Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Music to Vote By

As I'm starting to write this it's about 1 AM on Election Day and the polls will open here in about 5 hours. Between the primaries and the election campaign itself it's been well over a year and I, like many others I suspect, will be happy to see it finally end. And for me that means ending with Barack Obama as our next president. Personalities aside, I often joke and say that I wish I could afford to be a Republican. And I think that's one of the basic differences between the two candidates. The Republicans say let's have less regulations, let the rich get richer and the wealth will trickle down to everybody else. But what we are seeing now in our economy is how that just doesn't work. Humans are basically greedy. We get 10, we want 20. We get 100, we want 200 and so on and so on. I see it in myself as a record collector - enough is never enough. I always want more. Which might be OK if I'm buying records on Ebay but not if I am the CEO of a large corporation making decisions that benefit myself, my rich friends and the large stockholders but are at the expense of everybody else. I am not naive enough to think that Obama is going to step in and be able to solve all our problems just like that. He's a politician and any politician, in order to get where he is, will have to make compromises. But I believe his heart is in the right place and that he genuinely wants to help the "little guy" - be it Joe the Plumber, Fred the factory worker or YankeeBoy the out-of-work programmer. 

The polls show Obama to be way ahead of McCain and it looks as if he is destined to win this election but I am still uneasy. The one thing I don't hear talked about much is the race factor and how that will affect the election. My mom and stepdad live in a retirement community in New Jersey and most of their friends are ex-New Yorker liberals and they tell me that a number of the people they know say that they can't bring themselves to vote for a black man. And I have to wonder how many other people feel the same way. I hope people can put aside those feelings and vote for the man who is truly looking out for them - who will try to establish some kind of universal health care coverage, who will not keep shoveling more people and money into Iraq with no end in sight, who will not continue to give tax credits to large corporations who move jobs offshore.  For the first time in many years we are being given a real choice. So, in all seriousness I say to everyone who is eligible to vote in this country, get out there and vote and cast your vote for someone who is not afraid to shake things up a bit. Vote for Barack Obama. 

The Beach Boys - This Whole World
From the "Sunflower" album, this has always been one of my favorite Brian Wilson compositions. There's an air of innocent optimism about it which hopefully is an appropriate way to lead off this Election Day lineup.
DDDBM&T - Touch me, Touch Me (Mono Single Version)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tish never really caught on in this country but in the rest of the world they were much more successful. With a pounding big beat and a slightly suggestive (at least for the mid-60s) singable chorus, I can't imagine why this didn't click over here.
Nolan Strong & The Diablos - I Wanna Know
It's been said that Smokey Robinson developed his style by listening to Nolan Strong and while I have no idea whether or not that's true, I can certainly hear some similarities in this lovely ballad. But also, check out that incredibly sensuous bass vocal. 
Edwin Starr - Way Over There
The Smokey Robinson connection continues as he originally wrote and performed this song with The Miracles. But here Edwin Starr takes it at double time and turns it into a dancefloor favorite.  
Esquerita - Crazy Crazy Feeling
I saw Esquerita play a club in New York shortly before he passed away and it was pretty sad - he was quite drunk, could barely sing and had little of his old fire left in him. But here we find him at the height of his talents, giving Little Richard a run for his money. 
The Golliwogs - Fight Fire
By now pretty much anyone who cares knows that The Golliwogs were Creedence Clearwater Revival right before they became CCR. While this is probably their best single, they recorded a whole slew of really great songs that are available on the CCR box that came out back in 2001.
The Hummingbirds - Word Gets Around
Here's another record which seemingly has it all - lots of chiming guitars, sweet vocals and catchy hooks. So why wasn't it a hit?  From their "Love Buzz" album, co-produced by Mitch Easter, copies of which can be found for pretty cheap on Amazon.
Johnny Cash - I Still Miss Someone
Sometimes less is truly more as this song, with its low-key, no-frills arrangement proves. At one time or other every one of us has pined for a lost lover and I can't think of any other song that expresses that feeling better than this. 
The Mo-Shuns -The Way She Walks
From my home state of New York comes this stompin' frat rock classic. Nothing sentimental or overly intellectual, just pure 3CLFS beer swilling good times.
The Nivens - Shake It From The Top
I really don't know much about these guys, if indeed they are all guys. A number of years ago I was in Pier Platters in Hoboken NJ when my friend who knows my taste in music handed me this 12-inch EP and said 'buy this'. And that was that.
The Raunch Hands - Blackjack
If I had to list 10 of the best live Rock and Roll bands I've ever seen, the first version of The Raunch Hands, with Vince Brnicevic on drums and Michael Tchaing on rhythm guitar would definitely be on that list. From their "Learn to Whap A Dang" album (copies of which can still be found) this, in it's own particular way, is my favorite gospel song ever.
The Stems - Make You Mine
As I wrote in one of my first postings, I can't say enough good things about Dom Mariani. "Make You Mine" is one of the earlier singles by his first band The Stems and it is a 5-star killer. As of now there are a number of albums and compilations by these guys on Amazon, any of which are well worth your money.
X-Ray Specs - Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
I'm not sure exactly what kind of bondage they were in but they sure sound happy to be out of it. This has to be among the most exuberant 2:51 in the history of Rock and Roll. 
Johnny Stewart - A Whole Lot of Lovin'
Until I discovered this track on an obscure R&B compilation I had no idea that Johnny Stewart even existed. I'm guessing this was recorded sometime between 1957 and 1959. And while it does sound kind of derivative and not all that original, it's still fun to listen to.
Alternative TV - Action Time Vision
This is one of many records I'd heard at various times in my life that never made much of an impression on me until I got my Ipod. I remember hearing this recently while I was walking through Central Park on a warm late-summer day and it was as if I'd just shot up a triple dose of caffeine, such was the burt of energy I felt.  
The Tamrons - Wildman
From one of the "Back From the Grave" comps, this has long been a big favorite among garage music fans. Back in the days when I used to occasionally guest DJ at Pop Gear in downtown NYC, the most fun I ever had there was one night when these rather inebriated NYU students came in and went absolutely nuts over this song. 

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