Well, here we go again! Another week, another mix from yours truly. I admit that this week’s mix is kind of strange in that the grouping of artists runs the gamut of musical duos. However, it’s not necessarily about the particular artists represented but how well they mix together in a set. On with the show!
“Dio,” Tenacious D
Probably the most famous duo in rock music — ever. Just kidding, but when you do a Google search with the following terms — “rock duo,” “history of the world,” “Satan,” “cock pushups” — you get one billion hits that say “Tenacious D.” This tune is aided by the furious four-on-the-floor drumming of some guy named Dave Grohl. Anyone heard of him? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
“Heroes Theme/Homecoming/Heroes/Natural Selection,” Wendy & Lisa
What do you do after you leave Prince’s purple lair? Well, if you’re Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, you make a few albums under the moniker Wendy & Lisa. And then, when radio doesn’t warm up to your albums, you find work scoring movies and TV shows and becoming session players. What I like about the work Wendy & Lisa have done for Heroes is that they’ve created effective and memorable atmospheric music that stands out in the context of the show. It’s too bad the second season of Heroes was such a disappointment, but it seems the producers are retooling the show for the fall so it’s more like the first season, which was so addictive. Stay tuned …
“Before Today,” Everything But the Girl
Their early work was soft and treacly, but by the mid-’90s Everything But the Girl had evolved into an electronica/pop group that found a receptive audience in European discos. Owing in large part to Ben Watt’s newfound passion as a club DJ, the duo ditched their adult-contemporary sound for a, well, updated adult-contemporary sound. What I love about their foray into electronica is that Tracey Thorn’s soothing vocals always seem to balance the synthetic soundscapes created by Watt.
“Advice for the Young at Heart,” Tears for Fears
An album that was four years in the making, Tears for Fears came back from the brink of bankruptcy with The Seeds of Love (1989), a collection of songs that was (thankfully) markedly different from Songs From the Big Chair (1985). Using more acoustic instruments, the band was able to explore musical genres that were diverse but, in the context of the album, worked very well. Most of the album features Roland Orzabal on vocals, but this is the one tune where Curt Smith gets to take the lead.
“Vahevala,” Loggins & Messina
Sometimes you gotta kick it old school, so here we are with “Vahevala,” a song that Kenny Loggins wrote with Dan Lottermoser, who lived in the same apartment complex. I’ve always marveled at composers who can get drunk, stoned, or a combination of both and write songs that are good to great. Case in point: “Vahevala.” Kenny and Dan got liquored up, smoked a few joints, and came up with the elements that would later evolve into this song. It’s catchy, it’s got a cowbell break in the middle, and you can sit around and wonder: Where the hell is Vahevala?
“Cecilia,” Simon & Garfunkel
And sometimes you gotta kick it old school a second time! A wonderfully odd rhythm propels this surprisingly upbeat tune from Simon & Garfunkel. As I got older, and paid attention to the lyrics, I started to wonder if Cecilia was a prostitute. To wit: “Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia / Up in my bedroom (makin’ love) / I got up to wash my face / When I come back to bed / Someone’s taken my place.” I guess free love wasn’t always, um, free back in the ’60s and ’70s.