Let’s give it up for Mick Jagger on his birthday! The Rolling Stones may have not made any relevant music in ages (and let’s not forget Superheavy...or perhaps we should?), but Mick is still a bundle of energy fronting them on their 50th anniversary tour. Moreover, while the Stones may not have ever been the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band (in the ears of the beholder), they are pretty darn great. And Mick may not have been the best of the blues obsessed British Invasion singers, but he brought something distinctive to it that allowed the Stones to adapt over the years and make so many great records. Moreover, he seems to have a great sense of humor about the whole thing. In honor of Mr. Jagger, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
The Monkees – Mommy And Daddy (The Monkees Present): This is an overtly political tune from the pen of Mickey Dolenz. Here, Dolenz takes on the plight of Native Americans over intent music that sounds like something between psychedelia and Broadway, with a Dixieland finish. This is kind of a companion of Randy Scouse Git, but it’s more strident and less hooky, but still pretty companion.
Supergrass – Can’t Get Up (Life On Other Planets): By the time of Life On Other Planets, Supergrass had quit progressing, but were master craftsmen, with Gaz Coombes finding new ways to combine his ‘60s and ‘70s pop influences. This song has slow burning verses that open up into a bright, but characteristically bittersweet, chorus.
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Sister Ray Charles (Want More): One of the better tracks on the debut full length from this Chicago soul outfit. Brooks has a background in theater, which informs his vocals. Even though this band is reviving classic R & B sounds, Brooks doesn’t follow a typical R & B vocal style, but really engages with his lyrics. This song does a great job laying a funky foundation and then finding things to add on to the groove.
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Atlas (“Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose”): Houghton fits somewhere between PJ Harvey and Kate Bush with her dramatic rock. She has the requisite powerful vocals and a flair for drama. This song has tribal drumming, and art pop melody and nifty little guitar filagrees. It’s not a great composition, but the arrangement is creative and the music is always compelling.
Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Down At The Rock And Roll Club (Blank Generation): Hell’s tortured warble and music that finds the midpoint between Television (Hell was an original member) and Patti Smith makes for angular art-punk with a passionate front man.
Snowglobe – Goodbye Dream (Our Land Brains): This is a short snippet from this Southern band that blends a love for The Kinks with a love of epic songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Arcade Fire were fans.
The La’s – There She Goes (The La’s): One of the album great pop songs of its age. And there are a few others on this album that are just about as good.
Sparks – Fill-Er-Up (Big Beat): Big Beat was Sparks attempt to do a conventional American hard rock, but was colossally misproduced by Rupert (Pina Colada Song) Holmes. They demoed this stuff with Mick Ronson, who would have done well with this hyper Anglophile take on Chuck Berry. The Ramones could have done a good job with this tune.
George Harrison – All Those Years Ago (Somewhere In England): This is George’s tribute to John Lennon, with the quiet Beatle lacing the lyrics with references to John’s tunes. A bit corny but the sincerity is unquestionable and it’s a strong tune. When George sings “I always looked up to you,” it makes the song.
Alice Cooper – Elected (Billion Dollar Babies): During his Warner Brothers years, every Alice Cooper album had at least two killer cuts. On this album, it was the title cut and this rousing big riff track with Cooper positing himself as president. This is one of Cooper’s best vocal performances and the song is simply massive. The Atlanta synth pop band Pop Tarts did an awesome cover of this tune.