It’s Mr. This and Mr. That on this week’s Mix Disc. Well, okay, actually, neither of those gentlemen make appearances…and as long as we’re owning up to who’s missing, we should admit that scheduling conflicts resulted in the necessary nixing of planned cameos by Mr. Jones, Mr. Big Stuff, and Mr. Roboto. Still, as Misters go, we like to think we’ve got a pretty solid cast of characters.
“Mr. Bellamy,” Paul McCartney
(Memory Almost Full)
On this record, our man Macca finally remembered that, in addition to sounding like the Beatles, it’s also okay to sound like Wings once in awhile. As it happens, though, this is a nice blending of the two sounds, with one of the more unique arrangements he’s come up with in quite some time.
“Mr. Telephone Man,” New Edition (New Edition)
When you go back and listen to this song and hear the sad story of a young girl hanging up on a would-be suitor who’s totally in denial about getting blown off (“I told her something must be wrong with my phone / ‘Cause my baby wouldn’t hang up on me”), you’ll probably understand a little better why Bobby Brown became the man he did.
“Mr. Wrong,” Cracker (Cracker)
David Lowery’s one of those guys with such an instantly recognizable voice that I tend to enjoy just about anything he does, but of his post-Camper work with Cracker, I have to say that I’ll probably always be the most partial to their self-titled album.
“Mr. Bad Example,” Warren Zevon (Mr. Bad Example)
Anyone who’s read Crystal Zevon’s biography of her ex-husband knows that the title of this song is a pretty damned accurate nickname for him. Kids, if you do the exact opposite of everything Warren Zevon did, you might not end up as a cult hero to singer-songwriters around the world, but you’ll probably live longer.
“Mr. Vain,” Culture Beat (Serenity)
I’m not sure if it’s that I’m an awful dancer or if it’s simply that my lack of confidence in my ability to dance destroys my chances before I ever set foot on the floor. Either way, though, I still enjoy a good dance song, and although there’s not much to this track beyond the keyboard hook, that’s enough to earn it permanent residence on my iPod.
“Mr. W,” Ookla the Mok (Oh Okay LA)
Three reasons why you should love these guys: 1) they named their band after a character from “Thundarr the Barbarian,” 2) they released a rock opera about monkeys (Smell No Evil), and 3) they wrote this song about the prospect of the U.S.S. Enterprise being commanded by the ship’s resident Klingon.
“Mr. Spaceman,” The Byrds (Fifth Dimension)
Speaking of songs that’ll make you laugh, this is about as goofy a song as the Byrds ever recorded, with Roger McGuinn offering up a tale of a man – possibly stoned but definitely drunk (there’s a reference to the guy having “flies in my beer”) – being visited by aliens. The unasked question: was there anal probing? Man, I hope there wasn’t anal probing.
“Mr. Pessimist,” Tears for Fears (Elemental)
As much as I like Curt Smith, I’ve never understood why a lot of people dismiss the first album Roland Orzabal did under the Tears for Fears moniker without Smith. It might not sound quite like the albums that preceded it, but it’s still a solid record.
“Mr. Plain,” Nick Heyward
(From Monday to Sunday)
After fumbling through the early years of his solo career, the former Haircut 100 frontman finally gets it completely right after going back and listening to his Beatles albums.
“Mr. Obsession,” The Beautiful South
(“One Last Love Song” CD single)
I generally don’t include non-album tracks on these mix discs, but I’m making an exception here. If you’re one of the people who followed Paul Heaton over to the Beautiful South but thought, “Yeah, but it doesn’t sound much like the Housemartins,” this is what you’ve been waiting for.
“Mr. Blue,” Charlie Chesterman (Studebakersfield)
The former frontman for Scruffy the Cat has done plenty of solo albums, generally more Americana-influenced than that band’s sound, but this track walks the line between the two, which is probably why it’s one of my favorites.
“Mr. Webster,” The Monkees (Headquarters)
A vaguely creepy song from an album considered to be the definitive Prefab Four recording because it was the first to have been written and performed by Messrs. Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith. To each their own. It’s not bad, but it’s not my favorite.
“Mr. Disco,” New Order (Technique)
As the first post-Substance album, New Order’s Technique had a lot to live up to. Suddenly, everyone even slightly tuned into the alternative music scene was aware of the band’s back history, and now they had to show that they were still capable of producing music that good. With songs like “Fine Time,” “Round & Round,” “Run,” and this track (among others), I always felt as though they succeeded quite well.
“Mr. Pleasant,” The Mission UK (Grains of Sand)
I’ve no idea what inspired Wayne Hussey to tackle this Kinks track, but the result is so unlike their normal sound that I applaud him for doing so. I’ve still never heard the original version of this song, but that doesn’t stop me from giggling whenever I hear The Mission getting their oompah on.