There was a bit of a void from the MBIP Conbributors this week and I had nothing for today. But, as Cool Hand Luke once stated: “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.” So I’ve decided we’ll have the first (of maybe many, if people like this) MBIP Sunday Record Party! Basically what I’m going to do is go over to my CD collection and pick some random songs out that I really like and write a little something about them and put up a link to that song on YouTube. So, let’s get this party started!
Okay, let me pick the selections for this record playing party...
Summer In The City by The Lovin’ Spoonful (From “The Lovin’ Spoonful Anthology”)
I remember listening to this 45 record as a kid in Louisville, Kentucky with my brother Jim and asking him, “What city are they singing about?”
He told me that they were singing about New York City and he had read that the group lived in a part of the city called Greenwich Village. I remember we got the Encyclopedia Britannica out and looked up New York City and looked at pictures and read about it. New York seemed like an other-worldly place to me back then. It was 1966 and I was eight-years-old.
27 years later I would move to New York City and called the place home for 19 years. Every year on the first really warm day of summer when I lived in New York, I’d think back to the day that Jim and I were listening to Summer In The City by The Lovin’ Spoonful. This has always been a really special song to me and I never get tired of listening to it or thinking about it.
Dream Baby by Cher (From “All I Really Want To Do”)
I’ve always really liked the early Sonny and Cher songs. This was from the first “solo” album by Cher, but Sonny produced it and he wrote this song.
A lot of people don’t know that Sonny Bono worked with Phil Spector and learned the craft of record producing from him. I’ve always felt that Sonny Bono was a great songwriter and record producer and I think this song proves me right. It’s a great pop song, skillfully produced in the Phil Spector “wall of sound” tradition.
Art Star by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (From “Yeah Yeah Yeahs”—Their debut EP.)
This song has always cracked me up. If you have lived in New York for any period of time, the odds are that you’ve met an “Art Star.” It’s basically just an asshole person—usually some trust fund kid—that likes to think of themself as an “artist” because they really just don’t know how to do anything in life other than live off of their parents or someone else’s money. Their “art” is usually just some sort of mindless, retardo bullshit that is only good for redefining the term, “less than zero.”
These are my favorite lyics from the song:
“I got a dealer in Tokyo,
I got a rep in Paris,
I got an agent in Cologne,
Shit, I got a gallery in New York!”
Karen O’s shredding vocals on this song border on psycho-greatness. I’ve always felt that Weird Al Yankovic could do a football parody of this song and call it, “Bart Starr,” but then that’s just me. Weird Al has probably never heard of this song. Do doo doo doo doo doot doot de doo!
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart (From “Every Picture Tells A Story”)
This song really blew my mind when I first heard it way back in the summer of 1971. I remember listening to it in the bedroom I shared with my brother Jim and we listened to records in there all the time. We had read a review in Rolling Stone that said the album was fantastic and we had never heard of Rod Stewart, so Jim decided to buy the album since he had some money saved up. I remember Jim and I riding our bikes to the music store in Sheridan Village and he bought the record and we excitedly rode back home, ran to our bedroom, shut the door and put it on the turntable.
Every Picture Tells A Story was the first song on the album and I just remember Jim and I staring at each other as we listened to it in kind of a disbelief as to what we were hearing. It was and still is a really unique and unusual sounding song. It starts out with just acoustic guitars but when the drum beat slams down and Rod the Mod starts belting it out with that gravel-coated, sandpaper voice of his, it sounds like a glorious mess that might fall apart at any second...but it never does. And the drums are amazing, that’s Mickey Waller doing the aforementioned pounding of the skins.
One unique aspect of the song is that there’s no chorus and not every line rhymes. And speaking of lines, the lyrics to this song are among some of my favorites. The opening four lines are genius as they expertly and succinctly describe that awkward, gawky time in life when puberty has reared its ugly head and you’re trying to figure yourself out:
“Spent some time feeling inferior,
Standing in front of my mirror.
Combed my hair in a thousand ways,
But I came out looking just the same.”
For me the song peaks when singer Maggie Bell joins Rod on the line: "She claimed that it just ain't natural!” It’s truly one of the more magical moments in rock and roll that my ears have had the pleasure to listen to over and over.
Love Is All Around by Joan Jett And The Blackhearts (From “Love Is All Around”—CD Single)
I’ve been listening to Joan Jett since I discovered her way back when I bought the first Runaways album in 1976. We’re both the same age and I kind of feel like her music has somewhat been a constant soundtrack to my life. I love all her music and this cover of “Love Is All Around” is quite simply, quite pimply, one of my favorites.
As Long As I (Can Be With You) by Patti Scialfa (From “Rumble Doll”)
Sometimes it ain’t easy when you marry The Boss, just ask Patti Scialfa. Her debut album, “Rumble Doll” came out in 1993 and it was one of the first albums I bought after I had moved to New York City. The album is produced by Mike Campbell (From Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers) and The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. I saw her on the local news on Channel 4 after it came out and in the middle of the interview, they abruptly turned the camera at Springsteen who was standing backstage and trying to let his wife have the spotlight and when the camera came back and hit her she had a look on her face that just said, “Oh fuck!” It was an awkward moment to watch and I felt sorry for her.
I think it’s a really good record and she wrote all of the songs. I like listening to it because it takes me back to the first year I lived in New York and was running around like a fucking mad man in that city. “As Long As I (Can Be With You)” is my favorite song on the album, I really like Patti’s vocals and Mike Campbell’s jangling, hypnotic guitar riffs that frame the song are brilliant. The intro sounds very Beatlesque.
The Scary Side Of Me by The Handcuffs (From “Waiting For The Robot”)
Those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning may remember the road trip to Chicago to see The Handcuffs open up for a reading by Legs McNeil. That was a fun trip and it’s always a treat to see The Handcuffs live—if you haven’t had the pleasure, go “like” their facecrack page to get updates on gigs in the future. Their current line-up is the strongest they’ve ever had and they put on a great, one-of-a-kind show every time they grace a stage with their rocking and rolling presence.
Their third CD of original tunes is called, “Waiting For The Robot” and what I think is great about their music is that all of the songs have different sounds and styles and they carve out different musical landscapes that create an interesting and unique collage of music as you listen to the entire CD. “The Scary Side Of Me” is written by Chloe F. Orwell and Brad Elvis and I love the way the song builds and slowly rises like a ring of smoke in a spooky, Alfred Hitchcockian way that perfectly reflect the lyrics. I love this song.
53rd and 3rd by The Ramones (From “The Ramones”)
The Ramones musical catalog is is brimming with dark humor and twisted themes like “Beat On The Brat” and “We’re A Happy Family” (”Daddy likes men...") but none come close to the darkness of “53rd and 3rd” off of their self-titled debut album. I wrote about this song and album back when I was doing my “Marty After Dark” blog and you can read that post here.
Basically it’s a song about a male prostitute who’s trying to turn a trick on the corner of 53rd and 3rd in New York City and finally after getting “lucky” these lyrics tell the tale of what happens next:
“Then I took out my razor blade,
Then I did what God forbade.
Now the cops are after me,
But I proved that I'm no sissy.”
Gabba, gabba hey!