All the Things I Never Asked For

1960. Jeffrey Lee Pierce: "Love & Desperation" 12-inch 1961. The Nat Pierce-Dick Collins Nonet/The Charlie Mariano Sextet 1962. Webb Pierce: Country Songs 1963. Pilgrim Jubilee Singers: Walk On 1964. The Best of the Pilgrim Travelers, Vol. 2 1965. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon 1966. Pioneers' Greatest Hits 1967. Pioneers: Pusher Man 1968. Gene Pitney: Greatest Hits of All Time 1969. Plastercine Replicas: Glow 1970. Robert Plant: The Principle of Moments 1971. Plastic Bertrand: J'te fais un plan 1972. Platters: 14 Hits 1973. Platters: Encore of Golden Hits 1974. Plimsouls: Zero Hour 1975. The Plimsouls 1976. Poco: Pickin' Up the Pieces 1977. Bonnie Pointer Mixworthy: "Looking Through the Eyes of Love," "It Hurts to Be in Love," and "Last Chance to Turn Around," #1968; "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," #1973. I forgot--I do like Roy Orbison, I just like him a lot more when he goes under the name of Gene Pitney. I had "It Hurts to Be in Love" #1 on my Radio On Top 100 (fol- lowed by "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" at #2), home of one of the hugest drum barrages of the mid-60s; taken together, the three songs listed were mainstays of every incarnation of my CIUT show. When Pitney sings the chorus of "Last Chance to Turn Around," he sounds every bit as desperate and apocalyptic as the title implies-- that, and the fact that the last chance referred to is an exit-ramp back to Brooklyn, always makes me think of Charlie and Johnny Boy's ill-fated attempt to flee in Mean Streets whenever I hear it...I've seen at least one prominent music critic argue that there's more to the Platters than meets the eye, but I think they're generally viewed as doo-wop's version of Nat King Cole: too heavily orchestrated, overly fussy, a lit- tle bland. My attachment to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" traces back to American Graffi- ti: I think it's one of the songs Ronnie Howard and Cindy Williams dance to at their homecoming...Seeing as I have an Elton Motello album without "Jet Boy, Jet Girl," it's only fitting that I complement it with a Plastic Bertrand album sans (that's French) "Ca Plane Pour Moi." Some enterprising budget-CD label should pair them up for a reissue: Your Once-Casual Interest in New Wave Has Developed Into a Full-Time Problem. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1978. Poison: Open Up and Say...Ahh! 1979. Poisoned 1980. Police: Outlandos d'Amour 1981. Police: Reggatta de Blanc 1982. Police: Synchronicity 1983. The Pop 1984. The Pop: Go! 1985. The Pop Group: For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? 1986. Pop•O•Pies: The White EP 1987. Pop Tarts: Age of the Thing 1988. Iggy Pop: The Idiot 1989. Iggy Pop: Lust for Life 1990. Iggy Pop: Soldier 1991. The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 3 1992. The Genius of Bud Powell 1993. Mel Powell: Out on a Limb 1994. Precious Metal: Right Here, Right Now 1995. Prefab Sprout: Two Wheels Good Mixworthy: "Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon," #1981; "Don't Blame Me," #1991. Spent: "Lust for Life," #1989. There was an Idiot vs. Lust for Life thread on ILM recently. Opinion seemed evenly split for the first 20 or so posts, at which point Iggy himself stepped in and sug- gested that everyone try to get along--not really, the matter is probably still being thrashed around days later. (My friend Peter once perfectly captured the special kind of lunacy that keeps an all-sports radio station operational day-in and day-out: it's 3:30 in the morning, there's a Blue Jay call-in show going on, and Marvin from Scar- borough opens up with, "Yeah, when Cito made that pitching change in the 7th inning against Baltimore three nights ago...") I liked The Idiot much better, especially "Dum-Dum Boys," but it's been ages since I've listened to either, and, same old story, I can't imagine any circumstances where I'd feel the need to ever again...The Pop•O• Pies got some attention for their jokey hardcore cover of "Truckin'", but I used to find "Timothy Leary Lives" from the same EP funnier. Can't remember any specifics, though, so I won't list it...The flipside of all those Rolling Stone greatest-ever lists that evolve from year to year at such a glacial pace; the late-80s Spin list where they (which really must mean some deranged he or she) declared Two Wheels Good as one of the 20 greatest LPs ever made. They were so ahead of the curve on that one, even Prefab Sprout hadn't heard of Prefab Sprout yet...Much to my surprise, the Cana- dian government has declared tomorrow a statutory holiday for all people conducting online inventories of their album collections. With a very large white whale looming just over the horizon, I'll see you back here on Saturday. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1996. Elvis Presley: The Sun Collection 1997. Elvis Talks! 1998. "The Elvis Tapes" 1999. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas 2000. Elvis Presley: 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong 2001. Elvis Presley: C'mon Everybody 2002. Elvis Presley: Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1 2003. Elvis Presley: The Other Sides: Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Vol. 2 2004. Elvis Presley: A Legendary Performer, Volume 2 2005. Elvis Presley: Moody Blue 2006. Pretenders 2007. Pretenders: Extended Play 2008. Pretty Poison: Catch Me I'm Falling 2009. Pretty Things: Real Pretty 2010. Andre Previn Plays Songs by Vernon Duke 2011. Lloyd Price: The ABC Collection 2012. Lloyd Price: Mr. Personality Revisited Mixworthy: "Mystery Train" and "Blue Moon," #1996; "Kentucky Rain," #2002; "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame," #2003; "What's the Use," #2009. Nice to see 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong holding down the two thousandth spot. If not for some earlier misfilings, it might have been Prefab Sprout or Pre- cious Metal; it's easy to envision Precious Metal in gold lamé, Prefab Sprout, not really...I've been holding off on box sets thus far--some are filed at the front of whatever shelf they alphabetically belong to, the rest are grouped together between the main section and a shelf of classical LPs--but I'll jump the gun on the Elvis boxes (#2002/2003) and include them with the rest of his albums. I'm self-conscious enough about listing so few Elvis songs, and, without the boxes, I'd be down to an even more embarrassing two. My Elvis Problem is my most conspicuous blind spot of all in a lifetime of listening, much more so than my Otis Problem or JB Problem or any of the other gaps I've talked about herein. (In stature, he actually pairs up well with my great literary blind spot: all my early attempts at Shakespeare were miserable failures--only university course I flunked, although I'll defensively add that it's more accurate to say I gave up, which amounts to the same in the end anyway--and I've never gone back for another try.) I know how bizarre and maddening it would be to any- one who counts Elvis as his frame of reference for everything to see the entirety of his discography collapsed into a couple of Sun recordings, a late-60s comeback hit, and a bit of throwaway soundtrack fluff. The handful of times in my life where I've had people tell me they didn't have any use for the Beatles, it was like an invisible but meaningful barrier between us had instantaneously appeared; "How can anyone feel that way?" So I wish I liked Elvis more, and I'm not at all sure why I don't. Neither am I sure to what extent I was aware of him when pop music first started to matter to me. Through the mid-to-late '60s, when I was listening from the back seat of the fam- ily car, I don't recall him being much of a presence; he was back on the radio with "Burning Love" when I really started turning into a radio junkie in 1972, but it was far from one of my favourite songs. (I liked the imitation-Elvis via imitation-CCR "Long Cool Woman" much more.) I definitely got hooked on the wave of '50s nostalgia then taking hold, but, possibly because of protective licensing, Elvis didn't seem a part of that--none of his music was used in American Graffiti, and he never turned up on any of the Jukebox-Revival compilations popular at the time. Getting The Sun Col- lection early in university led to a brief period where I listened to more Elvis than I ever had before, and once that ended, that was it; I loved Marcus's Dead Elvis, but I'm not sure that it inspired me to take a single Elvis record off the shelf. I read somewhere last year--it may have been Marcus himself who said it--speculation that Elvis's hold on the popular imagination was finally beginning to wane, and that 50 years from now, he'd be no different than Robert Johnson or Bing Crosby or any other important but historically remote figure. I think that maybe already happened with me quite a while ago. (It may be my own bias speaking here, but, if that does turn out to be true, I don't think the same fate awaits the Beatles, not anytime soon, anyway. To me, there's something intrinsic in the music of the Beatles that makes it accessible and likeable to virtually anyone; I always sense that of all the music I play for my students, they're able to connect more easily and more immediately with the Beatles than with anyone.) In an odd sort of way, I think my most tangible con- nection with Elvis is a picture I have of my dad taken sometime in the '50s. It's pretty obvious who carried the rock-star-glamour gene in my family. It must skip a generation; I apparently inherited the gene associated with the other Elvis, the rock-critic-with-glasses gene, from my mom. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2013. Ray Price's All-Time Greatest Hits 2014. Charley Pride: The Happiness of Having You 2015. The Prime Movers 2016. Primitives: Lovely 2017. Prince 2018. Prince: Controversy 2019. Prince: Dirty Mind 2020. Prince: 1999 2021. Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain 2022. Prince and the Revolution: "Let's Go Crazy" 12-inch 2023. Prince and the Revolution: "America" 12-inch 2024. Prince and the Revolution: Parade 2025. Prince: Sign "O" the Times 2026. Batman (O.S.T.) 2027. Prince: Graffiti Bridge Mixworthy: "Crash" and "Stop Killing Me," #2016; "Erotic City," #2022; "Mountains," #2024; "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," #2025. I don't have 11 records by too many artists, and of those where I do, I probably care less about Prince than any of them. I like him fine--I'd add "Raspberry Beret" if I had Around the World, and I could add another three songs from what I do have without too much of a stretch--but I have zero nostalgia for his heyday, and I lost interest in him altogether at the same time that every other casual Prince fan did (I think '92 or '93 was when radio started to turn away from him). Supposedly he's put out a lot of very good music since; all I have is Emancipation, which I bought as a cut-out, and I only got through it once. When records started to die out, you could have put together a complete post-Purple Rain collection on vinyl for under $10. I know Prince had one or two #1 LPs after Purple Rain, but Warners must have been banking on some- thing even more massive, because those late-80s LPs were ridiculously over-printed-- Graffiti Bridge, a double, was everywhere for $1.99, the only reason I have it. (Tevin Campbell has a song on there I like, though.) Will he ever matter to the larger pop audience again? You've got to believe that he will at some point--going by his sud- den reemergence a couple of years ago, there's obviously already an effort underway to make that happen. He's living only a 30-minute drive from where I sit; maybe I'll drop by later tonight and get his thoughts on the matter ("Unknown intruder ripped to shreds by guard dogs on Prince's Bridle Path estate")...By way of contrast, only one Primitives album, but two of my favourite songs ever. I've used them almost inter- changably over the years: if I've included the Primitives on 25 mix-tapes or CD-700s, 13 times it's been "Crash," 12 times "Stop Killing Me" (I included the latter on a CD I burned just today for my students).

next section

records index

other pieces