Yes, friends, at long last, you can enjoy the soothing experience of a New York City taxi ride from the comfort of your own home. No longer will you have to pretend to need a ride to Grand Central in order to get all the latest full-throated, half-brained opinions on the Yankees, the Knicks, and, of course, the CIA agents who are using gamma radiation to control the pigeon population in Battery Park.
I can't imagine this album was a big seller when it came out back in the '50. "Hey, ma! An album of cabbie wisdom! I wonder if this has that rare ethnic slur we heard on 48th Street? I sure hope it has that authentic cabbie smell of cherry air freshener, b.o., and slow-simmering rage!" Sure, maybe if it was a couple decades later and this guy were on the cover instead. Now that's an album I'd buy.
Speaking of homespun New York wisdom, it's time for me to dispense with yet another Friday Random Ten. Here goes:
1. Ike and Tina Turner, "River Deep, Mountain High" -- One of the better songs from this dysfunctional duo. If you listen closely, you can hear Ike keeping time by beating a backup singer with his Italian loafers. 8/10
2. Lou Reed, "Romeo Had Juliette" -- Most of Reed's solo work doesn't really do it for me, but the New York album was a welcome surprise. I remember getting a copy of this in high school, loving it, and working my way backward into the Velvet Underground years from there. Still works for me. 7/10
3. R.E.M., "Leaving New York" -- Huh. Start off with the NYC cabbie jokes, and two of the first three songs are NYC related. I've always loved R.E.M., but I've been forced to admit that the band really lost a step with the departure of drummer Bill Berry a few albums ago. Everything since then has just been a little flat. This song isn't exactly bad, but it's not exactly great either. 5/10
4. Dizzy Gillespie, "Manteca (Funky Lowlives Remix)" -- I swear I heard this during the Nacho Libre previews the other day. An odd choice for a film about a Mexican wrestler, since the most prominent lyric is "I'll never go back to Georgia!" But this is a great tune, and an inspired remix. 10/10
5. De La Soul, "Peas Porridge Hot" -- Although I love De La Soul is Dead, this is one of the more uninspired songs on the album, with some craptacular skit material intruding throughout and a subpar rhythm to boot. Eh. 4/10
6. Kolar Goi, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Computer" -- Although the title might suggest a nice electronica reworking of Ennio Morricone's genius work, this is really just a cacophonous waste. I'm reminded of a classic SNL sketch, in which Phil Hartman's Sinatra explained that he couldn't understand a word being spoken by Chris Rock's Luther Campbell: "I got nothin' here. Just pops and clicks." 3/10
7. The Whatnauts, "Why Can't People Be Colors Too?" -- A great bit of early '70s funk from a completely forgotten band. If that doesn't spike the Cool-o-Meter, then it's time to check the batteries. 10/10
8. The Posies, "Second Time Around" -- I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever listened to this track. And it might just be the last. 3/10
9. Brownie McGhee, "Anna Mae" -- Some great, late '50s blues from a legend. It's rare to hear McGhee without his longtime partner Sonny Terry right by his side, but here we have it. What the song lacks in inspiration, it more than makes up for it in energy. 7/10
10. Gilberto Gil, "Bat Macumba" -- This is a great example of what the kids down Latin America way would call "tropicália," a Brazilian blend of bossanova, American rock, African folk, and Portuguese fado. Apparently, the Brazilian government actually considered the music a threat to their regime in the late '60s. All I know is, this is scorching stuff. 10/10
Man, I was all over the place today. Three perfect tens, and I still wound up with yet another 6.7 average. In honor of the forthcoming, creepy remake of The Omen, I'll just round that down to a 6.66 and be done with it.
Alright, let's see what you've got. Drop your own random ten in the comments below. Remember, the coolness self-audit is optional, as is the Satan worshipping. Hail Sagan!