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The Ghost of Mixtapes Past #003

December 9, 2009

Somehow, I did a five-year business degree. When I tell people this, they’re usually a tad surprised. I still am myself. How I managed to lazily navigate through a program I admittedly disliked, made zero friends in, and should’ve quit after the second year will always be somewhat of a mystery. But so be it – school doesn’t have to be where lifestyle choices are made.

As the token business school dork with terrible glasses and a lack of American Eagle clothing, I did manage to luck into one solid commerce experience: a co-operative work term in The Netherlands. For 12 weeks, when not working, I did nothing but consume pint cans for less than a dollar, see countless shows, traipse across canals, smoke loads of legal grass, and purchase countless albums – so many, in fact, my father gave me a heated lecture when I returned to Newfoundland on blowing my money.

I got back in early December of 2002, and had arranged to do a Xmas mixtape trade with friends. This cassette was supposed to have been sent to a guy in Ontario. Alas, I can be a bit lazy with mail. The tape collects a lot of the items I bought overseas.

My dad also got mad at me for making this tape – something about taking away from family Xmas time. Retirement from teaching has done him an incredible world of good.

Side A:

The Liars — We Live in NE Compton

Liars have come so far from being a run-of-the-mill disco-punk band. Rapture could have taken some lessons from them on musical growth. Hearing this today, I’m mostly indifferent. A step above Chili Pepper funk, to be sure.

The Nation of Ulysses — SS Exploder

Purchased at Distortion Records, a great little shop in Amsterdam. My intense love affair with all things Ian Svenonius began here. This song remains deadly, as does the whole record.

Wire — Read & Burn

Saw them perform at a festival. They had just started releasing the Read & Burn EPs, and this title track for the second edition still has a vicious, mechanical edge to it. One of the few original British punk groups who have managed to keep challenging themselves rather than trotting out a greatest hits show for the young folks.

Gang of Four — It Is Not Enough

Got this album, Songs of the Free, in Delft, home of Delftware. Not hard to tell this is ’80s Gang of Four. Album is only so-so – this definitely remains its peak track. Andy Gill’s guitar still has that cool, spikey thing happening, and the rhythm has a good groove to it.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Kid With the Replaceable Head

Great song suffering from mediocre production. I can see why Richard recently felt compelled to give Destiny Street a makeover, though I’m still unsure of how I feel about the practice in general.

Public Image Ltd. – Public Image

This song takes Johnny Lydon’s previous punk rock experience with the Pistols into much brighter territory, at least musically. Great driving rhythm, and Keith Levene’s simple guitar leads have a lot of charm. Got this, the first Public Image album, in Berlin for cheap.

Q & Not U – Recreation Myth

I’ve not listened to this band in a long time – saw them in Rotterdam on this trip. Fugazi Jr. actually still sound pretty solid. Also talked with the drummer at that show, felt a little starstruck, as a boy from Newfoundland who never got to mingle with cool musicians would.

The Ex – Art of Losing

I had only heard of The Ex at this point, and thought I might as well give them a shot while I was visiting their home country. Good choice. Wish I’d managed to catch them on my trip. I love how this song just stumbles along, occasionally cracked open by short improvisations.

Shellac – Wingwalker

I discovered the joys of downloading music while staying at the home of my temporary roomie, Ruud, who supposedly once beat former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek as a youth. Amongst the songs I discovered was this punishing Shellac tune from the 1993 Uranus single. Probably now one of my favourite Shellac numbers. Ugly guitars, Albini’s fractured shrieking, and the usual chugging beats. The last breakdown just ruled my world now.

Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her – Sentimental Journey

Unforgettably bad name for a mediocre Japanese band that kind of sounds like, on this track, Hole jamming with The Constantines. I later gave this to my friend Tristan as a Xmas gift. He’s since sold all his CDs, so who knows where it is now.

Slint – Glenn

I now like the Rhoda side of this 10” best. What’s there to say about Slint that hasn’t been said already by others? Still fun to think David Pajo was in Zwan with Billy Corgan. Check out his choice quotes on Zwan here. He compares Billy to Steve Coogan’s hilarious comedic creation, Allan Partridge. That makes me want to see a Billy Corgan reality series.

“Billy got so mad at me when he found out I didn’t know any Smashing Pumpkins songs. He would say, “You haven’t heard “1979”?”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Graveyard

From their second EP, which was released as a 7″ in Europe – think it was either a 12″ or 10″ on this side of the Atlantic. This still sounds good. I hear they’re a dance band now? That’s nice.

Flin Flon – Swift Current

From a 7” on Teenbeat. Simple instrumental with flashy drumming – the Flin Flon trademark. This jam is hot, and not about the community in Alberta.

Side B:

Reindeer Section – Nytol

They did my favourite live show while I was over there. Surprising. Sounds like a second-rate Arab Strap song, mostly because the singer from that group is on here. This band is now generally way too twee for me to get into.

Kingsbury Manx – Fanfare

Beautiful track. Kingsbury Manx did a great job creating spacey folk rock jams. Their self-titled debut is a neglected classic of this decade.

Syd Barrett – Octopus

Groovy psychedelic Britannia. Syd’s good, dead now, too.

Bob Marley – Mr. Brown

Was just starting to develop an appreciation for reggae at this point. Fortunately, it never bloomed into me starting a reggae band in St. John’s with a bunch of other white guys, singing in fake rasta voices. That would’ve been a cliche. But “Mr. Brown” is a nice song, really dig the way the organ comes in so hard on this recording. It’s a pre-Island Records recording, I think.

Roxy Music – Love is the Drug

Picked up Sirens for cheap in Delft, and played a bit of a trick by switching a better looking vinyl copy in a different sleeve to get a better price. Rarely have I been so dishonest in retail purchases. Bryan Ferry’s voice has mad personality.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Senior Service

From the Armed Forces album. The European version folds out in an intricate manner. Great find.

The Selecter – James Bond

This group will always seem like The Specials’ slightly less cool cousin to me. Still a fine group, though. I could’ve picked a better song by them for this mixtape – Three Minute Hero immediately comes to mind.

The Specials – Nite Club

Speaking of those handsome devils, I could’ve used any song from that first album and felt comfortable with the choice – though I’m enough of a weiner to feel the slightest tinge of liberal guilt over “Bitch.” One of my favourite records of all time.

The B’52’s – Devil’s in My Car

This track is pretty close in spirit to much of what was on the first record, but on a whole, the second album, Wild Planet, is pretty hit-and-miss. Quite a shocking scenario though. Maybe the devil is sex? Sex is in that car.

David Johansen – Not That Much

From the self-titled debut album by The New York Dolls vocalist. Singing about girls lovin’ their daddies. “Funky But Chic,” from the same album, is hilarious.

Johnny Thunders – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

Can’t believe I found So Alone on LP over there. Extremely nice find. Classic cut.

The MC5 – High School

Really fun tune with a lot of zip. Sadly, this album, Back In the USA, totally lacks in bass. For some people, that might seem like a charming feature. I don’t like it. Nevertheless, it has some sweet tambourine action going on.

The Flamin’ Groovies – Slow Death

This fairly lo-fi sounding ’70s nugget was on a Mojo compilation CD that came with one of their magazines. It sounds like The Rolling Stones getting in a garage and trying to sound a bit more like The Who, and totally nailing it. The main riff is huge, the mid-section breakdown boogies hard, and on a whole, the song high-fives my rock ‘n’ roll heart. Fucking ferocious, and an all-time fave of mine.

This is the same recording – the footage doesn’t sync up in the slightest:

The Sonics – Strychnine

Also from the Mojo comp, and my introduction to The Sonics. Could not have come soon enough. Great band, equally great song.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. passerine songs permalink*
    December 9, 2009 9:39 am

    “Mr. Brown” is indeed pre-Island Records. And I heard a white reggae band in St. John’s once years ago, but I forget the name…

    “Seagull(s) Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her”= bad band name, but a memorable old XTC cut.

  2. December 9, 2009 9:52 am

    I did not know of the XTC connection. Neat.

    As for the reggae band, it was probably either Skank, The Discounts, or The Idlers. The latter has toured a lot in recent years.

    • passerine songs permalink*
      December 9, 2009 11:24 am

      I think it was Skank, actually, that sounds kind of familiar. Were they around in 98-99?

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