Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The Hump Day Shuffle: 1986
1. Bon Jovi - Without Love - Slippery When Wet
This was the first tape I bought with my own money, an undeniable classic of 80s excess and glam, with a core songs, beyond the singles even, that are actually good enough to listen to 20 plus years on down the line. Sure it's mostly out of nostalgia, but a little Bon Jovi every now and again is still a good time.
2. Steve Earle - Goodbye's All We Got Left - Guitar Town
Steve Earle's debut album is by far his most country sounding, but it's loaded with absolutely great songs, this one included. As unconventional as his career has turned out to be, it's a shock that he started with a record so straight forward. There's very little of the Townes Van Zandt influence evident here, but even early on, Earle could pen one hell of a heartbreaker.
3. Dead Milkmen - The Thing That Only Eats Hippies - Death Rides A Pale Cow (Originally on Eat Your Paisley)
The Dead Milkmen sound off-the-charts crazy more often than not to me, even so far removed, so I can't imagine what they would've been like to hear fresh in the mid 80s. "Funny punk" doesn't really capture the band's essence, but it's certainly true: "It ate Stills and Nash before they could shout / And then it chewed on David Crosby / But it spit him out."
4. Rainer & Das Combo - I Wish You Would - Barefoot Rock
Rainer Ptacek is a slide guitar virtuoso and blues legend whose work is surprisingly hard to track down. I was first turned on to Rainer watching the film High and Dry, about the Tucson music scene in the 80s and beyond. He recorded this record as a tight three-piece combo, with a hard-charging electric blues that's groovy and a bit edgy. Watch a great video clip here.
5. Beastie Boys - She's Crafty - Licensed to Ill
Built around an instantly recognized but very well-placed Led Zeppelin riff, this gem from the Beastie Boys' debut still stands as one of the band's handful of best songs. The sample-heavy song and record wouldn't be possible today, but what a hell of a sound they created.
6. Billy Bragg - Greetings to the New Brunette - Talking With The Taxman About Poetry
Surely one of the best album's from 1986, this is Bragg branching out with a full band and more nuanced love songs. And this is among his best, with lines like "Celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo" and "Would the leaves fall from the trees / If I was your old man and you were my missus."
7. The Replacements - Beer For Breakfast - All For Nothing
Yet another goof-off outtake from Replacements, this was recorded during the Pleased To Meet Me sessions and later showed up on the second disc of Sire's best-of compilation.
8. R.E.M. - Cuyahoga - Life's Rich Pageant
I've been on a slow trek back through R.E.M.'s early records for the past few years now, and there are standout songs to be found on every record, but for some reason I have a hard time listening to any of the albums straight through. So thanks to shuffle for bringing this one back up... it's got every element that made the band great, jangly guitars, a mid-tempo sing-along chorus and a shuffling beat that gives the song just enough of an edge.
9. Sonic Youth - Expressway to Your Skull - Evol
Another album that I just got, Evol is probably at the far edge of what I've considered listenable, so for me, it's fascinating and challenging in equal measure. This song swirls and drones as much as it sticks to the point, but that's Sonic Youth in a nutshell. I'm not really sure I'd want to listen to all 7:20 of it all that often, but I'd listen to what could more or less be called a chorus over and over again.
10. Peter Cetera - Glory of Love - Solitude/Solitaire
Perhaps the cheesiest song in a decade known for laying down thick slabs of cheese everywhere it could, "Glory of Love" is remarkable for its absolute wimpiness. It's in my collection for two reasons: it's prominent place in The Karate Kid II and Heinecke's incessent playing of it in high school. It's a song that never fails to make me laugh. Just check out the video:
Billy Bragg with Ian McLagan - Greetings to the new Brunette (live)
R.E.M. - Cuyahoga (Unplugged)