Homonyms

Owen Gwilliam's contribution to CDX 2009

The concept for this compilation struck me way back in high school. I noticed a note on another kid's desk that had a bunch of songs listed. Don't know if it was for a mix tape or a set list for a garage band or whatever. But I noticed one of the songs was "Joe Walsh - 'Turn To Stone'". I thought he was a total idiot! How could anyone not know "Turn To Stone" was by the Electric Light Orchestra? I mean, the strings were a pretty big giveaway, don'tcha think? I never said anything to the guy at the time, and when I finally heard Joe's version I had to laugh at myself. In my slight defense, this would've been in 1978 and ELO's "Turn To Stone" was a pretty recent hit. But still ...

Since then, I've always found it interesting when two songs I like end up sharing a title. I made a mix cassette using this concept back in 1986 with the following track list:
"Rock And Roll" (Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Undergound), "Hold On" (Kansas, Triumph), "Wonderland" (Big Country, XTC), "Mama" (Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra), "Time" (Pink Floyd, The Alan Parsons Project), "The Gift" (Midge Ure, The Jam), "Do It Again" (Steely Dan, The Kinks), "Magic" (Rainbow, The Cars), "Surrender" (Cheap Trick, U2)
And yeah, weirdly enough, I didn't include "Turn To Stone" on this original tape. I probably didn't own a copy of Joe's song at that point. Anyway, tastes change over time - only five of those songs made the cut for the compilation.

I tried to pick songs that would be fun to share with titles that would be less easily duplicated, and tried to mix up the artist list a bit. I originally tried to also be sure that no artist appeared more than once, but I like this track listing much better. Nobody appears twice on the same CD at least. And I was very picky on the names: Bad Company's "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" and The Kinks' "A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" didn't quite cut it.

Oh, and for the language geeks out there: Looking for a title, I searched for a term for two words that are spelled the same, pronounced the same, but mean different things. I found "homonyms" as the answer, and thought "Naah. That can't be right. Homonyms are words like 'bear' and 'bare'". Nope. I was wrong. Those types of words are "homophones". Homonyms are words like you'll see alluded to on the cover.

Hope you like the set.

You can listen on 8tracks.com.





DISC A DISC 1


1. "Do It Again"

Steely Dan
taken from the album Can't Buy A Thrill (1972)
written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
The Kinks
taken from the album Word Of Mouth (1984)
written by Ray Davies

The CDs open with songs from the opposite end of the bands' respective careers. "Do It Again" opened Steely Dan's debut album, Can't Buy A Thrill, and it's one of their best as well. However, to be picky, it's not the first Steely Dan record. They released a single ("Dallas" b/w "Sail The Waterway") a year before. It's very good - worth seeking out. "Do It Again" was also the title of the last hit single for The Kinks.

Oh yeah, and "Do It Again" was also a possible title for this comp. That also seemed to fit.


2. "1985"

Bowling For Soup
taken from the album A Hangover You Don't Deserve (2004)
written by Mitch Allan, John Allen and Jaret Reddick
Manic Street Preachers
taken from the album Lifeblood (2004)
written by Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore

This pair's very strange. Two songs about the same year, released in the same year, and they couldn't be more different. Bowling For Soup's song (originally released by SR-71 a year earlier) is tongue-in-cheek pop/punk. If you like this, the rest of the album is also a lot of fun. The Manic Street Preachers' song is a more introspective look back at the year before the band formed. Lifeblood is an out-of-character album for the Manics - it's way, way more quiet than anything they've done before or since.


3. "One Of These Days"

Camper Van Beethoven
taken from the album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988)
written by Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher, David Lowery, Chris Pedersen and Jonathan Segel
Pink Floyd
taken from the album Meddle (1971)
written by Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and David Gilmour

I'm assuming this pair doesn't need much commentary. For most of you participating, Camper Van Beethoven is a local band so I'm guessing I don't need to tell you about them. And I'm going to assume the name "Pink Floyd" also rings a bell with most of you.


4. "I Can't Stand It"

Lou Reed
taken from the album Lou Reed (1972)
written by Lou Reed
Eric Clapton
taken from the album Another Ticket (1981)
written by Eric Clapton

For Lou Reed's debut album, he reused a number of previously unused Velvet Underground songs, many of which were finally released on the outtake compilation VU. VU is in print, and Lou's debut is out of print, so I thought I'd include the remake on the odds you're not as familiar with it. Clapton's song was a fairly early solo hit, but probably not as well known as others in his catalog.


5. "See You"

Foo Fighters
taken from the album The Colour And The Shape (1997)
written by Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel and Pat Smear
Big Country
taken from the album Driving To Damascus (1999)
written by Stuart Adamson

These two songs are both a change of pace from their bands' usual sound. The Foo Fighters song is bluesy/folky pop, miles away from their usual sound. And if all you know of Big Country is their sole US hit, "In A Big Country", the sound of this might surprise you quite a bit.


6. "Ball And Chain"

XTC
taken from the album English Settlement (1981)
written by Colin Moulding
Social Distortion
taken from the album Social Distortion (1990)
written by Mike Ness

Yep. I took two songs called "Ball And Chain", and neither is the Janis Joplin/Big Brother and The Holding Compnay song. XTC's song is taken from arguably their best album, but it wasn't written by the band's main songwriter, guitarist Andy Partridge. Colin Moulding contributed a song or two per album, and while Andy's songs were the singles, Colin's were quite good as well. Social Distortion's song is one of the hits from their hit self-titled album that also had "Story Of My Life" and their cover of "Ring Of Fire".


7. "Guiding Star"

Teenage Fanclub
taken from the album Bandwagonesque (1991)
written by Gerry Love
Cast
taken from the album Mother Nature Calls (1997)
written by John Power

Bandwagonesque was the breakthrough album for Teenage Fanclub, combining a noisy, grungy sound with songs and harmonies right out of the Big Star mold. Over the years, the grunge has faded and the Big Star influences have become stronger and turned them into a great alternative power pop band. Cast was a band led by former La's bassist John Power, and the band's sound isn't all that different. Power has since disbanded the group and returned to The La's. Here's hoping they finally make that elusive second studio album.


8. "In The City"

Joe Walsh
taken from the The Warriors motion picture soundtrack (1979)
written by Barry De Vorzon and Joe Walsh
The Jam
taken from the album In The City (1977)
written by Paul Weller

Joe Walsh recorded "In The City" for the soundtrack of the film The Warriors, then later the same year with Eagles for their album The Long Run. The versions aren't all that different, but I thought it might be interesting to include one you probably haven't heard nearly as often. The Jam's debut single "In The City" shows off their roots as part of the class of '77 (and the bass riff might be familiar as cribbed by the Sex Pistols for "Holidays In The Sun"). The Jam changed pretty radically by 1979, but this is still a great punk single.


9 & 10. "Tonight"

Hard-Fi
taken from the album Once Upon A Time In The West (2007)
written by Richard Archer
Supergrass
taken from the album In It For The Money (1996)
written by Gaz Coombes, Danny Goffey, Mick Quinn, and Rob Coombes
The Soft Boys
taken from the album Underwater Moonlight (1980)
written by Robyn Hitchcock
The Move
taken from the single "Tonight" (1971)
written by Roy Wood

Four songs, four decades, one title.

70's: The Move was a big deal in the UK in the late 60's / early 70's, but never really made much of a dent in the US. They evolved very quickly from a 60's "beat combo" into a heavy rock band and then into a more experimental version that would eventually morph into Electric Light Orchestra.

80's: The Soft Boys were a 60's-style psychedelic band stuck in the bodies of a 70's/80's "new wave" band. They released a couple of studio albums (and a slew of singles) before leader Robyn Hitchcock left for a long cult solo career.

90's: Supergrass's "Tonight" adds in some horns in with their signature usual high-energy power pop.

00's: Hard-Fi's song is taken from their second album (their third is scheduled for sometime in 2009).


11. "Turn To Stone"

Electric Light Orchestra
taken from the album Out Of The Blue (1977)
written by Jeff Lynne
Joe Walsh
taken from the album So What (1975)
written by Terry Trebandt and Joe Walsh

As mentioned above, the pair that inspired the concept. "Turn To Stone" was one of the hits from ELO's peak years. Joe Walsh's song is one he recorded twice, once with his band Barnstorm in 1972 and again as a solo artist in 1975. I went with the solo version 'cause it just seemed a better fit for the flow of this disc.


12. "I Need You"

The Who
taken from the album A Quick One (1966)
written by Keith Moon
The Beatles
taken from the album Help! (1965)
written by George Harrison

Two of the biggest bands of all time with songs by people other than their main songwriters, although I doubt George Harrison and Keith Moon would ever really be compared as songwriters. Keith's is one of the few songs he's credited as having written. For The Who's second album, the band members were encouraged to each write two songs for the album so they'd get songwriter royalties. Only one of Roger Daltrey's contributions made the album, and the other Keith Moon song, "Cobwebs And Strange" is really just a rewrite of Tony Crombie's "Eastern Journey", taken from the soundtrack of the 1962 UK TV series Man From Interpol. "I Need You" is quite a good little pop song. Makes me wonder if Keith should have tried to write more often. George's song isn't one of the hits from Help!, but it's a terrific song anyway. And you've certainly heard it before, right?


13. "The Ledge"

The Replacements
taken from the album Pleased To Meet Me (1987)
written by Paul Westerberg
Fleetwood Mac
taken from the album Tusk (1979)
written by Lindsey Buckingham

Another interesting compare & contrast. This incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was known for studio craftmanship (although Lindsey Buckingham was definitely starting to experiment on Tusk), while The Replacements had a reputation for great songs and sloppy playing, but by Pleased To Meet Me, they'd definitely become a lot tighter.


14. "The Show Must Go On"

Three Dog Night
taken from the album Hard Labor (1974)
written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer
Queen
taken from the album Innuendo (1991)
written by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor

This pair are both songs dealing with similar concepts, but Three Dog Night's song has a light, fun feel, while Queen's song is much more dramatic, especially when you factor in the subtext of Freddie Mercury's declining health.


15. "Square One"

Coldplay
taken from the album X&Y (2005)
written by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin
Tom Petty
taken from the album Highway Companion (2006)
written by Tom Petty

Do I really need comments here? Surely you're familiar with Coldplay and Tom Petty. Neither of these was a hit, so maybe the songs are new to you.


16. "Time"

Pink Floyd
taken from the album The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
written by David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason
Tom Waits
taken from the album Rain Dogs (1985)
written by Tom Waits

A pair of songs that couldn't be more different. Pink Floyd's song is lush, layered with sound effects and given pristine production, where Tom Waits song has a bare bones sound and his "distinctive" vocals.


17 & 18. "Surrender"

U2
taken from the album War (1983)
written by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.
Electric Light Orchestra
taken from 2006 reissue of the album A New World Record (1976)
written by Jeff Lynne
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
taken from the album Anthology: Through The Years (2000)
written by Tom Petty
Cheap Trick
taken from the album Heaven Tonight (1978)
written by Rick Nielsen

In theory, this should be two songs you've heard and two you haven't. U2's "Surrender" is from their breakthrough album War. It wasn't one of the hit singles, but the album was huge that year. Cheap Trick's "Surrender" is a classic - one of the band's best known songs (and still one of their best).

The other two are both resurrected leftovers. Tom Petty's "Surrender" was a song that the band used to play live early on (it appears on quite a few bootlegs of 1977 shows). Petty and The Heartbreakers recorded a fresh studio version as a bonus track for the Anthology: Through The Years album. ELO's "Surrender" was a half-finished outtake from A New World Record that leader Jeff Lynne finished off for the 30th anniversary re-release.


19. "Man On The Moon"

Sugar
taken from the album Copper Blue (1992)
written by Bob Mould
R.E.M.
taken from the album Automatic For The People (1992)
written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe

I close out the compilation with a pair of closing tracks. "Man On The Moon" closes out Sugar's spectacular debut album - a perfect piece of Bob Mould punk/pop. R.E.M.'s "Man On The Moon" didn't close Automatic, but it's been a live set closer for the band for quite a while and it seemed like a nice set closer for this collection.

Well, that's about it. I'm sure there's a bunch of other pairs like this you can think of I left off (heck, there's a bunch I know I left off). Lookin' forward to hearing your CDs.

Back to Owen's Mix CD Page