Hey Mikey. Sorry I deleted your comment. Oops!! (he mentioned “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar as one of the other courtroom videos from the mid-Eighties. See, man? I’m giving you your props.)

It’s been…hmmm…about two weeks since I last bought a CD, which is fairly major stuff for me. I went record shopping in Cambridge yesterday, though, although I was tempted to break my streak and buy Eddie Murphy’s “So Happy” on CD (which would actually give me the entire Eddie Murphy non-comedy collection on compact disc…yes, I’m lame), I ended up picking up a few records, including Talking Heads’ “Fear of Music” (which only cost $1 and I already own on CD, but the dualdisc won’t burn onto my computer), LaBelle’s “Chameleon”, Spandau Ballet’s “Greatest Hits” (because I misplaced the CD), and this little gem.

I’ve seen pictures of Mike Sembello performing “Maniac” on TV, and he looks like this burly, heavy-set dude. So why the hell did he decide to come out with what might be the gayest album cover in history? Beats me.

Anyway, the current tally on the iPod is currently over 17K. Let’s get right down to bidness.

Track One: “Say You Want it All” by Amel Larrieux

Those of you not familiar with the name may remember Amel Larrieux as the voice behind the R&B duo Groove Theory, who had a Top 10 hit in 1995 with “Tell Me”. I’m surprised it wasn’t a bigger national hit because they played the shit out of it in New York City. Anyhow, she only made that one album with GT partner Bryce Wilson before going solo. To date, she’s released three pretty good albums of new material in addition to one collection of standards that I really haven’t devoted a lot of time to. This song is pretty standard midtempo neo-soul, with the addition of a peppy horn section, and it comes from her second solo album “Bravebird”. If you cross Sade with Erykah Badu, you’d have a pretty good idea of what Amel sounds like. Good stuff.

Track 2: “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” by James Brown

Can’t go wrong with The Godfather, who was also the master of catchprases. “Say it Loud-I’m Black & I’m Proud”, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, that line “I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy!!” from “The Payback”. We miss you JB. Hmmm…I wonder if we can find that Eddie Murphy “singers” skit on YouTube. Well, I’ll be…

Track Three: “Better Days” by JOE

R&B singer Joe Thomas, who until recently used only his first name professionally, has actually been in the news recently. Apparently, he’s been accusing his former labelmate R. Kelly of sabotaging his career by calling radio stations and telling him not to play Joe’s songs for fear that Joe would take some shine away from him. While I wouldn’t put that past Kells, didn’t he give Joe two of his “Loveland” leftovers for one of his albums? Wouldn’t that almost be self-sabotage, then? Regardless, Joe, despite being somewhat inconsistent, overall is a much better listen than Kelly, capable of writing songs that are nuanced and melodic. This is the title track from his somber 2001 album, which took some inspiration from the 9/11 tragedies. It’s a pleasant midtempo song with an uplifting message, and it also starts with a quote from The Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child”, adding to the song’s optimistic feel.

Track 4: “Territorial Pissings” by Nirvana

And now for a COMPLETE change of pace, let’s go with one of the most frenetic offerings from “Nevermind”. Two things come to mind when playing this song. One is, did Nirvana really kick-start the whole alterna-rock changing of the guard, or did R.E.M. do it six months earlier with “Out of Time”? Second, this song opens with a sarcastically sung snatch (ooh! alliteration) of The Youngbloods’ “Get Together”, making it the second straight song (ooh! alliteration) played that references another song in it.

Track 5: “Selena” by Wyclef Jean feat. Melissa Jimenez

True story: Wyclef Jean’s “Carnival 2: Memoirs of an Immigrant” is actually good (much better than you’d expect from ‘Clef after a trio of solo records that went from OK to terrible to OMIGOD this sucks!). Unfortunately, this belated tribute to the Tejano superstar is…oh, about 13 years too late and is one of the weaker songs on the album. I think I’ll be unchecking this. Actually, there’s a pretty neat breakdown in the middle of the song that elevates it to average status. I won’t be unchecking it, but it’s still one of the weaker tracks. Still, check the album out. You might be surprised. Who else can get Paul Simon on a rap record?

Track 6: “Tell Me What You See” by The Beatles

This is definitely one of the more incidental songs on the “Help!” soundtrack, although even incidental Beatles songs are pretty good. Some interesting organ playing on this (shades of “Louie Louie”!) and some pretty harmonies too.

Track 7: “Sulky Guy” by Elvis Costello

The man who was originally Declan MacManus ranks as my favorite Elvis (hell, if I had that name, I’d change it too), and while I can’t place what album this song may have originally come from (I burned it from a compilation), it sounds late Eighties/early Nineties, right in line with songs like “Handle With Care” by Traveling Wilburys (only slightly messier and garage-y) or “My Brave Face” by Paul McCartney (a song that Costello co-wrote). My two questions of the evening to close this edition of the Sunday Seven out.

1) How in the name of Jeebus did Elvis Costello snag Diana Krall? That’s almost as bad as Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri!

2) If Lenny Kravitz and Elvis Costello did a duet, would you be able to tell who was singing what??

…and that’s all folks! Till next week!!