I get mixed signals

Eclectic Playlist Series 1.10 – Nov. 2014

eps1.10

As regular visitors realize by now, the Eclectic Playlist Series exists to counter the internet’s discouraging tendency to group music strictly together by genre and/or decade. I’ve been hoping that there are at least a handful of recalcitrant 21st-century listeners who might find some delight in this kind of eclecticism.

Recently what has been further occurring to me is the cultural price we pay for the internet’s reductive organizational habits. Not only are we as listeners short-changed by being denied a larger context for our listening, but the musicians are as well, which may in turn have a subtly adverse effect on the music they will go on to create. Think of all the artists who have come of age here in the 21st century who never find their music presented in any kind of broader historical context. The whole system is becoming a kind of closed feedback loop, to the detriment of musicians and listeners alike.

But: here I am again, with 20 songs, representing six decades and a variety of rock’n’roll-related genres, melded into one 80-minute-or-so listening experience. Radioing heaven, getting mixed signals, ending up in some kind of weird but inspirational church, with idiosyncratic stops along the way to ponder the state of human relationships. It’s all right to feel a little fear, to be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson, running around in circles all day long. With a hell of a guitar solo. Many problems are solved by a hell of a guitar solo, or maybe just a tube of cherry chapstick.

Oh, and this: as the first year of the Eclectic Playlist Series draws nearer to a close, I figured it was time to alert you guys to a larger-scale intention of this wide-ranging enterprise. As a way of enforcing variety and surprise, I decided from the start (but forgot to tell you; oops) that no one artist would be featured here more than once in a calendar year. So far so good (although I did feature Rilo Kiley in one playlist and Jenny Lewis in another), and I will happily finish the playlist year next month with that intention intact. But with this overall structure in mind, I realized kind of after the fact that rather than simply identifying each month’s list as “Volume 1,” “Volume 2,” and so forth, it might be better to label them in such a way as to make entire years more readily identifiable. And so with this month’s playlist, I’m introducing a slightly new ID system: rather than calling this one “Volume 10,” I am labeling it “1.10.” When the new year of playlists starts in January, it will be “2.01.” Etc. Once we get to the playlists beginning with “2,” you may begin to see certain artists from the first year’s playlists slide back in, even as new artists continue to arrive.

“Remember” – Greg Kihn Band (Next of Kihn, 1978)
“Everything Passed Me By” – James Irwin (single, 2014)
“I Radio Heaven” – Over the Rhine (Films for Radio, 2001)
“Can’t Be Sure” – The Sundays (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, 1990)
“Too Late to Turn Back Now” – Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose (single, 1972)
“Damn, Wish I Was a Man” – Cindy Lee Berryhill (Who’s Gonna Save The World?, 1987)
“Raphaël” – Carla Bruni (Quelqu’un m’a dit, 2003)
“Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (The Best Years of Our Lives, 1975)
“Cherry Chapstick” – Yo La Tengo (And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, 2000)
“The Touch of Venus” – Sandy Wynns (single, 1965)
“White Mice” – The Mo-Dettes (single, 1979)
“Sleepless” – King Crimson (Three of a Perfect Pair, 1984)
“Axes” – Low Frequency in Stereo (The Last Temptation Of…, 2006)
“Bitter” – Jill Sobule (Happy Town, 1997)
“These Eyes” – The Guess Who (Wheatfield Soul, 1969)
“{Explain}” – Sarah Blasko (What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, 2006)
“Charm” – The Wild Colonials (This Can’t Be Life, 1996)
“Maid in Heaven” – Be Bop Deluxe (Futurama, 1975)
“Take Me to Church” – Sinéad O’Connor (I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, 2014)
“Mercy Street” – Peter Gabiel (So, 1986)

Somewhere not so far from here

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 9 – September 2014

Eclectic Playlist Vol. 9

We begin with an idiosyncratic ode to meditation from the outset of the so-called “Me Decade” and we finish with a beautifully bombastic, regret-saturated song that inadvertently celebrates the over-the-top violence that laces 21st-century entertainment without much second thought. Are we civilized or are we falling down or are we just plain crazy? And why does love got to be so sad? Full of hope and wretchedness we are, we humans, with our electric friends and persistent enemies, with pistols in our suitcases and our eyes forever on the TV. And yet as long as some of us can write these achingly gorgeous melodies—Jenny Lewis can sing “Late Bloomer” to me all day long and I will just about burst with pleasure—we are somehow okay. We sit. The sky falls. Life goes on.

“Sitting” – Cat Stevens (Catch Bull at Four, 1972)
“Come Monday Night” – God Help the Girl (God Help the Girl, 2009)
“Thieves in the Temple” – Prince (Graffiti Bridge, 1990)
“Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” – Derek and the Dominos (Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970)
“Late Bloomer” – Jenny Lewis (The Voyager, 2014)
“Times Square” – Marianne Faithfull (A Child’s Adventure, 1983)
“Elouise” – Maps (We Can Create, 2007)
“You Showed Me” – The Turtles (The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, 1968)
“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” – Gary Numan and Tubeway Army (Replicas, 1979)
“Enemy” – Kacey Johnansing (Grand Ghosts, 2013)
“Falling Down” – Tears for Fears (Raoul and the Kings of Spain, 1995)
“You Didn’t Say a Word” – Yvonne Baker (single, 1966)
“Crazy” – Pylon (single, 1981; Chomp, 1983)
“Spin-O-Rama” – The Primitives (Spin-O-Rama, 2014)
“Cold Cold Ground” – Tom Waits (Frank’s Wild Years, 1987)
“By Your Side” – Sade (Lovers Rock, 2000)
“Living in the Past” – Jethro Tull (single, 1969; Living in the Past, 1972)
“Get Civilised” – Fingerprintz (Beat Noir, 1981)
“Freereggaehibop” – James Carter (Conversin’ With the Elders, 1996)
“Skyfall” – Adele (single, 2012)

Despite what all the studies have shown

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 8 – July/August 2014

Eclectic Playlist Vol. 8

So I have managed to visit all seven decades this time, if the sketchy information available about the LaVern Baker track is to be believed. From what I was able to discern, the song was likely recorded in 1958, although may not have been released until 1960 or 1961. Honestly, when digging down deep for something obscure, sometimes it’s like the internet doesn’t even exist.

Candidate for the Jarring Segue Award this time around is probably Style Council into the Beatles but only because the Style Council song is directly connected to the song that follows it on the original record, burdening the MP3 with a truncated-sounding finish. As for the better end of that spectrum, I especially like the segue between the great, neglected In Tua Nua track “All I Wanted,” dating back to 1988, and the title track from the relatively new Wye Oak album. And how’s “Sylvia Said” for another great lost song? This one was quite lost indeed for a while, an outtake from the sessions that produced Cale’s Fear album in 1974. It surfaced officially in 1996 on a compilation album called The Island Years, featuring the three records he recorded for Island Records in the mid-’70s. It always amazes and delights to find a cast-off song that ends up worthy of classic status.

“Voodoo Voodoo” – LaVern Baker (single, 1958)
“Give Me Back My Man” – The B-52s (Wild Planet, 1980)
“Imitosis” – Andrew Bird (Armchair Apocrypha, 2006)
“Peace Like a River” – Paul Simon (Paul Simon, 1972)
“All I Wanted” – In Tua Nua (The Long Acre, 1988)
“Shriek” – Wye Oak (Shriek, 2014)
“Fat Man and Dancing Girl” – Suzanne Vega (99.9F°, 1992)
“Taking Some Time On” – Barclay James Harvest (Barclay James Harvest, 1970)
“Ageless Beauty” – Stars (Set Yourself On Fire, 2005)
“In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, 1998)
“Don’t Leave Me Starvin’ For Your Love” – Holland-Dozier (single, 1972)
“How She Threw It All Away” – The Style Council (Confessions of a Pop Group, 1988)
“It’s All Too Much” – The Beatles (Yellow Submarine, 1969)
“Plath Heart” – The Braids (Native Speaker, 2011)
“T-Birds” – Blondie (Autoamerican, 1980)
“Sylia Said” – John Cale (outtake, 1974)
“The Adjustor” – Octopus Project (One Ten Hundred Thousand Million, 2004)
“Car Song” – Elastica (Elastica, 1995)
“You Told Me” – The Monkees (Headquarters, 1967)
“Youth” – The Lawlands (single, 2013)

This is not what I thought

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 7 – June 2014

Eclectic Playlist Series Vol. 7

Ready or not here comes another hop, skip, and jump through six decades of something resembling rock’n’roll music: the Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 7. Mixcloud followers may see that I went back and named each playlist in the series after Volume 1, because I have been feeling that titles would be a nice handhold into the music. But everything is operating on intuition here, so those in need of concrete messages or Beats-music-like “I need a playlist for this precise activity at this specific moment in my day” may simply be confused. So it goes.

I would rank “MacDougal Blues” and “Mama Used to Say” among the more highly-regarded “lost gems” in my digital music library, and I kind of like how completely different they are and that both ended up here. Note that the British R&B singer Junior went on to re-record the song much more recently, but accept no substitutes: the original 1982 version is definitive. And talk about lost, whatever on earth became of Sinéad Lohan? What a fine late ’90s effort No Mermaid was, and it was even all over the radio back before an autocratic pop sheen was required for airplay. After just the one album, Lohan withdrew from the music scene without a peep, and while I completely respect the idea that someone would in fact want to withdraw from the music scene without a peep, she seemed a great talent, and I am sorry for the loss of whatever music she might have gone on to make. And yes, “I Do the Rock” walks a fine fine line between novelty song and legitimate musical contribution, but it put a smile on my face back in the day and is kind of fun to hear again in a day and age that can use some extra smiles.

Note that Mixcloud has now eliminated the capacity to see a song list on its site, no doubt due to licensing complications. In the notes over there I have linked back to this blog post, so that the song list (see below) is relatively handy for those who would like it.

“Fantastic Voyage” – David Bowie (Lodger, 1979)
“The Wind Blew All Around Me” – Mary Lou Lord (Baby Blue, 2004)
“One Chain Don’t Make No Prison” – The Four Tops (Meeting of the Minds, 1974)
“Solid Love” – Joni Mitchell (Wild Things Run Fast, 1982)
“MacDougal Blues” – Kevn Kinney (MacDougal Blues, 1990)
“Mindless Child of Motherhood” – The Kinks (Arthur, 1969)
“Hardships (Gospel Version)” – Jenny Wilson (b-side, 2010)
“Mama Used to Say” – Junior (Ji, 1982)
“Whatever It Takes” – Sinéad Lohan (No Mermaid, 1998)
“I Always Knew” – The Vaccines (Come of Age, 2012)
“Shake the Disease” – Depeche Mode (single, 1985)
“Full Speed” – Claude Bolling (Qui?, 1969)
“This Is Love” – PJ Harvey (Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, 2000)
“I Do the Rock” – Tim Curry (Fearless, 1979)
“Baby It’s You” – Smith (A Group Called Smith, 1969)
“Pretty Deep” – Tanya Donelly (Lovesongs for Underdogs, 1997)
“100 Yard Dash” – Raphael Saadiq (The Way I See It, 2008)
“So Long” – Fischer-Z (Going Deaf for a Living, 1980)
“Heart is Strange” – School of Seven Bells (Disconnect from Desire, 2010)
“Slapstick Heart” – Sam Phillips (Omnipop, 1996)

As for Spotify, we get a poor version of the playlist there this time around, as the widely-used streaming service is missing four of the songs I have included on this list—five, really, since the only version they have of “Mama Used to Say” is the inferior newer version. I didn’t expect the obscure Claude Bolling instrumental to be available, and am not surprised “I Do the Rock” is missing also. But Sinéad Lohan? Sam Phillips? Both released on major labels?

But, for those who find Spotify more convenient, here is the link, which yields the 16-song version, with all sorts of spoiled segues:

I was sure until they asked me

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 6 – May 2014

Eclectic-Vol-6

Welcome back to the Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series, my ongoing attempt to make sense of 50-plus years of rock’n’roll music. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. Or not, perhaps—look, after all, at the strictly segregated way music tends to be presented online, broken almost always into playlists devoted to specific genres and/or specific decades. Isn’t it just a tiny bit more interesting, not to mention aurally enlightening, to hear late-’80s Paul Kelly segueing into current Arctic Monkeys banging loudly into a fierce piece of early ’90s singer/songwriter goodness from Brenda Kahn? Isn’t it more interesting to hear a track you might have forgotten (“Jeannette”) from a band you might not have forgotten? Not to mention a cool-sounding song you might never have heard in the first place? (I’m thinking “Iron for the Iron” is this time the most obscure number, especially as it remains unavailable on Spotify; see further discussion below.) I know such eclecticism is not for everyone but I also know that “the public wants what the public gets,” so some of this is just a matter of going against the grain and figuring that increasing numbers of people will catch on over time. Or not, and I’ll still have fun.

Note that as of this month, I will be anchoring the playlists on Mixcloud rather than Spotify. Spotify users will still find the lists available there, but, to be blunt, the Spotify lists are just not as good as the Mixcloud ones, and haven’t been from the start. The main reason Mixcloud is better is that each time I make one of these lists, I end up selecting one or two songs that are not available on Spotify. I try to make substitutions in these cases, but I’m not happy about it. On Mixcloud, I am physically uploading the playlist so all songs remain the same.

As a bonus, the playlists on Mixcloud have genuine, radio-like segues rather than randomly different amounts of dead air.

I encourage you to listen via Mixcloud, which is as easy to do as clicking the button below. You don’t have to visit the site, you don’t have to sign up for anything, and proper licensing fees are being paid. The track listing is available simply by scrolling within the Mixcloud widget, here:

This playlist also exists on Spotify, but in a bastardized version. Two songs come up missing on Spotify: the awesome cover of “You Can Call Me Al” by the band Chamberlin, from 2012, and the largely forgotten new-wave-era single “Iron for the Iron,” from the British band the Planets, which was released in 1980. I replaced the Chamberlin track with a song from the band Zeus but the Planets song I just left out. The Spotify playlist has 19 songs instead of the usual 20.

But if Spotify is your thing, here you are:

Playlist: Power Pop, Vol. 2

A second Spotify playlist of power pop gems.

connells-ring

Close readers here may remember my initial journey into PowerPopLand, via my Power Pop, Vol. 1 playlist. The very name, of course, implied that there would have to be a sequel, and at long last the thing takes flight.

Check out the previous post for some of the underlying philosophical musings, which this unique not-exactly-a-genre genre seems effortlessly to prompt, at least in me. This time around, the list veers even further from the generally acknowledged power pop standards, in part because I mixed in a good number of 21st-century examples, and in part because I sought to include a larger spectrum of power pop’s musical coverage, which ranges from the impeccable melodic gloss of songs like “Slackjawed” to the Byrds-ian jangle of “When Things Go Wrong” to the peppy pseudo-reggae of “Second Choice” to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crunch of “All-Nighter.” While I may take some extra liberties here and there—some people might consider the Ramones beyond the genre’s boundaries, even as quite a few of their songs are spot-on power pop, if you really just listen; and Sarah Harmer has probably never before shown up on anyone’s power pop playlist, but from the itchy, new-wave-y bass line to the subtly glorious chorus, I’m on board here, and encourage you to join me. I do manage to bring things home with “Shake Some Action,” which is on just about everyone’s top 10 list. And if you listen to only one song, make it the one right at the top, as Translator’s “Un-Alone” is surely one of the great lost power pop gems of the 20th century. Everything that band ever did was overshadowed by its first-album college-rock classic “Everywhere That I’m Not,” a fine tune itself but nothing like power pop. And as at least some of us are convinced, there is nothing like power pop.

direct Spotify link:

Someone will come to help you

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 5 – April 2014

Eclectic Vol 5

One of my ongoing beefs with the futurist contention that music is destined to move entirely into the cloud, that access will obliterate ownership, is the inevitability of gaps in the libraries of music streaming services. I love that streaming is available but I will mourn the day it becomes the only thing available, because no streaming service will ever offer everything. The vagaries of music licensing are just too, well, vague. Do we want high-quality, deep-value songs to disappear simply because the Acme Streaming Service can’t license them for streaming?

This is a roundabout way of introducing you to the fact that two songs I have included in the original version of Volume 5 in the Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series are not available on Spotify. I did my best to replace the absent songs with reasonable fits, but anyone who has ever spent time aiming for a tightly conceived mix will know that there is no precise replacement. And, so, here: “Afternoon in Kanda,” from Jesse Harris, should actually be Oscar Isaac’s affecting cover of “The Death of Queen Jane,” from the soundtrack to the film Inside Llewyn Davis; and where the true version of the playlist has the song “Stoned Out of My Mind,” by the Chi-Lites, I have substituted “Drowning in the Sea of Love,” by Joe Simon. Spotify only carries three songs from the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack, for unknown reasons, and, as many times that “Stoned Out of My Mind” by the Chi-Lites is available on Spotify, it appears always to be a re-recorded version, not the original 1973 studio version, which I prefer without hesitation.

The good news is the playlist will eventually appear as originally intended when I get around to making a Mixcloud version. [Ed. note: Mixcloud version now available.] The less good news is I still haven’t gotten a Mixcloud version of Vol. 4 online yet, so Vol. 5 is no doubt a good few weeks from being Mixclouded. The bastardized Spotify iteration will have to do in the meantime. And there are of course plenty of fine tunes on board, as always. I am happy to include the overlooked Elvis Costello treasure “No Hiding Place,” from his rapidly created 2008 album Momofuku; the whole album isn’t operating at quite the same level, but that would be difficult, as this song stands up with the best of anything he’s written, in my mind. The Boz Scaggs song that follows is from his landmark Silk Degrees album, but it is a song I had entirely forgotten about until I heard Bruce Warren play it recently on one of his casually masterful weekend radio shows on WXPN here in Philadelphia. The St. Vincent song, from her new-ish self-titled album, is a formidable keeper, a song which I feel will emerge in future decades as powerfully evocative of whatever it is we are going through right now. The Grays’ song “Both Belong,” meanwhile, from the first half of the’90s, strikes me as powerfully evocative of a time period that until recently seemed not very long ago but now seems nearly as remote as the one other rock’n’roll decade that rivals it for its breadth and quality of music (which to me would be the ’70s). By the time we get to “Dime a Dozen Guy,” an overlooked Marshall Crenshaw treasure from 1999, things seem back in the realm of the more recent past, somehow. What went on from 1994 to 1999 that makes those five years seem like almost 15 in retrospect I will leave to historians to fathom.

And for those who are interested but are not Spotify members, here is the Mixcloud widget:

And for one and all, here are the songs featured, along with year of release and album of origin, if any:

“Här Är Det (Here It Is)” – Ebba Forsberg (Ta Min Vals/Sjunger Leonard Cohen, 2009)
“The Rainy Season” – Howard Devoto (Jerky Versions of the Dream, 1983)
“A Shot in the Arm” – Wilco (Summerteeth, 1999)
“One in a Million” – Maxine Brown (single, 1966)
“No Hiding Place” – Elvis Costello and the Imposters (Momofuku, 2008)
“Love Me Tomorrow” – Boz Scaggs (Silk Degrees, 1976)
“Love and Anger” – Kate Bush (The Sensual World, 1989)
“Digital Witness” – St. Vincent (St. Vincent, 2014)
“Sick of Myself” – Matthew Sweet (100% Fun, 1995)
“Lost” – Dusty Springfield (A Brand New Me, 1970)
“Talking” – Annuals (Such Fun, 2008)
“Myself to Myself” – Romeo Void (It’s a Condition, 1981)
“Both Belong” – The Grays (Ro Sham Bo, 1994)
“Down to Zero” – Joan Armatrading (Joan Armatrading, 1976)
“The Death of Queen Anne” – Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis: Original Soundtrack Recording, 2013) *
“The Execution of All Things” – Rilo Kiley (The Execution of All Things, 2002)
“Stoned Out of My Mind” – The Chi-Lites (Chi-Lites, 1973) **
“Dime a Dozen Guy” – Marshall Crenshaw (#447, 1999)
“The Fox” – Niki & The Dove (The Fox, 2011)
“We Belong Together” – Rickie Lee Jones (Pirates, 1981)

* replaced on Spotify by “Afternoon in Kanda” – Jesse Harris (Sub Rosa, 2012)
** replaced on Spotify by “Drowning in the Sea of Love” – Joe Simon (Drowning in the Sea of Love, 1971)

If you are just tuning in to the Eclectic Playlist Series, I suggest likewise going back and seeing what you missed in the first four installments, as follows:

Volume 1 (featuring Brian Eno, Ben Folds Five, Laura Veirs, New Order, et al.)
Volume 2 (featuring The Stone Roses, Arcade Fire, Björk, Randy Newman, et al.)
Volume 3 (featuring Liz Phair, Vampire Weekend, Connie Francis, Stevie Wonder, et al.)
Volume 4 (featuring Courtney Barnett, the Grateful Dead, the Cars, Portishead, et al.)

I’ll go public in my own time

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 4 — March 2014

Eclectic Vol 4

As one corner of the world embarks upon a week of relentlessly promoted new music, how about a playlist filled with almost entirely unpromoted music from every rock’n’roll decade that yet exists?

So, yes, Volume 4 of the Eclectic Playlist Series is upon us. I am starting to think the playlists should have titles, if only to give them more immediate personality. Will think about this for future reference.

In the meantime, here are 20 more songs placed thoughtfully together despite notable differences in year of origin and genre. We open up with a Jules Shear track that is not I don’t think in the standard pantheon of widely-admired Jules Shear gems but not for lack of brilliance. The Smiths song has always been a favorite in part because of how it manages to break out of the band’s signature sound even while still being very Smiths-y. Willie Colón I quite literally just stumbled upon recently via some Songza exploration. New York salsa is not an expertise, needless to say, but this song had an extra oomph to it that called to me. I especially like juxtaposing the cutely blasé Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, just now breaking out, with the declarative strangeness of New Wave princess Lene Lovich. It just seemed to work. As for OMD into the Grateful Dead, that initiated as a music library shuffle accident that was too good to forget. Meanwhile, the Auteurs, anyone? I never really knew what they were about, but ended up with a cassette version of New Wave a few years after its release. I never heard them on the radio, and have never had reason to discuss them with anyone, so I feel as if they have previously existed in my own private sub-universe. We’ll see how they do exposed to the light of day.

If this seems like a reasonable idea, be sure to check out the previous playlists in the series, helpfully titled Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3.

This playlist was originally created via Spotify but I’ve since converted all playlists to Mixcloud. Here’s the widget:

Full playlist:
“Hard Enough” – Jules Shear (Allow Me, 2000)
“Le vent nous portera” – Sophie Hunger (1983, 2010)
“A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours” – The Smiths (Strangeways, Here We Come, 1987)
“I Just Got Back” – Parliament (Up for the Down Stroke, 1974)
“Listen to Me” – Buddy Holly (Buddy Holly, 1958)
“Heart” – Nick Lowe (Nick the Knife, 1982)
“El Dia de Suerte” – Willie Colón (Lo Mato, 1973)
“Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett (The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, 2013)
“Home” – Lene Lovich (Stateless, 1978)
“I Got a Line on You” – Spirit (The Family That Plays Together, 1968)
“Kill to Know” – Amy Miles (Dirty Stay-Out, 2002)
“Helen of Troy” – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (English Electric, 2013)
“Box of Rain” – Grateful Dead (American Beauty, 1970)
“Leave Me Alone” – Baby Washington (I’ve Got a Feeling, 1963)
“He Keeps Me Alive” – Sally Shapiro (Disco Romance, 2004)
“Gimme Some Slack” – the Cars (Panorama, 1980)
“Show Girl” – The Auteurs (New Wave, 1993)
“10538 Overture” – Electric Light Orchestra (The Electric Light Orchestra, 1972)
“Bodyguard” – Dawn Landes (Fireproof, 2006)
“It’s a Fire” – Portishead (Dummy, 1994)

Introducing Mixcloud playlists

The Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series is now available on Mixcloud.

Regular visitors may have noticed that I’ve begun posting playlists on Spotify. At the same time, I haven’t been completely happy there. While it’s all but effortless to make playlists on that popular streaming service, there are in my view three consistent downsides to how things work in Spotifyland. First, you have to register before you can listen; second, playlist songs are inelegantly stacked together (rather than artful segues you typically get an awkward amount of dead air between songs); and third, all playlists are marred by random commercials which intrude if you are using the free versus paid-for service. An additional problem occasionally encountered is the absence of a song one might otherwise want to use. Spotify has lots of stuff but they don’t have everything, because basically no one can.

The British streaming service Mixcloud deftly sidesteps each of these problems, for the relatively minor cost of it involving more effort to create playlists in the first place. Rather than dragging and dropping songs, Mixcloud requires the playlist maker to fully construct his or her playlist as one long file, which is then uploaded. Further effort is then necessary to upload song titles and “time-stamp” the playlist, so the Mixcloud player can identify what song is playing at any given time.

The end result is brilliant, however. You get a playlist anyone can listen to, without joining anything, you get a playlist with purposefully designed segues, you get a playlist without commercials, and you get to include any song you have in your own library. On top of all this, Mixcloud is legal; they pay all the appropriate licensing fees required in the U.K. And while it’s true that Mixcloud is a very DJ-oriented environment, there does seem room for eclectic playlists of all kinds, so I’m definitely hopeful to gain a foothold there.

Which I most certainly have not done yet, as you’ll see if you visit my profile page. But hey it’s a brand-new enterprise for me, and the beginning is always today, as the saying goes.

Note that right now I’m a bit out of sync with myself—Volume 4 in the Eclectic Playlist Series will be out in a few days on Spotify, but on Mixcloud only the first two playlists in the series are available. You can access those below. I am hoping that within another month or so I will be able to beginning publishing the playlists on Spotify and Mixcloud at the same time. In the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to check out these earlier playlists if you haven’t quite found the time yet. Not that I can give you more time in the day (if only), but here at least is the easiest access yet to the music.

Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 1 by Fingertipsmusic on Mixcloud

Fingertips Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 2 by Fingertipsmusic on Mixcloud

Hidden eyes could see what I was thinking

Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 3 — February 2014

Eclectic Vol 3
The Eclectic Playlist Series rolls on, with a brand-new mix of wide-ranging songs for your listening pleasure. I hope.

For those just tuning in, you can find a bit of philosophical rationale for this kind of eclectic playlist in a short essay I wrote in November for the Linn Products music blog. The basic idea is: I find music much more interesting to listen to in a context in which genres and eras are mixed mindfully together, rather than segregated into narrowly-focused lists. I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling this way, but you wouldn’t know it based on the types of playlists which tend to be available via the popular streaming services.

If this seems like a reasonable idea, be sure to check out the previous playlists in the series, helpfully titled Volume 1 and Volume 2.

This playlist was originally created via Spotify; all have since been migrated to Mixcloud. Here’s the widget:

“Money” – Annie Gallup (Swerve, 2001)
“Yr Own World” – The Blue Aeroplanes (Beatsongs, 1991)
“Pinky” – Elton John (Caribou, 1974)
“El Rito” – Destroyer (Five Spanish Songs, 2013)
“Big Tall Man” – Liz Phair (Whitechocolatespaceegg, 1998)
“Now That You’re Here” – Altered Images (Bite, 1983)
“Can I Change My Mind?” – Tyrone Davis (single, 1968)
“Expensive Shoes” – Christina Rosenvinge (Frozen Pool, 2001)
“Any Major Dude Will Tell You” – Steely Dan (Pretzel Logic, 1974)
“Seal My Fate” – Belly (King, 1995)
“Hannah Hunt” – Vampire Weekend (Modern Vampires of the City, 2013)
“Until You Come Back to Me” – Aretha Franklin (single, 1973)
“Beauty Trip” – Television (Television, 1991)
“The Wild Truth” – T Bone Burnett (The Talking Animals, 1988)
“Don’t Ever Leave Me” – Connie Francis (single, 1964)
“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” – Steve Earle (Transcendental Blues, 2000)
“Love’s In Need of Love Today” – Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life, 1976)
“Pendulum” – Pure Bathing Culture (Moon Tides, 2013)
“Hang Onto Your Ego” – Beach Boys (Pet Sounds, 1967)
“Je T’Aime Tant” – Julie Delpy (Julie Delpy, 2003)