Via Steve at Hot Rox, here’s my “spring fling” mix – also the first time I’ve used Muxtapes. (It took forfreakinever to upload…)
Anyway, here’s the deal: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your Spring. Post these instructions in along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.
I’m not tagging anyone – but feel free to let me know if you post a mix. I’m also not at all sure that these songs are “shaping my Spring.” They’re seven songs that I chose nearly at random. Fact is, recently I’ve been listening to a whole bunch of new stuff, and it really hasn’t had a chance to emerge into thingness (or springness) yet.
1. The Rolling Stones “Street Fighting Man”: This is surely one of the Stones’ best records. Everything about it expresses both the coiled tension of nowhere-to-go-nothing-to-do and also the expansive sense of possibility, beautifully poised between frustration and potential, violence and renewal. Start with Keith Richards’ brilliant idea to use, rather than an electric guitar, acoustic guitar overdriven in a cheap cassette player. That rhythm riff, pouncing unexpectedly and then laying back, sets the tone for the song – and don’t forget Charlie Watts’ expertly placed, hollow-sounding drums. Jagger’s vocal comes in, drawling a long syllable, then mockingly rocking between only two different notes, out of sync with Richards’ two different chords. The phrasing is asymmetrical, five maybe six bars rather than the expected four – then a sudden key change, the lament “what can a poor boy do?” and Brian Jones’ tamboura along with a curious chordal suspension and a rumbling piano…then back to the song’s main key, with Bill Wyman providing one of his loping, wobbly bass parts as a hook in this section of the song. And for the fade: a one-note solo, howling and whining away (and what is that instrument anyway? this was during the period Jones was sick of guitar and picking up every instrument he could…dunno, is it a sax, an English horn, a hurdy-gurdy?) as the chords change, and the piano unsettles. For a track ostensibly about violence and its release, it’s a stunningly carefully and thoughtfully arranged track. But then the Stones were always smarter than they let on.
2. Pere Ubu “Chinese Radiation”: Jonderneathica recently posted a passel of Ubu covers, most of which were the usual suspects (“Non-Alignment Pact,” “Final Solution,” “Heart of Darkness”) but which also included this more obscure early Ubu number, covered by Cobra Verde. I’m posting the original for its curious combination of slightly menacing calm, bizarro aggression (the pseudo-live section), and a coda that’s like the dazed aftermath of an accident. One of a handful of mid-seventies rock songs curiously taking up the imagery of Chinese Communism (I’m thinking of a few tracks on Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) as well).
3. 18th Dye “Backdoor”: Dana ex- of The Mystical Beast sent me this one. These Germans’ Tribute to a Bus CD made a minor fuss about ten or fifteen years ago; I confess I hadn’t given them any thought for many years. But this is a pretty good track, with a sort of Daydream-era Sonic Youth scent to it, and amusing/creepy lyrics about dogs and moms.
4. Robyn Hitchcock “Creatures of Light”: Released only, so far as I know, as a flexi-disc with the Ptolemaic Terrascope zine, this is Hitchcock in full-on psych-folk mode. The lyrics are, uncharacteristically, slightly muddled in their enunciation (or maybe it’s just the low-quality recording), but I like this song quite a bit. Actually I’m planning on making a cover version of it: I’ve got the arrangement pretty well worked out but just have not had the time to actually realize it.
5. Kristin Hersh “Juno” (from her recent Daytrotter session): It’s interesting to hear Hersh cover her very early Throwing Muses material, here in a solo rendition. Her voice is hoarser than ever but still incredibly expressive.
6. Tokyo Police Club “Juno”: No, not the Hersh song…I confess these songs are here really because I was amused to discover that there were two utterly unrelated songs called “Juno” on a recent burn of recently downloaded tracks…and neither had anything to do with the movie of the same name. It must be something in the air…
7. No Age “It’s Oh So Quiet”: From Stereogum‘s tribute to Björk’s Post. I like the way No Age almost completely reinvents the song (which was a cover on Post – so I guess this is a cover of a cover. That’ll happen), particularly the “loud” parts, which here turn instead nearly resigned somehow.
And that’s it for now. I’m sure if I’d done this fifteen minutes later it’d be a completely different set of songs. Let me know if you happen to post your own list of tracks.