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!
Good morning! Here in Chicago, the Goodman Theater is reviving The Marx Brothers’ Broadway play Animal Crackers. And today is Groucho Marx’s birthday. Remember, as Groucho once said, “The Lord Alps those who Alps themselves.” — so Alp yourself and everyone else by grabbing your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up with everyone else.
Jerry Lee Lewis — What’d I Say? (18 Original Sun Greatest Hits): This is The Killer’s take on the song made famous by Ray Charles. This is surprisingly subdued, as if even Jerry knew that his version couldn’t hold a candle to The Genius’s version. There’s a good ad lib here or there, but it’s merely alright.
King Crimson — Walking On Air (Thrak): I really need to explore King Crimson. All I have is a couple latter day albums that I got as promos. While on Virgin Records, the band had a double trio format (a pair of guitarists, bassists and drummers) which was interesting but not as interesting as the three ’80s albums the band did for Warners or its seminal ’70s work. Regardless, Crimson was less overblown than most prog-rockers and that was especially true on any of the albums Adrian Belew appeared on, as he always made sure there were a few songs to balance Robert Fripp’s theoretical constructions. This is one of those songs, which falls somewhere between The Beatles and Talking Heads. Pretty.
Sweet — Little Willy (Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be): This is a bonus track on the first full length album by Sweet. The first record I ever bought was “Ballroom Blitz” and ever since then, I’ve always been a fan. The band’s early records were massive bubblegum hits written by Mike Chapman (with the financial assistance of Nicky Chinn, who got co-credit). This was the band’s first U.S. Top 40 hit and it still gets played on oldies radio today. It’s like The Archies on steroids. Soon after this, Chapman began to pen harder rockers that fit in with the glam rock craze sweeping the nation that were more in line with the songs the band was writing. That’s when Sweet went from fun to pretty darned great.
To My Boy — The Grid (Messages): I got his album based on the sticker affixed to it by a Reckless Records employee. To My Boy is a throwback to ’80s Brit synth pop, a la OMD, early Depeche Mode, Erasure, Blancmange and others. If those bands sloshed down a case or two of Red Bull. They mix in some guitars with the hi-NRG synth stuff and every song has at least one killer hook. It’s been a few years since this came out — I should see if they ever followed this up.
Echobelly — Today Tomorrow Sometime Never (Everyone’s Got One): Echobelly was a ’90s Britpop band fronted by Sonya Aurora Madan, an attractive lady of Indian descent who had really long fingers (that’s what I remember from seeing them live). Musically, they were two parts Blondie, one part Suede and one part The Smiths. This was the first cut on the band’s debut album and it holds up very well today. Madan had a lot of personality, the song is really driving, and the playing is quite spirited.
Eleventh Dream Day — Bomb The Mars Hotel (Beet): Of all of the bands that had a chance to really break during the beginning of the alt-rock era, Chicago’s own Eleventh Dream Day was the most influenced by Neil Young. Rick Rizzo and crew added a punkish jolt to classic, vaguely rootsy rock. This was one of the best cuts on the band’s second album (and major label debut). Rizzo shouts over his power jangle playing while Janet Bean drives the music with her drumming. Any song that disses the Grateful Dead is worth hearing.
Slow Jets — Snare Coda (Good Morning, Stars): Another band I discovered through Reckless. The Slow Jets fell somewhere between slightly off-beat college rock bands like Big Dipper and Hypnolovewheel and post-punk acts like Wire. Their songs are short, have odd herky-jerky elements, yet are generally pretty catchy. This is a more atmospheric tune that is quite short, but does the job.
The Swingin’ Neckbreakers — Hail To The Baron (Return Of The Rock): New Jersey’s Neckbreakers are possibly the best garage band of the past 15 years or so good. Unlike a lot of modern garage rockers, they don’t stick with one sound over and over, though there is a consistency to everything they do. Moreover, they get their source material, whether it’s The Sonics, Chuck Berry, The Golliwogs or whoever. This is a tribute to a pro wrestler from bygone days and it is made for singalong to, while rocking out.
The Jam — I’ve Changed My Address (In The City): This is an early Jam side, showing how they took classic mod rock and turbo charged it with punk. Paul Weller was not a consistently great songwriter early on, but this band simply cooked. Weller could carry the load on guitar and the Bruce Foxton (bass) and Rick Buckler (drums) rhythm section is simply killer. They are hard enough to rock, but deft enough to make this danceable.
Tammany Hall Machine — Pedal To The Metal (Amateur Saw): This Austin, TX band made its final album count. The piano plays prominently, but not in a Ben Folds fashion. Instead, the band seems to have soaked in a lot of Kinks records and then mixed in some glam rock and power pop influences. This song also has some killer horns. One of the great lost of albums of this decade.