the social distancing playlist 71-80

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy One. Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio, “Four on Six” (1965) Posted 5/24/2020 — We honor the great jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb, who died yesterday at the age of 91. An exquisitely understated rhythm architect, Cobb played with countless jazz giants– the most prominent being Miles Davis. As a tribute, we go to 1965’s “Smokin’ at Half Note.” The record teamed Davis’ late ‘50s/early ‘60s rhythm section (Cobb, pianist Wynton Kelly and bassist Paul Chambers) with guitar titan Wes Montgomery for a slice of understated but assured swing.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Two. Peter Gabriel, “Shock the Monkey” (1982) Posted 5/25/2020 — Although a few singles had clicked with radio since leaving Genesis in 1975, this artsy but dance worthy gem from 1982’s “Security” cemented Gabriel’s solo stardom. Of course, an imaginative video that made him equally popular with the booming MTV generation didn’t hurt, either. Supposedly a song about jealousy (“Don’t ‘cha monkey with the monkey”), this remains a dark, defining highlight of Gabriel’s solo adventures.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Three. The English Beat, “Save It for Later” (1982) Posted 5/26/2020 — Although seemingly mainstream in its pop approach, “Save It For Later” was an anomaly for the English Beat. It was written by co-frontman Dave Wakeling as a teenager before the band formed and sat unused until its third and final album, “Special Beat Service.” Unlike the majority of the Beat’s music, a blend of Jamaican ska and punk-leaning rock, it went straight-on dance hall pop and became one of the band’s biggest hits before its breakup in 1983.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Four. Graham Parker, “Get Started, Start a Fire” (1988) Posted 5/27/2020 — Graham Parker was a bawdy, brassy ‘70s variation of Elvis Costello. Same punkish intensity, same affinity for songwriting but with a more marked love for R&B and soul tradition, as witnessed by his early records with The Rumour. The music smoothed out somewhat with a series of underrated solo albums for RCA that began with “The Mona Lisa’s Sister” and its leadoff single “Get Started, Start a Fire,” but not the temperament.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Five. John Fogerty, “Rockin’ All Over the World” (1975) Posted 5/28/2020 — Happy 75th Birthday (a day late) to John Fogerty. “Rockin’ All Over the World” was the clarion call opening tune to Fogerty’s self-titled 1975 debut album. With the grim demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the neo-country experiment that was the Blue Ridge Rangers behind him, Fogerty returned here to celebratory rock ‘n’ roll. Side note: Status Quo performed this song in 1985 from Wembley Stadium in London to kickoff the day-long, cross-continental Live Aid concert.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Six. Neil Young, “Cinammon Girl” (1969) Posted 5/29/2020 — A classic. “Cinnamon Girl” was the song that defined the electric sound of Neil Young and Crazy Horse – ragged but rhythmic, simple but soulful. Pulled from his second album, “Everybody Knows This Nowhere,” the song roars with its instantly infectious ensemble riff and famous one-note guitar solo. Mostly, it’s just everything that’s great about garage rock ‘n’ roll rolled up into a three-minute cyclone. And at the ripe ol’ age of 51, it still grooves like mad.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Seven. Quicksilver Messenger Service, “Fresh Air” (1970) Posted 5/30/2020 — “Fresh Air” was the only real chart hit for Quicksilver Messenger Service. By the time of 1970’s “Just for Love” album, the band had abridged its name to simply Quicksilver and relocated from its native San Francisco to Hawaii. The sound shifted, too. “Fresh Air” was all Latin jazz-tinged psychedelia. This was actually the San Francisco sound at its finest with the guitarwork of John Cipollina and shattering vocals of Dino Valenti placed front center.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Eight. The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) Posted 5/31/2020 — From the summer of 1964, the title tune to the Beatles’ third album and first film as well as their fifth US No. 1 hit. But “A Hard Day’s Night” was more than that. Aside from whatever nostalgia one wishes to attach to it, the song stands as pop testament of the time as well as a snapshot of simple, youthful exuberance. Paul McCartney was 22 when “A Hard Day’s Night” became a hit. He was two weeks shy of turning 77 when he opened his concert with the tune one year ago tonight at Rupp Arena.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventy Nine. Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth (1966) Posted 6/1/2020 — Together less than three years, Buffalo Springfield launched the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay. While a trio of immensely creative albums blending folk, country, rock and psychedelia came from that brief alliance, no song better reflected the times the band worked in than Stills’ “For What It’s Worth.” Written as a protest to a series of Sunset Strip curfews in 1966 (not the Vietnam War, as it often thought), its lyrics are frighteningly applicable to the very troubled here and now.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Eighty. Roxy Music, “Re-Make, Re-model” (1972) Posted 6/2/2020 — “Re-Make/Re-Model,” the introductory track from Roxy Music’s self-titled debut album. With this tune, the world met Bryan Ferry and, more importantly, Brian Eno, whose influences as a composer, producer and overall sound architect continue to reshape (remodel?) modern music. Here, though, Roxy was simply a band of arty, fashion-struck misfits, cramming brief instrumental solos by each member into five minutes of pure pop mayhem.

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