July 21, 2005

Mixed Bag 2: Themes, Themes, the Musical Fruit

In several past blogs, I've written about several entries in the Mixed Bag CD exchange. Thankfully, due to copious free time, I've managed to work my way through four more discs. Usually, there are two ways to do a mix tape/CD - slap some tunes together, or at least arrange them by theme. These four discs are "concept" discs - kind of like concept albums, only there are no long jams, like, say, Barry Manilow and the Grateful Dead playing Copacabana for twenty minutes.

First up, Tracks from the Radio Station in My Head by Tony at Tony Remembers is rock solid - of course, from a guy who sees a lot of live shows, how could it not be? Green Light Girl kicks off the disc, and it has a great flow to it. A mixture of tracks by not-so-well-known-but- cool bands, a few tracks by is-that-who-I-think-it-is? (I mean, Bowie going romantic? Living Color going mellow? Tom Petty actually singing?), and of course - Dread Zeppelin. This disc is definitely "all killer, no filler".

Next time I'm going on a road trip, my mandatory listening will include Roger Owen Green's Travelogue USA #1: New York-Texas". Kicking off with Robbie Robertson's "American Roulette", this disc mixes blues, pop, folk, and country, and doesn't go for the obvious. Personal favorite track: Tom Petty channelling Elvis Presley on "Gator on the Lawn". (My least favorite track is the Band's version of "Atlantic City" - a little too self-consciously rustic for my tastes, but since the Zeitgeist/Reivers version is out of print, that will do). Definitely a keeper.

Chalk it up to Fred Hembeck to give us "Ring in the Obscure, Ring Out the Odd" - a compendium of relatively lesser-known but blow-you-out-of-the-water tracks. Personal highlights include "Twenty Five Fingers" (a Flowers In the Dirt-era McCartney/Costello collaboration); "Hey, St. Peter" (an unreleased Easybeats track given 70's production by its songwriters); "Unwanted Number" (if Mr. Costello didn't write this one, he should sue for plagiarism); "What Kind of Fool" by Swing Out Sister; and the seductive "Sleep with Me Instead" by Louise Goffin. Only two tunes are clunkers - "Whispering Your Name" doesn't really count, because it's a great song hampered by bad ELO-ish production: Mandy Patinkin singing, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"....hoo, boy.

Mandy, you can't sing. Stick to Inigo Montoya, pal.

Otherwise, Mr. Hembeck has delivered a pretty solid disc.

Finally, Scott at Polite Dissent gives us "Sands Through the Hourglass", with several tracks forming a "suite" for each stage of man. It's clever, and the funny thing is - it all tends to blend together. Thanks to Scott, the Josie & the Pussycats theme blends into the Boomtown Rats; a one-hit wonder is shown to have aged very well; and finishes with the 1-2-3-4 of "Dead Puppies", "Eve of Destruction", "I'm Easy" and the MASH theme - with lyrics!

Another solid set of discs, worth playing again, and making me eager to listen to the remainder.

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