Rotating between having her head out the window or on my lap in intervals of less than ten seconds, Mugs would bounce around the inside of the Jeep like a canine pinball. The A.M. radio would play those adult contemporary hits which blurred the line between folk – rock – country and polite crooning intended to placate the masses who found The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour funny. Between being stepped on, loved and driven to distraction by the sounds of Hot Butter’s “Pop Corn” that my friends was seven year old me in my dad’s AMC Jeep in the summer of ’74.
It wasn’t all bad, slipped in between the greatest hits of Neil Sedaka and Anne Murray came Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundow,” a subversive little number promising murder “if I find you been creeping ‘round my backstairs.” I had no idea what that meant, but it sure sounded bad. That song and the follow up single “Carefree Highway” helped propel Sundown into #1 in both Canada and the U.S. in June of 1974.
Of course, vinyl was still king back then and plenty of records were issued in the year of its original release, but… what since?
Surprisingly, for a hit record, Sundown hasn’t seen much in reissues and remasters with two notable exceptions. In 1979, Mobile Fidelity gave Sundown the all-star half-speed recording treatment. You can find used copies for around $20. (Saw a still packaged one selling for over $200.00 on E-Bay, but let’s not get insane just yet). Then just last year a remastered 180 gram edition showed up for Record Store Day and you can still find them easily for about $40. Sound on it is outstanding.
If you’re crate digging you can still find decent copies of the original kickin’ about for under $5.
So, the vinyl spins I think of my Dad, my dog, and drives to the cottage along a carefree highway. Wish I knew where the hell that is! “When do we get there?”
Something about the bass line in “Love Buzz” that at times seems both sinister and fun. Then the guitar kicks in and you can’t decide which instrument to ‘air-play’ to, and when you finally decide, you find yourself doing vocals and tearing your throat apart in a vain attempt to capture that fierce Cobain voice. I could listen to this over and over like a demented 13 year old and never see myself getting sick of it.
2. “Kid With Crooked Face” – Bob Mould
A long time ago, I saw Sugar play several times. I was always blown away by how Mould can convey image and emotion with a dry vocal competing against his fierce (and very loud) guitar work. He’s also the guy that convinced me to have a pair of ear plugs in my pocket at a concert… my ears were ringing for two days after I saw Sugar for the first time.
3. “The Simspsons Theme” – Green Day
Well I couldn’t very well talk about the Lego Simpsons house without sneaking in this wonderful bit of Green Day noise.
4. “The Way We Were” – Me First & the Gimme Gimmes
Most people think of Streisand when they hear this song. Instead I get killed by the heartache and laughter of the late great Gilda Radner. I think she would like this version too.
5. “In The Heat Of The Moment” – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher is one of those artists I will purchase without even hearing a song. He just has that dependable rock’n’roll sound that gets me humming in whatever setting I’m in.
6. “Listen To Some Music” – BMX Bandits
Glasgow band has fun with a jangling low-fi house party sound. Would love to see them live, but the Atlantic Ocean provides a small barrier between me and that little dream.
7. “Spider-Man” – The Mr. T Experience
I must have listened to a 100 different versions before I picked this one. You would think I would get sick of it… but no – I just wondered where the hell the Ramones version went.
8. “Lampshades On Fire” – Modest Mouse
Like the song, but if I see a lampshade on fire, I’m reaching for a frickin’ extinguisher, not dancin’ around.
9. “Panic In Detroit” – David Bowie
This is a preview – I will soon be writing about a special vinyl acquisition and I couldn’t wait to play something from it. Here’s a picture – I just hope it sounds as good as it looks.
I’ve been a fan of Travis for years, but the weird thing is, I couldn’t tell you much about them other than the Brit-Pop connection and that I have always enjoyed them. It’s like they have been stuck on the mellow side of Radiohead’s The Bends, and continue to dwell and explore that place.
12. “Lego” – The Maccabees
The band with a religious name that doesn’t follow any religion – but can write a pretty decent tune involving Lego… well ok… as usual my wit has escaped me.
13. “Delinquency” – V Twin
Another Glasgow band said to be the “Next Big Thing” falls short. Still, like Teenage Fanclub before them, they write some great tunes. Only problem is finding their stuff.
14. “The Hardest Button To Button” – The White Stripes
Seeing as I wrote about Elephant only yesterday, I figured they should hit the mix today. Besides it gave me another opportunity to include that Simpsons/White Stripes video.
15. “Elevator Operator” – Courtney Barnett
Due to my fascination with vinyl I don’t often talk about new artists, but damn, this song was too good to pass by without putting it into the mix, ask me in a month if I feel the same way about the album.
16. “Tin Soldier” – Small Faces
I was always a bigger Faces fan than the Small Faces, but in recent years I’ve gone back to discover that when these guys were at the top of their game, they were every bit as good as the Kinks and Who… which is about the biggest compliment I can give.
17. “The Letter” – The Box Tops
It’s hard to believe that Alex Chilton has departed this place; even harder to believe he was only 16 when he recorded and had a #1 hit with this song. He certainly doesn’t sound like a kid.
18. “Free Again” – Alex Chilton
Because I was in the mood for Chilton, I could help but throw this on right after the Box Tops. It is an awesome song in its own right. The album can still be purchased from Omnivore. For a good laugh, you can see how much Chilton hated lip-synching.
19. “Sundown” – Gordon Lightfoot
A prize find at last year’s RSD, I’ve spent many hours since mellowing by the window reading books and listening to this record.
20. “Echo Beach” – Martha & the Muffins
One of my favourite songs from childhood, it convinced me I really didn’t want to grow up. Unfortunately, responsibilities have a way of making such proclamations sound rather silly. Still, I would rather be at “Echo Beach” on a mid August evening than in front of a computer in March. It was a long winter.