For our second installment of the Restaurant Playlist, we’ve got a selection of songs curated by Aaron Lefkove, co-owner of the new and already beloved Gowanus seafood shack, Littleneck. Before he got into the restaurant business, Lefkove was a musician, a writer and “an occasional record store clerk during times of ‘lesser employment'” — the sort of resume that over-qualifies him for choosing background music at a noisy seafood joint. From a finger-licking-good jams from the Faces, the Dead and Little Feat, to the heartbreaking strains of William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” to the bouncy L-U-V from the Shangri-Las, you’ll want to listen to this one without the distraction of a best-in-the-borough Ipswich clam roll.
You can enjoy most of the playlist on Spotify if you’re a member, but for the whole thing — including a lo-fi romantic gem from the Len Bright Combo — listen below.
1. The Faces, “Cindy Incidentally” — Serious barn-burner from the final Faces album, Ooh La La. Most of the record was written by Ronnie Lane as Rod The Mod was basically basking in rockstar glory at this point but it turns out, for being one of his few vocal contributions to the record, it is also one of his strongest performances ever. I believe our affinity for The Faces was even noted in a review in this very publication in fact.
2. Dennis Wilson, “Pacific Ocean Blues” — There’s a bar in Santa Monica called Chez Jay’s that Dennis Wilson used to hang out in and you can order a drink called the Denny Wilson which I am pretty sure is just a screwdriver but they call it a Denny Wilson because, as legend has it, the Beach Boy used to hang out there a lot pounding ‘em. If we ever open a West Coast outpost you bet your ass we are putting a Denny Wilson on the menu!
3. William Bell, “You Don’t Miss Your Water” — The Byrds did a great country version of this on the Sweetheart of The Rodeo album (which gets a lot of play at Littleneck too!) but I prefer the original, more soulful version which Bell originally recorded for Stax in 1961.
4. The Len Bright Combo, “Someone Must’ve Nailed Us Together” — Talk about a perfect song for a low-lit romantic dinner for two. The Len Bright Combo’s first LP is like the greatest lo-fi record the Kinks never made!
5. Spider Bags, “Waking Up Drunk” — Pretty sure this is the first album I ever played at Littleneck when we opened up for business… and have since rocked it dozens of times. My friend Dan moved from Jersey to Chapel Hill to start the Spider Bags and their first album is seriously one of the best records from the last 10 years. Everyone needs to love this record!
6. Gun Club, “Jack on Fire” — I usually like to try and keep the music mellow and “dinner-friendly” but sometimes when it gets slammed you gotta liven it up with something a little more driving and upbeat. Gun Club’s Fire of Love is the go-to album at the moment.
7. Grateful Dead, “Wharf Rat” — Nothing like a haunting, dirge-like song about a vagrant drifter to pair with that glass of chianti. The nautical references also play well with the whole Littleneck vibe. Begrudgingly, (at least to those staff members who give The Dead a bad rap) this has become a house favorite. Seriously. We play it every Sunday night at 8 pm sharp!
8. Little Feat, “Willin'” — Weed, whites, and wine buddy. Sometimes that’s all you need.
9. Shangri-Las, “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” — I put all of the Songs We Taught… compilations on this house iPod; this includes the original of course, Songs We Taught The Cramps, as well as Songs We Taught The Cheater Slicks, Songs We Taught The Oblivians, Songs We Taught Walter Daniels, Songs We Taught The Mummies, and, my personal favorite, Songs We Taught The New York Dolls which is where this one comes from though it should bear mention that the Dolls never actually played this song. Rather it was Johnny Thuders on his solo record So Alone.
10. Country Teasers, “Stand By Your Man” — The Country Teasers are often described as The Fall playing C&W but—with no disrespect to Mark E. Smith—they really are like no other band out there. Their version of the Tammy Wynette standard is loud, and off-key, and totally offensive, and totally brilliant (I even do the song in CT-style at karaoke ever chance I get). As a bonus: we use this as a room-clearer at the end of the evening as it will most certainly chase away those with less-than-adventurous musical tastes.
Photo by Cody Swanson