At long last, it's time for Mrs. Mills' Knees-Up Party.
While I'm sure that the "knees-up" comment is a reference to the irresistable urge we'd all have to dance once we'd heard her rendition of "Yellow Submarine," every time I look at this album cover, "knees-up" takes on a disturbing, troubling sexual connotation. And, truth be told, song titles like "Down at the Old Bull And Bush," "For Me and My Gal," and "Knees Up, Mother Brown" only cement an image that I'd only be able to get out of my brain with a nail gun.
Aside from the troubling sexual imagery, we also have the outfits on the inmates in Mrs. Mills' asylum. Looks like she saw one too many Ron Popeil infomercials for the Eazy Home Embroidery set and decided to jazz up those boring black outfits with a collection of old buttons, glitter, and chewing gum wrappers. I'm not sure what look she was aiming for, but an off-off-off-Broadway production of Alamo! The Musical! seems about right. (If you're wondering why those outfits look familiar, they were apparently claimed at a Salvation Army clearinghouse in the late '80s and recycled here. )
Anyway, since the knees are up -- and fashion's forward! -- that can only mean that it's once again time for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill by now, so let's do this thing.
1. Rose Royce, "Born to Love You" -- Oh, that's a nice start. This is straight off the Car Wash soundtrack, and it's funkier and flier than Franklin Ajaye's massive afro. You might think that massive hand clapping would detract from this song. If so, you're a narc. 8/10
2. Pharoah Sanders, "Astral Traveling (Boozoo Bajou Remix)" -- This is a recent purchase, and one I'm not entirely settled on. It's a fairly atmospheric remix of the Sanders jazz tune, not all that thrilling but not too bad. Eh. 6/10
3. The Replacements, "Here Comes a Regular" -- I'd like to this of this as the Mats rebuttal to the "Cheers" theme song, one in which they envision Norm Peterson as a semi-suicidal type in a love-hate relationship with a closeted and certifiably crazy Cliff Claven. Maybe I'm reaching here. 7/10
4. Ray Charles, "Lonely Avenue" -- A classic bit of Atlantic-era Charles. It's a little bit plodding in parts, but given the theme of the song, I suppose that's the way he meant it. 7/10
5. Pixies, "Here Comes Your Man" -- The first and the only song I ever really learned how to play on the bass guitar. Probably the poppiest the Pixies ever got, so much so that it even yielded a medium-rotation music video. If I'm remembering this correctly, the band refused to lip sync for the video and instead simply opened their mouths wide whenever they had a line to sing. A nice touch. 8/10
6. The Isley Brothers, "Work to Do" -- Although most people never get past "Who's That Lady," the Isleys put together some wonderful R&B and funk numbers during their career. And this was certainly a great one -- powerful soul lyrics, a nice guitar riff, and incredible harmonizing. This is a perfect song for the morning commute. 10/10
7. Stereolab, "Ping Pong" -- Some sweet electronica love from the excellent Mars Audiac Quintet album. So many of Stereolab's songs seem to hinge on a minor moment, and this one comes together with the light la-de-dahs in the background vocals. Catchy as hell. 9/10
8. Common, "Go!" -- I'm normally a big fan of Common and guest vocalist Kanye West, but for some reason this song just never really did anything for me. Maybe it's the way the word "Go" is repeated three hundred times. Maybe. 5/10
9. Dead Kennedys, "Let's Lynch the Landlord" -- I've always wondered if Jello Biafra was a homeowner when this song came out and, if not, whether this was a not-so-subtle attempt to get out of some back rent. One of the more melodic efforts off the classic Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Cripes, it even has a guitar solo. WTF? 8/10
10. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "Ignition" -- This is a live cover of a disturbing R. Kelly sex song. As anyone who's seen his 148-part epic video series knows, R. Kelly is the undisputed master of the modern metaphor, and here he uses automotive imagery to suggest sexual acts. Sadly, I must've listened to it a half dozen times before I realized what the repeated call to "switch lanes" meant. In this version from a 2004 concert, Will Oldham milks the magic for all it's worth. 10/10
Hey, that gives me a stunning 8.0 average on the coolness scales. I'm not sure, but that might be an all-time record. Hard to say, though. Much like Oliver North and other true patriots, we shred most of our records here so they can't be used against us.
Alright, folks, let's see what you've got. Give us your own random ten in the comments, and if you're feeling saucy, Bernaise, throw in a coolness self-audit as well.