My asset’s grown while yours have dropped: The best of Squeeze

Poets of the twilight hour, of the stuffed ashtray; celebrants of the wrinkled sheet, of coffee-stained pillows; minions of hangovers and hairs of the dog. For a few years after New Wave’s commercial peak Squeeze found an audience of college students who delighted in the band’s smarts; for a while these smarts meant musical asContinue reading “My asset’s grown while yours have dropped: The best of Squeeze”

Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1967-1969

A very good set of years, peaking with James Brown showing white audiences what to do with a licking stick and Marvin Gaye flexing songwriting and producing chops and the Bee Gees debuting with a observed mid tempo song trembling with hysteria about a mining dis-ah-ster and an act I’d never heard of called, believably,Continue reading “Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1967-1969”

To the unvaccinated: ‘Sorry. Time’s up.’

“The vaccinated have for too long carried the burden of the pandemic,” Juliette Kayyem writes in a cut-the-bullshit article for The Atlantic. She makes a point many of us have since the delta variant became a threat in early July: it’s the unvaccinated who should take precautions, not the rest of us. Kayyem cites aContinue reading “To the unvaccinated: ‘Sorry. Time’s up.’”

His lips are dry: The best rock-disco hybrids

After a couple hours listening to the late Lee “Scratch” Perry yesterday afternoon, I felt my monocle fall out of my eye when my streaming platform of choice queued up Daryl Hall and John Oates’ forgotten David Foster-produced disco-coppin’ “Who Said the World Was Fair” from 1979’s X-Static, the last time in the twentieth centuryContinue reading “His lips are dry: The best rock-disco hybrids”

Ranking #11 singles, U.S. edition: 1964-1966

Sure, acts recorded more complex dance singles, but “Going to a Go-Go” has a charm and, better, a rhythmic assurance that makes it irresistible. Same goes for “I Want Candy,” later remade (and improved on ) by Bow Wow Wow. But these three years represent a triumph for vocalists as diverse as Jackie Wilson, BarbaraContinue reading “Ranking #11 singles, U.S. edition: 1964-1966”

Ranking the #1 adult contemporary hits of 1979-1980

It took a while, but Barbra Streisand gave a pop performance worthy of her considerable prowess. Patient, menacing, “Woman in Love” is the ubermensch of performances: it builds inexorably to a deserved climax; I can imagine Bryan Ferry having a hit with it. Disco backlash? Sure. Yet Barry Gibb in fluffy hair, unbuttoned shirt, andContinue reading “Ranking the #1 adult contemporary hits of 1979-1980”

Ranking the #1 adult contemporary hits of 1981

To reward ABBA for having the best adult contemporary hit in 1981 is like rewarding Reagan for running the best Republican campaign: who expected otherwise? Tight, inexorable, nuanced, “The Winner Takes It All” defines “adult.” And Dolly Parton, who knows something about tight, nuanced, and inexorable, realized the surest way to score points on seriousContinue reading “Ranking the #1 adult contemporary hits of 1981”

Singles 8/28

One of the pleasures of this singles reviewing gig is occasionally finding a track so breathtaking in its commitment to a misbegotten idea that it warms my mornings. If Elton John could work with Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush, and Gaga, why not Dua Lipa? With “Levitating” in its thirteenth iteration as it lingers onContinue reading “Singles 8/28”

Screenings #51

Overlong, as allergic to logic as I am to vodka, Die Hard 2: Die Harder earns the alternate title Try Harder. A conservative actor (Bruce Willis) playing a cop taking down a Noriega type with a Fidel beard + cigar defended by white supremacists who is in turn helped by a treasonous Black Special ForcesContinue reading “Screenings #51”