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Monday, March 14, 2005

Starting the week

And here are the first ten songs my iPod came up with this week, with commentary!

  1. I Don't Know - Chris Bell. This is a little pop masterpiece from Chris Bell of Big Star. The song (and the album it comes from) never made an official release while Bell was alive. It wasn't released until 1992, 15 years after it was recorded. I have it on a Rycodisk promotional sampler A Little Big Star that showcases Ryco's releases of Big Star Live, Sister Lovers and Bell's solo album.

    Bandmate Alex Chilton gets most of the accolades for Big Star; but it's clear, after hearing Bell's and Chilton's solo stuff, that Bell contributed mightly to the overall Big Star sound. And, when Bell left, their sound turned from chiming Beatles/Byrds-like 70's power-pop to a strange paranoid and bitter version of the Velvet Underground. Bell deserves more credit, in my opinion.

    The chorus from Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" brazenly steals the bridge in this song.

      I don't know what I'm going to do
      You don't know you're putting me through

      What did her daddy do ?
      It's Jamie's Last I.O.U.

    Same melody for each.

  2. The Day It Rained - Smaller Animals. A five song track, featuring me and my guitars. All somber, minor-key instrumentals. They're part of the same track (CD track, that is) because the CD burning software I had at the time couldn't create CDs without putting gaps between songs, and I wanted these to all run together. The first part, The Day It Rained, is an acoustic guitar piece recorded during a strong thunderstorm on the back porch of our apartment. I don't remember what I called the other pieces.

  3. Surrey With The Fringe On Top - Miles Davis. I knew this version before I ever heard the Oklahoma version, so it's possible for me to listen to this without singing along - unlike everybody else in the world, apparently.

  4. Polka Dots and Moonbeams - John Pizzarelli. Not really familiar with this song. John Pizzarelli has a nice voice, but I like his guitar playing better, and this song is a slow soft piano ballad. It fits right in after that Miles Davis track, but isn't what I need at 10am on a Monday.

  5. Toys In The Attic - R.E.M.. Ah, that's more like it. I knew this version before I ever heard the orginal Aerosmith version. It rocks. I played the record this came from, Dead Letter Office, constantly, when I was in high school.

  6. SWLABR - Cream. Love this song. Learned how to play (something resembling) it recently. But The Rainbow Has a Beard ... love them Cream lyrics.

  7. Play - The Cure. This is a B-side or an outtake from the Disintegration / Wish era. It sounds a lot like Letter To Elise, which means I don't care for it.

  8. Car Radio - Spoon. A quick little thing, which would've been only half as long if not for a strange little Nirvana-esque insturmental break in the middle. Like a lot of Spoon songs, it sounds like a great idea that got sketched-out and recorded without any further thought. It's both Spoon's charm and their greatest fault. Maybe they could be huge, with a bit more polish, but then they'd lose the thing that makes them special. I prefer them this way.

  9. Happy & Bleeding - PJ Harvey. I really liked PJ Harvey during her Dry and Rid Of Me period - from which this one comes. Then she dscovered drum machines.

  10. Thank You Friends - Big Star. This particular copy actually came from the same Rycodisc sampler that the first song in the the list came from, but properly, it's from the final Big Star record, Third/Sister Lovers. Chris Bell had left the group during the recording of their second album, and by this album, all traces of Bell's sweet, optimistic power-pop had been scrubbed away; all that remained was Chilton's self-indugence, frustration and bitterness: "Thank you friends, for making this all so probable," he sings. One of my least-favorite tracks from my least-favorite Big Star record.

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