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Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Now that I'm on Facebook I'm constantly getting tagged on notes for (mostly) fun time-wasting questionnaires and surveys, and every now and then one of them really gets me going. Case in point: the following list of 25 songs that I just can't live without. Songs that I could hear a million times and not get sick of, that in some way move or inspire me, or stuff I just plain find fun as a motherfucker. You get the idea. And it's also fun that in filling out stuff like this I just might end up with a piece that's suitable for posting here on the Vault, so it's a win/win. And if you feel inspired to do so, please send in your own Sacred 25, 'cause I'd love to see what floats the boats of all out there in the Internet ether! So, without further ado and in no particular order...

The Sacred 25: The Songs I Simply Cannot Live Without (in no particular order):

1. "I Only Have Eyes For You"-The Flamingos

This actually does hold the number one position in my heart and mind because it has an utterly unique and ethereal sound. Whenever I hear it I’m suddenly sunken deep into the biggest and most comfortable beanbag chair you’ve ever seen, located on the huge, domed observation deck on a slowly-rotating space station, surrounded by the limitless firmament and its twinkling stars. It’s like hearing a transmission from outer space and I sincerely consider it the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

2. "Paralyzed"-The Legendary Stardust Cowboy

Virtually impossible to describe to anyone who’s never heard it, this outright cacophony of unintelligible shrieks, squawks and cries of “Paralyzed!!! Yaaaaaaa-Hooooooo!!!” comes off like what probably really went down in the saloons of the Wild West and features a trumpet solo that makes not one bit of logical sense. There’s also a drum solo that sounds like somebody kicked a full drum kit down about six flights of stairs, and the whole thing comes to an abrupt halt that leaves listeners both stunned and utterly bewildered. Once the de facto theme song of the Marvel Bullpen during my years there, “Paralyzed” elicited the following reaction from my totally confused four-year-old nephew Nate: “I don’t like the cowboy song!” There probably isn’t another song as bizarre as this one in my collection and for those who know my collection, that’s really saying something.

3. "Plan 9, Channel 7"-The Damned

Though not the first song I heard by The Damned, this was the tune that made me a fan for life. Both rockin’ and atmospheric, this tune is one of the band’s signature numbers and should be downloaded immediately if you’ve never heard it.

4. "Jesus Entering From the Rear"-Feederz

Also known simply as "Jesus," when I first heard it way back in the fall of 1984, it became the song that sparked my lifelong quest to find the most offensive song ever recorded. By far my favorite anti-religion ditty, this essentially equates Catholicism with a two-thousand-year ass-rape and features the lead singer screeching “Jesus enteriiiing from the reeeeeeeeeuuuh…Fucking yoooooooooooou in the aaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssss!!!,” a line guaranteed to get the listener excommunicated. But it also possesses one of the catchiest guitar hooks on record and has been known to win over both staunch Catholics and Christians with its dubious charms. NOTE: I should specify that the version of this song that ranks among my all-time necessities is the one found on the Alternative Tentacles label's 1981 compilation album, LET THEM EAT JELLYBEANS, and released as a single. The version found on The Feederz's subsequent album, "Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss?" doesn't even touch the original for quality (?).

5. "I Can Help"-Billy Swan

A forgotten, slow latter day rockabilly tune that was a minor hit when I was around eight years old. This one has an organ that makes it sound like it’s rockabilly night at the ice skating rink.

6. "Tired of Waiting For You"-The Kinks

Probably not the Kinks tune most people would expect to be my favorite, but it sho’ nuff is.

7. "Garbage Man"-The Cramps

Of the many, many excellent songs by this band, this is the one that I find myself hypnotized by and find impossible not to dance to and sing along with at the top of my lungs. I mean, imagine the following with a hard-driving tom-tom beat:

I said a Louie, Louie, Louie, Lou-eye
The bird's the word and do you know why?
You gotta beat it with a stick

You gotta beat it 'til it's thick

You gotta live until you're dead

You gotta rock 'til you see red!

Now, do you understand?!!?”

Yes, Lux, I most certainly do.

8. "Earache My Eye"-Alice Bowie

Actually Cheech & Chong in disguise as a glam-rock band, this tune not only kicks ass across the board, it’s actually hilarious. Told from the point of view of a (presumably) teenage transvestite whose mom drives him crazy with her incessant nagging, this is the song I demand as the first record played at my funeral.

9. "Reach Out"-Cheap Trick

Tucked away on the soundtrack to HEAVY METAL, this inspirational number is the best Cheap Trick song you’ve never heard. How this was never a hit is beyond my meager powers of comprehension.

10. "Immigrant Song"-Led Zeppelin

Was this the first hard rock/metal song to invoke the Vikings? I can’t answer that, but it certainly kicks ass and should have been at least eleven minutes longer. Every time I hear this I picture the Marvel Comics version of Thor and his Asgardian warrior pals flying through space in that dragon-headed longboat in search of enemies to destroy. Pure rock ‘n’ roll testosterone.

11. "Wunderbar"-Tenpole Tudor

One of the strangest songs ever to be a hit in the UK (or anywhere else, for that matter), this song just makes me smile at the mere thought of it. The band is one of the most refreshingly anti-glamorous in recorded history and the singer occasionally sounds like he’s vocalizing with some dude’s balls in his mouth, so what’s not to love? Oh, and the video for this song is a completely intentional idiotic masterpiece that includes a sudden and utterly incongruous appearance of a longship full of Vikings. Whistling Vikings, no less! Christ, I fucking adore it!!!

12. "Down In the Park"-Tubeway Army

Moody and grim, this is the one I put on when I’m in a blue state of mind. The polar opposite of the feel-good mindlessness found in frontman Gary Numan's subsequent hit “Cars.”

13. "Space Junk"-Devo

When it came to choosing my favorite song by my favorite band, that choice turned out to be a lot easier than I would have thought. This quirky first album (1978) entry relates the sad tale of an innocent girl getting her head smashed in by the remnants of an orbiting communications satellite as it plummets out of orbit. This is from the guitar-driven pre-“Whipit” days when the band was aggressively weird and not as concerned with being commercially viable, and it’s a fucking masterpiece.

14. "The Return of Jackie and Judy"-Ramones

A sequel to “Judy Is A Punk” (1975), this Phil Spector collaboration captures the best qualities of both the Ramones and Spector and is strangely overlooked even by Ramones hardcores. Their loss, sez I!

15. "Some Kind of Hate"-Misfits

I love me a shitload of Misfits tunes — the original Danzig Misfits, that is —but I particularly enjoy this one for allowing Danzig to croon for all he’s worth and let loose with a torrent of utterly gratuitous “whoas.” It’s impossible for me not to sing along with this and my pals John Bligh and Matt Yashian know exactly what I'm talking about.

16. "La Di Da Di"-Doug E. Fresh & M.C. Ricky D

With Doug E. Fresh providing his patented human beat box stylings, this one is THE triumph of lyrical fun as dished out by the ever-wonderful Slick Rick, back when he was known as M.C. Ricky D. An instant classic when it came out, this is easily the greatest no-instruments hip-hop recording of all time. Go ahead and find me a better one. I defy you!

17. "My Name Is Larry"-Wildman Fischer

Often described as the human equivalent to a bird’s song that explains who and what it is, this a cappella recitation of his name and descriptions of damned near all of his family members makes this the definitive song by schizophrenic songsmith Larry “Wildman” Fischer. I also have a soft spot for this one because I practically drove my mother insane with it during 1980-1981.

18. "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."-The Ventures

1960’s spy-mania meets surf music head-on with this excellent instrumental.

19. "Dream of the West"-Yip Yip Coyote

Another of Malcolm McClaren’s creative misfires, this group’s wacko hybrid of mid-1980’s Brit dance rock and Country/Western motifs was a spectacular failure, but this excellent song resulted from Yip Yip Coyote’s blink-and-you-missed-it existence. Overblown, crazy and very danceable, this one is as unique as tits on a trout.

20. "Beats To the Rhyme"-Run DMC

My favorite Run DMC record because it not only puts a big, black foot right up the listener’s ass, it also pulls the genius move of incorporating Sam Kinison screaming “Dick in your mouth all day!” to thermo-nuclear comedic effect. Completely brilliant in every way.

21. "Let’s All Make A Bomb"-Heaven 17

As gay as tree full of birds, this British new wave dance floor tune is the most ass-shakin’ song you’ll ever hear about the horrors of nuclear proliferation. The ominously witty lyrics include such gems as “Hey! There’s no need to debate! It’s time to designate your fate!” and “Although the war has just begun, ignore the sirens! Let’s have fun! Let’s celebrate and vaporize!” Growing up during the Reagan years, I was certain that there would come a day when I would have to rush to my turntable and play this as the mushroom clouds blossomed skyward.

22. "I Wanna Piss On You"-GG Allin

Utterly without any kind of social or artistic merit, this is maybe the most juvenile song ever recorded and it just makes me laugh. For example:

I wanna piss on you
Fill your mouth with super-glue

I wanna piss on your mother too

And rape your sister
‘Cause she’s so cool!

And, of course, this immortal passage:

Your hair is yellow
It’s dripping down your chin

It’s goin’ in your mouth

One of the many sophisticated works that myself and John Bligh bonded over, and you've just gotta love the clever rhyming of "chin" and "agin."

23. "Spiders"-The Vapors

Forget “Turning Japanese,” this is the Vapors tune you need to hear! (The album this is from, MAGNETS, also includes the must-hear "Jimmie Jones" and "Lenina.")

24. "Model Worker"-Magazine

This one takes me right back to my room in the dorm basement during my third year of college and immediately conjures up images seen through a haze of bonghit smoke as my friends came over to hang out, get baked and listen to whatever bizarre music I chose to treat them to. I have many great memories from that time and this song in particular serves as the soundtrack (along with “Chicken” by The Cramps). Plus, this tune gets extra points for being the only time when I've encountered the word "hegemony" in a song.

25. "Sex Bomb" (long version)-Flipper

The saxophone-driven version of the four-word classic — “Sex bomb, mama! Yeah!!!” — is another record that makes me laugh my ass off because it’s about nothing other than its long and repetitive riffs, accented with cheesy bomb-drop sound effects, that at first irritate but eventually win over listeners once they get that it’s supposed to be idiotic.


Anonymous said...

Oh how I miss the smokey haze of Purchase's subterranean warrens. If I could revisit any point in the past it would be there and then.

Anonymous said...

I plan to put together a list myself, and I totally agree with you about the Flamingos' I only have eyes for you. I also love Flipper's Sex Bomb, but I think I'd get tired of it after a few consecutive listens...Xtina

Chez said...

I think that I know you pretty well. And then you go and bust out a love for the most underappreciated -- yet greatest -- pop-rock gem of all time:

Cheap Trick's Reach Out.

I love you, Bunche.

Aaron B. Brown said...

It's really hard to convey someone who is from another generation, someone who wasn't around in that particular place in time and space when a song first came out, hard to convey exactly what it meant. And of course a song means something different for each person who hears it, depending upon the circumstance, and who you are and where your head is at when they hear it.

I was a senior in high school when this song came out, and already I had regrets. I remember sitting alone at a party and hearing this song somebody decided to play. I don't think I've heard it since that night 25 years ago, but it makes me feel exactly the same way now as it did then. All the years in between slip away for a few moments, and I'm right back there sitting in that lawn chair looking at the grass, under the colored party lights, by myself. Strange what music can do to you. No matter how old you get, life is always a Trip.

Nik Kershaw -- Wouldn't It Be Good

I got it bad you don't know how bad I got it.
You got it easy you don't know when you've got it good.
It's getting harder just keeping life and soul together

I'm sick of fighting even though I know I should.
The cold is biting through each and every nerve
and fiber my broken spirit is frozen to the core.
I don't want to be here no more.

Wouldn't it be good to be in your shoes
even if it was for just one day
and wouldn't it be good if we could wish ourselves away?
Wouldn't it be good to be on your side
the grass is always greener over there.
Wouldn't it be good if we could live without a care?

You must be joking you don't know a thing about it.
You've got no problems I'd stay right there if I were you.
I got it harder you couldn't dream how hard I got it

Stay out of my shoes if you know what's good for you.
The heat is stifling burning me up from the inside.
The sweat is coming through each and every pore.

I don't want to be here no more.
I don't want to be here no more.
I don't want to be here no more.

Wouldn't it be good to be in your shoes even if it was for just one day...
I got it bad, you don't know how bad I got it…

Thanks for this post, it's good to remember.

Bunche (pop culture ronin) said...

I love "Wouldn't It Be Good" and am glad to see I'm not the only person who feels that way!

Mike Bris.bois said...

Interesting challenge. There are lots it kills me to omit. But here are the twenty-five songs I simply cannot live without. Sacred songs -- not necessarily favorite songe. These twenty-five won't budge. Much to my surprise!

1. "Waiting for Jane," Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson
2. "Smash It Up (pts. 1&2)," Damned
3. "El Groover," El Vez
4. "Go All The Way, "Raspberries
5. "It'll Be Me," Boston Rockabilly Music Conspiracy (covering The Killer)
6. "No Work (Today)," Ras Karbi
7. "Everything is Everything," Jim Pepper
8. "Can't Get Next to You," Temps
9. "Calling All Destroyers." Tsar
10. "Everybody's Got Something to Hide (except Me and My Monkey)," The Feelies
11. "Shine On, Harvest Moon," var.
12. "Mabelline," Chuck Berry
13. "Twisting the Night Away," Sam Cooke
14. "Brimful of Asha," Cornershop
15. "Warriors of The Drum," Drummers of Burundi
16. "Rock 'n' Roll," Velvet Underground
17. "Sing, Sing, Sing (with Swing)," Benny Goodman (@ Carnegie Hall)
18. "Shoot Your Radio," The Chicken Chokers
19. "Rise," Public Image Ltd
20. "Let's Pretend," Raspberries
21. "God Only Knows," Beach Boys
22. "Don't Worry Baby," Beach Boys
23. "Someday, Someway," Marshall Crenshaw
24. "Jimmy Mack," Martha & The Vandellas
25. "Keep It Tight," Single Bullet Theory

Apologies to Mose, the brothes Mael, The Tops, Boiled in Lead, Iggy, The Dolls, all my queers, Jackie Wilson, Rev.Green, Pete Seeger, Jonathan Richman, The Dictators, Material Issue, Silver Star & The Jukebox Angels, Ian Dury, The Undertones, etc etc -- who remain sacred, yet somehow not "Top 25" sacred.