Friday, January 29, 2010

The "Taste My Mixes" Experiment

Last May, I started writing something called "The 'Taste My Mixes' Experiment," which was this thing I was planning on posting here over time..

I had planned on listening through a bunch of old mixtapes I made during the late-90's and early-00's, writing up track-by-track reviews as I was listening, and then rating them as stand-alone pieces of work. I tried my best to not make it entirely personal and related to my own nostalgia, but knowing me, that ended up happening anyway.. although I did try my best to remove myself from personal experience, and simply use my current opinions to review the mixes I once loved.

I got through 4 tapes and 1 side of a 5th tape before getting bored and abandoning the whole thing.

I just went back and had a lot of fun reading through this, so I guess I'll post this here.. Only read this if you're really, really bored.....

The “Taste My Mixes” Experiment

The rough and spontaneously determined hypothesis of this meager experiment has mostly to do with my own psyche upon reviewing music and trying my best to not let personal nostalgia skew my assessment of media experienced during my formative years. I want to see if it’s possible for me to accurately rate mixtapes from my own personal collection without resorting to a skewed nostalgic viewpoint.

Something About How I've Made Lots Of Mixtapes
The first mixtape I remember calling my own was recorded on the b-side of one of those Disney Read-Along cassettes. (“You’ll know it’s time to turn the page when you hear the chimes ring, like this...”) The b-side of these cassettes were usually blank. 5 songs were thrown on from 45’s that were given to me from my parents such as “Tears Of A Clown” and “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses),” recorded when I was 3 or 4 years old. However, I’m pretty sure my dad recorded this for me, so technically this wasn’t the first mixtape I ever made, but it still was pretty much “my first mixtape.” I have no recollection what the first mix I ever made myself might have been, but by the time I was 9, I was spending a lot of time throwing these things together. Between the early 80’s and 2005, the number of mixtapes I've made has reached into the hundreds. Since 2005, I’m pretty sure all of the mixes I’ve personally compiled were on compact disc.

This dude Rob Shefield who writes for Rolling Stone put out a book a year or 2 ago called “Love Is A Mixtape.” I bought this book a few months after it came out, read the first 2 chapters, and never got any farther. I had planned on finishing it, but I wasn’t in the mode of wanting to read at the time. A year or so later, my girl roommate borrowed it without asking me and finished it, and brought it to class with her where it was borrowed by the girl she shared a locker with. So now I have no idea where this book is located, and I’ll probably never see it again. I’m assuming that this book is decent based on my enjoyment of the small amount I got to experience.

So I’m doing something similar to that concept. Since I’ve always been a big fan of compiling and listening to mixes. I figured that the reviewing and analysis of these mixes is something I can probably write about forever, and this blog needs content, so why not... Analog tapes are an interesting case because they allow far more imperfections, such as noises in between the songs, and hiss and wear..

I’m going to try my best to not let nostalgia get in the way of objectively reviewing and analyzing. Of course, remembering why certain noises happen, or why certain songs were chosen, will help a lot with understanding full context, so nostalgia has no other choice but to be included in some regard. I’m gonna try my best to not let it slip in more than 10% of the time.

So here’s the mixes I’ll be focusing on for this analysis...

Starting around April 1997, I unintentionally started a collection of mixes that focused on new music. I enjoyed how the first ones sounded, and so I made some sequels. By the time Spring 2000 came around I was probably somewhere around volume 8 or 9. They were kind of a personal NOW series. In 2001, I started a CD version with the same concept and ended up with about 7 volumes over the course of 3 years. And finally in Spring 2004, I tried bringing back the tapes one last time. After this point, CD burning and eventually iPods became far more convenient.

Part of the original purpose of these mixtapes was because I was considering DJ’ing parties to try and make extra cash, and I did get a few jobs where I actually got to use these tapes, but mostly they were used for passing the time while driving.

These tapes were never finished all in one sitting. The idea was to wait until a group of recent songs arrived that caught my attention and then they would be added slowly over the course of a month or 2.. and were able to be pieced together using various forms of analog media.. I learned as time went on to always record MTV in SP mode so that the sound quality was listenable..

C.A. Volume 0.5, April 1997

C.A. is short for "Cool Ass," which is without a doubt the worst name for a mixtape in the history of humanity.

-Side One-

Press play.. The first draft of this collection begins with a few songs pulled from a VHS of daytime MTV, taped mostly during April break 1997. [This VHS tape now no longer exists, as it was erased with a collection of short videotaping experiments that my friends and I liked to pretend were sketch comedy.]

1. Savage Garden “I Want You”
Worn out hiss noises slowly reveal a medium tempo breakbeat rhythm.. This wasn’t a mixtape I came back to very often after April 1997, and I think this is partially because it starts with Savage Garden’s breakthrough single. Upon just turning 17, I must have been a victim of gimmicks more often than I thought, and people I knew thought “chicka cherry-cola” was funny, so I decided I’d rather be in on the joke. When I first heard this, I immediately heard it as a rip-off of the A.M. 70’s Gold fixture “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me),” which is an annoying, shitty song that I would rather never hear again. When “I Want You” reaches the 2/3’s point, a KRS-One sample arrives out of nowhere, repeats for 8-bars, and is then immediately segued into the song’s final chorus. I didn’t enjoy having to hear this again.

2. Blur “Song 2”
Short bits and song fragments follow.. and.. oh my god it’s BLUR!

“Song 2” is just as repetitive as “I Want You,” but at least it’s only 2 minutes, and it contains a classic guitar riff, and it’s catchy and has a fucking awesome distorted-crunch-bass sound. I’ve played in 3 bands that have covered this song. It’s a neat package, and it both does and does not sound like Blur. This is one of the most overplayed songs in the history of modern rock radio, a fact of reality that simply does not matter to me. I may never get tired of this song.

3. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “The Impression That I Get”
The segues between the end of “Song 2” into the beginning of “Impression” is one that has occasionally gotten stuck in my head ever since. I was never a huge fan of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but I did consider “Impression” a great single. Today, it’s a guilty pleasure. Tomorrow, I might hate it.

The next four songs were copied from CD’s. My dad owned the Wallflowers album and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “One Hot Minute” LP. I was confused enough at the time to purchase 311’s self-titled and Sublime’s self-titled.. which possibly may have been bought on the same day.. most likely at the Lechmere on Route 1 in Milford, CT. I misguidedly bought the 311 album because of “All Mixed Up.”

Okay, see this is already turning into nostalgia fest.. This is not what I wanted to write about.. Am I going to have no other choice but to use nostalgia as a crutch to justify shitty song choices? Or as an excuse for misguided song selection? Okay.. I’ve decided that from this point forward, I’ll continue to do this when necessary, but I’ll be enclosing all personal nostalgic references in [brackets]. I also just went back and put brackets around anything in the first few paragraphs that was also related to nostalgia. Okay, moving on..

4. The Wallflowers “One Headlight”
“One Headlight” is almost good, except it goes on for too long. The production is too “perfect,” in the most dated 90’s sense of “perfect” imaginable. It should be played a little faster and that extra 3rd verse doesn’t help matters. That line about “Me and Cinderella..” is cringe-city.

5. 311 “All Mixed Up”
I shouldn’t need to explain this, but “All Mixed Up” is a pile of shit. I just listened to it all the way through, and the only way I can really justify my enjoyment once upon a time, is to consider that 311 and Sublime’s shitty hybrid styles were relatively new to commercial radio. It wasn’t until 3 years later that I first heard “Mirror In The Bathroom” by The English Beat and understood the correct way this hybrid was supposed to sound.

6. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Pea”
I forgot how awesome “Pea” sounds.. all spacey and sad and angry.. It’s pretty much just Flea singing off-key falsetto accompanied by slow acoustic bass notes. The vocals themselves are reminding me of the first time I heard “Prototype” by Andre 3000. I’m cracking up out of surprise. Flea sounds really upset about something. Toward the end, the first line of the coda is “fuck you asshole, you homophobic redneck dick..” I don’t know if I would enjoy this upon repeated listens as much, but this one really caught my attention.

7. Sublime “What I Got”
“What I Got” is sadly annoying due to Sublime fans themselves. It’s a pretty great song, but it’s difficult for me to hear this without thinking about fucking drunk assholes singing along to it while watching Monday Night Football. However, before this context arrived, the singles from Sublime’s self-titled were far more tolerable.

7.1 Local H “Fritz’s Corner” (fragment)
7.2 Bush “Little Things” (fragment)
7.3 Monty Python “Mary Queen Of Scotts”

Between “What I Got” and “The New Pollution” are a few second-long bits and fragments taped off the radio while I tried to find any cool songs. The first one of these bits is Scott Lucas singing “There’s nothing much left for me to do, and that includes you...” and then it gets cut off. I now recognize this as taken from Local H’s “Fritz’s Corner,” a brilliant 90’s rock song that I wouldn’t know until years later. Had I known better, I would have left the tape running. The very beginning of Bush’s “Little Things” is played while a female DJ (I think it’s that chick Danni who used to do night shifts on K-Rock) promotes a Fun Lovin’ Criminals show, who were opening for someone, but the clip gets cut off before I have a chance to hear who. And since I was such a nerd, I let the tape run while WPLR played Monty Python’s “Mary Queen Of Scotts” routine. I’d like to call this side-splitting hilarity.. Believe me, I really would...

8. Beck “The New Pollution”
[This was taped off Hartford’s Radio104, which I only know now because the first few seconds of a Radio104 bumper jump out at the song’s close. As much as I loved this song and “Where It’s At,” I didn’t really need to buy this album until after I saw the “Jack-Ass” video a few months later.] God, the drumloop of this song is so sick. If I ever start doing that alt-rock-dance-night DJ thing that I told myself I was gonna do 6 years ago, I will probably play this song every night.

8.1 Local H “Bound For The Floor” (incomplete)
This is probably the best song on this entire tape so far, and unfortunately I only caught the last 60 seconds. [I had only recently been convinced that Local H might be something worth checking out, after being unimpressed by my first experience of this band, opening for STP in New Haven 5 months earlier. I would later learn that Local H is best experienced in clubs and not in a coliseum. It now makes far more sense to me why, at this show, Scott and Joe entered the stage to the intro of Pink Floyd’s “Money.”] At the song’s close, it’s another one of those shitty radio bumpers.. But not for a modern rock station I guess.. This baritone voice dude says “don’t let it get too soft,” referring to how “you’re” listening to a “hard rock” station.. This is followed by the intro of Rick Derrenger’s “Rock And Roll Hoocheekoo.” My mind has officially been fucked for the day at the idea that any radio station would ever consider playing these 2 songs back-to-back.

9. What the fuck is this horseshit?
Extra reverb on the guitar.. singing like Stevie Ray Vaughn, but there’s also distortion on the rhythm.. 70’s blues throwback bullshit.. I can’t take this.. fast forward..

10. Pink Floyd “High Hopes”
Oh just fucking great, it’s “High Hopes” from Pink Floyd, which wouldn’t be that bad except.. of course, it’s ALL SEVEN MINUTES OF IT... Obviously this must be New Haven’s WPLR because they were probably the only station left in the country who was still playing “High Hopes” in the Spring of 1997. It’s not like this is bad song.. The guitar solo at the end is actually pretty moving. However, 1994’s The Division Bell was clearly not Pink Floyd’s best moment. (The only really great song on this album is “What Do You Want From Me..” while “High Hopes” is a distant second place.) This is Floyd badly doing an impression of themselves. No wait.. Even worse.. This is Floyd doing an impression of Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity,” which makes this an impression of an impression of themselves. Maybe they were trying to be post-modern..

After the merciful fadeout, it’s revealed that this station is not WPLR, but rather 103.9 WRCN, which is the same station that earlier segue’d Local H into Rick Derrenger. Mister DJ reveals that the steaming shitpile heard as the 9th song on this mix is “Magnolia” by The Screaming Cheetah Wheelies.. I’m at least happy to discover that this terrible music is accompanied by one of the very worst band names I’ve ever heard I my life.

11. Live “Lakini’s Juice”
Oh God no... Anything but Live... and to make matters worse, it’s Live doing the worst Helmet impression of all time.. I remember seeing these assholes in an MTV News interview being all like “yeah, we went out to this old house in the woods and we thought we were gonna come out with a really quiet record, but it’s actually some of the loudest music we’ve done so far..” Yeah, that’s all tremendous.. So then WHY did you decide on “Turn My Head” for your follow-up single??? Which is one of the wussiest pieces of shit that’s ever been played on a rock station?

12. The Police “Voices Inside My Head”
I think this must still be the same 103.9 station as before, since the transition just went from Live into The Police, which seems in sync with the previous few songs. At least it’s an obscure Police album-track.. This song is way trippy. Okay, the wear at the end of the tape is giving way, and.. it’s over. At least it ended with a good song.

-Side Two-

Press “play...” There’s some silence.. okay POTUSA is on, but the sound quality is terrible..

[“Mach 5” was dubbed from an episode of 120 Minutes I had taped in January. It was taped in EP speed, so the sound quality is quite shitty. “Hell” and “Monkey Wrench” were from the same VHS as the first 3 songs on Side One, and must have been aquired a few weeks after those, or else they all would have been in one big group at the beginning of Side One. Mr. Rogers was most likely taped live off the TV and not dubbed from a VHS tape.]

1. Presidents Of The United States Of America “Mach 5”
A lot of people really hate the Presidents, but I don’t. Okay, actually I heard the album they put out in 2008, and it was pretty damn boring.. But their 1995 self-titled album has at least 6 really great songs. (No, really! “Boll Weevil..” “Back Porch..” These songs are so fun. I dig.) The only song I know from the sophomore release is the single “Mach 5,” which is totally fun party music. This song is catchy as shit. It definitely could have been a bigger single. Their label fucked up.

2. Squirrel Nut Zippers “Hell”
I haven’t listened to “Hell” in 2 or 3 years. Damn, I used to fucking LOVE this. Yeah, this is more party music. I dig this shit. I am not ashamed to be a fan of this song, and how unfortunate that the shitty ska bands and neo-swing vomit came along and gave weirdo bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers a bad name. I can’t believe “Hell” was ever played on MTV. Somehow the wear on the magnetic tape I’m listening to is actually increasing the production value of this song.. Wow, what an ending.. They’re all screaming so fucking loud! Brilliant single. I am not even remotely embarrassed to have once loved this song. Fuck the haters.

[Crazy nostalgia trip has just been triggered.] The end of “Hell” fades into the intro of “MMMBop” .. which is a totally bizarre, mindblowing transition.. but if I’m remembering correctly, both videos at the time came accompanied with the “Buzz Clips” tag, so I guess it sorta makes sense.. Only about 1.5 seconds of “MMMBop” actually made it onto this tape before an abrupt fadeout (Luckily, I did have access to a tape deck with a recording-volume knob), but it was enough to remind me of the high presence this song had in my life during the late 90’s.. It’s a very difficult song for me to rate, because 12 years later, I’m still not sure whether its makes it a nauseating annoyance or if its brilliance ranks up with the finest moments of The Jackson Five. Apparently, The Dust Brothers thought the latter, since it was pretty much their fault that Hanson’s success was ever feasible.

2.1. Mr. Rogers “It’s Such A Good Feeling”
Wow, Mister Rogers! What’s he doing on here? Damn, dude.. I have so much respect for that piano player dude on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.. I seriously wanna buy his greatest hits album. (I’m sure he has one somewhere..)

3. Foo Fighters “Monkey Wrench”
I hear some clicking.. Okay, the silly “elevator music” version of “Big Me” has revealed that in a few seconds I’m going to hear “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters. I’m guessing I left that in because I thought it was funny. It’s kinda not funny at all, but whatever. I’ll take “Monkey Wrench.” It’s not as good as the first album, but nothing they did afterward was, except for “Everlong.” Good screaming from Grohl towards the end.. I miss when good rock bands used to really scream.. (I said “good,” so “screamo” don’t count..)

Okay.. weird.. The outro of “Monkey Wrench” ALSO fades into the intro of “MMMBop.” MTV was really pushing Hanson in April 1997.

4. The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends” (incomplete)
5. The Beatles “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
6. The Beatles “A Day In The Life”
7. The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”
8. The Beatles “I Am The Walrus”

At this point, it’s revealed that this whole time I had been taping over a completely useless mix I probably made during 9th or 10th grade out of my Beatles CD’s with the same track order as “1967-1970,” also known as “The Blue Album.” If this actually had been “1967-1970,” the intro of “A Day In The Life” would have started with acoustic guitar and not audience noise, which is the version I prefer. However, that version is not to be found here.

This particular handful of songs gets me thinking about George Martin, who is really the shining star of this set, particularly “I Am The Walrus.” He gets a lot of credit for “Strawberry Fields” and “A Day In The Life,” but the production on “I Am The Walrus” is outstandingly underrated. The lyrics are complete nonsense, in the best possible way, but besides that, the songwriting is not John’s best work. However, George Martin’s mindfuck production is so insanely brilliant that it actually fools the listener into thinking that it’s 90% John’s songwriting that makes “I Am The Walrus” so unique, when it’s really about 40% songwriting and 60% production. (The drum sound on this song is particularly fucking killer.)

I love Paul’s bass on these songs too, especially the chorus of “Lucy In The Sky.” Lately, that’s been an element that I’ve been totally in love with, which hadn’t really occurred to me before.. Paul’s bass fills on Revolver and Sgt Pepper’s specifically are so insanely inventive, that there’s pretty much no way he wasn’t tripping on acid while recording them (or at least smokin’ leaf). Okay, I’m done with the Beatles-nerd-fest... Sorry about that..

8.1. Sublime “What I Got (Reprise)” (incomplete)
9. Jewel “You Were Meant For me”

After the “sit you down father, rest you” fade-out of “I Am The Walrus,” I continued taping more songs off the radio. There’s about 20 seconds of sounds of very fast radio dial turning. Eventually, the dial lands on a station that just happened to play the intro of “What I Got (Reprise),” just as Brad’s about to sing “Early in the morning..” I guess that was kinda neat.. but not really. The song continues for about 30 seconds, before abruptly leading into the intro of “You Were Meant For Me.”

I guess this song is good.. However, some of the lyrics from “You Were Meant For Me” are just awful.. “I got my eggs and pancakes too, I got maple syrup, everything but you.” Well jeez, I like breakfast too, but um.. yeah.. “Put on my PJ’s and hop into bed...” PJ’s?? That’s the best you could think of? Yuck. I do enjoy the acoustic guitar part and the vocal melody, and she sings the song well, and I don’t mind the lyrics in the chorus either, but those verses are just embarrassing.

The outro fades out and the drum intro of “I’ll Stick Around” starts attacking, but is stopped before any guitar enters.

10. Sublime “Santeria”
10.1 Sublime “Seed” (incomplete)
11. Bush “X-Girlfriend”
12. The Simpsons “Monorail”
13. The Simpsons “Play It Cool”
14. The Simpsons “Planet Of The Apes” musical thing

Sublime again? This one’s taken off the CD, so “45” and “punkass” are uncensored. Another great Sublime single unfortunately ruined by drunk assholes. This leads into the first 45 seconds of “Seed.” This song also ends abruptly, and then “X-Girlfriend” starts playing.. I’m not sure why I would have thrown this in, except that I always liked short songs. That’s really the only reason why I can think that this would have been included.

[One of the nerdiest moments of my life was entering Lechmere in Milford and getting loudly giddy and excited over seeing a display advertising a CD that had songs taken from The Simpsons. Of course, I bought it immediately when I saw it. I was essentially the nerdy loser audience they were targeting. I had a face full of exploding acne. And I fell right into their trap. It’s not completely my fault though.. I mean, for several years, The Simpsons WAS the funniest show on TV.. Less than a year after this CD was released was when the show slowly started becoming a parody of itself, and I became fed up with it after watching a clip show episode which aired during January 1998.. (I just looked up the date.) and since then I’ve probably seen between 10 and 12 new episodes, after watching weekly from 1989 until 1997.]

14.1 The Beatles “Hey Jude” (incomplete)
After the quick Simpsons medley, it goes back into “1967-1970” which was being taped over.. It’s probably the middle 2 minutes of the song. The tape cuts off here, in the middle of the “nana na na, Hey Jude..” things..

-Final Grade-
I give this mix a D+, which numerically equates to 6.7 out of 10, or a grade of 67%. It’s not my best work, but it was part of the learning process. And this mix actually turned out to be a good thing for me, because I remember telling myself that I hated it, and that I wanted to try again at making a new music party mix. And so that’s what I ended up doing.

C.A. Volume 1, May 1997

[So after I considered that last mix a massive failure, I started a new tape which ended up beginning this particular series where I would slowly add a few more new songs every week until eventually, after 3 or 4 weeks passed, a stronger collection of songs was
pieced together.]

-Side One-

1. Blur “Song 2”
2. The Offspring “Gone Away”
3. Squirrel Nut Zippers “Hell”
4. The Presidents Of The United States Of America “Mach 5”
5. Sublime “Santeria”
6. 311 “All Mixed Up”
7. Foo Fighters “Monkey Wrench”
8. Beck “The New Pollution”

The first half of side one are mostly songs that were also on the previous tape, and dubbed from the same sources. (“New Pollution” was dubbed from the previous mix directly.) “Gone Away” was dubbed from the same VHS of MTV that included “Song 2,” “Hell,” and “Monkey Wrench.” For years afterward, I considered “Gone Away” to be a very poor choice as the second song on side one, pretty much because it’s long and repetitive. But in retrospect, it’s definitely not Offspring’s worst song.. Not by a long shot. I would actually prefer they started doing more Bad Religion ripoffs like “Gone Away” instead of the faggy “comedy music” that they started releasing after the Americana LP.

“Monkey Wrench” once again includes the elevator music version of “Big Me.” Also, both “Monkey Wrench” and “Hell” still have the intro of “MMMBop” during their fadeouts. “New Pollution” still has the Radio104 bumper during its fadeout.

9. Bush “Swallowed”
10. Cake “The Distance”
11. Busta Rhymes “Woo-Haa! I Got You All In Check”
12. Soundgarden “Burden In My Hand”
13. Stone Temple Pilots “Big Bang Baby”

The second half of side one are all singles released during 1996. “Swallowed” and “The Distance” were dubbed from the same episode of 120 Minutes where I found “Mach 5.” These are both songs I didn’t like when they first came out. I’ve only genuinely come around to “Swallowed” over the past 3 or 4 years. “Swallowed” is a great song. There, I said it. Fuck you for not agreeing with me. As far as I can tell, “The Distance” is Cake’s best song, which really is not saying a whole lot. Cake is generally annoying. There, I said it.

“Woo-Haa!” is the only hiphop on this mix. Busta, “Burden” and “Big Bang” were all taken from a VHS of MTV’s top 100 videos of 1996. I’d go into this further, but I really have nothing interesting to say about any of them, except that all 3 are tremendous for very different reasons.

14. Dave Matthews Band “So Much To Say” (incomplete)
After “Big Bang Baby,” a section from the middle of “So Much To Say” starts playing for about 90 seconds, the tape wear starts to give way, and Side One abruptly ends. There are probably 5 or 6 Dave Matthews songs that don’t make me want to punch babies, and this is one of those. I’d be a lot more upset if I had to hear the whole song, so I’ll consider this one of the few cases where DMB didn’t completely bum me out.

Overall, the first half is a vast improvement from the previous tape. Let’s see if we can keep up the momentum for Side Two... Turn tape over...

-Side Two-

Press play...

1. Bush “Greedy Fly”
This was definitely taped off the radio, and mostly likely the same station where Dave Matthews was pulled, because they’re both recorded very loudly.. almost to the point of distortion. But at least it sounds clear. I think this was from WPLR. It has been determined that I am in the minority of those who believe that Bush released exactly seven brilliant consecutive rock singles, starting with “Everything Zen” and concluding with “Greedy Fly,” and then never again had a single good song afterward. [I actually remember the moment when I first decided that I really liked “Greedy Fly,” which was during Bush’s set played over the air by K-Rock, who were simulcasting from Woodstock ’99.] I really like the crunch-bass sound and the way the drums were recorded, which can be attributed to production from Steve Albini. (Yeah, that’s correct.. Steve Motherfucking Albini produced Razorblade Suitcase. Talk about WTF...)

2. The Cardigans “Lovefool”
This is yet another that was dubbed from the same 120 Minutes tape that “Mach 5,” “Swallowed,” and “The Distance” were pulled from.. which means that I probably taped everything from “Swallowed” up until this song in the same night.. this seems very correct. The sound quality on this song is especially fucked, and it kinda makes no sense to me why I didn’t try and redub this song later from CD format, since later on Side Two of this very tape there are 2 more songs taken from the same album.. this wouldn’t have been all that difficult to do..

An interesting aspect of my personal experience with “Lovefool” is that between approximately 2000 and 2006, it was a song that I considered to be one of the 10 or 20 greatest songs ever recorded. At this point, I have no idea really why.. It’s a great song, no doubt, but I think my perception of what constitutes tremendous pop craftsmanship definitely changed somewhere around 2006 or 2007 when I became obsessed with obscure 60’s singles. Yeah, anyway.. Great song.

3. Jamiroquai “Virtual Insanity”
4. Savage Garden “I Want You”
5. No Doubt “Don’t Speak”

I’m not pleased with Savage Garden showing up here again.. “Don’t Speak” was totally ubiquitous at the time, and was not necessary.. However, the inclusion of these 3 songs does make sense seeing as how the original purpose of this tape was “party music..” and there was at least one case when I did play these three songs in a row from this very tape at a friend’s party, which bought me enough time to leave the DJ space for about 12 or 13 minutes to take a piss or whatever I might have needed to do. I didn’t hear any complaints, so whatever.. This section of the mix served its purpose.

“Virtual Insanity” was probably from a VHS of MTV, but I don’t remember which one.. Nice song. “Don’t Speak” was taken from a CD of a free music magazine that the music department of my high school received. I swiped it. Whoops.

6. The Cardigans “Losers”
7. The Cardigans “Iron Man”

I borrowed First Band On The Moon from a friend and copied these 2. I haven’t heard “Losers” in probably 6 or 7 years, and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much. The drums during the chorus kick some ass, and this song totally predicts the direction they ended up taking with 1998’s Gran Turismo (one of the most underrated albums of the 90’s).

“Iron Man” isn’t bad.. Yes, it’s a Black Sabbath cover. At the time, I liked it a lot due entirely to its novelty aspects, but between these 2 songs, “Losers” wins! (Sorry.. that was lame..)

8. White Town “Your Woman”
I had searched for a single of “Your Woman” for weeks to no avail, because I really loved this song, and I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the rest of this album.. Eventually, I broke down and paid something like 12.98 for the full length at Sam Goody.. and wouldn’t you know it, I was right.. This album contains one good song! [Total ROFTLs alert, I’m just remembering now that I thought the singer on this song was Trent Reznor and that NIN was heading in a very non-industrial direction.]

9. Sublime “Doin’ Time”
At the time, “Doin’ Time” was an album track, and was not released as a single until 4 or 5 months after this mix was taped. Loved it when I first heard it.. Today, it’s an annoyance. [I’m now going to admit something so terrible it makes me shutter with embarrassment just imagining such horrible things.. but this really did happen.. When I made my “Best of 1997” countdown mix in December 1997, “Paranoid Android” was #2. Yes, “Paranoid Android,” aka one of the great masterworks in the history of recorded music was number fucking TWO. And take a good guess what came in at #1?? Dude, I can’t even say it.. just shoot me now..]

10. Phish “Fluffhead”
I must have borrowed Junta from someone.. Yeah, I did.. I remember. “Fluffhead” is the first 3 minutes of this wussy-sounding 14 minute jam-out thing called “Fluff’s Travels,” or something.. and I liked the first 3 minutes of it, so there it is... And in all fairness, this isn’t a bad song. I like this part that goes “The banker said I ain’t got that, but I sure got some powerful pills.. whoa yeah..” I’m guessing this song is about an acid trip. Not bad.

11. Ween “The Goin’ Gets Tough From The Getgo”
[At the time, I was just coming out of a phase that had lasted roughly 15 months in which Phish was my favorite band in the whole entire world. Thank God for Ween... In 1995, I bought Pure Guava, a cassette tape which I lost in New Orleans a year later. Then I re-bought the album on CD from the BMG CD club as one of my 7 free CD’s for a penny or some shit.. Up until May 1997, I was a casual listener of this record, but right around the making of this mixtape, Pure Guava suddenly turned into some best-shit-I’ve-ever-heard type of thing.. If there was a single album I listened to the most during June 1997, I would say Pure Guava was probably it.. I recall mildly pissing off at least one of my friends who decided he had heard “Touch My Tooter” one too many times..]

Needless to say, “The Goin’ Gets Tough From The Getgo” is fucking amazing.. even outside of the Pure Guava context. I just took a quick look back at the tracklisting, and it’s absolutely the best song on this entire mixtape, and its inclusion justifies this mix’s existence.

11.1 John Norris at the 1992 VMA’s Pre-Show
11.2 My own voice and soundclips from “Home Alone”

The closing bassline of “The Goin’ Gets Tough” abruptly ends. “Reggaejunkyjew” normally follows, but instead there’s some awkwardly faint tape-hiss lasting about 15 seconds. The non-silence is interrupted by revealing what this tape was being dubbed over.. There’s 4 or 5 minutes left to go on Side Two, but Ween is listed as the last song.

[This was one of those tapes that had 3 or maybe even 4 sets of music/noise/talking/whatever before ending up in its final state. I think the first thing that was on this tape was “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe,” a reunion album recorded by 4 of the 5 original members of Yes sometime around 1989. I probably copied it from a CD that one of my dad’s friends let him borrow, and I never once listened to it. I don’t even think I was present in the room while it was taping.]

The next voice we hear is John Norris, presenting Prince’s “Cream” with the award for “Best Dance Video” at the 1992 MTV Awards. It was done during the pre-show, and is an underwhelmingly anti-climactic presentation. He announces that Prince will not be present to accept the award.

The last thing heard on this tape is my own voice at age 11 or 12 and placing a microphone up to my TV to record soundclips from the “Angels With Filthy Souls” segments from “Home Alone.” I was trying to set it up so that the voice on the tape would be able to answer my phone if any of my friends called. I’m shocked to hear that I don’t say anything remotely embarrassing, probably because I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. My sister can be heard laughing in the background at one point.

-Final Grade-
Definitely an improvement from the “rough draft” version. Side One is definitely stronger than Side Two, with Offspring, Sublime, 311 and Dave generating some minor “buzzkill” every here and there, but luckily all of the choices from these bands are among their least annoying songs, which helps a lot. Dave Matthews especially could have been a huge buzzkill, except only 90 seconds of his song was included.

There’s quite a few bumps on Side Two, including the poor sound quality on “Lovefool,” and the unfortunate inclusions of Savage Garden, “Don’t Speak,” and “Doin’ Time.” However, Ween closing out Side Two makes up for these minor blunders. Side One gets a solid B, Side Two gets a C+. Add those up and B- seems like a fair rating, so a solid 8.0 out of 10.0, or 80%.

Volume 2, June/July/August 1997

[I considered the mix from May ’97 a major success, mostly because it was probably the first time I had done something like that (with the exception of “The Best Of 1996,” and other annual wrap-up deals..) where 90% new music was pulled together from various sources, such as VHS tapes of MTV, borrowed CD’s from friends, etc. Historically, August 1997 was right around when mp3 files started growing in popularity, but I didn’t have high speed internet access until more than 2 years after this mix was made, so I still excitedly considered these tapes a big deal.

Because of this relative success, I decided to continue with the “90% new music” theme for a sequel. I started taping 120 Minutes every week with the best possible VHS recording quality, which over time, ended up becoming the single biggest resource for this series of mixes.]

-Side One-

1. Sugar Ray featuring Super Cat “Fly”
[My only real excuse as to why “Fly” starts out this mix is because I honestly considered it the catchiest new song from the first episode of 120 Minutes I had taped. And so for a few months, before I knew any better, I considered Sugar Ray “alternative.”] I now consider “Fly” one of the most annoying songs of the decade, as well as an unfortunate catalyst for similar sounding derivative bullshit, such as Citizen King and Sprung Monkey, who both unfortunately will be making appearances on future editions of this series.

Despite being very catchy, “Fly” massively fails due to 3 key areas: #1, the only reason this song was ever initially played on the radio was because it sounds like Sublime. #2, the lyrics are meaningless, and #3 that reggae dude Super Cat who “raps” in this song is just not fun a fun thing to have to hear while buying groceries. (Oh yeah, I heard this version of the song at the grocery store the other day. I really need to start remembering my iPod shuffle for future grocery trips...) [However, the first 30 listens didn’t suck for me. At the time, I considered singles to be good if I could remember all of the words without remotely trying, and this was one of those cases. By the time it was March 1998, the song had become overplayed to the point where it was no longer enjoyable ever again. In May 1998, I boo’d loudly at my senior prom when the DJ played this song..

Ooh, there’s some clarity.. It turns out “Fly” was actually included on this tape because I had parties to DJ over the summer and figured it would be a big hit, and I was correct in at least one case... This song somehow wasn’t nearly as shitty when it was brand fucking new, and so I stand by this decision and do not consider myself a hypocrite.]

2. The Chemical Brothers “Block Rockin’ Beats”
3. K’s Choice “Not An Addict”

“Block Rockin’ Beats” and “Not An Addict” were included moreso for my own personal enjoyment, as I figured neither of them would be big hits at parties. The sound quality is a bummer. Both were played after 120 Minutes during MTV’s normal video rotation.

“Block Rockin’ Beats” is an instant classic from a short-lived genre that produced no more truly brilliant music after the year 1999.

I had heard “Not An Addict” on K-Rock a few times and was compelled by the androgynous vocals, which I’m deciding to label as such because I incorrectly thought it was a dude singer. [In 2007, I heard Silversun Pickups for the first time which I incorrectly thought was a chick singer.. IMO, the vocalists from these 2 bands sound very similar to each other..] I gotta say, I like the blatant heroin references in this song. The ex-junkie chic thing was starting to become fashionable, which brings to mind an interesting concept.. Is it possible that heroin, albiet among the absolute worst discoveries in human existance, was the ultimate muse of modern rock radio in the 90’s? It’s almost as if right when 1998 began, the heroin disappeared, and modern rock radio immediately turned into a breeding ground for future VH1 superstars. Yeah, just a thought...

After “Not An Addict,” a tiny fragment of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” can be heard, which means I was taping over a classic rock mix that I made in 7th grade.

4. Sublime “Wrong Way”
Okay, this is starting to get pathetic.. Next up is “Wrong Way” from Sublime.. which means that between this mixtape and the previous 2, all 4 official singles from Sublime’s self-titled are represented. [For me personally, there’s a TON of nostalgic significance attaching “Wrong Way” with June and early July 1997.. but seriously, I don’t even care at this point because it became an extreme annoyance sometime between 1997 and the exact point when it entered the 5 most overplayed songs in the history of American modern rock radio (a list which I’m fairly certain is topped by “Santeria.”) Somewhere in America, this song is playing right now on someone’s stereo or being broadcast on some radio station.] The only aspects I can muster that save “Wrong Way” are the constant key changes, which take place about 9 times throughout the course of its 3 minutes. Rock singles in 2009 normally have zero key changes, so at least it’s something different. If there’s a single “dated” aspect of this song that I actually enjoy, it would be the trombone solo. That solo is the most 1997 sounding thing from any radio single that year. Sadly, ska had finally gone mainstream.

5. Radiohead “Paranoid Android”
I dubbed “Paranoid Android” from VHS before OK Computer’s release date. There’s a very quick “fade in” about 5 seconds into it. (I already made the revelation about “Doin’ Time” so now I guess I need to do this again.. Okay, here we go.. Eat shit and die. Nobody’s reading this anyway..) A sad revelation about this point in my life is that, from my ears, “Fly” and “Paranoid Android” pretty much started on equal ground. “Fly” slowly got worse as “Paranoid Android” slowly got better, ultimately reaching extreme opposite directions. As of this writing, it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve considered anything other than “Paranoid Android” as the best piece of music ever released as a commercial single. For this reason, there is pretty much no other way for me to judge its placement on this tape without considering nostalgic context. The time when I listened to this tape most often would have been during the brief time in my life when I didn’t yet consider it the Jesus of rock music. I’ll make this as quick as I can.

[This was the second Radiohead song I had ever heard, around 2:55PM right after school in the upstairs living room at my mom’s house towards the end of the last “full” week of school before finals started. It was a Buzz Clip. We received our high school yearbooks on the same day I saw this video for the first time. The next day at lunch, while passing around yearbooks, I asked friends about the new Radiohead video, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. A couple weeks later, this was one of the key videos I was searching for when I started taping 120 Minutes, and I recall being quite upset when it wasn’t on the episode that played Sugar Ray. But they did air it the following week, and it was quickly thrown onto this mixtape. A few days later, I DJ’d my mom’s friend’s son’s birthday party. People who I later became good friends with attended this party, although I didn’t know them at the time, and one of them told me years later that he remembered this song getting played. By October 1997, I was decently obsessed with Radiohead. I’ve thought many times about what it might be like to experience albums like OK Computer or The Bends for the first time all over again, but hearing this mixtape is helping me to recapture that. However, as I stated earlier, nostalgia is not the purpose of these mixtape reviews, and so I shall stop this nonsense immediately.]

Good choice for 5th song on Side Two. Excellent pacing.

6. Smashing Pumpkins “Muzzle”
I’m pretty sure “Muzzle” was the last single released to radio from Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, which took place around the same time radio and MTV were playing “Eye” and “The End Is The Beginning Is The End.” Added a week or 2 after Radiohead, “Muzzle” wouldn’t be on this tape if it were never on the radio. Smashing Pumpkins were probably the world’s biggest rock band in 1997, and they were one of the few 90’s bands who were able to have radio success with album tracks, such as “Mayonaise” and “Landslide.” However, in this case, I personally think “Love” would have been a better choice from Mellon Collie. But “Muzzle” is far from the worst of Smashing Pumpkins, and it sounds pretty awesome following “Paranoid Android.”

7. Reel Big Fish “Sell Out”
8. 311 “Transistor”

The second half of Side One is entirely dubbed from VHS, probably all added on the same afternoon during July. The set starts with two major speed bumps: “Sell Out” and “Transistor.”

Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out” is especially annoying, complete with distracting nails-on-chalkboard type lyrics typical of the late-90’s ska-punk that formulaically targeted high school and college students. Honestly, who is still going to be listening to this shit in 20 years? [I didn’t realised that I hated ska-punk until 5 or 6 years after this mix was made. In fact, both times I blindly attended Reel Big Fish concerts with friends, I considered the songs very catchy. Two that especially still stand out are “I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend” and “She Has A Girlfriend Now,” the latter of which is particularly dreadful.]

The most popular song this band ever released was probably their cover of “Take On Me,” one of the first in a string of excruciatingly annoying singles by pop-punk bands covering 80’s hits, which essentially ended up creating mini-careers for Warped Tour drivel such as New Found Glory (“Glory Of Love”), Goldfinger (“99 Luftballoons”), The Ataris (“The Boys Of Summer”), Alien Ant Farm (“Smooth Criminal”) and at least a dozen other terrible punk bands. Years later, there is actually one song by Reel Big Fish that I will accept as a decent piece of work, which is “The Set Up (You Need This),” which is only acceptible if you listen to the single edit which removes the album version’s annoyingly long intro and outro, turning the 3-minute section in the center into a surprisingly great pop song.

God, “Transistor” is terrible.. Huge mistake... I was dead fucking wrong. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure this is 311’s last ever appearance in this series, but still, the damage is done.. There’s so many great songs on Side One of this tape, and 311 pretty much killed the euphoria. Let’s move on.

The last four songs on Side One are a pretty strong close. Between “Transistor” and “Breathe,” there’s a segment from a Spanish language cover of “Hey Jude,” which quickly fades in, plays for 10 or 15 seconds, and fades out. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I must have thought it was funny.

9. Prodigy “Breathe”
“Breathe” quickly fades in with that fucking awesome synth-bass riff.. I was never sure why “Firestarter” always gets all the credit. This version is a single-edit lasting about four minutes, and it’s quickly reminding me how ubiquitous “Breathe” had actually been during the second half of 1997 despite its lack of chart success. It was one of those MTV hits that modern rock stations kept in medium rotation for about 6 months straight due to high album sales. I remember talking to people who were generally ignorant about techno and alternative music, and yet considered this a great song.. Very accessible. Techno has Marilyn Manson to thank for its brief success, which was unfortunately surpassed by ska’s success. (No fair! Techno was cooler!) Oh, and by the way, it’s called “techno..” Not “electronica..”

10. Fiona Apple “Criminal”
Fiona Apple’s Tidal owes a significant amount of its success to some fairly brilliant marketing tactics. It just wouldn’t have made sense for “Criminal” to be the first single, especially with THAT video.. “Shadowboxer” and “Sleep To Dream” are both gorgeous, and established the initial fanbase. And then “Criminal” happened, which was essentially her equivlent to Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy...” a very moving third single with a controversial video that’s difficult to forget. Both Pearl Jam and Fiona Apple went out of their way to avoid future MTV success after this happened, and maintained their rabid fanbases anyway. I love the “Strawberry Fields” keyboard patch.. I think this is one of my favorite 90’s singles overall.

11. Mansun “Wide Open Space”
At the time, “Wide Open Space” was one of my best songs of the year (which I’m assuming because it made the cut for my “Best of 1997” tape a few months later). I’m now recognizing that it sounds like Oasis sung by Jeff Buckley (in a very good way). The video version heard on this tape has this little 5-second piano-banging outro that I always liked, but it’s not found on the album version.

12. Summercamp “Drawer”
“Drawer” has aged acceptionally well, while remaining distinctly 1997. When the retro-90’s comeback finally coughs up some mainstream rock singles in 2010, I hope a few of them sound like this. One of my friends who happened to tune-in to the same 120 Minutes episode told me he thought this song was annoying, but I liked it anyway. After a few seconds of tape wear, the music cuts out 45 seconds before the end of this song. Turn tape over...

-Side Two-

Three huge anthems for 1997 start out Side Two, all with inconsistent sound quality due to dubbing the songs from VHS with my mom’s shitty 80’s tape deck plugged into our VCR with red and white composite cables.

1. Will Smith “Men In Black”
Oh good, it’s my favorite fucking song.. “Men In Black” starts out Side Two.. I kinda love the “Forget Me Nots” sample, but the love ends there. There’s loud motor-revving noises from the video that show up towards the end. In the video, Will Smith says “sorry” before erasing the brain of the viewer or whatever that little device is used for (I’ve never seen this movie, so I have no concept..) But “sorry” got cut out and instead it’s crudely edited straight into the next song.

2. Prodigy “Firestarter”
The transition between “Men In Black” and “Firestarter” is practically immediate. This actually is a really great song and what I said earlier about how “Breathe” was a better single may not be correct, except the song is unfortunately affected by sound quality, so it’s hard to tell.

3. Third Eye Blind “Semi-Charmed Life”
The original single edit of “Semi-Charmed Life” does not do this song justice. I’m pretty sure there were at least 3 different versions of this played on the radio, and the version heard here is the shortest of the three. I can see this not lasting among my top 100 singles of alltime, which means that it probably has left that distinction by now, but I did eventually (as late as 2004) consider this. [In the Spring of 1997, I did not initially enjoy this song, and one of my friends helped me figure out that it ripped off a jingle from the campy Breath Assure ad.] One legitamate “rip-off” argument that I might actually agree upon today would be the “good-BYYYE” in Dinosaur Jr’s “Start Choppin,” sung pretty much the same way.

4. The Dandy Warhols “Not If You Were The Last Junky On Earth”
The sound quality suddenly improves for yet another ex-junkie chic anthem, this time from The Dandy Warhols. It’s repetitive, but catchy. I think I gave this band a chance mostly because this was another “Buzz Clip” video, but they’ve been consistantly overrated. They’re in that movie Dig! which I’ve been meaning to check out since a few years ago.. Lemme add it to my Netflix now before I forget...

5. The Wallflowers “The Distance”
The noise levels drops lower than anything on this tape previously for The Wallflowers third radio single, and I don’t really mind because this song is boring. They were one of those one-album-wonder bands who were a big fucking deal on VH1 and then were completely forgotten about. And what’s up with Jacob Zimmerman using his dad’s surname of “Dylan” and then telling people that he wanted to detach himself from his father’s success? I call bullshit on that.

6. Trio “Da Da Da”
Again, there’s a very brief interlude of spanish merenga music, before heading into Trio’s “Da Da Da,” a one-hit-wonder from 1982 whose album was re-released in the summer of 1997 after the song found success in a popular Volkswagon commercial. I thought their full length was really cool, but I haven’t listened to it much since then. That same summer, there was a Levi’s jeans ad where that dude who used to be on the Mickey Mouse Club sang “Tainted Love” on a hospital bed, which similarly ended up temporarily increasing Soft Cell’s popularity on top 40 stations.

7. Beck “Devil’s Haircut”
I must have bought Odelay that summer since “Devil’s Haircut” follows “Da Da Da” and both have good sound quality. Obviously classic. I love this video too.

8. Smash Mouth “Walking On The Sun”
In “Walking On The Sun,” the word “toked” is edited out. This is yet another song that was pretty cool when it was brand fucking new (a 120 Minutes debut from Smash Mouth, whoa, who are these guys? They use weird organs in their songs), and then never cool ever again at any point afterwards. “Crack” is edited out as well, even though the lyrics warn the listeners “put away the crack, before the crack puts you away.” I hate MTV.

9. The Stone Roses “Fools Gold”
The Stone Roses debut album was released in 1989 and spawned something like 6 very popular singles in the UK, most of which probably hit #1 over there. I was pretty amazed by “Fools Gold” upon my first listen, and so I threw it into the middle of this tape. When I started downloading mp3s, I was further impressed by “I Wanna Be Adored” and I was expecting amazement from other Stone Roses songs; however, no dice. So yeah, these guys have 2 brilliant songs, and nothing else.

10. Our Lady Peace “Superman’s Dead”
Considering the type of band Our Lady Peace represents in pretty much every other one of their songs (a Canadian version of Live), “Superman’s Dead” is surprisingly remarkable, and by far the best song this band has ever released. I was convinced they were as good as this one song suggested, but it was nothing more than a very good first impression. I saw them in concert a few years later, and I think I fell asleep mid-show.

11. Foo Fighters “Everlong”
“Everlong” took the opposite direction of “Walking On The Sun” (much like the earlier comparison of “Fly” and “Paranoid Android,” but not quite as extreme). This is yet another of the best radio singles from the 90’s, and probably the best Foo Fighters song overall. After the song normally fades out, there’s some backwards guitar followed by an encore of the song’s final chorus, which just reminded me of how much I love this video.

12. Ben Folds Five “One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces”
Ben Folds Five closes out this mix. I bought this CD from Nobody Beats The Wiz in mid-August. Based on this song and “Battle Of Who Could Care Less,” I assumed this was a new-wave influenced group that used piano instead of synths. I also assumed there were five band members.. They sounded like a fuller band, partially thanks to the distorted bass. “Whatever And Ever Amen” is almost half made up of ballads, which was initially a turn off. But that did change in due time, as the next volume of this series proves.

12.1 Latin music
12.2 More Latin music
12.3 Michael Jackson “Thriller”
12.4 Reef “Place Your Hands”

The spanish-language music theme continues with 2 more clips. There’s Michael Jackson singing “it’s close to midnight,” followed by about 60 seconds of Reef’s “Place Your Hands,” probably taped off the radio.. I’m pretty happy the full song didn’t make the cut for this mix, because it’s boring as shit.. It’s the kind of music that only could have come from the UK during the 90’s, and not in a good way. There’s some audio distortion before the tape ends yet again.

Volume 2.5, October 1997

-Side One-

[Side One was never completed, and there is no Side Two. This tape ultimately disappeared, and I haven’t seen it around in years.. it probably was never labelled.. However, I remember this tape getting played publicly twice a few times.. Once after school in the hours leading up to a football game, and once at a get-together at a friend’s house..]

There were definitely eight songs on this tape, and they may or may not have been in the following running order..

1. Chumbawamba “Tubthumping”
2. Cornershop “Brimful Of Asha”
3. 311 “Prisoner”
4. The Verve “Bitter Sweet Symphony”
5. Sneaker Pimps “6 Underground”
6. Supergrass “Cheapskate”
7. Blur “M.O.R.”
8. Death In Vegas “Dirt”

Blur and Death In Vegas are not definites, but I’m like 90% sure they were both on here.

After not enjoying “Tubthumping” upon my first view of the video, I was driving around with friends a few weeks later and they played it on K-Rock. I expressed disdain, but my friend convinced me the British-guy “rap” part was cool. I guess this song is okay. However, I simply can’t back up the parts sung by the androgynous chick. “Danny boy?” “Pissing the night away?” Yeah, not happening. I feel as though this song was never intended by Chumbawamba to make them famous, seeing as how Tubthumping was their 9th album, and I’m pretty sure they’ve released plenty more since then with no remotely significant commercial success. Fluke.

My favorite part of “Brimful Of Asha” is all the foreign language shit in the middle.. I’ve heard the song enough to phonetically sing along to that part, but I have no idea what the words are, or what language these phrases are originating from. More on this in Volume 3..

“Prisoner” is boring bullshit. Moving on..

[Upon its placement onto this mix, I hadn’t yet fully grasped the magnitude of “Bitter Sweet Symphony’s” brilliance. More on this when the song appears in Volume 3..]

I like “6 Underground” better than anything Garbage ever released. [“Cheapskate” was my introduction to Supergrass.]

[It’s possible that I was listening to this tape while I got into my first car accident, because I remember “Dirt” was playing when I hit the deer.. which was about a year or so later, circa Nov ’98.]

Volume 3, January 1998

1. Will Smith “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
I wish it wasn’t true... I was so excited about this song when it first came out that I went out of my way to tape this song off of the MTV Jams countdown so that it could be the first song on this tape. This mix exists because of “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” I know every word to this stupid fucking song, which actually helps me to properly assess what’s going on with the lyrics.. The second verse is particularly shit. “Met Ali, he told me ‘I’m the greatest’..” Fuck you. That “nana na na nana na” part is like nails being hammered into my skull..

2. Puff Daddy featuring like 12 other artists “It’s All About The Benjamins (Rock Remix)”
Did any hiphop fans ever actually listen to this? Do hiphop fans EVER listen to clueless producers’ attempts at white-boy-music? As if it’s so fucking easy to pull off.. It sounds like they started listening to rock 6 months ago. Lil’ Wayne’s “rock” songs will likely be considered just as pathetic ten years from now. (In all fairness, there is one example of this that actually worked, which was N*E*R*D’s first album.) When I bought “The Work Of Spike Jonze” on DVD, I recall being a bit upset that a lot of his videos were left off the collection, but now that I’m actually listening to “Benjamins (Rock Remix)” for the first time in at least 10 years, I can understand why he would have considered this a massive embarrassment. This is the longest song ever.. just fucking end already.. I forgot Biggy was in this, whose verse is clearly the best thing in this entire song, which would be a lot more enjoyable if half the words weren’t getting censored. Puff Daddy’s pathetic attempt at punk-rock-screaming at the end sounds like hairy dirty ballsack. Fuck this shit.

3. Mase “What You Want”
I had a lot to learn about hiphop, clearly. We used to call this dude “mush mouth.” “You come second to my money..” I can’t stand this.. fast forward..

4. Space Monkeys “Sugar Cane”
Yet another ex-junkie chic anthem for 1997.. This is distinctively 90’s U.K., and not to create any kind of “U.S. vs U.K.” argument, but seriously, in the Grunge vs Madchester debate, there is a clear winner here, and that winner is grunge. England produced lots of great music scenes since the 60’s, but Madchester was not one of them. Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses.. Most of these bands had 2 good songs at most. “Sugar Cane” is almost Madchester, but in a way that is somehow more U.S. radio-ready, like EMF’s “Unbelievable.” There’s a Chuck D sample in this song that shows up twice during every chorus, which sounds very out-of-place to me. Damn, that awkward laugh at the ending is just terrible..

5. Blur “M.O.R.”
I think the version that appears on this mix was called the “Road Version.” I don’t really remember how the album version sounds, so I can’t judge which is better.. But I do know that the albums Parklife and 13 still sound great all these years later, while “M.O.R. (Road Version)” sounds dated and tired. Next...

6. The Clash “Rock The Casbah”
Finally, the first good song to appear on this tape.. And of course, it’s a song from 1982, and not 1997/1998, but whatever.. I am lame, because I consider “Casbah” and “Train In Vain” to be The Clash’s 2 best songs. While never understanding what the big fucking deal is with “White Man In Hammersmith Palais,” I would like to strongly defend “White Riot” and “I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.” as true classics of punk rock. However, their pop stuff was better. And overall, Sex Pistols were better. (K.Cobain thought so, and I def agree.)

7. Cornershop “Brimful Of Asha”
I bought the CD for When I Was Born For The 7th Time after SPIN chose it over OK Computer as their best album of 1997, and it’s the album version that appears here (with the foreign language talk at the very beginning, different from the version on Volume 2.5). “Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow” is some pretty classic shit, even though the lyrics still make no sense to me. But I like it better that way.. This is also one of the best 90’s songs to not feature any bass guitar or bass notes.

8. Third Eye Blind “How’s It Gonna Be”
Guilty pleasure central, dead ahead.. It’s that bridge-middle-section of this song that does it for me.. I usually find myself waiting for it, since that’s the best part. I’ve heard some folks complain about 3EB’s shitty lyrics, but when lyrics aren’t distracting or in the forefront of a song, I don’t see why they make any difference. I like the feedback at the end. Good pop single. I’m into it.

9. Smash Mouth “Why Can’t We Be Friends”
Wow, this is absolute shit. Like, fucking horrible, terrible bullshit. This is hurting my ears, seriously.. I think Smash Mouth have only released 2 singles that were their own originals.. and in all fairness, they were their 2 biggest songs (“Walking On The Sun” and “All Star”) and the rest were all covers. (Oh yeah, I forgot about “Then The Morning Comes,” which was equally terrible..) Oh thank God, it’s the 3-minute single edit.. I think that’s the first time I’ve heard this song in probably 10 years, and I recall the album version containing a repeated “Why Can’t We Be Friends” singalong refrain over and over which goes on for 2 very long minutes. Sweet, merciful fade-out..

10. eels “Your Lucky Day In Hell (Remix)”
This is my favorite out of the 2 versions of this song, and with the exception of youtube, I’ve been unable to find this remix anywhere on the internet for download.. [Memories, dude.. This was on 12 Angry Viewers and I think it lost that day.. I guess Dave Holmes and Ian Robinson were too cool for eels.. more like 12 Angry Assholes.. God, I miss when MTV was awesome. Also, I recall this video’s lipsynch was off..]

11. Marcy Playground “Sex And Candy”
This is another one of those where I memorized all of the lyrics without remotely trying. Nobody else hears this connection but me, but the reason I love this song is because the laziness and monotone vocals remind me of a VH1 version of Pavement. I’d sure like to try some “disco lemonade” someday.. It sounds delicious.

11.1 The Verve “Bittersweet Symphony”
11.2 Big Wreck “The Oaf”

The last 3 minutes of “Bittersweet Symphony” show up after Marcy Playground, starting halfway through the song.. It’s possible I was taping over Verve with “Sex And Candy.” By January 1998, this song was just starting to get huge. I didn’t like it enough for it to make the cut for the “Best Of 1997” mix, which I don’t really understand, because I used to always try and throw “anthemic” type songs onto those things, and “Bittersweet Symphony” screams the word “anthem.” They did the right thing stealing the Rolling Stones sample from Allen Kline, which was the big controversy surrounding The Verve at the time. It sounds so massive. This was probably the best non-Radiohead single released in 1997. I personally consider it the swan song of the 90’s modern rock era.

After a quick fadeout, we hear Matt Pinfield saying “I’m Matt Pinfield and after the break we’ll be talking more with...” and then it cuts out into the intro of Big Wreck’s “The Oaf,” which had one of those cliched videos that looked like they were recording it in the studio as the video was being filmed. I think they’re Canadian. This is a much better song than I remembered. Side One cuts out after the song’s first half.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Is Serious

I've had this song stuck in my head all day, along with "Dangerous" by Busta Rhymes, for obvious reasons... These have to be the most adorable pills ever.

"Crazy Doctor 2"

A noteworthy exclusion from our "Best TV Clips: 2000 - 2009" special was Will Ferrell's long-fabled "Crazy Doctor" sketch, shown during the final 15 minutes of the April 14th 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live, guest-hosted by Renee Zelwegger, who appears in the sketch prominently. Rarely shown during reruns on neither Comedy Central nor E!, its notoriety only launched as a result of
The SNL Transcripts website, where the "Crazy Doctor" transcript has been available since 2001. Since this time, it has been revered by casual fans and scholars alike as possibly the best SNL sketch of all time.

Here's our transcript:

Despite its brilliance, "Crazy Doctor" did not appear on either of Will Ferrell's 2 DVD collections for SNL. Volume 2, however, did include its follow-up, which became known as "Crazy Doctor 2." Like most sequels, this one simply didn't hold the energy of its original version, although it's still noteworthy enough to post here, for as long as YouTube will allow the sketch to be posted.. which I'm guessing won't be very long. But anyway.. here it is, fresh off a Netflix stream and onto a Flip camera for your enjoyment....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some Record Albums From 2009 That Were Nice

It would not be out of line to call this "a shit year" for record albums. Let's see who came out on top...

20 Yeah Yeah Yeahs “It’s Blitz!”
19 Drake “So Far Gone” (EP)
18 Pearl Jam “Backspacer”
17 Sunset Rubdown “Dragonslayer”
16 Sunn 0))) “Monoliths & Dimensions”
15 P.O.S. “Never Better”
14 DJ Quik & Kurupt “BlacQKout”
13 The Antlers “Hospice”
12 A Place To Bury Strangers “Exploding Head”
11 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart “The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart”
10 Raekwon “Only Built For Cuban Linx II”
09 Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavillion”
08 The Brontosaur “Brontosaur”
07 Phoenix “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”
06 Pill “4180: The Prescription”
05 Black Dice “Repo”
04 The Flaming Lips “Embryonic”
03 Silversun Pickups “Swoon”
02 Dinosaur Jr “Farm”
01 Japandroids “Post-Nothing”

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009's Greatest Hits #20 to #1

All 100 songs can be found HERE!

This is an exceptionally strong 20 songs considering how weak 2009 was for albums. This year's 20 may have put too much emphasis on loud rock since the DJ Quik & Kurupt track at #21 should probably have been placed higher than the song at #20.. but whatever. The world needs rock these days. These are the results. Excitement is in the air. Let's get it done.

20 Goblin Cock "We Got A Bleeder"

In the tradition of Elastica's "Connection" and Blur's "Song 2," every year has needed a few sarcastically loud and concise little kickass 2-minute rock songs. Early in 2009, we received delivery from Rob Crow's tongue-in-cheek stoner-metal side project with the album highlight "We Got A Bleeder," which I'm guessing is louder than whatever Pinback ends up releasing next. (There's usually 3 year-gaps between their albums, so fingers are crossed for new Pinback in 2010...)

19 Lady GaGa "Paparazzi"

There's urgency and desperation in "Paparazzi" that hasn't been heard from Madonna since the 80's, and not from Gwen Stefani since No Doubt. They are the 2 greatest influences on "Paparazzi," and accomplished some void-filling in their relative absence from Top 40 radio.

18 Sunset Rubdown "You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)"

Wolf Parade's secondary projects have been revealing to fans not only in explaining the sum of its parts, but also in hinting at the possibility of Lennon/McCartney levels of gentlemanly competition. In 2007, Handsome Furs' Plague Park narrowly surpassed Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover in critical praise. However, Sunset Rubdown came out on top overall in 2009 with Dragonslayer, and specifically with "You Go On Ahead." In a world of so much indie-guitar-pop, it takes a track this overstuffed with hooks and joyfulness to certify it as anything but forgettable.

17 Free Energy "Free Energy"

This better not be a fluke. And it very well might be... First of all, Free Energy do not look especially cool; rather, their appearance as a rock band is as timely as any record label could ask for, which suggests the possibility that these guys are shooting for super-stardom. Second of all, Free Energy is on the DFA label, a dance-rock record label. Accordingly, the rest of the songs on their MySpace sound like typical DFA dance-rock, and none of their other songs sound like "Free Energy," which brilliantly combines about 6 or 7 different styles of 70's and 80's classic rock into one very efficient and pop-friendly package. They've already been listed in SPIN's "10 Bands To Watch In 2010." Are they about to blow their load? Will they implode into obscurity? Will their full-length include more (surprisingly sincere) guitar-tapping? "Bands to watch" indeed.

16 Silversun Pickups "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone"

Reasons Why Pitchfork Suxxx #527: In their 5.3 review of Silversun Pickups' Swoon (possibly the best rock release of 2009), the reviewer predictably takes the easy way out, and spends half the article essentially labeling it as Siamese Dream with the edges rounded-off. Nice job with the superficial comparisons. Had the reviewer bothered to listen to more than 3 songs before reviewing, "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone" may have revealed influences beyond one band. Yeah, Smashing Pumpkins are in there, but listen harder and you'll also hear Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies, The Breeders, Foo Fighters, etc, etc.. (The girl bass-player shares lead-vocals on this track, also suggesting influence from MBV or Pixies, rather than Pumpkins.) The clarity of its depth appears more with every listen, while Fleet Foxes (PF's #1 album of 2008) is still the most boring shit ever.

15 Hush Arbors "Devil Made You High"

Normally a folk artist by trade, Hush Arbors received production assistance from J Mascis on this year's Yankee Reality LP, his 2nd on Thurston Moore's label. Folk listeners may consider this one a bit too loud, but for rock fans, the obvious assistance from Mascis and Thurston is like a breath of fresh air expanding the possibilities of this album's standout track.

14 The Brontosaur "This Is Not A Paradise"

The internet provides minimal information regarding The Brontosaur's self-titled LP, although it would appear that the singer is somehow involved with one of the 2 Veruca Salt chicks, and Kellii Scott from Failure kills it on the drums throughout pretty much this entire album. If you're a sucker for cussing in the chorus, or songs that sound like Failure's Fantastic Planet, or huge epic codas, you may agree with this track as the album's standout.
| Full Album On MySpace |

13 Panic! At The Disco "New Perspective"

Three years ago, I would have never expected P!ATD's forthcoming album to be one of the most anticipated releases of 2010. I also incorrectly assumed "New Perspective" to be a transitional single, signaling what to expect from their 3rd album. But instead, it turns out they've split up! Panic! (now once again with their original punctuation) is currently only the singer and drummer, while the guitarist and bass player have formed another more Sgt Pepper-influenced project called The Young Veins. Band-splits based around creative differences normally result in one project proving much higher quality than the other, but this could end up being one of those rare cases where the split leads to equally outstanding results.

12 Lady GaGa "Poker Face"

Ohhhh.. now i get it. LMAO. She said "poker face." And not even Cartman can resist. Out of all her 2009 singles, "Poker Face" was most likely to have appeared in this year's "guilty pleasures" list (although enough indie-rock kids labeled her a "guilty pleasure" to decrease the guilt-rating, almost to the point where she's becoming more and more of a harmless novelty). I'm not normally the type who has "favorite parts" of songs, but my favorite guilty-pleasure part is her improvement on Fergie-rap 2/3's of the way through.

11 Japandroids "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

Some fun facts about Japandroids: Their name is wack. They do that whole "no bass" thing. Really dumb kids think they ripped off No Age because both bands happen to fall in the "noise-pop" subgenre. (In that respect, they sound as similar as Biggy and Nas.) They never released their debut album on CD; only on vinyl and digital formats. And almost every song is a great as "Young Hearts Spark Fire," although this one has the best chorus hook, arguably.

10 Silversun Pickups "Panic Switch"

"Waiting and fading and floating away...." One thing this band never lacks is momentum. "Panic Switch" sounds like a 200mph speedway drive, as the bass-riff and chorus flow so easily in and out of each other. A few reviewers of Swoon made sure to note that most of its songs could have been shorter in length, as they all fall between the 4:30 and 6-minute mark, but dude.. what are they supposed to do? You can't just stop in the middle of a kickass groove.

09 Phoenix "1901"

When it was announced last March that Phoenix would be performing on SNL, it seemed hard to fathom that they would be able to translate their glistening, shimmering production-based pop in a live TV performance. But a few short weeks later, there they were, pristine clarity intact, looking far more like a French version of The Strokes than most Americans could have originally imagined. If it wasn't the first time we heard Phoenix, it was def the first time we saw them live, all working out in their favor as it was among the very best live music on TV all year.

08 Lady GaGa "Bad Romance"

"Just Dance" and "Lovegame" were lost on many listeners initially. However, they made more sense in context after radio started playing "Poker Face" and "Paparazzi," and especially after her absurdly brilliant VMA's performance. This was all building up to the culminating moment Lady GaGa was meant to deliver: "Bad Romance" was her true moment of arrival, and a hopeful indication of what 2009's most memorable pop star may offer in the next few years. P.S. How many hooks can you spot in this one? I count 12 myself.

07 Animal Collective "Summertime Clothes"

Wow, this video is sooo good.. prolly should've been included in our Best Videos Of 2009, but late entries are better than never. The combination of hallucinogens and childhood innocence seems to be the driving force that makes Merriweather Post Pavillion such a compelling listen. And you couldn't ask for a more innocent and lovely repeated refrain than "I wanna walk around with you... just you, just you..." Hugs & shrooms party in the USA.

06 Pearl Jam "The Fixer"

As Foo Fighters' radio singles have slowly been leaning more and more towards trite yawnfest territory, Pearl Jam's Backspacer unexpectedly went in the opposite direction. Now with George W. Bush out of the presidency, not nearly as much seems wrong with our imperfect nation. They went from "World Wide Suicide" and "Unemployable" to this... Pearl Jam got happy??? And released their best single (and a handful of their best album tracks) in over 10 years??? Everything's all backwards! AAAHH!! We're happy to see Vedder still rocking the surfer/long hair, but Mike McCready still refuses to take a hint and help everybody else out.. He's like the bass player in U2 who just happens to always look 20 years older than the band's other 3 members. But I digress... We were ready to be done with Pearl Jam, but they decided to leave the sucking to Nickelback. Good move.

05 Kanye West featuring Mr Hudson "Paranoid"

Kanye doesn't seem to mind that his 2 most notable contributions to pop culture in 2009 were not especially flattering: #1 South Park's "Gay Fish" episode, and #2 his acceptance speech interruption during the VMA's. In a year with no new Kanye album, he still managed to stay above water and maintain frequent radio appearances (most notably in Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" and Jay-Z's "Run This Town.") His current status as an insane egomaniac gave us many LMAO's this year, and in the spring of 2009, the "Paranoid" single arrived quite unexpectedly to actually backup the largeness of his head. "Paranoid's" lack of radio success can be attributed to confused marketing strategies, but this should have been a much bigger song (certainly bigger than "Love Lockdown"), as it's arguably his best single-release since "Slow Jamz."

04 P.O.S. "Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)"

Nothing else in modern hiphop sounded as exciting and dark as the samples and lyrics of "Drumroll," although the P.O.S. album Never Better may be one of those which has more appeal to rock fans, or in the case of "Drumroll," appeal to doom-metal-heads, as it contains no shortage of downtuned guitar distortion and amplifier feedback under his concerned lyrical demeanor, sonically conjuring a more pissed off version of Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours."

03 Clipse featuring Pharrell "I'm Good"

The Neptunes have stayed quiet since the mid-00's, and hopefully have been saving up some new shit throughout their downtime, similar to what I imagine Timbaland must have been up to between 2003 and 2005, just before dropping "Promiscuous Girl" and kicking off his massive mid-decade resurgence. "I'm Good" suggests the possibility of a Neptunes resurgence in the early 10's. As for the track itself, it's good to hear Clipse still rhyming about coke-dealing, and classic Neptunes production sounding as brilliant as ever, complete with Pharrell's best Curtis Mayfield impression throughout the entire 4 minutes. It's hard to decide whether to sing along with Pharrell's "I'm lookin good, I'm lookin good.." or rap-along with Pusha T. Either way, it makes every drive across town that much more epic.

02 Silversun Pickups "There's No Secrets This Year"

This is the only new Silversun Pickups song where Billy Corgan's opinion might be of some interest. But yes, Silversun kills it.. And it's better than anything Corgan's written or recorded this decade. Drop-D bar chords are back?? We can only hope. This entry really should be "Secrets" transitioning into "The Royal We," which is without a doubt the best album-opening 1-2 punch in a LONG time. Back in October, they played these 2 songs in succession towards the beginning of their set in Hartford, after which the crowd must have applauded for at least 2 minutes straight. It's refreshing to see a rock band with four relatively normal looking musicians who are not ashamed of their blatant love of being rock stars and performing live.. Not exactly the type who will throw a lyric like "Can you fake it for just one more show?" into their next radio single.

01 Animal Collective "What Would I Want? Sky"

When this list was originally put together a month ago, Clipse's "I'm Good" was placed at #1. This was before the release of A.C.'s Be Kind Fall EP, which helped put a few things into perspective. Whatever happened to the days when the #1 song of the year actually sounded like a #1? Like "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Paranoid Android," this is a track that's not only huge and epic, but is also unmistakably a product of its year, in which more and more of the best new music has been borrowing from the past (such as this song with its Massive Attack sounding drum loops, Grateful Dead samples, Beach Boys vocal harmonies, etc) while heading into the future with full force. Animal Collective is a rarity these days, a band truly progressing upon every release, with this being their best work to date.