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 give it up for the man from the University of Mars, the man with the steam coming off his bald dome (bald in an era when real men had big afros), former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk. In honor of Otis, grab your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everyone else.
I’m now over 23,300 tunes on my iPod and this is what I came up with:
- The Four Tops — Just Seven Numbers (Singles) This song comes closer to Southern soul than Northern soul, as it has more of a classic blues chord structure than the typical Motown single. Of course, Tops’ lead singer Levi Stubbs would have been great doing deep soul, with his gruff, passionate voice. This isn’t a great song, but it’s a nice change of pace.
- Glen Campbell — These Days (Meet Glenn Campbell) I’m not sure if this song has come up on a prior shuffle, but this recent comeback album has. This cover of the ’70s Jackson Browne staple fits in so well with the classic Glenn Campbell style. It’s like it’s the next best thing to Jimmy Webb. This may be the best song on this album.
- The Coasters — Yakkity Yak (Greatest Hits) The court jesters of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, they had great material (primarily from Leiber and Stoller) and a good natured sass that was perfect for these songs. The fun never ends with The Coasters.
- Richard Thompson — You Dream Too Much (Rumor & Sigh) This might be my favorite Richard Thompson album. The songwriting shows off all facets of his personality and he was just spinning off great melody after great melody. This is a hooky number, somewhat akin to Crowded House, but with that special exuberant bitterness that only Thompson can provide.
- Tavares — Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (The Best Of Tavares) The first crossover smash for Tavares, who were guided by producer Freddy Perrin, who was one of the first soul producers to successfully integrate disco into a vocal groups sound. Tavares did not boast a single great lead singer, but had such a winning, joyous sound. The harmonies, the strings, the woodwinds and that every present beat. Great song.
- Pernice Brothers — One Foot in the Grave (Yours, Mine & Ours) On this album, Joe Pernice and company showed that they weren’t just about reviving lush ’60s pop with a little alt-country mixed in. Here, the band shows its affinity for ’80s college radio, especially Brit bands like New Order and The Smiths. What is exceptional is that the core of the Pernice sound is intact, just dressed up a bit differently.
- Kid Creole & The Coconuts — Broadway Rhythm (Doppelganger) Funk never sounded more urbane than when Kid Creole and his menagerie laid it down. The chicken scratch guitar mixes with a percolating rhythm and a smooth melody. It’s no surprise that the Kid can still wow crowds in Europe, whereas August Darnell’s music never quite fit in with the rigid U.S. radio formats of the ’80s. One of the most underrated groups of their era.
- The Go-Betweens — The Streets Of Your Town (16 Lovers Lane) One of the singles from the album that closed out the initial phase of the band’s run. As the band honed its pop sense, it’s large debt to the Velvet Underground became less noticeable, and they developed such a distinctive sound. Literate, pretty and memorable.
- Biz Markie — Just a Friend (The Biz Never Sleeps) This song was featured in some annoying commercial with some Lincoln Park types in a cab singing along, joined in by the old fart cab driver. This commercial did not dampen my enjoyment of hearing the marble mouthed Biz’s big moment in the sun. Years later, he is a regular on Yo Gabba Gabba. Good for him.
- The Rutles — Living in Hope (The Rutles) The soundtrack to the Eric Idle Beatles spoof mockumentary was so key. While Idle’s parody of documentary filmmaking and the Fab Four was very funny, the music penned by Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Band turned it into the classic. Some songs are inside out rewrites of moptop classics. But this is a mid-tempo song for Barry Wom, the Ringo-esque drummer. I’m not sure if John Halsey (of the bands Timebox and Patto), the drummer played Wom actually did the lead vocal or if it’s Innes, but whoever it was nailed that Ringo hang dog vocal sound.