Friday, March 31, 2006

more Holmes

Here's my favorite recently penciled page...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Top Sixteen Hit Singles (that were never Hits)

So the premise of this bit of nonsense is that I'm presenting to you my top 16 picks for songs that should have been smash hits but never got the attention they deserved. (Why 16? I couldn’t pare it down to just 10, or even 15.) Some of these tunes were never released as singles while others inexplicably had no chart life.

Number 16: "Caroline Goodbye" by Colin Blunstone (1971, One Year) This is a really beautiful record, a lot of acoustic guitar and strings; makes me think of Nick Drake a bit. His first solo album post-Zombies, his great vocals were no surprise but the excellent Blunstone originals make me sorry he didn’t write more.

Number 15: "She's A Lover" by The Pretty Things (1970, Parachute) While the general consensus seems to be that the previous album S.F. Sorrow was their best, this is my personal favorite. The Pretty Things are one of the most under-appreciated bands of all time.

Number 14: “Babies” by Pulp (1994, His & Hers) A year before deservedly landing an international hit with “Common People”, Pulp released this excellent album with this fantastic song. One of a number of Pulp songs that really showcase the sleazy persona Jarvis Cocker has created, “Babies” finds Jarvis proclaiming that he only slept with his girlfriend's sister, “’cos she looks like you. My god!” In a really tuneful and heartbreaking manner of course!

Number 13: "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)" by Brendan Benson (2005, The Alternative To Love) This guy is sure to find fame and fortune as Jack White’s co-singer/songwriter in The Raconteurs but he certainly deserves it on his own. A great album filled with catchy songs.

Number 12: "Daddy I'm Fine" by Sinead O'Connor (2000, Faith and Courage) Sinead to me is one of the great singer/songwriters of all time. Plus, I must admit I’ve always found her to be really sexy and she goes a bit Liz Phair on this track, you’ve got to love it.

Number 11: "I'm Straight" by The Modern Lovers (1976, self-titled) “I saw you today, you know, walk by with hippie Johnny. Look, I had to call up and say, I want to take his place. See he's stoned, hippie Johnny. Now get this, I'm straight and I want to take his place. Now look, I like him too, I like hippie Johnny. But I'm straight and I want to take his place”. A hilarious Jonathan Richman song (redundant isn’t that?), my favorite tune off one of my all-time favorite albums.

Number 10: "New Pleasure" by Richard Hell & The Voidoids (1977, Blank Generation) I suppose “Blank Generation” or “Love Comes In Spurts” would be more obvious “single” choices, but I’ve always really loved this track in particular. This is another of my all-time favorite albums, and though released almost 30 years ago, it still sounds as fresh as ever. In fact, it still sounds like nothing else. It’s like some kind of fantastic alien music transported from another dimension. (You like that?)

Number 9: “I’d Like That” by XTC (1999, Apple Venus Pt. 1) Another beautiful XTC song, on this their excellent “comeback” album. This album is every bit as good as Skylarking.

Number 8: "20th Century Man" by The Kinks (1971, Muswell Hillbillies) "I'm a 20th century man, but I don't want to be here." A theme echoed in many of Ray Davies’s songs. I’m such a Kinks geek, and this is my favorite album of theirs. The Kinks of course had several under-appreciated albums; at least their place in history is secure.

Number 7: "Alone Again Or" by Love (1967, Forever Changes) This is one of the more obvious ones on the list. I’ve read that one of the big reasons this album had no chart life was that Arthur Lee refused to tour the band out of LA. Whatever the reasons, chart life or not, this is a classic.

Number 6: "Greatness and Perfection" by Julian Cope (1984, World Shut Your Mouth) Cope has written so many impossibly catchy pop songs that should have been huge hits… this track, “Elegant Chaos”, “Bill Drummond Said”, “Sunspots”, “Beautiful Love”… this guy is one of a kind. Forward thinking mo-fo, indeed.

Number 5: “She” by The Jesus & Mary Chain (1994, Stoned and Dethroned) This is another band I got really into after they broke up. D’oh! They’re best known for placing catchy melodies over a wall of feedback (a la Psychocandy) but my favorites, Stoned and Dethroned, and Darklands, find them leaving the feedback at the door.

Number 4: "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon (2005, Gimme Fiction) The catchiest song I’ve heard in years. I recently heard it backing a tv commercial which is kind of sad, this should have been HUGE. Do what you’ve got to do, guys.

Number 3: "Tell Me A Story" by Iggy Pop (1979, New Values) My favorite Iggy album, yes I even prefer it to Lust For Life. Produced by Raw Power-era Stooges guitarist James Williamson, the album rocks and is packed full of great (and catchy) Iggy songs. My other favorites on the album include “Five Foot One”, “I’m Bored”, “Girls”… Great stuff, and extremely funny.

Number 2: "Bull-Rush" by Paul Weller (1992, self-titled) After the dissolution of his post Jam group The Style Council, Weller had seemingly been written off. With his solo debut he came back with one of the best albums of his career (and my favorite of his solo efforts). Abandoning the pseudo-jazz of the Style Council and miles away from the aggressive sound of The Jam, this R&B tinged album was an instant classic full of amazing songs. I contend that any one of the first 6 or 7 songs could have/should have been massive hits. ("Uh Huh Oh Yeh" and "Into Tomorrow" were Top 40 hits in the UK while the latter was at least briefly a staple on MTV.)

Number 1: "Don't Look Back" by The Remains (1966, self-titled). One of those songs that I am compelled to replay over and over. When I first heard this off the excellent Nuggets box set, it was just shocking to me that this wasn't a radio staple. It's amazing. It sounds like a lost Stones classic, for lack of a better description. I suspect this song could be the model for Supergrass's entire career. Great rock song, great playing, great singing, catchy... timeless.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Daddy, there's a snake in my boot!"

This weekend we bought Lennon a (Toy Story) Woody doll complete with the pull string sound chip. As he was about to fall asleep in the stroller Saturday he was pulling Woody's string and repeating Woody's lines. He got quiet for a couple minutes, I thought he might be drifting off, then he said, "Daddy.., there's a snake in my boot!"

This morning (Tuesday) I was taking Lennon in to see the pediatrician (nothing more serious than a painful canker sore - but man, is he letting us know he's uncomfortable!). I was getting the diaper bag ready and I asked him to bring me two pull-ups from the cabinet. He came back in the room with 5. I said, oh, ok. Then I asked him to get his sippy cup from his room, this time he came back with a big stack of about 15 night-time pull-ups. I said, "I asked for your sippy cup, what's this?" So naturally he threw the pull-ups all over the living room. I told him to pick them up and bring them back to the cabinet, which he did (so I thought) in about 5 trips. When we got home from the doctors, this is what I found. That's my boy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Society Of Illustrators

I'm very pleased to have a piece in the 48th Annual Society of Illustrators Exhibition. My cover to HOLMES #1 was selected in the Book Category. This is the first time in 7 years that I've got a piece in. (Here's the last one that made it.)

The Exhibition begins Friday, March 3rd at the Society of Illustrators in New York. I imagine it will take about a year for that hefty Annual Publication to make it into stores.