Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brian Wilson Collaborates With... Gershwin!

Many believe George and Ira Gershwin are the greatest American composers. I'll go with Brian Wilson. No matter what camp you fall into, all of us should be excited to hear that not only is Wilson taking a stab at some of the best-known songs in the Gershwin songbook, but he is finishing two of George's pieces of work. 'Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin' will be out on Aug. 17, and you can pre-order it here. The Wondermints, Jeffrey Foskett and the rest of the usual suspects will be backing him up. To whet your appetite, stream one of those new Gershwin/Wilson compositions below. If "The Like in I Love You" is any indication, someday, perhaps, the world will be talking about Wilson the way we talk about Sinatra, Fitzgerald and other great Gershwin interpreters. Hyperbole? Maybe, but I'm just so excited right now.

Wilson is recording this album for Disney's label. It's the first half of a two-record deal. The other LP will be his take on Disney classics. No word yet on when that one will be out.

'Brian Wilson Reimagines George Gershwin' Tracklist

1. Rhapsody in Blue /Intro
2. The Like in I Love You
3. Summertime
4. I Loves You Porgy
5. I Got Plenty of Nothin
6. It Ain't Necessarily So
7. 'S Wonderful
8. They Can't Take That Away from Me
9. Our Love Is Here to Stay
10. I've Got a Crush on You
11. I've Got Rhythm
12. Someone to Watch Over Me
13. Nothing But Love
14. Rhapsody in Blue/Reprise

Tunes Inspired By 'Toons: Part 2

I haven't seen 'The SpongBob SquarePants Movie,' but at least I have seen the cartoon a few times on Nick. I bought the soundtrack because I was a Wilco and Flaming Lips fanatic when this album came out in 2004. Like many soundtracks, there is a lot of filler here. If you have kids, they may actually enjoy some of it. If you are into the same bands I like -- and I assume you are or you wouldn't be here -- the five songs below are all you need from this one. Surprisingly, the soundtrack is still in print, and you can purchase it here. Now I'm going to have "who lives in a pineapple under the sea" running in my head all day. Curses!

The Flaming Lips - SpongeBob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy (mp3)
Wilco - Just A Kid (mp3)
The Shins - They'll Soon Discover (mp3)
Ween - Ocean Man (mp3)
Motorhead - You Better Swim (mp3)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tunes Inspired By 'Toons: Part 1

Let's start with an admission: I have never seen 'The Powerpuff Girls.' That said, I'm absolutely sure I would get along with series creator Craig McCracken. The songs on 'Heroes & Villains,' for the most part, weren't actually on the cartoon. The compilation was assembled by McCracken because, as he put it, "I love these bands, and listening to their music inspires my own work." In other words, he got his favorite artists to write songs about his show. How cool is that? It turns out several of McCracken's favorites are mine, too.

I bought this package, in particular, for the Sugarplastic song. The L.A. power-pop outfit is not exactly prolific. So, you get a hold of their work wherever you can. If you like Komeda, you may own a different version of this song from their last album, 'Kokomemedada.' In my opinion, the 'Powerpuff' take is better, but I like them both. Finally, if you spent any time watching Cartoon Network around the time of this 2000 release, chances are you have heard the Apples In Stereo song. They used to play the music video for 'Signal In The Sky' (see below) between programs quite a bit. 'Heroes & Villains' is, sadly, out of print, but you can still pick up used copies here.

Devo - Go Monkey Go (mp3)
Frank Black - Pray For The Girls (mp3)
The Apples In Stereo - Signal In The Sky (Let's Go) (mp3)
Komeda - B.L.O.S.S.O.M. (mp3)
The Sugarplastic - Don't Look Down (mp3)

Monday, June 28, 2010

OMD Announces New Album Details

More than six months ago, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark gave us all a listen to a demo called "Sister Marie Says" along with the message that a new album was on the way. Well, we finally have more info, including a release date. 'History of Modern' hits the streets on Sept. 20. It looks like it's just listed as an import at this time. There are all sorts of cool preorder options at OMD's Web site. You should check it out.

Why am I so filled with optimism that the band can recapture that old magic after all of these years? Because, unlike OMD's '90s output, they were able to get all of the old band back together. For the first time since 'The Pacific Age' nearly 25 years ago, OMD is once again Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes. Here is that demo I posted half a year ago one more time since that's all of the new material we have so far. Take note from the tracklist below that "Sister Marie Says" was renamed "Sister Mary Says" on the new album.

History of Modern Tracklist
Side One
1.New Babies: New Toys
2. If You Want It
3.History Of Modern (part I)
4. History Of Modern (part II)
5. Sometimes
7. New Holy Ground
Side Two
8. The Future, The Past, and Forever After
9. Sister Mary Says
10. Pulse
11. Green
12. Bondage Of Fate
13. The Right Side?

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Sister Marie Says (demo) (mp3)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Remember Pete Quaife

Who? Well, his name may not ring bells like Ray Davies, but Pete Quaife (far left in photo above) was the bassist on all of the '60s-era Kinks tunes. Think about that: "Waterloo Sunset," "Tired Of Waiting For You" and "The Village Green Preservation Society," just to name a few. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer passed away last week at age 66. Let's take a listen and remember his contributions to one of the all-time great bands.

The Kinks - Everybody's Gonna Be Happy (mp3)
The Kinks - Too Much Monkey Business (Unreleased Alternate Take) (mp3)

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Song From Of Montreal

Kevin Barnes & Co. are back, and this time they will have you hitting the dance floor. Polyvinyl Records is set to release the full-length 'False Priest' on CD, double LP and digital download on Sept. 14. You can preorder here. Of Montreal's label apparently knows how hard it will be to wait. Hopefully this preview mp3 will help. "Coquet Coquette" sure sounds promising.

Of Montreal - Coquet Coquette (mp3)

'False Priest' Tracklist
1. I Feel Ya' Strutter
2. Our Riotous Defects
3. Coquet Coquette
4. Godly Intersex
5. Enemy Gene
6. Hydra Fancies
7. Like a Tourist
8. Sex Karma
9. Girl Named Hello
10. Famine Affair
11. Casualty of You
12. Around the Way
13. You Do Mutilate?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: 'Come On Eileen'

In case you couldn't tell from all of last week's posts, I have a big thing for ska's second wave. So, it might come as a surprise that most of ska's third wave leaves me cold. Most of it seems like frat rock for the dudes. There are a few exceptions, and I'll get to those in the coming weeks. I can't claim to be a big fan of late '90s SoCal ska outfit Save Ferris either, but they did have a moment in 1997 with this cover of the 1982 smash hit from Dexy's Midnight Runners.

There was something about the original "Come On Eileen" that appealed to the masses. Even my late father, a dyed-in-the-wool Hank Williams type, liked this one. Although the band's less-than-keen fashion sense bordered on the absurd and was very much on display with the help of MTV and other music video outlets, the song shot to No. 1 in America, the UK and Australia anyway. Now, Save Ferris didn't have that kind of chart success, but it was their biggest hit and got quite a bit of airplay on the once very cool MTV2 network. I still enjoy this one.

Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come On Eileen (mp3)
Save Ferris - Come On Eileen (Night Mix) (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"Walking On Thin Ice"
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Video From Interpol

Nearly two months after unveiling "Lights" as a free download, Interpol's comeback continues with the announcement of a self-titled album on Matador, tons of tour dates and, today, a brand-new music video (see above). The hype is really building. I sure hope we aren't disappointed. It has been a long eight years since the satisfying 'Turn On The Bright Lights,' you know? Everything since then has been underwhelming. The new LP is slated for a Sept. 7 release. Fingers crossed.

Curtain Call: Paul Carrack/Nick Lowe

Curtain Call is an occasional series where I present one of my favorite live albums.

I could do a whole week on live albums featuring the fabulous Nick Lowe, but this is the first one that popped into my head. I think it has a lot to do with it being a prolific time for the artist and the fact that Lowe shared the stage with Paul Carrack. Let's try to get in the mindset of this show from March 1983. Carrack was on the road to promote his 'Suburban Voodoo' album, which Lowe produced. Carrack's single, "I Need You," had just been a minor U.S. hit a few months earlier. Lowe was on the road to push his 'The Abominable Showman' album and the single "Ragin' Eyes." Like many Lowe albums during that time period, Carrack was the keyboard player and backup vocalist on 'Showman.' They sound great together, and I think you're really going to enjoy these songs recorded from the soundboard at Toad's Place in New Haven, Conn. For today's mp3s, I chose three Carrack tunes from 'Suburban Voodoo.' Lowe's three songs can be found on (in order) 'Labour of Lust,' 'The Abominable Showman' and 'Nick The Knife.' I highly recommend all of these records.

'Old Dogs, New Tricks!' Tracklist
1. A Little Unkind (mp3)
2. Stick It Where The Sun Don't Shine
3. Tempted
4. Cruel To Be Kind (mp3)
5. Saint Beneath The Paint
6. Give My Heart A Break
7. I'm In Love
8. Ragin' Eyes (mp3)
9. Cool Reaction
10. From Now On
11. I Found Love
12. I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass
13. How Long?
14. Lesson In Love (mp3)
15. Burning (mp3)
16. I Need You
17. Shake & Pop
18. I Knew The Bride
19. So Right, So Wrong (mp3)
20. Peace, Love & Understanding
21. Heart Of The City

More Curtain Calls
David Bowie
Van Dyke Parks
Robert Palmer
The Clash

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: 'Walking On Thin Ice'

In 1980, one of the projects John Lennon was working on at the time of his death was assembling a tribute album of his wife's work. It was to be a 50th birthday present to her. After his death, Yoko continued to recruit artists for the album, and it was finally released in 1984. For me, there were two fantastic moments on 'Every Man Has a Woman,' and both of them were, at the time, relatively recent 'Double Fantasy'-era songs. Lennon opened the record with "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him," and Elvis Costello & The Attractions covered "Walking On Thin Ice."

As the story goes, Lennon and Ono finished "Walking On Thin Ice" the day of the shooting. Lennon was clutching the final mix of the song when he died. OK, take a moment and exhale. The song was released as a single in 1981, and it was played at dance clubs everywhere, helping Ono chart her first solo hit. It peaked at No. 58 here in America, and it did even better in the UK (No. 35).

Costello admitted "although I would never pretend that her records are exactly a fixture on my turntable... I was happy to complete one of her husband's last projects which one must imagine was conceived out of love." The band was touring the United States in '84 when they stopped off in New Orleans to record the song with production help from Costello favorite Allen Toussant. Costello & The Attractions were on the road at the time to promote 'Punch the Clock.' The highlight of that album is the inclusion of the TKO Horns, and Costello had the boys with him for the tour and this recording session. Costello said "I don't believe that horn section ever sounded better than on this recording." I won't argue. Costello has covered a ton of tunes, but this one might be my favorite.

You can find Costello's version in a couple of places other than the Ono tribute album. 'Out Of Our Idiot' is a 1987 import of Costello's B-sides recorded during his CBS years. You can also find it on reissued versions of 'Punch the Clock.'

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Walking On Thin Ice (mp3)
Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Phoenix Performs Set on MTV's 'Unplugged'

France's greatest export turns it down a bit for a six-song performance on the channel that was formerly into music, and Phoenix sounds better than ever. I especially like their use of the vibes. The mellow set includes "Lizstomania," "1901," "Rome" and "Armistice" from their last album, as well as Air's "Playground Love" (Do you get the feeling they wish this was their song?). The song above is "Long Distance Call" from my favorite Phoenix album, 'It's Never Been Like That.' To see all six songs, just wait for the list to come up at the end of each video. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ska Week: The Bodysnatchers

Here's another 2 Tone band with an all too brief history. The Bodysnatchers were around for such a short period that the all-girl group never even got a full-length album on the shelf. They did, however, play many memorable live shows opening for the likes of the Selecter, the Specials and the Go-Go's in 1980, and they were able to record a couple of stellar singles that were minor UK hits. That was enough to get them featured in 'Dance Craze,' the 2 Tone documentary I wrote about to kick off Ska Week.

In 1980, "Lets Do Rock Steady" b/w "Ruder Than You" peaked at No. 22, while "Easy Life" b/w "Too Experienced" stalled at No. 50. That's it. By 1981, the band was splitsvile. Lead singer Rhoda Dakar joined Jerry Dammers after several members left the Specials. They became Special A.K.A. and recorded the 1983 album 'In the Studio.' Most of the other gals joined Stiff Records as the Belle Stars. They were a UK smash known for several songs, including the No. 3 hit "Sign of the Times" from 1982. Dakar's moment worth remembering was a minor hit from 1983 she did with Special A.K.A. "The Boiler" peaked at a modest No. 35, but the song will be remembered for more than chart position. The song tackled the serious subject of rape.

So, for today's top 5, we take a listen to the four songs by the Bodysnatchers that were done for 2 Tone, plus "The Boiler." As a bonus, here is the Belle Star's biggest hit, too. There were a few other ska bands on the 2 Tone label, such as the Apollinaires, the Swinging Cats and the Higsons, but they were not in the same league as the bands I have featured this week. So, I'll put Ska Week to bed right here.

The Bodysnatchers Top 5
The Bodysnatchers - Let's Do Rock Steady (mp3)
The Bodysnatchers - Ruder Than You (mp3)
The Bodysnatchers - Easy Life (mp3)
The Bodysnatchers - Too Experienced (mp3)
Rhoda Dakar With The Special A.K.A. - The Boiler (mp3)

Bonus: The Belle Stars - Sign of the Times (mp3)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ska Week: The Specials

In the short history of ska's second wave, the Specials were the most vital band. Not only was the music top notch, but the personnel proved they had political and social consciences as well. As I have written several times this week, keyboard player Jerry Dammers founded 2 Tone Records, and he recruited the era's best British ska bands. The Specials had seven top 10 UK singles between 1979 and 1981 in their own right and, in my opinion, the best ska album of all time with their 1970 self-titled debut. It didn't hurt that is was produced by Elvis Costello either.

Like Madness and the English Beat, the Specials seemed to quickly lose much of their ska roots, but I still enjoyed their 1980 followup, 'More Specials.' A few key members left the band after the second album to start Fun Boy Three, but Dammers recruited a couple of new members (including Rhoda Dakar of the Bodysnatchers) and had one last hurrah in '84 with 'In the Studio.' By then, ska's second wave had crested, but the Specials did have one more big UK hit with 'Free Nelson Mandela.'

For my top 5, I picked their first-ever single, "Gangsters," because it pays homage to Prince Buster, perhaps the most important musician from ska's first wave. I also chose it because it was where 2 Tone began, and the song was a big UK hit (No. 6). "Nite Club" is my favorite song from their self-titled debut. "Rat Race" is here to illustrate my point about how their sound changed by 1980. "Too Much Too Young" and "Ghost Town" were the band's two UK No. 1 hits, and both are great examples of songs with important messages (teen pregnancy and unemployment).

The Specials Top 5
The Specials - Gangsters (mp3)
The Specials - Nite Club (mp3)
The Specials - Rat Race (mp3)
The Specials - Too Much Too Young (mp3)
The Specials - Ghost Town (12" Version) (mp3)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ska Week: Madness

The second single ever to grace the 2 Tone logo was the recording debut of Madness. "The Prince" b/w "Madness" peaked at No. 16 on the UK chart in the fall of 1979 and, like the English Beat, they abruptly left the label for greener pastures. They signed with Stiff Records and became huge stars. The band's first five full-length albums all charted in the top 10 in their homeland. This makes them the runaway most successful ska band of all time.

Madness even had some success here in America. In 1983, "Our House" cracked the top 10, and "It Must Be Love" briefly graced the top 40 at No. 33. By then, however, Madness wasn't so much a ska outfit as brilliant pop band. With that in mind, my top 5 will focus on those early hardcore ska singles from their first two albums. "One Step Beyond" should be here, but I didn't include it since I already posted a live version earlier in the week. Enjoy the "nuttiest sound around."

The band called it quits in the mid-'80s but, as I mentioned last summer, it's interesting to note the band reunited in 2009 to critical and commercial acclaim in the UK. Check out a music video from 'The Liberty of Norton Folgate' here.

Madness Top 5
Madness - The Prince (mp3)
Madness - My Girl (mp3)
Madness - Madness (mp3)
Madness - Baggy Trousers (mp3)
Madness - Embarrassment (mp3)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ska Week: The English Beat

The above album is associated with a bad memory from my youth. Back in the fall of '87, I was listening to a cassette copy of
'I Just Can't Stop It' in my first car ('82 VW Scirocco) with the future Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! when we were in a bad multi-car pileup that totaled the auto. Ah, young love. I'll let you decide if I mean the band, the car or the girl. Anyway, I didn't listen to this particular English Beat record for several years after the incident. Then I found it used on vinyl in the early '90s and fell for it all over again.

Like all great ska bands, the English Beat did spend a little time at 2 Tone. Label founder Jerry Dammers' rule was that once a band signed they were only obligated to record a single. So, the greats didn't stick around long, and the English Beat were no exception. They recorded the "double A side" "Tears of a Clown" with "Ranking Full Stop". It shot to No. 6 in the UK, and the group promptly left to start Go Feet Records. The English Beat recorded three studio albums between 1980 and 1982. By the last record, 'Special Beat Service,' the band matured beyond the genre to produce a stellar pop record with just a bit of ska influence. After that, the members separated into two pretty good groups: General Public and Fine Young Cannibals. Between these two bands and Ranking Roger's solo career, I think a post-English Beat blog post is in order. Stay tuned for that.

As for my top 5 today, this is a really tough one. Excluding 'Special Beat Service' is like doing a Squeeze list without anything from 'East Side Story.' Still, I'll stick to the hardcore ska material this time around. For a quick listen to a song from 'Special Beat Service,' check out the music video for "Save It For Later" below. This song is so good it was even a minor hit here in America.

The English Beat Top 5
The English Beat - Tears of a Clown (mp3)
The English Beat - Twist and Crawl (mp3)
The English Beat - Best Friend (mp3)
The English Beat - Hit It (mp3)
The English Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom (mp3)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ska Week: The Selecter

Guitarist Noel Davies of the Selecter was a pal of Specials keyboard player and 2 Tone founder Jerry Dammers. So, when Dammers set about releasing the first single for the label and ran out of cash after recording just one song (The Specials' "Gangster"), he asked Davies if he had anything for the flip side. Davies had a home recording of an instrumental that became "The Selecter." About 5,000 copies of the 45 were pressed in 1979, and 2 Tone was born.

By 1980, Davies and six others, including the charismatic Pauline Black on vocals, would release the album 'Too Much Pressure,' as the Selecter. Although 'Too Much Pressure' is a pivotal piece of the genre, Davies quickly grew tired of the scene in general and 2 Tone in particular, calling it "just a successful pop label." I guess a chain of UK top 10 hits was too much for the outsider artist. Members defected even before a second album, 'Celebrate the Bullet,' was released. By 1982, the Selecter called it quits.

Here are my five favorite Selecter songs. I start with that B side from 1979. The other four songs come from 'Too Much Pressure.' "Three Minute Hero" deserves top 5 status, but I skipped it since I included the live version from 'Dance Craze' in yesterday's post.

The Selecter Top 5
The Selecter - The Selecter (mp3)
The Selecter - Missing Words (mp3)
The Selecter - On My Radio (mp3)
The Selecter - Too Much Pressure (mp3)
The Selecter - Carry Go Bring Home (mp3)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ska Week: 'Dance Craze' Soundtrack

Welcome to Ska Week! For the next several days we'll take a listen to the best of ska's second wave. For me, that basically comes down to the British movement of the late '70s through the mid-'80s. That also means lots from the 2 Tone label. We start with the soundtrack spawned from a 1981 documentary about 2 Tone and its stable of stars. If, like me, you're from the west side of the Atlantic, the word "stars" sounds like hyperbole. Believe me, it's not. Jerry Dammers of the Specials started the label in 1979. By the time director Joe Massot began shooting the film in 1980, 2 Tone had already released seven singles. All of them had sold at least a quarter-million copies each, and five of them had reached the British top 10. So, that's where we begin. I have posted one song from each band that appears in 'Dance Craze.' As the lads used to say, "Rock steady." These songs are ripped from my very old vinyl that's been played to death. So, enjoy the pops, too.

Side A
1. The Specials - Concrete Jungle (mp3)
2. The English Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom
3. Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty (mp3)
4. Madness - Razor Blade Alley
5. The Selecter - Three Minute Hero (mp3)
6. The Bodysnatchers - Easy Life (mp3)
7. The English Beat - Ranking Full Stop (mp3)
8. Madness - One Step Beyond (mp3)

Side B
1. The English Beat - Ranking Full Stop
2. The Specials - Man At C & A
3. The Selecter - Missing Words
4. Bad Manners - Inner London Violence
5. Madness - Night Boat to Cairo
6. The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
7. The Specials - Nite Klub

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Enter the Vaselines... Again

After a two-decade absence, Sub Pop brought the Vaselines back into our consciousness last year with a fantastic collection of the band's entire previous studio work (along with demos, live tracks and other gems) called 'Enter the Vaselines.' Little did we know then that the duo would grace us with a new album in 2010. 'Sex With an X' won't be out until Sept. 14, but Sub Pop has just released a song from it. Although I don't agree with the sentiment expressed by the Scots, I do think it's a pretty good tune. Download "I Hate the '80s" now.

'Sex With An X' Tracklist
1. Ruined
2. Sex With An X
3. The Devil Inside Me
4. Such a Fool
5. Turning It On
6. Overweight But Over You
7. Poison Pen
8. I Hate the 80's
9. Mouth to Mouth
10. Whitechapel
11. My God's Bigger Than Your God
12. Exit The Vaselines

New Costello Comp Tracks Universal Years

We'll have some news on a brand-new studio album from Elvis Costello in just a bit. In the meantime, Hip-O Select has announced a compilation of his work covering 1998-2008.
'Pomp & Pout: The Universal Years' hits the shelves July 27 and features songs handpicked by Costello himself. Let's face it: This isn't his strongest era. In fact, 'When I Was Cruel' is probably the only album I could recommend in good conscience, but the spottiness of the other records from this time period is exactly why I think this compilation is pretty good.

There aren't too many rarities here, but there are a couple of goodies Costello fans may not own. For example, I don't have the song from 'The Big Lebowski' soundtrack (pretty sure this one was done with Brodsky Quartet), and not many of us bought the Japanese version of 'North.' Then again, not many bought 'North' at all. One tiny slip, in my opinion, was not including anything from 'Cruel Smile.' The 2002 collection is full of remixes, live performances and a few other nuggets from the 'When I Was Cruel' era. Here is one of my favorites from that record and a strong cut that you'll find on this new compilation.

'Pomp & Pout' Tracklist
1. Bedlam (The Delivery Man)
2. Stella Hurt (Momofuku)
3. No Hiding Place (Momofuku)
4. This House is Empty Now (Painted From Memory)
5. Impatience (North, Japanese edition)
6. Tart (When I Was Cruel)
7. The Sweetest Punch (Painted From Memory)
8. My Mood Swings (The Big Lebowski soundtrack)
9. When I Was Cruel No. 2 (When I Was Cruel)
10. Ascension Day (The River in Reverse)
11. Dust (When I Was Cruel)
12. Country Darkness (The Delivery Man)
13. 45 (When I Was Cruel)
14. In the Darkest Place (Painted From Memory)
15. The River in Reverse (The River in Reverse)
16. Monkey to Man (The Delivery Man)
17. In Another Room (The Delivery Man: Deluxe Edition)
18. Still (North)

Elvis Costello - When I Was Cruel No. 2 (mp3)
Elvis Costello & the Imposters - 15 Petals (Live) (mp3)

My Cup Runneth Over

Congratulations to the Stanley Cup champs! Thank you, Blackhawks. It has been a pleasure committing to the Indian.

The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger (mp3)
Here Come the Hawks (mp3)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: Jason Falkner Edition

The Cover Me Impressed I did a couple of weeks ago that featured OK Go's take on "This Will Be Our Year" got me thinking about Jason Falkner's cover of The Zombies classic. Then I just figured I would list a few of my favorite covers from the power-pop god. With so many choices from his vast catalog of B-sides and such (and even an entire disc of other bands' goodies), it wasn't easy to choose these four.

First a quick explanation of the songs. "This Will Be Our Year" is a B-side Falkner often plays at live shows. Electric Light Orchestra's "Do Ya" is taken from a Jeff Lynne tribute album called 'Lynne Me Your Ears.' Other artists of note on that collection are Jeffrey Foskett, Bill Lloyd, Peter Holsapple and Todd Rundgren. Falkner takes Def Leppard's hard rocking "Photograph" and turns it into jangly pop on 'Metal Rules,' a tribute to all things '80s hair band. Brian Eno's "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" can be found on Falkner's double-disc Japanese import 'Everyone Says It's On.' The first disc is full of demos from Falkner's earliest solo work. The second disc is all covers, and there are some real keepers here by Kinks, Left Banke, Tom Waits and more. This collection was really expensive, but I have never regretted forking out the bucks. Happy listening.

The Zombies - This Will Be Our Year (mp3)
Jason Falkner - This Will Be Our Year (mp3)

Electric Light Orchestra - Do Ya (mp3)
Jason Falkner - Do Ya (mp3)

Def Leppard - Photograph (mp3)
Jason Falkner - Photograph (mp3)

Brian Eno - Burning Airlines Give You So Much More (mp3)
Jason Falkner - Burning Airlines Gives [sic] You So Much More (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Monday, June 7, 2010

12 Inches of Love: Paul Young Edition

I recently acquired a 12" single that had eluded me for quite some time. Don't you love when that happens? I had the extended club mix of Paul Young's "Come Back and Stay" from an '80s compilation, but I was having quite a time tracking down the extended club mix of "Love of the Common People." Much to my surprise, I found a promo only version that contained both of these stellar singles. I'm sure you die-hard Young fans are screaming right now that these mixes aren't difficult to find anymore. The original album the songs came from, 'No Parlez,' was rereleased in 2008 as a double-disc, 25th-anniversary edition complete with both 12" versions, as well as an extended mix of "Iron Out the Rough Spots" and other goodies. All I can say in my defense is that I really wanted the vinyl.

Here is a quick look at the vitals. Both of these songs were huge hits in the UK ("Come Back and Stay" peaked at No. 4, "Love of the Common People" at No. 2), and 'No Parlez' went to No. 1. Young wouldn't have a hit like that here in America until he covered Hall & Oates' "Every Time You Go Away" in 1985. That one shot all the way to No. 1. "Love of the Common People" did have a little success on American radio and MTV before peaking at No. 45. That's due, in some part, to its inclusion on the 'Sixteen Candles' soundtrack. As for "Come Back and Stay," it peaked at a modest No. 22. Young, obviously, was a huge commercial success here with his second solo album, 'The Secret of Association.' I even saw him when he toured this side of the pond in 1986. He was never more artistically interesting, however, than when these two songs were released in 1983.

Paul Young - Come Back and Stay (Extended Club Mix) (mp3)
Paul Young - Love of the Common People (Extended Club Mix) (mp3) ripped from my vinyl

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: 'True Love Will Find You In The End'

As I mentioned back in April, Mates of State have a digital album of covers called 'Crushes' coming out on June 15. The collection is only $5 and, from the songs I have heard so far, will be worth every penny. If you want an actual CD of 'Crushes,' you'll have to buy a ticket to one of their shows this summer because that's the only place to pick it up. The duo has made a second song available from the "covers mixtape." This time it's Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End." Grab it from the widget below. You can still get the cover of Girls' "Laura" on the band's Web site, too. I have listened to that one more times than I can count.

'Crushes' Tracklist
1. Laura (Girls)
2. Son et Lumiere (The Mars Volta)
3. Sleep the Clock Around (Belle & Sebastian)
4. Technicolor Girls (Death Cab for Cutie)
5. Long Way Home (Tom Waits)
6. Love Letter (Nick Cave)
7. Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)
8. 17 Pink Sugar Elephants (Vashti Bunyan)
9. Roller Coaster Ride (Dear Nora)
10. True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Songs in Cinema: 'Role Models'

Many of you may already know this tale, but it's such a hoot that I think you won't mind reading about it again. The 2008 soundtrack to the raunchy comedy 'Role Models' featured a song by Wings... or was it? If you don't know what I mean, you should take one minute and six seconds to see this clip. Sorry, it couldn't be embedded.

OK, I'll assume you just saw the scene and chuckled. There is another instance or two when this fake McCartney tune is sung or talked about by one of the characters in the film. Finally, during the closing credits, we hear what sounds like classic Wings. For a moment, I was fooled, but I'm a pretty big fan and had never heard the song before. That just didn't seem likely. It's parts "Live and Let Die," "Junior's Farm," "Jet" and many other Macca favorites, which makes it all the more confusing. There is even some Linda in there.

The song, "Love Take Me Down (To The Streets)," was penned by songwriter Charles Gansa and actor A.D. Miles. Yep, he's the one playing Martin Gary in the scene you just watched. The vocals are expertly handled by Joey Curatolo, and they should be. He takes all of the McCartney parts in the Beatles tribute band Rain. The song is credited to "Joey Curatolo, Amy Miles, Chris Anderson and Charles Ganza" on the soundtrack. That's just too darn long. So, many refer to the band as Not Wings.

Not Wings - Love Take Me Down (To The Streets) (mp3)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Curtain Call: David Bowie

Curtain Call is an occasional series where I present one of my favorite live albums.

I have mentioned on more than a few occasions that I'm an unapologetic fan of all things David Bowie, and that even includes the oft-ridiculed Glass Spider Tour. For those of you who saw him in 1987, you may understand some of the criticism. It didn't help that the album he was supporting at the time, 'Never Let Me Down,' was panned by critics and many fans. It has aged even worse. This is all the general consensus, but I don't agree. I do think, however, Bowie's shows at the time were overblown affairs filled with huge props, annoying dancers... and Peter Frampton. If you're watching the 'Glass Spider' DVD, all of this gets in the way.

That's exactly why I wholeheartedly endorse the double-CD
'Glass Spider Live.' If you hated this tour, I recommend popping on your headphones and listening to the songs below. The spectacle of it all is no longer in the way. I chose two songs from 'Never Let Me Down,' as well as my favorite Bowie song from that decade. If you REALLY detest his '80s output with every fabric of your being, I probably can't persuade you. The tracklist won't help either. About half of the 20 songs from 'Glass Spider Live' are from the "me decade."

David Bowie - Day-In, Day-Out (Live) (mp3)
David Bowie - Loving the Alien (Live) (mp3)
David Bowie - Never Let Me Down (Live) (mp3)

More Curtain Calls
Van Dyke Parks
Robert Palmer
The Clash

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More on New Crowded House LP

As I mentioned back in April, Crowded House is about to release its sixth studio album, and a few more details about 'Intriguer' have become available. Not only has the band given us the LP opener "Saturday Sun" as a free download, but they have just released a video for it, too.

The release date of mid-June I gave earlier for 'Intriguer,' it turns out, was not for America. Those of us on this side of the pond have to wait until mid-July, but you can already preorder it here. For a mere $12.99, the deluxe edition contains a DVD featuring the "Saturday Sun" video, eight songs "upstairs at home," plus two songs live at the Auckland Town Hall. You can find the complete tracklist, as well as the "Saturday Sun" video and download below. I can't wait for this one.

Crowded House - Saturday Sun (mp3)

'Intriguer' Tracklist (Deluxe Edition)
1. Saturday Sun
2. Archer's Arrows
3. Amsterdam
4. Either Side of the World
5. Falling Down
6. Isolation
7. Twice If You're Lucky
8. Inside Out
9. Even If
10. Elephants

Bonus DVD
1. Either Side Of The World (Upstairs at Home)
2. Amsterdam (Upstairs at Home)
3. Saturday Sun (Upstairs at Home)
4. Twice If You're Lucky (Upstairs at Home)
5. Elephants (Upstairs at Home)
6. Falling Dove (Upstairs at Home)
7. Isolation (Upstairs at Home)
8. Archer’s Arrows (Upstairs at Home)
9. Either Side of the World (Live at the Auckland Town Hall)
10. Isolation (Live at the Auckland Town Hall)
11. Saturday Sun (Video)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Facts in on New Arcade Fire

This is probably only news for those of you living under a rock. Merge and the band have announced a release date for Arcade Fire's third album, 'The Suburbs'. You can preorder the CD or double LP with download right now, but you'll still have to wait for Aug. 3 like the rest of us. Have you heard the first single and B-side yet? It sounds great but not much like what we're used to from these Canadians. Seems like they have scaled back from that full sound that occupies so much space on 'Funeral' and 'Neon Bible.' Now, obviously, you can rip the two new songs in the usual places. So, I'm not going to post mp3s this time around. Stream "The Suburbs" b/w "Month of May" at the band's Web site, right here.

When I started writing this post last night, Lollapalooza was the only U.S. stop for Arcade Fire, but a few more dates trickled in today. The big surprise is that in a few cities they will be playing with fellow Merge mates Spoon. Now that's a heck of a double bill. Here are the U.S. dates so far:

Aug. 1 - Boston - Bank of America Pavilion
Aug. 2 - Philadelphia - The Mann Center (with Spoon)
Aug. 4 - New York - Madison Square Garden (with Spoon)
Aug. 6 - Columbia, Md. - Merriweather Post Pavilion (with Spoon)
Aug. 8 - Chicago - Lollapalooza
Aug. 9 - Nashville - Ryman Auditorium
Aug. 11 - Atlanta - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (with Spoon)

And this is from the CBC...