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wonders never cease Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WEDNESDAY, MAY 26th, 2010play list of the week: sixteen songs for summer.

[caption id="attachment_4361" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="click to listen"]Miles[1][/caption]Despite the fact that, on this very day in 1926, a musical genius was born in the Alton, Illinois, home of Dr. Miles and Cleota Mae Davis ... we couldn't bring ourselves to do two consecutive birthday play lists. So, with a bow to Mile Dewey Davis III for his lifetime of contributions to the music world, our play list this week instead heralds the advent of summer. Let's open up the swimming pools, pour ourselves a nice cool drink, and get ready for the heat. We'll kick it off with the birthday boy himself:

1. Summertime - Miles Davis
Davis plays Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in his signature style, with notes as clear as crystal. A child prodigy, Miles accepted admission to the Juilliard School in 1944, but it was a ruse to get to New York and hook up with jazz giants Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He dropped out of Juilliard and worked in the thriving jazz joints of Harlem until being hired by Parker in 1945 to replace Gillespie in his groundbreaking quintet.

2. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
Ontario born rocker hikes down memory lane for this hit from 1984's Reckless, the platinum album that helped cement Adams' status as the best selling Canadian artist of all time.

3. Summertime - The Sundays
Harriet Wheeler's ethereal vocals drift through this single from the third and final Sundays release, 1997's Static and Silence.

4. All Summer Long - The Beach Boys
No summer play list would be complete without a song from the band that made a career of summer songs. For us, Brian Wilson's song evokes vivid memories of sweltering Independence Days spent on the national mall trying to stay hydrated. As sunset approached, the Beach Boys cranked out a repetoire of hits that capped off the opening performers for the holiday's headline act, the fireworks. That is, until Interior Secretary James Watt deemed The Beach Boys too edgy and replaced them with major republican donor Wayne Newton. Imagine his surprise to discover that The Beach Boys were personal friends of his boss, President Ronald Reagan.

5. Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Will Smith rockin' the high top fade, reminiscing about summer days in his native Philadelphia in this Grammy winning hit song from 1991.

6. Summer In the City - The Lovin' Spoonful
A number one hit from 1966, this song really brings a hot city day to life right from the start, opening with "Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty."

7. Summertime Clothes - Animal Collective
From last year's critcally aclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion album, this song paints a vivid picture of a hot, sleepless night "Sweet summer night and I'm stripped to my sheets. Forehead is leaking, my AC squeaks."

8. Summer Wine - The Corrs with Bono
Bono joins Andrea Corr and her three siblings, covering the Lee Hazelwood duet about a man accepting a woman's offer to share her homemade wine, waking in the morning hungover and without his money and silver spurs.

9. Summertime Blues - Brian Setzer
Setzer gives a sizzling rendition of this rock classic while playing the role of the song's originator, rock pioneer Eddie Cochran, in the 1987 Richie Valens biopic, La Bamba.

10. Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra
Ol' Blue Eyes takes a song, written by Johnny Mercer and performed as a chart hit by Wayne Newton in 1965, and makes it his own on his 1966 album Strangers In The Night. Sinatra infuses the song with what NPR called "a majestic sadness" and reached the top of the charts, eclipsing the minor success enjoyed by the Newton version. This play list is starting to resemble a career low lights list for Wayne Newton.

11. Cruel Summer - Bananarama
The first top ten hit for the British pop band, the song was boosted by inclusion in the 1984 hit film The Karate Kid, despite the fact that the band refused to allow the year old song on the film's soundtrack. While we don't see that as a shrewd business move but an up and coming band, we see no flaw in the wisdom of making the video like an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard.

12. In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry
1970 hit from blues-pop brits named for one of the cats in TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the whimsical book that inspired the record-setting musical, Cats.

13. That Summer Feeling - Jonathan Richman
We have a weakness for Jonathan Richman's stripped down world view and have to resist finding a way to put him on every play list. It's been a while, so here's a tune from 1992's I, Jonathan.

14. Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone
This hit song from 1969 was released shortly after the band's landmark performance at Woodstock and peaked at #2 on the US charts. Alas, the album it was recorded for was never completed due to Sly's increasingly erratic behavior brought on by heavy drug use.

15. All Summer Long - Kid Rock
Romeo, Michigan's Robert James Ritchie crosses over from rap to real singing on his ninth studio album, Rock and Roll Jesus. This walk down memory lane over a Warren Zevon and Lynard Skynard mashup was the first worldwide success for the Detroit native, hitting #1 in eight different countries and was his first hit song on the country charts in the US.

16. Summertime - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Ah, what can we say about these two. Ella and Louis cover Gershwin's standard as only they can.


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