Mix Disc Monday: I hate myself for loving this song

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Actually, I never had any until recently, because I figured that if I didn’t feel any shame about liking a song, then it wasn’t a guilty pleasure. Ah, what a naïve child I once was. I surely should have known that music would turn on me and become something I didn’t like, and then that something I didn’t like would create something I liked (ahem, “I Want It That Way”).

So I was inspired to reexamine my CD collection and cast a hairy eye at which songs have not exactly held their own against Father Time. I still like all of the songs on this list, mind you; let’s just say I have since come around to understanding why others may disagree with me.

I Beg Your Pardon,” Kon Kan (Move to Move)
I think the laconic vocal is what hooked me, as opposed to some over-sampled tenor like Dino or Paul “Boom Boom, Let’s Go Back to My Room” Lekakis. I remember, as early as the following year, someone played that song at our local college dance bar, and as people were leaving, they were mock-imitating the keyboard riff. Not much of shelf life for this one.

Strawberry Fields Forever,” Candy Flip (Madstock…)
It must have been the use of “Funky Drummer” in a cover version of one of my all-time favorite songs. That clearly blinded me to the breathier than breathy vocal, the impossibly slow BPM, and, well, pretty much everything else about it.

Hello,” The Beloved (Happiness)
It’s a List Song, which is always a bad sign. When the choruses consist of the names of celebrities, followed by “Hello, hello, hello, hello,” you should know straight away that you are not dealing with a band that’s going to change the world. Especially when two of the celebrities paired together are Willy Wonka and William Tell. In the interest of full disclosure, I have granted a full List Song pardon to Simple Minds’ “Up on the Catwalk,” because the drums are just too damn cool.

Hella Good,” No Doubt (Rock Steady)
I was very, very late to the No Doubt party, and then as soon as I started to like them, they started falling apart. The individual tracks to this intrigue me – I can totally envision Arthur Baker working his mid-‘80s mojo on it – but truth be told, there isn’t much of a song here.

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Mix Disc Monday: Call it a phase

We’ve spent more than enough time in this section blowing sunshine of the keisters of various lyricists – songs about dreaming, songs about being lonely, etc. – but not this time. Today, we tip our cap to the man in the producer’s chair and the use of a nifty trick called the phase, or a flange. Ever heard the sonic equivalent of an ocean wave engulf a song? That’s what we’re talkin’ about. We even included small snippets of the songs (accessible here) so you could hear them for yourself. Rock on, producer man.

“Out of the Blue,” Roxy Music (Country Life)
The ultimate use of the flange effect, in this writer’s humble opinion. Every time they hit that instrumental bit, boom, here comes a wave. And Jesus, that ending. I picture Bryan Ferry driving a roadster in the country as fast as it can go, only to careen off a cliff at song’s end.

“Evil and a Heathen,” Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better)
In an age where every pop and rock record is produced within an inch of its life (White Stripes, you are hereby excused from this discussion), how is it that Franz Ferdinand is one of the only new bands to use the most time-tested production trick in the book? Not sure, but it took this “Radar Love”-esque rocker to another level.

“Gods of War,” Def Leppard (Hysteria)
If we’re talking production tricks, then it’s a foregone conclusion that Robert John “Mutt” Lange is going to make an appearance. Mutt pulls out all the stops for this six-and-half-minute anti-war rocker, but saves something special for the very end: a giant flange to make the last explosion sound like it’s going down the rabbit hole.

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Mix Disc Monday: 1988

Pop was not quite yet the dirty word that it would become over the next 18 months, though Rick Astley, Paula Abdul and Martika were well on their way to sending pop past the point of no return. Hair metal was winning the record sales battle, but modern rock would soon win the war (thank you, Kurt Cobain). Somewhere in the middle of all that was me, the only one on his dorm room floor who liked both Book of Love and Guns ‘n Roses. It proved for some interesting listening, that’s for sure. Maybe not timeless, but definitely interesting.

“I Don’t Want Your Love,” Duran Duran (Big Thing)
One of the last great Duran singles, with a phenomenal video to boot. I professed my love for remixer Shep Pettibone in my 1987 installment of MDM, but anyone who’s heard the album version of this track knows that Shep actually saved their butts with a bass-heavy remix that sent the song to the top of the dance charts. Obscure trivia bit: the man playing drums in the video is none other than David Palmer, formerly of ABC.

“Peek a Boo,” Siouxsie & the Banshees (Peep Show)
Anyone who knew me back in 1988 knew that this song and I were rarely separated. The backwards drumming – which I, of course, would play backwards on my turntable, to hear the drums going forward – the crazy stereo mix job by Mike Hedges, and Siouxsie’s insanely catchy, climbing vocal in the chorus resulted in the coolest thing I had heard up to that point.

“The Great Commandment,” Camouflage (Voices & Images)
It would be another year until “Personal Jesus” would drop, and aside from the three killer singles, Music for the Masses was a grand disappointment. Those looking for a Depeche Mode fix, therefore, were forced to look elsewhere, and this German band delivered one marvelous tribute to Fast Fashion…then promptly faded into obscurity.

“Tired of Getting Pushed Around,” Two Men, a Drum Machine, and a Trumpet
Roland Gift was off doing some acting gig or other, which left Andy Cox and Dave Steele with some time on their hands until they began recording the next Fine Young Cannibals album. Not content to stand idly by while a ton of people rode the coattails of “Pump up the Volume” and scored hits with sample-heavy instrumentals in the process (Bomb the Bass’ “Beat Dis,” S’Express’ “Theme from S’Express,” Simon Harris’ “Bass (How Low Can You Go,”), Cox and Steele made this. And it was good.

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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.

To view the rest of Mix Disc Monday 1987, click here.


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Flashback Friday #1 – Greetings To The New Feature

No one asked for it, but here it is, anyway: a new feature on ESDMusic which, hopefully, will become a regular reason for you to visit the site…provided, of course, that we can come up with enough material to maintain it. But, frankly, when you hear the premise, I think you’ll agree that with all of the music geeks we’ve got around here, that shouldn’t be an issue…

Borrowing on the same general concept as Bullz-Eye’s Mix Disc Monday, Flashback Friday will allow our writers to venture into the depths of their possibly-embarrassing personal histories by pulling out old mix tapes and writing about them. In theory, this should reveal a lot about where we were musically at the time we made the tapes; in reality, however, it may just indicate how limited our budget was at the time…or, at least, that’s what this tape of mine shows.

That’s right, as the person who came up with this idea, it’s only fair that I get the ball rolling, and lemme tell ya: I was attending Averett College in Danville, VA (go, Cougars!), and it was a real rarity for me to buy anything that wasn’t on its second or third markdown in the cut-out bin…and, believe me, you can tell.

Title: Greetings from Averett, Vol. 2
Date of creation: late March 1991 (approximate)

Side 1:

“Main Title / Rebel Blockade Runner,” John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra (Star Wars: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I’ve always been of the mind that every mix needs to start off with something witty, clever, funny, or just, y’know, something memorable. Given that this was 1991 and we were on what would turn out to be a 16-year drought between new “Star Wars” films, beginning the tape with the familiar main titles from the original flick – now known as “Star Wars: A New Hope” – certainly qualified. Unfortunately, the title theme segues directly into another track, ”Rebel Blockade Runner,” and as a result, the whole thing ends up going on longer than most normal people would ever maintain interest. I mean, I love that soundtrack, and even *I* started to get bored. By the way, while I’ve attributed this to the actual “Star Wars” soundtrack, given my budget, I have to believe that this was much more likely taken from an el-cheapo recording done by, say, the Generic Philharmonic Orchestra…which means it’s almost certainly not John Williams conducting but, probably, his non-union Mexican equivalent. (Juan Williams?)

“Losing My Religion,” R.E.M. (Out of Time)

This is the track on Side 1 which most definitively dates the tape for me. As noted, I was a man with limited funds, and most of my purchases were CDs and cassettes that I’d rescued from the cut-out bin at the record chain in the local mall, but I sucked it up and bought Out of Time on its first day of release. I still remember writing a review for the Averett College newspaper, The Chanticleer, and declaring that this song’s lyrics sounded like a parody of the band’s style. (“I think I thought I saw you try” is the one that leaps immediately to mind.) I must’ve made this tape within a day or two of the album’s release and only known this song; otherwise, I almost certainly would’ve put “Texarkana,” “Near Wild Heaven,” or “Shiny Happy People” on here instead.

“This Is the World Calling,” Bob Geldof (Deep in the Heart of Nowhere)

Wow, did this album get reamed when it was first released. I’m sure Bob didn’t expect much else, though; after you’ve been held up as the pop star who fed the world, you ought to know that the press is going to tear your next LP a new center hole. Yeah, that’s right, Geldof’s fallible. So what? And, anyway, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone said; it just wasn’t as good as, say, your average Boomtown Rats album. I still say the first half of the album is pretty damned good, and this song, which leads off the record, is definitely a highlight.

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