Mix Disc Monday: 1987

Ah, 1987: the year I learned how to beat mix. I had been buying 12” mixes to my favorite songs for years now, but I hadn’t the foggiest idea what to do with them until I walked into a club in Athens, Ohio, and heard a guy playing the mixes I had in my dorm room, only on top of each other at the same speed. I was mesmerized.

But it wasn’t just dub mixes and sampling for me in 1987. There were a number of fine little pop songs that year, along with some great rock records (the phrase “classic rock” would come a couple years later). 1987, in fact, is arguably one of the greatest years in music history – Appetite for Destruction, Pleased to Meet Me, The Joshua Tree, Kick, the list goes on and on – but this list, to quote a line from another seminal 1987 album, goes out to the ones we left behind. Well, some were more left behind than others.

“I Don’t Mind at All,” Bourgeois Tagg (Yo Yo)
I originally had this slot filled by Level 42’s “Lessons in Love,” but took it out since I already used that on my MDM on the One-Hit Wonder’s Other Hit. Not sure what else to say. It’s a short, sweet little acoustic ditty, and it has nothing in common with anything that follows. Just sayin’, is all.

“Don’t Disturb This Groove,” The System (Don’t Disturb This Groove)
I’m thinking that it had to take no less than 30 minutes for singer Mic Murphy to do his hair for this video. Hang a sign up on the door; Mic’s not going to be ready to shoot for a while.

“Holiday,” The Other Ones (The Other Ones)
Wikipedia and Allmusic tell me I’m cheating on this one (the album sports a 1986 release date), but as God is my witness, the first song I heard from them (“We Are What We Are”), was promoted as a brand new song in March 1987 on a station that was very quick on the draw about promoting new music. Plus, my copies of Crowded House’s Together Alone and Enigma’s The Cross of Changes have a release year of 1993 on them, and I know for a fact that they didn’t come out in the States until early 1994, so mleah. Anyway, this is total throwaway synth-pop, and I love every second of it (well, the album version, anyway; the radio remix they use for the video blows). If you liked this song, hunt down the album, stat. It’s an ‘80s bubblegum classic. Seriously.

“Tragic Comedy,” Immaculate Fools (The Dumb Poet)
Moody guitar pop song with a singer that’s dressed like Neil Tennant circa “West End Girls”? Sign me up. The band had a much, much bigger hit in 1992 with “Stand Down,” at which point they had left their China Crisis-emulating days behind them. A decision that had to be made in order for a pop band to survive in a grunge world, I suppose. At least they left me this.

“Sheila Take a Bow,” The Smiths (Louder than Bombs)
La, la, la, la, lala, la, la. I had loved “How Soon Is Now?” from the moment I heard it in 1985, but my full-blown love of the Smiths had begun only a year before this song came out. Six months later, they were finished. Sniff.

“Good Times,” INXS w/ Jimmy Barnes (The Lost Boys Soundtrack)
If you had told me in 1987 that Michael Hutchence would kill himself before Morrissey, I would have laughed you out of the room. Ten years later, I’m still having a hard time fathoming Hutchence’s decision to check out early. Man, could Jimmy Barnes wail, though. I wonder what he’s up to these days. Whatever he’s doing with his life, at least he’s still alive.

“Planet Ride,” Julian Cope (Saint Julian)
I’ll be honest: YouTube links went a long way towards dictating what made this list and what didn’t (my apologies to “City of Crime,” the Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks rap from the “Dragnet” soundtrack. The video’s there, but it’s a sorry-ass copy). But I’m taking matters into my own hands with this one. This song has no video, and no music file to link to…so I’m creating one. Sinfully out of print – unless you count the are-you-freaking-kidding-me $45 import – this song, not to mention the album that spawned it, deserve a second look.

“Time Stand Still,” Rush (Hold Your Fire)
One of the things that I always liked about Rush is that their tastes changed along with mine. I was moving away from mainstream rock when Hold Your Fire came out, and it’s as if they sensed that because, in order to entice me, they recruited Aimee Mann, singer of my then-favorite band ‘Til Tuesday, to sing backing vocals. Rush and I would stay together until 1993’s Counterparts, after which we would go our separate ways. I still think about drunk dialing them from time to time, though.

“Dirty Water,” Rock & Hyde (Under the Volcano)
Rocker dudes might turn their noses up at this odd little pop song, but before they do, they should keep in mind that the Rock in this band is Bob Rock, engineer on the Aerosmith comeback albums and producer of the majority of Metallica’s post …And Justice for All output. And the video holds up remarkably well in retrospect.

“Heavens Above,” The Style Council (The Cost of Loving)
I have an irrational love for this album. I know it’s not as good as I think it is, but as the poet laureates GTR once said, when the heart rules the mind, one look, and love is blind. Paul Weller + Dee C. Lee = sweet, sweet musical love, baby.

“Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Remix),” George Michael (Faith)
Some people consider Presidents, or civil rights activists, their heroes. In the late ‘80s, my hero was Shep Pettibone. He was, bar none, the best remixer on the planet, and to have him remix your latest single was to be touched by the hand of God himself. “Hard Day” was the first song of Michael’s that he allowed to be remixed by anyone other than himself, which should tell you just how highly regarded Pettibone was at the time. Now if only I could find the full-length 12” mix, which is two minutes longer than the version on the Faith CD…

“Pump up the Volume,” M/A/R/R/S (Pump up the Volume)
Put the needle on the record when the drum beats go like THIS! Let me guess: you’re shaking your booty, aren’t you? I thought so.

“Touched by the Hand of God,” New Order (Salvation Soundtrack)
Sure, “True Faith” was cool and all (and also remixed by my boy Shep Pettibone), but when New Order dropped this 12” late in the year, and had my former remix hero Arthur Baker at the knobs, I couldn’t resist. The video, which pokes fun at the hair metal poodle cut-sporting gargoyles, is gravy.

“Join in the Chant,” Nitzer Ebb (That Total Age)
Of the dozens of beat mixes I made in college, there were only two or three that didn’t include this song. Simply Put, I thought this was the Coolest Song Ever. That keyboard riff. Those drums. That metal-on-metal percussion. Lastly, singer Douglas McCarthy’s relentless “Fire! Fire! Fire!” at the end of each verse…muscle and hate, indeed.

“Kiss,” Age of Chance (Crush Collision EP)
It all started as a joke. “Hey, let’s record the most raucous version of Prince’s “Kiss” that we possibly can, and FAST, so it can chart at the same time as his version.” It took another year before it was released Stateside, and even then it still predated the sample-heavy Pop Will Eat Itself by a good two years. Tom Jones and the Art of Noise may have been the ones to hit the charts with their cover, but to anyone who’s heard this version, there can be only one “Kiss” cover. Note: this is also a link to an .mp3 file of the song. Who loves ya, baby.


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