In Your Eyes and On Your Mind
2879. Stevie Wonder: Looking Back 2880. Stevie Wonder: Music of My Mind 2881. Stevie Wonder: Innervisions 2882. Stevie Wonder: Fulfillingness' First Finale 2883. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life 2884. Stevie Wonder: Original Musiquarium I 2885. Roy Wood: Boulders 2886. Woodentops: Giant 2887. Nanette Workman 2888. Nanette Workman 2889. World Class Wrecking Cru: Rapped in Romance 2890. Wounds 2891. Betty Wright: Danger High Voltage 2892. Link Wray: Early Recordings 2893. Link Wray & the Raymen: Rock'n'Roll'n'Rumble 2894. Ramona Wulf: Natural Woman Mixworthy: "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," "My Cherie Amour," and "If You Really Love Me," #2879; "Living for the City" and "Higher Ground," #2881; "Superstition" and "You Haven't Done Nothin'," #2884; "Black Widow," #2892; "Rumble" and "Tijuana," #2893. The next five batches will be it for Part I, the main artist section. Anticipation grips the land, but at the same time, a strange calm settles in...If I'd done this a year ago and you had asked me for an example of what I meant by "spent," Stevie Wonder's mid-70s hits might have been the first thing I thought of. I wouldn't have bothered checking, they'd have been automatically slotted as spent--I was positive I was once and for all sick of those songs. A few months ago, though, during a unit on biography, my students presented brief profiles/interviews of somebody famous, drawn from a list of about 20 I provided for them. A couple of my girls chose Stevie Wonder, and as part of their presentation, I taped a few of those mid-70s singles so they could pick one to play. Surprise, surprise, but maybe because I'd been dodging them on the radio for so long, it was like hearing them brand new all over again. I loved them all when they were current on CHUM, "Superstition" especially, but I cer- tainly didn't have any awareness of the transformation that was going on in terms of how Wonder was perceived by the public (from hit-making prodigy to "serious artist"), or of how that transformation related to Motown's backstory and black pop in general; "Superstition" and "Higher Ground" belonged to the same free-for-all as "You Wear It Well" and "Frankenstein" and "Delta Dawn." I think I did have an inkling of all that other stuff by the time Songs in the Key of Life came out, after a couple of years of Wonder winning a truckload of Grammys and AMAs, and lots of advance publicity on how significant his next album would be. I'm not 100% sure if I bought Songs myself or got it as a gift, but either way it was right when it came out, so I've still got the 7" single that was part of the package (checking CDNOW, it's no surprise to see that the four extra songs are tacked on at the end of the CD). I use the quotations around "serious artist" because, as great as the mid-70s hits are--"You Haven't Done Nothin'" gets extra points for being a Nixon song, and it's one of the best--the first three songs I list above remain my favourites, and they don't give up anything in terms of art to what the more celebrated Stevie Wonder went on to do. I was say- ing how great Wire's "Mannequin" is in the previous entry; "My Cherie Amour" is its rival in the department of transplendent la-la-las...Three quick notes: yes, both Nanette Workman LPs are eponymous (they're easy to tell apart because one's French and the other's French); no, the Betty Wright LP doesn't have "Clean Up Woman" (but does have K.C. of the Sunshine Band as one of its producers); and Eminem and 50 Cent fans need to stay clear of the World Class Wrecking Cru album at all costs, lest they suffer irreparable traumatization and disillusion. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2895. Tammy Wynette: D-I-V-O-R-C-E 2896. Tammy Wynette: Tammy's Greatest Hits 2897. Tammy Wynette: Tammy's Touch 2898. X: Los Angeles 2899. X: Wild Gift 2900. X: Under the Big Black Sun 2901. X: More Fun in the New World 2902. X: Ain't Love Grand 2903. X: See How We Are 2904. X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents 2905. XTC: Waxworks: Some Singles 1977-1982 2906. XTC: Beeswax: Some B-Sides 1977-1982 2907. Yankees: High 'N' Inside 2908. Yarbrough & Peoples: Heartbeats 2909. Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer 2910. Yardbirds: Shapes of Things Mixworthy: "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," #2895; "Los Angeles" and "The World's a Mess; It's in My Kiss," #2898; "Universal Corner" and "White Girl," #2899; "Identity," "Germfree Adolescents," and "The Day the World Turned Dayglo," #2904; "Life Begins at the Hop" and "Senses Working Overtime," #2905; "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," #2909; "For Your Love" and "Shapes of Things," #2910. If not for Five Easy Pieces, I wouldn't be listing "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"; as someone who loves the film, it's automatic. "If you just wouldn't open your mouth, everything would be fine"...We were lucky enough to get Canadian release for Shapes of Things (on local new-wave label Bomb--wow, where did they ever come up with the name?), an excellent Charly compilation that bypassed the States. The one glitch is the absence of "Heart Full of Soul," which is kind of mystifying seeing as it came out on the same label as everything else on the record. #2909 is probably just called Yardbirds, but I think it's commonly referred to as Roger the Engineer after the inscription accompanying Chris Dreja's cover art. Come to think of it, Shapes of Things is also missing "Over, Under, Sideways, Down"...Many people count Wild Gift as the single greatest achievement of American punk. I loved it then, it still sounds great as I listen to it right now, but for me, it ended up being a prelude to Hüsker Dü and the Replacements. There's an inclination to wonder if you have to be married to get the full effect of Wild Gift, but when it was my favourite record in the world in 1981, I wasn't any more married then than I am now, so I'm not sure if that explains why I went on to become (and remain) a bigger fan of Hüsker Dü. More pertinent to my own biases, Hüsker Dü were rooted in the Beatles and the Byrds, X in some weird amalgam of rockabilly and the Doors (having said that, I'm surprised that it's two of the most Doors-like vocals on Wild Gift that I count as the album's highlights); also, my favourite music tends to reach me through sound and mood much more than words and themes, and Wild Gift is a narrative before it's anything--a compelling one, but lack- ing that visionary whoosh I would hear on Metal Circus. (Which might also explain why Zen Arcade is my least favourite LP from Hüsker Dü's magisterial '83-'85 run--they got so caught up in the narrative, they lost a bit of that whoosh.) I don't want to overstate the comparison--when it came time to review Ain't Love Grand for Nerve (my start there), I still considered X one of my three or four favourite groups. The al- bum was so-so; really, although there were still some good songs scattered here and there (from memory, "Around My Heart," "4th of July," and "See How We Are," though I don't know how they'd hold up today), X didn't make a good LP after Under the Big Black Sun, and through the middle part of the decade, they seemed more lost than the Ramones. I saw them play the El Mocambo around the time of More Fun in the New World, which was probably just a little too late; what I remember most about the show is Billy Zoom's schtick, that transparently contemptuous grin he had frozen in place the whole night, just to make sure you knew that he rather would have been off play- ing with Crazy Cavan or somebody. Too bad they didn't make it into Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life (something to do with Slash's distribution, I think, or maybe their early signing to Elektra)--they've never been name-checked nearly as religiously as Sonic Youth or Hüsker Dü or Minor Threat, and for a group that was such a locus of attention for a couple of years, they seem somewhat forgotten. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2911. Yazz: "The Only Way Is Up" 12-inch 2912. The Yes Album 2913. Yes: Fragile 2914. Yo: Once in a Blue Moon 2915. Yo La Tengo: New Wave Hot Dogs 2916. Dwight Yoakam: Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. 2917. Dennis Yost & the Classics IV: Stormy 2918. Young Canadians: Hawaii 2919. Young M.C.: Stone Cold Rhymin' 2920. Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth 2921. Karen Young: Hot Shot 2922. Lester Young/Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie: Early Modern 2923. Lester Young - Nat Cole - Buddy Rich: Giants 3 2924. Lester Young: Lester Swings 2925. The Lester Young Story--Volume 5: Evening of a Basie-ite 2926. Lester Young: Pres and Teddy and Oscar 2927. Lester Young/Roy Eldridge: The Jazz Giants '56 Mixworthy: "I've Seen All Good People," #2912; "Roundabout," #2913. (Same apology to Young M.C. that I issued to Tone-Lôc: those were different times.) I'll get this entry out of the way, and then I'm going to take a few days away from this before attempting Neil Young. It's oddly appropriate having a Yo La Tengo album in this lot, because while Neil is, was, and always will be the cornerstone of my vi- nyl collection--of one huge block of my life as a listener--Yo La Tengo is probably my favourite artist of the past decade, the post-vinyl addendum to those years. (If all goes well, the post-vinyl part will eventually stretch out much longer than the 20 or so years I spent buying records, but I'll still always think of it as an after- thought.) And yet, that one forlorn Yo La Tengo album doesn't really seem connected to my collection in any meaningful way, and, from what I remember, probably has even less to do with Yo La Tengo themselves. It was another record I reviewed for Nerve; the one specific thing I remember from the review was an elaborate joke concerning how much the vocal on "It's Alright (The Way That You Live)" sounded like Lou Reed (elaborate because I didn't realize at first that it was in fact Reed's song). I filed the LP quickly and didn't give another thought to Yo La Tengo until Scott Woods got me on to I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One a full decade later, and ever since, the last couple of years especially, I've been catching up with all that I missed. I'd either be listing the full 10 songs or very close if the mix- worthy list included CDs; as is, I can't think of even one from New Wave Hot Dogs that foreshadowed how much I'd end up liking them. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2928. Neil Young 2929. Neil Young with Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 2930. Neil Young: After the Gold Rush 2931. Neil Young: BBC Broadcast: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1970 2932. Neil Young: Harvest 2933. Neil Young: Journey Through the Past 2934. Neil Young: Time Fades Away 2935. Neil Young: "Extra" Special! The 1973 Tour 2936. Neil Young: On the Beach 2937. Neil Young: Tonight's the Night 2938. Neil Young with Crazy Horse: Zuma 2939. Neil Young: American Stars 'n Bars 2940. Neil Young: Comes a Time 2941. Neil Young: Decade 2942. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps 2943. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Live Rust 2944. Neil Young: Hawks & Doves 2945. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Re•ac•tor 2946. Neil Young: Trans 2947. Neil Young: "Sample and Hold" 12-inch 2948. Neil and the Shocking Pinks: Everybody's Rockin' 2949. Neil Young: Old Ways 2950. Neil Young: Landing on Water 2951. Neil Young: Freedom Mixworthy: "The Loner," #2928; "Cinnamon Girl" and "Cowgirl in the Sand," #2929; "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," and "Till the Morning Comes," #2930; "Ambulance Blues," #2936; "Albuquerque" and "Tired Eyes," #2937; "Barstool Blues," #2938; "Sugar Mountain," #2941. You can see how silly it is for me to narrow down my favourite Neil Young songs to 10--if you move "Sugar Mountain" to where it belongs chronologically at the front of the list, I've used up six spots by album number three, and even there, I had to ig- nore at least three or four other songs from those first three LPs that I love more or less as much as anything I've listed. There are so many alternates that just nar- rowly miss, I won't bother naming them as I did with the Velvet Underground. There's one thing that is accurate, though--even if I expanded the list to 20 songs, it would still pretty much end at Zuma; maybe "Powderfinger" would make it, maybe "Like a Hur- ricane," too (automatic many years ago, until I wore it out), but in terms of how I feel about Neil Young right now, the music he made up until 1975 just dwarfs every- thing he's done since. (A couple more qualifications. I was able to cheat earlier by including work he's done as part of CSNY and the Stills-Young Band; "Ocean Girl," which came out in 1976, would make any list of 20, and would even contend for my 10 favourite. And from his resurgence in the early '90s, I'd definitely include "Over and Over.") Anyway, enough bookkeeping. My first two Neil albums were the first two anybody should start with, After the Gold Rush and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. For two records that would become so incomparably important to me, I'm very hazy on the details of when and why I bought them. I may have picked up both at exactly the same time, I'm not sure--if not, within weeks of each other, I'm positive. They were probably bought in '76, but it may have been as early as '75; I remember being in Florida when American Stars 'n Bars was on the new-release rack in 1977, at which point I was already a fan, so it had to be '75 or '76. I mentioned before how much some of what I listened to in high school was influenced by the senior basketball team, something that was true of Neil Young more than anybody, but again, how that influence translated into my choosing to start with Gold Rush and Everybody Knows is a little unclear; the most vivid memory I have of the seniors' Neil fixation is them singing "Roll Another Number" on the bus, but I wouldn't buy Tonight's the Night un- til later. Whatever the exact timeline--and I should mention that an 8-Track of Har- vest preceded all of this by a few years, and that the singles from that album were very much a part of my immersion into Top 40 radio in 1972--finding my way to those two early LPs, and then to Tonight's the Night and Zuma and Time Fades Away soon after, remains one of the defining events of my life, doing more to shape me as a listener, and as a person, than any other music I've ever encountered. There's a great quote from Lou Barlow that I've made reference to before, about how "Being 17 and in a hardcore band is just about the pinnacle of human experience," but I'd have to say that being 15, fumbling around aimlessly in a small Ontario town in the mid- 70s, and having "Cowgirl in the Sand" get inside your head is even better. A piece of paper that goes back to June of 1979 and my last few weeks of high school: More than anything I can say, this one surviving document of my Neil Young obsession from that time--there's just that and the albums themselves--gives a glimpse into how much, as I prepared to clear out of Georgetown for Toronto and university (never, I mistakenly thought, to look back), I had begun to view my life through the prism of some fuzzy, Vilmos Zsigmond-photographed movie populated by the characters and frag- mentary images that floated through Everybody Knows and Zuma and Gold Rush. I suppose the meaning of it all is fairly self-explanatory, an all-encompassing farewell to our classmates that my friend Steve and I intended to post around school during the final week. I'd like to think we did just that, but something's telling me we backed down. You can see who the good guys and the bad guys were--actually, outside of our- selves, there were no good guys, it was just good girls and bad girls and bad guys. Three things come to mind as I look back at our handiwork 25 years later. One, you can't beat a typewriter for character; two, I didn't know the difference between a full and a semi-colon; and three, I was well on my way to becoming the pretentious fuck I turned into at university. The film was conceived as something real, a vague outline I'd carry around in my head all through U of T, with the grand plan being that I'd go on to York's graduate program in film and that Ambulance Fever would be my very own Mean Streets. It all kind of fell by the wayside when I never got into York, not being someone who had the initiative and certitude of self to pursue any- thing on my own, absent some kind of structure to lead me along. I'd been progres- sively losing interest in Neil Young by that point too; Trans was the first album of his I'd ever flatly disliked (an understatement; I was appalled), Everybody's Rock- in' and Old Ways barely registered, and Landing on Water, which I reviewed for Nerve, was so bad I authoritatively stated Neil would never again make music that affected people in any meaningful way. I've since realized that that's always a stupid thing to say of any singer whose primary resource, his voice, hasn't lost a thing over the years, and sure enough, Freedom and a return to something approximating his greatest work was close at hand. The other thing I remember about that review was that I bare- ly even hinted at how important Neil Young had been to me just a few years earlier; there was something very self-satisfied about the way I dismantled this really awful LP, and even though I was 100% right, not providing some necessary context for my dismissal was an odd omission. I actually think there was a subconscious link in my mind between Neil, my anger and disappointment over York's rejection, and the real- ization that I wasn't going to be a filmmaker after all, and that Ambulance Fever would remain a piece of paper hidden away in a yearbook. So I'm glad I finally get to make some use of it here. I would eventually come full circle and again experience the full force of those early Neil Young LPs, not because of Freedom or Ragged Glory, but triggered by a fanzine piece I wrote in the mid-90s in which I revisited high school less from a musical standpoint than how it affected me socially. (Let me men- tion in passing that I liked Freedom when it came out, and I had "Hangin' on a Limb" on a year-end CIUT list; Ragged Glory appeared at a moment when I was paying less at- tention to music than at any time since I first started listening to the radio, so it was only a year or two ago that I finally bought that one on CD.) I continue to be aware of Neil's newer releases, occasionally hearing something that sounds pretty good ("Razor Love"), occasionally thinking he's hit a new low (the 9/11 song), but I haven't bought anything on release since Old Ways. The early albums are still impor- tant to me, and always will be. I'm not sure if even the upcoming box set can find its way into that fortress; I know there'll be lots of stuff on there that falls into place chronologically in terms of Neil's biography, but not mine. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2952. Youth Youth Youth: Repackaged 2953. Michael Zager Band: Let's All Chant 2954. Zantees: Out for Kicks 2955. Zapp 2956. Zarkons: Riders in the Long Black Parade 2957. Warren Zevon 2958. Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy 2959. Zombies: The Best Of... 2960. The Best of ZZ Top Mixworthy: "Werewolves of London," #2958; "She's Not There" and "Care of Cell 44," #2959. It's funny, but I think I've always thought of these last few LPs, the ones filed after Neil Young, as a subcollection unto themselves. The mere act of filing them at the very end of the alphabetical section automatically made me more aware of each one's existence as part of my collection, if that makes sense. In other words, if you'd told me I owned nine albums filed after Neil Young, I probably could have named all nine, even non-entities like the Zarkons and Zantees; if you were to ask me which nine albums fall between the Ramones and Lou Rawls, though (or any other spot along the way), obviously I'd never be able to do it..."Werewolves of London" is one of my very favourite '70s songs, but I don't really know either Zevon album that well. I bought both long after the fact..."Care of Cell 44" is just about the best Beach Boys imitation ever recorded (parts of it, anyway), better even than "Back in the U.S.S.R." or similar attempts by the Who. I downloaded Odessey and Oracle last year, but I've only listened to it a couple of times so far...Youth Youth Youth was a Toronto hardcore band led by a guy named Brian Taylor, a first-ballot hall-of-famer in the annals of Snotty Record Store Clerks (Canadian Chapter). Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in record stores has his own personal list; they've even been commemorated in a Hollywood movie, High Fidelity. I was one myself for a couple of years, although my own snobbishness tended to be directed towards co-workers whose musical tastes varied from my own rather than customers. There was a guy at Records on Wheels who was pretty bad--I just barely remember him--and also Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet's Don Pyle, who worked at Driftwood. Brian's perch on Mount Olympus was based on his expertise and insider-status within the Satanic Corpsefucker Thrash- Metal world; I once tried to engage him in some conversation about Hüsker Dü's impend- ing first visit to Toronto, and, maybe because I looked more like a budding ornithol- ogist than a Manson-family castoff, not much more than a hateful grunt issued forth. (I really have no idea what a typical ornithologist looks likes, but I think you get the point.) I'm not sure where he is now, but I bet it's like Lou Reed in that one Bangs interview and he's moved on to fusion-era Herbie Hancock...And there you go. I'll probably do once-a-week entries from here on in, beginning with box sets this weekend.