Sunday, November 16, 2008

Battle of the Decades

No surprise on the last one (which I didn't get around to posting here) -- it was a walkaway for the Beatles with very tough competition. Nine votes for Let it Be, 3 for Fortunate Son. Glenn Miller, REM and Sarah M. all pulled down one each, and all had great songs.

Here's the new batch, and I predict a wide spread.

40S ON 4
Jimmy Dorsey
Jersey Bounce

50S ON 5
Trini Lopez
If I Had A Hammer

60S ON 6
Jan & Dean
Dead Man's Curve

70S ON 7
Joni Mitchell
Free Man In Paris ('74)

80S ON 8
La Isla Bonita

90S ON 9
Janet Jackson
Black Cat

Trini Lopez in the 50s? That can't be right. Well, at least it wasn't "Lemon Tree." But it displaced some actual 50s song that might have been good.

I never loved Jan and Dean, but the song does have nostalgic appeal. Janet Jackson is all flash and no substance. She has about as much sex appeal as Mary Lou Retton, and a particularly ordinary voice. It's good flash, but that ain't enough. So these two go out together.

So we move on to the finals. Madonna has flash and substance to spare. And I actually had not heard this song before, and it's wonderful. I love the Spanish guitar. Jimmy Dorsey gives us another white swing guy. Glenn Miller had a sound all his own, but Jimmy was the better jazz musician (although I do have a recording of Coleman Hawkins' first session, with the Mound City Blowers, featuring Miller on trombone). I couldn't find Jimmy's version of Jersey Bounce on the Web, but has a bunch of other waxings The classic Benny Goodman version, a great one by Gerry Mulligan, and an unbelievably great one by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. There's also a version by Glenn Miller, in which he shows that when he's up against the jazz greats, he can't compete.

And I'm going with Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, and the recently departed and mourned Michael Brecker. I don't think Joni Mitchell is a great lyricist. Her lyrics are always a little pretentious and forced for my taste. But she's a great singer, and a great composer, and boy, can she put together a band. Michael Brecker kicks ass here, and Joni kills.

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