ICAs 249-252 are in the bag and scheduled for the next few weeks. I have a rule of thumb of only posting one per week so that the details can be properly enjoyed. But, given we are living in strange and unprecedented circumstances, I’m breaking those rules as what follows is timely as well as enjoyable. It will, in due course be provided with a catalogue number of ICA 253.
COUNTING THE DAYS
An Imaginary Compilation Album for troubled times
A guest posting by Jonny the Friendly Lawyer
It’s hard to be patient these days, waiting for the lockdowns to lift and wondering what’s going to happen. Being home all the time I completely lose track of the calendar, waking up without remembering what day it is. It got me thinking that a days-of-the-week ICA might be in order as a reminder—and a distraction.
Being me, of course I had to invent ridiculous rules about what songs could qualify. This time I decided to limit it to songs with titles consisting solely of, and not just including, the name of a particular day. So, no Blue Monday, Wednesday Week, Friday I’m In Love, Sunday Papers, and so on. Poor old David Bowie gets shunted aside despite lots of possibilities—no Love You ‘Till Tuesday, Thursday’s Child, Friday on my Mind or Drive-in Saturday. (‘Sunday’ from the Heathen LP is eligible but I had other ideas.)
I bent the rules slightly when it came to the weekend. Why not? In some respects we’re living an extended weekend. An enforced weekend? Or house arrest. Whatever—everyone prefers weekends to weekdays as a rule, don’t they?
Right, off we go:
Monday – The Jam. I ran into a quandary straight away. Wilco have a terrific song titled ‘Monday’ on their second album, Being There. But The Jam’s tune, with its D minor chorus, is a little less buoyant and more consistent with the feeling of starting a new work week. To quote a former colleague, “Mondays are awful.” Off 1980’s Sound Affects.
Tuesday – Yaz. Or Yazoo to folks overseas. Kind of a melancholy little tune. I’m impressed by how well this song has held up since its release back in 1982. Just vocals, synths and a drum machine—doesn’t sound current by any means but it’s still appealing.
Wednesday – Drive-By Truckers. DBT’s are one of the more lyrically compelling bands in the Americana shoebox they’ve been dumped in. “There was something in the envelope she passed him/That weighed more to him than paper and some ink” is a great opening line to what could be an entry in the Some Songs Are Good Short Stories series. From 2006’s A Blessing And A Curse, when the band featured Jason Isbell.
Thursday – Morphine. I was glad when Hybrid Soc Prof included this tune in his excellent Morphine ICA. Such a unique band: 2-string slide bass, baritone sax and a jazz kit, with the much-missed Mark Sandman’s good-natured croon over the top. A great little story that Tom Waits might have written.
Friday – Joe Jackson. Here’s my hero Graham Maby driving this fine tune along with an irresistible bass line. Back when it came out my sister wrote the lyrics down and substituted her name for Gilly’s. My dad found it and freaked out, which amused both of us. Perhaps more than it should have. This is from Jackson’s second album, I’m The Man, released in October 1979, the same year as his stellar debut Look Sharp!
Friday Night, Saturday Morning – The Specials. Another quandary. Nouvelle Vague’s cover version of this tune is superb. But I chose the original because I heard Tracey Ullman talking about it on the radio. She was being interviewed for Steve Jones’s program (Jonesy’s Jukebox) and said that it was a dead accurate account. In particular she recalled how she and her friends would drop their bags in the middle of the floor and dance in a circle around them to avoid them being stolen. A b-side to the 1981 single ‘Ghost Town’.
Saturday Afternoon – Luke Haines. Mr. Haines fell off my radar after the Auteurs until JC’s long-running series. This is one pulled from that strange trip.
Saturday Nite – Blitzen Trapper. Many eligible songs to choose from again, but I love this one most. Blitzen Trapper are an amazing band with loads of great albums that no one ever seems to have ever heard. This comes from 2008’s Furr, which I strongly recommend to the TVV crowd. The title track alone is worth the price of admission.
Sunday Morning – No Doubt. Okay, I know I might get some stick for bypassing the Velvets’ song of the same name. That and the many excellent covers of it by the likes of Beck, the Feelies, OMD, James, Belle & Sebastian, and countless others. But I went with the No Doubt single anyway NOT because they’re from California, and NOT because the beginning sounds like The Jam’s ‘Dreams of Children’, and NOT EVEN because the Specials’ Terry Hall appears in the video. Nope, my love for this song comes down to the very last moments, when Gwen Stefani sings the title in lead and harmony as the tune resolves to an E major chord. It’s one of the most musically satisfying song endings I know.
Sunday Afternoon – The 88. Kind of doubt anyone except maybe Linear Tracking Brian is familiar with this band. They were part of the early 00’s LA power-pop revival that included Baby Lemonade, the Wondermints and the Sugarplastic. I have a special fondness for the band because they were kind to Sam the Friendly Artist when he was a kid, even letting him strum their guitars before a show at the Troubadour. Just as the Wondermints went on to back up Brian Wilson and Baby Lemonade became Arthur Lee’s latter-day version of Love, the 88 toured behind the Kinks’ Ray Davies. From 2003’s Kind of Light.
Sunday Evening – Clearlake. Am I the only person who loves Clearlake? Pretty sure they’ve never featured on this site. Don’t know anyone that knows them, either. This Brighton band released 3 great albums in the 00’s and then disappeared without a trace. This moody track, from their 2001 debut Lido, calls an end to a weary week. So we can start it all over again.