Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Song of the day

"Cry For A Shadow", by Beat Happening.

There are certain bands and musicians whose records are so much of a piece that, no matter how good the other records are, you find yourself always coming back to the one you first heard. Aimee Mann is an example: everything she does is good, but her particular brand of stylish misanthropy is only really digestible in small doses, and I will always like "Bachelor No 2" the best. Ron Sexsmith: whenever I hear something new by him I just want to listen to "Other Songs". Matthew Sweet (tho in his case the first album I listened to all the way through happened to be a "best of" collection: unfair).

Beat Happening? The problem (not actually a problem) with Beat Happening is that theirs is such a narrow and perfect template that a certain sameness is inevitable. Which means that I can happily listen to any Beat Happening album, but at some point around "Black Candy" I kind of drifted off. But then they surprised everybody a few years later with the triumphant left-turn of "You Turn Me On". Wedged in between those two points was "Dreamy", a record I didn't actually realise I hadn't heard until I had a chance to hear it recently. Of course it's good. It may in fact show that "You Turn Me On" was not quite the dramatic change of tack I had previously taken it to be. And of course like many people (!) I came to "Cry For A Shadow" via the supremely gorgeous version by The Shapiros. Hearing it done by Beat Happening, though, naturally was a quiet thrill. (I think I still prefer The Shapiros' version.)

Listening to Calvin Johnson's voice through headphones is slightly painful: Beat Happening CDs should carry a health warning.