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Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Bill Bruford Edition

What do Yes, King Crimson, Roy Harper, Savoy Brown and Genesis have in common? They all have, to varying degrees, employed Bill Bruford on drums, which is always a great decision. From the three gigs he played with Savoy Brown in 1968 to his three separate tours of duty with King Crimson, Bruford has brought the skills of a great jazz drummer and rock power to some of the most challenging rock music of the past four decades. While Bruford made his reputation as one of the great prog rock sidemen, he also lead his own projects, like Earthworks, constantly exploring and challenging himself as an instrumentalist. He never drew attention to himself, which might be why he was so effective in so many bands. Let’s pay tribute to Mr. Bruford by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

The Darkness – She’s Just A Girl, Eddie (Hot Cakes): It shouldn’t be surprising that The Darkness would pick up right where they left off after reuniting, as they had their shtick down from day one. This reflects their pop side, a melodic riff rocker, with a bit of a Queen vibe.

Guided By Voices – Game Of Pricks (Alien Lanes): One of GBV’s miniature gems from the album that consolidated their audience. This is a great pop construction, that kind of reminds me a little bit of Soft Boys’ “Queen of Eyes”.

Todd Rundgren – All The Children Sing (Hermit Of Mink Hollow): The opening track on Todd’s splendid 1978 pure pop outing. At this point, Todd was using more keyboards, drum machines and synths, but the music never sounds mechanical or sterile. And his production emphasizes the high end, which gives this song a brightness that fits its positive message.

KISS – Do You Love Me (Destroyer): One of three ultra-awesome songs on my fave KISS album (along with “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud”). The lyrics are, as often with these guys, directed at a groupie, but at least they want love right? The song is centered around such a basic riff and rhythm, adds a great singalong chorus, and perhaps their best middle eight.

The Monkees – Can You Dig It (Head): A little Eastern psychedelia off the soundtrack to The Monkees’ sole feature film. Mickey Dolenz’s vocal style is so appropriate for this mysterious tune.

Wall Of Voodoo – Crack The Bell (Dark Continent): There really needs to be some sort of Wall Of Voodoo revival, so people can appreciate that this band was more than “Mexican Radio” (although that song was not some outlier and reflected their sound well). On their first IRS release, songs like this one weren’t quite as polished, but combine synths and horror movie keyboard textures with jittery rhythms, twangy guitars and Stan Ridgway’s distinctive vocals and lyrics. What’s not to like?

Split Enz – Parrot Fashion Love (Dizrhythmia): A bit of a ‘50s rock and roll pastiche from the Enz’ third album. At this point, Tim Finn really dominated, as Phil Judd had left the band and brother Neil was only 17 and not writing songs yet. This is not a bad thing, as Tim’s theatrical take on rock norms is quite enjoyable, which definitely comes through on this track.

The Hollies – After The Fox (30th Anniversary Collection): The Hollies did this odd little tune for the movie of the same name starring Peter Sellers. While the chorus has the classic Hollies harmonies, the verses are in an odd time signature and have Sellers, in character, offering response to the Hollies’ vocals.

The Cavedogs – Tarzan and His Arrowheads (Soul Martini): This Boston power pop band was kind of like a less retro and quirkier variation of The Smithereens, if Marshall Crenshaw fronted them. The band had two good songwriters, a healthy supply of riffs and wrote power pop tunes that were deceptively hooky. This is a highlight from their debut album.

Parliament – Wizard Of Finance (Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome): From what is, in my opinion, George Clinton’s masterpiece, this track is a respite from the intricate, lengthy funk jams that comprise most of the album. This is more of a mid-tempo Sly Stone-ish soul-funk stroll. True to the rest of the album, the bass and Bernie Worrell’s keys provide some unusual and cool embellishments.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: bill bruford, ipod, mp3

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