Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Nothing gets your Friday started like finding out you have no hot water. Turns out that even though we turned on the electricity, we didn’t turn on the gas. We probably should have figured that out but we thought the power company did both. Anyway, the gas company came over today, grabbed the meter, and shut us down. TLB called them, and initially they said they wouldn’t be back here until the 30th. Holy frozen nutsack, Batman! TLB managed to wrangle them down to Tuesday. The water heater guy, who came over because we thought that was what had busted, laughed. “They can come over and shut you down the same day, but not turn you on.” Damn skippy.

Oh well, at least now I can get a Lake Superior experience without leaving my house.

1) “Finest Worksong,” REM. Document was one of the earliest CDs I ever had. When I had this in high school, my bedroom was in the front of the house, near our living room. One day my mother was napping on the couch, and I cued this song up and blasted it—it has a sudden opening with full thudding drums, bass, and guitar. I am lucky I didn’t kill her. Reaction: not amused. Now I always have the association that "Finest Worksong" almost got me locked up for mom-slaughter.

2) “Clover Over Dover,” Blur. You know what more rock songs need? Harpsichord. Hearing that instrument combined with Damon Albarn’s heavy English accent makes me think this was recorded in a drawer-ing room.

3) “Sweet Marie,” Crooked Fingers. There’s a real “Tide Is High” feel at the beginning of this Chipotle-flavored ditty. The vocals are so throaty I’m not sure they ever reached the singer’s mouth, and instead opened up his Adam's apple to escape.

4) “Limelight,” XTC. I raided my friend’s music collection over the summer, and I grabbed a lot of bands like XTC that I missed when I was younger because I was too busy listening to Dio. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Okay, there’s a lot wrong with that.

5) “Mongrel…” DJ Shadow. A fellow UC Davis alum—w00t! This is the first of a two-part song, with the other being “Meets His Maker.” So that’s kind of prog. Cool, reverberated guitars and keyboards with DJ Shadow’s traditionally thick drum beats.

6) “What Is and What Shall Never Be,” Led Zeppelin. I wish the what shall be part of the title had been applied to The Honeydrippers.

7) “Paranoid,” Black Sabbath. Here’s what always impresses me about this song: it’s hard for songs this old to still sound really heavy. But there’s a low growl to this that still feels menacing. And Ozzy sounds pretty paranoid, probably because he sold his soul for rock and roll. That’ll keep you up nights.

8) “Bad Boy Boogie (Live),” AC/DC. Here’s a similar situation: with today’s fuck-it-I’ll-just-let-them-bleep-this-shit-out recording styles, it’s also hard for rock’s early bad boys to still sound bad. Not so with Bon Scott. His vocals remain rough and tumble, but with a lot of charisma. This live version fucks up the song a bit with that other 70s staple, guitar wankery.

9) “Gloria (Live),” Van Morrison. A classic with the classic break-it-down-so-the-audience-can-clap bit. It's cut from the same cloth that “Louie Louie” is, but I always liked this song better.

10) “Knuckles,” The Hold Steady. Speaking of dated, this song has lyrical references to Right Said Fred, Sunny D, and Five-Alive (yes, the breakfast drink that tasted like five fruits mixed in antifreeze). But this song also brings it in the classic Hold Steady classic rock style, where the keyboards twill and the guitar chords windmill. With that kind of backdrop they could recite lyrics about Nu Shooz and Big League Chew for all I care.

11) “You Belong to Me,” Elvis Costello. Keyboards are like hands. No matter how much work you’ve done on the rest of your body, your hands tend to give your age away. As good as early Elvis Costello songs are, they keyboard sound will always be stuck in the 80s. But when the rest of a person is a knockout the way this track is, you can live with old hands.

Have a good weekend!


Grendel said...

XTC is one of the least famous flat-out brilliant acts ever. One thing that held them back was they couldn't tour -- Andy Partridge developed extreme stage fright in 1982. So they became exclusively a studio band, like the late Beatles. And they learned a LOT from the Beatles.

"The Big Express," "Black Sea," and "English Settlement" are among their best. But their finest album, imo, and even more obscure, is the first Dukes of Stratosphear release, "25 O'Clock," which was bundled with the second release on one CD called "Chips from the Chocolate Fireball." XTC simply pretended to be a lost 60s psychedelic band. They blended nonsense lyrics, virtuoso musicianship, and mind-bending recording techniques to came up with something spectacular. Well worth picking up if you see it anywhere.

What XTC did you get, B?

Trevor said...

Funny, I came to say that I think I raided XTC from that same friend. And then a comment from that friend is here. I still need to dig farther back in their catalog, though. Is it okay if I trash the Peter Pumpkinhead tune?

Brando, that's a really smart comment about the early Costello keyboards. "Pump It Up" and "Radio, Radio" really show their age this way.

Grendel said...

Only if you understand that by trashing Peter Pumpinkhead, you are trashing Jesus. If you're okay with that, then, well, it's your soul.

That said, the band is an acquired taste. It took me around three years of my college roommate constantly playing XTC to actually begin to like them.

Brando said...

What XTC did you get, B?

Uh, I think all of it ;-) Seriously, our mutual guitar-playing friend tapped me into the mother lode of music this past year. I'll put it this way -- I doubled what I had on my iPod, and I'm up to 50 gigs now. I am working my way through it, and XTC is getting some attention. I think you're right about it being an acquired taste -- I can tell I will like it, but it needs to breathe like a wine for a bit.

Trevor, it's true, the early Costello definitely has the late 70s/early 80s written all over it, and it's mostly the keyboards. Still amazing music, though.

Churlita said...

It's funny. I can usually tell about five minutes after I meet someone if they're diehard XTC fans. There's always a little something kind of "Red Dwarf" about them. I totally appreciate XTC. The guys I worked with at my first Iowa City job kind of burnt me out on them for a while, and now they're nostalgia music.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it humanly impossible for a guy NOT to play air guitar when "Paranoid" is playing?

Brendan said...

I'll chime in on the pro-XTC mood, but spare you the details.

[Pause for applause.]

Re: #6: Ahhhh, the Honeydrippers weren't that bad. Cheesy, to be sure. Nowhere near as good as the earlier efforts of the band's members, no argument. But some of the songs were okay as background or sing-along-while-driving music.

As for wishing what should never have been: #9. I could go the whole rest of my life without hearing "Gloria." Even as rendered by Van the Man. Or should I say, especially as rendered by Van. He has so many other good ones that it's a shame to waste what little hearing I have left on the canonical garage band song that most certainly should never have been allowed to leave there.

billy pilgrim said...

Quite the XTC fan club you've got going here. Better late than never, I guess. I jumped on that the second I heard "Senses Working Overtime". Or was it "Generals and Majors"? Ahhh, don't recall, but they take up an awful lot of my iPod too.

My random this week was all Mekons, cuz of the new disc. Talk about an obscure, acquired taste.

jexebel said...

A harpsicord is a what exactally again? It's a type of whale, right?

Brando said...

I hated The Honeydrippers. It's hard to hear someone crooning vanilla like "do you remember, when we met?" when he once yelped "I wanna be your back door man!" But Brendan, you're right, it could be worse: they could have been The Firm.

It is very hard not to air guitar "Paranoid," party because it is so simple to imitate. I'm not sure if that will make it into Guitar Hero III. The first one had "Iron Man," and the second had "War Pigs." I also climbed back into the GH saddle this weekend after a long layoff. I am going to conquer the Hard level even if it means carpel tunnel.

Jexebel, a harpsichord is a piano with its balls cut off ;-)