How terrific is the song “She’s So Tough,” by the late, great Willy DeVille, who initially did musical business as Mink DeVille? He never really fit in anywhere, Willy DeVille, coming on the scene in the middle of punk’s transition to new wave while being neither punk nor new waver himself. Air-tight and hook-laced, “She’s So Tough” is an uncontaminated bullet of tender toughness, a Van-meets-Velvets amalgam topped by one of the three or four greatest guitar riffs of all time. I do not joke.
The Eclectic Playlist Series exists to bring a song like “She’s So Tough” back to the world, and place it in idiosyncratic context with artists known and less-known, from nearby years and from decades gone by. An underrated Tom Petty nugget (I like to think he’s pulling a Randy Newman on us here, narrator-wise) segues smartly into an outtake from Liz Phair that woulda coulda shoulda shut down the haters in 2003. The hard-to-find (i.e., not digitally distributed) title track from Heroes Are Hard to Find turns up just like that. An unexpected burst of spiritual wisdom from Syd Straw may just blow your mind and melt your heart if you listen carefully enough. And can Grant Lee Phillips write a melody or what?
Above and beyond all this, I have a couple of specific webpeople to tip my hat to for two of this mix’s more obscure songs. First shout-out goes to Sheila B, from the irresistible Cha Cha Charming web site, who (unbeknownst to her) introduced me to the glory of The Glories, via her Northern Soul-filled “She Sold Me Magic” mix from last February, which I only recently stumbled upon. Big thanks too to George from Between Two Islands, who more directly dug a song out of the dark caverns of my memory in the form of “Will You Stay Tonight?” from the impressive but lost British band Comsat Angels.
Oh, and the returnees to the 2015 Eclectic Playlist Series from the 2014 Series this month are three solid favorites: the aforementioned Ms. Phair, Stevie Wonder, and Talking Heads. Everyone else here is mixed in for the first time. Happy listening, via the Mixcloud widget (note entire playlist directly below), and we’ll do this all over next month.
“Spinster’s Waltz” – Evan Lurie (Selling Water by the Side of the River, 1990)
“California” – Low (The Great Destroyer, 2005)
“She’s So Tough” – Mink DeVille (Cabretta, 1977)
“No News” – The Glories (single, 1968)
“You Got Lucky” – Tom Petty & the Hearbreakers (Long After Dark, 1982)
“Don’t Apologize” – Liz Phair (outtake from Liz Phair, 2003)
“Heroes Are Hard to Find” – Fleetwood Mac (Heroes Are Hard to Find, 1974)
“Little Broken Hearts” – Norah Jones (Little Broken Hearts, 2012)
“Rocket Love” – Stevie Wonder (Hotter Than July, 1980)
“Temptation Eyes” – Blake Babies (Rosy Jack World, 1991)
“Will You Stay Tonight?” – Comsat Angels (Land, 1983)
“Hard Times” – John Legend & The Roots (Wake Up!, 2010)
“All Things Change” – Syd Straw (War and Peace, 1996)
“Presence of the Lord” – Blind Faith (Blind Faith, 1969)
“Far End of the Night” – Grant Lee Phillips (Virginia Creeper, 2004)
“Our Hearts Are Wrong” – Jessica Lea Mayfield (Tell Me, 2011)
“Cannonball” – The Breeders (Last Splash, 1993)
“Mind” – Talking Heads (Fear of Music, 1979)
“To Love Somebody” – Nina Simone (To Love Somebody, 1969)
“Nobody Dies” – Daisy Victoria (Nobody Dies EP, 2014)