Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekend Listomania: Special Best-Of Lists Are Bullshit, So Here's a Best-Of List! Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Yes, yours truly and my Asian Pussy Magnet for Donald Trump gal Friday Fah Lo Suee are off to play golf at Mar-a-Lago with President Bullshit McGee (thank you, Keith Olbermann).

That said, posting will be irregular until our return. Safely, one assumes.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for all of us to wile away the idle hours until regular stuff resumes.


No arbitrary rules of any kind, you're welcome very much, but if I disagree with your picks I will be more sympathetic to them if they were actual singles rather than album cuts. I should also add that all of these song choices are obviously subjective and based on my own incredibly ancient sensibilities. I mean, shit -- I'm a zillion years old; who cares what I like.

And so, without any further ado, here's my totally top-of-my-head top twelve.

12. Kirsty MacColl -- They Don't Know

One of these days, if I'm ever diagnosed with a fatal disease, I'm gonna find the shithead tourist who ran their speedboat over Kirsty while she was vacationing with her kids, thus killing her. And then blow their fucking brains out with a pistol. Seriously -- there's a special circle in hell reserved for that jackass.

11. The Move -- Tonight

I believe this was the very last thing Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne recorded before they transmogrified into ELO. In any case, an all but perfect power pop record.

10. Shocking Blue -- Serenade

I love these guys (and their late lead singer Mariska Veres) big time. This song, by genius auteur Robbie van Leeuwen, is particularly amazing; consider the intro, which features finger-picked acoustic guitar over scratchy electric rhythm and goes on for almost a minute before the vocals enter.

9. Prince -- Guitar

Have I mentioned that the only upside to the tragic early death of Prince last year is that all his stuff is finally available on YouTube? This one, which dates from sometime in the 'aughts, is sly, funny, and features great -- quel surprise -- guitar work. Why was this not a hit?

8. Marvin Gaye -- Ain't That Peculiar

This is technically an r&b record, but like lots of Motown stuff, it's pretty much indistinguishable from straight-ahead rock-and-roll. One of the most exciting singles of the Sixties, no matter how you classify it.

7. Elvis Presley -- Ain't That Lovin' You Baby

This is an outtake, which didn't surface till the 80s (I believe) on a posthumous compilation LP celebrating Elvis as blues singer. The previous officially released version has a lot of extraneous stuff (lame background vocals, etc.) but this one is just great kick-ass rock by the King and a tough as nails little supporting band.

6. The Easybeats -- Heaven and Hell

Vanda and Young's 60s masterpiece.

5. Marcus Hook Roll Band -- Natural Man

Vanda and Young's 70s masterpiece.

4. The Byrds -- Lady Friend

David Crosby's swansong with his pioneering folk-rockers, and possibly the best song he ever wrote (this is the 80s remixed version with overdubbed drums by the guy in Crosby's then touring band -- Byrds purists don't like it, but I do.) The Flamin' Groovies, who have good taste in these matters, did a very nice cover of it, BTW.

3. The Beach Boys -- Trader

The genius of Carl Wilson. May I just say, and for the record, that if anybody tells me the Beach Boys were white bread bullshit then I'm gonna take a hostage? Thank you.

2. Stealer's Wheel -- Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine

The incredible single version (psychedelic power pop doesn't get any better). Avoid the album re-make like the plague

And the number one best post-Elvis (should be an acknowledged classic and if you disagree with this assessment I will come to your house and fart in your general direction) song quite obviously is...

1. Nazz -- Open My Eyes

The first time I ever heard this -- which I bought on the recommendation of a Jon Landau review in Rolling Stone (yeah, I know) I felt like my head had been split open. I still think it's the perfect rock record.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!

[h/t and inspiration by our good pal Sal Nunziato]


Anonymous said...

Don't need to add a single song (alright I might over the weekend) because you totally nail this list!

Captain Al

Anna said...

Did Landau say "I have seen the future of rock and roll, and his name is Robert "Stewkey" Antoni"? I forget...

Pretty great off-the-toppermost list, Steve!

Bg in Q said...

I know you already feel this way, but it's a shame that Moby Grape's "Omaha" isn't more well-known outside of a circle of people a certain age.

cthulhu said...

I love "Open My Eyes" but I think that "Rain Rider" surpasses it. Some of the most kick-ass drums you could find outside of Keith Moon. Wikipedia says it wasn't released as a single but I'll risk your wrath anyway - hey, it gets played regularly on Little Steven's Underground Garage, and that's good enough for me :-)

Wikipedia also says that "California Man" was the Move's last single (with "Do Ya" on the B-side!), and while I love it, I confess that I'm partial to Cheap Trick's cover, which was a single.

"Empty Pages" from Traffic is just marvelous, and was actually a single. One of the highlights of my musical life was seeing Winwood perform this song live a couple of years ago in a small amphitheater setting. And speaking of Traffic, "Medicated Goo" was a single and should have been a huge hit; it works up a killer groove.

I could easily name a dozen Chris Whitley songs here but won't because they weren't released as singles.

steve simels said...

Cthulhu-- I almost swapped Open My Eyes for Under the Ice.

Anonymous said...

Re: That swap

Nah, those songs are so great, you really need 'em both.

J. Lag

steve simels said...

"Under the Ice" has some of the most amazing drumming in rock history. Unfortunately, I don't think it was a single.

Anonymous said...

Actually, "Under The Ice" WAS a single: SGC 45-006, the full five-and-a-half minute album version of the song on the A-side, with "Not Wrong Long" on the B-side (thank you, Discogs). And I agree with you emphatically about the drumming.
:) :)

J. Lag

steve simels said...

I'll be jiggered.

J. Lewellen said...

Sweet list, Steve. Just picked up a promo copy of the Marcus Hook 45. Incredible.

As I'm wont to do, I'll put forth Sonic's Rendezvous Band with their lone golden single, "City Slang." You'd be hard-pressed to find a song that rocks anywhere near as hard.

Also, "Since You're Gone" by Nolan Strong & the Diablos (though most anything from them could apply). I believe Lou Reed said something to the effect of - "If I could really sing, I'd be Nolan Strong."

Mr. Minimac said...

Great list. The inclusion of Lady Friend is well deserved however, while I don't consider myself a purist, this version seems a bit odd when compared to the original. It's not the drumming so much as the fact that it seems slightly speeded up which makes the vocals sound a bit like a Byrds / Chipmunks hybrid to these aging ears.

What, no Procol Harum? Homburg, A Salty Dog or, perhaps, Pilgrim's Progress?


mainuh said...

Steve, you overlooked perhaps the two best songs ever recorded for 45rpm listening only - Paperback Writer and Rain.
I noted your Easybeats inclusion - as a teen in the 60's I had "Friday...".
During that time I roadied (lol) for a hometown band signed to Buddha records - "Jennifers Friends". Their first single was written by Vanda/Young (Easybeats) "The Land of Make Believe".


Mark said...

I'd go with Under The Ice by Nazz. What a great song! It blew me away in 1969, and it still does so today. The album track on Nazz Nazz is very thin, but boy! What I wouldn't pay for a full-sounding version.

And Omaha by Moby Grape? Also on the list.

mainuh said...

A third "tip of the hat" for Omaha. Great song from an eclectic first album.
I owned it then, original cover ;-), have it still along with the CD.


steve simels said...

mainuh --

The Easybeats "land of make believe" is a long time fave. I'll see if I can find the version by the band you roadied for back in the day...

Anonymous said...

As long as we are bringing up The Easybeats let's mention my single favorite rock and roll track of all time (and it was a single) "Gonna Have A Good Time"!

Rock out MF's!

Captain Al

pete said...

Great list!

dSmith said...

This oddity from 1967 which I first heard a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Not a single but sandwiched between a bunch of noisier tracks on the Nod As Good As A Wink record are some Ronnie Lane tunes that are some of the most beautiful songs of the era. Debris being the first that comes to mind. Don't know what critics think of this but it's one of my favs. I remember rocking out to that album when it fist came out and finding that the Ronnie Lane tunes just grew on me and stayed.

Mark said...

In chronological order, and there are many many MANY more. Each carries a charge (for me) that stops time for however long it takes to realize that I should focus on whatever business is at hand, like for example, driving.

1. Omaha by Moby Grape 1967
2. Hurry On Sundown Hawkwind 1970
3. The Mad, Mad Moonlight Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel 1975
4. Underwater Moonlight The Soft Boys 1980
5. When It Hits Shoes 1981
6. Here We Go Again The Elvis Brothers 1983
7. Mr. Malcontent Lloyd Cole and the Commotions 1987
8. Kerosene Man Steve Wynn 1990
9. Marcia and Etrusca The Loud Family 1994
10. Bohemian Like You The Dandy Warhols 2000
11. The News Carbon/Silicon 2007
12. Avant Gardener Courtney Barnett 2013
13. Rock And Roll Genocide Acid 2015