Monday, May 26, 2008


The Naked Brothers Band - I Don't Want to Go To School
I asked my newly seven-year-old daughter what she wanted to listen to while we cleaned the house this morning, and she didn't have a precise suggestion, which pleases me. The rest of her friends and their teenage sisters are all firmly suckered by the insipid Disney tripe of Drake Bell and Jonas Brothers and goddamn Hannah Montana, who is so transparently a marketing tool that she is actually two pop stars, Miley Cyrus and her rhyming alter ego. Even her "sexy photos" were dreamed up at a marketing meeting.

But, I am not above children being into pop tripe, I mean, that is ostensibly who it's for. So I asked her is there was something her friends listened to that she wanted to hear, like Naked brothers Band or something, and she looked up "Oh Yeah, I like the 1-2-3 song" so we found it, and true to form, this Nickelodeon product was a notch more palatable than Disney product. Disney has latched onto the profitible plague of humorlessness that infects most adults and tries to recruit kids into the team. nickelodeon goes more for the pie in the face, fart joke, in other words, embraces the classics.

Naked Brothers is stupid, mind you, but not without some human edges. The elder Naked boy sings in a tune-resistant sector of the range between Axl Rose and Janis Joplin, and the 1-2-3 song, "Three is Enough" is not bad, at least better than the ballads that made both of us wrinkle our noses in irritation. They have at least a modicum of insouciance compared to the well-behaved dullards working for The Mouse.

Serge Gainsbourg - Monsieur Gainsbourg Originals
Now, my teenage media obsessions fell more in the realm of sneaking into the living room late at night and watching "Emmanuelle" movies on Cinemax, which were largely soundtracked by Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg is a beloved lothario figure (I mean, look at him!) and his theme for "Goodbye Emmanuelle" on this album holds up, but I'm going to go on record as saying musically speaking, he's pretty overrated, except for "Bonnie and Clyde" his famed duet with Bridgette Bardot.

My daughter even loves this song. When she was little I had it on a mix cd we'd play in the car and she thought it was funny to drone "Bonnie and Cloydddddd" in a deep voice like Bardot does. The two effuse en Francaise over a minor key guitar progression punctuated by orgasmic giggles, or possibly field recorded monkey calls. It's a simple song, but rather perfect. The scene from Laurel Canyon where Frances McDormand and whats-his-name coerce Kate Beckinsale into a striptease over this song is hotter than any old Emmanuelle flick could be.

(NSFW, I guess, unless you work in a sexy sexy Fronch kind of swinging office.)

The B-52's - Bouncing off the Satellites
Just for "Theme for a Nude Beach." This album sits in the awkward transition for the B-52's, going from punk/camp provocateurs to actual pop stars, its a rather lazy record for them, letting the plasticine synth lines and the female harmonies do the shouting. The less vibrant mood and absense of their signature surf guitar on this record is due to the passing of guitarist Ricky Wilson a year or two earlier, but honestly, it's really just not very good at all. I remember being at a party in high school and someone put "Theme for a Nude Beach" on the mix tape and it was perfect and lovely, fresh and giggly like the girl I had my eyes on at the party. She bobbed her head in mock-ditzy syncopation to the bop-boop-bee-doo throughout the song, and it only made me love her more.

Alas, my friends had an equal appreciation for latter-day Rush and Yes as they did for the B-52's, and something off Power Windows or 90125 came on next inspiring some drunken air guitar on someones part, and the girl appropriately wrinkled her nose at this and coaxed her friend to join her in a hasty exit. Surely I am not the only man on earth to be cock-blocked by progressive bands in their new wave period, but it still burns a little to the day.

English Beat - Special Beat Service
Now this! is! the best! pop record! of the early 80s! Seriously. "I Confess" is so lush and ecstatic I suspect both Vivaldi and Tito Puente were conscripted for its writing.

If I was making a wacky indie comedy about recently deceased souls adjusting to the afterlife, post-living among the living and having touching epiphanies, I'd have this line

Being dead don't hurt,
No only dying

Cards on the table time,

Sometimes it's right to say goodnight

playing when the protagonist sees his partner discover that he'd been unfaithful and he is left in limbo trying to plead for forgiveness across the life-death barrier, because his acceptance into heaven's arms depends on it! Maybe I'll call the movie "I Confess" and have Dave Wakeling play the stunning suave angel mentor.

and "Save it for Later" is simply perfect perfect with or without a half-baked movie pitch attached. In purgatory in the movie, I will have everyone hang out and have groovy dance parties of the damned in skelton festooned Euro nightclubs modeled precisely after the one in the video. Actually, If I can get Dave Wakeling attached to the project, we can just use this video by itself.

Depeche Mode - Some Great Reward

I really hesitated to put this on, only because this record meant A LOT to me in my formative years, and there is no way that it can come close, especially after listening to "Save it For Later" 10 times in a row. Just like back then, I instantly fast forwarded through "Something to Do" to revel in the sly stilted funk of "Lie to Me." "People are people" was a revelation in 1985, but David Gahan's mawkish tones against violence don't make the strongest case against beating him up. The marching portion at the end, with old Martin Gore stomping around in his skirts and non-Euclidian perm chanting can't understand what makes a man hate another man with shouts of people are people! intercutting it, capped off with that little sigh and the percussive breakdown brings it all back home.

My first serious girlfriend was a Swedish exchange student with whom I bonded over our mutual love of Depeche Mode. She told me they were huge pop stars in Europe, a fact I found hard to believe, because at the time you had to find out them through back channels, at least in our neck of the woods. In Houma, Bon Jovi was eyed suspiciously for signs of progressiveness.

Big Star - #1 Record
Required listening for anyone who has been a teenager in love. Not at the time, but twenty years later so that it can send all that hormonal surge shuddering back, hanging out down the street and crossing that street light, way past midnight and wishing we had a joint so bad. Preferably before you have kids old enough to feel the way Alex Chilton feels on "Thirteen." My daughter can go ask cartoon characters and imaginary Nickelodeon boyfriends won't you be an outlaw for my love all she wants, but I imagine I won't endorse it so heartily when it's to some other wretched teenager who feels the same way. I can guarantee the little fucker has less to say about "Paint It, Black" than I do. But its inevitable, and that's why "Thirteen" is the best love song ever.

Rolling Stones - Aftermath (remastered UK Version)
(addressing suitor from "Thirteen") For instance, I bet you didn't know "Paint It, Black" wasn't on the original UK release of Aftermath, but was a single tacked on the US version. And no, it's not about Vietnam, it was just used in movies about Vietnam.

What else you got? I'd really like to hear what you think about "Paint It, Black" (stepping in a little closer, cornering them near a bookcase where I pull down the critically acclaimed book I wrote about "Paint It, Black" and start leafing through it, chuckling to myself)

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