Friday, September 05, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Happy Feet! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental rentboy amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off for Alaska for the annual Aerial Moose Hunt sponsored by vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin. I believe there will also be a hastily arranged bridal shower for the Governor's daughter, but since kids are off-limits I can't really comment on that one.

In any case, posting by moi will thus be sporadic for a few days.

But in the meantime, here's a fun project to tide us all over:

Best Post-Elvis Song That References a Dance or Dancing!!!

A friendly warning: It's quite possible that somebody will nominate a hip-hop song from the current decade, but if you do, I will feel free to laugh at you.

Also -- we're not talking about good dance songs, we're talking songs ABOUT dancing or with dances or dancing in the title or lyrics. Thus Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," for example, as great as it is to dance to, is ruled right out. Thank you very much.

Okay, all that out of the way, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten:

10. Jerry Dallman and the Knightcaps -- The Bug

One of the many splendid obscure oldies (most only hits in Baltimore) that John Waters exhumed from his personal record collection for the soundtrack of the original Hairspray. True story: When Waters was putting the soundtrack together, he got a call from an exec at MCA/Universal (the studio releasing the film and album). It was, in fact, the selfsame Jerry Dallman, now all grown up, but in his teenage years the punk kid who fronted "The Bug." Apparently, it was a tossup who was more amazed by this turn of events -- Dallman or the director.

9. The Velvet Underground -- Rock 'n' Roll

"Despite all the amputations you could just go out and dance to a rock and roll station..." Nuff said.

8. The Guess Who -- Dancing Fool

I'm sorry, but I think these guys were great. This was one of their last hits, with particularly splendid riffage by post-Joe Walsh James Gang guitarist Dominic Troiano.

7. Smashing Pumpkins -- Dancing in the Moonlight

This is, apparently, a cover of a Thin Lizzy song that I don't recall off the top of my head (not the earlier King Harvest hit), but in any case it proves, yet again, that there is no conceivable Listomania topic for which I can't find a relevant clip featuring Billy Corgan's pretentious bald noggin. It's beginning to scare me, actually.

6. Gene and Wendell -- The Roach

Another killer dance craze from the Hairspray soundtrack. Boy, would I like to get a gander at John Waters' iPod.

5. Little Eva -- The Locomotion

Often remade but never bettered, in part because of the splendid piano work from its author Carole King. Seriously -- doesn't this sound like proto-metal to you?

4. Alvin Cash and the Crawlers -- Twine Time

A great riff and one of the funkiest (in the old school sense) instrumentals of the 60s. I actually prefer this to some of the Junior Walker stuff, but that's just me.

3. Roxy Music -- Dance Away

I'm not a huge fan of either Roxy or Bryan Ferry solo, but this one -- which is about as moonlight and roses as you can get -- just slays me.

2. The Beatles -- I'm Happy Just to Dance With You

Ah, George. Sorry -- that's all I've got for this one.

And the numero uno coolest song about getting down with your bad self, hands down it's so totally obvious if you try to argue with me I swear to god I'll harm you so just don't, is ---

1. The Beach Boys -- Dance, Dance, Dance

On balance, I think this is Brian's best flat out rocker, and whoever's playing the twelve-string break -- if it's not Carl Wilson, it's probably Glen Campbell -- is a fricking genius. Absolutely kick-ass on every level, with a chorus to die for.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania is now up at Box Office. As always, if you could go over there and leave a comment, an angel definitely gets its wings.]


TJWood said...

I'd say the most obvious one that didn't make your list is: "Dancin' In The Streets" (Martha and the Vandellas, with numerous cover versions out there). Others of the obvious and perhaps not-so-obvious variety include:

Land of a Thousand Dances--Wilson Pickett

Dancing Fool--Frank Zappa, which I'm choosing because I did want to take the Guess Who song with the same name, but...

When You Dance, I Can Really Love--Neil Young. Stupid title, terrific song.

Dance Little Sister--The Rolling Stones. We have to get the Stones in here someway, and this is better than "Dancing With Mr. D".

Mystery Dance--Elvis Costello, which really isn't about dancing, but it does qualify.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Yeah, it's "Dancin' in the Streets" for me, too.

I have to nominate "The Twist", if for no othr reason than I can't think of any other song that spawned a dance craze like that one did. Well, except for the Macarena, and nobody remembers how to do it (or cares).

But I also have to total soft spot for the Beacn Boys' "Do You Wanna Dance?" ... this clip is Shindig, c. 1965 and includes their famous dancers.

And I'd like to go on record that Mike Love has always been a dick. Thank you.

Mister Pleasant said...

Some great choices, Steve. I am totally on board with "Dancin' Fool". Too bad it was the last gasp from the once awesome Guess Who.

Great stills in the VU video, and nice to see some lovely shots of Nico, though she was long gone from the group by the time "Rock and Roll" came along. Probably my favorite Lou Reed tune ever.

The B-52's "Dance This Mess Around" absolutely finds it way on my list.

And I second Brooklyn Girl on all counts regarding the Beach Boys "Do You Wanna Dance?" - probably Brian's finest attempt at the Spector kitchen-sink approach. And I might as well join the pile-on for the utter dickishness of Mr. "Transcendental Meditation" Love. What a joke!

geor3ge said...

Nothing in particular to nominate, but I just half to add my 2 cents: John Waters deserves some kind of special Oscar for his contribution to film soundtracks.

geor3ge said...

"half to add". Okay, that was probably one shiraz too many.

Dave said...

Excellent list. I'd add "Popeye Waddle" by Don Covay, "Crossfire" by the Orlons, King Harvest's "Dancin' in the Moonlight," "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells, "Do the Bird" (Dee Dee Sharp), C'mon and Swim (both parts!) by Bobby Freeman, as well as his original version of "Do You Wanna Dance," "The Jerk" by the Larks, "Cool Jerk" by the Capitols, "Mother Popcorn" by James Brown, "Hitchhike" (Marvin Gaye), and the late, great Ray Barretto's "El Watusi."

Anonymous said...

Sly Stone's, 'Dance to the Music'.

CovetedNOPrizeWinnerWithOakLeafCluster said...

Ironic Twist by Young Nashvillians (or Something Fierce)

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Put your teeth in a glass, people. It's a magical thing called The Wilbury Twist.

steve simels said...

Oh god, I completely forgot the Wilbury's, which I fricking love. Now I have to go look and see if there's a YouTube.

Ripley said...

In the long-hair arena:

Dance the Night Away - Van Halen
Dance, Dance, Dance - Ratt
Dirty Dog - Helix

All She Wants to Do Is Dance - Don Henley

And of course, The Hustle...

The Loco-Motion was also covered by Grand Funk Railroad and ELP.

Anonymous said...

DO THE HOKIE POKIE (Roland Lawrence LaPrise)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Quarter to Three
Gary "U.S." Bonds
Don't you know that I danced, I danced till a quarter to three

Noam Sane said...

Japan, Methods of Dance.

I love these guys, and they were the template for the whole New Romantic thing, but don't hold that against them. They were hugely ahead of their time. The finely sculpted tunes hold up far better than most 80s music, and the playing - especially that of the rhythm section (Mick Karn and Steve Jansen), is mindblowing.

Gardner said...

Glen Campbell on the 12-string, yep. I can't argue with that song as a number one. 12-string, jingle bells, great percussive bass, great stop-and-start verse that explodes into a great chorus, even a great key change near the end. Perfect, that's all.

Someone's already said Sly Stone's "Dance to the Music," I'm sure.

I'd put the Kinks' "Come Dancing" and "Don't Forget To Dance" up there. Interesting that dancing is such a refuge in a "State of Confusion."

Right there with you on the Roxy Music tune (though I do like Manifesto and Avalon better than you might) and the Guess Who in particular. I remember that you learned the riff to Albert Flasher and would tell everyone it was by Elton John. Man, the Simels Reports are all tattooed on the back of my eyelids. Good thing, too, as I need to refer to them regularly!

And here's the sleeper for all you XTC lovers: "Yacht Dance." I love that song for its metaphorical abandon, its great structure, and its melodic glee.

Noam Sane said...

Yacht Dance, woo hoo!. Also, "Life Begins At The Hop". Viva XTC!

Regina said...

See, my Beatles pick would be "I Saw Her Standing There." That song is like I think RELIGION would be if I got anything from religion.

Walt said...

Do The Funky Western Civilization - Tonio K

TMink said...

ARGHHHHHH! I was scrolling down reading the posts when I thought of The Funky Western Civilization. I was cackling to myself as I savored how cool I would look being the first to mention that song!

Ya beat me to it Walt!!!!!!

For a sour grapes replacement, how about "Do The Dog" by The Specials. When that one hit Chapel Hill, I remember how weird it sounded with the fast reggae beat and wild guitar in the background. But boy could you dance to it!

Have a great weekend everyone.


Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

Wow, a powerpop blog with in the blogroll!

Nirvana! I mean, Idle Race, Shoes, and 20/20!

Check out my ode to one of the great, whimsical, Beatlesque bands: Stackridge.

[I meant to post this in the latest thread and accidentally put it in an older one, and will now try to delete the dupe]

dancininthemoonlight said...

How about a classic? Dancing in the Moonlight!

Dayn said...

Steve!? Steve, Steve, Steve...I've been a fan of yours since the '70s & Stereo Review days and I know you have a (some could say, unhealthy) hankering for Smashing Pumpkins in relation to your lists. However, I must can you forego Thin Lizzy for the (quite boring and cover) version of Smashing Pumpkins? Please say you just had a double vodka tonic AND needed to include SP to keep the streak going 'cause Phil and the rocked back in the day.

dSmth said...

Keep on Dancin' The Gentrys
Shotgun Jr. Walker and the All Stars
Harlem Shuffle Bob and Earl

steve simels said...

I can't believe I forgot to include "The Monkey Time" by Major Lance. Huge influence on both Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen, besides being just a fricking great song....

FeralLiberal said...

I don't believe anyone has mentioned these:

Springsteen - Dancing in the Dark
Michael Penn - No Myth (someone to dance with)
Neil Young - Last Dance
and the immortal KC and the Sunshine Band - (Do a little dance, make a little love) Get Down Tonight.

emma said...

John Fogerty - Zanz Kant Danz (ok, not really about dancing)
Richard Thompson - Waltzing's For Dreamers
Richard Thompson, again - Two Left Feet
"I love you honey, you're so sweet
Just get rid of them two left feet
You got no style, you got no beat
All you've got is them two left feet"

dave™© said...

I'd thrown in the Monkees' "Let's Dance On."

And one of the Tubes' best - "Slipped My Disco". With a great twisted guitar solo based on "I Could Have Danced All Night" at the end...

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

"Sacro-Iliac" by 10cc.

Great moments in entitlement: "I ain't no Astaire, but I've a right to be"

And speaking of Mr. Astaire...

"Wombling USA / Wombling White Tie and Tails"

"Well you know I got a thing about Fred Astaire,
Tapping like a telegraph and dancing on air."

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

The Move / Roy Wood: "California Man," "Rock Down Low" and the medley: "Rockin' Shoes / She's Too Good For Me / Locomotive"

Stackridge: "Do the Stanley"

And on the mainstream side, Men Without Hats and (of course), "Safety Dance."

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

BTW,"Wombling USA / Wombling White Tie and Tails" are by... The Wombles. Of course, if you knew that, you knew that.

Bag O'Hammers said...

The Fabulous Thunderbirds: "The Crawl" -- awesome fun.

Also, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band: "The Horizontal Bop".

Both songs are about the same kind of .. er... dancing.

and we take a hard right turn to find...

KC & The Sunshine Band: "Boogie Shoes"

steve simels said...


I know I used to know the name, but I'm remembering nothing. Sort of Beatle-ish, right? Idle Race sort of stuff?

Oh crap, now I have to look them up...

Walt said...

The Mud Shark - F.Z. and the Mothers of Invention

CovetedNOPrizeWinnerWithOakLeafCluster said...

The Time Warp from Rocky Horror

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy said...

Steve, not to break any blogwhoring records, but my link from upthread (repeated here) will give you a quick introduction to Stackridge.

Happily, they are at work on a new album, the second or third -- depending on how you count -- after a bumpy but fruitful reunion in 1999. Their classic recording period runs from 1971 - 1976. The best place to start is "Man in the Bowler Hat," which on vinyl in America was (with a song substitution or two) known as "Pinafore Days." Produced by George Martin, and a real treat to the lover of Beatles and whimsy.

Anonymous said...

These are all great songs. I probably bought copies of all of them at one time or another, but I would absolutely have to nominate the Sly & the Family Stone - Stand album. Yes, the whole freaking LP!! Sly was never better. The only thing that would make it better would be to add the "Hot Fun In The Summertime" single to it. Most of the themes on the album are very postive & make you feel good as you shake, rattle & roll.

BTW, If your feet down start movin' when you hear a rock-a-billy song, you might be dead!

Soggy Bottom

Anonymous said...

the last line should be...

BTW, If your feet don't start movin' when you hear a rock-a-billy song, you might be dead!

Soggy Bottom

Anonymous said...