“Talk About the Passion,” R.E.M, Murmur: Did R.E.M. ever do a better record than Murmur? I don’t think so. It sounds great; chiming guitars, lots of room for the vocal. The sonic geometry of this record is just perfect, and I think is what launched college rock. I got it when it came out, and was an R.E.M. fan the rest of the ‘80s. Till I started to realize I couldn’t tell their records apart. But that didn’t happen fo about 6 records.
“Marcella,” Beach Boys, Carl & the Passions: The popular tune of this early’’70s record, and the most R’n’B, although “All This is That” is the magical one. This is the sound that kept the Beach Boys on the radio most of the rest of the decade (see also, “It’s OK," “Palisades Park.”) I like the vocal acrobatics at the end.
“Southern Girls,” Cheap Trick, In Color: Cheap Trick are totally stoopid, and I mean that in the best way possible. They live on that seam where rock’n’roll meets power pop, as if Led Zep were the Raspberries. Which is what makes them great.
“Come,” Lindsey Buckingham, Gift of Screws boot. He’d recorded a solo record called Gift of Screws circa 1995, which never came out, and that's what this is. Most of the songs off it ended up on the Fleetwood Mac release Say You Will in 2003, including this one. The Mac version of this song is far nastier and biting; this one is more icy and ethereal. It’s about Anne Heche, who he dated in the early ‘90s (grab her book in a Barnes & Noble and read that part over a scone), but Stevie didn’t want to sing it in concert because she was afraid people would think it was about her. Eventually he put out a different solo record called Gift of Screws. This one is better though.
“Somebody Who Cares,” Pail McCartney, Tug of War: Jus a lovely piece of melancholy cotton candy. Tug is one of the four or five very best post-Beatle records he’s done.
“Farmer’s Daughter,” Beach Boys, Surfin’ Safari/Surfin’ USA: Great song. Fleetwood Mac did a killer cover circa Tusk, all whispery. And I once saw the Continental Drifters encore with it.
“Riding the Wave,” 7 Worlds Collide, Sun Came Out: The 2-CD set is a Neil Finn (Crowded House) project, with a great cast of characters (Johnny Marr; members of Wilco and Radiohead). Tim Finn sings this one.
“Italian Dry Ice,” Josh Rouse, City Mouse Country Mouse: Soft, moody and pretty, with horns; nice double-tracked vocals panned wide.
“Feel” (alternate version), Big Star, Keep an Eye On the Sky: The Big Star Anthology: Another ‘70s band in that rock/pop zone that exudes gloriousness. Alex Chilton, bla bla bla, pop genius, etc. Although I do prefer the original version to this alternate.
“Scarecrow People,” XTC, Acoustic in the Studio boot: By the mid-‘80s a studio band only, XTC went on a tour of US radio stations to support Oranges and Lemons. Here they are in a studio in Los Angeles, bashing it out as (I think) an acoustic duo.