Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 8/5/07

1. "Whiskey in the Jar," Metallica
A cover of a cover -- this is Metallica's version of Thin Lizzy's version of an Irish drinking song. This appeared on their two-disc release of covers, Garage, Inc., which I bought on the same day I vowed never to talk to my father again. After I stormed off in quiet rage, I sat by myself in a back room with nothing to do. I didn't have a CD player with me, so I instead just read Garage, Inc.'s liner notes over and over. Fortunately, they're fairly well-written.

2. "What Do You Want from Me?" Pink Floyd
After singer-bassist-songwriter Roger Waters left in 1983, the Floyd became extraordinarily hit-and-miss. The two post-Waters albums are both mediocre exercises in prog-rock indulgence -- lifeless, endless, and directionless. This song -- from The Division Bell, the second of those two -- is one of the few standouts. Unlike his usual apathetic delivery, David Gilmour actually sounds like he gives a crap here, which makes the somewhat juvenile lyrics all the more unfortunate. (And even embarrassing, since Gilmour was such an incompetent lyricist that he often farmed out lyrics to professional songwriters. And this was the best they could do.)

3. "Radio Head," Talking Heads
In 1986, a quintet of friends from a boys' school in Britain decided to start a rock band, which they called On a Friday (because they met to practice on Fridays). They soon gained a cult following, and record labels came calling. The name On a Friday no longer made sense, so they changed it briefly to Shindig before settling on a name from an old Talking Heads song: Radiohead. Since then, they've exploded into worldwide superstars, changed musical styles three or four times, recorded three of the greatest albums ever conceived by man (in three consecutive releases, too -- The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A), and generally been the best band in the world. Oh, and the Talking Heads song isn't bad, either.

4. "I'll Be That Girl," Barenaked Ladies
After years of clearly demarcating the songs that were "serious" and the songs that were "funny," the Ladies started blended the two together in the late '90s. This is one of those, a song that mixes dark imagery with light, bouncy music and quirky wordplay. "When you're done with being beautiful and young/When that course is run, then come to me."

5. "Just Like You Imagined," Nine Inch Nails
I don't think Trent Reznor would be much gratified to know that, for all his screaming and tortured lyrics, this is my favorite NIN song -- it's an instrumental, you see. It's an awesome instrumental, obviously, a really fine piece of work from The Fragile. And let's face it, Trent's never been the great lyricist in the world -- how many times are we gonna let him get away with using the line "Nothing can stop me now"? Once? Twice? Or three times? Perhaps four? (If you'd like to hear "Just Like You Imagined," by the way, you probably already have -- it was used as the soundtrack for all the trailers for 300.)

6. "Dirty Diana," Michael Jackson
Apparently -- and this is something of a shock to me -- rock stars can run into problems with groupies. At least, Michael Jackson used to -- "Billie Jean" claimed he'd fathered her child, and now here's "Dirty Diana," who is "every musician's fan when the curtain comes down." As far as Michael goes, this is a pretty hard rock song, with Billy Idol's guitarist sawing away at a grungy riff. If I were in a hard rock band, and were releasing a two-disc set of covers, I'd cover this song.

7. "Live Forever," Oasis
Like many late-'90s alternative rock bands, Oasis was fantastic when they were good, but horrid when they weren't. "Live Forever," fortunately, is one of the good ones. It is very, very possible, though, that you'll never want to hear Liam Gallagher's voice again by the time it's over.

8. "Ants Marching," Dave Matthews Band
The first song my garage band, the Disposable Heroes, ever tried to play. We never got past the third measure. Just as well -- Dave Matthews didn't really fit in the post-grunge style I was looking for. But then, we never really pulled that off, either.

9. "Silent Running," Mike + the Mechanics
Mike is Mike Rutherford, the bassist and guitarist for Genesis. Though it's as hopelessly dated as any mid-'80s hit you can find, I like this song quite a bit. It prominently features two obsessions of '80s music -- synthesizers and violent oppression -- and has an impressive vocal performance. And hey, I like synthesizers.

10. "Maggot Brain," Funkadelic
The single greatest recording of a guitar ever. That's not hyperbole. Eddie Hazel's ten-minute guitar solo (!!) is so stunning and beautiful that George Clinton dropped the other instruments out of the mix because they were superfluous. (It was also allegedly recorded in one take, which is even more stunning.) I defy you to find a superior performance.

Put that in Guitar Hero III, and you have my sixty dollars.

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