The Random iTunes Fairy has a sense of humor.
In preparing my posts for the Decades 1983 series, I had just gone through a prolonged internal debate about whether to include U2’s album War. On the one hand, it was the band’s first Gold record, an important milestone for one of the greatest rock bands. On the other hand, the album isn’t very interesting (to me) beyond singles ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘New Year’s Day.’
And then there’s the fact that I know my most frequent reader is not a fan of U2. Why torture poor Dana, I figured, and during a global pandemic, no less? So I passed.
‘The Name of the Game’ is the first single from ABBA’s fifth studio album, titled ABBA: The Album. It spent a month at the top spot of the UK charts, and made it to #12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The song’s opening riff was apparently inspired by the Stevie Wonder song ‘I Wish,’ which appeared on Songs in the Key of Life a year earlier. It was sampled by The Fugees, quite effectively, on their 1996 track ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ the first time ABBA allowed another act to sample their music.
This offbeat track appears on The Zombies’ classic 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. It tells the story of a World War I battle through the eyes of a beleaguered soldier.
Given the time of its writing and recording, this song was widely interpreted as a comment on the Vietnam War, and released as an unlikely single for that reason. It was backed by the far more accessible (and a favorite song of mine) ‘This Will Be Our Year.’
John Mellencamp released my favorite of his albums, Human Wheels, in 1983. Despite that record’s excellence, his label was reportedly unhappy with the result because it didn’t “fit the format.”
In response, Mellencamp delivered a follow-up album that he recorded in just two weeks, with few instruments and little attention to the production. You want the format, he was saying, I’ll give you the format. That album was 1984’s Dance Naked.
Broken Bells is a group formed by The Shins’ frontman James Mercer and the DJ Danger Mouse. They released two albums, in 2010 and 2014.
After the Disco is the band’s sophomore effort, and it’s a blast. As you’d expect from this pairing, the songs combine the sticky, off-kilter melodies of The Shins with some novel production techniques. It’s cerebral ear candy.
‘Superstar’ is the seventh of 15 tracks on 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to appear on the blog. That’s a mix of Random Weekend selections and songs I chose to feature.
Miseducation is definitely one of the best albums of the 90s (I ranked it at #19 on my own decade list) and perhaps the greatest album ever that was the first and last studio release by an artist.
A month ago, the Random iTunes Fairy served up Elliott Smith songs on back-to-back weekends. Now she’s back with another one, the 11th from his catalog to appear on Random Weekends.
The RIF must really like Elliott Smith. He is outperforming the percentages considerably. The law of averages would predict about half as many Smith posts as we’ve gotten.