Thursday, January 18, 2007

Top 100 (Songs 60-51)

It is hard to believe I am only through half of these songs. 100 is a long long time.


60. Never Never Go (2:05)-The Chills, The Lost EP, (1985)-This Dunedin, New Zealand band came on the heels of some of their heroes, The Clean and The Enemy. The Chills were essentially Martin Phillips and a rotating cast of players that churned out skewed pop that was a bit sweeter in nature and more well produced than their kindred spirits, The Clean. Never Never Go is a bit rough edged, but still has the kind of cute and cloying quality that marked the later punkier English twee groups like Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly and Boy Racer.

59. My Elusive Dreams (3:12)-Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra, Nancy & Lee, (1968)-One of the more unlikely partnerships in music history. Hazlewood was a kind of off-beat, wandering hobo of a songwriter, part Edgar Lee Masters, part Roger Miller and Nancy Sinatra was a true music blue-blood; both though, had a flare for the dramatic which provided for an endearing and magical interplay between the two as a vocal duo. I would like to say that neither of them did better work apart, but it would probably be untrue considering Lee Hazlewood’s remarkably long and varied career as a composer, songwriter, producer, performer and label owner. Sinatra and Hazlewood both worked best within the framework of novelistic, story songs which Hazlewood had a knack for writing (Sand, Some Velvet Morning), but he did not pen this weepy country classic, it was written by Curly Putman and Billy Sherill.

58. Mr. Tough (4:05)-Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, (2006)-The first song on this list to actually be released in 2006. Despite the overlong and obtuse title, Yo La Tengo’s 2006 entry is a pitch-perfect return to form, on a par with their greatest efforts, Painful, Electr-O-Pura, and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. On Mr. Tough, a characteristically uncharacteristic bit of piano and horn funk that finds Ira Kaplan in a comfortable falsetto, Yo La Tengo get back to the blissful eclecticism that has defined some of their finer moments.

57. Margaret (3:20)-Kevin Ayers, Whatevershebringswesing, (1970)-One of rock’s most peculiar and capricious iconoclasts, Ayers has forever flown under the radar. With his deep-toned and sonorous voice caught somewhere between John Cale and Leonard Cohen, Ayers seemed born to interpret the melancholy, which he seemed to rarely do, favoring a looser kind of off the cuff lyricism. Margaret though, almost wades into the waters of melancholia, but only almost.

56. Mag Wheels (2:16) Gary Usher-In my rabid hunger for surf instrumentals, I came across this hotrod classic made famous by Dick Dale, but penned by Gary Usher, most famous for his work with the Beach Boys (writing credit on 409 and In My Room) and as producer for The Byrds (Notorious Byrd Brothers, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, among others).

55. London Girl (3:16)-The Pogues, Poguetry in Motion, (1986)-Much ink has been spilled in favor of The Pogues—their history, their eclectic wont to blend punk with Irish traditionalism and Shane MacGowan’s crippling addictions. I once put my quarters in a dive-bar jukebox and played The Pogues song, A Rainy Night in Soho, only to be rebuffed, completely shocked that there was such a people immune to The Pogues irresistible charm. London Girl could possibly be, all hyperbole aside, the best pop song ever written. At the very least, the best pop song with the accordion as its musical centerpiece.

54. Let's Face It (3:50)-999, High Energy Plan, (1979)-Let’s Face It is one in a long line of British punk songs from the seventies on this list. 999 were a more pop-centric punk band in the vein of The Buzzcocks and The Vibrators—all were clearly more obsessed with cheeky sexuality than politics which made them all infinitely more fun than their more serious peers.

53. Let’s Dance (2:28)-Chris Montez, Let’s Dance Single on Monogram Records, (1962)-An infectious, organ-fueled archetypal teen pop stomper that would prefigure ? and the Mysterians, Elton John, The Ramones, and The Clean, all acts that barrow from this 1962 top ten hit from one of Hawthorne High’s most famous alumni.

52. Last Night (2:39)-The Scientists, Last Night Single on White Rider Records, (1979)-The Scientists were a kind of lo-fi and influential, Perth-based, Australian psyche-punk band that were more Radio Birdman than Birthday Party. Last Night is basically a sweaty punk song about having sex.

51. La Plus Belle Pour Aller Danser (2:29)-Sylvie Vartan, Sylvie A Nashville, (1964)-Though Sylvie Vartan sung mainly en français, she was born in Iskretz, Bulgaria in 1944, immigrating to Paris with her family in 1952. After helping her brother—the RCA producer Eddie Vartan—out of a jam by singing an uncredited duet with Eddie Jordan called Panne d'essence which would be released as a Jordan B-side, Sylvie was deemed worthy of a contract, and eventually an unlikely recording trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Thus it was in America that a Bulgarian-cum-French yé-yé chanteuse recorded this classic song penned by a Frenchman of Armenian descent who was also a movie star (Charles Aznavour), with all the requisite Nashville strings and brass; though, no appearance at the Grand Ole Opry was scheduled. Truth be told, I was quite surprised that this album was cut with Elvis’ band, proving how hard it is to cut through the Gallic iciness of French Pop.


Blogger melissa said...

Also, The Pogues are Spike's favorite band per Emma's email password. I think that's important to mention.

3:41 PM  

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