Everybody loves a good surprise, right? Well, unless you’ve got a weak heart, in which case it only takes one good surprise to send your ticker into a kamikaze dive. Well, given this pretty blatant set-up, I guess no one needs to jump out from behind the furniture to present you with this collection of rather surprising songs.
“Surprises,” Billy Joel (The Nylon Curtain)
Mr. Joel leads off the set mostly because it was hearing this song that gave me the idea to put this mix together. I can’t believe that I’d never heard this song before 2001.
“Baby, What a Big Surprise,” Chicago (Chicago XI)
Say what you will about Peter Cetera’s solo career, but Chicago sure as hell hasn’t been the same since he left.
“Life of Surprises,” Prefab Sprout (A Life of Surprises: The Best of Prefab Sprout)
I came into the Paddy McAloon Appreciation Society pretty late – they barely had a US record deal anymore by that time – but I’ve done my best to spread the gospel of Prefab Sprout since then. I’m also very proud to own a personalized autographed copy of Jordan: the Comeback.
“Surprise Me Again,” Haircut 100 (Pelican West)
It’s a shame you only ever hear “Love plus One” from this album. Well, okay, sometimes you hear “Boy Meets Girl” if you’re watching VH-1 Classic…but, still, you almost never hear this song.
“Surprise,” The Waltons (Cock’s Crow)
When you work in a record store, you get promos of CDs by bands you’ve never heard of. Sometimes, you put them in the player and wish you hadn’t. In the case of the Waltons’ Cock’s Crow, however, you immediately check to make sure you haven’t found a lost Finn Brothers album. That’s a good thing, by the way.
“Surprise Surprise,” The Rolling Stones (The Rolling Stones Now!)
In the days of 45s, it would’ve been referred to as the B-side to “Street Fighting Man,” but now it’s just another album track. Sigh.
“Surprise Surprise,” X (See How We Are)
In another classic case of my discovering a band late, I fell in love with these guys when they released this album…which was right before they went on an extended hiatus. D’oh.
“Taken by Surprise,” The Outfield (Voices of Babylon)
This was an album that found the Outfield really maturing as songwriters…so, of course, it bombed. Thankfully, a few years later, they switched labels and scored a brief comeback with the hit “For You.”
“I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You,” Act (Laughter, Tears and Rage)
Fans of musicals (or really diehard Madonna fans) will recognize this song as coming from “Evita.” This slightly gothic version was sung by Claudia Brucken, who used to front the synth-band Propaganda.
“Surprise,” Semisonic (Chemistry)
Okay, Q Magazine might’ve overshot the mark considerably by declaring this to be a five-star album, but it surely deserved to sell more copies than it did. How depressing that the band has never released another album.
“Surprise,” James (Millionaires)
This, however, was absolutely a five-star album – and arguably the best album in the band’s catalog – yet it never saw Stateside release. “Kids,” some record exec no doubt said, “I’m just not hearing another ‘Laid.’” The bastard.
“Big Surprise,” The Mighty Lemon Drops (Sound…)
It was Spin Magazine’s complete and total trashing of this great pop-rock album that conclusively determined for me that Spin’s writers were a bunch of pretentious sons of bitches who only love you ‘til you’re not the current trend anymore.
“Shanghai Surprise,” George Harrison (Cloud Nine)
It’s not really from this album; it’s just a bonus track. I don’t suppose it would help sell it if I told you it was at least ten times better than the Madonna/Sean Penn film flop from which it originated. No? How about twenty times better? Yeah, you’re right, the movie was pretty bad…so let’s just say it’s a really good George Harrison song and leave it at that.
“The Big Surprise,” The Elms (The Big Surprise)
A lot of people get scared off by the description of these guys as a Christian band, but, hey, with hooks like these, the occasional religious references within the lyrics are a small price to pay.
“Goodbye Surprise,” The Turtles (Solid Zinc: The Turtles Anthology)
If all you know from the Turtles is pop numbers like “Happy Together” and “Eleanor,” this song will shock the hell out of you. Honest to God, this is acid rock. Even the All Music Guide says it sounds like Uriah Heep.
“Surprise Ending,” Burt Bacharach (After the Fox)
It’s only 20 seconds long, but with that title, it’s the only way to exit this set.