We've Been on This Shift Too Long

2112. Martha Reeves 2113. Regina: Curiosity 2114. Steve Reich/Kronos Quartet/Steve Metheny: Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint 2115. Django Reinhardt: Selection 2116. Django Reinhardt: Django 2117. Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli: Quintet of the Hot Club of France 2118. R.E.M.: Chronic Town 2119. R.E.M.: Murmur 2120. R.E.M.: Reckoning 2121. R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction 2122. R.E.M.: Life's Rich Pageant 2123. R.E.M.: Dead Letter Office 2124. R.E.M.: Document 2125. R.E.M.: Eponymous 2126. R.E.M.: Green 2127. R.E.M.: Monster 2128. The Best of Ginette Reno Mixworthy: "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)," #2118; "Radio Free Europe," #2119; "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville," #2120; "Driver 8" and "Life and How to Live It," #2121; "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," #2124; "Beautiful Second Hand Man," #2128. Six songs, three with parentheses--Yes, I Was a Total R.E.M. Sap (And I Guess I Still Am, to a Degree). I actually thought I'd be listing more than six, but looking over the albums one by one, even half of what's above would be enough: "Rockville" and "Life and How to Live It" are old favourites that I haven't taken the time to relis- ten to, and "It's the End of the World" is borderline spent. Six is a much more accu- rate reflection of how obsessively I listened to those first five records, though, and the extra songs also stand in for a couple I'd take post-vinyl: "New Orleans In- strumental No. 1" and "The Great Beyond" for sure, maybe one more. I never expect to like anything by R.E.M. anymore, and probably haven't going as far back as Document, so I'm surprised by how often I do; even something as marginal as Reveal, which I found cheap a while back, has a couple of songs I like a lot. It wouldn't be fair to call them the ultimate one-idea band, because a) they mess around enough that there's a certain amount of variety and change through the years, and b) anyone who hates them might want to know what exactly that one idea is, and I'd be stuck for an answer. ("Uh, parentheses?") For me they've always had more of a one-mood/one-amorphous-feeling ap- peal: what I liked about "The Great Beyond" was the same thing I liked about all those unintelligible fragments on Murmur. If you have no use for slavish devotion to surface beauty, then you have no use for R.E.M.; that's about the beginning, middle, and the end of what they have to offer. I still find it puzzling that "Losing My Religion," which to my ears has very little of that beauty--and no parentheses--is the song that opened up a much larger audience for them, and also brought around at least one crit- ic, Greil Marcus, who had despised them up to that point. But I'm glad it allowed them to spend some time at the top of Billboard for at least a while...If I had to start grabbing albums off the shelf as fire made its way up the stairs (shudder), I'd very quickly try to salvage the two French Django Reinhardt imports I mentioned a while back (#2115/#2116). They're old, they're great, and they're in perfect shape. I hope to be old, great, and in perfect shape myself someday. I'm currently working on old. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2129. Replacements: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash 2130. The Replacements Stink 2131. Replacements: Hootenanny 2132. Replacements: Let It Be 2133. Replacements: Tim 2134. Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me 2135. Paul Revere & the Raiders: Greatest Hits 2136. Boyd Rice/Frank Tovey: Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing 2137. Buddy Rich: Drummer's Drummer 2138. Lonely Weekends With Charlie Rich 2139. Charlie Rich: A Time for Tears 2140. Charlie Rich: Lonely Weekends 2141. The Original Charlie Rich 2142. The Fabulous Charlie Rich 2143. Charlie Rich: Boss Man 2144. Charlie Rich: Greatest Hits 2145. Charlie Rich: You and I 2146. Rich Kids: Ghosts of Princes in Towers 2147. Cliff's Hit Album 2148. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers 2149. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers: Jonathan Sings! 2150. Jonathan Richman Mixworthy: "Johnny's Gonna Die," #2129; "Kids Don't Follow" and "Go," #2130; "Color Me Impressed" and "Within Your Reach," #2131; "I Will Dare" and "Answering Machine," #2132; "Left of the Dial," #2133; "Alex Chilton," #2134; "Just Like Me," #2135; "Life's Little Ups and Downs" and "It Makes Me Want-a Cry," #2142. As surprised as I was that I didn't feel the need to list more R.E.M. songs, I'm even more surprised to have so many by the Replacements. It's not that I play their albums any more frequently than R.E.M.'s--I really don't listen to either of them anymore, though I know I'll be much more inclined to go with the Replacements on the radio. (I threw in "Color Me Impressed" two shows ago and it sounded great. Playing R.E.M. on a college station in 2005 would just somehow feel unseemly.) Again, the list is essen- tially what I would have posted 18 years ago--first Al Gore and I would have invented the internet, then I would have posted--with no second-guessing and no relistening. There's such an immense likeability factor attached to those first few Replacements records, and such a indelible gift for melody coursing through even the songs that are meant to be foreboding ("Johnny's Gonna Die," "Go")--that to me they're a band that doesn't drag around any of the baggage synonymous with the Amerindie mid-80s: noise as schtick, artiness, self-righteousness, etc., etc. There was hardcore, there was pigfuck, there was obscurantism, and there was the Replacements. That they probab- ly hung around a couple of albums too long doesn't diminish their stature in my eyes, nor does whatever Paul Westerberg is up to today (the two CDs I have of his both have their moments)...The eight Charlie Rich albums are, not surprisingly, attributable to Peter Guralnick's chapters on him in Feel like Going Home and, especially, Lost High- way. If you're in the right frame of mind, The Fabulous Charlie Rich is as evocative a mood piece as you'll ever find. I have to break in with another Sigue Sigue Sputnik interlude. I won't repeat the whole story, because anyone who knows me has heard it way too many times already--and if that means you, click through immediately!--but the punchline is that my copy of Fabulous bears the following inscription: "Rich Rich Rich and Rich Rich Rich and Poor Poor Poor Poor You - Great Regards and Much Ado Ado Ado - Tammy Degville XXX." It's all written in a very neat vertical column down the right-hand side of the cover, shaped nicely to the contours of Charlie's forehead, nose, and chin. The fabulous Martin Degville: much more mindful of autograph tidi- ness than those people from the Gun Club. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2151. Tommy Ridgley: The New Orleans King of the Stroll 2152. Stan Ridgway: The Big Heat 2153. Righteous Brothers: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' 2154. Billy Riley: Sun Sound Special 2155. Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley: Me, Myself and I 2156. Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air 2157. Ritchie Family: African Queens 2158. Johnny Rivers: Meanwhile Back at the Whisky À Go Go 2159. Johnny Rivers' Golden Hits 2160. The Very Best of Johnny Rivers 2161. Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song 2162. Sam Rivers: Contours 2163. Sam Rivers: The Dedication Series, Vol. XII: The Trio Sessions 2164. Marty Robbins: Long, Long Ago 2165. Bobby Rydell/Robert and Johnny/Sonny Till & the Orioles: La grande storia del ROCK 2166. Paul Robeson: American Balladeer - Golden Classics Volume One 2167. Paul Robeson: A Man and His Beliefs - Golden Classics Volume Two 2168. The Historic Paul Robeson - Golden Classics Volume Three Mixworthy: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," #2153; "Secret Agent Man," #2159; "Poor Side of Town," #2160; "Hear My Heart Beat" (Robert & Johnny), #2165. My copy of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' is about as legitimate as Brady Ander- son's membership in the 50-home-run club, but rather than hold off for the Spector compilation I have, may as well list the title song here. I've stood in various record stores holding a copy of the Righteous Brothers' best-of on Verve numerous times over the years, everything from high-priced originals to midline reissues to well-worn used copies; because every key song except for "Ebb Tide" is on the Spec- tor collection, and because I've never found the right combination of price and condition, I've always put it back in the bins. I'd estimate that between 10 to 15 minutes of my life has been spent looking at that Righteous Brothers LP and think- ing, "I should just go ahead and buy this and get it over with." Somewhere along the way, I hope God's mysterious purpose in making sure I never own this album will come into the light and reveal itself. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2169. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: I'll Try Something New 2170. Miracles: Greatest Hits From the Beginning 2171. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Going to a Go-Go 2172. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: One Dozen Roses 2173. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Anthology 2174. Smokey Robinson: Pure Smokey 2175. Smokey Robinson: A Quiet Storm 2176. Smokey Robinson: Warm Thoughts 2177. Smokey Robinson: Being With You 2178. Smokey Robinson: One Heartbeat 2179. Vanity & Smokey Robinson: Motown Interviews 2180. Vickie Sue Robinson: Never Gonna Let You Go 2181. Roches: Another World 2182. Sir Monti Rock III: A Piece of the Rock 2183. Best of Frankie Rodgers 2184. Jimmie Rodgers: My Rough & Rowdy Ways 2185. Jimmie Rodgers: A Legendary Performer 2186. Jimmie Rodgers: His Golden Year 2187. Tommy Roe: Dizzy 2188. Roger: Unlimited! 2189. Shorty Rogers: Short Stops Mixworthy: "Mickey's Monkey," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," and "Way Over There," #2170; "Ooo Baby Baby" and "A Fork in the Road," #2171; "The Tears of a Clown," #2172; "Why Do Happy Memories Hurt So Bad," #2178; "Turn the Beat Around," #2180; "Love to See You," #2181; "Dizzy," #2187. I definitely gave Smokey Robinson a privileged place in the pantheon for a time. I guess it would have been the middle and later part of the '80s when I was putting the six songs listed above on one mix-tape after another--it's harder to pin down when exactly you were most interested in someone on the basis of music recorded years ear- lier, as opposed to people you were immersed in during their peak years. One Heartbeat dates to my time with Nerve and CIUT; I'm not sure if I reviewed it, but I played "Why Do Happy Memories Hurt So Bad" all the time on the radio, a much richer song than either "Being With You" or "Cruisin'." You've got to have Going to a Go-Go for "A Fork in the Road," a B-side that lives up to its mystique; close call with (the overlooked) "Way Over There" and "Ooo Baby Baby," but it's probably Robinson's greatest song. I don't have any Vanity LPs, therefore sidestepping the difficult issue of where to file the interview promo. (Smokey has a great bit about the importance of sad songs on The Motown Story, an early box that's otherwise rendered useless--for taping purposes, anyway--by all the intrusive interview clips.) I was actually surprised and somewhat disappointed to learn about Robinson's former drug problems. I say "actually" because the combination of pop stars and drug problems usually registers all the surprise of a George Steinbrenner hissy fit--you can set your watch by such phenomena. But Smokey always seemed like such an oasis of sanity and wisdom. Dylan's famous quote about Rob- inson being America's greatest living poet (I may have read somewhere that the quote is apocryphal, but I remember coming across the exact interview where he said it) is the second most inspiring thing Dylan ever said about another musician, after his breathless recollection of what it felt like when the Beatles took over the Colorado airwaves in 1964...Just to clarify what most anyone will know anyway, the first two Jimmie Rodgers LPs are by a different guy than the third. Rough and rowdy Jimmie Rod- gers was the pioneering country singer, the one with the yodelly voice and all the songs about trains; the other was the simpy whitebread folksinger who had pop hits with "Honeycomb" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." They were originally going to title #2186 My Simpy & Whitebread Ways so as to clearly differentiate the two, but they set- tled for His Golden Year instead when everyone involved agreed it was just as insult- ing...Sitting in the car at some drive-in circa 1969, listening to CHUM and waiting for the movie to begin. Heading the playlist that still occupies a small corner of my mind: "Dizzy" and the Foundations "Build Me Up Buttercup."

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