Here’s a dirty little secret about what’s on my iPod:Â I, almost exclusively, put singles on it.Â It’s probably not the most appropriately music-snobby approach, but it serves a couple of purposes.Â One:Â it gives me a strict, easy-to-adhere-to criterion for editing down a library of more than 20,000 mp3s (3200 CDs, 400 LPs) to fit onto an 80 gig iPod.Â The other purpose is that at the times when I’m listening to the iPod – at work, on walks, at the gym – I want some easy – meaning familar – listening.Â Â Now, just because something was a single doesn’t mean it was popular (or if it was, that it still is today), and just because it’s familiar – easy – listening for me, doesn’t mean it is for a whole lot of others, so there’s still plenty of obscure shit to be heard.Â Â And, of course, every rule was made to be broken.Â Or bent.Â For instance:
1.Â “It’s Alright” by Chicago (1986)
Never released as an A-side in its own right, this lively Bill Champlin song about a consolatory one-nighter, which originally appeared on Chicago 18 was certainly worthy.Â Â My first concert (actually my first three) was Chicago touring behind Chicago 18 and I remember this as one of the few new songs the band trotted out between classics like “Saturday in the Park” and “25 or 6 to 4” (which they’d recently re-recorded as 18‘s introductory single).Â The song was an instant sing-along, even with the older audience, and I always felt it deserved to be a single.Â Â Alas, it merely turned up as the b-side to Chicago 19‘s third single “You’re Not Alone”.Â As further proof that this song might have been a contender for single consideration, check out this (obviously lip-synced) television performance of the song.
This was the song that introduced me to the Steve Miller Band.Â It also came out right around the time that I was really starting to pay attention to the radio (as opposed to playing the hell out of my parent’s records and having my older sister make mix tapes for me from hers).Â I think it was the number one song the first time I ever listened to Casey Kasem’s weekly Top 40 broadcast.Â (Incidentally, Chicago was near the top at the same time with their comeback single “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, the song that introduced me to them.)
3. “Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight (1967)
Not as popular as the early-disco-era version recorded by Carl Carlton (it was also covered by Gloria Estefan in the 90s), Robert Knight’s “Everlasting Love”Â – a Top 20 hit in its own right – boasts punchier, more accented vocals and a fatter horn arrangement.Â Otherwise, the two versions are so similar that at a quieter volume, their indistinguishable.
4.Â “I Saw the Light” by Todd Rundgren (1972)
I like a lot of Todd Rundgren’s work as a performer, as a producer, and as the leader of the band Utopia, but I love very little of it.Â Â I like this song.Â That is all.
5.Â “No Other Love” by John Legend (2008)
A nice reggae-tinged song from his fine third album Evolver.Â Nothing mindblowing here, but the fact that John Legend not only exists, but thrives in today’s AutoTuned pop and R&B marketplace is cause for hope.Â He did a bit of campaigning for Barack Obama this fall.Â Maybe the President-elect could invent a cabinet post to appoint John Legend to.Â Secretary of Soul?
6.Â “Another World” by Hoodoo Gurus (1989)
One of the great, unsung bands to come out of Australia in the 80s, the Hoodoo Gurus released this adorable, and oh-so-catchy love-song to an extra-terrestrial as the second single of their fabulous 1989 album Magnum Cum Louder.Â Awesome stuff.
Last week, I picked up a new compilation from the Numero Group called It’s All Pop, chronicling the brief and disheartening history of a Kansas City indie label called Titan Records.Â Formed by a couple of friends in the mid-70s, Titan’s complete discography amounted to six (beautifully packaged) 7″ singles, and a label sampler LP.Â Â It’s a fascinating story, with some pretty good music to go with it, but one thing I noticed was that there were no women!Â Where are all the girls in power-pop (besides in the song titles)?Â (Actually, one of Titan’s most notable acts was a quartet from Nebraska who called themselves The Boys and dressed themselves in a – err, gender-ambiguous manner.Â Courage, my friends, courage.)Â But, oh yeah, Pat Benatar.Â “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.Â You could never fit Pat Benatar’s work into a subgenre as narrowly defined as power-pop, but “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is the quintessential (girl-)power pop song.
And thank you, Paul, for taking us on a trip through your iPod! I’m jealous because you have more music than me, though. Join us next Sunday when (hopefully) we’ll have another guest take us through their music collection on the Sunday Seven!!!