Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Music

NPR did a little bit last evening about summer-specific music. I liked the idea of the article, because I generally listen to music by season. And yes, I really am that anal. Ahem. Anyway, the author of the article focused mostly on what seemed to be slow, steamy classics by Billie Holiday and the like, stuff for when the humidity is high and all you want to do is drink white wine on the front porch. Which, for me, not so much.

I have a regular CD playlist for the summer, which is not only comprised of (surprise!) a lot of heavy rock, but is also geared toward music that I already associate with summer. These are usually releases that happened just toward the end of the school year and then throughout the summer months. Chances are, if you're not already listening to this music, you won't rush right over to iTunes and buy any of this…but, if you're sitting there reading blogs, maybe you've got the kind of free time to go and have a listen. Here, forthwith, are my main summer CDs. Enjoy.

1) Kiss - Love Gun (release date: June 30, 1977) For me, this one is an all-time classic. I was the perfect age to just have all the time in the world to devote to listening to new music, and of course Kiss was IT for me. From the first jangling chords of I Stole Your Love to the last (bizarre) fading riffs of their cover of Then She Kissed Me, this really sums up the hot summer months.

2) Kiss - Dynasty (release date: May 23, 1979) Pretty much the same idea as #1 above. Tons of free time, plenty of adulation of Kiss, and not yet old enough to be concerned that they'd really changed their sound in the ensuing 2 years. They played the Pontiac Silverdome on my birthday that summer, but my mom thought I was too young to go with the big group of my friends who came back with tales of the concert. *sigh* I'm over it now. Really.

3) Cheap Trick - At Budokan (U.S. release date: February, 1979) This album was intended for Japan-only release, but quickly became one of the biggest-selling imports in the U.S. Although it came out in the dead of winter, a slow burn insured that it really hit its peak by summer '79. The song I Want You To Want Me, which Trick had had high hopes for several years earlier, and had basically abandoned for dead, was released in April and spent 19 weeks on the charts, peaking at #7.

4) AC/DC - Back In Black (release date: July 25, 1980) My first big foray into non-Kiss/Cheap Trick music, AC/DC wasn't even a blip on my radar until You Shook Me All Night Long captured the charts. This is quintessential early-teens music to me, and it really sums up that summer. Funny: I heard Have A Drink On Me blasting from the car stereo of some teenagers at the basketball court just the other day…I wonder if the kids really understood that they were proclaiming coolness by listening to music that was just shy of 30 years old.

5) The Beach Boys No specific album comes to mind, but the bulk of BB tunes really signifies summer, right? I started listening in high school, and haven't stopped.

6) Jimmy Buffett - Songs You Know By Heart (release date: January, 1985) Again, a mid-winter release, but for me Buffett is only eclipsed by the Beach Boys as signifyin' the sound of summer. I could really listen to ANYTHING by Buffett, but in spite of other greatest-hits packages that have come out since, this is the one I come back to.

7) Van Halen - VH II (release date: March 23, 1979) Are you seeing a theme here? Lots of stuff from the late-'70s, lots of good solid hard rock. The first VH album was great, but I actually like this one better. Perfect music to cruise the strip…preferably with your T-top open!

8) Mötley Crüe - Saints of Los Angeles (release date: June 24, 2008) Ahh, finally something new! Or…maybe not, once you listen to it. Crüe was all together again, and whatever infighting might have been going on between individual members, I thought they hadn't sounded this good since Dr. Feelgood. Tough, ballsy rock, delivered with that certain touch of "Fuck you!" swagger. Love it.

9) Kiss - Revenge (release date: May 19, 1992) One of the last albums I bought that I really listened to, you know, really learned all the words and just couldn't take out of my cassette player. The best non-makeup version of Kiss - Gene, Paul, Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick - had finally settled on a look and sound that was intense and in-your-face, but still melodic and accessible. Favorite tune? Take It Off. Nice.

10) The B-52's - s/t (release date: July 6, 1979) I wouldn't even begin to listen to stuff like this until the early/mid-'80s, but since then, like the Beach Boys, the 52's have come to epitomize summer. And it's the early stuff like this, as opposed to the "more accessible" sound of Love Shack, that really does it for me.


Blogger Steph said...

Wow. You are so...Scott. For me it's stuff like Brazilian samba and Bebel Gilberto and anything that goes with a gin and tonic. Clearly, I am the more typical NPR listener.

3:16 PM  

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