Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cats vs Dogs: The Kitty Files

Depending on your viewpoint, it's either an age old debate, or no debate at all.

It seems like cat lovers and dog lovers will always bicker, never able to share the others point of view. People who love both are in short supply.

Having had this argument more times than I care to remember of late, I thought it was time to put it to the musical test.

Here's our cat-loving playlist. Check back Friday for the dogs.

I'm not going to keep score - my biases are too strong - but I reckon it should be obvious by the end of the week which animal has won.

Muddy Waters - Tom Cat (Electric Mud, 1968)

Electric Mud provokes mixed reactions. Kind of like when Dylan went electric, the idea of Muddy Waters playing through a wall of fuzz just didn't sit well with most people. Not at all well. But while it tends to get slated, thay overlooks some of the fine tracks on here, not least opener Tom Cat.

Johnny Cash - Mean-Eyed Cat (Unchained, 1994)

When Johnny Cash came to record the second volume of the American Recordings series, he revisited a handful of old songs, including Mean Eyed Cat which he'd first recorded for Sun way back when.

Rufus Thomas - Bear Cat (1953)

Rufus Thomas was one of Memphis' great entertainers in the 40s and 50s. Among his varied roles, he was a DJ on WDIA, a rare black-owned station. It was there that he received a promo copy of Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog and promptly cut a none-too-subtle retort, Bear Cat, at Sun Studios. It may have been witty, and it may have been a huge R&B success, but it also caused Sam Phillips no end of trouble as he lost a copyright lawsuit for ripping off the original.

The Miller Sisters - Ten Cats Down (1954)

A short-lived act on the Sun label, the Miller Sisters never had a hit, and split soon after forming. One of the few things they did leave us with is Ten Cats Down, a simple enough but not particularly special track.

Carl Perkins - Put Your Cat Clothes On (1956)

Sticking with Sun Studios for a third track in a row, this is a classic every way up. While Elvis went off to take over the world and Cash scored the kind of crossover appeal most country artists can only dream of, Perkins was sadly left to toil on without any of the fame his outstanding work deserved during those early Sun years. It has come to him since his death, and deservedly so.

The Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (Beggars Banquet, 1968)

This, put simply, is debauched. Essentially a song about sleeping with underage groupies, the Rolling Stones were going for the shock factor for one of the first times, but certainly not the last time, as they began to turn to a darker side on Beggars Banquet.

Royal Bangs - Cat Swallow (We Breed Champions, 2008)

Two albums in and I'm still trying to nail down Royal Bangs' style. Certainly they don't follow the lead of their mentor, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. It's fun, upbeat, garage rock, but there's a healthy dose of electronica involved at times.

The Cure - The Love Cats (Japanese Whispers, 1984)

Okay, this is the coolest song on the cats side. Never actually on an album, but thrown on to the Japanese Whispers EP, this funky bit of pop features the Cure managing to get that guitars to squeak like cats. Nice.

The Kills - Cat Claw (Keep On Your Mean Side, 2003)

The second track from their debut album, I think this is still my favourite Kills song, and - even though I like the Dead Weather stuff well enough - the best thing that Alison Mosshart has been involved in.

Lou Barlow - The Ballad of Daykitty (Emoh, 2005)

I prefer my Lou Barlow a little more raw, either through Dinosaur Jr or Sebadoh, but this is at least a charming enough song from his more polished solo effort Emoh.

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