Friday, July 15, 2011

My MP3 Player on Shuffle, No. 2

So I've been working more on this. I feel like a much more normal MP3 player user now. I now have 785 songs in one huge directory. So here are another ten on shuffle.
  1. El Debarge - Who's Johnny?: Okay, this is just kitsch. Uncritical nostalgia for the 80s.
  2. Madonna - Into the Groove: This isn't. This is, in my sincere opinion, one of the best things Madonna ever did. Amazingly, it was a b-side, to the much more forgettable 'Angel'. But it's dance music as euphoria, both in that that's what she's singing about and in that that's what that bass line evokes. Now I know you're mine, she squeaks in her innocent early-eighties voice, and it's victory at its sweetest.
  3. Stereolab - Ping Pong: Sterolab exist in a works of their own creation. This is most obviously Brazilian-influenced, but it doesn't sound Brazilian at all really. No idea what I'm listening to, but I like it.
  4. Bobby Byrd - I Know You Got Soul: The greatly expanded playlist has a lot more funk on it, which makes me happy as I'm zoned out on the subway. This isn't even five minutes, which is no length for a funk song. But in addition to its fabulous groove, its message is really quite uplifting, for those of us who listen to funk as jealous outsiders, who for reasons of our upbringing see ourselves as on some level 'unable' to genuinely be as funky as the greats of the genre. Nonsense, Byrd says, you're listening to this, right?
  5. Jay - Präludium: Long story here, longer than the two-minute song itself, so I'll probably have to pause it. After university, I moved abroad, a kind of imagine-no-possessions thing that I still look back on as maybe the most important part of my life. I slowly accumulated some possessions, but among the first were a bunch of cassettes I could play on the clunky yellow 'underwater' Walkman I'd bought myself (I'm a Sony whore from way back, it seems). One was The Rapsody Overture, a strange little Def Jam project they didn't even release in North America. It combined rap artists with opera songers for the most part. Warren G got a hit out of it, buth otherwise it's a pretty obscure project. One thing I fell in love with was this tiny little ditty by the complete unknown Jay. Based on a piano piece by Bach as opposed to an OTT operatic aria, it's understated as hell, a tiny little piece of gangland regret, a kiss on the lips to a childhood friend. It's absolutely gorgeous, and years after losing the cassette I was happy to find it again.
  6. George Baker Selection - Little Green Bag: Yeah, with the Stephen Wright introduction from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack. Why not, right? Even though it came out twenty years early, this is the theme song to that movie - it's quite impossible to hear this song any other way. Building soundtracks around existing songs is one of Quentin Tarantino's unique abilities, and I can't imagine anyone doing it better. How the hell did he find so appropriate a song gathering dust in someone's curio cabinet?
  7. Burning Spear - I and I Survive (Slavery Days Dub): The headphones I'm currently using (which I don't love) advertise themselves as being for dub music. Well, they do a decent job. But you could play this through a metal pie plate and it'd still be enchanting. I do love me some dub, and this is exactly the sort I like most: mystical and profound. How could you not fall in love with that bassline?
  8. Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan - Tell Me Something Good: This random playlist didn't start off very funky, but as it progresses... What is Rufus like from 2011 looking back? Well, you have to love Chaka Khan, right? Even if it's just 'I'm Every Woman' and 'I Feel For You', you've got to love that sexy diva spirit. In fact, for me it's the more understated divas that take my heart, and Chaka's one to compete with my all-time favourite Gladys Knight. So imagine suddenly discovering that this disco diva happened to make some deliciously dirty funk in the 1970s. Take awesome and multiply it by two... This is funky as hell, but it's a real composition, which a lot of funk isn't. Flat-out fabulous.
  9. Ray Charles - What'd I Say, Parts I & II: Ray Charles inventing modern music right there in the studio. This has nothing to do with 'rock and roll' at all: it's simultaneously something much older and much more modern. Six and a half minutes, but it could be twenty. Not kitschy, in my opinion, though I know why it's seen as such.
  10. Pink Floyd - Arnold Layne: Meh. A bit out of place, eh? Of course, that's what 'shuffle' is supposed to get you. It's good, though I'm not in the mood as I write this paragraph. It's endearing to hear how different a band 'The Pink Floyd' were in Syd's day.

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