Repost from https://rockcritics.com/ 's frequently amazing Lifetime Top 50 series: now with bonus tracks, more comments, links 4 all (thanx & a tip of the Hatlo hat to RC's inspiring influencer, Scott Woods).
Making this list was too much like an evening spent looking at the mirror. B-but I really do like and listen to and remember a lot of other kinds of music, honest! Most of it I get better in the context of an album, however uneven, as I imagine making a mix, a playlist,and now I see that habit in the segmentation and subsets of this list:
* childhood favorites:
*1. "Come On-A My House" (1951) "Come On-A My House"
2. "Moody's Mood For Love" (1952)
Here we have an excellent, milestoned hit example of vocalese, which is the singing of an already extrapolated jazz instrumental melody: in this case, James Moody's revelatory take on a dear olde crooner standard, "I'm In The Mood For Love"----now KP pumps Eddie Jefferson's previous vocalese version into spiraling, early 50s-appropriate high anxiety (long before Mel Brooks' Sinatroid theme song for his movie of that title) . "What is all this talk, about loving me, my sweet?" queries Blossom Dearie---but woman's work is never done, and she carefully tries to lead him toward the jazz standard of mental hygiene (again: early 50s). This is something of a forerunner to the musical relationship of Louis Prima and Keely Smith (though she gives zoomy Louie the deadpan side eye, crooning by more than to him)(the latter relationship, as Phil Freeman points out, itself might-as-well-be spawning the comedy personae of TV-series era of itchy Sonny and zingy Cher, so meet the hipper grandfolks in their prime)
*3 Rosemary Clooney:
"Mambo Italiano" Rosemary Clooney: Mambo Italiano (1954) A take-off on that mambo craze, with another "Come On-A" dash of ethnic funnin': "Mama mia 'ats-sa spicy meatball!" My goal!
"The Party's Over" (late 50s)
– She probably heard Nat King Cole's 1957 version; he was my Dad's favorite singer, and Cole's version turns out to be just the way I remember her singing it, after a big party, long in the making. Nat King Cole---"The Party's Over"
*5. "Peter Gunn Theme" (1959): Jazz Detective! Cool and relentless.
*6."Battle of New Orleans" (1959): The first song I cam recall grabbing me directly frpm radio. Not TV, although Horton already worked the kid appeal with movie themes. Like "Sink The Bismark." This was written by Jimmie Driftwood, said to be a former schoolteacher, whose historical ditties were ,meant to lasso his students. Perfect for Horton's brand and rolling enunciation, also a cartoon epic: when "The gator lost his mind," same here. This is speedier than I remembered: Johnny Horton--"The Battle of New Orleans"
7. "Tombstone Blues"(1965)
8. "Desolation Row"(1965)
9. "Dear Landlord"(1967)
10. "Chelsea Girls"(1967
11. "These Days"(1967)
12."Eulogy To Lenny Bruce"(1967) (sounds worse than remembered at first; imagine it better)
14. "Nottamun Town"(1969)
15. "I'll Keep It With Mine"(1969)
Flying Burrito Brothers:
16. "Sin City" (1969)
More timely than evah, of course, but what are these righteous harmonists doing in this den of iniquity? The Louvin Brothers on tour? Swapping places with those hotel hallway twins in The Shining? Na. Some say the tape was recorded or mastered or some shit at the wrong speed, a little higher than intended. It works, and never again would Parsons or Hillman sound like they did together,on this album and the relatively disappointing follow-up. Together (It's okay though: GP was even better while stepping back for Emmylou).
17."Willie and Laura Mae Jones"(1969) Living, working so far out in the country back then that interraciality was a necessity, and fine, 'til The years rolled past our land, They took back what they'd given, and Dusty's silver voice keeps the eerie temporality of beauty rolling on, for a while.
This is the mono single, now on her all-mono The Complete Atlantic Singles ( sounding more jumped-up than it does in my mind; imagine it less so)
18."if Dogs Run Free" (1970)
19. Aw, can't find the original LP version, which seemed like a microcosm of refreshed, updated power-art-pop VUness: details, immediacy, humor, imagery, hipness, sweetness. driiive —-but seeming clarity of remaster ls appropriate for grabby expansiveness and all (Vocal now seems more jacked-up, but appropriate re desperate to leave this nowhere scene, and jump into radio station—ha this the album meant to have commercial potential:he really think program directors wouldn't think he sounded too jacked-up desperate)(maybe also check versions on Spotify etc,;the links here are all free of passwords)
"Rock and Roll"(1970)
20. "Mercedes Benz" (1971)
(Some of my picks also stand for others: this one also goes out to Fugs, Rounders, Hurley, and the whole sick Have Moicy crew). Written with her buddies Michael McClure (West Coast Beat poet-playwright-novelist, Morrison buddy too, also collab w Manzarek) and Bobby Neuwirth (singer-songwriter, notable zinger in Don't Look Back), this could have come off like hipsters sneering, slumming, but she squeezes genuine conditioned hopes & dreamz of commercial validation, solace, near-universal on some levels, certainly in Amerika, through each droll, maudlin note (note: the also solo demo of "Me and Bobbie McGhee" has her doing it all, musically soulfully doesn't really need The Full Tilt Boogie Band, good as they are on radio product)
21."Pali Gap" (1971)
From the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack, a moonlit instrumental of tiny lifeforms, vibrating faster and faster in the steady change, moonlight guiding waves of phosphorescence(not seeing this version on Youtube at the moment).Hard to find, but think Vimeo's thee original,or close to it:
22. "The Way Love Used To Be" (1973 The Great Lost Kinks Album audio; the 1971 Percy soundtrack crowds the vocal w. instrumental sound)
The Kinks----"The Way Love Used To Be" (Other side of this coin, same collection—in fact, the very next track: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else.")
23. "Famous Blue Raincoat"(1971)
24. "Wild Child"(1971)
25. "Walk On The Wild Side" (1972) thanks Dave!
26."Hanky Panky" (1973) Floating, almost surging through the ceiling.
27. "The Air That I Breathe" (1973)
Written by Mike Hazlewood and Albert Hammond (Sr., that Stroke's Dad), first appeared on AH's It Never Rains In California (1972), and was covered the next year by Phil---of this version, wiki sez: The Hollies copied the arrangement in its entirety and later acknowledged the producer, Duane Eddy. The Phil Everly version was arranged by Warren Zevon. (Zevon was then the Everlys' touring pianist, I think.) Late night revelation comes again, with all the power one Everly Brother can generate, which is plenty in this case, and sometimes all that I need. Wiki continues: The 1992 Radiohead song "Creep" uses a similar chord progression and shares some melodic content with the 1972 version of "The Air That I Breathe". As a result, the song's publisher sued Radiohead for copyright infringement and a settlement was reached in which Hammond and Hazlewood were given co-writing credits and a portion of the royalties. Would that Phil had sung both/"both" songs, one into the other and back again! Somebody should. "The Air That I Breathe"
(PS: the Everly Brothers did a great "Love Hurts," the version said in Todd Haynes's VU doc to be an inspiration for "Sweet Jane.")
Sir Douglas Quintet:
28."You're Doin' It Too Hard"(1973)
29. Bonnie Raitt:
"I Feel The Same" (1973)
The track that comes into my head most often, to. this. day-- w Lowell George; she was said to be currently harsh on her own playing: Bonnie Raitt---I Feel The Same As written and performed by Chris Smither also, it is filed down. I'd say, "This is the flint," but flint don't have this much inside, moving along.
Esther Phillips did a great version her way, exploring, interrogating the groove, testing resolve, as she must: Esther Phillips----I Feel The Same
Gram Parsons ft. Emmylou Harris:
30: "Hearts on Fire" (1974)
32 ."$1000 Wedding"(1974)
KC and the Sunshine Band:
33."I Get Lifted"(1975)
Richard & Linda Thompson:
34."Night Comes In"(1975)
35. "Hard Luck Stories" (1975)
37. "Pablo Picasso" (1975)
38."Walkin' The Dog"(1979)
39."I Want Your Love"(as first heard on1982's Soup For One soundtrack, which may or may not be exactly the same as 1978 12 inch single)
Longer version of Chic's "I Want Your Love," close to Soup For One soundtrack version, which seems not to be on the 'Tube, at least tagged as such—strings x guitar need a room, get it get it get it: "I Want Your Love"
Primo Chic, at any length.
40. "Don't Toss Us Away" (1985)
41. "Who Were You Thinkin' Of"(1990)
When we were makin' love, last night. You got more out of it, than I put into it---
Giant Sand ft. Pappy Allen:*
42. Welcome To My World(1991)
Gillian Welch ft. David Rawlings:
43."Elive Presley Blues" (2001)
Mountain blues, not too far from a bend in the river, that is, keening up through mourning and memory to one more time for me and you and P., awright.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops:
44. "Hit 'Em Up Style"(2010)
45. "Open My Eyes" (2015)
Willie Nelson ft. Mavis Staples:
47. "My Shit's Fucked Up"(2015)
One of Warren Zevon's final headchildren, perfectly delivered by Dr. Kinky.
48. "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight"(2017) Hey, I play jazz when I am confused, I play country whenever I lose, Bird's saxophone, it just don't seem right. And I feel like Hank Williams tonight—-Cause when I'm real high, I play rock and roll,I play country when I'm losin' control,I don't play Chuck Berry quite as much as I'd like—-
49. "Half-Hanged Mary"(2020)
50. "Mary, The Submissing Years"(2020)
From late in Cook's silver spacesuit, tequila sunrise, unmistakably country---that voice, them tales---Aftermath, come the cotton-chopping machine and stort of post-hickhop infectiousness inspired by a Margaret Atwood poem, followed by an acoustic homage, prequel, parallel and (possible spoiler)possible sequel to John Prine's "Jesus, The Missing Years." Results: more than semi-beautiful.
Bonus tracks, incl from Comments section for this post on RockCrticis.com
51. I should have found room for Moe Tucker's tremulous, determined, forever young "Waiting For The Man": whatever else is in this crazy place, she ain't leaving 'til he gets here and delivers, ditto tomorrow. (On the aptly titled I Spent A Week There The Other Night, her best that I've heard)Moe Tucker---I'm Waiting For The Man
52. Bruce Springsteen labored for years on Born To Run, as the title became ironic, but a lot of it worked, to varying degrees–most of all, for me, in "Meeting Across The River," which still sounds like a magical one-off: a seemingly basic scenario, with no purple passages, as written, sung, and played. Roy Bittan's keys get room to breathe, Richard Davis's bass slips through shadows, as it did on Astral Weeks, and Randy Brecker, having left his own purple passages far behind in Blood Sweat & Tears and The Brecker Brothers Band, leans his trumpet waaay out of
Cherry's nightside window and fire escape (I don't think she's home).
53. As someone else once pointed out in Why Music Sucks (or whatever its title was for that issue): for the benefit of all music writers and other stans, sick Lennon twists and screams his way through Larry Williams' "Bad Boy," to wit, "Aw BUUUUUYYYYYYYY evah rock-n-roll book, on tha magazine stand—"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8hOfWs2Xmw Which I know best from the all-highlight, cobbled-for-America Beatles VI, but this Past Masters '09 remaster should give right wrong idea. (Don't think somebody wants me to link, but you'll find it.)
54. From the trenchant No Dirty Names (1970, crispy, often dirty year), here's one of Dave Van Ronk's jazziest (and even Beefhearty, on some of the scatting) studio performances: "One Meat Ball" is still too plainspoken for my bare head—special delivery of home truth, as friends Down Under would put it: "In his/Dreams he/Hears them call/"HE GETS NO BREAD WITH ONE MEAT BALL.Dave Van Ronk---One Meat Ball
55. On his 1973 solo debut, These Foolish Things, Bryan Ferry is the infomercial "interviewer," setting up and then replaying the increasingly huffnpuff yet unstoppably staccato imagery of Boy Dylan, "my blue-eyed son," checking in from the field. Sound EFX respond to the weaker lines, drummer to the stronger, as Harry Smith's tabloid headlines reduce the purple thematic inflation of some songs in the same package of Smithsonian Folk Music Anthology: reduce it, yeah, like cooking with liquor had better. But not killing the flavor, na, give the drummer some: here, we can better taste thee weird charging through both ways, train-train and all that, cos It's A Hard Rain A-Gonna Fall---Bryan Ferry
56. I stepped up on the platform,
The man gave me the news.
He said, "You must be joking, son
Where did you get those shoes?
Where did you get those shoes?"
Well I–-seen 'em on the TV, the movie show
They say the times are changing but I, I, just don't know,
These things are gone forever
Over a long time ago (oh yah)
That's what he gets for wanting to tour in a minstrel show and meet Napoleon. But why does that part keep coming back through my head? I've been a good boy, it's not fair! But that troubled stop-start insistent groove thing feels so right, that splay chord is the very hand of faith and searching meaning so you don't have to until it says so, so oh yah. (Was Dylan hearing it somewhere in Rough and Rowdy Ways? You know that patterning: I'm-a that I'm a this. "I don't love nobody so gimme a kiss." that's some kinda warm salty moistened) Pretzel Logic---Steely Dan
57. Bryan Ferry again, here to pour a "River of Salt" on my Steely marks? Not really: it's a refreshing little shot, of sobriety, feeling the loss again, but with a jolt of recognition, however much acceptance it takes to sit down on the edge of the bed for under two minutes, singing quietly, succinctly, "My love is gone/She's left this town," at the crossroads, "River of salt/Keeps flowing down." Even the bridge, with its little breeze, leads along River of Salt---Bryan Ferry Backstory and too much else re this b/w find: https://roxymusicsongs.com/2019/03/25/river-of-salt/
58. Cut to the chase: so far, my favorite "Bei Mei," in terms of drawing out and building on/distilling the melody's allure: the Benny Goodman Sextet's mostly instrumental (Martha Tilton sings just a little bit and the beginning and end, with no time to let the English lyrics do their half-assed thing) At 6 minutes and change, it generates the intensity of BG's extended "Sing, Sing,Sing," but with a seemingly lighter touch, in effect pre-channeling the best cool jazz a decade before Birth of the Cool (which isn't my favorite cool, but ok a landmark) Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen---Benny Goodman Sextet But a close second, only because more obviously extroverted/"theatrical," is The Barry Sisters' *other*, actually all-Yiddish, version (also I think it's from the 40s )Barry Sisters---Bei mir bisti sheyn Meanwhile, back in 1937, Ella Fitzgerald's take also has the right (protocool now creole) vibe---several posts. and this one may be in fake stereo, but I dig the slight gain in bass, and the slightly tinted nocturnal vessel of her clarity: Ella Fitzgerald and Her Savoy Eight---Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (The Barrys do the best "Have Nagila" I've heard (did not know it was a celebration of the harvest. but def. is), kicking off the cooking At Home With The Barry Sisters. with this playlist slipping in some earlier, moodier, even noir-ish tracks (prob deep Yiddish theater, going back to 20s. but also a noir/liminal WWII vibe as well, like some of Glenn Miller's Army Air Corps/Force recordings with vocalists, but moreso) and the solar-powered 1959 At Home slips out into the moonlight sometimes as well, so a good blend: At Home With The Barry Sisters)
59. Patrick Cowley, Some Funkettes: Firmly packed studio rat EP, sassy and fresh from the can, man, mid-to-late 70s queries--fave so far is instrumental version of " Feel Love" with as much or as prominent organ as synth, maybe 60s garage fave Farfisa, bringing out seedy soulful punky Latin highlights from melody---other fave is finale, "Spiked Punch Dub" Aye, Cap: still warm leatherette legacy brought 2020 yet another Radio Shack tape goblet ov afterglow as further intrigue: note-by-note spelling of the chorus-title of "I Feel Love," rediscovered like the first tyme on stethoscope applied to train rails and bed rails way after midnight, in that mid-60s-associated garage-y organ sound, 70s-Popular Mechanics synth: hands across the decade sea (Lou: "Ovuh the bridge we go,,,")