Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special The Right Tool For the Job Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Low T Consultant Amway Buddy Fah Lo Suee and I will be travelling to...oh hell, I just don't have the energy to make another joke involving Sarah Palin, Carrie Prejean and gay marriage. So I'm not gonna tell you where we'll be, but it could be a hot one, if you don't mind the literary equivalent of an 80s sitcom catchphrase.

Cue laugh track.

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

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best or Worst Post-Beatles Collaboration Between Artists That Don't Normally Work Together!!!

No arbitrary rules; obviously there's enough leeway here to include cameo guest appearances (example: Brian Jones playing sax on the Beatles "You Know My Name") along with more substantial aesthetic partnerships.

And my top of my head Top Six is:

6. Queen and David Bowie -- Under Pressure

It's not exactly a secret that I'm a fan of neither Bowie or Queen -- I can probably count the number of songs by either of them I genuinely enjoy on the fingers of two hands -- but this one is inarguable. Put together like a charm and both Freddie and Dave checked the camp affectations at the studio door for a change. Great stuff.

5. Mick Jagger and David Bowie -- Dancing in the Streets

God, this sucks. It's like they're trying to actively out-awful each other, although I'm afraid Mick wins. Which is going some.

4. John Hiatt -- Liptstick Sunset

From his breakthrough Bring the Family album. Essentially recorded live in the studio with Nick Lowe on bass, Ry Cooder on guitar, and Jim Keltner on drums. A great band, obviously -- too bad their other album remains an interesting curio at best.

3. The Bunch -- When Will I Be Loved

The late great Sandy Denny and the future Linda Thompson as the Everly Sisters. As you my have heard, perhaps my single fave female duet vocal of all time.

2. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson -- Say Say Say

Words fail me. And this is hardly the worst thing Paul did in the 80s.

And the coolest and most thoroughly satisfying collaboration between musical oddfellows (especially since I just totally dissed Paul McCartney in the previous listing) obviously is --

1. Elvis Costello -- Veronica

An absolutely perfect pop song and record, written with Paul McCartney, of course, and perhaps the best thing Paul ever came up with in the company of a partner other than John. Interestingly, Paul contributed a lot to the lyrics and Elvis to the music, which is kind of the opposite of what people expected. Paul's also playing bass on the record, if memory serves, along with Roger McGuinn on twelve-string, which makes it kind of a three-fer.

Oh, and thanks to some corporate weasels somewhere, the official "Veronica" vid -- and most of the other memorable Elvis clips -- are no longer on YouTube, so please accept my apologies for the inadequate replacement above.

And feel free to download the song itself HERE; as always, if the authorization has expired by the time you get there, just e-mail me and I'll shoot you the mp3.

Awrighty then -- and what would your choices be?

[Shameless blogwhore: My parallel cinema listomania -- theme: best or worst kids flicks -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if I could con you into going over there and leaving a comment, it would be good for my bottom line if you know what I mean.]


cthulhu said...

The entirety of the Pete Townshend / Ronnie Lane "Rough Mix" LP.

Mike said...

This version of Veronica I posted a couple of years ago is still up, thankfully.

And speaking of Elvis, I love this duet with Tony Bennett.It can't touch the Easybeats original, but the INXS and Jimmy Barnes cover is one I've always liked.

Mister Pleasant said...

What - no mention of Bowie and Marianne Faithful crooning "I Got You Babe"? It repels me yet I keep viewing. What a freak show.

McCartney certainly had his ups and downs with collaborations. His work with Elvis Costello was uniformly wonderful. Kudos for placing "Veronica" at the top of this week's list. "So Like Candy" is another gem. Macca and Wings also served as backing band for his brother Mike's McGear album. Coming hot on the heels of Band on The Run it brought along some of the good vibe that was going for him back in the mid 70's. Unfortunately it all came down to earth with the next Wings album.

steves said...

Great video Mike!

And while I bow to your superior knowledge of all things pop, Steve, I'm really surprised to learn about McCartney contributing many of the lyrics to "Veronica," as I was under the impression that, like "That Day Is Done," which Elvis also wrote around that time, it was based largely on his personal experiences with (I believe) the death of his grandmother.

In any case, my nominees are:

Best: The Traveling Wilburys (natch) and the Hindu Love Gods (Zevon and those guys from R.E.M)

Worst: Dylan and the Dead (what a friggin' disappointment!) and anyone and Bono (although it really is tough to top Macca and Jacko in this category).

steve simels said...


The story about Paul and the lyrics to Veronica comes from Elvis himself, I believe. I'll have to track it down to make sure I didn't hallucinate it, but I'm reasonably certain I'm right on this.

And good call on the Hindu Love Gods...

Feral said...

Costello's willingness to experiment with collaborations works well at times, ("The River in Reverse" with Allen Toussaint), and not as well at others, ("The Juliet Letters" with the Brodsky Quartet). But I admire that he pursues those ideas.

David said...

"Endless Night" - Graham Parker/Bruce Springsteen
"Candy"- Iggy Pop/Kate Pierson
"I Got You Babe" - Chrissie Hynde/UB40
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" - Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks
"Coming Up for Air" - Grant McLennan/Syd Straw
"Down in Love"- Freedy Johnston/Syd Straw
"Peppermint Lump" - Pete Townshend/Angie

Anonymous said...

i better get this head-slappingly-obvious one in before someone else does-

pogues and kirsty maccoll - fairy tale of new york
(multi-category winner)

and one that i've always loved, despite not being a huge fan of the duettess -

stevie nicks and tom petty - stop draggin' my heart around

Anonymous said...

Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby & David Bowie - UGHHHH
The Traveling Wilburys -- a gem
Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks- great

Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias - "To All the Girls I've Loved Before - major ughhhhhh

Libby Spencer said...

I've always like the Bonnie Raitt - John Prine - Angel from Montgomery. Not the best version but the only one I could find.

And of course, Bonnie put together that Musicians United for Safe Energy, no nukes thing in 79. Can't find any youtubes of that.

Clapton and Sheryl Crow - Little Wing wasn't bad.

Stevie Ray Vaughn did some nice ones. Could only find Stevie Ray and Jeff Beck.

And Neil Young was a great collaborator. No time to look but if anyone digs up any of the ones on this list it would be very cool.

Noam Sane said...

I really like "Linoleum," a collab between David Sylvian and Tweaker. The latter is a NIN offshoot, I believe. Killer tune and great video to boot.

While I'm at it, this Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto tune, "Heartbeat," is also super-mega-awesome. The guitar solo by Bill Frisell is utterly exquisite.

I'll try to come up with something less wonky/muso later. But seriously, check 'em out.

Anonymous said...

great one - john prine / iris dement - "in spite of ourselves"

miserable one -- barbara streisand and neil diamond "you dont bring me flowers"


Anonymous said...

Aerosmith and Run dmc- "walk this way"- good one

Anonymous said...

I think this would fit in your theme even though it's not exactly what you may have intended
Johnny Cash & Rick Rubin seemed to end very well in my opinion

steve simels said...

Noam Sane said...

While I'm at it, this Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto tune, "Heartbeat," is also super-mega-awesome. The guitar solo by Bill Frisell is utterly exquisite.
I love Frisell...

Wendy said...

Good: Sting and Dire Straits on "Money For Nothing" ... his voice is perfect for the "I want my MTVeeeeee ... "

Good: Aretha and Annie Lennox ..."Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves"Over the top but fun: Bette Midler and Mick Jagger doing "Beast of Burden" ... the set-up is hilarious, as is the glorious hideousness of the 80s.

Excrutiatingly bad: Sinatra's "Duets" ... no comment necessary.

And then there's Natalie Cole singing with her (dead) father ... I don't know if it's bad, but it sure is creepy.

Gummo said...

Hm, I actually like some of the *ughs* on these lists:

I love the Bowie/Bing collaboration on Little Drummer Boy. So sue me.

Say Say Say is a lot better pop music than either McCartney or Jackson was doing at the time solo.

But for new entries:

David Thomas of Pere Ubu did an album in the 80s with Richard Thompson that was just delightful. Unfortunately, my copy got destroyed in my infamous flood, but I still have very fond memories of it -- it was Thomas's best solo work.

On her 1995 comeback tour opening for Bob Dylan, Patti Smith sang a wonderful duet with Bob of his song, "Dark Eyes." It was, I believe, the only tour he's done the song, and those two non-singers sounded really nice together.

I second the Johnny Cash/Rick Rubin nomination -- guided by Rubin's adventurous respect, Cash was able to go out with a career high of some of his best music. Specifically, Johnny & Joe Strummer doing "Redemption Song" from those sessions is magical.

I would also nominate the Jack White/Loretta Lynn collaboration on her album, Van Lear Rose. It's a unique gem.

Oh, and did I mention:


steve simels said...

Gummo --

There's also a great Richard Thompson one-off collaboration album from the 80s where he plays with Fred Frith, and somebody from Beefheart's band.

A killer version of a Willie Dixon tune, if memory serves...

The Phantom Creep said...

what -- nobody mentioned Alan Price and Georgie Fame?

David said...

While we're discussing Richard Thompson collaborations, his one-off with French, Frith, and Kaiser (Live, Love, Larf & Loaf) produced an absolutely stirring version of "Loch Lomond" among other gems. Steve, if you don't have it, let me know!

steve simels said...

David --

Yeah, that's the album I was referring to. Haven't heard it in ages, but I remember loving it. A totally goofy Beach Boys cover, and that stunning Willie Dixon blues cover...

Among others.

If you wanna burn me one, I'll make it worth your while...

Marsupial said...

No, no, no. Say Say Say was infinitely better than the Worst Pop Song Ever Recorded: The Girl is Mine, also by Jackson/McCartney. Also, worst duet, worst collaboration, etc.

Anonymous said...

almost forgot-

steve earle and lucinda williams- you're still standing there

and let's not forget that sir macca did record a pretty good duet with stevie wonder in the early '80s. no, not *that* one, i mean 'what's that you're doing.'

Anonymous said...

The Dirty Mac a one-time English supergroup consisting of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell - ROLLING STONES CIRCUS

MBowen said...

There were two French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson albums: 1987's Live, Love, Larf & Loaf and 1990's Invisible Means.

Noam Sane said...

My bad nomination:

Our local GOR (granola-oriented rock)station every once in a while pulls out this live duet of Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe covering "To Sir With Love". It is utterly gag-worthy.

MBowen said...

Pretty good: Paul Simon & Los Lobos on "The Myth of Fingerprints" from Graceland. Of course, LL had to sue Simon for a piece of the royalties.

Weird pairing: Aimee Mann (who hadn't gone solo yet) singing backup on Rush's "Time Stands Still".

Dave said...

And I hadn't thought of the Jagger-Bowie version of "Dancing in the Street" in years. Thanks a LOT, Steve.

Some oddball faves:

I'm not a particular fan of either Phil, Collins or Bailey, but "Easy Lover" went down, er, easy.

I can't abide Rufus Wainwright, but I think his Ben Folds collaboration with "Careless Whisper" is cool:

Got to agree with Anonymous about Laura Nyro and Labelle with the "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" album, especially the title song, "I Met Him on Monday," and "The Bells."

But the first song that sprang to mind was Otis Redding and Carla Thomas on "Tramp."

dSmith said...

Cher and Gregg Allman did a album together.
I think it was called "Look upon my works ye mighty, and despair"

Anonymous said...

MBowen said...
There were two French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson albums: 1987's Live, Love, Larf & Loaf and 1990's Invisible Means.
Both are available on the Fledg'ling label:

steve simels said...

dSmith said...
Cher and Gregg Allman did a album together.
I think it was called "Look upon my works ye mighty, and despair
I think it was around that time that Bette Midler famously observed that "Cher is preggy by Greggy."

Gummo said...

Cher and Gregg Allman did a album together.
I think it was called "Look upon my works ye mighty, and despair"

The cover was as bad, or worse, than the album:

Libby Spencer said...

Although I actually love the song, agree that the Natalie/dead Dad Unforgettable was creepy. Equalled only by the aptly named father/daughter Sinatra duet, Something Stupid.

Also on my ugh list, even though it's more country than pop, but it crossed over to the Top 40 stations, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton - Islands in the Stream.

cthulhu said...

The T-Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello collaboration "the Coward Brothers" produced the memorably witty single "The People's Limousine". I like it much better than "Veronica". But I'm a T-Bone fan too.

John Fowler said...

Please place me down with cthulhu on Rough Mix, an album that remains on my most played list even now. Every track, great!

Also, Oswego, on "Fairytale of New York"!

A pretty good one was the Golden Palominos Visions of Excess, with Michael Stipe (among others) on vocals - e.g., "Boy (Go)"

And, if we mention celebrity sing-alongs, I have to say that I was partial to "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid. Clearly 80's synth & drums, but still pretty good.