I’m outta here as soon as I fix the flux capacitor: The best of MF Doom

A storyteller whose couplet-by-couplet sequences conjure realities as bent as Julio Cortazar’s, the late Daniel Dumile was a world-class rapper and first-rate producer. Only RZA matches him in the fluency with which he weaves musique concrète and samples of Fantastic Four and other cultural detritus. And as with other garrulous musicians like The Minutemen distinguishingContinue reading “I’m outta here as soon as I fix the flux capacitor: The best of MF Doom”

Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1974-1978

Although I join the crowd in dying to hear what Donny Osmond covering “Are You Lonesome Tonight” sounds like, it’s worth remembering the song made famous by Elvis’ committed cover was less than fifteen years old. Like Bryan Ferry, Donny and his handlers already saw pop as pop standards. Oh — and it sucks. OneContinue reading “Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1974-1978”

Ranking #17 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-82

I can praise Boz Scaggs’ pre-Avalon peak, or submit two paragraphs on Evelyn King’s “Love Come Down,” one of the sharpest of post-disco singles because it goes ALL. THE WAY. DOWN; but Steve Martin got this high on the top forty with a valentine to DISCO TUT. I will, however, well on Billy Joel, whoContinue reading “Ranking #17 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-82”

Ranking #19 singles, U.S. edition: 1982-1986

My second favorite .38 Special churn, Diana Ross’ Daryl Hall-Arthur Baker-assisted tuneful twaddle, and the only Fixx single to mean something besides semi-attractive syllables stretched like chewing gum over post-Rodgers rhythm guitar — imagine their former client Tina Turner covering it, and I’m not joking. The Hague Howard Jones – Life in One Day REOContinue reading “Ranking #19 singles, U.S. edition: 1982-1986”

Ranking #30 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-1981

How could the best song be anything other than A LOVELY DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY, the first version of which I heard on The Bodyguard soundtrack when a Clivilles-Cole-produced girl group called The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M released a splendid house version that added to Bill Withers’ millions? But a few tunes on his rundown I didn’t know. David GatesContinue reading “Ranking #30 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-1981”

Ranking #15 singles, U.S. edition: 1972-1975

Imagine choosing between Zep, ABBA, and The Four Tops — different levels of hysteria and cultural ubiquity. David Bowie makes his first American top 40 appearance competing with John Denver and Bread, the latter of whom are responsible for a concentration on mush so severe that I wonder if David Gates could’ve worked with QuakerContinue reading “Ranking #15 singles, U.S. edition: 1972-1975”

Ranking #20 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-1982

Listening to “Without Your Love,” I wondered what Roger Daltrey singing “When I Wanted You” or “Ships” might’ve sounded like, or, better, Barry Manilow singing “Who Are You,” ranked so high because the production shows forethought; it stomps, not clomps. Once I abandoned these fetid environs, which almost included Paul McCartney and Billy Joel’s clomping-not-stompingContinue reading “Ranking #20 singles, U.S. edition: 1978-1982”

Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1988-1991

Here’s a song at my top 40 peak I don’t remember, like, at all: Hispanic triplets, seeing, I guess, a novelty tot their status during peak Poppy Bush Interzone, released a single that sounds like Wilson Phillips playing Nelson songs. This may excite some of my readers. I’d rather spend time on the good tunes.Continue reading “Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1988-1991”

Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1983-1986

Although I wouldn’t place it in my top hundred of the decade, “Digging Your Scene” has gained poignancy over the years. Thanks to thwhack-drums and Dr. Robert’s wide-eyed vocal, this #14 hit is one of the few queer-friendly songs to land on the American charts — a chronicle about loving gay life by a straightContinue reading “Ranking #14 singles, U.S. edition: 1983-1986”

Ranking the singers in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Friends know I’m not a fan of this tinselly twaddle. The “feed the world” chorus boasts Kool & the Gang, Jody Watley, and Bananarama — didn’t Midge Ure and Bob Geldof give’em a line or two? At least USA For Africa’s “We Are the World” included women and people of color, most of whom understoodContinue reading “Ranking the singers in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?””

Ranking ‘Songs in the Key of Life’

The culmination of a remarkable hit streak, Songs in the Key of Life coalesced Stevie Wonder’s vaporous one-world banalities and funk touchstones in a double-album-plus that became a world-conquering smash. It’s not his best album, nor the album to which you’d introduce a skeptic, but the space allows him occupancy of certain corners of blackContinue reading “Ranking ‘Songs in the Key of Life’”