Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Top 100 (Songs 70-61)

Another in the continuing series of my recent favorite tracks.

70. Quiet Surf (2:49)-The Mermen, The Mermen At The Haunted House, (1994)-The Mermen sometime sound as sublime as I would imagine Galaxie 500 to be as a surf instrumental band. If only wishes came true— than no more songs about writing poems on a dog biscuit. That was mean, I like Galaxie 500, just not Dean Wareham’s lyrics all the time; thankfully, The Mermen had none, which is sometimes how I wish it always was. Lyrics often get in the way of a good song.

69. Qui Peut Dire (2:06)-Francoise Hardy, Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp, (1967)-This iconic and beautiful Gallic chanteuse wrote her own material, including this beautiful windswept entry buoyed by requisite sixties reverb and a gentle slide-guitar motif that recalls the cloud-strewn sky above the sea. I speak no French, so I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about though.
  • Francoise Hardy on French Television doing Qui Peut Dire.

  • 68. Popcorn (2:05)-The Upsetters, Eastwood Rides Again, (1970)-Essentially Lee “Scratch” Perry’s house band, named after his 1968 hit The Upsetter. On Popcorn, the Upsetters, sounding not unlike the JB’s, pound out about two minutes of pure Lee Perry-penned sweaty funk that eschews both reggae influences, and the Ennio Morricone influence promised by the title and cover art.

    67. Police Story (2:11)-The Partisans, Police Story Single on No Future, (1981)-This obscure and militant second generation punk band with the leftist-rebel name, and obsessive NWA-ish negative feelings toward law and order, formed in 1979 and was immediately accepted into London’s thriving punk and Oi! scene in the late eighties, based mainly on this single. Police Story is a frighteningly raw and breakneck punk anthem detailing police brutality perpetrated against the fictional James Kelly: “James Kelly told us 
of the shit that went on in the cell of his; broke his ribs told him not to speak, said you're drunk now on your feet; into the van Kelly did go; never seen again now everybody knows; James Kelly you're dead."

    66. Pledging My Love (2:31)-Johnny Ace, Pledging My Love Single on Duke Records, (1954)-Born John Marshall Alexander Jr., Johnny Ace, the Memphis-based blues pianist/vocalist died unceremoniously backstage at the Houston City Auditorium, early on Christmas Day in 1954. Between sets at a show in Houston, the drunken Ace, allegedly began playing with a gun backstage, pointing it first at his girlfriend and pulling the trigger; then at her friend, and again pulling the trigger; then finally he put the gun to his own temple and pulled the trigger, killing himself. This ugly end, may have been the result of foul play, as some have intimated that Don D. Robey, Peacock Records owner and founder, may have pulled the trigger, but both Robey and Big Momma Thornton, both present at Ace’s death, have denied this outcome. Pledging My Love is a magnificent ballad, and even more melancholy after knowing the truth.

    65. Please Don’t Tell My Baby (1:45)-Mickey & The Milkshakes, Showcase, (1984)-Billy Childish’s second outfit, put together after his first group, The Pop Rivets broke up, was a rough edged neo-garage band, that was a proponent of what was termed The Medway Sound; Medway being an area of North Kent, England. The Medway Sound was a part of a larger Medway collective of artists and poets including Childish, Sexton Ming, Charles Thomson, Bill Lewis, Rob Earl and Miriam Carney.

    64. Pabst Blue Ribbon (2:42)-Untamed Youth, Some Kinda Fun, (1988)-This Missouri revisionist-surf rock combo, took their name from a 1957 Mamie Van Doren, Eddie Cochrane movie. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a surfy frat-rock instrumental that moves along on a tide of farfisa organ and the iconic sound of a beer can being opened.

    63. Noue Bushi (2:16)-Takeshi Terauchi and Bunnys, This Is Terauchi Bushi, (1967)-Takeshi Terauchi, the virtuosic guitarist of The Bunny’s was part of a larger movement in Japan called Eleki—a hybrid Japanese-English word for Electric, as in guitars. What set this movement on its course was a 1962 tour of Japan by the Ventures, which sent Japanese youth into a frenzy, and almost every teen bought an electric guitar (in 1965, Japanese manufacturers produced 760,000 guitars!). Takeshi Terauchi’s style is very much like The Ventures but with much more flare and élan, and with obvious indigenous influences.

    62. No Love Now (2:55)-Vic Godard, Long Term Side-Effect, (1999)-Vic Godard, a veteran of the initial London punk scene in London released, as a member of the band Subway Sect, his first single in 1978—the almost Siouxsie and the Banshees-like Nobody’s Scared. Their second single, Ambition, debuted after their manager fired the whole band aside from Godard, and is a jittery keyboard-fueled pop song that is much better than their first effort. The late eighties saw Godard blazing a whole new path away from punk and towards jazzy standards. The failure of his album T.R.O.U.B.L.E caused him to quit music altogether and take a job as a postman. Probably finding the monotony of postal work too taxing, Godard returned to songwriting in the early nineties. No Love Now, from Godard’s late era musical grab-bag, Long Term Side-Effect, recorded more than twenty years after his first single, is perhaps even more jittery than his early work. Getting by on hand claps and feverish accordion, No Love Now represents a striking return to form, and much better than anything you would hear from members of the Sex Pistols around the same time.

    61. Nice Legs, Shame About Her Face (2:01)-The Monks, Bad Habits, (1979)-Not to be confused with the cranky sixties garage band made up of American GI’s stationed in Germany. These British Monks were yet another joke band—English “trad-rockers” masquerading as punks. The thing is though, they did a pretty good job, especially with frothy sophomoric pop, like Nice Legs, a rather mean-spirited song that is somewhat justified by it’s last line. Bad Habits is a great bit of Stiff-sounding punk, not unlike early Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, or Wreckless Eric, only fraudulent.
  • The Monks do Nice Legs Shame About Her Face on Top of the Pops

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