Happy New Year, Mix Sixers! Last week, I was enthralled with some bands that I hope will be big this year, but something happened on the way to the new year that made me both a little hung over and lazy. One: I drank a lot on New Year’s Eve. Two: I kept drinking a lot right up until Saturday. Not all day, mind you — just after 5pm to keep it civilized. Of course this had the consequence of emptying my mind of any kind of creativity … so what’s a guy to do? Well, I could have asked my colleagues if they wanted to take a turn at the proverbial turntables, but I figured they were hung over, too. So, I did what any self-respecting DJ would do: I just threw myself at the alter of the music gods, picked one song, played it and then started scrolling through my music library to find others that would mix well down the line. And so was born another random sample – which I hope you like.
“Puberty,” Belly (Download)
A group that showed so much promise, but unfortunately disbanded all too soon. To me, King was Belly’s best album of the two they released, mostly because Tanya Donelly’s lyric writing was less introspective and the band rocked harder. I’ve read a few accounts about why the group broke up, and none really get to the heart of the matter. But Donelly blames that on the band’s Northeast roots — which, it seems, means that they don’t fight. Rather, they just kind of clam up, go to neutral corners, never talk about the band anymore, nor really see each other again.
“Savage Earth Heart (Live),” the Waterboys (Download)
The Waterboys’ anthemic sound has it’s most obvious admirers in U2. Yes, they certainly had that thunderous “Glory hallelujah” thing going for them early on in their career, but they never really made a big mark in the U.S. mostly because their most ardent admirers (U2) kind of beat them at their own game. Nevertheless, “Savage Earth Heart” is simply one of my favorite songs by the group, and this live version (which came from an album of live tracks, some outtakes and demos I bought years ago) has all the requisite elements you come to expect from the group: a slow build, righteous lyrics, and horn punches that hammer home the sense of conviction Mike Scott conveys so well.
“14th Street Break,” Beastie Boys (Download)
The Beastie Boys won a Grammy for this album, but it sold the fewest copies of their catalogue. With musical content that’s all-instrumental, it was tough for many fans to warm up to since, well, when people buy a Beastie Boys record, they want it to be big, loud, and lyrically nasty. What they got was a pretty good group of songs that ran the gamut of the Boys’ stylistic influences without their trademark raps. I guess I was in the minority since I really warmed up to the album. It was in high rotation in my car for a good two weeks, and I never really grew tired of it during that time. What initially hooked me was the video for “Suco de Tangerina“– which had all the trademark Beastie quirkiness. After seeing Ad-Rock get his drink spiked and then kind of freak out, I knew that even though the Beastie Boys were doing an album that was more serious (because it showcased their musicality) they hadn’t lost their sense of humor.
“Lunar Bay,” Frankie Goes To Hollywood (Download)
Talk about your sophomore slump! Liverpool really tanked for Frankie, but it had this gem that I put on a mix tape back in the day. It was only when my wife was asked me about the song that I revisited it and realized what I miss about the good old days of albums: discovering an awesome deep track.
“Suspended in Gaffa,” Ra Ra Riot (Download)
I bought this album on a whim back in 2008, and was surprised to hear this rather faithful cover of a Kate Bush song on it. Instead of trying to match her odd vocal style between the verses, however, the band used a violin in a rather subtle and tasteful way.
“You Don’t Know You’re Born,” Mark Knopfler (Download)
If you’re a faithful Mix Six reader, you know that Dire Straits is one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve really wanted to like Mark Knopfler’s solo work, but it’s really hit or miss for me. When Mark “hits,” however, he does it so well. And if you’re a Knopfler fan, you’re the kind of person who wants to get lost in his guitar work, right? Well, on “You Don’t Know You’re Born” the song has a beautiful ride out which evokes a real sense of wandering that doesn’t disappoint.