Friday, July 25, 2008

Lightning In A Bottle

Having fallen asleep before 9PM last night I was rather groggy as I made my way out of the apartment. I've lost my prescription sunglasses so the sun makes me blink and stagger. All in all I felt like a prisoner just out of solitary confinement, all herky jerky and unable to walk too well, still more used to talking to myself than to anyone else.

Thank God for The Clash.

1. 'Four Horsemen' by The Clash from 'London Calling'

I hadn't had coffee yet but by the time this song was over I was damn well awake. Has any band ever aimed higher? And hit their mark? I don't think so. The Beatles come to mind but they came along at a time when no one expected anything from young men with guitars...they had the element of surprise. The Clash? Saving the world with rock and roll? By the time they hit the scene, the business had calcified to the point that misbehavior was fine as long as you kept your hair long and stayed stoned. But to throw a giant middle finger up? To say the old ways are over ours are the new and you old fuckers better get used to it? And to have the songs to back all that up? Holy moly.

2. 'Cap In Hand' by The Proclaimers from 'Sunshine On Leith'

All anyone ever remembers of these guys is 'I Would Walk 500 Miles' which is fine but they are so much more than that. This is one of the bounciest, toe-tappiest, sing-alongiest songs of protest and revolt that you will ever hear. It is all the more frightening for how accommodating it is to the ear.

'I can't understand why we let someone else rule our land/Cap in hand'

Add the intense accent and 'land' and 'hand' rhyme. That's another great thing about these guys...they deliberately include their native accents in their singing.

3. 'Revolution' by The Beatles from 'Past Masters Volume 2'

Ah, the iPod is on a THEME kick! Three political pop songs in a row to set the morning off! I don't think I'll even bother to try to articulate anything about this song. Really, what else is there to say?

4. 'It Only Hurts When I Cry' by Dwight Yoakam from ''

He's okay folks, as long as he doesn't think about her, think about anything related to her, smell anything that reminds him of her, eat anything they used to eat together, hear a song they liked, see a chair she sat in at his house, look at the TV he had to buy after she threw a camera at him into the last one, watch the scratch on his arm slowly fade that she gave him as she stormed out, hear about the new guy she's seeing after he offered her everything, he's okay folks, as long as he doesn't think about her.

5. 'Utah' by John Linnell from 'State Songs'

To John Linnell, places are like people. You have relationships with them even if they are abstract ideas. 'Utah' he keeps in I forget 'you-tah'. The accordion pumps a tuneful ditty but he simply can't remember Utah.

6. 'Take This Longing' by Leonard Cohen from 'The Best Of'

Don't get me wrong, I love Leonard Cohen. I even like some of his recent stuff. But there is something slippery at the heart of what he does, perhaps something a bit untrue. It is such simple material that it would be boring without a little deception. I'm not sure what I'm driving at but I get the sense that Leonard is putting on an act. You hear all about how he's a cook for a Buddhist guru and lives in a room with only a cot and he doesn't even have a guitar up there but when you realize that he's married to a movie star and has a house in Malibu something else is going on. And like I said, thank God because if his acoustic warblings were only to be taken at face value none of us would even know who Leonard Cohen is.

7. 'Hide Nor Hair' by Ray Charles from 'His Greatest Hits, Vol.1'

Who are these stupid women who keep running off and leaving Ray Charles? Um, lady, you are dating RAY CHARLES. Stop leaving him without any warning or note or nothing. Would you have run out on Mozart with some doctor with fresh hands? I don't think so. Tighten your shit up and stay with Ray.

8. 'Vibrate' by Outkast from 'The Love Below'

Experimental is the best word to describe what these freaks do. I am a bit surprised that they've had such mainstream success because their music is BIZARRE. Like art student-did-too-many-drugs-and-got-it-together-just-in-time-for-the-thesis bizarre. Like God on the 8th day fucking around bizarre. That kind of bizarre.

9. 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)' by Arcade Fire from 'Funeral'

I think Henry James stinks. I have read 'The Turn Of The Screw' several times in order to be sure. Why would I read a book I dislike more than once? Well, because I am often WRONG. But I've now completely accepted the fact that Henry James is not for me. What author do you think I would compare Arcade Fire to?

10. 'Pow' by The Beastie Boys from 'Check Your Head'

If you took someone who had never heard of The Beastie Boys and you played 'Fight For Your Right (To Party)' and then played them this instrumental track, I don't think they would in a million years say it was the same band. But it is. Liking The Beastie Boys is like raising an unruly wild child. You know that when he gets older he'll excel at something but until then you have to put up with the magic marker on the walls and the oatmeal in the toaster. That's just how it is. And, let's face it, it's fun to draw on the walls.

11. 'My Imaginary Friend' by The Divine Comedy from 'Absent Friends'

I have got to get more of The Divine Comedy. How this guy isn't a MAJOR star world wide I'll never know. Actually, let me guess...cerebral literate pop rock with theatrical tendencies and lush arrangements? Right, now I know why.

12. 'I'm Leavin' Now' by Johnny Cash from 'American III: Solitary Man'

That's only Merle Haggard singing harmony. That's just Johnny Cash on his deathbed. Well, ok, maybe not quite his deathbed but pretty close. If he was Mt. Rushmore as a kid he's Everest now.

13. 'Round And Round' by Aerosmith from 'Toys In The Attic'

It is easy to forget how good these guys can be. They turned into such a commodity and never had that unimpeded access to critical acclaim but they were a sick band in the 1970's. This song is RELENTLESS. AND tuneful. Not an easy mix. They are like Coldplay to Zeppelin's Radiohead. It isn't fair that they came around right at the same time but that's just the luck of the draw.

14. 'Cassavetes' by Fugazi from 'In On The Kill Taker'

This is as close to a dance track as Fugazi ever got. The fact that it is about the underground filmmaker who was determined to rip the mask off of the genial mask of the American personality only makes its danceability that much more extreme.

15. 'Who'll Stop The Rain' by Creedence Clearwater Revival from 'Chronicle, Vol. 1'

CCR makes me think of Swamp Thing. A monster from the depths come forth to seek revenge against the system that had wronged it, to pass judgment on the powers that be that banished it to the muck and mire. Oh, yeah, and to rock your socks off.

16. 'Right On Time' by Red Hot Chili Peppers from 'Californication'

This song seems like too much wiring stuffed into a tiny stereo blasting several punk songs at once. There aren't too many bands out there that you can identify right away and The Peppers are one of them. However on this song it takes a while, which I think is cool. They don't seem to be satisfied with themselves, they seem to be searching for the best possible expression of any particular idea.

17. 'Dirt In The Ground' by Tom Waits from 'Bone Machine'

As I've said before, this album vaults me back to a time when I wasn't fatigued instantly by the sound of Mr. Waits' voice. He was the darling of the music world this year and perhaps that is why he has spent the last 20 years delving farther and farther into the margins of his sound. I think the most revolutionary thing he could do at this point is something smack in the middle of the mainstream. He won't.

18. 'Waitress In The Sky' by The Replacements from 'Tim'

'A sign says 'Thank You Very Much For Not Smoking'/My own sign says 'I'm sorry I'm smokin''

This could be the epitaph on the gravestone of The Replacements. This mean-spirited little dollop of misogyny is REALLY fun to sing along with, and when taken with 'Little Mascara' ('All you ever wanted was someone to take care of ya/All you're ever losin' is a little mascara') gives you the two sides of the same worthless coin that these guys flipped into some bum's hat instead of laughing all the way to the bank.

19. 'Tombstone' by The Pogues from 'Peace and Love'

I've never been to Dublin as an adult. I don't drink pint after pint and I don't smoke cigarettes anymore. I break out in hives when I wear wool. I'm apolitical. When I hear The Pogues I'm ready for Guinness, Gauloises, an Irish knit sweater and a tidy little gun fight with the English.

20. 'Complainte du Progres' by Bernard Lavilliers from 'Boris Vian et ses interpretes'

Somehow this works even though I laugh at French music. This song doesn't expect you to do anything BUT giggle.

21. 'Life Is But A Dream' by The Harptones from 'GoodFellas (Soundtrack)'

I'm about to go to France. I've got Lyme's Disease. I'm pretty much confined to bed. I watch 'GoodFellas' and 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' over and over and over and over and over. It's a wonder my parents didn't have me committed. Which when they let me go to France they pretty much did.

It is Friday. I'll see you Monday morning.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Call My iPod They

I was talking about the music shuffle with Melody and I said, "Then they played blah blah blah...". Oh, she couldn't get over that one! The little people inside my iPod! So this morning I am going to pick ONE person to be my imaginary bandleader. Burt Reynolds.

1. 'Couldn't Stand The Weather' by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble from 'Greatest Hits'

Burt hooks me up right out of the gate! I recently admitted (and quite possibly realized for the first time) that SRV is my favorite guitar player. Y'know, if I found myself down at the crossroads ready to sign a contract in blood, I'd turn to Beelzebub and say, "I want to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan!" And Ol' Scratch would stutter and bluster but he'd have to pull the pen away and tear up the contract. Even the Devil knows his limits.

2. 'Swim' by Ambulance Ltd from 'Ambulance Ltd'

I really liked this song but I didn't know who it was. I thought of The Doves for the most part. Jon Leahy (of The Broken Remotes) put this on my iPod and I am quite grateful. Very melodic and honest. But not The Doves.

3. 'A Sailor's Life' by Fairport Convention from 'Watching The Dark (1)'

This comes from the Richard Thompson career retrospective my lovely sister Sheila gave to me several years back. Richard Thompson comes in right behind Stevie Ray Vaughan in the sell your soul to the Devil competition. He is a true visionary. This is the band he was in before he set out on his own. The singer? Sandy Dennis. Remember that Zeppelin song 'The Battle of Evermore' when that female voice comes in? That's her. THE ONLY OTHER PERSON TO SING ON A LED ZEPPELIN ALBUM, OK?

4. 'I Will Survive' by Cake from 'Fashion Nugget'

This is too cutesy by half, Burt Reynolds. I appreciate it because it is clever but it doesn't want to be anything more than a good joke. And what makes this song stick around is the TRAGEDY, not the disco. I saw Cake in a cavern in Amsterdam and they blew me away. I've never come close to that feeling in any of their recorded material.

5.'Breaker 1-9' by Barnyard Playboys from 'Dumbass On A Rampage'

More full disclosure: I'm good friends with Joe, the drummer for this insane band. They were a fixture on the Lower East Side during almost all of my time in NYC and their shows were legendary for their energy and dumbass-rampage-osity. They sound like a sweaty drunk trucker singing along to his favorite Merle Haggard at 4 AM on meth doing 90MPH. Burt Reynolds would be right in the cab with them, fleeing the Bacon.

6. 'Soft' by Kings Of Leon from 'Aha Shake Heartbreak'

Yes! More redneck dirtbag nonsense from Burt Reynolds aka my iPod. I'm not sure if I'm hearing him right but he seems to be confessing the fact that he can't rise to the occasion after a long night of drinking. Somehow the song is still sexy.

7. 'Total Trash' by Sonic Youth from 'Daydream Nation'

When I got this album, I loved it. It was mysterious and lofty. In the ensuing years it has deepened, like a lake expanding towards the center of the earth. At first glance it hasn't changed but once you dive in there are whole unexplored areas. This time around I can't get over the drumming. Steve Shelley is the Ringo Starr of the modern underground. His playing is ARTSY. He STOPS playing entirely ALL THE TIME on these songs. He'll just let the music go, then he'll tap a cymbal twice and hit the kick drum. Then he'll wait. Then he'll slap the snare. I don't know what the hell he's doing but every little sound furthers the emotional core of the song.

8.'My Blue Tears' by Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

Wouldn't you know it, Burt Reynolds plays Dolly Parton! Of course! 'Best Little Whorehouse' reunion time! I was too caught up in my Stephen King novel to actually HEAR this song, but I love the album so I'm sure it's great. Maybe I just wanted Burt and Dolly to have their privacy.

9. 'I Fall To Pieces' by Patsy Cline from '12 Greatest Hits'

So it is official. I don't like Patsy Cline anymore, Burt Reynolds. I've tried. Obviously, I OWN her 'Greatest Hits' album. But whenever I hear her sing I can't help but think, "I'd sure love to hear some country music right now. STOP crooning."

10. 'I've Got A Feeling' by the Beatles from 'Let It Be'

I've never heard this song before in my life. How can that be? Really, how is that possible? It's not some bootleg stolen from George Harrison's yurt, it's on 'Let It Be' for chrissakes.

11. 'Long View' by Green Day from 'Dookie'

Odd how their early work is so overshadowed by 'American Idiot'. Sure, this is a great song but it sounds like prelude now. Sketch vs. black comedy. Burger vs. filet mignon. Poetry slam vs. Shakespeare's sonnet. But man, what a bass line.

12. 'Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner' by Warren Zevon from 'Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon'

Burt, don't you remember you played this song a couple of days ago? Were you too busy cracking up with Dom Deluise to pick something new? There are 8,000 songs on here, Burt. Don't get lazy. You got lazy with your career and look what happened. Don't go down that road inside my iPod.

13. 'It's Our Love' by Iggy Pop from 'American Caesar'

Oh Burt Reynolds, are you trying to get back at me for chastising you so openly in the last song review? You know how I feel about Iggy Pop. I like him and all but I am not sure how this album got on my iPod (you!) and I really wouldn't notice if I never heard another Iggy song. I know he's important and all but so is American History and Geography and I don't pay any attention to that stuff either.

14. 'Small Stakes' by Spoon from 'Kill The Moonlight'

These guys are killers. Absolute cold stone killers. Any band from Texas that can mix The Beatles and Squeeze together but still sound underground and edgy is ok in my book.

15. 'All Around The World' by The Jam from 'Greatest Hits'

Oh, god. If The Clash didn't have good songs or a great singer this is what they still wouldn't sound like. I am totally over The Jam. Thanks, Burt Reynolds for ending with such a musical fart.

See you tomorrow little iPod! No more name calling!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Paul Westerberg just released an album on Amazon that you can download for 49 cents.

It comes as a 44 minute single track.

I can't stop listening to it.

There is no iPod shuffle this morning because I didn't take the bus. I decided to write about Mr. Westerberg instead.

I can't talk about 'songs' because it is one single track. There are sections that are obviously their own entities but even the most distinct portions seem a part of the whole. Songs are overlapped and layered over, they end abruptly while other songs have already started. It has been described as something like the experience of flipping through radio stations, albeit radio stations that only have access to Westerberg's entire unheard catalog of songs and snippets.

There is downloadable album art which consists of a handwritten cassette tape insert.

This album feels inevitable, as if it were the only logical step PW could have taken at this point. His work has doggedly moved further and further from any sort of recognizable a home recording artist, I've been astonished to hear a major figure be brave enough to display the most basic form of his muse.

He plays all the instruments, he does all the mixing, everything. This is literally HIS music and that gives us an eerie feeling of listening in to a private moment, almost of reading a journal. Sure the drumming is primitive and there are obvious sound deficiencies here and there but the sum far exceeds the whole of its parts.

Near the end of the 'album' (strange how even that description doesn't feel apt) there is a collage/medley of Westerberg doing various cover songs ('Rocket Man', 'I Think I Love You', etc.) and it opens our ears to the endless world of experimentation and tribute that artists constantly engage in. The hours he spent recording FULL versions of these songs were condensed into a 15 second pastiche...

There is something quite generous and humble about that. To allow us to glimpse the process and the product but not insisting that we listen to 8 minutes of it but a mere fraction of that. We IMAGINE the rest and it is done.

Do yourself a favor and download this work. It costs LESS THAN 50 cents.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Deja Who?

Yesterday the iPod started with Erykah Badu. Today the iPod started with Erykah Badu. I think my iPod is trying to tell me something. Yesterday I wrote that 9 times out of 10 the album turned me on but yesterday was the 10th time. My iPod seems to be asking me what the deal is with that. I mean, if it's 9 out of 10, isn't the 10th time a CHOICE instead of a real reaction?

Basically, today I'm trying to look at the world as a turn-on instead of a turn-off. Not easy for me. But here we go...

1. 'Apple Tree' by Erykah Badu from 'Baduizm'

First off there is her voice. It's not crazy like Macy Gray, it's not perfect like Beyonce, it's not showy like Mariah, it's not full of shit like Alicia Keys...

What the HELL is up with Erykah Badu's voice? It is relaxed most of all. Which I tend to resist. When she sings it is like a hot masseuse two minutes before the massage is over...she slips out of the room to let you bask in what she has just done. Somehow when she leaves the room it hits you that she's the best. It seemed like a great massage up to that point, sure, but all of a sudden she's left you to your own happy ending.

2. 'This Boy' from The Beatles from 'Past Masters - Volume One'

Seriously, did they start recording in THE WOMB? Because they sound about 4 years old here. It's enough to make you cry.

3. 'Looking For A Friend' by David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 1)'

This is a double album from his performance at the BBC. It's bizarre because there are SO MANY songs and I don't know any of them. (Except one from later in the shuffle but he didn't even write that one!)

The band is killer and you realize that Bowie released like 19 albums before he did any of his famous stuff. Odd.

4. 'There You Go' by Johnny Cash from 'The Sun Years'

How does Mount Rushmore play the guitar? Those heads don't have any hands. There are no guitars carved into the mountainside. ROCKS CAN'T SING.

5. 'In The Bunk Room/Navy Wife' by Mike Watt from 'Contemplating the Engine Room'

This is a concept album in the original sense of the word...he is exploring man's sense of himself and how everything funnels through WORK. EVERYTHING. Women sometimes take this as a diss, or a lack of interest in them. But we cannot help it. If we are good men, we are born to WORK.

6. 'Bone' by Sonic Youth from 'Experimental Jet Set, Trash, And No Star'

This album is sex on wheels. Big wheels. With silly rims polished to impossible lengths. Under a low riding frame of the car of your choice. Any car you want. You name it, the car is yours. On wheels of sex.

7. 'Ain't No Right' by Jane's Addiction from 'Kettle Whistle'

You can hear the muscle in this band live. I am normally left a bit cold by Jane's, but in the spirit of how my iPod wants me to view the world today, I'm gonna look on the bright side. There is NO air in this performance. They are tighter than a drum and a well oiled drum at that. If I were a multi-pierced vegan in 1990 on the end of 17 bags of thai sticks, I'd probably think they were the greatest band ever.

8. 'Good Day, Good Sir' by Outkast from 'The Love Below'

This is one of those odd little sketches peppered throughout this album. Nothing wrong with it but it's not a song.

9. 'Blockbuster' by Sweet from 'The Best of Sweet'

Do yourself a favor. Buy 'The Best of Sweet'. I don't know how to put it any more plainly than that. THEY ARE RIDICULOUS. I laughed several times during this song and it is 3 minutes 14 seconds long. When was the last time you laughed several times in 3 minutes and 14 seconds? While tapping your toes and discovering that your falsetto isn't false enough?

10. 'Burnin Down' by Patty Larkin from 'Regrooving the Dream'

Normally I find Patty Larkin to be a bit precious, a bit controlled. But the guitar playing on this track is deceptively simple. Devastating, really. I went from chuckling at Sweet and the cucumbers stuffed down their pants to a rime of tears at Patty Larkin and whatever happened to her.

11. 'Pages Of The Weekly' by The Broken Remotes from 'Tonight's Last Stand'

The Broken Remotes are an LA based rock band. (Full disclosure...Jon Leahy is the singer/songwriter/guitar player/producer/carpenter behind this band, a dear friend and frequent collaborator). His songs are not just all over the map, they ARE the map, and to scale. How something so restrained and delicate can be so HUGE and devastating is beyond me. You want him to stop and I mean that in the best way. It is inexorable and sad, whatever is going on in this song. Like a map it tells you everything you need to know but you won't be able to fold it back up quite the same way. This song will never fit back into your pocket. Just because you have a map doesn't mean you know where you are.

12. 'Part Two' by King Missile from 'The Way To Salvation'

Enough with the King Missile already! Good lord! Wait, wait, iPod guru says look at the bright side. Taken with 'Part One' King Missile tell the story of a boy who eats lasagna and realizes it is what he's been missing all along. Until he meets a preacher's daughter who asks him to jump over a church so they can be together. Then he realizes he's also been missing her all along. It is cute.

13. 'You've Had It With You' by Paul Westerberg from 'Eventually'

Nobody rocks quite like Westerberg. If I could explain it in a satisfactory way I'd probably stop writing about music altogether. Good thing I'm so unsatisfied.

14. 'Free Ride' by Nick Drake from 'Pink Moon'

You know the cliche of the camp fire and the soft strum of a guitar set against a desert landscape? In the hands of Nick Drake it is not cliche. It is a dream come true.

15.'Waiting for the Man' by David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 2)'

Bowie sings The Velvet Underground? Are you kidding me? This is a KILLER version of this song with one of the sickest meanest guitar solos you will EVER hear to cap it off. Funny that a cover gives the best glimpse of what is to come for Bowie.

16. 'Ground Hog' by Doc Watson from 'The Doc Watson Family'

I saw Doc Watson at The Bottom Line in NYC. There is no obstacle between him and music. Like breath escaping it comes out of him.

17. 'You Are Chains' by Secret Machines from 'Now Here Is Nowhere'

In my head I see a man on top of a rock trying to keep harpies from poking his eyes out. He cries not because of where he has wound up but because he is no longer where he was when he was the happiest he ever was. And never will be again. And the memory of that happiness eats him from within just as sure as the vultures will eat him from without.

18. 'Friday I'm In Love' by The Cure from 'Wish'

What a pop song. In a jiffy I've got cuffed jeans, a pompadour, and a gorgeous dame in a poodle skirt next to me as we sip from two straws from a soda pulled out of a fountain by a guy named 'Skitch'.

19. 'Garden In The Rain' by Diana Krall from 'Love Scenes'

Oh, iPod, why do you test me so? My bright-side-o-meter is barely registering. How can I be pleased with Diana Krall when she is so pleased for me? How, iPod, how? OK, here know when a little girl won't stop doing her tutu twirls for you and you know you'll have to keep patting her on the head and telling her how much you love it? But really all you want is for her Mom to step in and hustle her off to bed?

20. 'Days That Used To Be' by Neil Young and Crazy Horse from 'Ragged Glory'

The songs on this album don't even seem to matter...all I see is Neil and his buddies in a giant barn, scaring the farm animals that aren't quite far enough even though they are on the other side of the farm, roughly Rhode Island away.

I think I'll get some raspberries at lunch!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Robot Saved My Life

I dreamt last night that my hand was made of iceberg lettuce...a piece of cucumber had gotten stuck within the leaves and I was tearing at my skin to get rid of it. But I had to stop because I was in danger of ripping my hands to the point where they wouldn't work anymore. Ah, sleep. I have a heavy heart lately.

1. 'Afro' by Erykah Badu from 'Baduizm'

I love this album, don't get me wrong. My reactions today are more a product of where I'm at than the music I'm hearing. Today it strikes me as self-satisfied and smug. 9 times out of 10 this album turns me on. Today it turns me off.

2. 'I Wish' by King Missile from 'The Way to Salavtion'

This song sort of captures my mood. He wishes for things he knows he cannot have, even things he knows cannot exist. But there the wishes are anyways. He recites these spoken word things over the music and in a way it doesn't give the music the props it deserves, the joy of a melody kicking in at the right moment. 'I Wish' this band had found a great lead singer instead of a whiny nihilist with too many spiral bound notebooks filled with detritus.

3. 'Let The Bad Times Roll' by Paul Westerberg from 'Stereo'

I am a fire and this is gasoline.

4. 'Crossfire' by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble from 'Greatest Hits'

His guitar playing doesn't seem real to me. It springs out of the fabric of the music but it is completely separate at the same time. He was simply better than anyone else. Ever. I think he is my favorite guitar player of all time. He is. Stevie Ray Vaughan is my favorite guitar player.

5. 'Little Farley' by Harry Connick, Jr. from 'Star Turtle'

Why is the iPod intent on playing 'Star Turtle' every day? I guess it could be worse, it could play Pink's 'Mizunderstood' over and over. This whole album has such a rich texture, it is packed to the gills.

6. 'Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner' by Warren Zevon from 'Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon'

Only Warren Zevon could write a three minute pop song about a Norwegian mercenary who comes back from beyond the grave to kill the CIA operatives who double crossed him during the uprising in the Congo. Good lord. I want whatever drugs he was taking.

7. 'Body Language' by Queen from 'Greatest Hits'

Even Queen can't really pierce my mood today. This song is about as weak as Queen gets. Which is still pretty strong.

8. '(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais' by The Clash from 'Live: From Here To Eternity'

This song on wax was a battering ram of insight. Live it is a horde of archers scaling your walls, all the while convincing you that you'd be better off fighting with them, benevolent conquerers.

9. 'Done Wrong' by Ani DiFranco from 'Dilate'

She can nail it from time to time. Sometimes her jazzy strumming makes me feel like I drank too much instant coffee and only ate a sugared doughnut and smoked too many cigarettes. Occasionally she keeps the nerves from jangling and breaks your heart. My heart was broken when I woke up so she barely had to try.

10. 'Cold Sweat' by James Brown from '20 All Time Greatest Hits'

Damn funky.

11. 'Less Than Zero' by Elvis Costello from 'My Aim Is True'

That little hiccup he throws in after 'Everything is less than zero/HEP!' is what makes him great. He thinks it's all the fancy wordplay and collaborations with opera singers and collage artists. It ain't, it's the off the cuff yell after he says what he thinks he meant to say.

12. 'Rock Island Line' by Johnny Cash from 'The Sun Years'

Thankfully this erases the Dan Zanes version I had to sit through the other day. This doesn't seem so much like music as like rock brought up from a quarry.

13. 'Dirty Worxx' by Ipanema Girl from 'The New Brazillian Sound'

This whole album is like a group of hot chicks just out of earshot whispering about the shape of what the waxer left behind.

14. 'Soul Fire' by Lee 'Scratch Perry from 'Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread'

'Soul fire/And we ain't got no water'. How much plainer does it need to be stated?

15. 'Angels Walk' by Paul Westerberg from 'Eventually'

I've written about this album before at length, how I instantly disliked it, how I turned my back on my hero after hearing it, how wrong I 'eventually' was about it. He is so subtle you might think he doesn't have much to say. But it would be you who didn't have much to listen with.

16. 'Airbag' by Radiohead from 'OK Computer'

I wish a robot would save my life.

I need a robot to save my life.