Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The Hump Day Shuffle: 1987
1. Dave Alvin - Fourth of July - Romeo's Escape
This is one of my all-time favorite songs, but my preference is for Alvin's heartache-laced, stripped-down recording from 1994's King of California. On Romeo's Escape it's a straight-ahead rock song, similar to the John Doe sung version on X's See How We Are, also released in 1987. The soaring chorus (Hey Baby, it's the Fourth of July) and the reflective lyrics of a love gone sour capture me every single time... no matter which version.
2. Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton & Linda Ronstadt - To Know Him Is To Love Him - Trio
This harmony rich remake of Phil Spector's classic tune topped the country music chart is surprisingly unslick for country in the mid 1980s. It made the collaboration a winner, though I like Emmylou & Linda's even more stripped-down 1999 Western Wall album better, for its less-predictable choice of songs to cover.
3. Tom Waits - I'll Take New York - Frank's Wild Years
Tom Waits possesses the most compelling weirdness in the history of American music, having turned out one curveball record after another for 35 years. This skewed combination of carnival and lounge music isn't even among his weirdest songs, but it effectively stops listeners in their tracks regardless.
4. Fleetwood Mac - Family Man - The Very Best Of (originally on Tango In The Night)
Fleetwood Mac was a band that shouldn't have been recording in the 1980s. A generic drum-machine dance beat, heavy synth presence and horrid new-agey acoustic guitar runs all add up to a horrid song. I have no idea what this is doing on a best-of collection, I've never heard it before, and I hope I don't ever again.
5. New Order - 1963 - Substance
This is one of the new songs on the Manchester dance-rock giants' 1987 compilation record, and like several of New Order's hits, I actually prefer later remixes. The sparser dance arrangements just sound too cold and synthetic to me, while the remixes tend to be more melodic arrangements that add layers of instrumentation that flesh out the sound so much better.
6. Spacemen 3 - Starship - The Perfect Prescription
I'm not sure what to think about this droning, spaced-out sound - it's sort of an ambient punk that fits in with my brother's tastes much moreso than mine. Which is hardly surprising since I got the album from him. Spacemen 3 is nothing I'd turn away from, but it may never be a band I'll embrace.
7. The Cure - Catch - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
From the band's first HUGE album, this is one of my favorite Cure songs, with a delicate, melodoic lead guitar and a sweeping violin light up this song, without making it sound too poppy. Call it a bright, sunny sadness. And it has a fantastic video.
8. Naked Prey - Wichita Lineman - 40 Miles From Nowhere
Van Christian led this Tucson alternative band that fits in somewhere along the punk to cow-punk transition that defined the scene until the "desert rock" tag stuck. Naked Prey turns this Jimmy Webb classic on its head, with a dirge-like beat and heavy distorted guitars
9. The Pixies - Levitate Me - Come On Pilgrim
The Pixies came mostly formed on this debut EP, but there's different sort of rawness than would show up on the band's best records.
10. The Strand - Her Love's In Vain - The Strand
A four-song self-released tape from an early Bruce Connole project (Connole now fronts the honky-tonk Suicide Kings), this should be a power pop classic. A lucky find on the amazing AZLocal blog, The Strand sounds like a sunnier version of the Replacements.
Dave Alvin - Fourth of July (live)
The Strand - Her Love's In Vain