If I was in control of a radio station, let’s call it WBBJ(W–Buzz-Baby-Jesus), my playlist would be based on Duke Ellington’s concept of “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind”.
They all begin with the “needle drop”. This sound inspires delicious anticipation. I salivate when I hear it. Apparently the ancient Greeks used a bit of cacophony to start a performance, as it defined the silence immediately after. This particular needle drop is “The Night Tripper” by Dr. John. A record I found on the street in Soho.
2- “Campesina” by Spiteri, from 1973. Led by Venezuelan brothers, Charlie and George, Spiteri was released in England as an answer to Santana.
It never charted anywhere, and they didn’t make any more albums. And so this one gem makes its mark in history as a collectors’ ‘must have’ and an album that could have been…. but never was. Still, never too late to enjoy it! I don’t always know where I found something, but in this case it’s here.
3- “What’s Right” by David Werner from his eponymous 1979 album. It’s brilliant, and actually made the charts. Song writer, recording artist, and record producer, he is also known for his two RCA glam rock releases “Whizz Kid” and “Imagination Quota”. All are worth checking out.
4- “Dirty Boys” is my favorite from David Bowie’s latest, “The Next Day”. (2013)
5- “Don’t Swallow The Cap” by The National. I read a great review of this album in the NYTimes. Reminds me of ’80’s Bowie. The jury’s still out, but I like this song. (2013)
6- “Now” – Dion and The Wanderers. From his late ’60’s album “Wonder Where I’m Bound”, which no one bought, this song is powerfully good. With it’s kind of California folk-rock arrangement, it doesn’t sound a thing like “Runaround Sue” or any of his other hits. One thing for sure, the man can sing. (1968)
7- “Ride Your Pony” – Lee Dorsey. I chose this over “Working In A Coal Mine”. (1966)
8- “The World Is A Ghetto” – War. I like to include a couple actual hits in the mix. The context elevates the more obscure tunes. That they hold their own is evidence that the biggest reason they didn’t chart has more to do with luck than quality. (1973)
9- “Walking The Whippet” – Andy Mackay from his 1974 album, “In Search Of Eddie Riff”. With a nod to “Telstar”, this instrumental features Phil Manzanera, and is pretty much Roxy Music without a singer.
10- “Jungle Lullabye” – CW Stoneking from his 2008 album “Jungle Blues”. This Australian singer songwriter guitar banjo player manages to evoke 1920’s music without sounding like a museum. This song is a favorite around my house. Great arrangement by the Primitive Horn Orchestra.
11- “Blue Monk” Original founding members of NRBQ, Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson from “Louisville Sluggers” (2006). Thoroughly affectionate and charming cover of Monk’s tune.
12- “The “In” Crowd” by Dobie Gray is just cool. (1964)
13- “Stop Me, Citate Me” By The Fraternity Of Man, best known for “Don’t Bogart Me” from “Easy Rider” Its original members included three musicians from Lowell George’s band The Factory – Richie Hayward later of Little Feat, Warren Klein, and Martin Kibbee. This countrified psychedelic artifact tells a familiar tale with humor without being a novelty. (1968)
14- “Melody” Formed in 1990, Custard is an indie rock band from Brisbane, Australia. Working similar territory as XTC, they wrote short snappy pop songs with elements of rock n roll and the occasional pedal steel. “Melody” will stick in your head.
15- “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)” by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel for the album “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Somehow I missed this when it came out in 1975. Infectious as hell, it reminds me of Eno at his glam-poppy best.
16- “Sad Is The Way That I Feel” Mark Eric (1969). Really obscure slab of Beach Boy homage. On a side note, Eric was also a teen actor, appearing on The Partridge Family, among other TV shows of the 60s.
17- “Shelby GT 356” The Chesterfield Kings. From their foray into surf music “Surfin’ Rampage” (1997). This Rochester NY institution has been exploring various forms of rock music since the 1980’s. They get all the details right, down to their outfits.
18- “Muswell Hillbilly” Southern Culture On The Skids take on The Kinks classic. I’ve been a Kinks fan since “You Really Got Me”, and I can be pretty hard to please, but I think they get all the important things right on this. The rest of the album “Countrypolitan Favorites” (2007) is just as good.
19- “Be My Guest” Neil Finn From “The Kitchen Sink”, a collection of rareties and demos. (2004)
20- “Car Song (Non-Album Track)” Fresh Maggots (1971). Impossibly obscure bit of early ’70’s British folk. This catchy tune is more fun than anything else on the album.
21- “Freddie’s Dead” Curtis Mayfield, 1972. Another actual hit. The single was released before the Super Fly album, and in fact before the film itself was in theaters. It peaked at #4 on the U.S. Pop Chart and #2 on the R&B chart.
22- “Played The Game Too Long” The Original Texas Playboys Under The Direction Of Leon McAuliffe(1979). I found this vinyl rip over at Willard’s.