23 December 2012
As of about ten years ago, I’d done 333 mixtapes. (As you can see, I’m not making a whole lot of progress converting them to CD.) Michele Catalano writes in Forbes that the comparative technological ease of making one’s own CDs has cost us something:
The art and make no mistake about it, it is an art of making a mix tape is one lost on a generation that only has to drag and drop to complete a mix. There’s no love or passion involved in moving digital songs from one folder to another. Those “mixes” are just playlists held prison inside a device. There’s no blood, sweat and tears involved in making them.
There was a certain ritual to making a perfect mix tape, one that could take hours to finish. Maybe even days, depending on how much you wanted to impress the recipient. While the songs had to have a common theme (“I hate you and hope you die” was as common a theme as “I would like to get to first base with you”), it wasn’t good enough to just take a bunch of love songs and throw them on a tape. It was about so much more than grouping some tunes together. They had to segue. They had to flow into one another. Each song needed to be a continuation of the one before it, as if all these disparate bands got together and recorded a concept album based solely on your feelings for the guy who sits in front of you in English class.
I do actually put that amount of work into a CD, mostly to improve the flow, although the fact that I haven’t done one all year should tell you something right there. And earlier this week I found in a box a fairly late tape (#326) labeled “Nothing in Common,” which turned out to be a random collection of Seventies stuff though I will happily defend its production, if only for exploiting the sheer variety of Seventies tunes: where else will you hear the Bee Gees’ “Love You Inside Out” and T. Rex’s “Metal Guru”?
7 November 2012
What to listen to when the weather has gone from frightful to lethal? Sheila O’Malley has posted her Sandy/Athena Shuffle, and there are two things you can be sure of: nothing painfully obvious, and the presence of Elvis.
6 July 2012
Stereogum once again is offering a 24-track mixtape (okay, it’s a pair of ZIP files, don’t get cranky) titled Cruel Summer, which they describe as “handpicked from the pool of this year’s finest freely available MP3s, and then lovingly selected and sequenced to soundtrack rooftop goodtimes and/or backyard BBQs and/or emotional breakdowns.” What more could you possibly want? And you’ve probably got 200 MB to spare, so download it here and unzip at leisure. So to speak.
17 January 2012
Yeah, I know, they probably won’t come around again all that time-looping business tends to screw around with the future but Steph’s Top 40 Tunes from the 80s contains some seriously good tunes from this era, some big hits, some not so big.
Then again: isn’t “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” (#33) the premise of every Smiths song?
30 December 2011
And after a long spell, another collection of songs that are seldom heard in stereo, with yet another variation on the same cover art. As before, this includes rather a lot of DES “Digitally Extracted Stereo” which is essentially fakery, but often really good fakery. A couple of these are sync mixes: the original 45 and a karaoke track fused into a single sort-of-stereo whole.
Note: “Paperback Writer” is routinely available in stereo, but the canonical mix is none too good; this is a remix. And the Doors track is an attempt at duplicating the 45 mix, by cutting, pieceing, and retiming the stereo LP version. I didn’t do either of these myself, so don’t ask me how it was done.
Track listing for 111147-2:
- The Dave Clark Five: Do You Love Me
- Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders: Game of Love
- The Skyliners: Since I Don’t Have You
- Martha and the Vandellas: Jimmy Mack
- The Beatles: Paperback Writer
- Chubby Checker: Hooka Tooka
- Preston Epps: Bongo Bongo Bongo
- Sagittarius: My World Fell Down
- The Yardbirds: I’m a Man
- The Shocking Blue: Venus
- The Beach Boys: Heroes and Villains
- Them: Baby Please Don’t Go
- Sonny and Cher: Baby Don’t Go
- The 13th Floor Elevators: You’re Gonna Miss Me
- Wilson Pickett: Funky Broadway
- The Animals: We Gotta Get Out of This Place
- The Crystals: Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)
- Sly and the Family Stone: Hot Fun in the Summertime
- King Harvest: Dancing in the Moonlight
- The Doors: Light My Fire
- The Temptations: Papa Was a Rolling Stone
- The Rivieras: California Sun
- Edwin Starr: Agent Double-O-Soul
- Eddie Cochran: Summertime Blues
- The Murmaids: Popsicles and Icicles
- Bobby Darin: Splish Splash
- The Soul Survivors: Expressway to Your Heart
11 November 2011
SongsAbout.com is “a database of ready-to-use playlists about holidays, current events and interesting topics of every kind!” Even better, they’re posted a little in advance; their Veterans Day selections came out on November 3rd.
The material is derived from the Green Book of Songs®, offered as a subscription service. They admit up front in their FAQ that they can’t possibly get everything:
Some songs are regarded as, frankly, too complex to full classify in this Database. For example, Emmylou Harris’s “The Pearl” covers profound themes of God and mankind that resist efforts to recognize it adequately. There are numerous other such cases, and we thank you for accepting the inevitable limitations within which this Database operates.
Which statement, modest as it is, was enough to insure their inclusion here.
22 August 2011
Tavi Gevinson, who’s been blogging at Style Rookie for four years, has several side projects, including mixes at 8tracks.com. This particular one I found delightful, especially in view of the fact that she wasn’t around for any of these songs when they first appeared. There’s no list attached, but you can read it here.
12 August 2011
So far as I know, I’ve never done a 1990s compilation of any sort, and this may have something to do with the fact that I spent much of that decade avoiding record stores and such. Fortunately, Apocalypstick is here to fill the embarrasing gap with an inspiring 24-track 90s mix, and what’s more, she was kind enough to put it up on Spotify. More than this, one should not presume to ask.
23 July 2011
Dear me, it’s been almost a year since I picked up the burner. And it took Rebecca Black to rouse me from my torpor. 2½ Weeks is an 18-track compilation covering, well, a little over 2½ weeks, starting of course with “Friday.” A hint to you songwriters out there: we need more good Wednesday and Thursday stuff.
Track listing for 111146-2:
- Rebecca Black: Friday
- Sam Cooke: Another Saturday Night
- Spanky and Our Gang: Sunday Mornin’
- The Mamas and the Papas: Monday, Monday
- The Moody Blues: Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)
- Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories: Waiting for Wednesday
- Giles, Giles and Fripp: Thursday Morning
- The Cure: Friday I’m in Love
- Elton John: Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
- The Clique: Sugar on Sunday
- The Boomtown Rats: I Don’t Like Mondays
- The Rolling Stones: Ruby Tuesday
- The Guess Who: A Wednesday in Your Garden
- Nilsson: (Thursday) Here’s Why I Didn’t Go to Work Today
- The Easybeats: Friday on My Mind
- Bay City Rollers: Saturday Night
- The Monkees: Pleasant Valley Sunday
- Bangles: Manic Monday
28 May 2011
A paragraph from Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity:
To me, making a tape is like writing a letter there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mind”, but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and … oh, there are loads of rules.
I might actually follow these once in a while, but I don’t make a habit of it.