I haven't done this for ages, and as I've just put the thing on charge, I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a spot of roulette on the iPod and see what gems or otherwise come up...
1: Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
I kind of feel I should discover Elvis a bit more, even though this is obviously one of his songs that every generation seems to know automatically, as if it gets in via the amniotic fluid. His vocals don't sound as raging and dramatic as this on much of the other stuff I know, even though I only know a small percentage. It's still dead exciting.
2: Just Like A Man - Del Amitri
This is such a sad, enlightening song about pride coming before reality in the mind of a man whose partner is making a public fool of him. Del Amitri got unwarranted stick in their day, but I thought as songwriters they were exceptional. Of the five random songs listed here, this is easily my favourite.
3: Nightswimming - REM
The first RSL I did, I took the nightshift slot and, in my naivety, called it Nightswimming, even manipulating this song's instrumental section to make a theme tune. Yes, I know, I know. I love titbits about songs and their construction - according to Peter Buck's notes on The Best Of REM, this was the only song they ever wrote where the musicians had to put something to Stipe's words, rather than Stipe taking tapes away and putting lyrics to them. The opening cello aside still confuses me, as if they left it in by accident and then realised it sounded quite good. And, frankly, anyone who can write a song about skinnydipping and not make it sound criminal, perverted or gross deserves plaudits.
4: Betcha By Golly Wow - Stylistics
I didn't really know this until Prince did that identikit (or should that be identik-hit, ho ho - thanks Simon) version in 1996, but I do love the song. Back in the 70s, the Stylistics and their contemporaries (Detroit Spinners, O'Jays etc) were always advertised in newspapers as a "coloured vocal group". Thank goodness we've moved on. The Stylistics fascinate me; I don't think any of the plethora of 70s soul vocal bands could reach notes as high as they.
5: You Surround Me - Erasure
Conversely, I think this contains the lowest note Andy Bell has ever sung - the second line "you've got your fingers on the pulse of my soul" and the corresponding line on the second verse really drag his voice down. I have never been obsessed with Erasure but I've always liked them and I own their first three albums. This isn't the strongest song they ever did - and it got released ahead of Blue Savannah, which remains surprising, but it's perfectly fine.