Let’s celebrate the birthday of the most famous son of a CIA agent in rock history. Stewart Copeland brought something special to his drumming with The Police (and put up with Sting and his massive ego), and has also done a number of interesting solo projects. In Stewart’s honor, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up.
The Swingin’ Neckbreakers — Mad Tea Party (The Return Of Rock): A hammering fuzz guitar riff keys this slamming track from the great New Jersey garage rock band. This is very much in the vein of classic Yardbirds with a slight tinge of psychedelia. I wish these guys would put out another record, but I have a feeling that they’ve rocker their last rock.
Broken Bells — Sailing to Nowhere (Broken Bells): This collaboration between Danger Mouse and James Mercer of The Shins is a bit disappointing, mainly because there aren’t enough top shelf tunes. I wonder if DM might be stretching himself a bit thin, or rather, he’s reaching the limits of his vision. Of course, not everything has to be classic and this is an album with some fine moments. This tune stitches together a ’60s soft-pop vibe with some Air-like electronica and even some synth-strings, while Mercer sounds terrific.
Midnight Oil — Cemetary In My Mind (Redneck Wonderland): After Diesel and Dust made the Oils international stars, the band’s music started slowly but surely blanding out a bit. However, they made a bit of a comeback on Redneck Wonderland. The album was a reaction to the rise of conservative politics in Australia. While the album doesn’t go back to the artier rock of the bands classic 10, 9, 8 and Red Sails In The Sunset albums, the music is much more forceful. This song is more in the vein of Diesel and Dust with a large scale and passionate performances.
Andrea Perry — Gettin’ To Know You (Two): A lot of Perry’s songs are so precisely arranged. It’s not just the composition but how she puts the instruments and her vocals together to make pop songs that incorporate a wide array of inspirations. This song has a very basic melody and rhythm but is chock full of embellishments that keep it fresh, along with tempo changes that create little hooks. Combined with her soothing voice and nifty guitar work and the result is a little gem.
Blue Oyster Cult — Mistress Of The Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)(Tyranny and Mutation): Early BOC is so brilliant. The songs are heavy enough to satisfy Black Sabbath fans, but the psychedelic elements are more upfront. Moreover, the band knew how to put together catchy riffs and lead guitar lines, along with memorable refrains, which made the bizarre lyrics go down all the easier. I wish they had kept the organ as a prominent instrument.
The Isley Brothers — Harvest For The World (It’s Your Thing: The Story of The Isley Brothers): During the early to mid-‘70s, The Isleys balanced some funky jams with some really swell ’70s pop-rock that was well-suited for FM radio play. This song fits in the latter category, with a utopian world view on par with songs like The O’Jays’ “Love Train”. This sounds like a Todd Rundgren tune.
Les Fleur de Lys — Circles (Nuggets II): I’m so glad Rhino decided to expand on the Nuggets concept with a four-disc set of garage, freakbeat and psychedelic music from outside the borders of the U.S. of A. This is a solid take on a tune by The Who, though it’s not as good as the original.
The Sinners — Barbed Wire Heart (Children of Nuggets): I’m also glad Rhino went even further and put out this collection of ’80s and ’90s artists who followed in the footsteps of the original Nuggets bands. This is a good brooding number in the vein of The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”.
Luke Jackson — Goodbye London (…And Then Some): Jackson is a great British pop artist. He mixes upbeat jangle rockers in the vein of Kimberly Rew and Cosmic Rough Riders, like this one, with some nice orch-pop inflected tunes. I love the full arrangement on this track, as he layers backing vocals and other instruments over the core of the track. I have to throw some Luke on one of my upcoming shows.
Translator — Another American Night (Translator): The first Translator album mixed folky rock with a bit of post-punk. The second album was simply devoid of solid tunes. The band bounced back with an album that favored the folky/power pop-ish side of their sound. This song is about as close to anything on the debut, but with a much brighter vocal sound.