On March 16, 1962, Columbia Records released an album by a young up-and-coming folk singer named Bob Dylan. You might have heard of him. The self-titled record is…OK, I guess? Dylan, then 21 years old, sounds unsure of what to do with his peculiar voice, and it’s more of a cover album than a showcase of his impressive song writing talents (he would pen “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” later in the year). Of the record’s 13 songs, only two are originals: “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody,” an ode to Dylan’s idol, Woody Guthrie. Bob Dylan was reissued in 2010 and enough bootlegs have come from this era that we don’t need any unreleased material. To celebrate 50 years in the business, Dylan should end his Never Ending tour and play a series of acoustic shows in New York at his old stomping grounds, like Town Hall and Café Wha? If it’s good enough for Van Halen, it’s good enough for Dylan.
It was a year largely dominated by psychedelica (hi, Sgt. Pepper’s), but one of 1967’s best releases is the understated Something Else by the Kinks by the Kinks. The title would be annoying if the songs weren’t so fantastic; two of the band’s greatest tracks bookend the album, “David Watts” and “Waterloo Sunset” (which Robert Christgau once called the “most beautiful song in the English language”), and “Love Me ‘Til the Sun Shines,” “Death of a Clown,” and “Harry Rag” aren’t exactly throwaways. Ray and Dave Davies have been talking about reuniting for years – in 2012, make it finally come true, mostly because I don’t want to live a life where I’ve never heard “Waterloo Sunset” played live.
Paul Anka wrote “Puppy Love” in 1960 for his girlfriend at the time, former-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The song reached #2 on the Billboard charts. Twelve years later, current-Mormon Donny Osmond covered the song, and his version peaked at #3. (It finished the year at #56, in-between the Main Ingredient’s “Everybody Plays the Fool” and Mouth & MacNeal’s “How Do You Do?”) On March 15, 1972, Los Angeles-based DJ Robert W. Morgan played “Puppy” for 90 minutes straight on KHJ. According to this-day-in-musical-history website Triple A Radio, this lead the “LAPD to mistakenly raid the station studios after receiving numerous calls from listeners. The perplexed officers left without making any arrests.” I say some Clear Channel DJ should do this again, though their stations are so repetitious these days, I bet no one would even notice.
Its unlikely David Bowie will ever tour again, but we can still hope for a new album, right? Post-blocked artery (a.k.a. 2004), the former-Thin White Duke has sporadically worked with other bands, like Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio, but hasn’t released anything of his own. To celebrate 35 years of Low, the beginning of the Berlin Trilogy, he should collaborate with his buddy Brian Eno on a new album. Not only would it mean new Bowie; it would also free Eno from working with Coldplay.
Shoot Out the Lights was one of the first albums I recognized as a child. Granted, I didn’t know who Richard or Linda Thompson, or even the name of the album, or the lyrics to any of the songs, but five-year-old Josh did refer to “Don’t Renege on Our Love” as the “horse song” because of its clop-clop-clop rhythm, which reminded me of Black Beauty or some such equine. Years later, I would actually learn the lyrics and fall in love with it in a totally different way, and saw Richard perform the title track back in 2007 and 2008. As great as that song, it’s still one of the minor selections from the album. What better way to celebrate its 30-year anniversary than with a reunion tour between Richard and Linda – hearing her wail “Walking on a Wire” accompanied by his guitar would be an instant frontrunner for Greatest Moment of 2012. And it’s not impossible, either: though the couple separated in 1981, they performed a single song together in 2010, at the Meltdown Festival.
I’m not gonna say the “R” word; I’m just going to imply it. R-WORD. R-WORD. R-WORD.
Jawbreaker is one of the few “90s bands,” which is probably more of a definable genre than “pop” at this point, to not have reunited in the past few years. Lead singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach has said that he doesn’t feel “physically…capable of doing it,” and he thinks he couldn’t “sing those songs…It would be a disservice to the memory of the band to try to do that.” Perfectly honorable, notable reasons for not staging their first tour since 1996, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want it to happen. (Yes, it does. - Ed.) Jawbreaker’s second album, Bivouac, came out 20 years ago – can someone just give them a shit ton of money to at least do one local show? P.S. New York is burning…with love for Jawbreaker. (Sorry.)
The Perfect from Now On that we know and love was actually the third attempt at making the album. The initial stab had Doug Martsch playing every instrument on the album, with the exception of drums, until he and producer Phil Ek decided something was missing. Specifically: other musicians. So they brought in a bassist and drummer, and nearly completed the record, before it was destroyed by heat. More rehearsal and seemingly hundreds of overdubs later, the band finished Perfect from Now On, an album that lived up to the first word in its title. What Built to Spill fan wouldn’t love to hear the original, Martsch-heavy mix, if only to expand our appreciation of the finished product that much more?
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Wilco’s best album (though Summerteeth is a REALLY close second) and the band still plays most of the album (minus “Kamera”) live. Those recording sessions proved so fruitful that even the tracks that got cut, including “Not for the Season” and “Venus Stop the Train,” were magnificent (some of which were released on an Australian EP that came out in 2003, More Like the Moon). The extra songs have been “released” via bootlegs online, like The Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos and The YHF Engineer Demos, but ideally there’d be an official, cleaned up release of “Alone.”
M.I.A had planned to work with producer-extraordinaire Timbaland for her sophomore album, Kala. But she had problems acquiring a long-term U.S. visa, and scheduling problems led to only a single collaboration, “Come Around.” Turns out, though, he wasn’t even really needed; Kala is one of the best albums of 2007 – if only the same thing could be said about its follow-up, /\/\ /\ Y /\, and 2010. For M.I.A.’s fourth album (and she’s currently in the studio), I’d like for her to remember her thoughts from five years prior, and try to hook up with Timbaland. It’d certainly be more interesting than "Teqkilla.”