Friday, October 26, 2012

Music that Matters, Pt 3

22. My musical reactionary dad's playlist didn't vary in over 80 years, so the endless sound loop of his big band records may've had a retroviral effect: Ellington, Basie, Shaw, Dorsey, Goodman, etc: Especially Mood Indigo, Ellington's Victrola romp from the '20s when pop music had banjos instead of ProTools. Poignant and compelling like a hunchbacked 6'10" cross dresser in stiletto pumps.

23. Iggy Pop, Funtime and the whole of The Idiot: This record loomed large in my senior year of high school, its proto-industrial sound would later remind me of those Marxist academic malcontents who insist our institutions were designed to make us compliant consumer sheep who hate unions and non-conformity. Funtime was aware of all that but instead focuses only on getting drunk and laid. Intimations of literacy and sophistication from a guy who once sang Cock in my Pocket.

24. Billy Holiday, Strange Fruit: Hearing this you might actually believe Billie sang this under a tree while a dead body dangled from it. THIS is selling a song.

25. Cream, Sunshine of Your Love: I was eight or something when this was on the radio so for me this is the guitar lover's ur-riff. I kind of imprinted on this. By today's standards it's the sound equivalent of a cave painting but for old people like me this is the O.G. balls on shizz, or whatever the current expression for really cool is.

26. Ray Charles, What'd I Say: My twelve-years-older brother played Charles around the house when I was a tot. Charles' voice is at once sexy and friendly, which might be creepy from a guy in a plaid blazer but for Charles it works. The electric piano is way sexy too but not in lingerie-and-heels way, more of a handcuffs-and-dripping-candle-wax way. This is the sound of people having a good time.

27. Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits: I heard this on my parents Magnavox console, a record-player hidden in a cabinet as big as a combine harvester. At one time these appliances occupied living rooms across America like a Levitz designed Berlin Wall. When my parents were out my older sister threw this on and loud. Funk: Like Emma Goldman said, what kind of revolution is it if you can't dance to it? (The much sampled Sing a Simple Song here.)

28. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions: A synthesizer is easily the most abused instrument in Western music (and whatever it is Kenny G. plays); Stevie understood the synth's potential in a way that no one else did (except maybe Eno). Not to mention that amazing underwater Clavinet sound of his. Generally speaking, Stevie is a giant but for three albums in the 70s he was nearly unstoppable. For me this was the best of the lot. (Too High here.)

29. The Zombies, She's Not There: For many years I only knew this song from the car radio; Even through crackling AM static, flutter and distortion this song was the epitome of cool. Still is.

30. Magazine, Secondhand Daylight album: A British band most of my friends never heard of, though several of the members went on to do other things (which they also never heard of). For 2 1/2 albums they were the best band in the universe as far as I was concerned. Long ago I saw them at a toilet of a club called the Cuckoo's Nest. The band played a slow opening instrumental while the singer stood staring into the audience for several minutes wide-eyed and wordless, like maybe he'd just seen his grandparents in Nazi uniforms fondling the gym teacher. You might've expected him to be heckled but no one did. The lesson I took from that moment was sometimes you just have to stand and withstand. Doing it on your own terms is always sexier. (Feed the Enemy here.)

31. The Doors, Five to One: The Waiting for the Sun album was a birthday present from my sister (R.I.P.) and the first record I ever owned. As a child I assumed someone other than Morrison sang this because the voice sounded too otherworldly and dark, even for a guy with Oedipal fantasies. (Now I realize he was just rollicking drunk.) The net effect was a phantasmically insane vocal in both mind and sound. Clearly, he was digging somewhere behind the gates that only a fifth of whiskey can tear down. In the song's last quarter Morrison looses a scream that sounds like the damned on their first day in hell: Awe-inspiring, ugly, beautiful, and god damn if I'd want the to live the life that could produce such a thing.

The Doors in my neighborhood.

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