This week’s mix started out like a lot of mixes: one or two songs getting stuck in my head and me trying to fit the pieces together for a complete mix. Since I’ve done a couple of mixes called “Random Sample,” I couldn’t very well title this mix “Another Another Random Sample,” because that’s redundant and stupid. So I opted for an even more inane title, “This and That.” But it does fit since my whole modus operandi — which went something like: “I think this song would go well with that one.” Pretty silly, huh. However, the songs I’ve chosen aren’t at all silly – or at least I hope you don’t think so.
“Back in N.Y.C.,” Genesis (Download)
Clearly, when Dw Dunphy and I were doing our hair and make-up the other day, neither of us mentioned that we were both on a The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway kick. He featured this album on his “50Prog50: The Best Prog Albums, Part One” and I’m doing the same on this mix. However, while the title track or “The Carpet Crawlers” are probably the most played tracks off this album, “Back in N.Y.C.” is a cut that I’ve really latched onto for the past few weeks. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a treat to hear Peter Gabriel sing in a way that he hasn’t in a mighty long time, but I just like the way he gives this song his all.
“The Last Dance of Mr. X,” Andy Summers (Download)
In the post-Police years, Andy Summers recorded a number of albums that were quite a departure from his work with the Police. Sure, the guy is a virtuoso who can play pretty much anything, but he really excels in the atmospherics of guitar playing — except when it comes to “The Last Dance of Mr. X.” Here Andy plays arpeggiated riffs up and down the scale with Gregg Bissonette on the drums. It’s a playful, but not altogether easy song to play. And that’s the beauty of it: it demonstrates Summers being spirited and precise at the same time.
“What Happens Now?” Porcupine Tree (Download)
Porcupine Tree is one of those bands that will probably end up on Dunphy’s list (at least I hope so), and if you’re a fan of prog, you know that these guys have some serious chops, and they write songs that have both a heaviness and a delicate Pink Floyd quality. “What Happens Now?” is a prime example of what I’m talking about.
“Don’t Box Me In,” Stewart Copeland [with Stan Ridgway] (Download)
The back story on this song goes something like this: Stan Ridgway asked Stewart Copeland if he could try his hand at mixing of the song, and Copeland agreed to give him the master tape. Ridgway, through his own ineptitude, messed up the tape during the mixing session and did irreparable harm to it. Thinking he had really screwed the pooch, he explained what happened to Copeland about a week later — thinking all the while that Copeland was going to kill him. However, Copeland didn’t even flinch. Why? Because he had made a high quality work copy before handing over all that hard work to Ridgway. So what you hear on this recording is the work copy that served as the master. Sonically, does it make a difference? I think not, but the song itself if minor classic, and one that I really never get tired listening to.
“One Small Day,” Ultravox (Download)
A kind of poor man’s U2, Ultravox really never hit big in the U.S., but for those who bought their albums, there was a kind of joy in having this “secret band” that was just as anthemic as U2, but had more of an ethereal feel. “One Small Day” finds Midge Ure and his pals busting out the major chords and some power drumming for a song that will send you into the stratosphere.
“Strip and Go Naked,” Victor (Download)
After Rush finished the tour for Counterparts, the boys needed some “away time” from each other. During this period of self-reflection and exploring new musical horizons, Alex Lifeson put together Victor — an ad hoc group of players who helped him realize this musical project. Various vocalists (including Lifeson) contributed their talents to the songs, but the instrumentals provided Lifeson a space where he could explore new sounds with the guitar. Case in point “Strip and Go Naked” a country flavored song that breaks into a more proggy vibe in the middle section. Victor was an uneven effort, but it did give Lifeson some room to grow away from his bandmates in Rush – for awhile, at least.