Call me Russ L

ST’s Shuffleathon 2007 – The CD I received

Posted in Music by Russ L on 7 November, 2007

I put my name down for Helvetian Anthony’s 2007 Shuffleathon CD-swapping circus of fun a good while ago, but I haven’t exactly been too active regarding it up until now. This is remiss of me. And you know how I feel about being remiss.

The CD I’ve compiled for my unknowing partner is now prepared and ready to be posted tomorrow. CD-to-me arrived on the 26th of October, courtesy of my main win-it-in-a-minute homeskillet Threelight. The first thing that occurred to me on reading the tracklisting was that the man hadn’t tried to go the obscurer-than-thou route, which is a Very Good Thing. I’m not one of those people who rams his tongue firmly into his lower lip and claims that anyone who ever mentions a band who he hasn’t heard of is trying to out-cool him (I doubt anyone would think I am, but I’ve encountered such people and would like to separate myself from them as much as possible), but I have elsewhere in the past seen this sort of CD-swapping exercise descend into entirely that. Boo sucks to it. Threelight gets A Russ L Thumbs Up.

The other side of this, though, is that there’s not a lot of newness for me to discover here, and I sort of see that as being the main point of this kind of lark. Only three of the twelve tracks were unfamiliar to me. Ah well. We start off in strong fashion with Tears For Fears’ “Shout”. This is a song I liked, but hadn’t actually heard for years. My memories of it were completely spurious, it turned out – I’d got the idea that it had much more of a glammier stomp about it from somewhere. No matter, because I like how it really is even more. The menacing sounding backing track contrasts very effectively with the strident vocals.

It’s actually dawning on me how hard it is to write about these familiar songs. Of our next two, I really like Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and I don’t mind Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, but they’re… there. Already. Floating around in the ether. What can one say about them other than yes, no or maybe?

New Order’s “Regret” is up fourth, and is the first song I didn’t already know. New Order are one of those bands that I’ve never quite got around to listening to any albums by, despite having intended to for ages and having liked all of the bits and bobs I’d previously heard by them. This doesn’t keep that run up, sadly; it’s their typical synth-pop with bubbly bass, but not really all that memorable. No part of it remains in my head after it finishes.

“Live And Let Die”! Oh, wait. It’s The Paul McCartney/Wings version. No, sorry; I like this song, but I can’t listen to this version without wishing it was the Guns ‘n’ Roses cover. A poor attempt at a reggae break doesn’t make up for the absence of Rose’s peculiar pronunciation. “Hwhat does it mhhhaaatta to nhyah?”

“Jessica” by The Allman Brothers’ Band comes next, as in ‘The Theme From Top Gear’. I do like this, it’s great fun in and of itself, but every time I hear it I see an image of Jeremy Clarkson. He’s… grinning at me. It’s disturbing.

Ah, now, here we’re talking: Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”. Real human frailty and entropy wound beautifully into song. It’s not amongst my absolute favourite Cash tracks as it seems to be amongst those of many people, but I still love it. The fact that Johnny-boy could manage to make a Nine Inch Nails tune sound affecting is tribute to the man.

Ah, now, The Monkees and their “Daydream Believer”. This is another one that I hadn’t heard for many a year and had forgotten precisely how it sounded (although in this instance I have no clear idea what I did think it was like, just not like this). It’s pleasant enough, anyway; the brass and string arrangements are quite nice, and I like the fact that singerbloke goes out of his way to make sure the ‘t’ is pronounced when he sings the word ‘it’. Hurrah for diction.

In my ignorance I’d never even heard of James Carr and his “Dark End Of The Street”, but I’m glad I have now. This is the main thing I’ll be taking away from this compilation, I think. A gorgeous piece of soul, with lyrics of illicit love. Yes. I like this. I’m dragged back down from the celestial planes brought to mind by the gospel backing vocals by The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, hitting dreary earth with a dreary bump. Yawn.

The Commodores’ “Easy” leads us on (another tried and tested favourite that I already knew I liked but don’t have a lot to say about) before it’s time to Rock, and The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” fills that role with aplomb. It’s another one I’ve long-since loved. Finishing off we have the third track I hadn’t already heard – Warron Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London”. Very, very silly, but I cannot argue with a song that contains the line “He’s the hairy-handed gent, who ran amock in Kent.” It made me smile.

So, judging what’s there, we have more “yes” than we have “no and maybe”. A success, I feel.


8 Responses

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  1. jezhiggins said, on 7 November, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    I know you’re a young ‘un and everything but how did you manage to avoid Werewolves of London your entire life? It’s his best known work by some distance, and crops up on the telly reasonably often, generally as backing music for an attempt at a humourous trailer for a werewolf film. It’s a bit of shame really, because it doesn’t really do much to enhance his reputation or encourage people to seek out his other work, which I think is jolly good. You won’t go far wrong with if you grab one of the various best of collections, or try one of the live sets on the Internet archive. The interview and set with Andy Kershaw is a good one.


  2. Threelight said, on 7 November, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Glad you liked the compilation, well most of it.

    I wasn’t sure whether, this time around, having well-known tracks would go down well with the intended listener. The one I made last year had couple more unknown tracks on there, but I decided to do something different.

    But anyway, a success, if I may also say so myself.

  3. Russ L said, on 7 November, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Jezmund – Never heard it before, honest guv. I’d heard Zevon’s name but that’s about the most I can say. I will investigate, though.

    I should’ve known that invoking the name of Nine Inch Nails would bring you to the comment box…

    Threelight – Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to create it for me.

    I can’t wait to hear what my partner will think of the CD I’ve made when it arrives.

  4. jezhiggins said, on 7 November, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    But I didn’t say anything about NIN :)

    I remember quite distinctly when I first Cash’s cover of Hurt. It’s really quite an astonishing track.

  5. SwissToni said, on 7 November, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Well, I think we can chalk that one down as a qualified success then? Like you, I kind of keep meaning to get into New Order, and have some vague notion about looking them up on wiki to check out the order of the albums, and then giving a spin to all the MP3s that someone was kind enough to give me (about every third song on my iPod is by New Order, apparently). “Regret” is one of my favourites though, not so much because of the song itself, but more because of the association with a particular tape I had that I listened to in my car on a portable, battery powered stereo in the summer of 1993 with (I think) Suede’s first album on the other side.

    A good, fair review, I think….. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s on your CD.

    Thanks for playing. It’s a genuine pleasure having you on board. And that’s a fact. If I believed in facts. Or truth. Oh hang on, let’s not go back there, eh?


  6. prem1um said, on 9 November, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Russ

    Having been an avid follower of GDFAF I wondered if you can help me…

    I’m due to take a rock music journalist around Birmingham for a brief tour this weekend and I wanted to ask for your help in identifying buildings which have important musical connections i.e the Hummingbird, Barbarellas, Town Hall, The Foundry etc.

    Any gigs, experiences or anecdotes you can share with me would be most appreciated…I’m born and bred in Brum but am not so hot on anywhere before the late 90’s music scene in the city…i’m not trying to imply you are ancient…more that you have some knowledge in this field!

    Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

  7. Russ L said, on 9 November, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Premium – I’ve just sent you an email. I don’t think it’ll be much help, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you think there’s anything at all else I can do.

    Jez – You don’t need to say anything about the NINnies. It’s obvious that mentioning their name is like projecting Batman’s symbol into the sky. You will come running.

    ST – Why, you…

  8. jezhiggins said, on 10 November, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Like Batman, eh?

    You flatterer.


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