What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!
It was 51 years ago that the French devised an evil plan to get Americans to spend money on a cutesy cartoon. Yes, the Smurfs made their first appearance in a comic book. On another note, it was eight years ago that Apple introduced the iPod. So there are two good reasons for you to get your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everybody in Internetland:
The Dentists — My Heart Is Like a Town You Moved Away From (Deep Six): The Dentists were an ’80s British indie pop band who almost everyone says got worse when they signed to a major. This basically translates as:* the music became a bit more slick and professional, as the songs were always catchy. I have had very little exposure to the band’s early stuff, so I only have to go on their two U.S. major label albums, and they contain lots of well crafted, jangly pop songs with clever lyrics, as indicated by the title of this song. It’s not all melancholy jangle, there’s a nice crunchy guitar instrumental break.
The Virgin-Whore Complex — Succumb (Succumb): This is the type of band that would weave in excerpts of the Zodiac Killer’s letters into a song. In fact, they actually did this on a different song on this album. The basic approach is arch pop songs with decadent or macabre song writing. This song has a strummed mandolin (or is it a ukelele?) with mysterious keyboard sounds in the background, while the singer sketches out some bizarre scenarios that one should just give in to.
The Ramones — Danny Says (End Of The Century): For some, this Phil Spector produced album is when the Ramones jumped the shark. While this album doesn’t rank up with the band’s first four classics, this was an album that the Ramones had to make. The band’s whole identity was based on taking classic ’60s pop-rock forms and playing them in speedy rocked up fashion. Why not try to just make real ’60s styled pop with one of the masters? The songwriting wasn’t consistent, but there were some songs that were truly Spector-worthy, and this charmer would have sounded great with Ronnie Spector or Darlene Love doing the lead vocal. Not that Joey doesn’t sound swell on this.
David Garza — This Euphoria (This Euphoria): Garza is a Texas rocker who developed a big regional following. On his major label debut, he mixed big pop hooks with flights of fancy. On this song, he breaks out the falsetto on a psychedelic-pop number that shows that all of his years of making homemade recordings had made him quite the producer. The layers of guitars and keyboards and the use of various reverb and panning effects is very impressive. He was probably one big break away from becoming a star.
The Undertones — Family Entertainment (The Undertones): The sugar coated spunky, punky pop of The Undertones has rarely been replicated. They fell somewhere between Ramones and Buzzcocks, probably leaning a bit more towards the latter, with so many of their songs driven by catchy lead guitar parts. And there’s also the unique and endearing lead vocals of Feargel Sharkey and, on this track, the great sing along chorus and the synchopated Gary Glitter style drum beats.
Johnny Cash — Ring Of Fire (The Legend): Listening to this on headphones is a trip. The mariachi horns, backing vocals and Johnny’s plucked guitar are on the left channel, while his vocal is on both sides, and the drums, bass and the other guitar part are on the right. Oh, and there’s a piano on the right side too.
The Living End — Roll On (Roll On): This Aussie punk band comes off like a cross between the early Clash and Green Day. Their gimmick is that their bass player plays a stand up bass, and sometimes they throw in a bit of rockabilly. But for the most part, this is full of big fat melodic guitar riffs, non-specific “political” lyrics, and choruses that usually involve a bit of group shouting. This is pretty rousing.
Simon & Garfunkel — Kathy’s Song (Old Friends): For whatever reason, Simon & Garfunkel doesn’t seem to get bandied about as a hip ’60s influence, as opposed to let’s say The Kinks or The Zombies. But Paul Simon wrote so many great songs. He had the ’50s rock and pop background, but was also attuned to the ’60s folk scene. He was at the forefront of the blending of folk and pop (along with The Byrds, Donovan, The Beatles and others) and wrote some of the best lyrics of the era. This is pretty much a straight folk tune, with Art Garfunkel apparently taking a bathroom break.
The Morells — Don’t Let Your Baby Buy a Car (The Morells): From the first come back album from this classic Springfield, Missouri roadhouse band. The Morells were on par with NRBQ, playing rock ‘n’ roll, country, R & B, power pop, and anything else that’s rootsy. This is a jaunty mid-tempo honky tonk number with Uncle Lou Whitney telling a cautionary tale (“cause there she goes/and there you are.”).
Yo La Tengo — Sometimes I Don’t Get You (I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass): This 2006 YLT release is bookended by droning Velvet Underground inspired numbers and in between, the band indulges in a variety of different styles. This is a tender ballad with Ira Kaplan breaking out his falsetto. The song definitely has a bit of a soul vibe, though it’s more twee soul than deep soul.