Welcome again to another episode of Mystery Friday! Time moves in strange ways in the Demo Universe, especially when I reach into the Box Of Unknown, pull out an unmarked cassette, play it, and attempt to describe it.
Our subject today/yesterday is a Denon Anti Resonance Construction HD8/100 High Bias Head Cleaning Leader cassette. You can tell from the number of words that this is a premium quality cassette. It has a jewel box but no j-card and the cassette is unmarked except for bits of tape affixed to the upper left corner of each side, labeling Side A “1”, and Side B, “3”. Hmmm.
Time won’t tell me what’s on this tape until I play it. Are you ready? Let’s listen!
1. “Smile Happy” by War, from the album “Why Can’t We Be Friends” (1975). This earthy, majestic, catharic Latino-jazz instrumental kicks off side two. The great band from East L.A. are at the height of their powers.
2. “What Difference Does It Make?” by The Smiths. Nice segue from brown joy to white despair, mister. 1984. Was Orwell wrong?
This is a mix tape for a party Carole and I hosted about 20 years ago at our apartment in Sunnyside. I’m guessing New Year’s Eve, 1992. I won’t be streaming this on Soundcloud, obviously — it will get yanked instantly. But I’m still fond of you, so just leave a comment and I’ll set you up. No more apologies!
3. “Right Now” by The Creatures. Siousxie and Budgie swing out, John Barry style. 1983.
4. “Let the Good Times Roll” by Shirley and Lee. This has to be a party tape. 1956.
5. “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Don Henley. The sound of 1989.
6. “Memphis In The Meantime” by John Hiatt. Lead track on 1987’s superb Bring the Family — Hyatt’s big comeback and a cornerstone of his career. If you haven’t heard it, you should.
7. “A Town Called Malice” by The Jam. A have a lot of favorite Jam songs, and this is one of them. 1982.
8. “Put A Tail On Your Kite” by Gunbunnies From the 1990 album Paw Paw Patch. Led by singer and killer guitarist Chris Maxwell, who went on to join the amazing Skeleton Key with Eric Sanko.
9. “Great Fire” by XTC. This song was on every mix tape I made after 1983.
10. “The Lone Rhinoceros” by Adrian Belew. From his 1982 debut Lone Rhino. Among the greatest guitarists ever, in my opinion.
11. “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell and The Voidoids. Nineteen fucking seventy-seven. If you haven’t given to Heart On Fire: Ivan Julian Fund, please do so now. Thanks.
12. “Stray Cat Strut” by The Stray Cats. I spent a lot of time at Heckle & Jeckle’s music bar in Merrick, Long Island, and once saw these guys hanging out at the bar. Never saw ’em play, but I did get my first tattoo as a indirect result of this song.
13. “Slipping and Sliding” by John Lennon. From his 1975 covers album Rock ‘n’ Roll. Produced by Phil Spector with his customary restraint.
14. “I’m An Adult Now” by The Pursuit of Happiness. Somebody screaming in a leather jacket. The sound of Toronto, 1986.
15. “Telstar” by Joe Meek and The Tornados. It’s 1962 and I am running out of tape on Side 1.
At this juncture, it’s worth pointing out that this mix was recorded solely from vinyl recordings. Yeah. I’m bad.
1. “Wild And Loose” by The Time. I swear to God I titled this post before I heard this! This is, of course, from the 1982 album What Time Is It?, co-produced by Morris Day and Prince. Somebody get me a mirror!
2. “Get On The Good Foot” by James Brown. This had to be a New Year’s party. 1990?
3. “Around the Way Girl” by LL Cool J. Proof I liked rap in 1990.
4. “Soul Sassy” by Neneh Cherry. From Homebrew, 1992. The most recent song on this tape so far.
5. “Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground. The other sound of 1989.
6. Hmmm. “25 O’Clock” by Dukes of Stratosphear is almost immediately interrupted by “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were not a complete embarrassment in 1991. Dunno what happened here.
7. “From a Million Miles” by Single Gun Theory. Released as a single in November 1991. An under-appreciated electronic dance-pop band from Australia. This cut is radiant, and so of its time. Memories come flooding back.
8. What else could I play after that, but “Soon” by My Bloody Valentine? Words can hardly express how this song, and this album, changed me in 1991. An epochal recording.
9. “Mysterious Ways” by U2. Achtung Baby. After surviving a near-fatal bout of head-in-ass (an illness to which they would ultimately succumb), Bono and the boys rallied to hit it out the park in ’91.
10. “Golden Years” by David Bowie. The sound of 1976. I was seventeen, going on seventy. Run for the shadows.
11. “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads. The sound of 1981. All these years later, still blows my mind. Listen carefully, or just dance.
12. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles. The sound of 1966. See instructions for “Once In A Lifetime”.
Well, that was fun! I do hope to hear from some of you in the comments, as I’d be glad to share my mix tape with you. I wonder where Side 2 & 4 is?