Here are the songs/albums of note I've downloaded this month and a brief description on how they found their way into my collection.
Katy Perry: Teenage Dream - The Complete Confection - Look, I'm not made of stone. As you'll see later in this post, I can't resist a good pop song. And let's face it, the former Mrs. Brand has, for now, figured out how to keep her name in the charts. I did buy the Teenage Dream album when it came out, but since then, I think she's put out three other versions. So this month I completed my Teenage Dream collection with three songs: the Tommie Sunshine Megasix Smash-Up (I know, it's shameful: I have a soft-spot for compilation singles. It's terrible.), Wide Awake and Part of Me. We need to face the fact that today, with a huge album, it's inevitable acts are going to hold back songs to release after everyone's already bought the album. Katy's management team has this down to a science. Whereas in the past we only bought the same album more than once when there was a new format (vinyl to cassette, cassette to CD, and so on), now you may need to repurchase an album or parts of it because new songs have been added. It's a smart strategy that keeps fans coming back for more.
Cathy Dennis: Too Many Walls - If you had heard this song in 1990 and someone had told you that this artist would be behind some HUGE hits for the next 20-plus years, I'm not sure you would have put money on that statement. Too Many Walls is a great pop song, but you'd never guess that the person behind this...
...would also have the writing chops to craft:
And she wrote the theme song to American Idol! Like I said, serious chops. I'm amazed I didn't have this song until now.
Emperors: Be Ready When I Say Go: This was an iTunes freebie. Not bad...it has a bit of 90s grunge meets Linkin Park sound to it. While writing this article, I looked up the video on YouTube...a big mistake: I know this is a hang-up of mine, but a lousy video can totally ruin a song for me.
And what we have here is a
naval (they might like ships, I can't verify that for sure, however) navel-gazy band that conjures up 30 Seconds to Mars. And no, that isn't a compliment. Emperors, I knew Nirvana, I saw Nirvana, you, band, are not Nirvana.
Duran Duran - A Diamond in the Mind: Of course I pre-ordered this to ensure I had it the moment it came out. And of course you wouldn't expect an objective review of this from me, but here's the deal: I saw Duran Duran twice on the tour this live album came from. The band is in a groove right now...they're touring a phenomenal album (their second best, in my opinion) and they sound as good as they've ever sounded live. If you like Duran Duran and you like live albums, get this. If live albums aren't your thing, stick with All You Need Is Now.
Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train: This is me just filling a void in my music collection. Sometimes you just need a little Ozzy.
The Cramps - Human Fly: Another case of filling a huge omission in my music collection.
Neon Trees - Everybody Talks: Like I said, I can't resist a good pop song. Especially one with a great chorus in the mold of The Killers and The Strokes.
Love & Rockets - Express and Earth, Sun, Moon: I don't know how or why, but earlier in July I went on a HUGE Love and Rockets kick. I had owned these albums on cassette and CD back in the day, but somehow the complete albums didn't make it through to my 2012 iTunes collection. I'll confess to deleting songs I get sick of every now and then. L&R may have been part of that purge at some point in the late '90s. If they were victims of such a purge then I'm a fool for having done so. These two albums represent a band in an amazing career groove. They also get the "Zeitgeist Award" for looking like a band that would be prominently featured in a John Hughes movie:
As an aside, while looking for the above video, I stumbled upon this Siouxsie video:
Man, did I have a crush on her growing up! This is more a "full disclosure" rather than any productive content for this post. As you were!
Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar On Me/Rock of Ages EP - I mentioned this last week: I love when a band has an external dispute with their record label. We end up with some interesting results, and sometimes some fascinating experiments. Def, because of a contractual issue with their record company re-recorded two of their songs for the Rock of Ages movie that came out earlier this year. To their credit, they worked hard to make the songs sound as much like the originals. To hear the band describe it, it almost sounds like an art restoration project. Stephen Colbert sums it up even better:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Stephen Colbert's meTunes - Def Leppard's "Forgeries" of Old Hits|
Adrian Belew: Young Lions - From the "I'm an idiot for this album not making it to my iTunes collection" file, here's an unsung album from the late-'80s that deserves more recognition. And if you're a David Bowie fan, his fingerprints are all over this. In addition to re-downloading this album, I also converted this YouTube link to MP3:
Spandau Ballet: Gold (Paul Oakenfold Mix) - I'll just start off by asking, "Has there ever been a DJ more overrated than Paul Oakenfold?". I've never been a huge Spandau fan, but True is a great song...and Gold is even better. It's always been, for me, the Bond song for a Bond movie that was never made. It's also a song I love singing at the top of my lungs in a car. When I saw this version on iTunes last week, I snapped it up sound unheard. Big mistake. It's horrible. For added ruin-ness, check this out:
Tyler Bates: These Boots are Made for Walkin' - I'm willing to go out on a limb and state that there isn't a bad version of this Nancy Sinatra song out there. And while I'm sure someone can prove me wrong, I really like this version. It's true to the original and the added timpani drum adds a great dimension.
Jerry Douglas: The Boxer (Featuring Mumford & Sons) - Another song that I view as practically perfect is Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer. And while this version isn't as good as the original, I like what they've done with it. I'll also confess to having hated Mumford & Sons when I first heard them - I wrote them off as some hipster band obsessed with the banjo (like just about every other hipster act out there that hadn't discovered the accordion yet). I was wrong...they're the real deal.
Arctic Monkeys: Come Together - I'd written the Arctic Monkeys off. I love I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor and Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts, but other than those two songs, they'd sort of fallen off my radar. It was nice to see them in the London Games Opening Ceremony with a great and faithful version of this Beatles song. I felt a little bad for Paul McCartney...the Monkeys did a better job on their Beatles song than he did at the Olympics
Colin Hay: Down Under 2012 Single - Finding this last week may be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. This "single" has three tracks, with all three of them being Men at Work's lead singer, Colin Hay, recording updated versions. Don't groan...they're good, and one of them is amazing. In this one, Colin actually walks you through the creative process of how the song came into being. Download it...it's worth it.
Finally, full disclosure on the pop song front: Yes, I own Call Me Maybe. The damn song is irresistible, but for the sake of this post, thankfully I downloaded it in June. :)