This week’s playlist (a day or two early) started out as a ‘what I’ve listened to this week’ one, then mutated slightly. Now it’s *mostly* soft-psychedelia, with a little raw bluesy stuff thrown in. I think it works…
All This Is That by The Beach Boys is from the criminally underrated Carl & The Passions: So Tough, an album I’d put in their top five. This one’s written by Mike Love, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson, and lyrically is gibberish about Transcendental Meditation, but works just for Love and Wilson’s wonderful vocals (especially Wilson’s soaring ‘jai guru dev’ falsetto at the end). The current touring ‘Beach Boys’ often perform this live, and it’s usually the best thing in the show.
Cross-Hatched World by Chewy Marble is a great piece of 60s-esque pop from Modulations, one of my favourite albums of last year. For those who don’t know, Chewy Marble are led by Brian Kassan, the former bass player for the Wondermints, and are very much the same kind of band.
When The World Is At Rest by Janet Klein And Her Parlor Boys is in here for the delightful tuned percussion. Janet Klein, for those who don’t know, does “Lovely, Naughty and Obscure Music of the 1910’s, 20s and 30’s”, and very well, with a wonderful sense of humour but a respect and love for the material.
Wavestrumental by Tripsitter is from California Son – a very strong album let down somewhat by attempts to sound too much like the Beach Boys (down to quoting Friends and When I Grow Up for no real reason). This track, on the other hand, sounds just like the High Llamas, albeit the High Llamas at their most Beach Boysy, and is all the better for it. A gorgeous little mostly-instrumental, with a lovely vibraphone part.
Where Have You Been All My Life by The Stool Pigeons is a cover of the Mann/Weill song best known as a Gerry And The Pacemakers track. The Stool Pigeons are a band led by Lisa Jenio (also of Candypants and The Negro Problem) who do covers of Merseybeat songs with a punk aesthetic. This one’s one of their few ballads, done as a torch song with loud guitars. Great stuff.
Come And Get It by The Knickerbockers is not, as one might expect from a band best known as Beatles soundalikes, a cover of the Paul McCartney song that was a hit for Badfinger. Rather, it’s a remarkably good bit of blue-eyed soul, sounding very like the Spencer Davis Group or the Small Faces at their most bluesy. This really deserved to be a hit.
The Bride Stripped Bare by Don Preston is not the similarly-named Bonzo Dog Band song, but a really gorgeous Stravinsky-esque piece by the former Mother Of Invention turned jazzman (and, latterly, nostaligia circuit performer). It’s a shame Preston’s so overshadowed by his ex-boss, as he’s very, very talented himself.
No More Hot Dogs by Hasil Adkins is the greatest track by the mad rockabilly one-man band, one of many revolving around his favourite themes of murder and meat. This one’s an invitation to (presumably) his girlfriend to have her head cut off and hung on his wall, so she ‘won’t eat no more hot dogs’.
Electricity by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band is from what I still consider one of Beefheart’s best albums, his first, when there seemed a slight possibility that by compromising just *slightly* he could have commercial success. My friend Tilt once said that another song on this album sounded just like the Monkees, and indeed the ‘sung’ vocals here sound very Mike Nesmith. That said, the spoken vocals and theremin part leave no doubt who this is – Beefheart was trying to put his ideas in commercial form, but still using *his* ideas, rather than the pandering of Unconditionally Guaranteed.
Bubblegum by Kim Fowley is one of several attempts that Fowley, whose metier was novelty records, made to be psychedelic. One imagines it might not be wholly serious.
Kyrie Eleison by The Electric Prunes was, until my friend Blake Jones used it as the theme for one of his albums, the best pop-music Kyrie ever. This is from a time when the Electric Prunes had actually split, and David Axelrod was putting out albums of religious-based psychedelic music under their name, involving one or two original members. The band disown the albums now, but I think they’re rather good.
Cherry Picker by Candypants is a typically funny, observant lyric from Lisa Jenio, but what really makes this for me is the bass part, and the chord progression in the bridge, which sounds very Roger Nichols to me.
And Checkin’ In, Checkin’ Out by The High Llamas is unfortunately one of only three of their songs on Spotify, and not at all typical of them. However, it is a great little pop song, in a sort of middle-of-the-road acousticy way.
It’s been nearly two weeks since my last weekly playlist, hasn’t it? This needs to be rectified. Some of you may notice a slight theme throughout this week’s playlist…
Superman by R.E.M is a song that many, many people arriving at my blog through search engines are looking for. A cover of a 60s track by The Clique, this is a joyous bit of powerpop fun.
Wonder Woman by Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint is not, as Spotify thinks, by the Attractions, but is from the Costello/Toussaint/Impostors album The River In Reverse, an album they recorded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This is an old Toussaint song from the 70s.
That’s Really Super, Supergirl by XTC is off what is possibly XTC’s most consistent album, Skylarking. Holly loved this one til she realised it really was about, as she put it, “Supergirl’s emo boyfriend”. I love it *because* of that…
“Batman” Theme by Neal Hefti is the 60s TV theme, in an arrangement that has an ocarina solo. Who could ask for more?
Sunshine Superman by Donovan is one of his better singles – a very enjoyable bit of pop-psychedelic 60s nonsense.
Sgt Rock Is Going To Help Me is our second XTC song, but given that they are both one of the best bands ever and bona-fide comic fans (Andy Partridge is a fan of Kubert and Ditko especially) it seems reasonable.
(Incidentally, one of my favourite facts from the About Time series, which I’ve read over the last couple of months, is that “Andrew Partridge of Swindon” was a runner-up in a 1968 ‘Design A Doctor Who Monster’ competition on Blue Peter. )
The Supreme Being Teaches Spider-Man How To Be In Love by The Flaming Lips is from the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack, though I don’t remember it from the film, and quite what Mohammed Ali has to do with anything I don’t know…
Boy Wonder by The Undertones is a classic bit of pop-punk from the late 70s. Annoyingly, Feargal Sharkey, the interestingly-named frontman of the band, went on first to record one of the most cloying, awful singles of the 80s (A Good Heart), and then to become an executive for ‘UK Music’ (the British equivalent of the RIAA). He was great as a teenager, though…
Superman by Benny Goodman is a surprisingly-raw sounding instrumental for the Goodman big band (Goodman usually saved the more dissonant stuff for the small groups). I don’t know any details of the recording, but that sounds very like Cootie Williams on trumpet, and he was only in Goodman’s band in 1940, after leaving Ellington, so we’ll say it’s from then.
Plastic Man by The Kinks is one of those attacks on The Businessman In His Suit And Tie that were so popular in the mid-60s, where rock stars attack people for daring to have jobs and live in suburbia. It’s a fun one though.
Barbara Allen by Lois Lane is a version of the old folk song by a Dutch band. Not my favourite version of the song, but a nice one.
Mr Sandman by The Chordettes is a song you all know. However it sounds stranger than you remember – those backing vocals almost sound sampled, a la I’m Not In Love/Star Me Kitten. Also, the Beach Boys fans among you could note that the ‘my children were raised’ section of Heroes & Villains was ripped off from it. The song definitely shows its age though in the line about “wavy hair like Liberace”…
1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson is a great song. And, well, Black Lightning’s a superhero.
Animal Man by Kim Fowley is as silly as you’d imagine.
And Wolverine Blues by Jelly Roll Morton is a great little track by the man who claimed to have invented jazz…