The Friday Five: March 26, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: I want to take just a moment to thank Rob Smith for filling in for me last week. I strongly recommend checking out his series Death by Power Ballad, over at Popdose. He is a huge influence on my writing style, and truth be told, I was honored to have him cover for me. Now, onto this week’s five! – Michael

The Five:

“Spoon” by Dave Matthews Band (from Before These Crowded Streets, 1998)

Before These Crowded Streets remains my favorite record by Dave Matthews Band. It has a dynamic that I think that the band has been chasing ever since its release, and has only come close to with their most recent release Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King. “Spoon” is the record’s final cut, and features Alanis Morissette on vocals, Bela Fleck on Banjo. The lyrics find Dave contemplating God himself in a cup of coffee. Alanis delivers the knockout, third verse:

From time to time
Minutes and hours
Some move ahead while
Some lag behind
It’s like the balloon that
Rise and then vanish
This drop of hope
That falls from his eyes

“The Idea of You” by Dave Matthews Band (from 2008-08-26: DMB Live Trax, Volume 14, 2009)

More DMB? I’ll take it! This recording is from the final show saxophonist LeRoi Moore performed with the band before the ATV accident that lead to his death. The tune is an unreleased gem that the band has played multiple incarnations of in the last few years. Matthews’ has mentioned on numerous occasions that the track is about his unrequited crush on a childhood babysitter. I’ve maintained since the first time I heard it in 2006, that if they released this as a single it would be just a big of a “hit” as “Crash (Into Me).” The band shelved this song for the 2009 tour, and it’s uncertain if it will resurface, but here’s hoping it does.

“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles (from A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)

Now that the second – or was it the third – wave of Beatlemania has settled down a bit, I’ve been spending some quality time with each of the remastered records individually. A Hard Day’s Night is the record that I seem to come back to most often, likely driven by my love of the title track and only furthered by its association with the film of the same name. I’ve watch the movie at least three or four times in the last six months, as it seems to pop up on VH1 Classic or Palladia at least once a month.

“Momma’s Boy” by Chromeo (from Fancy Footwork, 2008)

I love Chromeo. That’s it.

“Perfection” by Run D.M.C. (from Raising Hell, 1986)

Back in the day, my friend Ducky and I – yes, we called him Ducky – would learn and recite the rhymes from this record. This one I always rocked a little extra hard, if only for the following:

I got a funky fresh (car) with the funky fresh (bar)
I’m a funky fresh (star) and I’m up to (par)

Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, I think I’ll go ahead and ask the question:

What’s on your shuffle today?

My Top 3 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

If you had to choose your top three rap / hip-hop songs of all time, what would they be? As I got on down to my Old School Mix at the gym today, that question worked its way into my head. My top two came to me immediately. The third took a few more seconds of thinking.

My selections all came out in either 1986 or 1987. Many years have passed, and many great hip-hop songs have come along. But when all’s said and done, these three still do it for me. There are a lot of great old school tunes from this era, but a lot of ’em haven’t aged too well. I’m talking to you Whistle, UTFO, and Boogie Boys. But the three classics below definitely stand the test of time.

How ’bout you? Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop or not – if you had to pick, what would your top three be? Speak, people!

My Top 3 Hip-Hop Songs of all Damn Time

#3: “Paul Revere” (mp3) – Beastie Boys / “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” were the early mass favorites from Licensed to Ill, but based on those two songs, I wasn’t wholly impressed by the Beasties… but when I heard “Paul Revere” – the funky as hell backward beat; the fun story set in the old west… there are lots of great Beasties songs – “Root Down”, all of Paul’s Boutique, but nothing beats “Paul Revere”.

#2: “Peter Piper” (mp3) – Run-DMC / As far as crossover appeal goes, 1986 was a monumental year in hip-hop. Licensed to Ill was released in the spring, and in the summer, Run-DMC released Raising Hell – which featured the biggest rap-rock crossover to date: “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. But again, for me, the appeal lay elsewhere on the album. In particular, “Peter Piper”. It’s the rhythm that primarily does it for me with hip-hop. Give me a dope beat and I’m a happy camper. “Peter Piper” was like nothing I’d ever heard. In fact, color me ignorant, I didn’t know until a couple months ago that the beat is taken from Bob James’s version of Paul Simon’s “Take Me To The Mardi Gras“.

#1: “I Know You Got Soul” (mp3) – Eric B. & Rakim / The summer of ’87 was when I met my high school sweetheart, and also the summer that Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid in Full album was released. Like all my music back then, I bought the vinyl and immediately taped it so I could bump it in the car. Many an hour was spent in my mom’s Buick Park Avenue with my girl and the song “I Know You Got Soul.” It still doesn’t get any smoother than Rakim. His delivery flows effortlessly, and it’s still my favorite old school tune to rap along to in the car. Numero uno.

If you’re interested, I just re-posted my Old School Mix here. Please – when Too Short’s “Freaky Tales” hits, make sure your mother isn’t around. It’s about as NSFW as a song can be.

Peter Piper / Take Me To The Mardi Gras

Show of hands: who knows the genesis of the bell & percussion groove of Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper”?

I stumbled on it tonight. I was listening to Afrika Bambaata’s radio show on Sirius Backspin on the way home from work today. He was playing short clips of some of his favorites from back in the day. He played a minute or so of “Nautilus” by Bob James. Nice funky, jazzy little groove. I went on to to track it down. Didn’t find it, but I did see “Take Me To The Mardis Gras”.

I clicked it, and – lo & behold – the source of “Peter Piper”! The song itself was written by Paul Simon, released a year earlier (1973) on Simon’s ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon‘. Bob James added that memorable percussion and his own flair to the song on 1974’s Two.

Bob James has to be flattered, but I also think he’d be pissed to know that people go their lifetimes not knowing that his creation is the backbone of one of the classics of early hip-hop.

Bob James / “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” ( from 1974’s Two

Ickmusic’s Old School Mix

I’ve been itchin’ for a while to put together a nice little collection of my old school favorites. In the mid 80’s, I was in my mid teens when I became obsessed with a. Prince and b. the rap/hip-hop of the day. These are some of the songs I came of age with.

Now, some of my favorites included some not so PG material. In fact, some of it was downright foul. Too Short’s “Freaky Tales” is the biggest offender here, followed closely by that 2 Live Crew classic “We Want Some P***y”. But hey, I gotta keep it real, people!


Ickmusic’s Old School Mix (mp3 – about 71MB)


Run D.M.C. – “Peter Piper” (from Raising Hell)
LL Cool J – “Rock the Bells” (from Radio)
Whodini – “Funky Beat” (from Back in Black)
Public Enemy – “Public Enemy Number 1” (from Yo! Bum Rush the Show)
Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick – “La Di Da Di” (from The Show / La-Di-Da-Di)
Schoolly D – “Saturday Night” (from The Best of Schoolly D)
Eric B. & Rakim – “I Know You Got Soul” (from Paid in Full)
UTFO – “Roxanne Roxanne” (from UTFO)
Too Short – “Freaky Tales” (from Born to Mack)
Beastie Boys – “Hold It Now, Hit It” (from Licensed to Ill)
2 Live Crew – “We Want Some P***y” (from 2 Live Crew Is What We Are)

Ickmusic’s Friday Five: December 12, 2008

Is It Live, Or Is It Shuffle?

Welcome to week two of our “Holiday Edition” of the Friday Five!

As we wind down to the New Year the last four editions of the Friday Five will be shuffled from my vast collection of Holiday music. I encourage everyone to play along and spin up some holiday cheer. With the holiday season being short and the duress of the current economic climate being ever present we could all use a little lift in spirits.

For those who have not joined in the Five, here’s how it works: … I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five with a bit of insight for each track.

Then it’s your turn! Just share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments and see what your fellow readers are listening to as well.

Here are this week’s tracks:

1. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime (from The Best Christmas Album in the World… Ever!)

I can’t really say why I like this tune so very much, but it is among my favorite contemporary holiday songs.

2. U2 – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (from A Very Special Christmas)

Does anyone else remember the video for this one?

This is a traditional Irish Christmas song? Um, last I checked Phil Spector was from the Bronx and Darlene Love from California. And seriously, could The Edge look any more annoyed? Regardless this stands as Top 5 list material… I truly love this song.

3. Bobby HelmsJingle Bell Rock (mp3) (from Rockin’ Little Christmas)

Nothing beats the original.

4. Run-D.M.C. – Christmas in Hollis (from A Very Special Christmas)

“It’s Christmastime in Hollis Queens, Moms cooking chicken and collard greens, rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and Santa puts gifts under Christmas trees…”

An ’80s classic! To this day I can rock this a cappella on demand.

5. MecoR2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas (mp3) (from Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album)

I’ve made no attempt to cover my geekdom here; yes this is a Star Wars Christmas record. Yes I’ve owned not one, but multiple copies of this record over the years and it is as much a part of my holiday tradition as trimming the tree. And since I’m sharing, yes I have not one, but two Millennium Falcon ornaments along with an R2-D2. And in the spirit of giving I’m sharing this holiday classic with all of you. And yes, the lead vocal is a young John Bongiovi, Jr. Enjoy!

What’s helping you count down the days until Santa pulls his sleigh?

Ickmusic’s Friday Five: October 31, 2008

Tell me something, Billy. How come a cute little shuffle like this can turn into a thousand ugly monsters?

I thought it only appropriate to celebrate Halloween with a special playlist:

Match ANY of the following conditions

NAME contains Halloween
NAME contains Trick
NAME contains Treat
NAME contains Haunt
NAME contains Black

iTunes only came back with a measly 180 tunes, at least ¼ of which were “Black Sweat” or “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”. I will readily admit to skipping each of these tracks at least once in the course of this shuffle. For those who have not joined in the Five, here’s how it works: … I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five with some words (and on occasion the song itself) for each track.

Then it’s your turn! You can play along with the themed playlist or just share the first five of your shuffle, either way the fun is in playing musical voyeur for the day.

Here are this week’s tracks:

1. AFI – Bleed Black (from Sing the Sorrow)

This is certainly a fitting start to the Halloween edition of the Friday Five. Creepiness abounds in the atmospheric info and acoustic breakdown mid-way through the tune. Off to a good start!

2. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Black Wind Blowing (from Mermaid Avenue Volume 2)

While I own both volumes of the Mermaid Avenue series they do not see the light of day very often. I’ll have to make a mental note to bring them out of hiding more often.

3. Dave Matthews BandHalloween (mp3) (from Before These Crowded Streets)

This song is definitely in my Top 10 DMB tracks. Live, there are not many other tunes that can touch the focused energy that goes into the performance. While it’s true that Dave usually mangles the lyrics and just sings nonsense save for specific lines (think of it as Dave’s “Yellow Ledbetter”) there is something to hearing him spew the venomous lyrics (“Tell us are you satisfied with f**king?”, Love is Hell, My Love is Hell“) written for the woman who turned down his proposal of marriage three times.

I’ve only heard the song live once on 12.21.2002 and it came as a the first encore after a blazing set featuring a 15 minute jam with James Brown on “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine”. Dave walked out wearing a Santa hat and the crowd expected “The Christmas Song” (it was even on the printed set list), he must have been possessed by the devil that night as he tossed the hat across the stage and the band kicked into a sick version of the track. And since it’s Halloween and you all deserve a treat, here is a recording of that very version.

4. Run-D.M.C. – It’s Tricky (from Can’t Hardly Wait)

Back in the day (or is it’s tha day) this was my jam! One of the first rhymes that I learned from start to finish and could flow unaccompanied, this is still one of my favorite hip hop jams.

5. AC/DC – Back in Black (from Back in Black)

Man, this shuffle kicked all sorts of ass. Short of “Hell’s Bells” or Type O Negative’s “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” I can’t think of a better track to close this Halloween Friday Five.

So what’s keeping the lil ghosts and ghouls busy in your neck of the woods?

Happy Halloween!