Monday, January 01, 2007

Top 100 (Songs 90-81)

Top 100 Continued...

90. Vampiro (2:14)-Satan's Pilgrims, Creature Feature (1998)- I was sad to learn that this band ceases to exist. My first brush with them took place more than ten years ago as I was beginning my musical education by collecting labels, like so many other dopes. Bellingham’s Estrus was an early favorite. I foolishly abandoned the sixties revivalist label in search of all things modern. Now though, infinitely more discriminating when it comes to music, I have re-embraced what as a nineteen-year old I threw aside. I was most happy to see that the Satan’s Pilgrims remained totally uncommitted to all things modern to the end, embracing monster movies, surf-rock, and sixties revivalism in equal parts, making their demise lamentable.

89. Under Heavy Fire (3:45)-John Stewart, Wires From The Bunker (2000, recorded between 1983-1985)-This is something that, as of a year ago, I would not expect to be so fond of. John Stewart was originally a part of the sixties folk-machine that produced so many groups—or trios rather—in the vein of The Kingston Trio; a group he was to one day join. Stewart though, as a solo artist, would have the goods to trump many of the other pretenders to the folk-throne. Stewart, the workingman’s savior of the genre, was the former guitar-playing member of The Cumberland Three, who cut his teeth on songs that waved the Americanized folk-flag of the Civil War; honorably, or perhaps cowardly, taking on both sides—Civil War Almanac vol. 1, The Yankees and Civil War Almanac vol. 2, The Rebels. The San Diegans must have been confused. Not wanting to go on forever, I would like to draw some conclusions from Stewart’s work after he shook the dust of The Cumberland Three, and The Kingston Trio from his boots. His discography is long and spotty, dotted with what I can best be describe as a fair share of crap. The album Wires from the Bunker though, is a lost classic, (the interval between the recording date and the release date is 15 years, yes there is a story there, and it is tackled with aplomb in it’s review on the allmusic website) has hidden gems. Under Heavy Fire being one, in fact, for me, it was just the first song that I came across, but there are other gems including, Liddy Buck, and It Might As Well Be Love, both reminiscent of Tusk- era, Lindsay Buckingham.

88. Trains (3:07)-The Nashville Ramblers, Children Of Nuggets: Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996, Disc 1 (Originally released in 1986)-Another of the Children of Nuggets entries, this song starts out nice, with its chiming Byrdsish guitar style and the reverb-drenched sixties, garage, Choir-style sunny pop, but then the song lurches into a stunning, and unforgettably perfect Beatlesque chorus, followed by an enigmatic twelve-string electric guitar break. Trains is a perfect example of the eighties, garage revivalism that is handily compiled on the Children of Nuggets box. The Nashville Ramblers were obviously well studied connoisseurs of the Hard Day’s Night-Mr. Tambourine nexus of sixties jangle pop. Other than that, I don’t know much about the band. Trains is also on the Bomp compilation, The Roots of Power Pop.
  • Watch the video.

  • 87. Thrown Away (3:31)-Stranglers, The Meninblack (1981)-I have had the album, The Singles (The UA Years) for some time, but I kind of stuck to my favorite guns, (Get a) Grip (On Yourself), Golden Brown, Peaches. Then I kind of stumbled on to this one, and it has turned out to be the kind of brilliant, stripped down electro-pop minimalism that Stephin Merritt made his name off of, only without the dog-voiced literary hysterics.

    86. There's An End (3:36)-Holly Golightly, Truly She Is None Other (2003)-For a time, I lived off a song of hers called, For All This, on the album Painted On. I was living alone for the first time in a long time, and always drinking and, despite the build up, generally making a decent go of it; but at the same time being drunk and depressed at 4 in the morning and listening to that song never failed to have an effect on me, and to this day, the song gives me the chill of the past. Anyhow, I have doggedly stuck to her since. I generally don’t like to make recommendations, but if there is anyone who has any kind of affinity for this artist, the album Painted On is matchless. Anyhow. I could have easily gone with her version with The Greenhornes of There’s an End, that appeared on the Broken Flowers OST, but, the truth be told, I heard that in late 2005. This edition brings the tempo up, but might be a bit too wide open; too stripped down. It’s still, just a magnificent song, but suffers a bit from the openness.

    85. The Train From Kansas City (3:20)-The Shangri-Las, The Shangri-Las ’65 (1965)-A virtual girl-group juke box—the best of the Brill Building girl groups. The Shangri-Las were possibly the greatest of all the girl groups, the only competition being the Ronettes or the Shirelles, and if you grew up on the radio, perhaps the Supremes. This is one of their best songs, and it’s from the pens of a pair of great writers: Jeff Barry and Elle Greenwich, but the “composer” of their best stuff was their producer, George “Shadow” Morton, who has a credit on Leader of the Pack, and the sole credit on Shadow (Walking in the Sand) and their greatest song Give Him a Great Big Kiss, which are, bar none there two best songs. Train from Kansas City opens with a kind of pulsing piano figure, ostensibly reminiscent of a train, before the tambourine gives way to the drum kit and the rest of Shadow Morton’s Spectoresque wall of sound.

    84. The Sad Skinhead (2:36) Faust, Faust IV (1973)-The Sad Skinhead has a kind of Eno-ish feel, the kind of song that would probably not sound out of place on the idiosyncratic Here Come the Warm Jets. It does sound somewhat out of place on Faust’s own album however, being a pop song and all, played fairly straight, albeit with some rhythmic nuances, including (possibly) a marimba (a xylophone? Definitely not a glockenspiel, a vibraphone perhaps) and a Russo-folk, polka-bass rhythm; the kind that Eastern European-influenced bands such as Gogol Bordello utilize as part of a somewhat wider movement, referred to, and I almost hesitate to write it, because it’s existence proves that the taxonomy of rock and roll has gone too far: gypsy-punk. The Sad Skinhead being essentially a straight song (no avant-garde tendencies) makes it an unsuitable example of their work. The label moneymen though and A&R types, probably wished that Faust had produced more songs like this, instead of the long-winded and obtuse, yet still enjoyable, Krautrock.

    83. The Rain, The Park & Other Things (3:01)-The Cowsills, The Cowsills (1967)-A singing family that included mother and children; the inspiration for the television show/musical group, The Partridge Family. This is an unabashed bubblegum gem, replete with the beatific harmonies that can only come from children in different stages of their youth. More will be forthcoming in a future essay, In Defense of Bubblegum, a celebration of The Cowsills, The Partridge Family, The Archies, The Baycity Rollers, and don’t worry 1910 Fruitgum Company fans, I shan’t forget your favorite sons.
  • Watch the video.

  • 82. Take Me For What I'm Worth (2:38)-The Searchers, Take Me For What I’m Worth (1965)-The first of two songs written by PF Sloan in my top 100, I’d have to do more research but he may be the only scribe to notch two slots on my list, since I made a conscious decision to forego using two songs preformed by the same group. Worry not, there will be nary a sign of Johnny Rivers and the garish Secret Agent Man on this list. This was the last of the Searchers’ top twenty hits, and the album marked the beginning of the end for the band that started, like so many other British groups, as a skiffle combo in the late fifties. Not really a great band, the only other song of theirs that I’d care to listen to is their version of the Sonny Bono-penned classic, Needles and Pins, which is better than the Ramones’ stab, the Herman’s Hermits’ and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. I have yet to hear the Deftones interpretation, if anyone has though, please compare and then comment.

    81. Sunday You Need Love (2:38)-The Oblivians, Soul Food (1995)-There’s nothing I detest more in music criticism than the pervasive habit of using food metaphors, a favorite of which is the term southern-fried, which is invariably used in reference to all genres of music that are produced south of the Mason-Dixon line. It is ubiquitous when you read anything about the Oblivians, (it’s a pity they had to title their album Soul Food, it doesn’t really help my cause). The Oblivians just don’t sound southern-fried (what does?), there is just a hint of hillbilly to them, but so, so small that this album often sounds as if it could have been produced in Detroit, or even New York (what doesn’t?).



    Blogger melissa said...

    you use a lot of commas

    12:37 PM  
    Blogger Goodnight Georgie said...

    i like long sentences

    12:54 PM  
    Anonymous felipe said...

    maybe it's too sappy, but i'm surprised you didn't mention "Same Old Heart." i bet you wanted to.

    9:27 PM  
    Blogger Goodnight Georgie said...

    same old heart is not that good.

    12:43 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Satan's Pilgrims are back! Check out and order the new album "Psychsploitation" at

    7:43 PM  

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