Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: superman songs

Songs about the man of steel:

Laurie Anderson: O Superman (1981)
OK, not really about Superman, exactly…but still, it’s Laurie Anderson.

Crash Test Dummies: Superman’s Song (1991)
The audio’s a bit soft on this one, and I feel like an idiot, but for some reason this tune and video sorta gets me.

REM: Superman (1986)
REM live in 1987, the video’s a bit of a mess, but the sound is OK. That’s Gary Zekley, writer of the original 1969 version, on stage with tambourine.

Categories: mixed tape

friday mixed tape: st. paddy’s day mix

In honour of St. Paddy’s day, some Irish jigs & reels:

Thin Lizzy: Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight) (1977)

Stiff Little Fingers: Alternative Ulster (1979)

U2: I Will Follow (1980)
The band didn’t go anywhere, but the lead singer went on to become a leading figure in modern dance. From their first album, Boy.

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friday mixed tape: rock n roll revival

In 2001 a new breed of Velvet Underground-influenced, old-aesthetic rock started rolling out of a few bands. It was old and it was new and it was good again. Here are some of the tunes I remember.

The Strokes: Last Night (2001)
OK, so the Strokes ended up being disappointing. We all wanted them to be gritty kids from the wrong side of the tracks who bashed their guitars together to dull the pain of poverty. Or something. Turns out they’re rich Manhattan kids who went to fancy boarding school in Switzerland, and had drinking problems. Well, what can you do? Who else can afford to be an artist these days? (And for the record, I went to a fancy private school). This video makes things worse: the lead singer, especially, looks like the kind of arrogant prick who continues to be mean to unpopular kids even into his mid-twenties.

And let’s forget for a moment that the Strokes probably exhausted their creativity with that first album. And remember instead what a breath of fresh air it was when it came out, and the sounds of pure, good rock n roll, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since Transformer (maybe), hit the airwaves. It was the rebirth of rock, I was living in New York and it was great stuff.

White Stripes: Fell in Love with a Girl (2001)
While I can’t help feeling the Strokes were somehow phony (even if that first album was and still is a winner), the White Stripes were something else: raw and real and creative in ways hard to believe considering their instruments are limited to a little drum kit, a big guitar, and a crazy voice. Fantastic, challenging yet straight music, wonderful songwriting and a great video by Michel Gondry.

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out (2003)
A couple of years later come Franz Ferdinand. I first heard them when they played this tune live on some British awards show: the looked and sounded so sharp, like a mix of the best of ska and good punk (aka Clash), with a new, precise sound to their chops.

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: john hughes movies

Writer/director John Hughes had a string of movies in the eighties that were definitive for a certain-type of middle class North American early-teen (ie. a type like me). They were usually about angsty high school seniors, rich kids (mostly cool jerks) and their less-well-off school mates (alienated music-lovers with soul), and usually a Romeo-Juliet story of love across class that cannot be. Here are a few vids from those soundtracks (somewhere i have a few of these on tape).

Simple Minds: Don’t You (Forget About Me) (1985)
from: The Breakfast Club (1985)

The greatest (?) of all John Hughes films …

Charlie Sexton: Beat’s So Lonely (1985)
from: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Charlie Sexton was, apparently, a guitar prodigy. He pretty much disappeared from public view after this album, Pictures for Pleasure, but continued working with other artists, including David Bowie and Bob Dylan. He also produced my old Blizzarts pal Peter Elkas’ album, Wall of Fire.

Echo and the Bunnymen: Bring on the Dancing Horses (1985)
from: Pretty in Pink (1986)

Pretty in Pink was probably the most alternative of the Hughes movies, and I owned this soundtrack on tape. It had all sorts of great stuff on it, including the Smiths, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, New Order, Suzanne Vega.

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: worst song ever

Here are my candidates. Please submit your own. A committee of editors from the Friday Mixed Tape team will review and make an Official pronouncement in one week.

Huey Lewis and the News: Hip to Be Square (1986)

Phil Collins: Sussudio (1985)

Starship: We Built This City (on Rock and Roll) (1985)
The amazing this is that this band was once Jefferson Airplane, who performed this. Someone once said to me, which rings true here: much of the eighties can be explained by waaay too much cocaine.

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: make out music

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day. Here’s some tunes to make the moments last:

Sade: Smooth Operator (1984)
Another song I loved as a kid, got embarrassed by as a teen. But now I think Sade was on to something. Smooth Operator indeed.

Barry White: Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe (1974)
I knew nothing of the Velvet Voice before this tune was featured on the Simpsons, I think the episode with Michelle Pfeiffer, but not sure. Anyway, after I heard Barry White, nothing was ever again the same.

Marvin Gaye: Let’ Get It On (1973)
This live, lovin performance beat out the slick video for the 1982 hit, Sexual Healing.

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: fela

I might be wrong, but I don’t think ever in the next couple of generations will we see someone like Fela Kuti, afrobeat legend, rebel, dissident, and one-time Nigerian Presidential candidate. Fela seemed to straddle the harsh present of the sixties/seventies, with something ancient … in a way that no one now would be able to do. With television everywhere these days, there are few if any corners of the world left where ancientness grows naturally – all of it has been touched by the modern. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m no expert in world culture (and, after all, Fela’s mother was a feminist activist, and his father a Protestant Minister); but regardless, no one making modern afrobeat comes close to this kind of raw power. I’m not sure that there is any musician in the world that has this kind of charisma – brutal, violent charisma, but undeniable (see the second vid, especially).

Fela died in 1997 of AIDS.

Fela Kuti: Army Arrangement
“I have death in my pouch. I can’t die. They cannot kill me.”

Fela Kuti: Live in Calabar
Not sure the title of the song. This footage was filmed for a movie by Cream drummer Ginger Baker (which I believe is the source for the previous clip too). This one is intense, check especially the dancing from about 4’00” and on.

Fela Kuti: U. Be Thief

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

wednesday guest tape: cheese metal from mitch

I know Mitch has a youtube music video problem, just like me (in fact, I may have given him his first taste of the sweet sonic tonic of nostalgia). Anyway, a while back I asked if Mitch wanted to guest curate a youtube mixed tape session. He said: hells ya. Took me a while to post it, but here it is, straight from the Man in Black (and by the way, if you want to find the gold, a little hint, it’s at the end):

Wednesday Guest Tape: Eighties Hard Rock
Definitely one of my guilty pleasures and the music I grew up on (there is still some shame in this, I admit). Here are a few that might be more obscure. You have no idea how many hours I’ve burned on YouTube reminiscing. I’ve found some gold and cheese while on my journey. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which below…

Slaughter – Fly To The Angels (1990)
While Slaughter came after the eighties hair bands (or more like the tail end), you can’t deny that lead singer, Mark Slaughter, had a crazy unique voice as proven in this recent acoustic version of their power ballad hit, Fly To The Angels.

Whitesnake – Is This Love? (1987)
Singer David Coverdale cut his teeth in a later version of Deep Purple before launching Whitesnake. You probably remember the original videos from that era with Tawny Kitaen.

Can’t Wait For The Night – Brighton Rock (1986)
OK, this is not the acoustic version, but when I found this on YouTube it took me waaay back. I think they were from Niagara Falls…

Hear N’ Aid – Stars (1985)
This was the hard rock scene’s response to Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and USA for Africa’s “We Are the World”. There are some great vocal performances and who can deny how metal Rob Halford from Judas Priest is? (look at how he dressed for the studio – really, the metal world had “no idea”?).

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friday mixed tape: war, what is it good for?

As we head into the 2008 US Presidential race, here are a few videos to inform the foreign policy debates.

Edwin Starr: War (1969)
The song inspired by the original title of Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

Bruce Cockburn – If I Had A Rocket Launcher (1983)
Apparently, someone once asked Eddie Van Halen: “How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world?” And he answered, “I don’t know, why don’t you ask Bruce Cockburn.” At least that’s the story I’ve heard. I had the pleasure of seeing Bruce in concert in Sudbury once, and it was amazing. Bruce is famous for his lefty protest politics, but he’s also a fantastic song writer, and, of course, no slouch on the ol’ guitar.

This tune is about the dirty war in Guatemala in the 1980s (supported, of course, by the US and Canada); but those face and bodies could be in any number of countries today.

Sgt Barry Sadler: Ballad of the Green Beret (1966)
And, lest I be accused of bias against war, here’s the 1966 hit song, that was number 1 for five weeks on the billboard charts.

Categories: audio, mixed tape, video

friday mixed tape: university days

Some tunes from my days at university.

Rheostatics: Christopher (1990)
I loved these modern Canadian artrock progsters. I’ve seen them live more than any other band, and I guess I have most of their albums too.

Skydiggers: I’m Wondering (1993)
My roommate Matty used to say, “I don’t get why everyone likes this band, it sounds like girl music to me.” (He liked to smoke hash and listen to Pink Floyd and Sabbath). But I always thought they were the Canadian REM, and their live shows were always great. If you wanted to go to a costume party dressed as a Canadian university student from the 1990s, this would be a good video to study.

Spirit of the West: Home For A Rest (1990)
This is the song that unfailingly got every Canadian human who went university in the nineties out on the dance floor jumping up and down and screaming out the chorus, “I’m so sick from the drink, I need home for a rest … take me home!“. What a weird video … they’re a little bit less rock n roll/pogues than the lyrics would lead you to believe.