Friday, July 29, 2011

My MP3 Player on Shuffle, No. 3

A third kick at the can, then. Why am I kicking at a can? What a crude thing to do. I've added shedloads of James Brown songs to my MP3 player, but I'm not including them. The majority I'm just slowly discovering.
  1. The Bangles - Manic Monday: How much of a genius is Prince? He comes along out of nowhere, completely repeats his melody from '1999', giving it a new set of lyrics about an urban professional who has a hard time waking up for work after her unemployed boyfriend spends the whole night, ahem, 'getting down'. He builds the sturdiest 1980s pop chassis and gives it to a California popwer-pop all-goup band who sounded nothing like this before it and nothing else after it. Oh, that nasty little Prince.
  2. Isaac Hayes - Theme from Shaft: This song can't be entirely kitsch. Okay, the spoken lyrics and female interjections certainly are. That flute probably is. But that wah-wah? That's not kitsch, that's what the primordial ooze from whih life on earth sprang sounded like, several millions of years ago.
  3. Freda Payne - Band of Gold: This is Holland, Dozier and Holland proving that without them Motown were nothing. Hard to disagree on the basis of this song built entirely around an insistent stomp of a groove and Freda Whoever's astonishing method acting. This is an amazing song.
  4. Paula Abdul - Cold Hearted: Okay, this is kitsch, especially in the American Idol era. This was pretty inescapable at the time, though, and the best song on Forever Your Girl. It didn't really need to be any longer than two minutes, however.
  5. Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale: Yeah right, you say. Nobody really listens to the Velvet Underground; they just claim to. Nope - it's sincere. I absolutely adore a small handful of VU songs and absolutely loathe many of the rest. This is in the former category, one of the only Lou Reed songs that really fit Nico's acquired taste of a voice. And major sevenths ahoy!
  6. Public Enemy - Fight the Power: One of the very small number of rap songs I can recite along to from start to finish. All these years later, a few comments: one, those beats really are mighty. Two, Flavor Flav was a way better MC than I gave him credit for back in the day when I saw him as a superfluous Bez. Three, still though, Chuck D's science is jaw-dropping from start to finish. Four, I must throw my cred straight out the window by admitting one reason I know the words is because the Barenaked Ladies covered it. At least I'll admit I prefer this version. Five, this version on my MP3 player is censored - what the hell? Six, I did a 'film report' on Do the Right Thing in high school, which in retrospect was pretty cool.
  7. Daryl Hall & John Oates - Maneater: I would have argued that Hall & Oates tied Huey Lewis and the News for the title of Great Eighties Unmentionable, the taste-lapse that it's best to pretend never happened. But it seems that these slick and greasy purveyors of whatever the hell 'blue-eyed soul' is are taking tentative steps toward rehabiliation. God help us all, but this sexist drivel is all about its bassline. Whatever is on top is mere Miami Vice soundtracking.
  8. Maceo & the Macks - Soul Power '74: Somehow this is not quite an instrumental exactly. Funky party stuff, though Maceo's horn isn't always what I'm looking for. At times I wish he'd just sit down and let the rhythm section do their thing. James knew you needed a bit of space; Maceo never even stops to breathe. Something to prove?
  9. Sloan - Everything You've Done Wrong: When I was in high school, Sloan played at a dive located, miraculously, at the top of my street. I was underage, but I could sit on my balcony and hear them. Good times. That was 'Underwhelmed'-era though - this particular frug is a few years later. Fabulous though, with the Herb Alpert horns being a heresy at the time. It is, in retrospect, very very good stuff.
  10. Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind: Yay! Cram that legally-required CanCon in at the end, eh? I'm so Canadian. This is not about ironic rehabilitiation of hopelessly square oldies; this is genuine. It's those moody strings, the hyperactive acoustic guitar lines, Gord's fabulous maple syrup voice, that melody. This was one of the first things I learnt to play on a guitar. Not well, mind you. But since when does that matter?

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