As someone who doesn’t watch a heckuva lot of TV, I think I’ve reached my fill for the day with football, the NKOTB Behind the Music (Jon got kicked out of the group? Who knew?) and the Family Guy premiere (this Cleveland spinoff doesn’t look promising). Needless to say, the time is right for the Sunday shuffle. So here goes.

Track 1) Jodeci “Cry for You” (from “Diary of a Mad Band”, 1993)

When last we saw any of the men from Jodeci, Jojo Hailey was eating stage while his brother K-Ci gamely continued singing “All My Life”. This song dates back to Jodeci’s second album, at a time when the four members were ostensibly in better physical and mental health than they are now. Actually, this is my favorite Jodeci song-almost over the top in its’ emotion, yeah, but that was these guys’ calling card before they became certified sexaholics. Neither the group Jodeci nor the duo K-ci & Jojo has released anything in half a decade, amid rumors of drug addiction and ego issues. With the R&B group field virtually empty, I’d think the time is ripe for a return. Don’t you?

Track 2) “Expression” by Salt-N-Pepa (from “Black’s Magic, 1989)

From one forgotten configuration (the R&B group) to another one (the female MC). Several sites posted interesting editorials in the past week, noting the lack of female rappers in the current rap music climate. To be a woman in rap has become a double-edged sword. If you show off actual lyrical skill, you’re relegated to the underground. If you’re a mainstream star, you have to show titty and ass (unless you’re Missy Elliott, who has thankfully kept her clothes on).

S-N-P were, of course, pioneers for women in hip-hop as well as for hip-hop in general, despite not exactly being the most skilled emcees. Nevertheless, this hit has aged well in the nearly 20 years since its’ release. Remember the video with a VERY pregnant Pepa doing dips and dancing hard? She’s got an autobiography out right now which is allegedly quite interesting.

Track 3) “Blue for You” by Men at Work (from “Cargo”, 1983)

I (as well as our own Paul Lorentz) don’t think that Men at Work ever got their just due. Despite the fact that they ripped The Police pretty hard, they were also damn good for an imitation. Colin Hay is quite the songwriter, and I desperately need to get my grubby little mitts on some of his solo stuff.

“Blue for You” has sort of a reggae/island flavor to it, bringing those Police-lite comparisons into the picture even more clearly.

Track 4) “In Dayz 2 Come” by Jungle Brothers (from “Done By the Forces of Nature”, 1990)

Remember when hip-hop critics were actually incorrect in their criticism? This 1990 track from one of hip-hop’s most underrated groups is a fairly subtle (and quite articulate) foreseeing of hip-hop’s eventual influence and a declaration to stay true to their music. At least the first verse is. The song is about prophecies in general. This takes it back to the days when hip-hop was informative and creative. There’s about a million samples on this record, with the only ones I recognize being Junior’s “Mama Used to Say” and Run-DMC’s “You Talk Too Much”.

Track 5) “Ask the Lonely” by The Jackson Five (from “Jackson 5 Anthology”, 197?)

I can’t believe it took this long for there to be a Jackson sighting on the seven. This is an early Motown cut, Michael hadn’t hit puberty yet. Two things stick out on this track. One is the purity and nuance of Michael’s voice, amazing because I don’t even think he was a teenager yet. The other is the fact that this band is super fucking tight. Motown’s instrumentals are worth listening to on their own.

Ooh. Jermaine just sang “axe” instead of “ask”. My grammar curmudgeon wants to get up and smack the Afro off of Jermaine’s head. Oh well. Until I get my time machine fixed…

Track 6) “Version Pardner” by The Clash (from “Sandinista!”, 1980)

Something tells me we’re not going to move out of the early Nineties in this mix. This is a weird mix of dub reggae and…I don’t know. There’s some reasonably tuneless whistling, some strings, something that sounds like an accordion. You know why I like The Clash? Because their music sounds polished and completely off-the-cuff at the same time. Why did Mick Jones and Joe Strummer both always sound like they’ve just finished eating glass sandwiches?

Damn, hearing anything even vaguely dubby makes me want to light up a ginormous spliff. Yeah mon!

…OK, this song goes on for about two minutes too long. Maybe I SHOULD be stoned next time I listen to this track.

Track 7) “Don’t Fall in Love with Me” by The Bee Gees (from “Living Eyes, 1980)

I always wondered why The Bee Gees’ career fell into the shitter following the release of this album, and after finally obtaining a copy of it, I kind of understand why. There’s certainly nothing as immediate as the best material the Gibbs made over the course of the Seventies. Nevertheless, this is a decent enough love song with the typical fantastic brotherly harmonies. My copy of the album (which I burned onto iTunes via my nifty new USB turntable) is a little warped, but oh well. This one’s a Robin lead vocal, so the harmonies are a little more quavery than usual even without the vinyl warp.

…and every time I think of Robin Gibb these days, I think of Justin Timberlake’s hilarious version of him from “SNL”. If you haven’t seen these skits before, watch and enjoy!

Have a great week!