Certain Songs #1519: Pete Shelley – “I Generate a Feeling”

Album: Homosapien
Year: 1981

My favorite song on the Homosapien album, and one of my favorite Pete Shelley songs period, the introvert’s anthem “I Generate a Feeling” was to me the perfect marriage of his manic voice and the synth-pop soundscapes he was generating.

Leading off with a synth whistling “hey check me out,” and featuring a drum machine seemingly set to “meander,” it seemed to me like “I Generate a Feeling” just kinda wandered around itself, never completely figuring where it wanted to end up. Which was kinda ironic for a song about getting in touch with yourself.


Certain Songs #1518: Pete Shelley – “Homosapien”

Album: Homosapien
Year: 1981

Pete Shelley had a long, interesting and pretty great career.

When he died at the end of last year, most of the focus was on his long career with the Buzzcocks, who were, if not the first British punk band to successfully yoke pure pop with loud fuzzy guitars, were most certainly the greatest, their initial run lionized forever, but their second act st

But after he died, I was reminded that the Buzzcocks were way more than Singles Going Steady — their albums were often weird and experimental, contrasting the pure pop songs with more formal sonic experiments, culminating with A Different Kind of Tension, and the wildly disparate singles that followed it.


Certain Songs #1517: Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girls”

Single, 1984

Here’s how little I know about this song: there are apparently a whole bunch of different versions of it, and the one I have on my iTunes doesn’t fit any of the lengths of the song that are listed on its Wikipedia page. And in fact, the version of “West End Girls” soundtracking the video is substantially different from the one I listened to while writing this post.

Which, I guess, is why “West End Girls” was so inescapable in the mid-1980s: they just kept re-releasing it until it wore down all resistance. Including my reflexive resistance to songs that sounded like “West End Girls.”


Certain Songs #1516: Perfect – “Better Days”

Album: Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe
Year: 2004

I think it says something about Tommy Stinson that after The Replacements splintered in the early 1990s, out the four solo careers, his was the only one under the aegis of a band, Bash & Pop. Thinking about it now, it makes sense: while Tommy probably would have been better branded under his own name, he’d spent all of his adolescence and early 20s as part of a gang; he really didn’t know anything else.

So he became the frontman of Bash & Pop, whose debut Friday Night is Killing Me turned out to be the best of all of the early post-‘mats projects, filled with exactly what you’d expect: lean rockers and barroom tearjerkers. He’d clearly been paying attention.


Certain Songs #1515: Pearl Jam – “The Fixer”

Album: Backspacer
Year: 2009

Like most bands, Pearl Jam’s output slowed up in their second decade: 2002 brought Riot Act, another album I never really connected with, and 2006 brought the much better Pearl Jam album, though it still didn’t come anywhere close to the heights they’d previously reached.

However, 2009’s Backspacer nearly did. From the cover art by the great Tom Tomorrow to the very strong lineup of songs, Backspacer was the best Pearl Jam album in over a decade, and I even got to see them on the subsequent tour.