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Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Van Morrison

He started out in an Irish garage band (which makes sense, since he’s Irish) called Them, who were raw and passionate. Indeed, so raw that when their instant classic “Gloria” came to these shores, radio stations considered it too hot to touch, and Chicago’s very own WLS-AM convinced The Shadows Of Knight to record a tamer version, which became the hit version in the States. Van overcame that, next garnering chart success with the ubiquitous “Brown Eyed Girl”. But he wasn’t just a pop singer. With albums such as Moondance and Astral Weeks, he developed a blend of jazz, folk, rock and, most of all, blues that became very influential. Of course, it helps that Morrison was blessed with some of the most soulful pipes around. After his early triumphs, Morrison never stopped exploring, whether it would be skiffle, pure blues or more atmospheric stuff. Let’s pay tribute to this living legend, by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists — The Angels’ Share (Shake The Sheets): A pretty cool tune from the Ted Leo album that I go back to the least, though recent appearances on my iPod suggest that I should change that view. A cool guitar part, that sounds like modified ska, is combined with a pea soup drum beat to create a very cool disco-meets-ska rock track.
  2. Shelby Lynne — I Won’t Die Alone (Suit Yourself): A good tune from a solid Shelby album. This is her sweet spot, mixing R & B in the vein of Dusty Springfield with a just a hint of a country vibe. Perfect for her voice. She’s already done a disc of Dusty covers. She should tackle Bobbie Gentry next.
  3. Deerhunter —- He Would Have Laughed (Halcyon Digest): My first exposure to Deerhunter was a live set at Pitchfork, which wasn’t quite the right way to get the music. Thankfully, I got exposed to the band through CHIRP and thoroughly enjoy the psychedelic tinged songs on their most recent effort. A lot of care has been put into intertwining the instruments, as the tempo is non-traditional and the melody is awfully sweet. And the song goes places. Would be great augmented by a string section.
  4. Jawbox — Static (Novelty): This is from the second Jawbox album, where the band’s sound really came together. The angular yet melodic guitars, the sturdy rhythm section and J. Robbins’ strong vocals. One thing that is striking is that while this is well recorded, it doesn’t have the punch of later recordings — this is really more due to mastering.
  5. The Pogues — The Body Of An American (Rum, Sodomy & The Lash): I think this is actually from the Poguetry In Motion EP, which was appended to the CD reissue of Rum, Sodomy & The Lash as a bonus. This has the classic Pogues formula — start off like an old Irish traditional song and then pick up the tempo. This is structurally similar to “Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn”, and is a pretty fun tune.
  6. Gray Matter — Caffeine Blues (Food For Thought/Take It Back): One of my favorite Dischord bands. This song is a sinister rock song that would sit well next to stuff from Didjits and The Misfits. This has a long instrumental song, before morphing into a fuzz drenched surf rock number about the need for java.
  7. The Jesus Lizard — S.D.B.J. (Head/Pure): The earlier Jesus Lizard was more raw than the major label edition, but even in the early days, the playing was precise. This song works off of three rhythm patterns that flow and vary throughout the track, with David Yow’s psychotic vocals emanating from the center.
  8. Fats Domino — Jambalya (On The Bayou) (Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest Hits): A swinging version of the Hank Williams song from Fats. One legend doing another legend’s tune, giving it that New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll groove.
  9. Lupe Fiasco featuring Sara Green — Free Chilly (Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool): A very short string laden interlude from what I believe to be Fiasco’s best album so far.
  10. Bad Checks — 17 (Graveyard Tramp): This North Carolina band was featured on a compilation called More Mondo, which I spun in college. I was pleasantly surprised to find years later that the band had a full length CD, and the CD had the same great track on it. This is a sleazy, riffy garage tune about unrequited lust for a teenage girl. The production is decidedly mid-fi, which is just right, as the guitars roar yet are in the middle of the mix, with the lead singer’s committed yet sort of off-the-cuff vocals. Extremely cool tune.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3, van morrison

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