Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Editor's Note: Otto Man is on the road this week, roaming the countryside in a van, solving crimes. In his absence, we bring you a sad, classic episode of the Friday Random Ten from a year or so ago. Remember: It's not a rerun if you don't remember it!

This week's featured album was apparently the result of some Dadaist art collective, pulling random words out of a hat ("... circus ... polka ... clown ... duck ...") to produce the cover art, and then doing the same with the song titles. How else can you explain titles like "Slap Happy Polka" and "Meet the Missus Polka"?

On second thought, the lead-off songs on side two might give a clue to their creative process: "Green Grass Polka" followed by "Dark Cloud Polka." I think we're going to need a urine sample from Chuckles the Clown. Upon closer inspection, that might not be make-up after all.


The disturbing appearance of the clown from Stephen King's It and the Aflac duck can only mean that it's time for another exciting installment of the Friday Random Ten. You know what to do -- set the iPod to random, and give us the first ten songs that surface. And, if you're feeling competitive, toss in a Coolness Self-Audit, too.

Here's mine:

1. Johnny Cash, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" -- A Columbia era song-story about one of the four soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. The story of what happened to those soldiers after their moment in the sun is a tragic one (soon to be a major motion picture, by the way) but the story of Hayes, a Pima Indian, is perhaps the saddest. Cash's song reveals a lot about his liberal sympathies, but it's not much of a tune. 3/10

2. Blondie, "Hanging on the Telephone" -- Classic. What more can I say? 8/10

3. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Blues Explosion Attack" -- This is a collaboration with Calvin Johnson and, once again, I'm let down. This is pretty much Spencer shouting street-corner insanity over a snare drum. Pfft. 2/10

4. Radiohead, "Rhinestone Cowboy (live)" -- A nice gem of a cover from the B-Sides collection. It's hard to do a lot when your inspiration is schlock, but you've got to admire Thom Yorke for going after Glen Campbell and doing it with a straight face. 6/10

5. Shirley Horn, "Return to Paradise (Mark DeClive-Lowe Remix)" -- This is a fairly innocuous remixing of Horn's original jazz tune, the kind of thing you'd find on a Buddha Bar CD compilation. Nice, but not spectacular. 6/10

6. Southern Culture on the Skids, "Mexy-Melt" -- These folks don't normally do the whole surf guitar thing, but you'd never know from this tune. Guitarist Rick Miller is absofuckinglutely on fire here with some angry, unrelenting riffs. 9/10

7. Rocket from the Crypt, "UFO>UFO>UFO" -- Speaking of angry and unrelenting, here's some in-your-grill post-punk from San Diego. I liked "Sturdy Wrists," but this is the kind of screaming cacophony that my father would've referred to as "narcotic music." Bleh. 1/10

8. Ray Charles, "I Got a Woman" -- How's that for an awkward transition? Straightforward Atlantic-era Charles, this is a good song that I can't hear anymore without thinking of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," and, moreover, the "George Bush Doesn't Care about Black People" remix by Legendary K.O. 6/10

9. Sonic Youth, "Ca Plane Pour Moi" -- An interesting cover of the early '80s pseudohit by Belgium's own Plastic Bertrand. The French lyrics seem fun, until you translate them and realize he's singing lines like "Wham! Bam! my cat Splash lies on my bed with his tongue puffed out by drinking all my whisky." Very deep, Felicity. Thanks for sharing. 7/10

10. Jurassic 5, "Break" -- I was in Austin last spring for a wedding the same time that J5 was in town to play a show at Stubbs. Tragically, the show was the same night as the rehearsal dinner, so we couldn't go. Even worse, a friend managed to chat up Charlie Tuna in our hotel lobby just five minutes before I walked in. Stupid timing. Great song. 9/10

That gives me a pathetic 5.7 average. Since I've burned all of our permanent records, I can't say for sure that that's the lowest score I've ever gotten, but it would have to be close.

I know you folks can do better than that. Give us your own Random Ten, with or without your own Coolness Self-Audit, and with or without your own condolences on my incredible uncoolness.


peb said...

Thanks Otto. I finally had stopped having nightmares about that picture and you have to bring it up again. I'll be sure to send you my therapist's bill.

1. Baby featuring Clipse, “What Happened To That Boy” – I believe I’ve sung the praises of Clipse before. I don’t know who the hell Baby is, but anything with Clipse should automatically get a 9/10.

2. The Buzzcocks, “What Do I Get?” – Out of all the bands that came from the punk explosion, I’d have to think that my favorites are the Clash and the Buzzcocks. This song is one the many pop punk classics that set the table for lamers like Green Day to steal from. 10/10

3. Nirvana, “Polly” – Although this is a good song and a good band, I have a hard time listening to this. Wasn’t this song about rape? Let’s just give this song an 8/10 and move on.

4. The Stone Roses, “Made Of Stone” – I don’t know if it was last week, but I had an FRT where my iPod would pick Roses songs but none off their classic first album. Well finally a stone-cold (pardon the pun) classic from that album comes up. It’s about time. 9/10

5. The Meat Puppets, “What To Do” – I think this is a bonus track off of Meat Puppets II which is a supergreat album. But it’s supergreat because they left off lame tracks like this one. 4/10

6. A Tribe Called Quest, “8 Million Stories” – This album was in very heavy rotation in college. Tribe seemed be to the one hip-hop group every college student could agree upon liking. I also remember that their albums after this one pretty much sucked, but I won’t hold it against this song. 8/10

7. Nick Drake, “Parasite” – Hopefully I won’t get too depressed during this song that I won’t be able to finish the FRT. I like Drake and think he’s a really talented guitarist and songwriter, but man, are his songs depressing! Lighten up Nicky baby! 7/10

8. The Black Keys, “The Lengths” – Sometimes I think the Black Keys have it all figured out. One guitar, one drum set and none of the ridiculous posturing that Jack White does in his band. That’s all you need really. 8/10

9. Pavement, “Starlings in the Slipstream” – This is off the Brighten the Corners album which I didn’t really like at the time, but frankly I was always disappointed with Pavement albums that weren’t Slanted and Enchanted. But they usually grew on me after some time. This is a pretty good song though and I’m surprised I don’t remember it that well. 8/10

10. Neil Young, “Heart of Gold” – Although I love Neil Young, there are plenty of songs in his catalog that I just don’t care for and this is one of them. It’s not a bad song but I always turn the channel when this song comes on classic rock radio. 6/10

A pretty solid 7.7 average but I'm sure this week will be memorable moreso for the nightmares I'm gonna start having again about that clown.

Smitty said...

Peb, I too have a hard time listening to Polly. I just seems to...not fit with the rest of Nevermind.

And I'm with you on the Neil Young selection this week. But in all honesty, I never bought into his "greatness" with the same level of worship that Pearl Jam seemed to give him.

Mike said...

Neil has a great comment on "Heart of Gold" in the liner notes to Decade:

This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.

peb said...

Smitty, I would have to agree with Pearl Jam (even though I don't really like them). I suggest checking out Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush and Zuma if you haven't already. The ballads on those are ten times better than Heart of Gold.