There's something truly disturbing about this album. It's not the nagging feeling that Ed recorded a cover of "Day-O!" where he substituted his trademark "Hey-O!", and it's not the likelihood that he busts out a stirring rendition of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" like Leonard Nimoy did on his albums.
Actually, I think it's the fact that the title and the leer on Ed's face that reminds me of Dan Ackroyd's old "Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute" routine from "Saturday Night Live." "No, no, no. Don't try to fight it. You're spending the night with ... Ed McMahon, Male Prostitute!"
We'll pause for a second to let that image slowly sink in.
Alright, you know what this means -- time for the Friday Random Ten. Get out whatever thingamajig you use to play those new-fangled electronic songs, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that come forth from the spirit world. And, as always, if you're ready to run with the big kids, give us a Coolness Self-Audit as well.
1. Woody Guthrie, "Hard Traveling" -- It's hard not to think of Woody Guthrie as the original bad-ass. This is a man who had the phrase "This Machine Kills Fascists" written on his guitar, and that was back when fascists weren't figures of speech for some late '70s punk to slag on, but were instead real terrors marching through Europe. That said, this isn't exactly his finest work. 6/10
2. Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm, "Tell Me Darling" -- This is a great bit of sultry '60s R&B, with Betty Everett belting out some powerful vocals. I think I'd like this song even more if I weren't afraid that the percussion noises were really Ike beating on Tina with an Italian loafer. 8/10
3. Sebadoh, "Bouquet for the Siren" -- What does indie rock sound like when you let three people sing the vocals together, and none of them can carry a tune? It sounds like pain. 2/10
4. De La Soul, "Let Let Me In" -- A fantastic tune from the often-overlooked De La Soul is Dead. With a driving guitar loop stolen from Lowell Fulsom and some relentless lyrics from the gents, this is a winner. 9/10
5. Minnie Ripperton, "Inside My Love" -- A little bit of '70s disco soul from the Stateside label out of Memphis. This sounds like it should've been playing during a love scene in Shaft's Big Score. And the dirty, dirty lyrics only help the score. 7/10
6. Belly, "Untogether" -- I've always had a soft spot for Tanya Donnelly, ever since I picked up my very first Throwing Muses cassette back in high school. She was overshadowed by Kristin Hersch there, then by Kim Deal in the Breeders, and finally came out on her own here. This may be my favorite from the Star album, a sweet country-folk number with a great slide guitar. Quite nice. 8/10
7. The Afghan Whigs, "Citi Soliel" -- Greg Dulli may be the coolest, drunkest motherfucker in rock and roll today. A friend of mine caught a Whigs show in Boston in the early '90s, and at one point, mid-song, Dulli just punched the bass player in the mouth. They went rolling off the stage, still fighting, only to roll back out and pick up where they left off. Oh, the music kicks ass too. 9/10
8. Bootsy Collins, "The Pinocchio Theory" -- Even though Bootsy bills this song as "the world's funkiest sing-along," I'm going to have to dare to disagree. Bootsy may well be the greatest bass player of all time, but this rambling trip is definitely not his finer work. Maybe you have to do a Scarface-sized hill of cocaine to see the glory of it, I'm not sure. 4/10
9. Self, "What a Fool Believes" -- Yes, a cover of the Doobie Brothers classic. I think my opinion might be warped from too many viewings of the outstanding "Yacht Rock" series, but this semi-electronic rendition always makes me smile. Still, we're talking about a Michael McDonald song. How cool can that be? 6/10
10. Muddy Waters, "Gypsy Woman" -- Some early Chess-era work from McKinley Morganfield. I pretty much love every single thing this man recorded, including an answering machine message set down shortly before his death in 1983. And this is certainly one of them. 8/10
Alright, that gives me a 6.7 on the coolness scale. This isn't the first time I've been in that range, but usually it's Pat Benatar and the Bee Gees dragging me down, and not Bootsy Collins and Sebadoh. What is this? Bizarro World?
Let's see what you've got. Drop your own random ten, with or without the coolness audit, in the comments below. Come on, people, let your freak flag fly! Ed McMahon would want it that way.