Week Five and Spotify Discover Weekly is back on track. After last week’s Adult Alternative easy listening blowout we’ve got more energy and surprises. This week’s playlist is a solid mix of old, new, big and small, but a little harder edge and NO Charles Manson. Listenability is up, predictability is down.
I still want some metal, hip-hop, dub, industrial, or punk but this week stands up to repeated listening. I am playing a lot of difficult music in hopes of hacking the algorithm and seeing where it leads me. This week it didn’t seem to have much impact, but give me a few weeks. I will beat the machine at its own game.
Let’s listen to some music.
We open with “Peace Frog” from The Door’s 1970 “comeback,” Morrison Hotel. After the dull, dreary Waiting for the Sun and the misfire The Soft Parade (title cut is one of the few redeeming tracks), they fired back with a rootsy, harder sound. “Peace Frog” gives us his “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding/Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind” spoken couple allegedly inspired from a horrific accident he had seen as a child.
“Generation Landslide” is a hit-that-never-was from Alice Cooper’s sixth album Billion Dollar Babies, an album loaded with 4 big singles; “Hello Hooray,” “Elected,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr Nice Guy.” This one is loaded with hooks. Recommended!
“Sparks” is an instrumental from The Who’s 1969 double LP rock opera Tommy. It explores many of the musical themes found across the album.
It may be heresy, but I’ve always found The Black Crowes to be derivative and tiresome. However, “Wiser Time,” the third single from 1994’s Amorica ain’t the bad. I was definitely grooving pretty hard before I heard Chris Robinson’s vocals and realized I had just fooled myself. Damn it!
The Growlers are a new one for me. They call their style Beach Goth, but it sounds like a pretty cool stab at garage psych. “Big Toe” is a keeper and it’s the lead track from their 2014 album Chinese Fountain.
Grandmaster Flash nicked the bassline for “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” from Liquid Liquid’s 1983 “Cavern” off the Optimo EP. The original is a no-wave funk classic, possibly my favorite offering this week.
“Every Picture Tells a Story” is the title cut from Rod Stewart’s 1971 third album. He and Small Faces/Rolling Stone bassist Ronnie Wood co-wrote the song. It still stands as one of Rod’s finest moments.
From Smashing Pumpkin’s 1991 debut album Gish, “Rhinoceros” reveals Billy Corgan’s unbridled ambition to create some of the greatest classic rock of the grunge era. They recorded the album with producer Butch Vig who also did Nevermind and was in the band Garbage.
Another new one is Steve Gunn with “Water Wheel” from his 2013 release, Time Off. This is some fine singer-songwriter guitar folk-rock that takes a few listens. Brand new to me, and his catalogue is surprisingly deep.
After the Pixies imploded in 1991 Black Francis became Frank Black and he opened fire with Frank Black in 1993, a powerful opening salvo from an incredibly prolific musician. “I Heard Ramona Sing” is the second track on side one of his solo debut.
“30th Century Man” is a signature song from former Walker Brother, Scott Walker, from his seminal 1969 album, Scott 3. This album saw his began to distance himself considerable from his past and embrace more challenging dissonant sounds. The only problem is this song showed up already in WEEK ONE!
From their groundbreaking proto-metal 1968 debut album Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer eviscerated Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” It was already a long way from the summer of love, kids.
The New York Dolls were too late for the sixties and too early for punk and wound up being as much a legend as a band. “Trash” is the lead single from their 1973 eponymous debut, produced by Todd Rundgren.
The Flaming Lips continued their wild evolution from lo-fi psychedelic garage punks to widescreen pop craftsmen with 2006’s At War With The Mystics. “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)” was the first single and introduced a much heavier guitar sound than the few previous records.
Al Green delivers a commanding performance with “I’m a Ram.” a much harder funking track compared to his usual soulful approach. It comes from 1971’s Al Green Gets Next To You, his third studio album.
The great Brian Wilson adds harmony vocals on Mini Mansions’ exquisite dreamy pop concoction, “Any Emotions.” This single comes from their 2015 album, The Great Pretenders.
The band with the most controversial name of 2015, Viet Cong, gives us the wonderful chiming “Unconscious Melody” from their 2014 release, “Cassette”. Two members used to play with the late, great Women.
Meat Puppets II was the first SST release I bought (based on a review in Bruce Pavitt’s Sub-Pop column). I expected punk and got so much more. The beautiful instrumental “Aurora Borealis” is just one of the many gems from this 1983 release.
Emerson Lake & Palmer often evokes snorts and chortles among music fans. They preferred bombast as a way of conducting business. However, Greg Lake’s soft acoustic “From the Beginning” off 1972’s Trilogy showcases their occasional ability to scale back with only a bit of Keith Emerson’s organ gurgling in the background toward the end to remind you of the prog-rock monster in the room.
“Dirty Back Road” opens with the late Ricky WIlson’s space-age surf guitar and then Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s vocals chime in. There is only one band that does this so well, The B-52s! From 1980’s second album Wild Planet, this driving song is, yeah, about driving.
Straight out of Perth, Australia, Pond specializes in hard psychedelic rock with nice pop touches. “Moth Wings” is the second single from their 2012 album Beard, Wives, Denim. They share members with Tame Impala and rock just as hard.
The man who wrote “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning,” Chip Taylor, is also the brother of Jon Voight. He also wrote “Anyway That You Want Me.” Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce was still in the middle of the break-up with Spacemen 3 when he released this Trogg’s cover as the band’s first single in 1990.
“Panama Red” is better known as the title tune on the 4th New Riders of the Purple Sage album. However, Peter Rowan (who wrote the song), Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, David Grisman and John Kahn teamed up as Old and in the Way and here is their delightful bluegrass version recorded live. Owsley, the king of all things LSD, engineered the recording.
“Sunday Papers” is the second song and second single off Joe Jackson’s all-killer, no-filler debut, Look Sharp. My only quibble is this is the second time Jackson has shown up in five weeks. Surely Spotify can work a little harder.
“Long Journey” from the Allah-La’s is another new one for me. It’s damn good modern garage-psych from an Los Angeles. The track is the b-side to their 2011 debut single.
“Jumping Someone Else’s Train” is the third single from The Cure, released in 1979. It was among their last songs with their early new-wave/post punk sound. Soon after they embraced the more atmospheric, gothic sound they would employ through the next few albums.
“Polar Opposites” showcases Modest Mouse at their early career best. From 1997’s seminal second album The Lonesome Crowded West, the track pummels along with Isaac Brock’s vocals, spiky, angular guitar and pounding drums.
“Train in Vain: is the final track from The Clash’s 1979 masterpiece, London Calling. This track was added to album at the last minute and isn’t listed on the sleeve. On a double album full of incredible, seminal songs, this stands as one of the finest.
Closing out the playlist “I Wanna Destroy You” might be the greatest song that was never even close to a hit. It combines the Beatles, the Byrds and Syd Barrett with a little punk energy and deserves to heard, again and again. It leads off their brilliant 1980 album, Underwater Moonlight. Boom!!
And that’s it. This week was a corker with a brilliant start and killer finish. Again the spectrum is pretty narrow, but this week I am not complaining. Out of 29 tracks four were completely new. The best surprise was Liquid Liquid. The biggest bummer was the repeat Scott Walker track. The biggest miss was The Black Crowes and that was pretty good. I am a bit disappointed by three other repeat artists, Rod Stewart, Joe Jackson and Al Green. However, I can’t complain about how solid the tracks were.
I am really enjoying each week’s playlist. It is consistently a great mix of surprises, new artists and some songs I had completely forgotten about. What do you think of your discover weekly playlists? I know I look forward to every Monday morning. See you next week.