Saturday, August 15, 2009

Soundtrack for a New York Road Trip

It takes great thought to pick music for an eight hour round trip drive from Cooperstown to New York City. At least for me it's a serious endeavor. No radio; don't like it. Here's the set list.

Wilco (the album) - Wilco

I wrote about the new Wilco record on July 14 (This Week's Music and Movies). No more about it here, other than it's just delightful, track after track.

Electric Arguments - The Fireman

I've always been an unapologetic Paul McCartney fan (he being one of The Fireman, Youth the other). His recent output has been very strong and Electric Arguments is a solid and adventurous disc. More Radiohead than Macca, it's often not your usual Paulie fare. "Two Magpies" is another bird tune in the same style as "Blackbird" and "Jenny Wren." I'm undecided about how I feel towards McCartney's aging vocals. There are times when his raggedness work incredibly well, other times it makes me a little sad.

Emotions - The Pretty Things

Also covered in the July 14th post. You can see The Pretty Things are in heavy rotation here. More on them later.

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake - The Small Faces

Until a recent binge, Ogden's was the only Small Faces LP I owned. Side 1 is filled with classics - "Afterglow," "Lazy Sunday," et al. Side 2 is the killer, the saga of Happiness Stan and his quest to find out where his beloved moon goes as it wanes. Spoken intervals of nonsense are read by British comic Stanley Unwin in his patented "Unwinese." Glad to see the CD comes with a replica of the LP's circular presentation in the style of an old tobacco tin, a landmark cover.

The Ecstatic - Mos Def

Didn't see that comin', did ya? Lulled you into the sense that all I listen to is white music, strictly British Invasion stuff. I have my share of rap records and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides is one of the greatest of all. The new one isn't nearly as good as that, or as good as Black Star (hah, caught you again!), but it is very good and tons of fun. As the man himself says, "Having a good time, everyday."

Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
It's a greatest hits album, really. Tough to pull out the highlights, and while the occasional sound effects sound dated, the totality is as fearsome and powerful as it was, dare I say it, 30 years ago. Better to burn out than to fade away, exhibit number one.

And that's only the way there.

Lust for Life - Iggy Pop

From the first sound of the pounding drums - "Can we listen to something else?" That's my eldest sitting in the back seat. Wonder what that's about. Next disc.

Singles Collection: The London Years (Disc 2) - The Rolling Stones

Has there ever been a worse move by a major rock band than the Stones psychedelic experiments of 1967? Maybe the failed The Doors Do Disney album (OK, I made that up). This is terrible stuff, you should give it another listen. Even the so-called hits, "She's a Rainbow" and "2000 Light Years from Home" suck hard. Keith tried to deter them from this disaster, but you know Mick, looking to do what's in, what's selling and, most importantly, what The Beatles are up to. Bill Wyman's "In Another Land" is atrocious, "The Lantern" is as affected as Bowie at his worst (think "Time" from Aladdin Sane) and "Child of the Moon" was much better when it was done by The Beatles the year before. It was called "Rain." I think there are two problems with these tunes. One, the Stones don't have enough musical curiosity to delve wholeheartedly into a different sound. Two, I just don't believe them when they chant "We Love You" - you know they don't.

S.F. Sorrow - The Pretty Things

S.F. Sorrow, though it no doubt owes a huge debt to Sgt. Pepper's, is a singular piece of work. It's one of the best albums of 1968. and one I had never heard of until early this year. Seek it out; it'll stick.

Go Insane - Lindsey Buckingham

For a key member of a high profile band, Buckingham doesn't get his due. His guitar picking is extraordinary, his songwriting and singing top notch. This is one weird dude. His solo work is consistently bizarre. It's not your run of the mill Fleetwood Mac album. Go Insane is a compelling listen, but a little too strange. Not a good choice for the road.

I Never Loved a Man the Way That I Love You - Aretha Franklin

The aural bad taste left in my ears from Go Insane was cured by Aretha. Is there anything more perfect in this world than this record? "Dr. Feelgood," man, that'll just do you in. If you don't have this, why not?

Keep It Simple - Van Morrison

Van Morrison is the Octomom of rock stars. Every time you look, he pops out another album. This is his most recent studio release and has that warm, easy groove that Van the Man pulls off effortlessly. It has almost none of the lyrical bitterness that marks (and sometimes mars) much of his late period work, but, hey, he's Van Morrison and he can do whatever he wants. He doesn't look too happy over there, though, does he?

And then, back to Lust for Life. It was a long trip home and this time we got to listen to a bit of Iggy. I learned from the back seat that the song was featured on the episode when The Simpsons went to England. There you have it - Iggy made a connection with my son.

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