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Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Buck Owens Edition

He came from Oklahoma to Bakersfield, California, added a bigger beat to honky-tonk music, and became one of the biggest stars in country music history. Buck Owens picked great material, could pen a decent tune himself, and was blessed with an awesome band, The Buckaroos, led by the incomparable Don Rich on lead guitar. Owens dominated the country charts in the ’60s, as sometimes his A-sides would hit number one, only to be supplanted by the B-sides. He once had a letter printed in a trade magazine, apologizing for edging too much towards rock ‘n’ roll, and then turned around and released a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis”. And, of course, he was covered by The Beatles, who did his classic “Act Naturally”. His influence lived on, touching Dwight Yoakam and others. Let’s all salute the man with the red, white and blue guitar by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Arcwelder — You (Pull): This Minneapolis trio played an awesome blend of melodic guitar rock, somewhat in the vein of bands like Husker Du, blended with some noise rock and post-punk rhythms. Throw in some great harmony vocals, and you have one hell of a band. This song relies on a circular guitar riff and creative drumming, with an explosive instrumental breakdown.
  2. Eagles Of Death Metal — I’m Your Torpedo (Heart On): Some EODM songs are funky ’70s drenched hard rock. But sometimes, inevitably, they edge a bit more towards the sounds of Queens Of The Stone Age. This song is one of those numbers. However, the instrumental approach is different. The Eagles’ songs are often centered on the rhythms, and this is no exception. The repetitive rhythm on this song verges on Krautrock, connecting the dots from Neu to Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult on a pretty exciting track.
  3. Tom Verlaine — The Scientist Writes A Letter (Flash Light): A contemplative song from the great Television guitarist. Keyboards actually dominate this song and the hook of the song is a pretty keyboard line that punctuates every verse of the song. One of Verlaine’s best solo tracks, which is saying something, because all of his solo albums are worthwhile.
  4. The White Stripes — The Air Through My Fingers (Elephant): This song really swings. Yes, Meg White’s drumming is simple but it doesn’t get in the way of the blues riff that first is played on the guitar and then gets a funkier treatment on the electric piano. Jack White is typically playful on this fun number.
  5. LCD Soundsystem — Drunk Girls (This Is Happening): A straightforward rock number with a bit of a Bowie sound, and James Murphy’s sense of humor. I know some folks think that each LCD album got weaker, but I like them all pretty much equally. I hope Murphy reconsiders his decision to retire the band.
  6. Joyride — 1, 2, 3 Red Light (Right To Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited): I don’t recall much about Joyride, but they do a real nice job on this cover of the oldie from The 1910 Fruitgum Company (who were represented in last week’s shuffle). This is one of my favorite bubblegum songs, as it is so innocent, but it’s about a horny guy who wants to go further with his girl, but she won’t let him.
  7. Starflyer 59 — Teens In Love (I Am The Portuguese Blues): This ostensibly Christian rock band takes a slightly different approach with each album. This album was a rocker. This song sports a chunky riff that could have come from a Lenny Kravitz record. The loud guitars contrast with the solid melody and soothing vocals. Might be the best song on a good album.
  8. Frisbie — Pick A Flower (Period): The forgotten second album from this wonderful Chicago band. The circumstances of the record, which came out in a limited pressing, are unusual. The band’s original drummer, Zack Kantor, had to leave the band due to mental health issues. Kantor wrote a significant percentage of the band’s songs, and this album, recorded by the band as a trio (Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis on vocals and acoustic guitars, Eddie Carlson on bass), recorded a batch of those songs at a show at Fitzgerald’s. While the band might not think the recordings as ideal, Kantor was a great songwriter, performances are heartfelt, making for a resonant effort. This song has a bit of an R & B undercurrent with an unusual ascending melody in the chorus.
  9. Robyn Hitchcock — You’ve Got A Sweet Mouth On You, Baby (Jewels For Sophia): A whimsical talking blues which shows the inlluence of early Dylan. Hitchcock gives a low key performance and it’s obvious that he’s having fun on this simple song.
  10. The La De Das — How Is The Air Up There? (Nuggets II): A garage rock classic. This song is basically electrified folk rock with a modified Bo Diddley beat underneath and a great chorus to shout along with. Fits well between the early Rolling Stones and The Seeds.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: buck owens, ipod, mp3

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