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Mike Bennett writesFriday MP3 Shuffle - Happy Birthday Cub Koda Edition

He’s the man who wrote “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and made unlikely rock stars out of Brownsville Station, a proto-garage rock band of the ’70s. He later went on to become a real student of the blues, writing many important pieces about American music history. Cub Koda is a real unsung hero of rock, and the bespectacled rocker managed to pen some other cool tunes, including the great “Kings of the Party”. There is nothing Cub would appreciate more than having everyone grab their iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up.

  1. John Mellencamp — No One Cares About Me (No Better Than This): I never would have believed I would ever type this: John Mellencamp has released on of the year’s best albums. Mellencamp works for the second time with T-Bone Burnett on this release. They hatched a plan to record this album old school. Really old school. One old reel-to-reel tape recorder, one microphone. Three locations were used — Sun Studio, a hotel room where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson recorded, an a Southern church that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Mellencamp cooked up a batch of simple songs rooted in country, folk and blues traditions and the primitive recording process is perfect for the timelessness of the tunes. This is tongue-in-cheek “woe’s me” lament that is enhanced by the increasingly sandpapery sound of Mellencamp’s voice.
  2. Bobby Peterson — T.C.B. or T.Y.A. (Beg, Scream & Shout!): This six CD box set is chock full of lesser known ’60s soul nuggets. This is a great slice of percolating Southern fried soul.
  3. Tommy Keene — Places That Are Gone (Places That Are Gone): This is the song that put Tommy Keene on the map and led to the classic power pop getting a major label deal. It is quintessential Keene, matching wistful observations with alternately jangling and driving guitars, leading to an insistent chorus. Moreover, the intense middle eight leads into a terrific pithy guitar solo. This was recorded for the Dolphin label, which was defunct within a couple years of this EP’s release. Once, Keene did this song at Cubby Bear, and at the begining of the middle eight, he reached into a large box by the drum riser, and commenced to toss multiple copies of the EP to the audience. They must have been sitting in his garage or something.
  4. Radio Birdman — You Just Make It Worse (Zeno Beach): One of the first Australian punk bands, Radio Birdman made two seminal, influential albums and then disbanded, while most members went on to other bands. Their 2006 reunion was a smashing success. Not only was the band as white hot as ever (especially the lone Yankee in the band, guitarist Deniz Tek), but they put together a full album of new material that compared favorably to the two earlier classics. They could still ably mix influences from Detroit proto-punk (like the MC5), garage rock, psychedelia and other sources. This is just a good mid-tempo rocker.
  5. The Band — Ain’t Got No Home (Moondog Matinee): This is a swinging old time rock and roll tune, with Levon Helm on lead vocals. I like The Band, but rarely would I call their music fun. This song is a clear exception. It’s from Moondog Matinee, where they went back to their roots, when they used to back old rock and roller Ronnie Hawkins (and The Band was then called The Hawks).
  6. The Chills — Never, Never Go (Kaleidoscope World): This is a good follower, and this is another bopping rock ‘n’ roll number from a band who did not traffick in that area normally. This isn’t as fully ’50s styled as The Band tune before, as there’s a certain edge to this song that is found in most Chills songs. The band really gets into it, making a joyous racket.
  7. The Undertones — Jump Boys (The Undertones): The boys from Derry, Northern Ireland created a strain of punk-pop that hasn’t really ever been adequately duplicated. Even moreso than many of their contemporaries, The Undertones’ songwriting was very classic and a lot of these songs could have been performed in more mainstream ’70s fashion. But they added so much energy that they couldn’t be lumped in with the usual stuff getting played on the radio in those days. Why more power pop bands don’t raid this band’s catalog is beyond me.
  8. David Bowie — Life On Mars? (Hunky Dory): I don’t know if there’s much more that can be said about this Bowie classic. It’s interesting that Bowie retained some of his old traditional pop influences, even as he absorbed Dylan, The Velvet Underground and others. This led to slices of drama like this one, which inspired Mott The Hoople, Suede, and so many others.
  9. Trees — Gotta Moon (Sleep Convention): Dane Conover was basically the whole band, and this is Trees sole album, which came out in the early ’80s. This is just really good synth pop. Conover was an ace songwriter, and every track has at least one solid hook.
  10. Astrid — Alas (Play Dead): This Scottish band played ultra sunny pop that sounded somewhat akin to Aztec Camera, The Housemartins and Dodgy. Unlike a lot of similar bands, when the tempo slowed, Astrid was not worse off. The vocals were always very strong and their slower numbers had a soulfulness to them. They always sounded heartfelt. If you don’t like the sappy stuff, stay away, but this is a really nice ballad.

[originally posted 10/2/10]

 

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: brownsville station, mp3shuffle

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