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Friday, January 02, 2009

Just One Song, Part 1

What would you do if you had to choose just one song by some of your favorite acts? For some groups, it's easy. How many people are going to take anything by the Syndicate of Sound besides "Little Girl"? Can anyone rate a Dionne Farriss song higher than "I Know"? You get my point.

Well, let's have a game. I'll propose a few acts, and you can fill in your "only one song." I'll stay away from what I consider impossible ones, like The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Elvises Costello or Presley, The Beach Boys, XTC, or The Velvet Underground.

So what would your one song be from...

*Tommy James & the Shondells?

*Nirvana?

*The Hollies?

*Ray Charles?

I've got my choices, as difficult as they are, and I'll post 'em in a few days. Let me know yours!

On a complete tangent, I hope you enjoy this next song, a nutritious chunk of power-pop goodness from 1978 by a group called Fotomaker.

Before learning about this song, I'd always wondered what happened to the Young Rascals after they broke up in the early 1970s. Two of them--drummer Dino Dannelli and guitarist/bassist Gene Cornish--started Fotomaker, a New Jersey-based power-pop project with guitarist Wally Bryson, who'd been in Ohio's Raspberries, and two local musicians, Frank Vinci and Lex Marchesi.

None of their three albums bothered the charts, but this single, "Where Have You Been All My Life," reached #81 on the Billboard singles lists in spring 1978. It's a timeless power-pop creation, containing all the genre's signature elements: tons of guitars, both chiming and crunchy; a lovely melody; glossy harmonies; and an imaginative arrangement. Fotomaker then ice the cake with a somewhat overwrought string arrangement.

Unfortunately, the power-pop explosion was short-lived, and many great groups of the time were left clutching excellent singles and albums that wilted commercially in the wakes of the disco craze and the onrushing punk movement. At least we can now enjoy Fotomaker's music, from 30 years in the rearview mirror, without having to be too embarrassed by their awful name.


19 Comments:

Blogger Derek See said...

Not easy, my friend, but here it goes. I'm compiling this list in a zen-like way and not thinking too much about it, just letting the song flow...

Tommy James & The Shondells- Crimson & Clover

Nirvana- Polly

The Hollies- King Midas In Reverse

Ray Charles- I Don't Need No Doctor

Can't wait to see yours!

10:00 PM, January 02, 2009

 
Anonymous anne d said...

TJ - I Think We're Alone Now

Nirvana - About a Girl

Hollies - Bus Stop

Ray Charles - Lonely Avenue (sentimental fave as Doc Pomus' son was my hallmate and friend in college!)

4:55 AM, January 03, 2009

 
Blogger Jennifer Kelley said...

Tommy James/Shondells: "Mirage"

Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (mostly 'cause of Weird Al's parody. I don't particularly like Nirvana.)

The Hollies: "Look Through Any Window"

Ray Charles: "Georgia On My Mind" (mostly because it was used so effectively in a Quantum Leap episode....)

8:30 AM, January 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Dan E said...

ToJam — "Draggin' the Line"

Nirvana — "Sliver"

The Hollies — "Carrie Anne"

Ray Charles — "Let's Go Get Stoned"

11:16 AM, January 03, 2009

 
Blogger Diana said...

TJ - Crimson & Clover

Nirvana - About A Girl

Hollies - The Air That I Breathe (one of my all-time favorite songs)

Ray Charles - Georgia ('cause it's sappy and so am I)

11:32 AM, January 03, 2009

 
Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Hey, thanks so far for chiming in, folks! I'm thinking of making this a weekly game and having some sort of prize.

Anyhoo, my choices...and you're right, Derek, it's not easy.

TJ: Crimson and Clover

Nirvana: The Man Who Sold the World (from MTV Unplugged)

The Hollies: I'm Alive

Ray Charles: The Night Time is the Right Time

1:56 PM, January 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Joyce said...

Tommy James and the Shondells- Hanky Panky

Nirvana-nothing. So I'll pick two Hollies songs..

The Hollies- Look Through Any Window and Carrie Ann

Ray Charles- You Don't Know Me

4:17 PM, January 03, 2009

 
Blogger John said...

TJ/S - I Think We're Alone Now

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (one of my "canon")

Hollies - He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother

Ray Charles - America the Beautiful (in context of his life, bonus points for irony)

7:55 PM, January 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Alex said...

Tommy James & the Shondells - Crimson and Clover

The Hollies - Bus Stop

Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack

1:24 AM, January 04, 2009

 
Blogger larryepke said...

OK, I'll play:

Tommy James & The Shondells-"Crystal Blue Persuasion"; I like their psychedelic period, and this one's not been played to death on the radio like "Crimson and Clover" has.

Nirvana- "Smells Like Teen Spirit"; that's probably the "too obvious" choice, but it's obvious because the song is so good.

The Hollies- "Stop Stop Stop" comes immediately to mind as a very good song that I don't often hear.

Ray Charles- "Busted"; an easy choice. A funny lyric, a terrific arrangement, and it's NEVER on the radio!

7:55 AM, January 05, 2009

 
Anonymous npf13 said...

TJ - I Think We're Alone Now

Nirvana - Come As You Are

The Hollies - Bus Stop

Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack

8:58 AM, January 05, 2009

 
Blogger Bob Purse said...

Tommy James and the Shondells - Mirage

Nirvana - The Man Who Sold the World (Live)

(You chose two bands whose work I generally can't stand - in particular, Nirvana, whose entire canon, apart from the unplugged album, could be blown into space and I'd be happy.)

The Hollies - The Air That I Breathe (I love several of their hits, but this one beats 'em all by a mile).

Ray Chuck - That's a hard one. Probably "Hit the Road, Jack".

Good idea for a post! Although I wouldn't have had a problem with most of the "impossible" ones you mentioned, either.

6:46 PM, January 05, 2009

 
Blogger Amy D said...

This is a cool post. Just gave me a great idea for my own blog. I know I would never be able to pick a Beatles song, but lately I've been wanting to write about a couple of Aretha's tunes. The song "Daydreaming" is one of those perfect little songs that has this delicious, playful intimacy about it. There was some kind of magic in Jerry Wexler that was able to bring the best out in the musicians he was producing.

Anyway...

Tommy James & the Shondells - Crimson & Clover (the extra long psychedelic freak out version)

Hollies - Carrie Anne

Nirvana - Verse Chorus Verse. I know, it's a dark horse. An odd song. But it really WAS Kurt Cobain. In my mind it's a tossup between that and Heart Shaped Box.

Ray Charles - I Got A Woman (perfect, joyful, jumpin jive)

9:48 AM, January 06, 2009

 
Blogger Stuart Shea said...

(Sent by a friend who had trouble posting.)

Here are my four:

Tommy James/ Shondells - Crimson and Clover (long version only)

Nirvana - The Man Who Sold the World (live)

Hollies - Listen To Me

Ray Charles - Hallelujah, I Love Her So

--Tom Gaines

5:22 PM, January 06, 2009

 
Blogger Winona said...

I'm a little late here...
Tommy James: "Crimson and Clover"
Nirvana: "All Apologies"
Hollies: "Look Through Any Window"
Ray Charles: "I Got a Woman"

6:07 AM, January 07, 2009

 
Blogger YourFriendFrank said...

I don't feel that well-qualified to commment and Tommy James and the Hollies, but here goes...

TJ: Crimson and Clover
Hollies: Bus Stop

Nirvana: You Know You're Right

Tough to not pick "Teen Spirit", but Cobain managed to lose the artifice of "this is going to be a happy song now I will hit you over the head" that pervades most of his work. It's just one long hit over the head.

The chorus is one mainly one word: "Paaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnn" and like the best of all rock songs, makes no sense if you try to pull it apart.

Ray Charles: "What I'd Say" (the clipped single version is an abomination)

8:32 AM, January 07, 2009

 
Blogger gjersey said...

Tommy James - Crystal Blue Persuasion, but tough choice. I like that good ole’ pop music.
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit, ditto those who said not really into them
Hollies - Bus Stop
Ray Charles - Mess Around

8:33 AM, January 07, 2009

 
Blogger larryepke said...

I'll nominate The Who, The Clash and (if you can bring yourself to pick ONLY ONE) The Monkees for future posts.

6:43 AM, January 09, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stu, my faves here would be:
T James--Gingerbread man
Nirvana--too new. Know not one of their songs!!
Hollies--too MANY! I guess "Look Through Any Window" since it is my FAVORITE song of all-time?? :)
Ray Charles--no question. Georgia on my Mind
Now I need to read the other comments! OK, that Jennifer Kelley is after my heart! What's with all the "Crimson & Clovers"?? Pick a B side! It has to be one of the MUCH lower rated of TJ. Clark Besch

5:56 PM, January 15, 2009

 

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