Continued from this post .
1. ‘A Foggy Day’ – Dave Brubeck Quartet – Fantasy 518X – 1949. That’s right, this baby came out in 1949, a year before the ‘official’ debut year of the 45RPM format (1950). Not only is this one of the first 7 inches of all time, it’s Brubeck’s first 45. Red vinyl, too. Ah, that’s just for starters: this is one killer track, perfection itself. You won’t find the famed ‘time signature’ quartet here, it’s the earlier one with the unobtrusive rhythm section – all the better to study the breezy genius of Brubeck and his partner, the most under-rated sax player of all time, Paul Desmond. Some 45s can be played 20 times in a row and still retain their freshness; this one can go 50 or more. Don’t you wish you were the dude who spotted it for 5 bucks in some Rhode Island hole-in-the-wall record joint in 1984?
2. ‘Surfer Joe’ – The Surfaris – Dot 144 – 1963. Sure, we all know the A-side, ‘Wipeout’ (intended to be the filler B-side) – and it’s awesome rawk (even today) but the real twisted shit is the flip (a minor, albeit forgotten, hit) which describes the brilliant career of Surfer Joe cut short by a stint in the US Marines. Seems like they cut off his long blond locks… and sent him over to Vietnam. That the composer, vocalist and drummer Ron Wilson quavers with all the untutored honesty of Jad Fair only adds to the postmodern sensibility of this disquieting tune.
3. ‘Patty Hearst’ – Half Japanese – 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Watts 13110 – 1988. Hey, speaking of Jad Fair and disquieting: sometimes rock ‘n roll needs to be abused a little in order to be saved at all – and here’s the band that’s devoted over 20 years to the thankless chore. Hipsters will argue ’til doomsday which scintillating Fair utterance shouted over a barrage of untuned feedback is the coolest… and here’s my personal favorite: ‘I know, Tanya, that you still carry that gun in your dreams.’ What nerve! There’s a reason Nirvana brought Half Japanese on their ’93 tour: they knew who really invented grunge.
4. ‘Giving To You’ – Traffic – United Artists 50195 – 1967. After the Green Tambourine atmospherics of the A-side (‘Paper Sun’) wear thin, the B-side demonstrates how groovy met heavy. Chris Wood holds this woobly little jam together with his felicitous flute riff, while Mason and Winwood attack their instruments with a passion (and distortion) that would be gone within a year. Far out, man!
5. ‘DOA’ – Bloodrock – Capitol 3009 – 1970. The notorious ‘novelty’ tune by Fort Worth’s finest rock machine was a big, loud bummer – and that’s the point. Here is the most emotionally direct anti-war song of the entire Vietnam era: no preaching, no appeals to morality – just a stark reminder that dying violently, pointlessly and anonymously is the worst possible trip on heaven, hell or earth.
6. ‘I’m The Slime’ – The Mothers – Discreet 1180 – 1973. I’ve got my issues with FZ and if I had to go with either/or, I’d say I can’t stand him; not because he was a right wing moron, a pompous ass or an overgrown 11-year-old, but because all these negative traits overshadowed his undeniable excellence as a composer and player. On this final 45 credited to his ‘band,’ The Mothers of Invention, Zappa takes aim at an easy target (television) but displays his best tendencies: frenzied guitar, wacky rhythms, witty lyrics and a subconscious instinct for a pop hook. Tina Turner guests on vocals to good effect.
7. ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ – Bob Dylan – Columbia 43477 – 1966. Here’s the blazing star of the Sixties captured at his finest moment. This is the B-side to the terminally contrived ‘Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window,’ demonstrating the big difference between inspiration and amphetamine. Everyone knows this classic so there’s no need to describe it… except I’ll offer my opinion that, when all is said and done, this is the one track from the LP that truly combines garage rock with beat poetry, giving 100% of each.
8. ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ – The Beatles – Capitol 5112 – 1964. Not bad… for the guy who ended up killing rock n’ roll! His first, his best and (probably) his last rockin’ moment.
9. ‘(I Can’t Get Me No) Satisfaction’ – Devo -Booji Boy 1 – 1977. Although I dig a lot of the (prime) Stones, I always hated this song. Although I hate Devo, there’s something delightful about this stompin’ deconstruction. This version is the ‘regional’ release, prior to the Eno production and the Warners’ signing; the arrangement is the same, but the sound is louder.
10. ‘They Don’t Know’ – Tracey Ullman – MCA/Stiff 52347 – 1983. And you thought most people only remembered Cyndi Lauper. Here’s the sound of ’83 – a big, fat retro nothing to compliment the greed decade. If new wave was essentially the early 60s done by machines, then this is a prime candidate for posterity. Every beat is a whopping Phil Spector bell and the backing harmonies are helium unreal. Utterly synthetic, undeniably annoying and – with the right amount of [insert altered state here] – entirely charming.
11. ‘1963’ – New Order – Quest 28271 – 1987. I can’t say this stuff holds up all that well after the far more adventurous paths blazed by techno, but once upon a time all the cool people in the world eagerly awaited the latest New Order single and the A-side of this US breakthrough ‘True Faith’ delivered the goods. This was also the one where all the uncool people finally finally caught up, thus spelling the ultimate demise for the (once) mighty masters of Manchester. Rarely did they sing a line worth listening to, but on this tune there’s a weird little message trying to break out – and it’s pretty scary.
12. ‘Checkin’ In / Moonlight In Vermont’ [EP on 45] – Les Brown & His Band of Renown – Capitol 746 – 1954. Here is the sound of Saturday night in America, smack dab in the middle of the 20th century – and if you can’t dig it, you’re probably some kinda communist. It’s not gone, it’s not out – but it’s no snoozer, either: it’s the salubrious Eisenhower swing that was heavy on trombones and clarinets (and Gin Rickeys). Smooth! The Les Brown formula was simple – and effective: a fast one to get ’em on the floor, then a slow one to nuzzle your date. This 4-song platter is the best example of this style I’ve ever heard; the compilation (below) features 3 out of 4 (leaving off the best one[!!]).
OK, I’m done for a while. There’s others – zillions others! – and I might own ’em all someday … but part of the reductionist pleasure here is the short stack that can take the repetition. And… what about the Beach Boys? My hangup with them is my all-time favorite – ‘Catch A Wave’ – was inexplicably never released on a 45 … and I’m just bidding my time to bootleg the goddamn thing, complete with Capitol swirl, and insert it right in that spot Paul McCartney presently occupies.Powered by Sidelines