Where the Bullz-Eye Staff goes all Eric Idle and assembles a list of songs with the same preposition and article, and a word on each side. Sounds like the kind of thing a linguist like Idle would appreciate, know wot I mean? Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.
“Year of the Cat,” Al Stewart (Year of the Cat)
I have an unusual fondness for Al Stewart’s Greatest Hits, playing various tracks from it roughly once a week. Is it his wordplay? After all, when was the last time someone sang about strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime? Is it the transition from Spanish guitar to electric guitar to saxophone? Is it Stewart’s reedy, Neil Tennant-style tenor? All of the above, I suppose. Pity no one writes ‘em like this anymore.
“Time of the Season,” The Zombies (Odessey and Oracle)
Recorded in 1967, a hit in 1969. Funny to think a song this awesome needed more than five minutes to become a worldwide smash. “What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?” Rod Argent: the original gangsta.
“Way of the World,” Cheap Trick (Dream Police)
All had not quite yet gone to hell in a hand basket for Rockford’s finest when it released this thankfully string-free rocker. Seriously, you think Jeff Lynne overloaded his songs with strings? Listen to “Dream Police” again. It’s drowning in strings, not waving.
“End of the World,” Pet Shop Boys (Behavior)
File under: criminally overlooked. It may not have notched a single higher than #62 on the Hot 100, but this is the Pet Shop Boys’ best album. Our apologies to the Waltons, who also have a song bearing this title, but ending the world twice felt like more than enough.
“King of the Mountain,” Kate Bush (Aerial)
Please, Kate, don’t take another 13 years to make your next record. And when you do make that record, please don’t sing about your washing machine. Songs about Elvis, like this one, will do just fine, thank you.
“Heart of the Band,” They Might Be Giants (Here Come the 123s)
If you have young children, you owe it to both them and yourself to buy They Might Be Giants’ children’s albums post haste. This is a bonus track, not about numbers but drummers, and how without them, the song feels like it’s standing stiiiiiillllll. Couldn’t agree more.
“Start of the Breakdown,” Tears for Fears (The Hurting)
Before the decided to shout, shout, let it all out, Tears for Fears were hurting, badly. Actually, the band’s debut is a mope-pop classic, emphasis on mope.
“MOR,” Blur (Blur)
Don’t let the title fool you: it’s radio shorthand for “middle of the road,” though if you’re David Bowie, your nickname for this song is likely “Blur Keeps Swinging” (it borrows quite a bit from Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”). Yes, there is a Pretenders song that has the same title without the shorthand, but there is a perfectly valid reason why it was not included here: my wife hates the Pretenders. Sorry, Chrissie.
“Rhythm of the Real Thing,” Kirsty MacColl
(From Croydon to Cuba, An Anthology)
Here’s a fascinating piece of musical history that was nearly lost forever. MacColl made an experimental dance record in the early ‘80s, and before she could finish the record, the label dropped her. The album, tentatively titled Real, was never released, though this appeared as the B-side to a one-off single from the sessions called “Berlin.” Anyone looking for MacColl’s trademark sass or rootsy pop will be stunned. This track is pure electro-funk. And the song’s co-writer? Simon Climie, the singing half of the pop duo Climie Fisher who scored a hit in 1989 with “Love Changes Everything.”
“Hits of the Year,” Squeeze (Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti)
You’d never know it from the title alone, but the song is about returning home from vacation, and having your plane hijacked. Favorite line: “How many gods can there be in one sky?”
“Queen of the New Year,” Deacon Blue (Where the World Knows Your Name)
I used to describe Deacon Blue as Prefab Sprout with Paul Young singing lead, but that’s a tad misleading. For starters, Deacon Blue were always more upbeat than the Sprouts, though singer Ricky Ross did sound a hell of a lot like Paul Young. This is the fifth Top 40 hit this album notched in the UK. In the States, I’m guessing it sold roughly six copies.