Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Innocent Pleasures


Some of these songs are guilty pleasures ... songs you almost feel guilty for liking.

Then I realized ... I'm not going to apologize for liking any of these songs. Each of them have something completely awesome about them no matter how cheesy society may deem them. Like Shaun Cassidy. Hey, I still like singing the song in the shower sometimes. And Cibo Matto, a Japanese Punk duo. The drums on that track freakin' ROCK. They're hard, loud and powerful. So what if you can barely understand the broken English vocals? I can overlook that when the rhythm pounds you like a prize fighter.

Therefore ... innocent pleasures.

TOM WAITS' "Heartattack And Vine"

Tom's gravelly voice is full of phlegm and vinegar. And it fits this song perfectly. It's an acquired taste, but I promise you, if you give Tom a chance, he'll change your world.

PATTI SMITH'S "Dancing Barefoot"

Patti has songs that I like better and I'll get to those eventually. This one is kind of more melodic than the others. U2 covered it and did a really good job with the song, but Patti ... like Tom Waits ... just has a nakedness to her sound that makes you sit up and take notice.

THE MANSFIELDS' "Frankenstein Twist"

From my Garage Rock phase. Here's a dance craze that never caught on.

JASON AND THE SCORCHERS' "Absolutely Sweet Marie"

In 1982 I started college at the University of Tennessee. I went with a couple of guys to see this band when they were Jason and the Nashville Scorchers. This cover of a Bob Dylan tune was the first song in their setlist and it blew me away. I've loved them ever since.

THE REFRESHMENTS' "Banditos (Live Acoustic)"

These guys had everything they needed to become huge rock stars. Great catchy melodies, awesome and funny lyrics ... and a guitarist with a heroin problem that was the genesis of breaking up the band. Such a shame.

SHAUN CASSIDY'S "That's Rock 'n' Roll"

It thumps. At least for a minute or so.

THE OSMONDS' "Down By The Lazy River"

The Osmonds rocked this song. Seriously. While they were a cheesy family pop band, this song and "Crazy Horses" reached out to us rock fans and made them at least a little tolerable.

CIBO MATTO'S "Know Your Chicken"

The fuzzy guitar. The two-ton drums. The Yoko-like vocals. The nonsensical lyrics. Give it a chance.

FRENTE'S "Open Up Your Heart And Let The Sunshine In"

Where have you heard this song before? Pebbles and Bam-Bam sang it in a Bedrock Talent Show. Frente covered it. I loved it.


I saw R.E.M. close a show with this song in '86 or so. Pre-Internet, it wasn't easy to find out the name of an obscure song at an arena show. I don't remember how I found out it was a Velvet Underground song, but when I found out, I bought the band's entire library and listened to it for hours until I heard this and said "THAT'S the song!!" There's a reason the band was so influential on other artists ... they were so ahead of their time and yet, so in the moment.

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