Call the Police, There's a Madman Around
1875. Yoko Ono: Season of Glass 1876. Every Man Has a Woman 1877. Orange Juice: In a Nutshell 1878. Roy Orbison at the Rock House 1879. The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison 1880. Roy Orbison: The Singles Collection 1965-1973 1881. Original Concept: Straight From the Basement of Kooley High! 1882. Original Mirrors 1883. Originals: Baby, I'm for Real 1884. Portrait of the Originals 1885. Originals: California Sunset 1886. Kid Ory Plays W.C. Handy 1887. Wavis O'Shave: Anna Ford's Bum 1888. Osmonds: Phase III 1889. The Osmonds Greatest Hits 1890. Donny Osmond: My Best to You 1891. Johnny Otis: The Capitol Years 1892. Our Favorite Band: Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings Mixworthy: "Yo-Yo," #1889. I know--I should probably be listing "Willie and the Hand Jive" from the Johnny Otis album, and I should definitely have at least two or three Roy Orbison songs. I don't think it works that way with Orbison, though, who's the same kind of lightning rod that Billie Holiday is: he so overwhelms most everything he sings, he's not someone who in- spires a measured response. You're either going to keep him at arm's length or count at least a half-dozen of his signature songs as indespensible. Obviously, I belong to the former group, but, with David Lynch's help, I do understand why people find him so com- pelling. The Sun album has "Domino," but I heard the Cramps' version first, and its theirs I still prefer...#1876 is a bunch of different people singing Yoko Ono songs. Unlikeliest: Eddie Money. The album came out in '84, two years before Money had a great hit duetting with Ronnie Spector on "Take Me Home Tonight" (at least I thought it was great at the time--now, who knows?). According to Be My Baby, Spector's autobiography, she and Lennon engaged in some brief flirtation during the Beatles' first American tour in '64. Eddie Money, shadowing John Lennon every step of the way...I make no apology for "Yo-Yo," but I'll concede that there's no excuse for the Donny best-of. (The Ever- est syndrome--because it was there.) In 1972 or so, my family and I sat in a Cleveland restaurant and watched a waitress spill a tray of food all over Donny, sitting two or three tables over with his brothers. It's a memory so improbable that I sometimes won- der if I dreamed it up, but no, it really did happen. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1893. The Outlaws 1894. Outsiders: Happening "Live"! 1895. The Best of Buck Owens Vol. 3 1896. Patti Page: Golden Hits 1897. Tommy Page 1898. Pale Fountains: ...From Across the Kitchen Table 1899. The Paley Brothers 1900. The Paper Lace Collection 1901. Charlie Parker: Bird/The Savoy Recordings 1902. Charlie Parker: One Night in Birdland 1903. Norman Granz Jam Session: The Charlie Parker Sides 1904. Bird (O.S.T.) 1905. Charlie Parker Volume II 1906. Charlie Parker: Live Sessions 1907. Graham Parker and the Rumour: Heat Treatment 1908. Graham Parker and the Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks 1909. Graham Parker: The Up Escalator Mixworthy: "There Goes Another Love Song" and "Green Grass and High Tides," #1893. I haven't read Greil Marcus's Bob Dylan at the Crossroads yet, but in a recent inter- view for the book, he said that "Like a Rolling Stone" resists anyone who tries to cover it--it's basically uncoverable. Maybe, but I really have to question whether he took the time to seek out the Paper Lace version...Usually when you see quotation marks used as they are on the title of the Outsiders album, you can assume they're not meant ironically, that it's just a case of someone over-zealously punctuating where none is needed. But I think Happening "Live"! might be the work of some clever record-company guy who was in on the joke--the screaming and general mayhem in the background sound totally canned...I'll put Charlie Parker in a group with Duke El- lington and Thelonius Monk as the jazz musicians I enjoy most after Coltrane and Miles Davis. Again, "mixworthy"'s hard to apply in this instance--the Savoy album is the best of those listed above, but I can't point to any specific songs that stand apart from any others. It's all of a piece...The Outlaws are much easier for me dissect: two of my all-time high-school favourites that, for reasons that pas- seth all understanding, still sound great to me today. The Graham Parker albums, which were topping polls in the late '70s, I caught up with a few years after the fact; with the Outlaws, man, I was there. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1910. Junior Parker & Billy Love: The Legendary Sun Performers 1911. Junior Parker: The ABC Collection 1912. Ray Parker Jr.: The Other Woman 1913. Ray Parker Jr.: Greatest Hits 1914. Terrence Parker: Disco Disciple EP 1915. Parlet: Invasion of the Booty Snatchers 1916. Parlet: Play Me or Trade Me 1917. Parliament: Chocolate City 1918. Parliament: Mothership Connection 1919. Parliament: The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein 1920. Parliament: Funkentelechy 1921. Parliament: Motor Booty Affair 1922. Gram Parsons: GP 1923. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel 1924. Dolly Parton: Touch Your Woman 1925. The Best of Dolly Parton 1926. The Partridge Family Album Mixworthy: "You Can't Change That," #1913; "I Think I Love You," #1926. I'd never noticed before, but just like Kiss, Chicago, and Parliament, Ray Parker Jr. appears to have had a logo--the typeface for his name on the two albums listed above is identical, with the best-of angled and compressed to about half the size. I thought only groups did things like that...The Toronto Symphony gets a thank-you on Chocolate City--yes, Toronto served as the blueprint for the African-American utopia George Clinton envisioned. There actually is a Parliament St. running north- south in the downtown core here; I've always wished they would rename Richmond St. accordingly, so I could arrange to meet someone at the corner of Parliament and Funkadelic...For the third entry in a row, I'm looking like the corniest kind of self-conscious provocateur: first I gave the nod to the Osmonds over Roy Orbison, then the Outlaws over Charlie Parker, now the Partridge Family over Junior Parker and Gram Parsons. Coincidence--I have my moments, but taken as a whole, I think most anyone would agree my taste veers towards the standard-issue end of the spec- trum. ("Standard-issue end of the spectrum" is my torturous attempt to circumvent the cliché of the moment, which I made a pact with myself never to utter in the presence of impressionable children, immediate family members, or other sentient human beings. If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider yourself a hap- pier person for it.) But the Partridges and I go way back--#1926 was quite likely the first LP I ever walked into a store and paid for on my own. It's long gone by now--my current copy is a replacement bought years later--but "I Think I Love You" and the willowy image of Susan Dey remain. Sofia Coppola somehow knows what I'm talking about: The Virgin Suicides might just as well have been called Inside the Head of Middle-Aged Men Who Never Quite Got Over Susan Dey. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1927. Pasadenas: To Whom It May Concern 1928. Les Paul & Mary Ford: The New Sound, Vol. II 1929. The Very Best of Les Paul & Mary Ford 1930. Freda Payne: Deeper and Deeper (The Best of Freda Payne) 1931. Peaches & Herb: Let's Fall in Love 1932. Peaches and Herb: Golden Duets 1933. Peaches & Herb's Greatest Hits 1934. Peaches & Herb: 2 Hot! 1935. Peaches & Herb: Worth the Wait 1936. Ann Peebles: If This Is Heaven 1937. Melvin Van Peebles: What the...You Mean I Can't Sing?! 1938. Teddy Pendergrass: It's Time for Love 1939. Teddy Pendergrass: Greatest Hits 1940. Teddy Pendergrass: Love Language 1941. Art Pepper: Discoveries 1942. Art Pepper: So in Love Mixworthy: "Band of Gold," #1930; "Love T.K.O.," #1939. There's a gap of a decade or so between the first three Peaches & Herb albums and the later two. Peaches looks like she just arrived from Glee Club practice on the cover of Let's Fall in Love; on Worth the Wait, more like she just wandered over from the set of a porno film...I have no recollection at all what the Melvin Van Peebles LP sounds like, but I'm guessing from the title no one ever mistook him for Al Green. Having seen Mario Van Peebles' film about his father last year, I also bet that whatever cir- cumstances led to Melvin making a record, the purpose was to conjure up some desperate financing for whatever film project he had on the go at the time. "Save the Watergate 500" at least reads like it might be great: "Yeah, maybe there was a promise broken/ But you can carry this checks and balances stuff just a little bit too far"..."Band of Gold" stands alongside the Five Stairsteps' "O-o-h Child" and the Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time" as some kind of Holy Trinity of 1970 soul. All three artists had a few other minor hits, but none of them made the Top 10 again. "Give Me Just a Little More Time" entered the Top 100 in January, "O-o-h Child" in March, "Band of Gold" in April. Has there ever been such a concentration of one-shot brilliance in the annals of soul music before or since? In the mid-60s, undoubtedly; more recently, well, not that I can remember from 15 years of drawing up year-end lists. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1943. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 1944. Carl Perkins: Original Golden Hits 1945. Itzhak Perlman and André Previn: It's a Breeze 1946. Persuasions: Chirpin' 1947. Peter and the Test Tube Babies: Pissed and Proud 1948. Peter, Sue & Marc: Like a Seagull 1949. Pet Shop Boys: "West End Girls" 12-inch 1950. Pet Shop Boys: Please 1951. Pet Shop Boys: Disco 1952. Pet Shop Boys: Actually 1953. Pet Shop Boys: "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" 12-inch 1954. Pet Shop Boys: Introspective 1955. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Damn the Torpedoes 1956. Pezband 1957. John Phillips 1958. The Exciting Wilson Pickett 1959. Wilson Pickett's Greatest Hits Mixworthy: "Dixie Fried," #1944; "West End Girls," #1950; "What Have I Done to De- serve This?" #1952; "Left to My Own Devices" and "It's Alright," #1953. I'm not that big a Wilson Pickett fan; he's a little more to my liking than Otis Redding, but both are at the other end of the spectrum from Smokey Robinson and Al Green, which is where most of the soul music that I love sits. When I talked, back in the Madonna entry, about a disorienting (for me) vinyl/CD split in the careers of some '80s-90s artists, the Pet Shop Boys should have been the first name to occur to me. It's strange to think that their first couple of albums--which they've arguably never surpassed--came along at a time when vinyl still commanded more than half of all music sold. They just seem like such creatures of the compact disc, their disco lineage notwithstanding; it's hard for me to think of them as situated at the end of a technology that traces back through the Cowsills, Glenn Miller, and Edi- son. I'm guessing that most Pet Shop Boys fans wouldn't feel the need to append "argu- ably" to the standing of those first two LPs, but I've been surprised to find myself so taken with some of their more recent September-of-my-years meditations: I like "A Different Point of View," "The Samurai in Autumn," and "Flamboyant" as much as any- thing they've ever done. The songs I've listed above, especially "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", were central to the transformation my musical taste underwent through the second half of the '80s, a period that culminated in a sense with getting a chance to interview both Tennant and Lowe when they were out promoting Introspective in the fall of '88. The interview was scheduled for the issue that the magazine I worked for at the time decided to go bankrupt on, so it was never published. If I were ambitious enough, I'd go dig it up and transcribe it for publication here, and when school lets out for the summer, maybe I will. I don't think there was anything of earth-shattering importance said by either of them--I don't think Chris spoke more than three sentences, period--but I retain three fairly vivid memories. First, something that I think Neil soon turned into a cottage industry, but that he was still in the process of feeling his way around: making fun of U2. Not too many people did at the time--he was hilari- ous. I also remember a sense of great satisfaction when he seemed to understand per- fectly a very vague question about the way "Left to My Own Devices" captured the "rushing out into the night" feeling shared by the best disco music; having spent the disco years getting high and listening to Neil Young and The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus within the social setting of a small-town high school, I have no idea where I dreamed that one up. Finally, there was the glare I got from Neil when I broached the subject that dared not speak its name: "Is it true you're...a sushi lover?" He didn't want to discuss sushi; it wasn't till a few years later that he admitted what everyone knew all along anyway, that he'd been a sushi lover for as long as he could remember. (I of course see now what a perfectly pointless and idiotic question it was, as necessary a clarification as asking Stevie Wonder if it's true that he's blind.) Anyway, it was all pretty exciting. One of the many great things about the Pet Shop Boys is that the melancholy heard on "Flamboyant" and "The Samurai in Au- tumn," you can hear it almost as fully formed in "West End Girls"; the elegiac phase of their career basically started from day one.