Friday, May 14, 2010

Of ones and zeros, Byrds and Groundhogs

Steve Albini was right. Years ago, Big Black's Atomizer LP (minus the weak "Strange Things") was issued on CD with the Heartbeat 45 and the Headache EP. This compilation was called The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape, as opposed to The Hobo's Diarrhea Smear, which is a collection of early Clash recordings. Included was a short, humorous Albini-penned essay about how compact discs (classy new medium of the time) would soon—like the eight-track tape, dig?—become an obsolete format, at which time they can remain useful for serving bacon-and-egg sandwiches. "Ptooff!" I remember thinking. "What can replace this? It's small and fairly durable, and it sounds good. Sure, portable CD-players are a pain in the ass and they go through batteries like diarrhea through a hobo, but there's really no room for improvement." Actually I didn't think that last part because I was eighteen years old and too busy stealing old-timey baseball hats to bother with future-vision hypotheses re: media delivery methods.

In the end, of course, that shiny bastard Albini hit the mark exactly. Fast-forward to an extended and ongoing transitional era, throughout which I've amassed a fantastic collection of MP3s. (What will replace those? This cloud business? Something that requires no storage device at all? Probably the latter eventually, right? And will headphones exist as we know them today?) Mostly because I'm not buying CDs much anymore, except to fill in some Coltrane gaps, and I'm ripping tracks off of ones I plan to sell. I realize more and more that I only listen to CDs when I'm doing something around the house and when we have people over. I maintain loyalty to too many still and so will probably hang onto what I consider essential for too long until I ask "Am I sure I can't just get by with Smell the Magic on my iPod?" (I have a hard-and-fast rule that nothing from my CD collection is allowed on my iPod, excepting only the seasonal borrowing of Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" from their Greatest Hits. Speaking of which, in December 2006 I wrote of coming to grips with best-of CDs. Reading back on that now is quite startling, even more so considering it wasn't written in 1994. Quite a philosophical shift, as only nine of those remain.) Then there is the Napster-era bounty. Napster, Audiogalaxy, Kazaa Lite… the heady days of theft. (I'm too old to understand this torrents shit. Officious little pricks, indeed.) I can't say what percentage of my songs subverted the pay-for-this process but it's gotta be half, and only that low because my conscience has been getting the better of me lately. More on that later.

In transitioning from CDs to MP3s, songs graduate to my iPod in a very deliberate and time-consuming manner. I have however many MP3s on my computer at home, but I can't just drop them all into iTunes and copy them over to Sonik Truth II (the original Sonik Truth being my first iPod, which offers too little capacity and nowadays is used during yard work and rare gym visits). That would be too easy and, honestly, inaccurate. A few years ago I combed through all the files and edited each one's album name to reflect the original release. For example, "Berkeley Mews" by the Kinks should not read "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (Special Deluxe Edition)" in the album field. It should read "Lola," because it was originally released as the flipside to that single. These are the problems I create for myself.

As I prepare to sell Belle & Sebastian's Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation (somewhere, MC Paul Barman is composing palindromes about varying degrees of Matador success), I plan to keep (among others) "Photo Jenny" but I have to properly label "Lazy Line Painter Jane" as its album/single name. You get it. But where it becomes annoying is with old blues songs and obscure psych tracks from the sixties. For instance, I have to learn that the non-album version of July's "The Way" (currently available on the reissue of the band's lone, eponymous album) was the B-side to the single "Hello Who's There?" And then—because iPods are all fancy-pants now and display album art—I have to track down a picture of that single sleeve. I'm not proud of this behavior but my collection is spotless, so actually I am proud. Damn proud. I just have a couple thousand more songs to go through, plus whatever ones I continue to buy/rip, and if the whole thing doesn't drive me to drink a bleach-and-thumbtack smoothie then I'll be finished one day, just in time for digital music to be replaced by the next big thing.

In the meantime, as I go through the files, I'm deciding that instead of perpetuating my crimes I'll replace the occasional track with a paid-for version, usually from Amazon's MP3 service (much better than iTunes, in my opinion). It's a case-by-case basis: mostly it comes down to whether or not something has been remastered, or if I plainly want to give my money to a particular artist. As in, a black group like Sam & Dave probably got screwed over a lot in their time. So I'll give them what I owe and probably more. It's only right, even if I'm naive to think they'll earn a piece of a 99¢ purchase in today's holy-shit-we're-fucked media complex.

On the opposite end of the justice spectrum, Jefferson Airplane (for example) will be OK without me thanks to the extravagance provided by the brain-fried fans of their wretched tootling. This band confounds me—they have some great early songs but were clearly too pleased with themselves ("I'm doin' things that haven't got a name yet!") to recognize how increasingly ridiculous they grew with each album. Who the hell writes a song called "Rock & Roll Island"? Grace, stop hollering so much, you fucking Nazi-baiter! Paul, you're a lousy singer and you write about goddamn spaceships! That Surrealistic Pillow cover photo is contrived and silly! After Bathing at Baxter's contains only four good songs out of eleven and is sprawlingly overrated! Crown of Creation sucks! Singing "motherfuckers" in the meandering "We Can Be Together" was a gimmick! Bark sucks! Long John Silver sucks, except for "Twilight Double Leader," which is the only good song you released in the four years since "Volunteers," which is the only good song on Volunteers—which otherwise sucks—and is the only good song you released in the two years since After Bathing at Baxter's, which, again, is overrated! Six people in a rock band is absurd! Shut up, Grace!

Pardon me. I last posted a music-in-review list back in January 2007. (Beyoncé was atop the charts with "Irreplaceable," a song I'd never heard until I just now listened to thirty seconds on iTunes. On its album cover she has the blank look of someone who would release a song called "Irreplaceable" as a single.) So "this year's" list covers from then to now. Of course, it doesn't consist solely of songs released since then, but new and old stuff that's turned my screw along the way. And, because we live in a world of TMZ this and sexting that, I'm not going to limit myself to a traditional eighty minutes of CD-fitting music like I did before. I'll just keep adding until I'm satisfied, and make an effort to fit everything together in some imagined chemistry. Let's just see how it all shakes out in terms of length—it's never easy to halt a frenzy. [Edit, after the fact: I have clearly created a boxed set rather than a simple playlist. Will boxed sets exist in the future? Will boxes?] Honestly, a good long playlist is nice to have if you're stuck in Cape traffic or your spouse is watching a Property Virgins marathon in the other room. I'll try to not get too carried away about each pick, randomly dumping all over reggae and assaulting artists with my word-fists and stuff. Anyway… god save these frightening new times!

1. 13th Floor Elevators – Livin' On
From 1969's Bull of the Woods. I hate to be the guy who starts with a side-one-track-one but, dammit, some side-one-track-ones actually deserve to be side-one-track-ones. This has the perfect introduction to kick everything off—usually I'd choose something with a slower/longer buildup, in order to generate a mood or atmosphere, but this simple riff (the best ones are always simple) lays it all down in only six seconds before the vocals kick in. The horns remind me of the arrangements that were layered onto the Pretty Things' Emotions after the band thought they'd completed it. Since Woods was recorded and assembled in a haphazard way, I'm guessing the record company wanted to similarly "spruce things up" with some session hackery, but I like the effect. The lesson here: always submit to authority.

2. Black Mountain – Bicycle Man
What a rip-off! I don't care. If the Jam can go all Sean Puffy Diddy on "Taxman" then I won't fault anyone for redoing "No Fun." It even has a little saxophone straight out of Fun House. Don't worry, though, Iggy gets his revenge later. Anyway, I've got In the Future on CD and I almost went with "Tyrants" here until I remembered my implied rule about choosing only from my digital collection. I'm not going to make a conscious effort to include more women this year (2007's was pretty bad) but I hope I do a better job this time. The co-vocalist here helps, at least. Last time I incorrectly assumed a female backup vocalist on a Dead Meadow song and got yelled at by some dickless turd who didn't even have a blog I could visit and pick apart. "That's no woman doing backing vocals. That's Jason Simon." I seen this band on the TV so go pull your pud some more. Anyway, I'm trying to present a bit of a rollercoaster ride here, ups and downs, loose lap-belt anxiety, bare breasts for the still-cam. A good chunky rocker fit here to get the ride moving.

3. Ant Trip Ceremony – Pale Shades of Gray
And then Ant Trip Ceremony slowly drags you up the terrifying first hill. I always wish I would allow myself to enjoy the view… OK, enough with the rollercoaster shit. How far could I even have gone with that? Like, when I get to Ya Ho Wa 13 would that represent the googly-eyed park custodian who paws through people's barf looking for gold fillings? And then Royal Trux is when you're blocked from leaving the parking lot by an old sedan with a failed inspection sticker on the front and a DRILL BABY DRILL bumper sticker on the back? I think so. Maybe I should keep this up after all. (Nah.) Ant Trip Ceremony is one of those I discovered from Technicolor Web of Sound. What an amazing band. 24 Hours sounds like it was recorded in a well. I drink from that well.

4. Amnesty – Love Fades
Somehow this album (Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow) came out in 2007. If you told me Amnesty used to hang with Tower of Power in '73 I'd believe you. Maybe they did, and this is a reissue of some old record? I'm too lazy to look it up.

5. Groundhogs – Split (Part 2)
Part of a side-long suite from the 1971 album Split. (I'll talk about suites later on.) My man George Brigman dug these guys and I do too. It's funny how many great defunct bands there are that I'd never heard of until the past few years. Makes me wonder (and look forward to) what I'll be uncovering in the next few.

6. Elliott Smith – Rose Parade
Let me start by saying I am not pandering to A. by including an Elliott Smith song—he's her boy. (She won't read this for a few months anyway, and by then I'll be writing of the frustration in locating usable JPGs of early Status Quo singles.) Not that I have any idea what I'm talking about, but I think Elliott is an enormously gifted guitar player. No one else really sounds like him. So I thought it was fitting to slot him after acknowledged guitar hero Tony McPhee from the Groundhogs. I know, I know, "Rose Parade" doesn't do much to emphasize his playing skills, but it's a beautiful song. At least I hope it is, because I don't pay attention to lyrics. Sounds nice, though. Except for the part about being "the only shit that's left behind." Maybe not so nice.

7. The Pentangle – Sally Free and Easy
Bert Jansch is a name I hear every now and then but I don't know much about him. I think I read a Mojo article once—maybe I should read it again and then dig a bit deeper. "Sally Free and Easy" is the one Pentangle song that TWOS plays. It is gorgeous.

8. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey on the Moon (Live)
"It was inspired by some whiteys on the moon." How about the audience member who spoils the last punchline? I know, it's not really a punchline because he's saying it throughout the performance, but just sit tight, lady. The protracted silence following her interruption, as if he's giving her a good "I'll put your dumb ass on the moon" glare, is priceless.

9. Russell Morris – The Real Thing
I could write an essay about the wonder of this song but it would take me six months. Everything takes me six months nowadays, the way everything Girls Against Boys does seems to cost them twenty dollars. This might be the best thing Australia has ever produced, and that's not a knock on Australia because I'd be saying the same thing if Morris were American. The continuation of this song, "Into Paper Walls," is nearly as essential, but "The Real Thing" might just change your life.

10. People Under the Stairs – San Francisco Knights
I had to throw in a pun title because I hate puns so much and yet I have a knack with them. Curse my wit! I know the original "San Franciscan Nights" by the Animals, when Eric Burdon was going through an extended California-is-beautiful phase, but it's a different version sampled here for "Knights." Speaking of which, I can't recommend Who Sampled and Second Hand Songs enough if you're into shit like sample sources and cover versions, respectively.

11. Byrds – Eight Miles High
Since I've decided against including any Coltrane (or jazz at all, but jazz usually comes down to Coltrane for me) I'm choosing a song reputedly influenced by the man himself. Considering it's a mid-sixties pop band best known for covering Dylan I think they did a pretty good job. McGuinn even has a recurring theme and some passable sheets of sound going for him. The Byrds are one of those rare bands who tried a bunch of different shit, and good for them that most of it stuck. (I don't like their country-ish stuff but I generally don't like country music, so that tells me they probably nailed it.) Still, with all the great music they produced up through The Notorious Byrd Brothers in early '68, it will always be the Gene Clark era that does it for me.

12. Stooges – Penetration
So I have Iggy's remix of Raw Power on CD (of course) and I just picked up the double-disc remaster of Bowie's original mix. I plan to rip that one to my iPod and then sell it (sorry boys). I think it's the perfect compromise: Iggy's mix is better when played loudly in your living room and Bowie's mix is better on headphones. So that's how I justify owning two versions of the same album. With "Penetration," there seems to be a little less going on in this Bowie mix (most notably the buried xylophone) but it feels darker. Side note: hammered home in the live Georgia Peaches set included with this reissue (as well as on Metallic KO/Metallic 2xKO) is the fact that piano player Scott Thurston might be the most farcical backup singer ever.

13. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers – Another Kinda Love
Aynsley Dunbar must be a superior asshole. This guy was in and out of so many bands his Wikipedia page reads like a white baby boomer's wet dream. Aside from some top work with John Mayall (he plays on this track from A Hard Road) my favorite thing of his has to be 1968's "Warning" by the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, a great song made even better when covered on Black Sabbath's first album a year or so later.

14. Can – Uphill
You know what's harder than going uphill? Listening to a humongous playlist at the office, pausing your work every few minutes to jot down brilliant insights into what you've just heard. It's like my softball game last week where I kept on crushing the ball (or at least hitting it away from fielders) and it seemed I was constantly running the bases. Toward the end I seriously contemplated making an out on purpose just to get a breather. Plus, I had to cut off the beer until afterward because I can't run for shit and I was slogging around enough on my own. Anyway, this playlist business is a lot like that. I want to quit, but I'm too good. Moving uphill. Going slowly. (But moving nonetheless.)

15. Dragonfly – Blue Monday
"Oh… my god." Thus begins "Blue Monday," another gem I first heard on TWOS. It's much better than it reads, sounding like the dude just witnessed his own death at the hands of an angry diarrhea-covered hobo. As with Ant Trip Ceremony's 24 Hours, I can't recommend Dragonfly enough. And they're both from 1968. Of course they are!

16. Madvillain – Strange Ways
Not a whole lot of rap so far. Not much more after this either. It's a challenge to make rap songs work on mixes—transitions of anything into and out of rap are difficult to get right. Anyway, I remember reading all this great press about Madvillainy when it came out, and I loved the album cover, but I only thought to check it out a couple of years ago. I bought a few songs and they're good so I'll probably buy more. Gentle Giant's "Funny Ways" sounds a little sped up but it's already plenty weird on its own.

17. Dungen – Bortglömd
I got into these guys when "Sätt Att Se" from the album 4 was available as a free download somewhere a couple of years ago. "Bortglömd" wallops you right away and ends too soon. In general, the singer's voice might take some getting used to. But it's worth the time, particularly if you're wondering what mainstream progressive music could have become outside of Keith Emerson, Jeff Lynne and Rick Wakeman going all keyboardy batshit. My Swedish friends at Wikipedia tell me the title of this translates to either "Forgotten" or "Neglected." I find that hard to believe because umlauts are nothing if not triumphant.

18. Pink Floyd – Wot's… Uh, the Deal?
I'll pit early Pink Floyd (up through Obscured by Clouds, where this song lives outside of ridiculously self-indulgent three-hour playlists) against any of their contemporaries and choose the Floyd almost every time. The Stones and the Kinks were consistently better from '67 to '72… who else? [In retrospect, I can't think of any band beside these three whose career spanned '67 to '72. My bad. But shit, I even like Animals.]

19. Shadows of Knight – Someone Like Me
"Hey!" Infectious—these guys sneak up on you every time. They are good and it's odd that you don't hear more about them. They never get airplay, except in The Underground Garage and in niche college shows like WZBC's Psychotic Reactions and WMBR's Lost and Found. They had a couple of hits and showed up in the Nuggets series a few times. They could also out-Yardbird the Yardbirds when they wanted to. So I've given them a bunch of my money.

20. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Uh-oh, still some shameful misogyny all up in here. Better start representing. But seriously, don't ninety-nine percent of female singers sing about men? Not so much about pestilence and milky cereal. And these men they're going on about, they're either sweethearts or dogs. And wouldn't you know it, Sharon Jones is singing about a no-good dog! It's like I set myself up, I do cursory research for one-sided evidence and then I prove myself correct in my own forum. It's the oldest story.

21. Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill
Not a Heart cover. It only took me an hour or so to get to an honest-to-goodness pop song. It's impossible to resist "If Looks Could Kill," just like it is the Crüe's "Looks That Kill." Appears I've found me a formula, baby.

22. Aliens – Magic Man
Also not a Heart cover. I added "Magic Man" after hearing it on my iPod on the way home from work the other day. I think you'll agree one more "fun" song was needed, particularly because it sets up a little Scottish block alongside Camera Obscura. "Magic Man" should appeal to the kids who don't get the whole Lady Gaga thing but still want to bob their heads.

23. Jay Reatard – It Ain't Gonna Save Me
I had his Watch Me Fall as the best of 2009 in a pointless post from January before dropping it in favor of the Flaming Lips, and then Jay Reatard went and died. But he doesn't give a shit so it's cool. He'll be missed by people who like to buy a bunch of singles only to see them all compiled a year later.

24. Sir Lord Baltimore – Hell Hound
Hey, I always require at least one ridiculous song in the bunch. Riffage! I luuuurrrve this song, and the entire Kingdom Come album. "Woman is a hell hound!" Another standout pronounces "woman, you are the master heartache." That one is called "Master Heartache." You get the idea. I wrote recently that Sir Lord Baltimore is the only good rock band to come out of Brooklyn and a steady stream of soulless no-talent It bands continues to prove me right.

25. Kills – U R A Fever
This is the type of band I usually resent on principle. Can't look cool enough on the album cover, over-stylized breathy trade-off vocals and what I suspect is a "DIY" sound that took them weeks to achieve. But… what happens if I actually do like this song? Am I bamboozled?

26. Loop – Too Real to Feel
Though I did pony up and download some legal Spacemen 3 and Jesus & Mary Chain in the last year or so, I'm choosing Loop to represent the eighties wall-of-guitars genre. Found these guys at Anthology Recordings, who sold this to me for 98¢ instead of 99¢ on iTunes. Up yours, Steve!

27. Automator – Cartoon Capers
Who knows how many pseudonyms guest MC Kool Keith has had over the years, but I've got to give it up for "Sinister 6000." It might be my favorite. The hilarious, engrossing "Cartoon Capers" is from the expanded "much better" reissue of Automator's A Better Tomorrow EP, a quasi-collaborative project that led directly to Dr. Octagon later the same year (no bumbling Sir Menelik accompaniment here though). How did it take until '96 for someone to cast Skeletor as a crime boss?

28. Lee Hazlewood & Ann-Margret – It's a Nice World to Visit (but Not to Live In)
I don't know if the guitar is so distorted on purpose or if it was just poorly recorded (or preserved). I wouldn't change a thing. Hazlewood's collaborations with Nancy Sinatra get all the attention (and they should, because "Some Velvet Morning" and "Summer Wine" are luscious) but don't overlook this one (sans Hazlewood vocals, though). Ann-Margret tries to sound tougher than she is and doesn't quite pull it off, but even that works.

29. Junior Kimbrough – Meet Me in the City
One lo-fi song follows another. iTunes says "Meet Me in the City" is from a "noisy and hazy-sounding" 1992 home recording. I respond "Screw you, I downloaded it for free from the Fat Possum site." What's with all the iTunes rage?

30. Whyte Boots – Nightmare
A message to anyone who has tried to develop drama in pop music: you will never, ever top this song. It packs all the tragedy of opera into 2:45 and makes "Leader of the Pack" sound like a Cream of Wheat jingle. I love the Greek chorus effect, and the bird-like "Ohhhhhh! Ohhhh! Ohhhh!" at the climax gives me the chills every time. "It's all my fault she's dead." A goddamn masterpiece.

31. Chain & the Gang – Interview With the Chain Gang
Had to lighten the mood after what happened with Bobby's former and current (well, now former) girlfriends. Everything Ian Svenonius records makes me laugh ("Diary of a Genius," anyone?). Perfect mixture of genuine (I think) political/artistic values and an ability to make fun of himself. "What's my stance? You know, I like to dance." Gold. For no reason at all I'll note that this is the second telephone-sound-effect song after "U R A Fever." Will somebody answer that damn phone?

32. Six Finger Satellite – Half Control
Frequent readers (!) know how much I like Six Finger Satellite. I'll try to keep my pants on. The new/old/awesome Half Control (recorded in 2001 but only released last year) is still in my regular rotation. (The real new one, A Good Year for Hardness, is good too but not as consistent.) Hot title track action!

33. Mr. Lif – Welcome to the World
I think it's pretty cool that my two favorite rappers (Lif and Edan) are from Boston. Not that I live in Boston anymore. Don't you love when you meet people at Clark's Trading Post in New Hampshire who say they're from "Boston" but when you ask what "part of town" they live in they tell you Melrose or something? I don't necessarily blame those who hate people from Massachusetts.

34. Ofege – It's Not Easy
I snagged this on eMusic from the Forge Your Own Chains compilation. One of the reviewers called it "an irresistible swirl" of "Hey Jude" and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" and I have to say that's pretty spot-on. I'll throw in "Dear Mr. Fantasy" too, because I'm a Traffic dork.

35. Shocking Blue – Send Me a Postcard
I think "Send Me a Postcard" was in a movie I saw recently. I had a hard time deciding between it and "Love Buzz," but I didn't want all my readers (!) to think I chose that one in a bald attempt to show off. "Ever hear of a little band called Nirvana? Their first single was a Shocking Blue cover. Also, give a listen to 'Rainbow Chaser' by the original Nirvana. 1968. You're welcome." Asshole.

36. Rocket From the Tombs – Transfusion (Demo)
I could have chosen anything from The Day the Earth Met the Rocket From the Tombs. It's one of the best things I've bought all my life. Members went on to form Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, but the original RFTT rehearsals ("Sonic Reducer," "30 Seconds Over Tokyo," etc.) smoke the official later recordings.

37. Funkadelic – I Wanna Know If It's Good to You?
I put a shortened version of this song (from a comp I had called In Yo' Face! The History of Funk, Vol. 1) on a college mixtape of "oldies" called I Am a Tired Old Woman, but the album version is one hundred percent better—basically the "Part 1" single and its "Part 2" B-side grafted together with some extra stereo effects added in. Anyway, I have a distinct memory of listening to this song while cruising down Storrow Drive on my way home from work one night years ago. When I got home I probably opened a Harp, put on some Blues Explosion and played Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight on my PC. I was a real winner.

38. Ya Ho Wa 13 – Camp of the Gypsies
Welcome to the weird block. It helps to have blocks when dealing with this many songs. Every time I see the Magnificence in the Memory cover I fear the picture of Father Yod is a cock. I'm sorry about that. He is intercoursing a woman on the front of I'm Gonna Take You Home though, so don't think it's out of nowhere. Probably not an accident, either.

39. The Red Krayola – The Jewels of the Madonna
I like that these guys changed the spelling of "Crayola" under legal pressure from the crayon company, and then eventually said "Fuck it" and went back to the C. I also love how the (totally shitty-sounding) two-fer CD of their first two albums mistakenly calls the second one God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail on Her (instead of …With It). Must have been a navy man done that.

40. Amon Düül II – Archangel Thunderbird
Remember when we were bouncing around to Camera Obscura? We've come a long way, baby. Amon Düül II is what happens when you're browsing eMusic for psychedelic music—it's like shopping for aspirin at Target and going home with a case of glue.

41. The Olivia Tremor Control – Green Typewriters (Part 1)
Weird block over. Maybe? I like this band but I suspect they're strange for strangeness's sake. This song is taken from Dusk at Cubist Castle, where it's part of a ten-song "Green Typewriters" suite. Only it's not "Green Typewriters (Part 1)," "Green Typewriters (Part 2)," etc. Each part is just called "Green Typewriters." Why? Just to be annoying? If it's so important that "They're all part of one big piece, man" then just make it one long track, man. I have their later (really good) album Black Foliage on CD and it's a good thing, because even though silly little "songs" like the four-second "The Sky Is a Harpsichord Canvas" are necessary (in that the tracks all run into each other) it would drive me nuts every time one of them popped up on shuffle on an iPod. There are only so many times you can elect to skip stuff when shuffling before you wonder why you shouldn't just delete that shit. If they produced a series of short tracks called "I Am Collecting Mad Royalties" then maybe I'd understand.

42. Royal Trux – The United States vs. One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan
For some reason you can't download much Royal Trux. The self-explanatory 3-Song EP is excellent, especially for $3 on Amazon. And yes, "The United States vs. One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan" is as good as the title suggests—basically four minutes of straightforward Royal Trux and three of spacey Royal Trux. The result? My favorite Royal Trux song.

43. UFO – Evil
The last song I added. I can't believe I almost forgot about it—"Evil" got me thinking about the whole digital thing in the first place. I first heard it about a year and a half ago, parked outside the condo A. and I came thisclose to buying before walking away. (We were waiting for the seller's agent to show up so we could check out a couple of things. She turned out to be as annoyingly pushy as the seller was indisputably insane.) Anyway, I think it was WMBR that played this at like 8:30 on a weeknight—that's what I love about college radio. What happened next is the perfect marriage of old, new and newer: liking something on the radio, checking the station's website for a playlist to see what it was and then buying it on iTunes (I couldn't find it elsewhere). Kudos to UFO for knowing exactly what I like—moderate fidelity, a chunky bass- and drum-driven riff and lyrics about an evil woman who won't get down with you after a long day. Also, their first album is called UFO 1. Confidence!

44. Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf – My World Premiere
Really crammed this in here. But I love the drum loop—adds some excellent old-school flavor (this was recorded in '91 or '92 but not released until '96, and then again in '03 on the Big Shots album). Also eases some where's-all-the-rap? tension and almost makes up for the fact that EPMD's "Get Off the Bandwagon" was a late scratch. Almost.

45. Muddy Waters – She's Alright
I hope you've made it this far because I'd hate for you to miss this Electric Mud highlight. Late last year I heard it on WZBC while driving into Boston one evening and it seconded the "Evil" progression I related above. Anyway, Muddy Waters was so relevant for so long it's scary. Some might accuse him of leaning toward whatever was popular and then disowning it afterward, but if it produces great music then everyone should be happy, right? Nice little "My Girl" shout-out at the end. [Later: So I just streamed the Black Keys' upcoming album Brothers on the NPR site (I'm not an NPR guy, I just happened to read about the promo) and its "She's Long Gone" is basically a rewrite of "She's Alright." Keeping the Led Zeppelin—and, apparently, Rod Stewart with "Cindy's Lament"—tradition alive! Can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em?]

46. Small Faces – The Autumn Stone
Like I wrote about the Byrds, the Small Faces were not afraid to go in different directions. But where the Byrds were really serious and uptight, the Small Faces had a lot of personality and were not afraid to use humor in their music. This gives their rare quiet, introspective stuff like "The Autumn Stone" and "Become Like You" some real weight. Funny that they and Cream are two of my favorite bands and they both flamed out so quickly. Maybe I have a short attention sp

47. Shellac – The End of Radio
Albini almost gets the last word but not quite! That would have been too predictable. Last word in English though, I suppose. Muddy Waters referenced the Temptations and Shellac does the same with the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner." Everyone likes to sing about 128 but no one likes driving on it, as I'll be doing in a few hours. Drag.

48. Os Mutantes – Ando Meio Desligado
As I end on a Brazilian note I'd like to state how proud I am that I've included a handful of songs by international artists and not one of them can be considered "world music." Wikipedia (in which I clearly place too much trust) says "Ando Meio Desligado" roughly translates to "I feel a little spaced out." You bet your ass I do, after forty-eight songs and three-plus hours. So I'm ending the way I began, with a side-one-track-one. Final thrill of the ride. Personal electronic devices are not allowed. No cutsies. You must be this high to blow your mind. Don't forget your backpacks. Etc.

In closing [Edit: Not quite! Have some more words.]: we've got fourteen songs from the sixties (half that from 1968 alone… shocker!); thirteen from the seventies (six from 1970); only one from the eighties; seven from the nineties; thirteen from the aughts; and nothing from 2010. With the way we're heading—digital awakenings and all—maybe a self-aware iPod can do the heavy lifting for me next year? Be afraid.

More furious madness: Volume 1

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