asta has spent the last week or so listening to and digesting the CD she received in the post, but as she has no blog of her own (although here she is on Twitter), I said that I would post her review up in full here... so here it is.
Over to asta.....
Shuffleathon 2007 CD- Cody Bones
This is my first time participating in SwissToni's marvellous Shuffleathon. I watched from the sidelines last year, partly out of shyness, but mostly because my computer was so ancient I was still using floppy discs. Truly. So my first foray into this has been great fun, on both the giving and receiving end.
Mix CDs have a mirror-like quality to them. Either the selections are made with the recipient in mind, or are designed to be a reflection of the compiler's tastes and touchstones. My CD came from Cody Bones, and since poor Cody had no asta blog to check (I sometimes think there are only a dozen people left without blogs, or pages on Facebook and/or MySpace), I'm assuming that this CD is a selection of Cody's favourites. The potential problem with a personal "greatest hits" is that there's no guarantee of an overall flow to the CD, and this one did take some jarringly abrupt turns. I'm familiar with all the bands and performers here, but it was a treat to be reminded of some that I haven't listened to in some time, so thanks for that Cody.
I first tried listening to this CD in the car, but had to abandon that because of severe digital clipping ( it's a result of dynamic recording levels being off). No matter, it's mostly fine in Windows Media Player.
So here's my breakdown reaction:
> Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet With Butterfly Wings
This is the toughest because I know from a quick perusal of his blog and Earworm selections that this is Cody Bones' favourite band of all time. It's not mine. That's the thing about the Pumpkins- either you love them or they leave you cold. All the awards for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness suggest that I'm among the minority. My main problem is I can't stand Billy's voice- that nasal whine and tendency to screech the tricky notes.
This cut has made me think about the whole notion of favourite bands and the fact that I've never had one over the long haul. I suspect there are quite a few people who do have such favourites and I also suspect that choice is made when the listener is in their late teens and 20s. For me, picking a favourite band would be like committing to the same meal for the rest of my life. But hey- if you really really love steak- go for it.
> Prince - Let's Go Crazy
You couldn't get much further away from the Pumpkins than Prince. You can't talk about music in the 80s without Prince. He is a mesmerizing, galvanizing, dynamic virtuoso musician and, far as a I can tell, half a cartoon away from a Looney Tune. I saw him perform this number at the 2001 Montreal Jazz Fest.The crowd ate it up. Despite his typical over-the-top flourishes ( I could do without the opening eulogy), it's still a great song.
> Dick Holliday and the Bamboo Gang - Everybody Knows
Another switch up, Brad Nye and his 80s Chicago party band. It's MOR-a MacDonald's vanilla milkshake. Pleasant enough- but not memorable.
> The Killers - When you Were Young
I don't own anything by the Killers although I do enjoy their songs when they come up on the radio( KROK??--slapping "someone's" wrists). Mr. Brightside et. al. was a fun Bowie-esque display. Their lyrics are sharp, sometimes a little too studied, and they have an icy cynical wink to almost everything they do but there's just something about that glam rock sound I like. Then they decided they wanted to be deep, Bruce Springsteen deep, and released Sam's Town. The critics hated it. There was much to hate in the allegorical weather metaphors and pseudo-spirituality and flat-out ridiculous lyrics. Despite that, I really like this song, especially the guitars. Sue me.
> Iggy Pop - Real Wild Child
Iggy! Unapologetic, self-indulgent, self -destructive and all punk before there was any. I must have been all of 12 or 13 when I saw him on TV and he scared me silly. He was indeed mad, bad and dangerous to know. Rock on Iggy. Real Wild Child is tame in comparison to earlier recordings found on such albums as Raw Power and the Idiot, but it's still dripping with cool. On a side note, I recently saw a photo of Iggy with Donatella Versace. Time hasn't been kind.
> Liz Phair - Polyester Bride
Liz is a cautionary tale to all those indie pop princesses riding a wave of critical success right now ( yes, you Feist,). She was the poster girl for the alt-chick crowd and then pppppft. All those cutting edge, raw lyric, honest espression plaudits disappeared into a focus group fog of industry massaged radio-friendly pap. She became the Polyester Bride. Poor Liz. That said-- I find her quite flat and nasal.--and when she sings any word ending in "er" it's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.
> Grateful Dead - Playing in the Band
Goodness me. It's almost quaint, which says more about the sorry state of the world today than it does about the band. It's just so damn innocent and carefree. I am not and never was a Deadhead, but I admire their optimism. This is lovely and sweet. Listening to this makes me want pile all my friends into a minibus and head to the country for a picnic.
> Ramones - I Want to be Sedated
A band that would have set the minibus on fire and demanded return tickets to New York ASAP. They crashed and burned too soon. This is the Ramones at their best-- as someone once said "heavy metal beach music". A classic keeper.
> R.E. M - Radio Free Europe
The single that launched the band in 1981/83. Has it been that long? Damn. Michael Stipe has been quoted as saying that there would have been no R.E. M. without Patti Smith, okay, but I'll credit them with getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their own merits. I don't own a single thing R.E. M. has recorded, but I really like this track-- far more than some of their others, like Losing My Religion, which I got thoroughly sick of because of radio overplay. What I like about this song is the spareness of the arrangement. Too many recordings become lost in the producer's pile of toys. The energy here is clear and unpretentious.
> Blues Brothers - Sweet Home Chicago
I'm a fan of the Blues- from Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly to Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and the funk sounds of Junior Wells--and that's just a truncated progression of some Chicago Blues boys. Robert Johnson is credited with writing this song. It's hard to pin down because the Blues grew from the oral traditions of the plantations. It's a great song no matter who wrote it. The Blues Brothers are lightweights but fun, and God bless them and their movie for giving the Blues a boost when the genre was in danger of disappearing into recording museums. This version is, not surprisingly, a little too sanitized for me. Check out Buddy Guy on YouTube for a ripping version of this one, even with all the distortion.
> Hole - Celebrity Skin
Another jumpy gear shift--this time to Courtney Love and Hole... after Kurt, in the midst of her Hollywood dreams and with old flame Billy Corgan. It's such a small world. " When I wake up in my makeup/Have you ever felt so used up as this?/It's all so sugarless." This is pop Courtney, well, as pop as she'll ever get. Montrealer Mellisa Auf de Mauer is still there cranking out the bass, but it's a much more polished product. Forget the slipping street cred, it works.
> Neil Diamond - Cracklin' Rosie
This mix CD is just one surprise after another. Neil Diamond? Suddenly I'm humming ' one of these things is not like the others'. Um. well. right then.
Under the leather pants and sequinned satin shirts beats the heart of Professional singer and consummate Performer. Neil's a capital letter kind of guy. He always was, and I suspect still is, technically flawless. The voice is a deep syrupy growl. The songs are simple sentiments sung with sincerity. The melodies linger for days. This is not my thing, but I'll take Diamond over Manilow any day.
> Johnny Cash - Cocaine Blues
Johnny, on the other hand, is not pretty, polished or easy, which makes him a more interesting singer-songwriter to me. This song, from the incredible 1968 Folsom Prison concert wasn't written by Cash, but it might as well have been. A song about cocaine in 1968 was sure to get you censored, in fact, in later recordings the title was changed to Transfusion Blues. The Fulsom recording is remarkable because : (a) it got made in the first place and (b) you can hear the honest connection between the man and the audience. There's so much blather about so-and-so being unique, an original, ( insert 'they broke the mold' cliché here).Cash was. Cash is a whiskey-straight-no chaser. For that reason, I like him best in small doses. This is not an easy song to like -" I shot that bad bitch down"- sorry- adultery, cocaine, alcohol--it's still murder- and there's more anger than remorse in that voice. I'm not going to be cheering at the end. Still, it's Johnny Cash. Yeah.
> Meat Puppets - Backwater
This band was once classified as Cowpunk. I never bought into that whole genre even when K.D. Lang was bouncing around in a square-dancing skirt. I don't hear Cowpunk here. I do hear shades of the Steve Miller Band and a bit of the Byrds. Pleasant.
> The Clash- Police on My Back
Hard to believe this was an Eddy Grant reggae song. I wasn't getting the whole punk rock movement until a good friend in exasperation, no doubt, made me sit down and listen to London Calling. Police on my Back is from Sandinista and is terrific for the driving guitars and the drumline that echoes running feet. I haven't listened to this in years. Listen. Repeat.
> The (English) Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom
I'd forgotten this band ever existed. Shame on me. Everybody should have a little Jamaican ska rhythm in their life.
> Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
One listener's richly textured, is another's over produced.
> My Chemical Romance - Teenagers
The first time I heard this song, I thought, "I didn't know Chemical Romance had a sense of humour." They don't. They're quite serious-- and angry old young men. I hears shades of T-Rex in this, a whole 70s feel to the sound, if not the lyrics. It's got those big rock hooks and it works for me.
> Marshall Turner Band- Can't You See
It is impossible for me to separate this song from its time. It was the song still played at the end of school dances long after the recordings of Angie, Stairway to Heaven, and Open Arms. It conjures up wooden gym floors, sweaty palms, nervous giggles -- and hormones so strong you could almost touch them. He was such a sweet boy, and I could have been so much kinder, but then I was a girl.
> Michelle Shocked- Anchorage
I think Michelle might have had a much bigger career if the corporate bots didn't try so hard to obliterate her. Her voice reminds me in places of the vibrato in that of Joan Baez. She's certainly a descendant of the activist folk school of music. Her voice is warm, her lyrics are thoughtful and incisive. Anchorage is lovely postcard of a friendship.
So I'd say there were more hits than misses here- success. Thanks Cody. And thanks again to ST who made it happen. I'm looking forward to reading the other reviews as they get posted.
Thanks asta! Always a pleasure... hope to have you back for an earworms slot in the next few weeks.....
Shuffleathon 2007 Update
|3. Cody Bones||yes||yes|
|11. The Great Grape Ape||yes||review|
|30. Max Bob||yes|
|34. Russ L||yes|
|36. Mike T-D||yes||yes|
|38. Me||yes (finally)||review|
Things are really starting to move now, and reviews are starting to come in all over the place now. Keep'em coming!