Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vinyl Vednesday 7/6/2011

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it usually turns out that way. Since I’m moving out next week, this week’s installment is about my parents and their dubious musical taste. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Beach Boys’ California Girls (1980-something reissue of Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)) on black, Billy Joel’s Piano Man (1973) on black, and USA For Africa’s We Are the World (1985) on black.

Place of Purchase:
All three were inherited from my mom and dad.

Thoughts: I went through a lengthy love/hate relationship with my parents’ taste in music. For a brief period in my late teens, I hated the Beatles. During that same time, though, I began to really fall in love with The Beach Boys. Their harmonies were sweet, and while the lyrics were idealistic odes to young love, the band’s history lent them gravitas. If I could layer harmonies like Brian Wilson did on Pet Sounds, I would. Instead, I’m just a casual listener who will put them up against The Beatles or The Kinks any day. California Girls in particular is one of my favorites. You’ve got such summer time golden hits as “And Then I Kissed Her,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “California Girls.” Of course, I have a soft spot for “Salt Lake City.” Wilson used to be able to crank out songs at a rapid clip as part of his self-imposed rivalry with The Beatles, so sometimes he would write about anything, even a city that most people don’t think too highly of. Then again, my friend Angelina has partied it up in SLC twice, so maybe Wilson was on to something.

If you’ve ever been on a college campus, you have heard someone slur his/her way through a Billy Joel. It was probably “Allentown.” Maybe “You May Be Right.” But “Piano Man” definitely came up. Or perhaps “Captain Jack.” Nobody sang “Stop in Nevada,” though, even if it is a good song. Point I’m getting at is this: Drunks love Billy Joel, because he sings sad songs with a happy slant. It’s hard to believe he could only manage one hit off his breakthrough record Piano Man, then. “Captain Jack” is a little long at seven-minutes-and-some-change, but it’s still a catchy rocker about drankin’, something that Billy Joel fans, obviously, love to do. Also a shouldabeen hit: “You’re My Home.” C’mon! It’s a love song but it rocks without being a lame-o ballad!

Oof. “We Are the World” is cheesy something fierce. Just listen to that opening keyboard line. Yeah, it helped raise money to save the children (THINK OF THE CHILDREN!), but it’s questionable as a work of art. What you may not know, however, is that We Are the World keeps going after its title track. And I’m not just talking about USA For Africa’s northern equivalent, Northern Lights, performing “Tears Are Not Enough” (You get John Candy and Joni Mitchell on the same track! Gangbusters!). Prince has a solid exclusive track, “4 The Tears in Your Eyes.” My man Bruce Springsteen, in addition to giving “We Are the World” some much needed grit, also delivers an amazing cover of “Trapped” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t turned up anywhere else, like on Tracks or something, because it’s quite good. Maybe if Born in the U.S.A. gets the boxed set treatment it’ll turn up, but people need to hear this song.

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