Jeff Bridges… I Don’t Need No Jeff Bridges To Put Music To My Poem!

Jule Styne

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s another hypothetical mix CD, this one called “Jeff Bridges… I Don’t Need No Jeff Bridges To Put Music To My Poem!” The title’s taken from one of my favorite Tom Goes To The Mayor episodes (though, really, they’re all pretty dang great), and the main idea of this mix is to expose people to bands or songs they might not know otherwise. None of the songs were chosen for ironic value; I tend to find all these songs very listenable, and hope others do as well. The songs worked themselves out into “sides” like an LP, although, length-wise, each “side” here would probably be about 2 sides of a real record, but since this is hypothetical, no one will mind.

SIDE A:

Pico & Sepulveda – Felix Figueroa & His Orchestra [From the LP edition of the Forbidden Zone Soundtrack]
This opens the first disc because of the awesome horn fanfare beginning, and just because it’s one of the most important tracks. Dr. Demento used this song to open his show for a while, and it’s popped up in lots of other places. The most easily available place for it now is the DVD of Forbidden Zone, which everyone should see anyway, because it is one of the best things ever. The lyrics are primarily a list of places in Los Angeles. It’s very, very hard to find any information about this song, but through my research I was able to find out that Felix Figeuroa was actually Freddie Martin and his Orchestra; the song itself was written by Eddie Maxwell and Jule Styne.
News At Ten – The Vapors [From New Clear Days]
The Vapors are probably best known for their song “Turning Japanese”, but this is another one of their singles, which did decently in the charts, at least in the UK. It came from their first album, New Clear Days; they only recorded one other album, Magnets before breaking up after their label rejected the songs they’d recorded for their never-finished third album. There are, surprisingly, loads of Vapors CDs available; most of them are New Clear Days plus some variety of bonus tracks under various other titles; however, both New Clear Days and Magnets are available in their entirety on CD, both on one disc (called Vaporized, using the US lineup of New Clear Days) and individually (using the UK lineup of New Clear Days; Magnets is the same, both in UK and US versions).
Can You Forgive Her? (Swing) – Pet Shop Boys [From Yesterday When I Was Mad]
A rare track; after Very came out, Neil Tennant was talking with Richard Niles, who mentioned that “Can You Forgive Her?” would sound good as a swing song, and said that if Neil would sing it at a concert, he’d do the arrangement. Neil ended up not singing at the concert, but the arrangement was done, and I believe it came out as a B-side. Neil tells the story in the liner notes to the Expanded edition of Very, though this version doesn’t actually appear on the Further Listening disc. A quick googling shows that it was one of the B-sides to “Yesterday, When I Was Mad“.
O’oh – Yoko Ono [From Walking on Thin Ice]
This showed up on the Onobox; it was an outtake. Apparently she wanted to put it on an album, but after it was recorded, the musicians convinced her the song was just a trifle and not worth taking up the space. She finally released it, though, and it’s a good thing she did; it’s a really wonderful, sweet song.
Flicking Your Switch – Ladytron [Light & Magic]
This isn’t a terribly obscure track by a not terribly obscure band. It’s from their second album, Light and Magic. It’s a relatively simple song, like most of this album, but not quite as simple as the song I almost chose, “Seventeen”, which is only 4 lines repeated over and over. (I decided against it because while it was the first Ladytron song I heard and what made me get into them, it was a single and video for this album.)
Hands 2 Take – The Flying Lizards [From Fourth Wall]
Unlike the previous track, this actually was one of the singles from the album it was on, Fourth Wall, but the single tanked, and the album did even worse. This one is very hard to find; the LP is relatively hard to find, but the CD is almost impossible; it was only released, against the creator’s wishes, in Japan, and it went out of print almost immediately. That said, it’s really worth finding; it’s quite possibly the best Flying Lizards album, though the first, self-titled one is very good as well (and also readily available; it too was only released on CD in Japan, but unlike its followup, remains in print). Patti Paladin sings and wrote the lyrics; Fourth Wall was the collaboration between her and primary member David Cunningham, and her style is the most different from all the Flying Lizards vocalists. Most people are familiar with their stripped down cover of “Money”, but this is wholly different. Pay special attention to the guitar solo; it’s one of my favorite solos put on record.
Cracker – ohGr [From Welt]
This is a side project from one of the members of Skinny Puppy. This actually was the single and video from the album Welt, although despite my best efforts at the college radio station I used to work for where I’d spin it all the time, I don’t think many people heard this. I did see it on MTV once, though, so perhaps I’m wrong. But, still, it’s a good song, so that’s why it’s here.
Get Ur Freak On – eels [From Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1]
I assume everyone knows who eels are. Souljacker, “Novocaine for the Soul”, etc. This is a live cover of the Missy Elliott song. He also performed it on Last Call with Carson Daly; even though the show is awful, they occasionally get good musical guests, and even more occasionally turn over half the show to them. I’m not sure if they do this anymore; I haven’t seen the show in about a year. The show is hideous, and it appears that they’ve knocked off the whole “getting good musical guests” thing, and since, as an interviewer, Carson Daly makes the baby Jesus cry, and since 9 times out of 10, his guests have an average single-digit IQ, I just haven’t had the will to leave the TV on after Late Night with Conan O’Brien. If NBC had any brains, they’d go back to running SCTV reruns. But I suppose they’ve got to keep Carson Daly off the streets, since without the retrofitted Applause signs fixed to read “TAKE A BREATH”, he wouldn’t last 5 minutes on the street. I mean that literally, since brain death tends to set in after about 4 minutes without oxygen.
Michael Caine – Madness [From Keep Moving]
This is quite possibly my favorite Madness song. They got Michael Caine to contribute his vocals to the track (well, sorta; it’s a sample of him saying “My name is Michael Caine”), which is amusing, since the song is about a demented actor. It’s another track where Madness has their wry upbeatness over very sad subject matter. They’re really good at that.
Losing Lisa – Ben Folds [From Rockin’ the Suburbs]
This is from Ben Folds’ first solo record. I’m not a huge Ben Folds fan, but I find that he does tend to get better. I used to own Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five, but aside from a handful of tracks, I didn’t like it; I ended up ripping the tracks I liked and giving it away. I still don’t own any of his albums, but good songs turn up, and this is one of those.
Unreliable Narrator (I’m The Subsitute Now) – They Might Be Giants [From eMusic]
A rare They Might Be Giants song. It was originally put up for upload on eMusic for free. I think it was recorded for Malcolm in the Middle, though I don’t know if it was ever used. I think when it came out, they were hinting that it’d show up on the upcoming album. It didn’t. In fact, the two radio teaser promos that came out before Mink Car featured a lot of songs that didn’t make it onto Mink Car despite being listed as “From the Upcoming Album”, for example “Your Mom’s Alright” and different mixes of “Mr. Xcitement” and “I’ve Got A Fang”, which makes me think that Mink Car‘s running order was up in the air until the CD was pressed. Anyway, it’s a short Flansburgh composition about a substitute teacher.

SIDE B:

The Bride Stripped Bare by “Bachelors” – Bonzo Dog Band [From Keynsham]
A good opener to the “second side”. This is from Keynsham (pronounced “cane-shm”, or maybe “kay-n-shm”, depending on how you want to note the sort of swallowed syllable in “keyn”). One of my favorite things about the Bonzos was how their songs were often funny but had a really strong pop sensibility as well. This is really clear in the bridge to Vivian Stanishall’s “Labio Dental Fricative” (more on that later). The title comes from the Duchamp piece The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (a/k/a The Large Glass). [NOTE: For the full effect, click on the “Duchamp” link, and in the Flash app, scroll left to 1923 and click on the “Bride Stripped Bare” artwork for a full exploration of the piece; the link on the title is merely the text part, but this site is an excellent use of Flash, and goes miles in explaining the piece.]
Sunshine Pig – Chris & Tad [From Hand Me That Door]
Chris & Tad are Chris Ballew (from the Presidents of the United States of America) and Tad Hutchison of the Young Fresh Fellows. This is from their one album, Hand Me That Door, and it’s just a short, fun song. If you like it, you’ll probably like the entire album. In fact, if you like either the Presidents or the Fellows, you’ll probably like this album. Just check it out.
My Love – Takako Minekawa [From Chat Chat]
This is from Takako Minekawa‘s first album Chat Chat, which is unfortunately unavailable in the US. This album is interesting, though — she was an actress who recorded a demo by herself, and submitted it to Polystar who ended up buying it and releasing it with some bonus tracks. Her later albums were released over here on Emperor Norton records. Unfortunately, she’s been really quiet since her 2002 EP Maxi On!. Rumors say that she had a baby and wanted to spend time taking care of it, however the Polystar news page has a new entry for August 4, 2004… but it’s unfortunately in Japanese, so I can’t tell if it means there’s a new record coming or what. Probably not, though.
Haunted – Shane MacGowan And The Popes [From The Snake]
Shane MacGowan was in the Pogues, and when he was fired from that band for being drunk and high all the time (which is almost like firing a fish for swimming or a bird for flying), he went out and formed another band. In an interview, he said he wanted to call the band just “The Popes”, but it turned out that the name was taken, so he added his name to it begrudgingly; he wanted the original name because it was as close as he could think of to “The Pogues”, so his new records would be binned next to his old band’s. This is from the first and best Popes album, The Snake; the second, Crock of Gold gets a little uncomfortable with the random seeming anti-Semitism and racism. This track features Sinead O’Connor on vocals, and it’s a really pretty song. I don’t typically like Sinead O’Connor much, but I love this song.
Underneath It – Sgt. Major [From Rich, Creamery Butter]
Sgt. Major is the new band featuring Kurt Bloch from the Young Fresh Fellows and the Fastbacks and Jim Sangster from the Fellows. Like the Fastbacks, Sgt. Major has a bit of a revolving door drummer; it seems to usually be either Rusty Willoughby or Mike Musburger, though. And Carmella is the vocalist. Anyway, though, this is from their album Rich, Creamery Butter, which is pretty easy to find in Seattle, but elsewhere, I think it’s a bit more difficult. It should be available on Amazon.com and perhaps other online retailers if you’re so inclined. It’s available on CD and LP — the LP has a bonus 7″. The album, though, is very good, and this is one of the best tracks from it. If you want more, the official Sgt. Major site has some more mp3s for download.
Duvet – Boa [From Twilight]
This is the full version of the opening theme to Serial Experiments Lain. From what I recall, they’re an English band that didn’t have much success in England, but became big in Japan, so they just release things for the Japanese market now. I think with the success of Serial Experiments Lain in the US, they might have an album or two out here, too, but I’m not certain on that.
Stockholm Love – 2 Skinnee J’s [From promo-only versions of Volumizer]
I’m not huge into 2 Skinnee J’s, but I do really like this song. It was the teaser-single for Volumizer, but then their label never released the album and dropped them. It took the band a couple years to get it released on another label, and when it finally came out, it wasn’t actually on the CD. I’m not sure if it’s a rights issue (i.e. since it was released by the label, they owned the rights; though I think promo copies of Volumizer exist from the old label, and I think the “Stockholm Love” single was a Radio-Only single, so….), or if they just got sick of the song and decided to leave it off at the last moment. Still, though, it’s a cool little song about the Stockholm Syndrome
Retrieval Of You – The Minus 5 [From Down With Wilco]
The Minus 5 is Scott McCaughey from the Fellows and Peter Buck from R.E.M. plus their friends. This track comes from the album Down With Wilco which features the Minus 5 joined by Wilco. I’m not really a fan of Wilco, but this is one of the best Minus 5 albums, and this is one of the best songs from this album. I’ve always thought it could segue pretty well into “Western Union” by The Five Americans. Apparently, the song is taken from an email that Jeff Tweedy sent Scott where he used the titular phrase, and Scott wrote a song about picking up a rock star from the airport, although in the song, the narrator kidnaps said star out of revenge; to the best of my knowledge, neither Scott nor Jeff Tweedy kidnapped the other.
Rock ‘n’ Roll/EGA – Daniel Johnston [From Fun]
This is my favorite Daniel Johnston song. It’s from the album Fun, his only major label release, from the days when the majors were willing to take risks on smaller-selling artists. Daniel Johnston’s vocals have always been weak, but rather emotional, and his subject matter is esoteric, but personal, but he’s always been able to craft a great pop structure and melody. This is another song about one of his obsessions (The Beatles in this case, and in a smaller role, religion as well), and I’ve always loved the change-over from the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” part of the song to the “EGA” part. Also — “EGA” is pronounced “egga” — it’s a word Johnston uses, but all it represents is the “E-G-A” chord progression used in this song. There’s a documentary about him, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, who also did Half Japanese – The Band That Would Be King.
You Ate It – Love Psychedelico [From Love Psychedelic Orchestra]
Love Psychedelico is a Japanese indie-rock band, and this is from their second album. Their first album was called The Greatest Hits, which I expect has caused problems for those looking for their actual Best-Of. The lead singer’s got a really intriguing/strange accent; from what I know, she was born in Japan, but as a baby moved to San Francisco and then moved back to Japan at about 7 or 8. Most of the stuff is in a mixture of English and Japanese, and due to her accent, it’s sort of difficult to tell when she switches. It’s an odd effect, but a great song. They FINALLY have an album in the US, another best-of, called This Is Love Psychedelico. This song isn’t on it, unfortunately, but it’s good!
Looking At the World From The Bottom Of A Well – Mike Doughty [From Haughty Melodic]
This was originally released by Mike Doughty to mp3.com, a few years after Soul Coughing broke up. Most of the songs he uploaded there eventually came out on Haughty Melodic, though, sometimes in different mixes.

SIDE C:

Rock ‘n’ Roll Pest Control – The Young Fresh Fellows [From Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest]
This song appears as a public service. This is the perfect song for dislodging songs stuck in your head. It overrides the existing song, and typically doesn’t stay too awfully long in there, although if it does, it’s cool, because it’s undoubtedly better than the song on which you used “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pest Control” to get out of your head. Anyway, it’s from the first Young Fresh Fellows album, The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest.
Cherry Bomb – Shonen Knife [From Pretty Little Baka Guy]
One of the early Shonen Knife covers, originally by Joan Jett’s early band, The Runaways. It was a bonus track from the Japanese reissue of Pretty Little Baka Guy. It’s pretty rockin’, actually. I played this recently for my friend Dale, who is Not A Fan of Shonen Knife, and he couldn’t place the band, and I got the impression he might have been a little surprised it wasn’t them, since I think he actually liked it.
Flowers On The Wall – The Statler Brothers [From Flowers on the Wall]
This was the Statler Brothers’ first hit single and the title track from their first album. This is actually one of my contenders for “Best Country Song Of All Time”; it’s pretty much neck-and-neck with “Sunday Morning Coming Down” by Johnny Cash. It came out in 1965, and is rather ahead of its time; it’s dark and ironic lyrically, but musically rather upbeat (aside from the chorus). It’s not necessarily something you’d expect from that era of country music. There was a cover, recently, by Eric Heatherly that got quite a bit of airplay, but his version wasn’t a patch on the real one; his was way too cutesy. His version sounded like he was saying “Hey, what a funny joke!”; the Statlers’ was a wounded, bitter cry.
Jo The Waiter – Tubeway Army [From Tubeway Army]
This is one of those songs that tends to be a fan favorite; i.e. if you’re already into Gary Numan, you’re going to think “Why is this on there? That’s not obscure at all!”, but if you’re not, you probably haven’t heard of it. For some reason, despite being straight, I tend to like songs that add a gay subtext to things. Oddly enough, this song is somewhat autobiographical, although in the original incident, it was Gary Numan’s girlfriend at the time, and he just swapped her gender for the song. But anyway, on the whole “gay subtext” thing, an early version of this mix had “When My Boy Walks Down The Street” by the Magnetic Fields, though, I’m not sure if that counts as “subtext”, what with Stephin Merritt actually being gay and all. Still, though, it’s not what you’d necessarily expect, since most pop songs are about heterosexual relationships regardless of the sexuality of the singer. Since I’ve already gone far into Diversion Land, I’ve often thought that it’d be really cool to do an album of songs where the songs were all about heterosexual relationships, but the conceit would be that the album was a pop album from another world where the standard was homosexuality (sort of like The Residents’ Mole Trilogy, especially The Big Bubble), so all the songs would have that sort of vaguely shocking (or at least a sense of “Hey, wait, did he just say…?”) sound. Basically just showing that getting bent out of shape w/r/t homosexual love versus heterosexual love is really, really stupid. (I also always wanted to do an album about how racism was bad! I just think, you know, if it weren’t for pop albums, people’d never realize this stuff…)
Getting Out of Bed – Crispin Hellion Glover [The Big Problem =/= The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be.]
The album is about half songs, and half readings from his books Oak Mot and Rat Catching. It was recorded with Barnes and Barnes who provided the music. The soundscape of this song is great; murky and creepy and percussive. It’s just really well put together; it almost feels like a nightmare, creepy and unsettling and unknown. This album’s rather hard to find, but you can order it from Crispin Glover himself at his website, along with his books.
President Kochalka – James Kochalka Superstar [From Monkey vs. Robot]
James Kochalka is a cartoonist, but James Kochalka Superstar is a Rock God. And he’s really good at both. This song comes from his album Monkey Versus Robot, which came with a short comic with the same title, and it had that song on it as well. And, people started making music videos for the “Monkey Vs. Robot” song, and then he even made a full-length graphic novel of Monkey vs. Robot, and he even did a sequel! Not to mention the ripoffs! Anyway, this is a really sweet love song to his wife.
People Like Us – Talking Heads [From True Stories ]
This is from David Byrne’s movie True Stories, or rather the soundtrack album. The album version is sung by David Byrne, though in the movie, it was sung by John Goodman. It’s one of those songs with the incredibly beautiful David Byrne lyrics, like “Dream Operator” (also from True Stories), “Heaven” (from Fear of Music ) or “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” (from Speaking in Tongues ). This one tends to be forgotten, though, as it wasn’t ever released as a single and True Stories tends to be a somewhat obscure film (it’s available on DVD, but only in a bare-bones Pan & Scan version).
I Want You Back (Alive) – Graham Parker [From The Real Macaw]
This is a cover of the Jackson 5 song, and the arrangement is very close to the original; I typically describe it as “The Jackson 5 as fronted by Elvis Costello”. This is from the album The Real Macaw, or rather, the CD issue, as it was originally a b-side, and then a bonus track on the reissue.
I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight – Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart [From I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite? ]
One of the finest 1960s pop singles ever. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were a great songwriting team who had a load of hits; they wrote for (and later performed with half of) the Monkees; say what you will about the Monkees, but they had really great songs for them. (And I like the Monkees, so only say what you will if what you will is along the lines of “Yes, they were quite underrated! People place too much importance on the manufactured aspect of the band! They may have been manufactured, but at least it was by people who knew how to manufacture!”) Anyway, though, this is the only hit that Boyce & Hart had by themselves — all their other hits were performed by others. Fun fact: They also wrote the theme song to Days of Our Lives! The Young Fresh Fellows covered this on Because We Hate You and did a great job of it, but I put the original on because despite it getting occasional airplay on Oldies Radio, it seems that most people I talk to haven’t ever heard this song. This must be remedied.
Town to Town – Hello (The Band) [From Hello the Band]
Hello (The Band) is actually John Flansburgh, Rolf Conant and Joshua Fried. And Rolf Conant is actually John Flansburgh, so make of that what you will. They only released one thing — a one-off EP for Flansburgh’s Hello CD of the Month Club, only released to members. Hello’s cover of “Hello Hello” later appeared in a remixed version on Mono Puff’s Unsupervised and They Might Be Giants covered “Lullabye To Nightmares” on Long Tall Weekend), but the other 3 tracks have never been released in any form. Hello was much dancier than any of Flansburgh’s other projects (probably due to the involvement of Joshua Fried; Fried also remixed “The World’s Address” and “She’s Actual Size” for They Might Be Giants, among his own art and remixes for other artists.
Leper In A Tumbledryer – Ashfordaisyak [From “The Hermit” 7″]
I’ve actually written a review of this song before; but the basic story is that the artist used to record tapes and then tape them to trains or public restrooms and leave them for people to find. This is a really cool distribution method, made cooler, since it’s an awesome song. However, now, it’s available on a 7″ single.
Flashing Lights – Screaming Lord Sutch [From Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends]
Most people have heard of Screaming Lord Sutch in passing, mainly as the guy behind the Monster Raving Loony Party in England. In fact, I wonder if most people who know him from that didn’t even realize that he used to be a musician. He actually even worked with Joe Meek early in his career. So, here’s one of the songs from his career; it’s surprisingly straight-forward from what you’d expect if you only knew his political career.
XCT – Polysics [From Neu]
I’ve said it many times but: Polysics are the best band in the universe. Take your favorite band. Polysics are way better than them. This holds true even if Polysics are your favorite band. Polysics are just that good. They’ve got a couple of albums out in the US, though their Japanese albums are relatively easy to find online, and are worth it. Their DVDs, providing you can play Region 2/NTSC DVDs are even more worth it.
Gimme Gimme Gimme – Dean Ween with Henry Rollins [From Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three]
This was for a West Memphis 3 Charity Comp thing where a bunch of people covered old Black Flag songs with Rollins singing. But it’s pretty much straight Black Flag sounding, but that sorta makes sense since “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night” from Quebec is pretty much dead on Black Flag/Rollins Band. (Even Deaner sings like Rollins on that one.)
Stripping For Cash – Half Japanese [From Music To Strip By]
Half Japanese is Jad Fair and his brother David at its core; there’s other longtime members, such as Mark Jickling as well, but typically each album had a different line up. Actually, David left the band in 1986, so Half Japanese is mainly defined by Jad, though Jad’s got loads of solo albums out as well. Anyway, though, this song is from Music To Strip By, from Penn Jillette’s label (made mainly to release Half Japanese records) 50 Skidillion Watts. Unfortunately, most Half Japanese albums are very hard to find, however they occasionally make their way back into print. If you’re looking for a place to start, my favorite is Sing No Evil which was put out on CD a few years ago by Drag City, I think. I’m pretty sure it’s still available, too.

SIDE D:

Satisfy Your Lust (Single Version) – M [From New York-London-Paris-Munich]
This was one of the early pre-“Pop Muzik” singles from M. The flip side was “Moderne Man”, and the two songs were drastically rearranged and turned into a medley for the LP. This is much more guitar-based than the more common album version. Another note about the differences; “Moderne Man/Satisfy Your Lust” features the line “You’re very paranoid living outside your door” where the single version has “Last night I dreamt we were fucking on the floor” — one of the few instances where the album version was the one with the obscenities removed instead of the single version. This is from the Westside CD issue of New York London Paris Munich; there’s a recent reissue on Razor & Tie, but there’s a rather anemic selection of bonus tracks, so the Westside one is the one to get, if you can find it. Westside also put out M’s other albums; if you’re so inclined, check out The Official Secrets Act, which is one of my favorite albums ever recorded. Also, this M is Robin Scott and is NOT the M who did the music for Triplets of Belleville. That M is Mathieu Chedid. And I admit that though that M is talented and I really enjoyed the music from Triplets of Belleville, he is a total jerk for stealing M’s name. Or, rather, letter. I mean, seriously, it’s not like M was just some dude in a basement somewhere; he had a top 10 hit around the world! And some of his other singles didn’t do too shabbily either! So, M. Chedid: Get yerself another letter!
Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell [From Wichita Lineman]
This is pretty much the track that is the reason I make sure to stress that none of the songs were chosen Ironically. I’ve always thought Glen Campbell was sort of unfairly maligned as Square or something. He might be square, but he was also really good. There were a few songs I thought about for this slot, like “Gentle on My Mind” or “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife”, but I went with this one; it’s one a lot of people have heard of (like “Rhinestone Cowboy”), but one I’m not sure if many people know, have heard recently, or ever really paid attention to. This one is written by Jimmy Webb, who’s written a lot of great, classic songs like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “The Highwayman” (he’s also written “MacArthur Park”, I assume after he got hit in the head). “Wichita Lineman” is such a sad song of longing. Also — I guess some people don’t know this, but a lineman is a guy who works for the phone company and gets up on the telephone poles to fix the phone lines. If you don’t know that, it kind of would make the song not make a lot of sense. Maybe that’s why people tend to put this song in the “cheesy/cornball” file?
Rocket Man – The Fastbacks [From Truth, Corrosion and Sour Bisquits]
I am so not a fan of Elton John. Seriously. If you had a continuum of “Elton John Fan” and “Not Elton John Fan”, I would be squarely on the “Not” side. However, I have to admit that this actually is a really good song, and it took the Fastbacks to show me that. This is from Truth, Corrosion and Sour Bisquits a b-sides/rarities compilation that just came out; it’s actually one of the few rarities comps that actually works as a stand-alone record, as well. It works as a good introduction to the Fastbacks for anyone who’s so inclined, as well.
That’s What He Said – DEVO [From Adventures of the Smart Patrol]
This is from the Adventures of the Smart Patrol soundtrack CD, originally credited to the Smart Patrol, but it’s actually DEVO playing on it and Jerry singing lead. I didn’t like the most recent DEVO albums, although after smoothnoodlemaps , I’ve actually liked most of the occasional one-off songs they contribute to soundtracks and other compilations. Some of the tracks are a return to their really early days; “That’s What He Said” isn’t, but it’s a different sound than the awful Total DEVO or mediocre smoothnoodlemaps, and it’s one of those DEVO songs that’s unfortunately somewhat lost. A lot of people don’t know about it, but after all, it was released on a soundtrack for a CD-Rom game that was awful and barely even worked on a CD-Rom company that went defunct shortly after releasing it. Not to mention that the label that put the soundtrack out also went under a year or two later. And they did it under a different name, and it doesn’t really sound like a lot of DEVO songs. So, it’s totally understandable why it’s forgotten, it’s just too bad that it is.
Identity – X-ray Spex [From Germ Free Adolescents]
My favorite X-Ray Spex song, or at least in the top 3. X-Ray Spex seem to be one of those bands where you’ve either never heard of them, or you adore them. They only put out one record (or, rather, one record that counts; in 1995 they reformed and put out a really forgettable reunion record after two of the members got wrapped up in Hare Krishna) and that one record’s been treated particularly poorly by record labels; pretty much every other issue of it aside from the original has re-ordered the tracks randomly (despite the fact that the album depends rather heavily on its original track order). Luckily, the most recent re-issue of the album does it right.
Labio Dental Fricative – Vivian Stanshall Sean Head Showband [From the “Labio-Dental Fricative” b/w “Paper Round” 7″, also available on The Bonzo Dog Band’s The History of the Bonzos]
As I was talking about on “The Bride Stripped Bare by ‘Bachelors'”, the Bonzos knew their pop music structure. This isn’t an official Bonzo Dog Band track; they’d broken up by this time, but it is Vivian Stanshall, who (with Neil Innes, who wrote “Bride”) was one of the two core members of the group. Eric Clapton plays ukelele on this. The bulk of the song is a light, amusing set of tongue-twisters, but listen to the bridge; it’s an exquisite piece of pop songwriting. This is somewhere on my list of all-time favorite bridges (somewhere near the bridge to “Wishing Ring” by the Young Fresh Fellows).
The Last Great Motion Picture Film – Fluffy Kittens [Unreleased]
This is sort of the country disc, actually. It wasn’t intentionally, it just turned out that way. Fluffy Kittens are a local Seattle band who’ve released one demo EP and played, uh, I think five shows. Sadly, they’ve broken up; I really hope not, because they’re one of my favorite bands. I think of their five shows, I’ve been to four. Anyway, they’re Matthew Amster-Burton (of Sadie Hawkins which also featured Adam Cadre), Kenji Baugham and Karen Reagan. I hope they record a full-length album; they’ve got a load of great songs they haven’t put out (especially “Eleanor, Open The Door”, which has both “meow meow meow meow” and “pie pie pie pie” as lyrics). I’ve spent lots of time looking around for information on them, but there’s no web presence at all. But still, it’s great music, and, who knows, if you ever hear about a Fluffy Kittens show, wherever you are, go! And tell the world!
Pale and Precious – The Dukes of Stratosphear [From Chips from the Chocolate Fireball ]
The Dukes of Stratosphear are actually XTC in disguise as a 1960s Psychedelic Rock Band. This song is most of Pet Sounds and SMiLE rolled into itself; the closest analogue is “Good Vibrations”. And, well, pretty much anything that’s “Good Vibrations” is good enough for me, even if it’s not really “Good Vibrations”. Anyway, this is from Chips From The Chocolate Fireball, the CD that compiled the Dukes’ total output: an EP called 25 O’Clock and an LP called Psonic Psunspot (the latter held “Pale and Precious”).
The Beekeeper’s Daughter – Residents [From Demons Dance Alone]
This is from the Residents’ album Demons Dance Alone, an album written in response to 9/11, though never actually dealing with it explicitly (a good move not taken by some artists I could name), but rather the themes of shock, pain and loss. Some of the songs address 9/11 metaphorically (“Wolverines”), but others, like “Beekeeper’s Daughter” tend to address it more in the sense of the feelings that it conjured up. The album is technically out of print (it came out on East Side Digital right before the Residents left the label), though copies are sometimes still available in record stores, and I think RalphAmerica still has copies. (Actually, it’s only out of print in the US; EuroRalph still has it in print, as does the Residents’ Japanese label, Bomba.)
Too Much Time – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band [From Clear Spot]
My favorite Captain Beefheart song, and my favorite to play for people who only think of the Trout Mask Replica type Beefheart. Most of my experiences with playing this song for people is Them: “Oh, I hate Beefheart!” Me: “Oh, well, listen to this song.” Them: “WOW! This is REALLY GOOD! This is Beefheart?! He IS good!” Anyway, though, most people don’t really realize that Captain Beefheart was really into R&B (even though his early stuff tends to betray that pretty well, and his vocal delivery is quite a lot like Howlin’ Wolf), and this is a nice bit of Stax Soul. This is from the Clear Spot album, which is my favorite, even though a lot of Beefheart fans tend to look down a bit on it because it’s easily the most accessible of his stuff. There’s a few songs like this on there (“My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains”, for example). It’s available on a CD with The Spotlight Kid, which is another good album, but I usually end up skipping past the Spotlight Kid tracks just to listen to Clear Spot. But that’s just me.
All the Same to You – Laura Cantrell [From When the Roses Bloom Again]
Some folks know Laura Cantrell as the woman who sang the Lion parts on “The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)” by They Might Be Giants. Others might know her as the DJ on WFMU who does Radio Thrift Shop. But she’s got a couple albums out and has even performed at the Grand Ole Opry; how cool is THAT? Laura Cantrell’s actually pretty big in the UK, and she even toured opening for Elvis Costello. Her music is older-style country; she kind of reminds me a little bit of Patsy Cline. Not a whole lot, but just a little bit. This is from her second album, When The Roses Bloom Again. I tend to prefer her first, Not the Tremblin’ Kind and third, Humming by the Flowered Vine , but all her albums are exquisite and worth the purchase. And they’ve just released her Hello CD Of The Month Clup EP to stores, so check that out too; that one’s recorded to sound much older. Some of the songs on that could pass for a lost EP from 1960 on some obscure Nashville label.
The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton – The Mountain Goats [From All Hail West Texas]
John Darnielle is the center of The Mountain Goats; some of the albums have other people on them, but some are just him solo. Most of his albums were recorded on an old boom-box with a particular type of gear-grind providing accompaniment. This song is from the album All Hail West Texas. His albums seem to be rough concept albums; this one is about “seven people, two houses, a motorcycle, and a locked treatment facility for adolescent boys” (according to the cover). His most recent albums have been recorded in a studio, though they’re still low-fi (though not nearly as low-fi as this; I mean, it’s a boom-box!). Anyway, I figured that this would provide the perfect end to the mix. Hail Satan, Hail Satan tonight.
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