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Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — Happy Birthday Steven Drozd Edition

While so much attention is focused on lead singer Wayne Coyne (and he is the frontman, after all), when you want to know why the Flaming Lips are such a great band, you have to give a substantial amount of credit to Steven Drozd. Not only is he the lead guitarist for the band, but he plays many other instruments (sometimes switching from guitar to keyboard in mid-song when on stage). He has a great deal of responsibility for the texture and sound of the band. Moreover, he has managed to overcome a destructive heroin habit, poignantly chronicled in the documentary The Fearless Freaks, and the Lips solider on, still making great records (like 2009’s Embryonic). Let’s give Steven a birthday salute, by grabbing your iPod/MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up.

  1. The Fall — Bremen Nacht (The Frenz Experiment): Yet another fun number from the band’s first Brix Smith era. This song has a cool ping-ponging keyboard part that contrasts the steady drumming and sets up the slight melody. The whole structure is inherently catchy and despite the odd structure, it sounds poppy with a fairly peppy performance from Mark E. Smith.
  2. Joe Pernice — Found a Little Baby (It Feels So Good When I Stop): This is from Joe’s first solo album, which serves as a soundtrack to his debut novel. The protagonist is a musician, so many songs come up in the book. The album is primarily covers, with one song from the fictional band of the protagonist. This gem is a gentle cover of Chicago’s very own Plush. It sounds like a Pernice Brothers tune, really.
  3. Robbie Fulks — In Bristol Town One Bright Day (Couples in Trouble): This sounds like a British folk number with a bit of Southern blues underneath (of course, there is some sort of intersection between those styles). This comes from Robbie’s masterpiece, an album where he takes on a bunch of styles with an uncharacteristic seriousness and intensity. However, it’s never pretentious. Every song is a world unto itself with Fulks’ splendid vocals and incisive lyrics. Wish he could follow this up.
  4. The Morells — I Can’t Dance (The Morells Anthology Live): Wow, I have a ton of Morells on my iPod due to this live compilation (four full shows). D. Clinton Thompson steps up to the microphone for a bouncy early ’60s R & B/beach music type of tune.
  5. Dirty Looks — Accept Me (Dirty Looks): This Staten Island trio put out one of the all-time great debut albums on Stiff Records in 1980. This is mod-inflected power pop. Unlike the swoony nature of most power pop, the songs here are aggressive with razor sharp playing. Someone should get Ted Leo a copy of this album, as I could easily hear him covering a bunch of these tunes. This is one of the relatively lesser numbers on the album, but it still has a great hook.
  6. The Zombies — I Got My Mojo Workin’ (Zombie Heaven): Although The Zombies are famous for their unique, often baroque, Brit pop sound, they started out as an R & B based beat group. And they were pretty darned good at that. This take on an old blues chestnut features Rod Argent on lead vocals, and he acquits himself very well.
  7. Blow Pops — 7 Days With You (American Beauties): Milwaukee band led by Mike Jarvis, who now fronts the similar Lackloves. Jarvis specializes in ’60s styled pop that touches on the janglier side of the British Invasion and those it influenced. So a typical Blow Pops tune can conjure up The Beatles and The Byrds, along with lesser lights like The Beau Brummels and The Searchers. I can’t resist saying this — the Blow Pops are truly ear candy.
  8. Three Dog Night — Black and White (Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Anthology): I guess rock critics will never go back and reassess Three Dog Night. But these guys had a gazillion hits in the ’70s, and most of them still sound great today. This compilation has some early songs and non-singles, but not enough to get an idea if this band could carry albums. But why should this matter? If you can release a couple fistfuls of great singles, doesn’t that make you a great band? I did how this song has a modified reggae rhythm.
  9. The Adverts — Quickstep (Anthology): The early British punk band led by T.V. Smith flamed out after only two albums, but they made a real impact. The Adverts’ tunes are well constructed and owe a little less of a debt to older styles of rock than some other punk bands of the era. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if some early U.S. post-punkers like Effigies and Wipers were fans. A typically explosive track.
  10. J. Geils Band — Southside Shuffle (The J. Geils Band Anthology): One of the earlier tunes from this Boston band who went on to have surprising success during the new wave era. This is typical mid-tempo blues rock with a strong vocal by Peter Wolf. Their early studio stuff doesn’t fully capture how greasy and rocking they were.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod

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