Great songs, according to me (Part 35)
Check out the previous posts: the archive of Parts 1-15, Parts 16-30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, and Part 34. And now here's the next group!
341. Love Removal Machine (by The Cult on the album Electric, 1987): This song is probably the high point of The Cult's first "hard rock" album, although there are other good songs. This song rises above partly because the hard-driving music is so strong, but also because Ian Astbury liked what he did on this song so much he ripped himself off in later songs! This established the Cult "formula" for the next few albums, and when Astbury sings, "Baby baby baby baby baby I fell from the sky" to start the second verse, it's a triumphant moment in the history of metal. Yes, I just wrote that! Deny it at your peril!
342. Love 2 The 9's (by Prince on the "symbol" album, 1992): Prince is pretty frisky on this album, and he gets even more so on this song, which features a nice jumpy beat that slides into a sleazier groove as the lyrics get dirtier. The early part of the song is even a bit transcendent, as Prince sings, "This is the only kind of love that I've been dreaming of, the kind of love that takes over your body, mind, and soul." Then he gets down a bit, yearning for a "lover with a body that says some mo'" and that he's looking for an "ass piled high and deep you see." Yes, Prince can pile on the raunch as much as anyone. The "questionnaire" section of the song, where an associate of Prince's interviews "Arabia" to see if she can "make that booty boom" is very funny, and Prince winds up the song with, really, a paean to spiritual love, if you can believe it. The great thing about Prince's songs is that we actually believe he's looking for a soul mate even when he wants a girl who can make the booty boom. That's his genius!
343. Love You 'Till The End (by the Pogues on the album Pogue Mahone, 1995): The final Pogues albums has some very good songs, none better than this ballad that is simply about what it says in the title. There's a simple yet effective mandolin/guitar riff, and Spider Stacy sings with emotion and love. The lyrics, like the music, are simple but powerful when sung with the right attitude, and they speak to a deep love that cannot be denied: "Why don't you just take me where I've never been before; I know you want to hear me catch my breath." It's a beautiful song and makes you feel happy to be alive.
344. Love's Recovery (by the Indigo Girls on the album Indigo Girls, 1989): I like this song so much we played it at our wedding. It's a quiet love song, building to a triumphant climax, and it speaks to those who refuse to accept love they find right in front of them. The bridge is a powerful cry for non-conformity, and then the final verse arrives at the victory of the heart: "Tell all the friends who think they're so together that these are ghosts and mirages all these thoughts of fairer weather. Though it's storming out, I feel safe within the arm of love's discovery." The Indigo Girls have written a lot of love songs, but none as good as this.
345. The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side (by the Magnetic Fields on the album 69 Love Songs (vol. 1), 1999): There are many great songs on 69 Love Songs (as you may know, if you've read these posts before), and although this is a bit corny, it still has a wonderful goofiness that makes it so very memorable. It has a nice, bouncy melody that has a weird tinny organ-grinder sound to it, and Stephen Merritt's vaudevillian lyrics add to the fun: he's the luckiest guy because he has "wheels," and the girl, who is admired by many men better than he, wants to go for a ride. Of course, at the end, we learn he only keeps the "heap" for that reason. It's a love song, sure, and plenty of fun at that.
346. Mama (by Genesis on the album Genesis, 1983): Genesis was the first album I bought on my own with my "own" money, back when I was 12 (I didn't have a job, so it wasn't really mine, but I didn't ask my mother to buy it for me). Yes, I was a bit late in getting into music, but that's just the way it is. I owned a few albums prior to this on, but this cassette really had a huge impact on me and shaped a lot of what I like about music. This isn't the greatest Genesis album, but "Mama" is brilliant, beginning the album with that haunting keyboards that Phil would use on some of his own songs, and then the creepy lyrics: "I can't see you mama, but I know you're always there ..." As the song builds, suddenly we get the stop and the terrifying laughs and the thumping drums. The best part of the song is when Phil gets a bit wistful in the middle section, singing "You're taking away my last chance, don't take it away ..." 24 years after I heard it for the first time, this still has a powerful effect on me. And then I heard "Illegal Alien." Sigh. I guess they can't all be great!
347. Mama Said Knock You Out (by LL Cool J on the album Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990): Man, I love this album, and the title track. We get the grooving beat and the chanting in the background, then the broadcaster announcing Cool J's "triumphant comeback" before L himself steps on his words with "Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years!" Then we get an overwhelmingly bad-ass celebration of LL's awesomeness, delivered with hard snarls and over-the-top exaggeration. All the lyrics and the delivery are great, especially when LL sneers, "Just like Muhammed Ali they called him Cassius," as he draws out the "a" in "Cassius." Watch him bash that beat like a skull, indeed, LL. What a great song.
348. Mamma Mia (by ABBA on the album ABBA, 1975): Yes, it's the basis for a musical that has taken over the world, but don't hold it against the song, which is a great early tune from the Swedish quartet. We get a peppery keyboard and a rolling guitar, and the ladies start singing a somewhat poignant song about failing to ditch someone who's bad for them. "Even if I say leave me now or never, it's a game we play, doesn't mean forever" they sing in the chorus, and although they stay light-hearted in tone, the lyrics and a subtle shift in their voices speak to the sadness behind the "game." It's a deeper song than people expect - much like a lot of ABBA songs!
349. Man Of A Thousand Faces (by Marillion on the album This Strange Engine, 1997): The first song on this uneven album is very strong, with an acoustic beginning that builds slowly to a swirling finish. It's a song about a universal presence, a man who is behind the scenes at every great event in human history: "You see my face in the stones of the Parthenon, you hear my voice in the babble of Babylon." Hogarth is in good form here, triumphant when he's boasting and cajoling, but able to shift to a more soothing voice when he "speak[s] to machines with the voice of humanity." It's the best song on the album, and sets a nice tone.
350. Many Too Many (by Genesis on the album ... And Then There Were Three, 1978): This is from an album before Genesis became a supergroup, so Phil isn't obnoxious yet and the band's progressive roots haven't been lost in a grasp for chart success. This ballad is a quiet song that takes you along slowly but surely, and when Phil gets to the chorus, he adds a plaintive cry for freedom from the romantic snare in which he's caught. When he sums up the relationship with "You set me on a firmly laid and simple course, and then removed the road," we know we're listening to a great song, and not a 1980s Collins schmaltz-fest. It's a shame that he decided that dollars were more important than dignity. Oh well.
Another nice list of great songs. Music is groovy!