Flashback Friday: “So Very Special”

Mixed July 10, 1993

Actually, the tape was called “So Fucking Special,” for reasons that will soon become clear for those who haven’t already figured it out. But I’m not that same young punk anymore, and decorum compels me not to lead a piece with an expletive. Drop one in the first line of the piece, sure. But the headline? That’s just crazy.

Side One

“Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car,” U2 (Zooropa)

In retrospect, the actual verses to this song are pretty flat, but hot damn, do I still love that intro and that backward bass line.

808 State
“In Yer Face,” 808 State (Ex:El)

To quote Jason Thompson, this album PWNZ. I always wanted to find an a cappella version of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and lay it over top of 808’s “San Francisco.” If anyone can help me find that a cappella, I’d be forever in your debt.

“We Don’t Take/Hack/Charlie X,” Information Society (Hack)

Hack was one of the last records released before the sampling laws forced you to pay anyone and everyone you stole, which effectively killed sampling as an art form. You almost get the sense that they knew the window was closing when they made this song, because this song samples everyone, from James Brown, Beastie Boys and Digital Underground to Kraftwerk and Malcolm McLaren.

Severed Heads
“Big Car (Limo Mix),” Severed Heads (Rotund for Success)

I had seen this record in stores for years, and I just knew that it was something that I would like Eventually, I found the 12” at a steep discount, and took the plunge. Now for the strange part: as much as I love this song – and I looooooove this song – I never sought out any of the band’s other stuff, though I’ve been wondering for years where that “All the way to the bottom, Maggie. You’ve made it!” quote came from.

New Order
“Thieves Like Us,” New Order (Substance)

The instrumental mix, thank you very much. Do you suppose the Human League contemplated a lawsuit for the song’s similarity to “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”? Speaking of the Human League…

Human League
“The Lebanon (extended version),” The Human League (Hysteria)

…and while we’re talking about songs that could have benefited from less singing, I will admit that I never realized how crap the lyrics to this song really were until much later. The music track, though, is fab, and the extended instrumental bits throughout confirm that.

Roxy Music
“She Sells,” Roxy Music (Siren)

Most people have forgotten this, if they ever knew it, but Roxy Music used to rock, dude. Love that “Trampled Underfoot” bit right after the chorus.

Lost Boys
“People Are Strange,” Echo & the Bunnymen (The Lost Boys Soundtrack)

I had recently upgraded this to CD from LP. Doors songs sound much better when they’re not performed by the Doors.

“Hayfever,” The Trash Can Sinatras (I’ve Seen Everything)

I am not joking when I say that I nearly fell out of the shower the first time I heard this song, I was so blown away. Years later, I joined an email list for fans of the Trash Cans, and one of those fans was…Will Harris. Yep, that’s how we met, for those keeping score at home.

“Sheila Take a Bow,” The Smiths (Louder than Bombs)

La la la la lala la la.

“Ride (Moby’s Odessa Mix),” Soho (Thug)

Moby had done a crazy-ass remix of “Beat It” in 1992, so when I saw that he was working with my Smiths-sampling sistahs, I was intrigued. Imagine my surprise, then, when the track was actually smoothed out rather than ramped up. While no one would ever dance to it, something about that repeated line – which I never quite understood; is she saying “Now the voices fly you”? – hypnotized me. Years later, Moby would pull a similar ambient stunt with Blur’s “Beetlebum.” I was not as amused.

Side Two

“Creep,” Radiohead (Pablo Honey)

I made this tape after visiting my buddy Steve in Cleveland. This song was all over the place that summer, and Steve and I would just walk around imitating the chunk-chunk sound of Johnny Greenwood warming up his guitar for the chorus. I bought a CD single of “Creep” instead of the album because I was convinced that they would be a one-hit wonder, and that this would be all that I would ever need from the band. Huh.

World Party
“Hollywood,” World Party (Bang!)

When I made this tape, I wouldn’t have dreamt that one day I would be interviewing Karl Wallinger, World Party’s lead singer. But one day, I did, and he was the coolest.

Tears for Fears
“Goodnight Song.” Tears for Fears (Elemental)

I was a bit burned out on “Break It Down Again” by this time, so I opted for what I was positive would be the next big hit from the album. Huh.

“The Prisoner,” Howard Jones (Cross That Line)

This one may appear to be a little out of step with everything else, but keep in mind that HoJo released his awesome Greatest Hits album on June 29 of that year. Since I never bought Cross That Line, I was thrilled to finally have this song.

“Second to None,” Electronic (“Feel Every Beat” CD single)

I bought anything and everything associated with the first Electronic album, which meant the collecting of a bunch of crap remixes, a couple decent ones, and this great B-side.

“It Must Be Obvious,” Pet Shop Boys (“So Hard” CD single)

We’re meant to be friends. That’s what it says in the script,” Neil Tennant said. I couldn’t help but think that he was telling me something, since I was dating someone that I had no business dating. “Everyone knows when they look at us / Because they do, it must be obvious,” he says in the chorus. I always projected that the rest of that sentence was, “It must be obvious that we don’t belong together.” I would date that girl for a total of six years.

Depeche Mode
“Walking in My Shoes (Random Carpet Mix),” Depeche Mode (“Walking in My Shoes” CD single)

Thanks to his work with Scritti Politti and Seal, I was all about William Orbit in the early ‘90s, and while I am still a huge fan of his Strange Cargo III album, it is now clear to me that everything this man will ever do will sound just like this.

“Cold as Stone,” a-ha (Memorial Beach)

Anyone who hasn’t heard a-ha since the glory days of “Take On Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on TV” will be shocked, shocked when they hear this. Eight minutes in length, with a pseudo-spaghetti western intro and outro and booming drums, this is not your mother’s a-ha. Of course, because it wasn’t their mother’s a-ha, no one cared, and the album stiffed. But they should have cared, damn it.

Duran Duran
“UMF,” Duran Duran (The Wedding Album)

There are times when Simon LeBon is as subtle as a jackhammer. “I’m making love to the ultimate mind”? Gee, what ever could that ‘F’ in the title stand for? Still, as British faux-funk goes, this was a fun one, and I always wondered if this would have fared better as a follow-up to “Come Undone” than “Too Much Information” did.

Deep Forest
“Deep Forest,” Deep Forest (Deep Forest)

Courtesy of my then-roommate Hope. I never realized until now how much that vocal sounds like Bjork.

“Future Love Paradise (Reprise),” Seal (Future Love EP)

I have at least one alternate version, and in some cases seven versions, of every song from Seal’s first album. This was the last piece to fall, and while this reprise isn’t earth-shattering or anything, it’s still pretty cool.

“Beauty Stab,” ABC (Beauty Stab)

I had a couple minutes of tape to fill, and while ABC’s “rock record” is generally frowned upon, I still dig it.


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