10,000 favorite songs

Some folks over at Songfight! thought it would be fun to list their favorite 10,000 songs one day at a time. I figured that's crazy enough to try. Leave it to Glenn Case to start something like this!

Go see what Glenn chose today
Go see what Andy chose today
Go see what Heuristics Inc. chose today
Go see what Niveous chose today
Go see what Rachael chose today
Go see what Troy chose today

Go here to see just album covers from these songs

March 07, 2008

Radio Ready

a saturday project that just came together nicely. It'll need some tweaks in the lyric, a remix and some cymbals and hand claps, but here it is for songfight!

May 18, 2007

Gates of Delirium - Yes

Steve Howe was my hero back in the day, and when Relayer came out he delivered. His solos through this album, but more raw on Gates, are just steaming and aggressive, reaching for his limits and prevailing each time. Contrasting this are brilliant sonic landscapes built up with guitar and keyboards, and presenting a travel log through the levels of hell or 70s angst, who knows?. To boot, Rick Wakeman was briefly replaced by Patrick Moraz, bringing a fresh creative sound gladly void of the Rachmaninoff indulgences that Wakeman had tied to his ankle. Hearing this live outdoors in Hartford with Roger Dean serpents and walls of speakers in true 70s over-the-top presentation mode at the first real rock concert I attended left a life-long impression that has never been topped. Life changing.

May 17, 2007

China Girl - Iggy Pop

This is the only album I had of his, but I loved it and this early version of China Girl has a nice edge to it. I like Alamar's guitar all through the album and here it's just raw enough and poppy enough

May 16, 2007

The Shivers - The Gravel Pit

Saw these guys a couple times in North Hampton, MA. Blew me away. Love that North Hampton scene and the Gravel Pit epitomizes my love of such. Big sound, strong attitude, but generally harmless honest tunes that crunch your brain as they pull at your heart.

May 15, 2007

Love Ain't Right, It's Wrong - The Skeleton Killers

Discovered via lead singer and guitarist David Rees' cartoon Get Your War On, I saw these guys in Williamsberg soon after relocating to Brooklyn from Boston. Absolute poetry in motion, I was taken by the rich, harmonic presentation of sentimental punk somewhere between Lounge Nirvana and anarchistic XTC.

May 14, 2007

Via Con Me - Paolo Conte

Lots of his songs sound familiar, or at least the same. But there are tremendous gems mixed in the Best Of album we spin regularly. This one brings that romantic, happy bounce of the Mediterranean spirit and Paolo's smoky voice soothes all wounds. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but that doesn't matter.

May 13, 2007

The Heavenly Music Corporation - Fripp & Eno

OK, not a song. Disqualified. NOT. I groove to this album and people look at me strange. But it does groove and eb and flow. Beautiful stuff, this.

May 11, 2007

Another Green World - Brian Eno

Another album I can't pull one song off and hold it above the others. The whole is greater than the parts applies here. Clearly Eno was happily whittling away his time as he put this masterpiece together. The cliche of painterly sonic landscapes is a moniker Eno wears well. Percy Jones, Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, John Cale...how can you go wrong?

May 10, 2007

Calling All Angels - Jane Siberry

I've always found Jane Siberry's albums hot or cold. But When I Was A Boy was very hot, and this track brings together her flowing songwriting with the sonic vibrancy of much of her older material. The first time I saw her live, at the wonderful Bottom Line in NYC, her band represented that sonic orchestra that her material demands. And her vocal sincerity shined through. The fact that Eno produced and played Oboe doesn't hurt, of course.

May 09, 2007

Don't Give Up - Peter Gabriel

I could have picked "Red Rain" or "Sledgehammer" or many others off SO, but figured I'd stay on the Kate Bush track, and she's featured beautifully here with Peter. The contemplative story telling is vivid, and the sonic pallet nothing short of extraordinary. Peter Gabriel's range is at its peak on this album and his vocal abilities make themselves clear as he rides the emotional wave through Don't Give Up.

May 08, 2007

Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush

An artist in the shadows sometimes has the biggest influence. Despite rare concert appearances, her recording career has produced some of the more distinctive albums in rock. She also produced much of her own material, grasped the subtle and the not so subtle capabilities of the Fairlight and Synclavier, and wove tremendously beautiful acoustic folk music, largely via her brother's wonderful playing, into a string of enchanting and sensual songs. This one has it all, and headed the soundtrack to my early college days.

May 07, 2007

Earth To Doris - Was Not Was

"She kissed me like she was hungry...so we got a room.
In the morning she looked like a horse...smoking these little cigars...
She makes champagne out of seven up and cheap wine...a chemist"

I've always had a soft place in my heart for short stories set to squeaky tracks, but the brothers Was bring their considerable production and presentation skills to the party.

"Something's burning somewhere" I said "Yeah, it's US" she says...

I usually get sucked in by the imagery in the lyric, and this one's just perfect.

"Earth to Doris, Earth to Doris, come in Doris..."

The rest of the album swings from more bizarre pieces like "Dad I'm in Jail" and "11 Miles An Hour" to sweet saccharin like the songs I don't even want to look up their names they're so over the top. Strange and somehow reassuring I guess...

May 06, 2007

St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast - Frank Zappa

Zappa mixes his insane humor with insane jazz fusion prog pop on Apostrophe, and St. Alfonzo's is the place with the best syrup to pour over it all. The dynamic and stylistic slam-shifts in this song would be nothing but irregular and abrupt if not for Frank's masterful arrangements and the instrumental precision of his band. This whole album plays like this, and we spent many hours in the grips of its magnetism.

May 04, 2007

Isn't It A Pity - George Harrison

My favorite fab, George brought the goods all too few times. But when let loose he let it rain. The build up here is classic George, inch by inch, a simple and slow pot of water heated to a vigorous boil as we watch. His slide so fluid, the string arrangement from Phil Spector, the cyclical vocals, mesmerizing and enchanted, contemplative and remorseful. Yet beautiful.

May 03, 2007

Towering Inferno - Frankie Big Face

If he wrote just this one song he'd be a star in my mind. One of the first SF crowd songs I knew, Towering Inferno is a towering presence of open heart surgery level emotion crying for attention. Frankie has a famous voice and a gift for slick songs disguised as organic swooner fodder. But we know better and this Latin infused plea proves to me Frankie writes good music. This is off the album that never sells out, 15 copies at a time.

May 02, 2007

A Day In The Life - The Beatles

I could start with a long list of Beatles favorites but there's one that really stands above the others, however tall the rest stand. Virtually every song they recorded is a masterpiece on its own. I almost take it for granted that theirs are the top shelf, but now find it took 35 entries before I listed one Beatles song. The pink elephant. ADITL is so "ultimate", so unassuming in its fluency and understated in its extraordinariness that you really have to listen hard to be reminded its about the most perfect piece every recorded.

Say what you may.

May 01, 2007

The Eraser - Thom Yorke

We were stopped in Cork, Ireland last summer. The kids were going a little crazy, I was driving and the traffic was insane. All of Ireland is open and flowing and fast and Cork is just...HELL. So I got out of the car and walk away. It was safe to do so, but it sort of freaked the family out. I needed to decompress. A couple blocks away I passed a goth crystal shop, and bought amathyst crystals for each of the boys. I then found a CD shop and bought Thom Yorks brand new release. We played it the next two weeks touring the Irish countryside. Perfect. I love the low-end distortion on this song, and his voice is amazing. The quirky percussive keys and angelic choruses just create an amazing harmony. Brings back the 40 shades of green every time I listen to it.

April 30, 2007

Budapest By Blimp - Thomas Dolby

I liked him as a techno new-waver, but his work in the late 80s and 90s is my favorite. After moving to LA and putting together a pick up band of largely unknowns, Dolby got both fresh and far more musically mature. Budapest By Blimp was my 2006 Gift Of Music cover request and Tex Beaumont & The Stinky Hearts (aka Caravan Ray) reluctantly produced this flowing version. Dolby's version is more sensual, visual, slowly evolving and gathering momentum until it launched over the skyline and takes us beyond imagination. Or something...

April 29, 2007

Kashmir - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant

An old time Zep fan who never dreamed of hearing anything new from these guys worth anything, I was overjoyed when not only they were to play live and record again, it was to be largely acoustic renderings of their more expressive masterpieces. Not everybody likes this album's dive into eastern instrumentation and arrangements, but my god this is beautiful! Page's wife visits upon the songs a lovely veneer and his own afflicted vocal stylings are a welcome expansion of the pallet. Seeing them perform this in front of a stunned MTV un-plugged crowd was mind blowing.

April 28, 2007

The Fat Lady of Limbourg - Brian Eno

Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy is one of my all time favorite albums, and this track is just brilliant. Eno's obtuse lyric endlessly amuse and the sparse arrangement paints an eerie canvas. Robert Wyatt's percussion and Andy Mackay's sax bring this into the deep forests of insanity and gloriously so, subtly turning a story as it creeks through the bush.

April 27, 2007

Tryin to get to Heaven - Bob Dylan

Aside from writing some pretty great songs that other artists made famous, I was a late Dylan fan. My siblings had all the early records and I knew them well but he wasn't at the center of my favorites until I started listening intently in the early 90s. His genius stands out clearly and forcefully as a songwriter, but this song and a couple others on this album brings out his vocal performance in all its drawl, supporting the emotion and essence of the lyric. Lanois' production is awesome and complimentary throughout.

April 26, 2007

The Bandit - Starlight Mints

Starlight Mints engraved themselves into my mind on very few listens. I love their quirky pop stylistics and fresh energy.

April 25, 2007

Gharbzadegi - Robert Wyatt

Quirky Robert Wyatt, another under the radar genius with extraordinary influence. Paralyzed after falling out a window, Pink Floyd held a concert to raise money for him. Good thing, cause he continued pumping out wonderful music both gentle and biting. Wyatt led such groups as Soft Machine & Matching Mole before a string of decidedly un-commercial solo albums. Curiously he released a cover of I'm A Believer and scored a hit. His falsetto voice and lush keyboards are supported by varied hand percussion and determined emotion. Gharbzadegi features antiphonal vocals and layered piano/percussion that wrap the mind with warm fuzzy procrastination.

April 24, 2007

Carnival - Natalie Merchant

This album played in my love's living room as I showered, the scent of fresh coffee exciting the morning. I woke in bliss, she was out running. The warm rain comforting, and the coffee beckoning friendship. Carnival wove the fabric of this familiar pageantry each morning. Gotta love it, I thought. This is real.

April 23, 2007

Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix

A recent SF argument about over rated musicians sparks my defense of Jimi Hendrix. Hey Joe spirals into a jealous rampage like a typhoon hitting the barrier reef. Slow and restrained, then churning round and round into a passionate froth. I like the '69 San Diego version. "We dedicate this one to the plain closed policemen and other goofballs..."

Written by Billy Roberts, Lester Bangs summarized the situation around the 60s environment that produced it, "There was this song called 'Hey Joe' that everybody and his fuckin' brother not only recorded but claimed to have written, even though it was obviously the psychedelic mutation of some hoary old folk song which was about murderin' somebody for love, just like nine-tenths of the rest of them hoary folk ballads."

April 21, 2007

Life During Wartime - Talking Heads

It's hard to pick one song of Fear of Music over the others. This album produced some of the strongest imprints for me about a particular time (freshman year) and place (Potsdam, NY), as Drums and Wires did the following year when I moved to NYC. Seeing the Heads as a quartet that year just finished it for me and I enjoyed freaking my BRUCE fanatic roommate out with Eno, Eno and more Eno. And Fripp. And Bowie. All with Eno. It kept me sane.

April 20, 2007

House of the Blue Danube - Malcolm McLaren

Always a favorite for cross-over arrangements, Malcolm McLaren pulled out many stops for this masterpiece. First there's kick-ass funky beats, then there's Strauss. What more could you want? Jeff Beck, you say? OK, no problem. The result is a bizarrely organic house dance mix with orchestral interludes punctuated by Beck's blazing guitar solos.

April 19, 2007

Tea In The Sahara (live) - The Police

There's a sandy wind blowing through this live version that I love, both sonic and edgy, seductive and anxious. This comes through the lyric and the arrangement. I wish I was in the crowd being washed with this tale, and they respond appropriately.

This collection of the complete recordings of the Police is a must-have for anyone that doesn't have all their albums, and even so, the extra tracks are extraordinary.

April 18, 2007

Adidas In Heat - Adrian Belew

Adrian is one of the most distinctive and original guitarists, having played with Zappa, Bowie, Talking Heads, King Crimson. That he plays most of the instruments on this album is perhaps enough to demonstrate this guy's abilities, but then you listen to his songs and hear a joyful and ambitious songwriter who can laugh while telling a sarcastic joke...about himself. All in all this is a joy to listen to. His mixing in his hometown high school's marching band is icing on the cake.

April 17, 2007

Chalkhills and Children - XTC

Airy ballads aren't typical fare, but this one is so lush and visually Alice-In-Wonderlandish that it really gets under my skin. XTC did lots of vocal layerings on this album and the times when they cluster up brings back textures of Barry Andrews' keyboards on All Along the Watchtower (soon to be featured, I'd guess).

April 15, 2007

Di Bombs - Ikwunga

I was brainstorming with some associates about starting a new project focused on helping African musicians establish a marketplace for their talents domestically and abroad and met two guys who started The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (ASAP). The recordings are wonderful and the message true and penetrating. Di Bombs is so lovely in presentation that the message is first buoyed to your consciousness as a celebration then BAM! it hits you. And its strong. Ikwunga's vocals and the funky roll they all are on is mesmerizing.

This can also be found on the Indestructible African Beat album.

April 13, 2007

This Is Hell - Elvis Costello

This morning I experienced my first alarming earthquake, as a 6.3 in Acapulco was felt very strongly here in Mexico City. Then followed by a 5.4 hours later. I didn't sleep well. So I figured it was time to play the Elvis card and feature his This Is Hell as a nod to the last month I've had, what with my laptop and bag being stolen, the usual fun of cross-border logistics and now the pleasure of swinging from the 20th floor of a hotel in Mexico as it sways and shakes for over a minute. AND it's Friday the 13th!

It's not the torment of the flames
That finally see your flesh corrupted
It's the small humiliations that your memory piles up

This is hell, this is hell
I am sorry to tell you
It never gets better or worse
But you get used to it after a spell
For heaven is hell in reverse

"My Favourite Things" are playing
Again and again
But it's by Julie Andrews
And not by John Coltrane

This is hell, this is hell, this is hell

April 12, 2007

All Because Of You - U2

I've become a pretty big U2 addict recently thanks to my wife who went back to grad school last year, bought an iPod and good headphones, and plugged into pop rock all in the name of Bono's good deeds. Guilty pleasure? Perhaps, but the Edge is a wonderfully tasteful guitarist who I've admired from a distance since the early 80s. And then there's Eno behind the curtains. And Lanois. Yeah, big fan all round, actually.

All Because Of You is a loud one, and I'm suspicious of that insanely loud opening guitar needle that goes through my eardrums when I don't adjust the volume in time. But all in all this song combines classic U2 sonic guitar spread with hard punching chugging rock. What really puts this song over the top is the moment at 3:09 when the lead guitar joins the rhythm into the final chorus and it is propelled to the next level of rawk.

April 11, 2007

Miss Gradenko - The Police

One of the reasons I love Andy Summers is that he lays down textures for the sake of the song and not the sake of wailing. Miss Gradenko demonstrates both the rich subtle carpet bombing of his finger picking style and the restrained anxiety of his leads. Sting's pizzicato bass playing is hyper and restless, and Copeland's lyrics complimentary in their obtuse vagueness (no wonder roymond likes them). Copeland's sparse drumming lets the other two breath but it's the right course of action and foreshadows his high hat work on Peter Gabriel's Red Rain.

April 10, 2007

Here Comes The Flood - Peter Gabriel

I'm partial to the version on Robert Fripp's Exposure Album. My god, this is brilliant. The extended Frippertronics intro/outros, the space, the production.

April 08, 2007

Octopus Trees - c.layne

I've been playing Octopus Trees over and over the last few weeks and even my wife is on board! C Layne has created a wonderful quilt of visual adventure. I'm not gonna sell this on false interpretation, so let's just say this ROCKS!!! OMG THIS IS THE BANK!!! And it's today's song :)

April 07, 2007

Never The Same - Supreme Beings Of Leisure

In the leading song from their first album, the Supreme Beings Of Leisure mix trip-hop grooves and swooning strings and seductive lyrics. This style permeates the album and I love the whole thing, but this song is righteously the opening track. I love Geri Soriano-Lightwood's voice and the place it sits within the mix. Infectious and smooth, pointed and sharp yet soothingly reassuring. I don't know what I'm talking about now, but I love this sound through and through, and thank my friend Ted every day for introducing me to it. And to Matt for introducing Ted to it.

April 06, 2007

Walking In The Rain - Grace Jones

This is the song I want to hear when I'm walking in the rain. I've always had a soft spot for those three songs per album that really carry you along. This is a wash of intrigue and imagery and she doesn't sound like she's making much of it, but walk on it does.

April 05, 2007

Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes

I wont even break out one song from the album. This is Yes in their expansive best. Whack lyrics we never tried to understand but took joy in their persistence to evade meaningful relationship to our experience, because apparently Jon Anderson was into different stuff than we were. But who cared anyway? The sonic ride here is swift and flowing, a river along the emotional veins of ... Jon Anderson's lyrics. I always loved Steve Howe's guitar work back in the 70s. He played as an orchestra member during the full parts, and then glided through these beautiful solos. Wakeman did some of his best here, weaving in the hyper textures he excelled at when he wasn't drunk. And Chris and Alan seem to have some fun too. Many, many hours were spent hammocked in my sky light with head phones glued to my ears.

April 04, 2007

Funny Ways (live) - Gentle Giant

A band that was too good for their own good, me and my friends would act like stalkers and see them a few times every tour. Their songs were often based on myths and their fantastic story lines took me places. Whereas Yes had lyrics I couldn't relate to (but still were intensely intrigued by) Giant's were far more accessible. Playing the Fool is truly what they sounded like live, perhaps one of the most honest live albums in capturing the performance energy and dynamic of a tremendously dynamic band, even if the production quality of the album itself is a bit flat. Funny Ways has a lot of nooks and crannies and tracking the instrumentation from start to finish is like watching a ballet from the wings. Strings and acoustic guitar to trumpet and rock quartet to out of control vibes solo back to string and guitar. I can't help but feel nostalgic when I play this cut.

April 03, 2007

Quarter Of A Man - David Lindley

There's such a lethargic energy here as he bios this poor fellow, "He only saves a quarter, he's a quarter of a man". Lindley's guitar, as sparse and exposed as it is, brings a full band of emotion and the strategic drums, reggae groove and his lilting voice make this an engaging tale. In the end there's nothing especially revelatory about this quarter of a man, but you just feel sort of sorry. You almost forget how greasy his hair is.

April 02, 2007

I Gave Myself To You - Snakefinger

There were sad days, then there was the day this genius died. Well, he left some bizarre and playful music to chew on and I thank him for that. This riff, the guitar solos, the campy spooky vocals just weave through a somewhat dark lyric. It's a true love song! "Now I'm one of those jerks that's got nothing that works cause I gave myself to you".

April 01, 2007

Like A Prayer - Madonna

I'm not going to apologize, I love this song. I did the day it came out and here's why: it's lush, gleeful, provocative, poppy, fun. The choir, the little twangy rhythm guitar, the organ! CRANK IT UP. The rest of the album sucks, except Act Of Contrition, which cracks me up.

March 31, 2007

Joe the Lion - David Bowie

A rougher tale than A Day In The Life, but similar in the juxtaposition of different elements of Joe's life. Fripp, Alomar, Bowie, Eno...all gettin down in Berlin. What more can a fan boy ask for?

March 30, 2007

Livin' 4 the Moment - Geto Boys

From Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly. I love the sleigh bells in this :) the analog synths, the punchy base. All the funkiness. The mix and production and depth in this track, hell the whole album, is truly amazing. Although, this may be the only song that holds together on the album. There are only two chords, but they sure sound serious, huh? And those sleigh bells...

March 29, 2007

Nari Nari - Hishahm Abbas

It will soon become apparent that I'm a bit of a Indian pop fan. Bollywood Nights is one of the more popular collections and this cut drives rhythmically and has a lush textural arrangement that gets my bones moving. The impassioned dialog between horns and strings over the infectious percussion is a force to be reckoned with.

March 28, 2007

Brown Shoes Don't Make It - Frank Zappa

My dear sister made me listen to Absolutely Free for days at a time when I was 13...or so I remember those wonderful days running around our house singing along as our mom watched with quiet amusement. The mini operatic drama that unfolds during Brown Shoes made me believe that any story is game. I didn't know at the time how to tie the Stravinsky my mom played into the 60s pop into the surf and slurf grooves. But I didn't need to rationalize any of this. We were too busy running around our house singing and laughing and loving life. I miss Frank.

March 27, 2007

Complicated Game - XTC

It's my birthday today, so this is special. A favorite album, 1979's Drums and Wires painted my world the year I moved to Brooklyn (1980) and lived alone in a basement apartment through some dark days. Complicated Game asked the same questions that filled my head and somehow they resonate today in a similar way. Simple, normal questions, suggesting exaggerated, intimidating possibilities. Ahh, life was so innocent. Nonetheless I did my own thing and survived, with a smile, so I have faith that I'll pull through this year as well. I love the slow build up, the manic climax and the fragmented vocals. Classic Partridge mania.

March 26, 2007

Uncle Alvarez - Liz Phair

Liz got lots of crap for "selling out" at some point, but 1998's WhiteChocolateSpaceEgg has lots of edgy rock and pretty much kicks some ass. Uncle Alvarez stands out with its acoustic treatments against some electronica percussion in the chorus and breaks. You don't really know who Alvarez is, but she creates an intriguingly visual biographical sound scape. Whether fictitious or not, we all may have an Uncle Alvarez in our family.

March 25, 2007

Puntos Cardinales - Cafe Tacuba

Cuatro Caminos is a driven, angular album -- more XTC meets the Police than the traditional folk rock that they often B side with. But with Puntos Cardinales they go the Radiohead meets Ricky Martin route in a good way. But alas, a Drums and Wires guitar hacking finally pierces the pop finish towards the end. Great skiing tune.

March 24, 2007

Try Some, Buy Some - David Bowie

Written by George Harrison, this one comes from Bowie's 2003 Reality album, which takes few breaths. It offers contemplative reprieve from an almost non-stop assault of hyper-Bowie with a heavy, plodding base line and interwoven arrangement that asks as many questions as it answers. In many ways it's not that strikingly different from Harrison's on Living In The Material World, but Bowie's given it a clarified focus and attitude which resonates with me.