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Showing posts from July, 2008

12 by Wilco

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).

Week 23
Wilco is definitely due for a best of package. As you'll soon see, I am a man partial to their early work; I wish I could have included most of A.M. and I happen to believe they peaked creatively on Summerteeth. But I definitely don't deny the merit, relevance, and innovation of their post-2000 work.


1. I Must Be High (from A.M., 1995)
Country-pop goodness with some great lyrics: "You never said you wanted this / You're pissed that you missed / The very last kiss / From my lips."

2. Casino Queen (from A.M., 1995)
Rocky, raucous, loose and fun.

3. Box Full of Letters (from A.M., 1995)
More memorable lyrics, from that time before Jeff Tweedy got all abstract: "Just can't find the time to write my mind the way I want it to read."

4. Outta Mind (Outta Sight) (found on Being There, 1996)
Being There is a two disc set and each disc contained a version …

182. The Attractions: Mad About the Wrong Boy (1980)

It's a story as old as time itself: Lead singer of a band, for whatever reason, leaves the band to strike out on his/her own. Slightly younger than time itself is the idea of said band moving on with a new singer. But rarely do you hear about a backing band simply making a record without their main guy. In 1980, Elvis Costello's backing band, the Attractions, did just that.

While they'll probably never get much credit for Costello's success, there's no denying that Bruce Thomas' melodic bass-playing, Pete Thomas' propulsive drums, and Steve Nieve's whirly organ/piano helped define and drive his nervy new wave pop sound.

In later years, the Attractions would show themselves to be gamely adept at keeping up with Costello's genre-bending ways. But Mad About the Wrong Boy shows little evidence of that diversity of skill, instead focusing on the new wave punch of Get Happy and This Year's Model (Armed Forces' sophistication is only slightly glimps…

12 by Tom Petty (post-'93)

Here's the drill: 24 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).

Week 23
Petty already has a definitive best of. In fact, the classic 1993 Greatest Hits album has been re-released in an improved 2008 edition. The cover art is better and the band wisely replaced the boringish Something in the Air with the initially criminally omitted Stop Draggin' My Heart Around. One might also argue about the still unrectified omissions of Rebels and Southern Accents, but those are minor complaints, since they weren't really hits.

My purpose here is to focus on Petty's post '93 career. Some may complain that he has lost his fire, but take a listen to these 12 and I think you'll agree that quality and consistency have yet to lag.

1. You Wreck Me (found on Wildflowers, 1994)
An open-road-foot-on-the-pedal anthem if there ever was one. Check that solo by Mike Campbell and tell me what really differentiates Petty's "solo" albums from …

12 covers of Beatles songs

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).

Week 22



Covered


If there's any doubt about how influential The Beatles are in pop music, one only needs to look at the long and ever-growing list of covers that have been done of their songs. Like the young painter who recreates a masterpiece or a budding film director who breaks down their favorite movie shot-by-shot, musicians can't resist trying to put their own spin on the sublime compositions of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. What's amazing is that The Beatles inspired cover versions not only by those artists that came after, but by their contemporaries and predecessors as well.

The best cover versions are the ones that the artists make their own, the ones that sound like they were written for or by that artist. So, behold, the 12 best covers of Beatles songs!

1. Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete - I'm A Loser (from Live At El Matador, 1966)
Two dominant forces of '6…

181. Refrigerated Love: No Expiration Date (2008)

Pop music is built on the unexpected. Superstar artists and hit songs come out of seemingly nowhere, established bands reunite long after their fans have given up on the idea, band members die, careers turn on a single bad album or public incident, and some artists have fluke hits or make spectacular albums many many years after the height of their popularity. The one thing you can say about music is that there's always a second, third, forth and fifth chance waiting.

Perhaps more than any other artist, British "heavy new wave folk" band Refrigerated Love has taken advantage of this. If a cat has nine lives, then RL represents approximately 2 1/2 cats. If you need proof, please read the history and discography I typed up a few years ago, then take a look at my review of their last album, 1999's We're Actually Serious, Really.

Most onlookers thought Refrigerated Love were gone for good after that effort, which was well-received but not well-purchased. However, in …