today.

"Que Pasa (trio version)"/Horace Silver Quintet/Song for My Father. It's not surprising that a Steely Dan fan such as myself would eventually find his way to the music of Horace Silver, a favorite of Walt and Don's. In fact, the introduction to "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" is lifted almost directly from the title track of this album.

"White Punks on Dope"/Tubes/The Tubes. A famously transgressive record, quite shocking by the standards of 1975, until you realized that going over the top was what the Tubes were all about. Not so much in the how-horrifying-can-we-be sense (like Alice Cooper was into at the time), but in the can-we-get-a-few-laughs sense. Name-dropper alert: I once hung out backstage with, among others, Prairie Prince, the Tubes' original drummer, after he'd joined the Jefferson Airplane.

"Voices"/Cheap Trick/Dream Police.
When I was an over-opinionated and under-informed music columnist for my college newspaper, I wrote that Dream Police showed Cheap Trick had finally grown up. Fair enough. However, I may have suggested also that their earlier albums were crap, and that anybody who liked them was an idiot--I was prone to that kind of rhetoric in those days. A blizzard of negative letters followed, which the paper insisted on printing, even though I believed they had no responsibility to print letters that basically said only, "You suck." I still believe that, by the way--disagree with someone if you want, but have the courage to make a case for why they're wrong instead of just attacking them. (Unless you're disagreeing with Republicans. Then, just blast away.)

"Reunited"/Bob James/The Essential Collection and "Rose Room"/Kenny Burrell/For Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman. To a casual listener, these two might sound very much alike, but the fact is they're a great illustration of the difference between smooth jazz and jazz. They're both quiet, but the Burrell track has an unmistakable swing, while the James track, a cover of the bland Peaches-and-Herb hit, is just, well, bland.

"992 Arguments"/O'Jays/Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind, Volume 9.
This is unapologetically the son of the O'Jays Number-One hit "Back Stabbers." Hey, if it ain't broke. . . .

"True Blue"/Rod Stewart/Storyteller: The Complete Anthology. Originally from Never a Dull Moment, this is prime early-70s Rod. (Insert nostalgic sigh here.)

"The Summer I Read Colette"/Rosanne Cash/Ten Song Demo. Toward the end of 1995, Rosanne was working up new songs, singing accompanied mostly by piano or guitar, when she and her producer realized the demos themselves would make a good album. Ten Song Demo does not contain the actual demos (and there are 11 songs on it, not 10), but it's one of my favorite Rosanne albums, and this is the best song on it.


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