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Saturday, February 26, 2005
Freeway Jam is talking a semi-break tonight, but in keeping with tradition here, I won't leave you empty handed.
In honor of Sunday, a Sunday playlist. (We covered Saturday a month ago) This will be open to all genres and eras.
I searched all titles in my Media Center for the keyword "Sunday" This created a pretty sparse little pool of 21 titles; from these, the first 10 selected by randomplay are profiled. Jam Tags, 1-5 stars follow.
1. The Smithereens: Gloomy Sunday ***
I don't know if these guys are still together, but they continued releasing albums (to my surprise) right through 1999, which is when this was released. Their discography reaches back to 1980, but they're mostly remembered for a spate of singles in the late 80's, "Only a Memory" being the first. They specialize in a tuneful but downer sounding British Invasion sound, heavy in the guitars, lumbering in its tempoes. This one is a little cleaner sounding than their classics, but otherwise not much has changed. Couldn't hang on the hook though; the old stuff had big meathooks.
2. The Velvet Underground: Sunday Morning (live) **
Version of the leadoff song from The Velvet Underground and Nico. I'm not sure where this was recorded, but then Velvets-fan and future Voidoid and Lou Reed guitarist Robert Quine is on it and recorded it. This is faithful to the peaceful sounding original, but the recording is murky. Nothing remarkable about the guitars, but they're indistinct in the poor mix. Docked a notch for sound quality.
3. Sonic Youth: Sunday ****
Good Thurston Moore tune, complete with fuzzy guitar and lengthy noisefest jam that dissolves back into a peppery uptempo with echoed slide guitars and atmospheric feedback whines. Sonic Youth is remarkable in how they started out as freaky bohemians who couldn't play their instruments to honed post-rock avatars standing just outside the fringe of mainstream, all without sacrificing any of the street cred the always had. Fans will like this album cut, non-fans might find it better than they'd expect.
4. U2: Sunday Bloody Sunday *****
U2's gigantic breakthough. Since they've been with us ever since, it is sometimes hard to recall what a big deal this was when it came out. Broken bottles unders children's feet/Bodies strewn across the dead-end street were lyrics you didn't usually hear in the top-40, the glacial guitar, the defiant vocal. Hard to believe these guys were only 22 when they wrote it.
5. Blondie: Sunday Girl ****
This one is one of Blondie's girl-group flavored tunes; a vein they mined with varying degrees of success throughout their early career. This is sweet, airy, light, melodic, and we even get a verse in French with a hint of New York accent. I liked Blondie's power-pop numbers better, but this one is fun and the ever reliable band keeps the playing interesting.
6. Beck: Sunday Sun *****
I'm surprised Beck never became as big a star as he seemed he would after Odelay, although listening to this is a good way to see why. Beck insists on being an oddball, much to his credit. This sounds like Smile-era Brian Wilson with David Crosby helping out, and, well, Beck producing. Sitars, drone, piano tinkles, bells and chimes, minor key melody, electronic flourishes, distorted fanfare, destruction at the end, contemporary and derivitive at the same time. Beck is a fairly demanding listen; you either get him or you don't. Brian Wilson fans ought to give this a listen.
7. The Monkees: Pleasant Valley Sunday ***
Okay. I know it wasn't cool to like the Monkees in the 60's; they were TV actors, not musicians, they didn't play their instruments, Davy Jones was a sap, they're a Beatles rip, they're for teenyboppers, the whole bit. Removed from the 60's, we have just the sounds in the grooves to go by. The Monkees had some of the best songwriters of the day writing for them, and got a lot of good sessionplayers to record their backing tracks. This familiar tune is a Goffin-King penned tune, and has a good Byrdsy-like sound to it, with a bouncy bass and British Invasion style lead guitar. It's pure pop, not especially well sung. It's disposable. But it's also pretty catchy.
8. Opal: Brigit On Sunday **
Opal was formed when David Roback left Rain Parade and teamed up with Dream Syndicate's Kendra Smith; he'd later found Mazzy Star with Hope Sandoval. The pretty-good Happy Nightmare Baby is the band's only real album release, this is taken from an odds and sods collection called Early Recordings. This is not one of their best; a slow dirge sounding something like the Doors on a woozy bender with a chick upfront. I'm a big fan of Roback's, and Opal did have some excellent tracks. They don't quite have their footing here, yet. This album art is rare, by the way. I had to hunt.
9. Spanky & Our Gang: Sunday Will Never Be The Same ***
Sunshiney 60's pop group often compared to the Mamas and Papas, but nowhere near them as talents. This is a bright, poppy tune with busy strings, prominent harmonies, and standard late 60's L.A. studio instrumental backing. You'll look like a doofus if you play this loud on your car stereo, but students of 60's sunshine pop need to take a look. This is the band's highpoint; most of their other stuff is pretty lightweight and silly.
10. The Small Faces: Lazy Sunday ****
Ian McLagan opens with an instantly catchy organ intro, and Steve Marriott comes in with a heavy cockney, and we get a great little psychedelic pop tune, with tempo shifts, some virtuosity, kazoos playing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" in the background mix, a good dose of humor. From the early concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. As noted very recently, the rock scholar needs to put the Small Faces on their list. This one might not be the best place to start, but it is one of their classics.
For an utterly random jumble of titles, this actually wasn't bad listening. Happy Sunday; see you's tomorrow.
Liked your list! I haven't listened to the Smithereens in ages, and Sunday Will Never be the Same is often overlooked. Thanks for posting this!
I loved the Smithereens old stuff too; hope I didn't give the wrong impression with my lukewarm reaction to the newer track.
I heard that a few of them used to work as trash collectors. I have no idea if that's true or just a rumor. But I hope it's true; it makes a good story.
Ah. The Monkees album is truly one of their best.Post a Comment
The sad part is the talent in the band was so neglected and Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork were really decent songwriters.
More talent there than in the boybands of today. And perhaps more memorable too.