We Love Everybody, But We Do as We Please

3156. V.A.: Kings of Rap 3157. V.A.: Basement Flavor 3158. V.A.: M. Walk Productions Featuring the Union 3159. V.A.: Colors 3160. V.A.: Now Rap's What I Call Music! Volume 2 3161. V.A.: Boston Goes Def! 3162. V.A.: The Harder They Come 3163. V.A.: The "King" Kong Compilation 3164. V.A.: Reggae Greats 3165. V.A.: Ska-Au-Go-Go 3166. V.A.: Rockers All-Star Explosion 3167. V.A.: The Island Story Mixworthy: "Johnny Too Bad," Slickers, #3162; "Israelites," Desmond Dekker & the Aces, #3163; "All Right Now," Free, and "My Boy Lollipop," Millie, #3167. As a prelude to the K-Tel and Ronco albums on deck, Quality's Kings of Rap: "10 Fresh Raps," and, as added incentive, "Yo! Learn to rap -- Instructions & lyrics inside." My copy was bought used and with the instructional booklet having been re- moved, leading me to believe it once belonged to either Maestro Fresh Wes or Snow... No date anywhere on Boston Goes Def!, but I think I got it sometime in the late '80s. Among the participants: Disco P & the Fresh MC, the Fat Girls of Boston, the Body Rock Crew, Rusty the Toejammer & Larry D, Professor Rock & RCC Roxbury Crush Crew, and MC Throwdown & DJ Almighty Antski. Schoolly-D, I'm glad there was you...I've still never seen The Harder They Come, which I'm sure wouldn't be true if I regard- ed the album as highly as everyone else does. The Slickers and "Pressure Drop" (listed previously) are great, the rest never made much of an impression on me... I'm not sure if Free are more properly classified as hip-hop or reggae, but Amer- ican Beauty's use of "All Right Now" is one of a few excellent moments in a film that doesn't get enough (or really any) credit for its pop-music savvy. ________________________________________________________________________________ 3168. V.A.: 20 Explosive Hits 3169. V.A.: 20 Solid Hits Volume II 3170. V.A.: Believe in Music 3171. V.A.: Music Power 3172. V.A.: Music Power 3173. V.A.: Music Express 3174. V.A.: Block Buster 3175. V.A.: Canada Gold 3176. V.A.: Disco Explosion Vol. 2 3177. V.A.: 20 Original Hits 3178. V.A.: Don Kirshner Presents Rock Power 3179. V.A.: Good Vibrations 3180. V.A.: Boogie Nights 3181. V.A.: Manhattan Explosion 3182. V.A.: Sound Express 3183. V.A.: Super-Sonic 3184. V.A.: Let's Party 3185. V.A.: Star Time 3186. V.A.: Golden Greats 3187. V.A.: More and More Hits Mixworthy: "In the Summertime," Mungo Jerry; "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)," Edison Lighthouse; "Tighter, Tighter," Alive & Kicking; and "Going Up the Country," Canned Heat, #3168; "Draggin' the Line," Tommy James, #3169; "Tonite Is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love," April Wine, #3173; "What the Hell I Got," Michel Pagliaro, #3174; "Jungle Fever," Chakachas, #3177; "Paranoid," Black Sabbath, #3178; "Kiss You All Over," Exile, #3183; "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," Jacksons, and "Magnet and Steel," Walter Egan, #3185; "To Sir With Love," Lulu, and "Georgy Girl," Seekers, #3186. The two Music Power LPs are completely different, which is odd; it's not normally like K-Tel to demonstrate a lack of imagination. I've been looking for a sensible place to link to Scott Woods' recently launched Blender/Rolling Stone showdown, and, in a way, the strange worlds of K-Tel (#3168 to #3175) and Ronco (#3178 to #3185) provide one. (As far as I can tell, the sole pur- pose of this link is in case Scott stumbles home drunk one night and can't find his way back to his own site. If you haven't seen the Blender and Rolling Stone Top 500s at issue, both can be viewed online.) As an undertaking like this album inventory should make clear, I'm a thousand percent in favour of lists; I've been making them for approximately 30 years, and, to paraphrase Bob in Twin Peaks, I will...list... again! I also don't have any particular problem with the idea that Blender's list is intended as an alternative to Rolling Stone's. Everybody knows what's maddening/ frustrating/mildly annoying (you can choose the intensity of your own reaction) about Rolling Stone's version of pop-music history, and every time they try to manufacture interest in their latest reshuffling of the same old standbys, they're just asking to be ridiculed--as I'm sure they're aware by now, ridicule actually seems to be the most surefire way of guaranteeing that such lists are noticed. What strikes me as phoney about Blender's own list, though, is the "since you were born" premise, and the arbitrary cut-off date of 1980 that goes along with it. It reminds me so much of the old political joke about strictly enforced balanced-budget bills: "Stop me before I spend again." Blender would say that their 25-year window is meant to reflect their readership, and there's obviously truth to that, but any list that starts with Mich- ael Jackson and follows with Outkast, Guns N' Roses (eye-catching on Spin's 1988 Top 100, as doctrinaire as What's Going On in 2005), U2, Nirvana, Madonna, Joy Division, and Run-D.M.C. is hardly an affront to Rolling Stone; it basically is a Rolling Stone list, right? (I stopped at #9, the dismal Britney Spears, although judging from all the plaudits for last year's "Toxic," she too is headed for canonization one day.) Looking at Blender's Top 10, I swear that "since you were born" is really just some- body's--one editor or a group of writers, I don't know--way of pleading, "Stop me before I vote for 'Good Vibrations' again." But do you really need the 1980 rule to avoid overlap with Rolling Stone? Speaking as someone who's fairly doctrinaire my- self, even I can tell you that there's no shortage of fantastic pre-1980 pop music that has no place on Rolling Stone's list. So instead of wasting space on the many useless songs I see all over Blender's list, all for the sake of filling some arti- ficially imposed calendar quota, what about Edison Lighthouse and Mungo Jerry and Alive & Kicking, or "Magnet and Steel" and "Draggin' the Line" and "To Sir With Love," or all the lesser known doo-wop and garage and early-70s soul that gets bypassed by Rolling Stone? There's even some hippie music they've forgotten about--do you really need to rule great songs by the Charlatans, the Fugs, Hot Tuna, and Quicksilver Mes- senger Service as ineligible for the sake of "No Diggity" and Duran Duran? (I'm being disingenuous: the Hot Tuna and Quicksilver Messenger songs I have in mind I've dis- covered just within the past month.) So I get the basic thrust of the Blender argu- ment: Rolling Stone's version of what is and isn't worth preserving from the history of pop music never changes, or at least only changes incrementally and at a glacial pace, and we've got 500 songs that prove how out of touch they really are. But the safety net they then set up--and just to make sure we don't mess up, we're going to knock all the stuff that supposedly bothers us so much right off the ballot before we even start--is bizarre. Take a cue from K-Tel and Ronco: open the door to everything and let God sort it all out later. If you're sick of "Whole Lotta Love," that'll take care of itself, and if you sincerely believe that the Backstreet Boys made a better record than Al Green ever put his name to, that'll take care of itself too, but you won't close the door on the Mungo Jerrys and Edison Lighthouses of the world in the process. I realize that carping about these lists is the only thing more predictable than the lists themselves, so I'll stop before I seem more passionate about all of this than I really am--I'm much closer to the mildly annoyed end of the spectrum when it comes to both the Blender and Rolling Stone Top 500s. It'll be great following Scott as he tracks each list song-by-song, he's got lots of statistical comparisons either up and running or in the works for the Bill James crowd ("listometrics," I be- lieve this newest branch of data analysis is called), and, in much the same way that Michael Moore's creepy self-aggrandizement in Bowling for Columbine had me feeling sympathy for Charlton Heston that he didn't deserve, I even have a rooting interest in which list comes out on top...I think Scott and I pretty much exhausted the phenom- enon of K-Tel and Ronco in I Wanna Be Sedated, so I won't rehash all of that here; hopefully I can find a good cover scan somewhere. Four of the albums listed above are K-Tel knock-offs from other labels: Disco Explosion Vol. 2 is on British Pickwick, 20 Original Hits (subtitled a "disco-disc," even though maybe a quarter of it qualifies as disco) on Polydor, Golden Greats on British EMI, and More and More Hits is a late- 80s CBS thing. There are probably between a half-dozen to a dozen songs I've already listed in the alphabetical section, while some (maybe even much) of what fills out the rest of these LPs is as grievously wrong as legend would have it. I'm not sure I can explain, but I find it perversely satisfying to have the only Black Sabbath song I own pop up in this context...I just wrote a special little poem that I'm calling "Ronco Haiku": "The guy who did 'Magnet and Steel,' does this character have a name?" "His name is Walter Egan." "That's a great name!" ________________________________________________________________________________ 3188. O.S.T.: The Big Chill 3189. O.S.T.: Car Wash 3190. O.S.T.: Looking for Mr. Goodbar 3191. O.S.T.: Five Easy Pieces 3192. O.S.T.: Full Metal Jacket 3193. O.S.T.: Pennies from Heaven 3194. O.S.T.: Some Kind of Wonderful 3195. O.S.T.: Disorderlies 3196. O.S.T.: Get Crazy 3197. O.S.T.: More Dirty Dancing 3198. O.S.T.: Beat Street Volume 2 3199. O.S.T.: Shocker 3200. O.S.T.: Endless Love 3201. Festival de la Musique de Films Fantastiques 3202. V.A.: Phil Spector's Christmas Album 3203. V.A.: Soul Christmas 3204. V.A.: A Motown Christmas 3205. V.A.: Christmas Favourites 3206. V.A.: A Christmas Record 3207. V.A.: A Very Special Christmas 3208. V.A.: Jingle Bell Jazz Mixworthy: "I Wanna Get Next to You," Rose Royce, #3189; "Machine Gun," Commodores, #3190; "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love, #3202; "Gee Whiz, It's Christmas," Carla Thomas, #3203; "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee, and "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms, #3205; "Christmas Wrapping," Waitresses, #3206. Spent: "Wipeout," Surfaris, #3197. No reason for grouping soundtracks and Christmas albums together, except that that will divide the remaining 40 or so pop compilations into two equal groups. There are also a small number of LPs from each category that I've filed elsewhere...Some people make collecting soundtracks their life's work; I've got 14 (17 when you add Saturday Night Fever, American Graffiti, and The Harder They Come), among which are such land- marks as Disorderlies and Wes Craven's Shocker. I can provide specific explanations for a few of them: Car Wash I bought for the Rose Royce song listed above (no use at all for the title track); Five Easy Pieces, just because it's one of my favourite movies (Open City's $6 price sticker is still affixed); Get Crazy, for a non-LP Ra- mones song called "Chop Suey" (no memory of how it goes); and Endless Love, because I claimed whatever records were still in good shape when my younger sister was ready to junk her collection. (Four explanations for the sake of explaining why I own End- less Love.) I mentioned the Looking for Mr. Goodbar soundtrack when writing about "Don't Leave Me This Way" back in the alphabetical section; however heavy-handed Richard Brooks' film is, it was, after American Graffiti and The Graduate, one of the first instances where I was very conscious of the way second-hand pop music was integral to the film's mood. The listing for "Machine Gun" is not because of Looking for Mr. Goodbar, though, but rather for its inclusion in Boogie Nights. Four sound- tracks I wouldn't mind owning on vinyl: Rushmore, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Trans- lation, and Boogie Nights. Four that I wish existed: Mean Streets, Scorpio Rising, Goin' Down the Road, and Wild Christmas. One that I should have bought when I used to see it everywhere for $0.99: Nashville...I could list another three or four songs from the Spector album--the whole record sounds great in season--but "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is the only thing I'd ever listen to any other time of the year. The Judy Garland and Nat King Cole songs I listed earlier rank a little ahead of what's above. Amazon/CDNOW's opening screen was hawking a Clay Aiken Christmas CD right through till about March of this year, and if you looked at your monitor long enough, you could almost see stacks and stacks of them sitting in a warehouse some- where in Arizona. It reminded me of all the Bruce Willis and Randy Travis and Patti LaBelle Christmas LPs we used to send back in great quantities when I was working at Sunrise in the mid-80s. As John McGyver said in Breakfast at Tiffany's, it gives one a feeling of solidarity, almost of continuity with the past, that sort of thing.

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