Do the Shuffle

A page for guest bloggers, music fans and musicians to tell us what is ‘Now Playing’ on their musical devices. If you’d like to contribute please do – either by a comment on this page or get in touch with me by email.

What do you reach for first thing in the morning? The coffee machine? Your smokes? The buttery body heat of a loved one? I shuffle. And I don’t mean shuffle to the bathroom although that is inevitably the second thing I do. I hit “shuffle” on my iPod. I’ve probably spent 15-20% of my entire income over the years buying music and going to concerts – the rest of it I wasted. The day starts with song and my prized music collection.

With over 16,000 songs currently loaded, hitting shuffle is like walking into those much-missed physical purveyors of vinyl and compact disc recorded material…..the record store. I would spend many happy hours in my local Tower Records. I would always insist on going alone. I wanted to go from A-Z, even though I had probably done exactly that within the previous ten days. The only exception I made I think was to my brother-in-law Simon but he’s a muso anyway with a proclivity for bands with two or less members and three or less instruments, two of which should ideally be bass guitars. Bless him – still, he likes Dan Baird and Social Distortion so he’s alright.

Anyway, shuffling 16,000 songs is always an experience. Some shuffles are great and I’ve let them run for 200 or so songs. They develop themes of their own or you interpret your own and build connections between a group of randomly chosen songs. Others I end after three songs. And, by the way and for the avoidance of doubt, there is an iPod Gremlin. Never seen him but it’s much more than reading digital binary code when consecutive songs on the same shuffle include Whitesnake, the Micky Moody Band (MM was one of the original ‘Snakes) and then a track from the short-lived Coverdale-Page collaboration (vocalist Coverdale being Mr. Whitesnake). Spooky, huh ? It’s happened a few times now, though not with the same three tracks……obviously.

I constantly have to run from wherever I am to the iPod to see who is playing a fantastic song which I had never heard before and didn’t even know I’d got. So, I thought, from time to time, I’d let you in on some Shuffle Surprises. This could be very random so just trust me on this – I’ll only tell you the good stuff ;). I understand my iPod will play through all the songs without repeating in something like 48 days and nights. So this could go on for a while. Hopefully you find something you like and keep checking back.

Here’s today’s offering;

Stray Dog – Eric Takes A Walk…..psycho Blues blitz.

The Quireboys – King Of New York….wonderful, soulful ballad.

S.U.N. – I’m The One….taken from the excellent, debut album Something Unto Nothing.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Grindin’ Man……gritty, he gets better with age.

Budgie – I Turned To Stone…..late 70s/early 80s, very talented, Welsh 3-piece, cracking solo.

Joe Cocker – Delta Lady..from one of my favorite live albums – more on that later. Big band rock.

Supersuckers – Bubblegum and Beer…..yellin’ and hollerin’ pub rock.

Saint Jude – Little Queen….the Stones with a lady singer? Can’t get this CD out of my player – might have to be surgically removed once I’ve stopped loving the album.

Segueing, rather obviously, into the way we listen to music today. It’s totally different to how we used to listen to music. In years gone by, you would carefully remove the vinyl disc from the inner sleeve (which probably had band pictures, lyrics and/or quotes or facts about the band) and place the disc on the turntable – that comforting slap of vinyl bonded with rubber. Lifting the arm with shaking fingers, you’d play the album through and then flip over to side two – was it me or did the first track side two usually turn out to be the track of the album?

Nowadays, we flip flop around (yeah, and shuffle) in search of that digital instant gratification and in doing so, no doubt miss out on such subtleties as the meaning of the track sequence, connections between songs, etc. As a result of the shuffle, I’ve come across some fantastic last tacks of the album, courtesy of my iPod Gremlin, which I didn’t hear before because I didn’t play an album all the way through. My attention span is shrinking…..

Now, wait – what was I saying? Oh yeah, the shuffle….the only downside I can see is when it identifies tracks like the opening live sequence from one band and then the next song is something completely different – want to have your mind messed with ? Play the medley intro of Ozzy’s Live and Loud album and then have it run into the “Spoken Poems of Bram Stoker”…that’ll have you chained to the radiator, wrapped in a blanket, rocking back and forth, barking at the moon!

Don’t worry – this feeling goes away….it’s just that dastardly iPod Gremlin showing off his omnipotence !

The Mad Dog.