Monday, September 13, 2010

So, Lamont, where's Elvis when you need him?

Sorry for the delay...I've been struggling with a longer piece that I hope to wrap up this week. In the meantime, here's what I've added to my music collection so far this month....and why:

The Theme from Sanford and Son - Quincy Jones:  Did you know this song is actually titled The Streetbeater? I only learned this after buying the song on iTunes. I purchased it after having the opening notes in my head for about a month. That in itself isn't a problem, because it's a funky song. My problem is that I would invariably go into my own internal Redd Foxx impersonation...and there is something very wrong with one of the whitest men on the planet walking around growling, "You big dummy", "Aunt Esther, you so ugly!" and "How 'bout five cross yo' lip?". I figured if I bought the whole song, I'd get my Redd Foxx envy out of my system. No such luck.

Kaleidoscope Heart - Sara Bareilles: It took a little prodding from a fellow Sara Bareilles fan for me to download this album last week, but I'm glad I did. When someone suggests music to me, especially someone who has a taste in music I respect, I've learned to just do it and ask questions later. I enjoyed Sara's last album, Little Voice. It came out of nowhere and delivered simple, catchy tunes. I haven't listened to this one enough to judge whether I like it as much, but what I've heard so far leads me to believe that she's got something here worth listening to.

So - Peter Gabriel: Have you ever had an album so deeply embedded in your head that you thought you had it in your music collection? Peter Gabriel's So is that album for me. When this came out in 1986, I know I wore through the cassette I had it on. Somewhere between wearing out the cassette and last week, I migrated to CDs then to MP3s and in those processes, I never got around to buying this album in either of those formats. I rectified that this week after writing my piece on bands reuniting and realizing that I had a bunch of Peter Gabriel tracks, but not So in it's entirety. I have a friend from high school who had a theory (I hope he still has that theory) that for a great album to be a great album, it has to have one clunker of a tune on it. A couple of examples: The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper (Within You, Without You), The Police's Synchronicity (Mother). Peter enters the rarefied air of great albums here thanks to his collaboration with Laurie Anderson on This is the Picture (Excellent Birds).

We Were So Turned On - A Tribute to David Bowie: If you don't know this about me, by reading this blog you'll quickly discover that I'm a sucker for a good cover song. Hell, I'm a sucker for any cover...good or bad. I always love seeing how other artists see how they can improve on a song that's well known or, as Paula Abdul used to say on American Idol, "make it their own". I'm a Bowie fan, so when I saw this album was coming out, I knew I was going to buy it...of course the main motivation was Duran Duran's cover of Boys Keep Swinging, but that's a given. As an aside, I know I'm biased, but I do think it's the best track on the album. Besides my bias, another reason may have something to do with the fact that of the 43 (!!!) songs on this collection, I only recognized three of the bands on there. To make matters worse, the bands I didn't recognize all had names that sounded like failed emo bands. Yes, I'm talking to you, Pizza! (really, who names their band Pizza! [with an exclamation mark]?? Forty-three Bowie covers on one collection is ambitious to say the least, but I'd think Bowie would find it a fitting tribute, since most of the covers show initiative and creativity. Besides, anything's better than this:

Elvis Costello's Visa Signature Sampler: One look at the photo should answer why I have this one:

And I honestly thought the first album Visa would put out would have been a spoken word piece by Morgan Freeman. Go Visa! I couldn't say no to a free Elvis Costello CD sitting in the lobby of my office building.

Intermission - Senator & The New Republic: I'm a longtime fan of iTunes' free featured Single of the Week. I may not like all of them, but I'll try to give them a shot. I'm giving the Senator and The New Republic a shot, despite having a name that makes me think of Hootie and the Blowfish. This was iTunes' Single of the Week a couple of weeks ago

And finally, while I didn't add these to my collection recently, there are two songs I wanted to highlight:

The first, just a great song that I wish more people knew: One Night on Earth by The Veils. If you don't have it, download's just a great song for blaring. I first heard it a couple of years ago on a VERY short-lived TV show called New Amsterdam, and it's been on heavy rotation on my iPod ever since. It answers the question, "What song would John Hughes put in a teenager movie today (were he alive and still making movies, 'natch)?"

...and from heavy rotation to no rotation...driving to work last week I heard a song on my iPod that I a) didn't know I had; b) couldn't for the life of me identify who was performing it and c) wondered "Why the hell does this sound like Joe Walsh's Life's Been Good meets Visage's Fade to Grey?" It turns out it was The Human League's Being Boiled. Listen for yourself, and I hope you hear what I least at the beginning.

I turns out I have this song as the result of a Duran Duran-related cash grab: A collection that was put out a few years back titled Nick Rhodes and John Taylor Present Only After Dark. They marketed it as a selection of songs that were playing around them as they were becoming famous:

This is the musical equivalent of George Foreman and his grill: You know George has nothing to do with grilling, but you're going to buy the grill anyway. I knew Duran Duran had nothing to do with album other than two of its members slapping their names on it, but did I buy it?

Of course I did.

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