Saturday, March 03, 2007

Top 100 (20-11)



20. "Come Dancing" (3:57)-The Kinks, State of Confusion, (1983)-I fell in love with this song as I was buying beer and whisky at the local Rite Aid drug store on the corner of Bush and Larkin streets in San Francisco. The song is a total incongruence of nostalgia and calypso shot through with a blissful and gone-too-fast moment of punk guitars. Brilliant, even if it came so damn late.

19. "Close" (4:46)-The Bevis Frond, The Auntie Winnie Album, (1988)-The Bevis Frond were a band that I had always read about, and always assumed that they would be psyche-guitar face-melters which many writers make them out to be. Instead, they are more like a stripped-down Guided By Voices, a Dylanesque guitar-pop band, replete with the overbearing simplicity of early folk-rock.

18. "Chivalry" (4:03)-The Mekons, Fear and Whisky, (1985)-Utterly regardless of their standing within the punk, rock, alt-country categories, "Fear and Whisky" is an amazing accomplishment of, I don't know, I guess...songwriting. There is a fair amount of violin, synthesizers, narrative, testosterone and vocal embellishment. In a way, it is so much, that it’s identity is stretched out, but never the less, it is a masterful entry.

17. "Certainly All" (1:58)-Guitar Slim, B-Side to the Feeling Sad Single on the Jim Bullet Label, (1952)-I used to work in a book store in Berkeley and there was a compact disc of Guitar Slim that we would listen to. I was an instant convert. I would not call my self a blues enthusiast, but it obviously has its place. I think what I like so much about him is his endearingly sloppy and visceral guitar leads.

16. "California" (3:13)-The Aislers Set, Terrible Things Happen, (1998)-When I was eighteen or nineteen I used to like a band called Henry’s Dress. They were a trio with two singers, one male and one female. When the guy would sing and play guitar, the girl played drums and vice versa. I thought that was a pretty neat trick for some reason. They broke up like all bands do, save for the Rolling Stones, and this is/was the girl’s new band. I felt like I kind of outgrew that stuff, but last year I rediscovered it. The song is very delicate and reverb-surfy, very pleasing if you like sixties music, particularly girl groups.

15. "But I Ain't Got You" (2:12)-The Remains, The Remains, (1965)-They could have been huge. They opened for The Beatles at Shea Stadium. The Beatles! This is not their best song, but it is a well-written bit of downbeat bluesy rock that I listened to compulsively last year.

14. "Both Sides Now" (3:13)-Judy Collins, Wildflowers, (1967)-Folk pop to the max. The lyrics are a bit too much, just look at the first verse: “Rows and floes of angel hair, and ice cream castles in the air, and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.” I just assume leave lyrics about ice cream castles on the cutting room floor, but I suppose I should blame Joni Mitchell, she wrote it. Judy Collins seems to be the less thoughtful, more pop-oriented version of Mitchell, but she is deadly with a melody. Her voice gives me chills and I just can’t help it.

13. "Billy is a Runaway" (2:27)-Iggy Pop, New Values, (1979)-Clearly not the best of James Osterberg, but not as bad as you think.

12. “Better Off Dead” (2:07)-The Wipers, Better Off Dead Single on Trap Records, (1979)-For the most part, I have never been a fan of west coast punk. No Black Flag, no Weirdos, no Germs, no Avengers, no Flipper. Not even Bad Religion or NOFX, or Green Day. But I kept reading and reading about Portland’s Wipers and finally listened to them and they are fine at moments, a bit heavy handed at others, and on “Better Off Dead” they are close to perfect.

11. "Besame Mucho" (2:10)-The Ventures-This was hard to research. I found a compact disc that came out in 1995 with this version on it, but it was probably recorded before 1965. I have always liked guitar instrumentals and probably no one does them as good as The Ventures. “Perfidia” is nice, but so is this. Maybe you will like the “Batman Theme.” The Ventures are full of surprises, some totally expected, some not.


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