Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Random Ten

If you're looking for music as exciting and dynamic as a brown, hardwood-paneled room, look no further than the solo zither stylings of Ludwig.

I'm not entirely familiar with his masterwork, but from the cover of this album, I'm betting he's every bit the equal of Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute. In an ideal world, those two would team up to form a crime-fighting team of musical superheroes. But of course, that'll never happen. Ludwig's a solo zitherist. He plays by his own set of rules, man.

We here play by the classic FRT rules, which were stolen from various points on these here intertubes. (Thanks, Norbizness!) For those of you late to the game, here's how you play. Take out your iThing, set it on random, and confess to the first ten songs. If you want to play the advanced version, throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well, rating the songs on a scale from 1 (Ludwig) to 10 (anti-Ludwig).

Let's do this thing.

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Effigy" -- One of my favorites from CCR, a nice six-minute tribute to Richard Nixon and the damage done by him. A nice off-kilter guitar intro, and then some scorching work throughout the song. Uncle Tupelo covered this for a compilation in the mid-1990s called No Alternative. 10/10

2. Gang Starr, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" -- That's a nice one-two punch. Guru and DJ Premier here with an infectious track from Step Into the Arena. Very nice. 9/10

3. Hoover, "2 Wicky" -- Sure, it's an extended ripoff of Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By," but can you blame them? It's a shame to see the vocals replaced, but Liesje Sadonius does a sultry job here. Too bad the band lost her and changed the name to Hooverphonic. Not much great happened after that. 7/10

4. Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" -- Fairly straightforward late-career angst rock from the Pumpkins here. You know, despite all their rage, they're still just rats in a cage.Wic 6/10

5. Built to Spill, "Strange" -- I'll state confidently that this band is the best thing to ever come out of Boise. There, I said it. 8/10

6. Stevie Wonder, "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" -- As incredibly lame as that title is, this song actually has an incredibly funky hook -- nice organ work, good vocal work on the verses -- and then you get to the part of the song where Stevie forgot to write actual lyrics. Eh. 5/10

7. Wilco, "I'm the Man Who Loves You" -- I know Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was hailed by many as the Second Coming of Christ, but I tend to run hot and cold with the album. This song just sounds like a throwaway bit of filler to me. 5/10

8. Radiohead, "I Might Be Wrong (live)" -- From the live album of the same name, this is a scorching version, one of the few live tracks I like better than the original. Blistering guitars here, with a chaotic moment where things get more out of control than Eddie Griffin in a Ferrari. 9/10

9. Modest Mouse, "Missed the Boat" -- Not surprised to see a song from the new Modest Mouse album -- now with 100% more Johnny Marr! -- since it's been dominating my iPod the past two weeks. The album is a little hit-and-miss, with some of the edgier tunes a little too self-consciously awkward. This is one of the catchier, milder ones. Very nice. 8/10

10. Billie Holiday, "I Loves You Porgy" -- Oh, damn. Billie Holiday here at her most heartbreaking. And that's saying quite a bit. I'd say only Nina Simone has done a more wrenching version of this song, but Lady Day's is damn close. 8/10

No real stinkers this week, and that lets me survive with a 7.3 average. Not too shabby.

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own FRT in the comments below, with or without the self-audit.


peb said...

For whatever reason, that album cover makes me want to eat a sausage. Don't read into that.

1. The Clash, “Guns Of Brixton” – Wow. I literally just finished reading the Clash biography Return of the Last Gang in Town last night. It must be the ghost of Joe Strummer in my iPod, even though he didn’t write this song (bassist Paul Simonon did). There is no band cooler than the Clash, there aren’t many albums cooler than London Calling, and this is one of the best songs off the album. That sounds like the perfect formula for a 10/10

2. The Stone Roses, “So Young” – This is a song from an early point in the career of the Stone Roses. They hadn’t found their psychedelic 60’s/Madchester-dance-scene sound at this point, but it’s rocking enough. 7/10

3. The Rolling Stones, “Ventilator Blues” – O.K. Maybe the Stones in their prime are as cool as the Clash. And this song is from when the Stones were hitting them out of the park on every pitch (I would use a cricket reference to honor Jagger’s favorite sport, but I don’t know the corresponding cricket reference). 9/10

4. The Stone Roses, “How Do You Sleep” – Hmmm. Well, it looks like this time I overshot the Roses’ prime. Off their heavily-dismissed-but-slightly-underrated second album Second Coming, this song embarrassingly sounds like an easy-listening version of the Stone Roses. Where’s my “Fools Gold” or “I Am The Resurrection”? Damn iPod. 5/10

5. The Clash, “Groovy Times” – All right, now I’m kind of freaked out. I’m afraid the ghost of Joe Strummer is gonna pop up out of my iPod and harangue me for not being punk enough. Which, coincidentally, is what I think of this song. 6/10

6. Young-Holt Unlimited, “Soulful Strut” – You’d know this song if you heard it. It’s been the background music in so many commercials and TV shows. You know may know it as the backing music to the Beastie Boys b-side “Some Dumb Cop Gave Me Two Tickets Already” which has the memorable chorus “Girl you know it’s true, Mike D is in love with you”. So it gets extra points for that. 8/10

7. Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” – It’s Dylan with an acoustic guitar. You’ve heard it before. It’s good enough, but I have a hard time mustering a lot of enthusiasm for this. I’m not that big of a fan of Dylan…especially when it drones on for 7 minutes. 7/10

8. Chris Bell, “Look Up” – Chris Bell was half of the songwriting pair for the criminally overlooked 70’s band Big Star (the other half being Alex Chilton). This is off his posthumous solo album I Am The Cosmos which, as amazing as this may sound to those familiar with Alex Chilton’s genius, suggests that Bell was the more talented member of the band. Normally a song like this with acoustic guitar, synthesizer and overtly-religious lyrics would be something I would actively avoid, but in Chris Bell’s hands, it’s sheer bliss. 9/10

9. Big Star, “Feel” – O.K. Maybe the ghost of Chris Bell has kicked Joe Strummer out of my iPod. The first song off Big Star’s 1st album (titled appropriately #1 Record), I’m pretty sure this is a Bell song. It’s certainly awesome enough. 10/10

10. The Beatles, “Mean Mr. Mustard” – Although Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album, it’s kind of hard to give this a high rating considering it’s barely a minute long. But it is the Beatles and they can do no wrong in my book. 8/10

Some spooky moments there, but it all paid off with a 7.9 average for the week. Maybe if I conduct a séance each week before I do my FRT, it’ll pay off with visits from dead rock stars in my iPod.

Mike said...

Nice stuff today, OM. I agree that Nina's "Porgy" is heartwrenching.

Has Johnny Marr always been with Modest Mouse?

Peb - Some weird shit there for sure. I'm with you on Bell: I like Number One Record more than Radio City (though, to be fair, Radio City has "September Gurls."). I always figured "Feel" to be an Alex song, but I'm not sure.

Either way it's great. And I'm not complaining about a FRT with The Clash, The Stones (and Stone Roses), and the Beatles.

(Though it's hard to hear about Mean Mr. Mustard without hearing about his Sis as well.)

***By the way, my financial worm may be a' turning soon, so the long-awaited I-pod could be on its way soon enough. Then you guys can finally critique my shit for a change***

Otto Man said...

Has Johnny Marr always been with Modest Mouse?

No, this is a new thing. They brought him for the new album, though I'm honestly not sure if it's as a player, producer, or both.

Tom Hilton said...

That zither guy reminds me of Heino the Albino. Don't ask.

Peb, Guns of Brixton is my absolute favorite Clash song. (And Mean Mr. Mustard is pretty cool by Beatles standards, but Polythene Pam is the real standout on that album.)

Iggy Pop - Neighborhood Threat (10/10 - no explanation needed, I assume)
DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World (7/10 - a pleasant little ditty from the master of prog-hop)
Beau Brummels - Just a Little (5/10 - not nearly as cool as their other song, which I can't remember the name)
Shriekback - The Shining Path (8/10 - I'm a sucker for their gloomy stuff)
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Overground (9/10 - Siouxsie's finest moment)
William Onyeabor - Better Change Your Mind (8/10 - overlong, but otherwise a perfect mid-70s African funk protest song)
Ramones - Born to Die in Berlin/Spiderman (9/10 - 8 for Berlin, 10 for Spiderman, split the diff)
Hüsker Dü - Tell You Why Tomorrow (9/10 - great song from a great band)
Nick Cave - There She Goes, My Beautiful World (7/10 - my first time hearing this, it could go up or down on subsequent listening)
Pine Box Boys - The Tardy Hearse (7/10 - not my favorite of their songs, but it does have a great little banjo solo)

7.9 average. Better than last week, not my best.

Mike said...

their other song, which I can't remember the name

"Lies" was the Beau Brummels, right?

Tom Hilton said...

"Lies" was apparently by The Knickerbockers. But I just checked and I think I was imagining that other Beau Brummels song. Not that they didn't do any other songs--just not one I really, really like.

Mike said...

The Beau Brummels were the source of a parody on the Flintstones: The Beau Brummelstones did "Laugh, Laugh," a real hit for the real group.

Now that I've looked them up, I remember some documentary about Sal Valentino that I saw years ago. He was a serious songwriter and musician who tried -- without much success -- to forge a musical career after leaving the BBs.

Very sad story, actually.

Here's the Wiki for the band: