This week, we’ll be able to salute two for the price of one. Let’s pay tribute to Kim and Kelly Deal, the twins who combined forces in The Breeders. Of course, Kim was famous before that, as part of the Pixies, one and forever alt-rock gods (and, by the way, Joey Santiago also turns another year older today). With The Breeders, the Deal sisters provided a needed dose of girl power on the radio,with muscular and witty songs like “Cannonball”. In their honor, please get your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
Trend — She’s Hi-Fi (Yellow Pills: Prefill): The final installment of Jordan Oakes’ supremely awesome Yellow Pills compilations shifted the focus away from contemporary power pop nuggets to the ’70s, when the genre was defining itself. For every group that was a slave to the Beatles and Big Star, there were bands that found another way to take a simple and melodic approach. This song is perky skinny tie power pop grounded in ’50s and ’60s rock tropes, but with a percolating bass guitar and energy that’s proto-new wave.
Funkadelic — Can You Get To That (Motor City Madness): While George Clinton’s funk rock band is noted for Eddie Hazel’s hot guitar licks and great upbeat tunes, one of their best love tunes is this soulful folk rock anthem. Listening to this now, it’s hard to believe that: a) this wasn’t a smash hit, and, b) that it’s not a staple of classic rock playlists now. This is like a hippy Sly Stone with smart lyrics.
10CC — Baron Samedi (Sheet Music): A theatrical pop song from this arty bunch. The song is keyed by a faux-Latin rhythm which is mixed with busy backing vocals and a few different musical movements. This is a bit too clever for it’s own good, and one of the weaker tracks on one of the best 10CC albums.
Kid Creole & The Coconuts — Stool Pigeon (Tropical Gangsters): An excellent song from the album that made Kid Creole a star in Europe. This song has a great funk guitar riff mixed with nifty horn parts and clever lyrics about a turncoat witness. August Darnell knew how to balance sophistication with great dance rhythms. This song was released as a single in America and sank like a stone, which is a shame, because it may have been the Kid’s best bid for Stateside success.
The Minutemen — Afternoons (Post-Mersh, Vol. 3): A slinky Minutemen number with Mike Watt on vocals. This song covers a lot of ground in less than two minutes, from Beefheartian skronk to a genuinely melodic instrumental middle section, which heads back to the original riff before the song ends.
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters — Work With Me Annie (The Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll): This overtly sexual song caused a bit of controversy in the day. It’s a bluesy stroll with a fat beat that is all allusion. They later followed this up with “Annie Had A Baby” (really, I’m not making this up).
Detroit Cobras — Just Can’t Please You (Baby): As the Cobras have gone on, they seem to have become a little less garage rocking and sound a bit more bluesy. It’s a subtle distinction, and it probably is just evidence that if you play lots of R & B tunes, you’ll get that sound down. This mid-tempo tune rocks and Rachel Nagy sounds as great as ever.
Roger Miller — Pardon This Coffin (King Of The Road: The Best of Roger Miller): Roger tells the story of burying his brother. Miller pithily (as he always does) details how his brother lost his job, which led to alcoholism, and the ultimate downward spiral. This song has a bit of a bluesy vibe that is a bit reminiscent of Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons”.
Mission Of Burma — Into The Fire (ONoffON): I was in disbelief as to how great the Mission Of Burma comeback was. The sound was still intact, with Cliff Conley’s heavy bass and Peter Prescott’s clangorous drumming, supporting Roger Miller’s inexhaustable supply of riffs and leads. Moreover, they had good songs at their proposal. This is one of Miller’s tunes, a heavy lurching rocker with a splash of melody and loads of intensity.
Pere Ubu – Thunder In The Mix (The Tenement Year): This is a synthesizer imitating an explosion. The track lasts 13 seconds. If this were by Nickleback, it would be the best song they ever recorded.