At the closing of the year, I always try to do something constructive: Learn a new skill, volunteer my talents to a worthwhile cause, offer to chaperone trips for busloads of catholic high school girls… innocuous stuff like that. This year, my big thing is organizing. So I stopped by IKEA in Stoughton — recommended if for no other reason than watching patrons scramble for cheap furniture like third-world denizens being tossed boxes of Hostess Cupcakes — to pick up a bookcase, shelving, and other products made in idiot-free Sweden. My first goal: sort out and properly store my expansive CD collection.
Of course, I didn’t get far. Because I can only sift through so many CDs before I see something I haven’t heard in years and say, “I gotta listen to this.” Then before I know it, I’m lying on the floor singing along with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Cold Shot” while the ants carry off my hammer and nails.
So as the Red Sox, Os, Rays and Mets try to orchestrate a sort of Rube Goldberg construction to land Tejada in Boston, and seeing that it’s a lazy offseason Friday before New Year’s Eve, I figgered I’d amuse you with five simple CD recommendations. Not a definitive list of CDs you MUST! RUN! OUT! AND! BUY!, but rather a selection of discs that I enjoy madly, and consistently try to push on unsuspecting people, either through repeated listenings in my car or as background music at alcohol-fueled gatherings.
The Knife Feels Like Justice
Between his work with the Stray Cats and current mission to ruin swing music for everybody, Brian Setzer had a brief stint as “heartland rocker,” cutting this disc of straight-ahead rock tracks that somehow managed to slip under the radar, despite being, IMHO, the best thing the guy’s ever done. The title track, with its jangly guitars and killer hook, is perhaps one of the most criminally overlooked songs ever produced — certainly light years better than most of the crap being churned out in 1986, when the disc was first released. Go here to listen to some of the songs. And check out VH1 Classic where you can sometimes catch the surreal video for “Knife,” which shows Setzer and band playing in the desert for a small gathering of Navajo Indians and, curiously, some hat-clad dancin’ girls who look like they just stepped off a John Hughes movie set.
Okay, everyone knows Squeeze. They did “Tempted” and “Black Coffee in Bed.” Oh, and that song about… you know, the one with the crazy chorus that goes “take it to the bridge/throw it overboard/see if it can swim/back up to the shore.” What you may not know is that while the band is basically relegated to “one hit 80s wonders” status, they made their best music in the 90s, most notably, the disc Play. Here’s a collection of well-written, expertly-crafted pop songs that recall Lennon and McCartney and Elvis Costello in their prime, with lyrics that encompass the simple joys of the post-coital glow and shopping for pants while hungover. Oh, and David and Nigel from Spinal Tap appear on one of the tracks. Boo-yah!
This isn’t just my favorite Weezer disc, it’s the best freakin’ thing I bought all last year. If you’re foolish enough to get into a car with me, you will hear the Weez until it’s coming out your pores. You will shake your head during “Perfect Situation.” You will bang on the dash and stomp your feet during “Beverly Hills.” You will be laughed at mercilessly by the cute BU girls and their perfectly-coiffed boyfriends. Assholes.
Let Me Come Over
The feeling we had when the ball skipped through Buckner’s legs? Or when Aaron Boone knocked Wakefield’s pitch out of the Stadium? That’s how I felt when I’d heard Buffalo Tom would be opening for the Goo Goo Dolls. In a just world, the Goo Goo Dolls wouldn’t be allowed to eat at the same restaurant as Buffalo Tom, and would be relegated to simply giving their shoes a good shinin’ before every gig. Simply one of the greatest bands that Boston has ever produced, with a gorgeous, monstrous sound and staggeringly beautiful lyrics. Let Me Come Over is their finest hour, and if there’s a song that captures heartbreak and isolation better than “Taillights Fade,” I’ve not yet heard it. Also, lead singer Bill Janovitz is a righteously cool dude who got Theo Epstein and the whole band to sign a photo for me during Hot Stove rehearsals. Thanks again, Bill.
Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy
Dude, it’s a shame that the Refreshments will probably be best remembered for the theme song to King of the Hill. This collection of catchy, twangy pop songs is bloody remarkable, and the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon of drinking Mexican beer and harassing passersby. How the f–k can you beat lyrics like “Got off in the wrong direction/Found a hooker and lost my erection/So I had to lie/In the letter to the boys back home”? The answer: You can’t. Surrender, Dorothy.
Got five of your own? I wanna know about them.