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The July Rotation

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My rotation has not lived up to expectations this year. Injuries, ineffectiveness, perhaps overuse. My ears have needed a shot in the arm.

Blondie Live 1977

This is from German TV, where, I've realized, about 38% of all good things musical from the 1970s came from. It doesn't have a single famous Blondie hit; it's Debbie Harry and the boys right out of the New York post-punk/new-wave whatever you want to call it, before the goofiness of "Rapture" and the wretchedness of "The Tide Is High." They were pretty damn good. (h/t to Bonanos for the pointer.)

AC/DC / "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)"

I'm rather fond of High Voltage, the album that "Long Way" leads off (or, as we use to say, "track one, side one"). But nothing on it compares to that first song, unequaled in its mix of blue-collar power chords and bagpipe trills from what was once a greasy little band of Aussies, before the arena bombast and cannon fire and jock-rock compilations. The opening riff -- I assume it's Malcolm Young, unsung rhythm guitar hero -- still gives me chills. It's one of a million pop songs about how it sucks trying to make it, but the terse lines and lack of swagger ("Getting had / getting took / I tell you folks / It's harder than it looks") keep it from bogging down. One of my top twenty rock songs ever.  

Low / The Invisible Way

It's produced by Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco), so it's hard not to listen for what's done differently. It's much quieter than The Great Destroyer and much less twitchy and knob-twiddly than Drums and Guns, but if you know Low, it's not a departure. More piano, perhaps -- big dark "After The Gold Rush"-type chords give several songs an end-of-night, emptied-out feel; at its best, it's chilling. Put on "Amethyst" and you will stop in your tracks. Other songs use gentler chords and faster tempos for more warmth (relatively speaking; this is Low, of course). "So Blue," with Mimi Parker's vocals doubled up, could be a stripped-down outtake from Carole King's Tapestry. A quick story: When Low filled up and tore down the Great American Music Hall in April, they played a cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless," which they'd also done about ten years ago at the same venue and inspired me and this guy to record our own 4-track living-room version. I assumed "Fearless" was a staple of theirs, but no:

Skinny Lister

If you miss the Pogues, these folks might do in a pinch. Plus, the lead singer is a lot easier on the eyes than Shane Magowan ever was.

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