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!
Let’s pay tribute to the intricate comic genius of Frenchman Jacques Tati, the man behind Monsieur Hulot. I’m not sure how Tati would view the iPod, as a man who parodied technology, but I’m sure he would have had a great shuffle. And I’m sure you do too. So please grab your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up. Here’s mine:
Black Sabbath — Junior’s Eyes (Never Say Die): Never Say Die is my favorite Black Sabbath album. I’m one of 17 people on the planet who share this notion. Ozzy Osbourne had already nearly left the band, but came back for this finale. What some see as disjointed and half-hearted sounds to me like the band stretching out a bit. This is a slower atmospheric number with a big chorus. Iommi plays some fuzztoned jazz-blues in the verses before riffing more heavily elsewhere.
The Byrds — I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better (Mr. Tambourine Man): This is a quintessential jangle rocker, with the 12-string guitar simply glistening. The harmonies are sweet too. Not a hit single, but one of The Byrds’ best pop numbers.
Beulah — Popular Mechanics For Lovers (The Coast Is Never Clear): This band recorded for the Elephant 6 label, briefly, but wasn’t a retro ’60s psych outfit. Instead, they were one of the better late-‘90s indie pop band, playing music that was bouncy and uplifting, but with normal guy vocals and sort of clever lyrics. This is a nice song, but not one of the best on this album.
Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark — Stanlow (Organisation):OMD had a few American hits with frothy light synth-pop songs. But the band’s early stuff had so much more texture and depth. Yes, they had their share of hooky singles, but even those had chilly atmospheres and cool influences, like The Velvet Underground. This album closer is ominous and pretty, and shows how much the band had grown sonically. They learned some lessons from Kraftwerk on how to sequence the synths, and then added some touching melodies.
Petula Clark — Things Go Better With Coke (Things Go Better With Coke): This is an excellent ’60s Coca-Cola ad, where they manage to meld the renowned Coke jingle with Clark’s biggest hit, “Downtown”.
The Association — Names, Tags, Numbers & Labels (Just The Right Sound: The Association Anthology):* Wow, my iPod is on ’60s kick today. Best known for lightweight fare like “Windy” and “Cherish”, The Association basically only did lightweight fare in that vein. This is soft pop of the highest order, with buttery melodies, cascading harmonies and big crescendos. This song also sports a great strings-and-brass arrangement.
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 — Hurry For The Sky (Goodnight Oslo): The second Hitchcock album with the Venus 3 is a comfortable affair. Hitchcock sounds relaxed and the songs are pretty good. This song is all strumming acoustics and an ebbing and rolling rhythm. This song is more to the Dylan side of Robyn than the Syd Barrett side. More than 30 years after The Soft Boys got him started, he can still deliver ace tunes like this one.
A House — Hay When The Sun Shines (On Our Big Fat Merry-Go-Round): From this incredibly underrated Irish band’s debut. The band’s early music was folky Brit indie pop in the vein of James and Hellfire Sermons. But A House had extra vigor, extra brio, extra sarcasm. David Couse wasn’t always on key, but he had a lot to say and said it loud. This song clatters around until the instrumental break after the second chorus, and from there, it’s like a locomotive running off the tracks.
Joy Division — Passover (Permanent): A spooky Joy Division song (yes, that describes many of them). It’s mid-tempo, with the drums driving everything, so that the Bernard Sumner’s guitar and Peter Hook’s bass provide decoration. Ian Curtis’s voice seems to come out of the depths of the Earth, or his tormented psyche. These guys were so influential, but no one seems to have topped them.
Donovan — Hurdy Gurdy Man (Love Is Hot, Truth Is Molten): One of Donovan’s better known hits. For a truly hippy dippy guy, he made some nice forays into psychedelia. His fey vocals are offset by some pretty stinging guitar and lively drumming.