Friday Random 10: I Do

Time for another Random 10. For those unfamiliar with the ritual, it’s common in the blogosphere. Many bloggers celebrate Friday by putting their iPods on “shuffle” and listing the first 10 songs that come up. I use my laptop, on which I’ve stashed almost three gigabytes of music, some downloaded from the Web, some for burning to CD, and most to have along wherever the laptop and I might go. My tastes are pretty wide-ranging/eclectic/bizarre/tasteless, as you have probably gathered from previous editions of this feature. Today’s list is more of the same–starting with an Abba double play.

“Waterloo” and “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”/Abba/20th Century Masters. When Abba arrived in the summer of 1974 with “Waterloo,” they represented something relatively fresh. There hadn’t been anything like that sound at least since Phil Spector was building his walls of sound in the early 60s. If you don’t like Abba, what I consider Spectoresque you might consider overproduced. And in truth, “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” sounds a little overproduced even to me–why use a couple of saxophones when 500 are available? Even so, it’s every bit as irresistable as “Waterloo.”

“I Can’t Get Next to You”/Al Green/Hi Times: The Hi Records Years. Here’s another cover of a Motown hit that I prefer to the orignal. On the Temptations’ version, they seem amazed that they can’t get over. Al just sounds pissed.

“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”/Crystal Gayle/10 Greatest Hits. A good song popular at a bad time in my life, but that’s not Crystal’s fault.

“Never Never Love”/Simply Red/Life.
Lots of people dig Mick Hucknall’s blue-eyed soul, but people rarely give up any love to the musicians who back him. I’m giving up a little bit now, for their simmering work on this.

“Still the One”/Orleans/Rock On: 1976. I think I’ve said this before–“Still the One” is one of the best songs with which to start your radio show. (Old radio types reading here are encouraged to contribute other great show-starters in the comments.)

“Oh Papa”/Maria Muldaur/Waitress in the Donut Shop. One of the best rainy-day records I know, with a delicate lead guitar that sounds like raindrops rolling down a foggy window, and a vocal rich with longing and loss. (Download here; Windows Media Player required for this one.)

“Hard Luck Story”/Elton John/Rock of the Westies. Not an album that ranks high in the Elton pantheon, despite being his second straight release to debut at Number One, back when that meant something. The songs are more labored and less memorable than on Captain Fantastic, his previous release–but they also rock harder, generally. As this does.

“Shadow of Doubt”/Cash Brothers/A Brand New Night.
A pair of Canadian brothers, successful on their own with separate bands in the 80s and 90s, decided a few years ago to see how it would be to work together. This tune is from a 2003 release; if you like Wilco, you’ll probably like it, too.

“Body and Soul”/Sonny Rollins/Ken Burns Jazz: Sonny Rollins. I read an interesting theory not long ago that one of the reasons jazz has faltered in the last 50 years is that there’s no longer a vast catalog of well-known popular songs to use as the basis for improvisation. Today, one artist’s hit songs are rarely covered by others. During the first half of the 20th century, however, popular songs were constantly being reimagined by jazz musicians, few more often than “Body and Soul.” The most famous version was performed by saxophonist Coleman Hawkins in 1939. Rollins’ take, from the late 1950s, is less lyrical than Hawk’s beautiful version–but then again, everyone’s is.

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