Tuesday, October 27, 2009

These United States of America (Part Two)

After an array of technical issues, welcome to part two of somewhere around seven of this here United States compilation.

We're still in the north east, at least broadly speaking, and this was perhaps the hardest part to put into any kind of order, not least as our voting panel on this project made me put in a whole bunch of jazz and even a touch of swing to stop me defining every corner of the country through, er, country.

Some of these tracks really don't sit together, but well, I tried...

(Florida) Modest Mouse - Florida (We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, 2007)

A guest-appearance frenzy from Modest Mouse, this features not only ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who worked with the band on this entire album, but also Shins man James Mercer on backing vocals.

(Pennsylvania) Glenn Miller - Pennsylvania 6-5000 (Moonlight Serenade, 1939)

Our first significant change of pace with a touch of war-time big band from Mr Miller. But there is a confession - this song is not truly about Pennsylvania, as it is about the phone number Pennsylvania 6-5000, the oldest continually used phone number in New York City - that of the Hotel Pennsylvania, the colossal hotel built downtown above Penn Station and opened as what was then the largest hotel in the world in 1919.

(Vermont) Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Moonlight In Vermont (Ella and Louis, 1956)

Maintaining the jazz theme is this fine version of the John Blackburn/Karl Suessdorf-penned standard, and one of the better known versions to boot.

(New York) Billy Joel - New York State of Mind (Turnstiles, 1976)

Trying to find a song about New York state and not New York City initially proved a challenge, and although we eventually came up with two or three, none of them were as good a suggestion as this pun-tastic nomination. It doesn't hurt that it's also a fine song.

(Illinois) Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel The Illinoise! (Illinoise, 2005)

Sufjan was never going to take too long to find his way into a project like this. While it seems now that his crazy notion of recording an album for every US state is not going to get any further than just Michigan and Illinois, we can only applaud the man's ambition. No one else seems to have ideas like Sufjan, who has now just released an entire album paying homage to an interstate.

(Connecticut) Carly Simon - The Wives Are In Connecticut (Spoiled Girl, 1985)

After careful analysis, I've identified this as the worst song on this compilation. But, well, it's Connecticut. There's not a great deal to say, evidently.

(Massachusetts) The Bee Gees - Massachusetts (Horizontal, 1968)

If Carly Simon is the worst song here, this is the second worst. Let's just move quickly through this section.

(Rhode Island) Ike & Tina Turner - Sweet Rhode Island Red (Nutbush City Limits, 1973)

We couldn't end on two such bum notes, so here's a fine slice of funk from Ike and Tina before we go.

Anyhow, part three, in which we move south of the Mason-Dixon line, and thus deep into the land of country music, will be up later in the week.

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