The Temptations doing Ball Of Confusion

I can't remember when I found out Love & Rockets version of Ball of Confusion was a cover, but I can assure you that it was shamefully recent.

It made no sense - I couldn't imagine it being done by anyone else with that kind of definition and angst; I especially couldn't have imagined it being done by the same folks that recorded such sweetly naive tracks as "My Girl" and "The Way You Do The Things You Do."

Upon actually hearing the original Temptations version?

Oh, my.

What a weak shadow of a song Love & Rockets recorded. From the opening funk bassline, tightly followed by those dissonant sounds, clearly reflecting what the lyrics were saying abut society. This was strong, it was mighty. The intensity of this presentation said so much more that the simple, non-specific complaint recorded by Love & Rockets did. This was accusatory. It didn't simply level the charges against something as vague as society, so that I could lamely agree, "yeah, society sucks!"

It accused us. Me. Why was I not doing something? Yeah, why not? Ah, but the the Temptations agree with me there. The song doesn't just accuse, it is frustrated. With the same lyrics, it doesn't just express frustration, the song itself sounds frustrated, helpless - but not giving up.

You can find The Temptations' version on their Definitive Collection, and the Love & Rockets version is on Express.

Quien es mas macho? (world conquerors edition)(and Johnny Cash)

militant swing Killing In The Name Of

The Apples are a (mostly) funk act out of Tel Aviv. They depart from expectations all over the place. Though they are a mostly funk act, they venture easily into turntablism, swing, and have even played with some Appalachian sounds.

In this take on Rage Against "The Machine's Killing In The Name Of," you can hear bits of their Israeli roots, along with some Abe-Most-style clarinet-trills cleverly standing in for Tom Morello's magic. They manage to swing this thing while keeping Rage's militancy.

You can find this on The Apples' album Buzzin' About, where they just call it "Killing."

It sounds like it ought to be the soundtrack for something, but what?

The most absurd pop song ever recorded?

I couldn't tell you why, but for a handful of days I've been obsessing over the Was (Not Was) song "Zaz Turned Blue" from the 1983 album Born to Laugh at Tornadoes; though not over the song itself, but the absurdity of it.

It tells the classic story of some kids fooling around in a park, and one puts the another in what turns out to be a quite effective sleeper hold - that old chestnut.

What really makes this for me is that Don Was got Mel Torme to be guest vocalist, and that dude could emote the fuck out of a song, even one this silly, without a wink and a nod.

The only thing I can think of that comes close is "MacArthur Park," but that's obviously a metaphor for... something ...so it might get a pass.

So, is there a more absurd pop song? I'm not talking about novelty songs or ones that are intentionally "quirky" (so no Yankovic, Devo or They Might Be Giants) but ones that are true and earnest in their performance.

EDIT:
I'd be in error not to include PJ Harvey's strangely beautiful version of "Zaz" from the 1997 Lounge-A-Palooza compilation.

Combat cello "Smooth Criminal"

...because calling it "duelling cellos" doesn't seem quite right.

Whatever you think of Michael Jackson, I'd lay odds that you'll dig this suave version of his song.

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