Thursday, 13 January 2011

January's first 5: Fools never learn...

Right, so (probably) once a month I’ll be setting my phaser to ‘stun’ (okay, make that my i-pod to ‘shuffle’)  and saying as much or as little as I feel like about the first 5 songs it decides to randomly spit out at me. Typically I expect to concentrate only on one or two of them each time, but I guess we’ll see…

Okay, for January 2011, the first 5 songs out of a possible 10196 are:

  1. Toto – Out of Love
  2. James Taylor – Millworker (Live)
  3. Dave Mason – So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away)
  4. R.E.M. – I’ve Been High
  5. The Tubes – Keyboard Kids

Toto – Out of Love (from Past to Present – 1990)

One of four new songs included on Toto’s first compilation, all of which featured the shortest-lived of all their short-lived vocalists, one Jean-Michel Byron. I’d love to say that Byron was completely devoid of talent, but life is rarely that black and white. Suffice to say he did not fit the band at ALL – the songs he didn’t murder with his singing he slaughtered instead with his ‘dance’ moves – urgh! This was a minor hit in Europe, and was revived by Toto for their acoustic set on the Mindfields tour (1999), with co-writer Steve Lukather taking over on vocal duty.  (This was captured on the Livefields album from said tour). More recently it was one of only two Toto songs included in Lukather’s solo setlist, in support of his lastest album, All’s Well That Ends Well (quite possibly the best album of 2010, BTW!). Regardless of who sings it though, this is not one of Toto’s best songs, or even best ballads. See the official video for it below, if you must...(5/10)

James Taylor – Millworker (from James Taylor Live1993)

Originally written for the Broadway musical Working (JT’s spoken introduction reminds you just what a smash this show wasn’t…) and first included on Taylor’s patchy 1979 effort Flag. This version easily beats the studio original, even if it’s female POV first-person narrative continues to disconcert slightly at the moment when Taylor sings about being an ‘only daughter’ (see also Harry Chapin’s Dogtown). A moving piece nonetheless. (7/10)

Dave Mason – So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away) (from Let it Flow – 1977)

Goddamn this is a fine song! There’s nothing too deep going on lyrically, but it’s hook-laden feel-good, infectious fun. The opening cut and first single from what would eventually become Mason’s biggest selling album (certified platinum a mere 20 years after release) it somehow failed to crack the charts in a big way, only making it ‘so high’ as #89 – still, that was a better showing than any single from Mason’s previous 3 studio releases, and paved the way for the genuine hit follow-up, We Just Disagree (#12). For those who don't know Mason was a co-founder (with Steve Winwood) of Traffic, and penned Feelin' Alright (amongst others) for said band before spending the 70s as a solo artist.(10/10)

R.E.M. – I’ve Been High (from Reveal – 2001)

I’ve only heard this one a couple of times, and can’t recall a thing about it on such brief acquaintance. (unrated)

The Tubes – Keyboard Kids (from The Best of the Tubes – 1992)

Following an interesting, but commercially disastrous stint on A&M The Tubes made 3 moderately successful albums for Capitol in the first half of the 80s. All three of those albums (The Completion Backward Principle, Outside Inside and Love Bomb) are worth having; this non-LP rarity is not, but good on Capitol for including it anyway, so we could decide that for ourselves, I’d only have complained if they’d left it off. (3/10)

Well, that was a mixed bag, wasn’t it? Fun though…


  1. I much prefer the acoustic live version over the original studio version.

    For the Byron sung tracks the only one I thought he was good on was Can You Hear What I'm Saying.

  2. 'Love Has the Power' works for me as well, but will never understand how 'Goin' Home' was passed over in favour of anything that ended up on PTP!

    As for Byron, my shock still hasn't worn off from all the positive comments he got from Chicago fans when he did a one-off show with Danny and CTA!

  3. I heard a snippet of him singing 25 or 6 to 4 and he sounded good. The man can sing but his personality definitely was not a good fit for either Toto or Danny's band.