Culling the Herd: Badfinger, the Bangles, the Barenaked Ladies, the Beat Farmers

Read the original "Culling the Herd" post here.

Badfinger, "Best of" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

When I was in high school, I joined the Quality Paperback Book Club, one of those "fill in the card or you get to pay for a book you don't necessarily want" things like Columbia Music Service, and I found some legitimately great books that way.  One of them was the Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Encyclopedia, which didn't pretend to be comprehensive but that hit the high points.  New wave and punk were still in semi-infancy, so it didn't catch many of my eventual musical obsessions, but it was good for hours and hours of skipping around.  Wait, Todd Rundgren was in a group once?  With who?  Well, where'd that guy end up?  And he produced a record for the Tubes?  Really?

allmusic.com was the digital equivalent for me.  I'd look up Marshall Crenshaw, see that the site referenced Badfinger as an influence, then go read all about them.  Then, since it was the digital music age, I'd go to Napster and download the high points of their catalog.  That's how I got these - "Come and Get It," "No Matter What You Are," and "Baby Blue."  Terrific power-pop songs, all.  Keep.

The Bangles, "All Over The Place" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

I loved this record when I lived in California for a summer.  I worked at Disneyland but didn't have a car, so I'd spend an hour each way on the bus listening to tapes, and this was a big one for me.  For one thing, it seemed to ooze California - the girls were all Valley types and gorgeous, plus there was this sheen of SoCal cool over the whole thing.  I burned the CD a few years back after it had fallen out of rotation for a few years, and it unfortunately didn't hold up as well.  I didn't even burn the whole thing...I did, however, burn "Going Down to Liverpool" and "Hero Takes a Fall", plus their best song, "In Your Room," from the "Everything" album.  The rest didn't make the cut.

The Barenaked Ladies, "Big Bang Theory" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

Let's just start by saying that I hate the Barenaked Ladies.  Which is weird.  On the surface, I should like them - they make smart, catchy pop songs, literate and littered with hooks.  Why wouldn't I like them?  And I think it's simple...they're not They Might Be Giants.  I love TMBG.  Deeply.  And it really, really, really bothers me that these guys - who I see as pale imitations of my beloved John and John - have achieved some major success, while my guys toil in relative obscurity.  None of that is true, of course.  Barenaked Ladies have made some undeniably great songs - "One Week" and "Pinch Me" are great songs - and seem to be genuinely nice guys.  So why do I hate them so?  Because I'm a small person.  Obviously.

Anyway - the "Big Bang Theory" is another terrific Barenaked Ladies song.  I loved the show and wondered if there was a longer version, hoping that it wouldn't be as good in a longer form.  Unfortunately, it's great, and I'm just kinda pathetic.

The Beat Farmers, "Karma Chameleon" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

Another allmusic.com find and Napster download, a cowpunk version of the Culture Club song - Country Dick Montana's voice could not be more different from Boy George's, and it's probably not pleasant for a longer period than three minutes, but for that long it's pretty great.  Keep.