The laptop music stash is up over 9,400 songs now, all on a little portable drive I can slip into a shirt pocket. (In many ways, the 21st century is really, really cool, although I don’t understand the attraction of Twitter.) Late yesterday afternoon while I was killing time waiting for The Mrs. to get home from work, I fired it up on “shuffle,” and here’s what came out.
“The Second Arrangement”/Steely Dan. From a collection of demos and outtakes made during the recording of Gaucho. The story is that much of the final version of “The Second Arrangement” was accidentally erased by an engineer before the album was completed. The full-band version of the song that’s found in the outtakes (posted below) has an abrupt ending, but I suspect it’s an earlier version and not the final one, which was supposed to have been three-quarters destroyed. The band didn’t recut it, and it was eventually replaced on Gaucho by “Third World Man”—the tune of which appears among the outtakes with different lyrics and the title “Were You Blind . . .”
“For All We Know”/Carpenters. I love those old-time Top 40 segues that go from one thing to something entirely different, although we’d probably have used a jingle back in the day.
“Passionate Kisses”/Lucinda Williams. The original recording of the Mary Chapin Carpenter hit from the early 90s.
“Fire Eater”/Three Dog Night. I have decided that the best way to hear Three Dog Night is in compilation form. Each of their studio albums from the first half of the 1970s, enormous sellers though they were, seems to have at least one track that’s either painfully dated or downright stupid. I’ve deleted a few from the drive, even though I like to keep complete albums together whenever possible. “Fire Eater” is not one of the casualties, however—it’s a hard-rockin’ fuzztone guitar and organ-driven instrumental from the 1971 release Naturally.
“I Never Cry”/Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper scared the hell out of American parents in the early 1970s, but if he’d undertaken a deliberate campaign to become less scary, he couldn’t have done better than to record “I Never Cry” and “You and Me” a few years later. I don’t know the reason for the change: Maybe it was his reinvention from bandleader to solo performer, or maybe it was just the alcohol. Here’s a live TV performance from the 70s, in which his shock-rock persona fails utterly to match the tone of the song, and he looks physically ill.
“Funny How Time Slips Away”/Al Green. Perhaps the second-most famous song from the pen of Willie Nelson next to “Crazy,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” has been recorded by non-country stars from Perry Como to Bryan Ferry, but nobody ever did it better than the Reverend Al.
“Whose Hands Are These”/Neil Diamond. From last year’s Home Before Dark, which takes Diamond about as far from “Cracklin’ Rosie” as it’s possible to go, but I like it.
“Godwhacker”/Steely Dan. From a bootleg recorded live in 2003, when the band was out in support of Everything Must Go—an album that has been pretty much ignored on succeeding tours in favor of oldies from the 1970s. God knows I love me some Steely Dan, but even I don’t really need to hear “Hey Nineteen” again. Here’s a live “Godwhacker,” also from the 2003 tour:
“Sunday Morning People”/Honey Cone. From a vast compilation of Honey Cone tunes going far beyond “Want Ads,” which proves that the Invictus/Hot Wax production machine manned by ex-Motown producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland was a mighty thing indeed. Even the album tracks were often deeply funky.
“I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper”/Flaming Ember. Another one from the Invictus/Hot Wax factory. Flaming Ember was a white group from Detroit who had a handful of records make both the pop and soul charts between 1969 and 1971. Their 1970 hit “Westbound #9” was bigger, but this made the Top 40, too. YouTube DJ Music Mike has more.
“The Second Arrangement”/Steely Dan (bootleg)