And Count the Time in Quarter-Tones
1793. MX-80 Sound: Out of the Tunnel 1794. Mystics: 16 Golden Classics 1795. Johnny Nash: I Can See Clearly Now 1796. Nasty Joe: Hit 'Em With Your Thing 1797. The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Volume 1 1798. The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Volume 2 1799. Necros: Tangled Up 1800. Ricky Nelson: Legendary Masters 1801. Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band: Garden Party 1802. The Very Best of Sandy Nelson 1803. The Best of Willie Nelson 1804. Willie Nelson: Red Headed Stranger 1805. Willie Nelson: Stardust 1806. Willie Nelson: His Very Best 1807. Nervous Eaters: Hot Steel and Acid 1808. Robbie Nevil: C'Est la Vie Mixworthy: "I Can See Clearly Now," #1795; "Lonesome Town," #1800. Before Fat Joe and Ugly Kid Joe, there was Nasty Joe--a spectacularly unnasty-look- ing white guy out of Quebec who'd look right at home in N'Sync. At least I assume the white guy's Joe; he's the focal point of the cover shot, and his black and Hispanic bandmates are pointing at him, although I swear the guy to the left of Joe has his hand very clearly positioned to look like a revolver, which if you could see Joe, and could see the look of pained humiliation on the bandmate's face, makes perfect sense. (You'll have to either picture all of this yourself or seek out the album; there will be no scan forthcoming.) No clue from the lyric sheet as to what "thing" Joe's threatening to hit them with. The follow-up to Terror Squad's "Lean Back" came on the radio while my class was doing art the other day, and when I asked a couple of girls at the back if it was Fat Joe, they seemed astounded by my supernatural powers of perception. "How did you know?!" "Uh...because it sounds exactly like 'Lean Back'?" Welcome to the ghost of Top 40 radio, girls. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1809. New Edition 1810. New Edition: Christmas All Over the World 1811. New Edition: Under the Blue Moon 1812. The World of the New Faces: From the Saturday Crowd 1813. New Kids on the Block: Hangin' Tough 1814. New Order: Movement 1815. New Order: "Temptation" 12-inch 1816. New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies 1817. New Order: Brotherhood 1818. New Order: Substance 1819. New Order: "Fine Time" 12-inch 1820. New York Dolls 1821. New York Dolls: In Too Much, Too Soon 1822. New York Dolls: Dolls Live: Dallas '74 1823. The Piano Artistry of Phineas Newborn, Jr. 1824. Mickey Newbury: I Came to Hear the Music Mixworthy: "Dreams Never End," #1814; "All Day Long," #1817; "Personality Crisis," "Looking for a Kiss," "Trash," and "Subway Train," #1820; "Who Are the Mystery Girls?" and "Human Being," #1821. There's a song from Power, Corruption & Lies I remember liking, but I'm too lazy right now to check which one; "Bizarre Love Triangle" always sounds good in the context of Married to the Mob, otherwise I'm a little tired of it. Chronic substance abuse, abject co-dependency, the farthest reaches of human deviancy-- but enough about New Edition, I'd rather talk about the New York Dolls. (Hands up if you saw that one coming a mile away.) I was definitely aware of them in 1973, and have a dim memory of seeing the first album on sale at the record store that used to be in Brampton's Shopper's World, but because they got no AM airplay, they were just a curi- osity from some world that didn't make much sense to me at 12. (Much like a couple of other strange encounters I carry with me from the same time: some band on local cable flailing around wildly while singing about staining the carpet, and Rainer Schwartz, a DJ on Toronto's CHUM-FM through the '70s, playing "Golden Years" on a show he must have hosted on TVO.) Finding their first album as an import during my great punk-rock plunge in 1979 or (more likely) 1980 had as much impact on me as anything between Neil Young and Hüsker Dü. I can't say for sure what it was that prompted me to buy it-- possibly Christgau, though more likely it was the Sex Pistols' "New York," or maybe I saw it cited in some interview I read at the time. Except for "Private World" (which in context works fine), I loved the album from start to finish almost immediately, and the fact that it was something I discovered on my own, ahead of my friend Peter who got me going on punk in the first place, gave it an extra layer of secret-society appeal. In Too Much, Too Soon wasn't as overwhelming as a whole, but the covers were funny, "Mystery Girls" was funnier still, and "Human Being" was the greatest sign-off ever. Unlike some other people who define that time for me like the Cramps or Joy Division, the Dolls sound more or less as good today as they did then. Pop historians that they were (which I think means some combination of Johansen, Thunders, and Sylvain, although maybe the other two shaped the group's aesthetic more than I realize), both albums are marked by a perfect mix of girl-group savvy, heavy-metal whomp, and Bo Diddley swagger, so much so that the context in which they first captured my imagination--their privi- leged place in the punk-rock chain of-being--hardly matters anymore. The Dolls filtered their genius for pop music through a very different sensibility than Led Zeppelin's, but both bands had an uncanny ability to stay nimble at a time and within genres where many turned leaden. My friend Tim was lucky enough to see them live circa 1972 at To- ronto's Victory Burlesque Theatre, with a very glammy Rush opening--wow. The bootleg listed above features possibly the most tasteless album covers in my collection: a bleached-out shot of Johansen in pillbox hat, sitting beside JFK in the assassination limo. I'm ashamed to say I love knowing that it's there...I actually heard New Kids on the Block on the radio this afternoon; one of the dance or hip-hop DJs on the station where I do a show myself was playing "The Right Stuff" (leading into "Kiss"). If you're mixing or mashing or pumping or dropping, you can get away with that, even on college radio. If I go on next Sunday morning and play the same song, though, I guarantee some listener will scream bloody murder...Te salute to the inspiration for this project; I blame David Bowie, who sucks the life out of everything he goes near. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1825. Colin Newman: A-Z 1826. Colin Newman: Provisionally Titled 1827. Colin Newman: Commercial Suicide 1828. Joe Newman/Sir Charles Thompson: Jazz Basie Style 1829. Randy Newman: Sail Away 1830. Randy Newman: Good Old Boys 1831. Olivia Newton-John: Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 1832. The Best of Wayne Newton 1833. Herbie Nichols Trio 1834. Nico: Chelsea Girl 1835. Nikki and the Corvettes 1836. Maxine Nightingale: Right Back Where We Started From 1837. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Sings Newman 1838. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson 1839. The 999 Singles Album 1840. 999: The Biggest Prize in Sport 1841. 1910 Fruitgum Co.: Goody Goody Gumdrops Mixworthy: "Danke Schoen," #1832; "These Days" and "I'll Keep It With Mine," #1834; "Right Back Where We Started From," #1836; "Without You" and "Coconut," #1837. I'd definitely list the 1910 Fruitgum Co.'s "Simon Says"; "Goody Goody Gumdrops," I'm not so sure. There were a couple of years where I was playing the first side of Colin Newman's A-Z fairly regularly. Nothing like Wire--and seeing as I couldn't really describe Wire if pressed, I'm not sure that "nothing like Wire" means a whole lot. Jonathan Demme used "Alone" in Silence of the Lambs...I bought Sail Away in high school, and it remained my only Randy Newman album for ages, till I added Good Old Boys a couple of years ago. I've since downloaded his first two albums, and now know for sure what I probably al- ready knew 25 years ago when I was trying hard to connect with Sail Away: not really for me. I do love reading interviews with Randy Newman, though--his appraisal of U2's Rattle & Hum remains one of the funniest things I've ever read from a pop musician: "Black people love U2!"...A couple of miraculous curios from K-Billy's "Super Sounds of the '70s" vaults: "Right Back Where We Started From" and "Coconut." The first one sounded like disco, felt like disco, was likely marketed as disco, and is today remem- bered as disco, but if you take one look at Maxine Nightingale on #1836's cover, she may as well be Tracy Chapman or Phoebe Snow--which, if memory serves, is more in keep- ing with what the rest of the album sounds like. "Coconut," meanwhile, ranks ahead of "D'yer Maker," "Montego Bay," the Guess Who's "Follow Your Daughter Home," and--bleah-- "Hotel California" as my favourite white-guy-affects-a-Caribbean-accent song of the '70s. Nilsson Schmilsson's blurry cover shot of Harry in his housecoat is high art of a sort--he put the lime in the coconut, he drank it all up, then he drank it all up a second and third and twelfth time, and now it's tomorrow afternoon and he's contemplating if that was such a good idea. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1842. Richard Nixon: Official Inaugural Album 1843. No Trend: "A Dozen Dead Roses" 1844. Nocera: Over the Rainbow 1845. Nocera: "Summertime Summertime" 12-inch 1846. Norda: West Over Seas 1847. Nu Shooz: Poolside 1848. Nu Shooz: "I Can't Wait" 12-inch 1849. Nu Shooz: Told U So 1850. Nu Shooz: "Should I Say Yes?" 12-inch 1851. Ted Nugent: Weekend Warriors 1852. Gary Numan & Tubeway Army: Replicas 1853. Nutmegs: Greatest Hits 1854. N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton 1855. Billy Ocean: "Mystery Lady" 12-inch 1856. Phil Ochs: Rehearsals for Retirement 1857. Sinéad O'Connor: The Lion and the Cobra 1858. Sinéad O'Connor: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got Mixworthy: "Should I Say Yes?" #1849; "Are 'Friends' Electric?" #1852; "Story Un- told," #1853; "____ tha Police" and "Compton's in the House," #1854; "Pretty Smart on My Part," #1856; "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Nothing Compares 2 U," #1858. The No Trend LP was the first I reviewed for Nerve. It was completely wretched, and is now coming up on its 20th year of undisturbed hibernation. Weekend Warriors was a gift from my parents sometime towards the end of high school, a practice that was dis- continued not long after when we agreed that records should be removed from the fall- back gift-giving list--it's been inactive even longer. (A Blues Brothers album from before the policy-change was lost to the ether somewhere along the way.) That makes almost half a century of collective downtime between two albums; if I were to throw either one on the turntable right now, I'm not sure it would even remember how to rotate...I bought the Nixon LP in New York, along with a box of the Frost interviews that I'll list later. The clerk who rang them up was great--I got an impromptu Nixon impression as part of the deal...I always play Phil Och's high-velocity "Pretty Smart on My Part" for my students on his birthday. Rehearsals is the only music of his I know, and normally my "Today in History" readings don't veer so far into the margins of pop history (by which I mean Frankie Lymon I consider famous enough for commemora- tion, Phil Ochs no). But because I love the song so much, and probably because there's nothing else of great import on Och's birthday, I squeeze him in. When "Pretty Smart" gets to the part where he ties some woman up in leather and whips her, I do the same thing every year--pretend to be confused as I cut the volume out for two seconds, then mutter "Right..." and turn it back up...I didn't hear a word about Sinead O'Connor dur- ing all the recent round-the-clock Pope coverage. Didn't hear a word about Gary Numan, Billy Ocean, or N.W.A., either--strange. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1859. Odetta at Carnegie Hall 1860. Oh-OK: Furthermore What 1861. Ohio Players: Honey 1862. Ohio Players: Back 1863. O'Jays: Backstabbers 1864. O'Jays Meet the Moments 1865. O'Jays: Travelin' at the Speed of Thought 1866. The O'Jays Greatest Hits 1867. Old and New Dreams 1868. Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells 1869. 100 Proof Aged in Soul: Somebody's Been Sleeping in My Bed 1870. Alexander O'Neal: Hearsay 1871. Alexander O'Neal: "Aphrodisia" 12-inch 1872. 100 Flowers: 21st Guessing 1873. Only Ones: Special View 1874. Only Ones: Baby's Got a Gun Mixworthy: "Use Ta Be My Girl," #1866; "Another Girl, Another Planet," #1873. The O'Jays best-of has the three-and-a-half minute single of "I Love Music," and that's one instance where even leadfooted me knows that the scope and majesty of the song only come through on the full-length dance version found on Philadelphia Classics, which I'll get to later in compilations. "Backstabbers" is OK--I don't think it's even remotely as good as the Undisputed Truth's "Smiling Faces Sometimes." Spent: I came out of a two-year immersion in '70s music for I Wanna Be Sedated lik- ing a lot of my favourites from the era more than ever, but there were casualties, too, and I guess "Love Rollercoaster"'s (#1861) one of them--it and Wild Cherry just make me think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers now. I don't remember much about the Oh-OK record, the early-80s Georgia band with Michael Stipe's sister ("Michael Stipe's Sister" would have been a good name for some wiseass Forced Exposure band), but I'll give it another listen and see if I missed anything... It's been my experience that "Another Girl, Another Planet" is one of pop music's most dependable benchmarks; take any random group of listeners, and, provided they've all heard the song, I bet it's the one thing everybody has great affection for...I really like the beginning (Excorcist theme) and end ("plus tubular bells!") of #1855's first side, but there's another 20 minutes between Point A and Point B I don't remember, and I likely never played the flip side a second time. I think there may be a weird back- story attached to Mike Oldfield--something to the effect that he made enough money from Tubular Bells that he's spent the last 30 years drinking tea and puttering around in his garden. I'll have to mosey on over to the 'Tron site to confirm.