The Friday Mixtape: 7/31/09

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We, at the site, really do strive to bring the coolest stuff possible to the readers and I think you’d agree our commitment pays off. But sometimes things float through our transom that don’t make it to the site for one reason or another. Such was the case when your own, your very own Dirk McQuickly Jason Hare e-mailed some links to the staff. A friend of his transferred old cassettes recorded from radio broadcasts in the ’80s, complete with commercials, DJ banter and other ephemera, to MP3. Nerdlet that I am, I downloaded as many as I could and reveled in a little regressive therapy at maximum volume.

Then I recalled, “Wait a minute. I’m a notorious packrat! I might have a few tapes of my own!” I did, in fact. Recordings of the fabled WPLJ from 1980s New York actually existed in a tape box that had an inch of dust congealed atop it. I thought this would be a very cool addition to our little Internet menagerie, and it would have been – were it not for the fact I only bought the cheapest, crappy blanks back then.

Yes, friends, the tapes had stretched, warped, some even seized up into circular spools of utter uselessness, but all were rendered ruined by time. But that doesn’t stop a man on a mission, now does it? I decided to build the playlist back from the ground up, based on the information on the J-card. Also, this one particular tape was playable but it sounded horrible, warbly, drifting in azimuth alignment so that sound meandered from fuzzy and muddy to irritatingly sharp.

mega front smallEven though WPLJ was clearly marked, no dates were. I determined, through a bit of Wiki-ing, that the songs came from between 1979 to 1982 but that led to other problems. For instance, this mix includes Rainbow’s “Stone Cold” from 1982. It also has Foreigner’s “Head Games” from 1979, and the latter probably could have carried on in the playlist for those intervening years. I seriously doubt Rocky Burnette’s “Tired Of Toein’ The Line” would have hung in there though, yet there it is.

Another point of confusion: The Sherbs’ “We Ride Tonight” from 1981 wasn’t really a hit in the US, but it shows up here as does Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” from 1982. There’s no way these two have co-existed. I think perhaps I recorded 1979 on the tape, then taped over a side with 1982. It doesn’t explain how ’80 and ’81 gets in there, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I taped some commercials as well, none of them surviving in suitable posting quality. If I was being so picky about the songs I was grabbing, why did I leave ads for Bubble Yum, concerts presented by Ron Delsner and the latest chick magnet from Chevrolet on there?

You lose the goofy interactions of the DJs and the charming, what-the-hell novelty of the commercials. You get arguably better sounding tracks. Unfortunately you also get REO Speedwagon, but it was on the tape and I felt I had to honor the continuity as found (or in Kevin Cronin’s case, the hon-Errrrrrrah) so there you go. I even decided to grace the darn thing with delightfully garish two-tone art for you mixtape downloaders. It’s all packaged in a handy-dandy zip file for your convenience, or you can pick and choose from our usual single track options.

It’s a moment in broadcasting we won’t see again, when genres as diverse as metal, hard rock, new wave pop and even rockabilly commingled for our entertainment. I certainly didn’t realize back then that I was listening to something special. I, like most of us, just took it for granted that this was rock radio. Hopefully, this approximation will get you a little bit nostalgic too.

Enough chatter. Time to boogie.

Foreigner – Head Games from Head Games (1979)

The first of two songs produced by Roy Thomas Baker on the list. He was one of five go-to producers in the late ’70s and early ’80s, having worked with Journey and Queen.

The Cars – Since I Held You from Candy-O (1979)

This is the second RTB production and I suspect most people would readily associate the band and the producer. This is an album cut but definitely had single potential. I wish radio stations still devoted a few precious minutes to album cuts, don’t you?

Tarney / Spencer Band – No Time To Lose from Run For Your Life (1979)

There’s nothing earth-shaking about the lyrics, but I’ve always found this song irresistible. Upon finally hearing the rest of the album, I know why this single was chosen, and why I’ve never bothered listening to the rest of the album again.

Gary Numan – Cars from The Pleasure Principle (1979)

They call it the first truly electronic hit, and I guess they’re right although some of the percussion is real. Say what you want about the song proper; those intertwined sine-wave synths at the end are still killer.

Rocky Burnette – Tired Of Toein’ The Line from The Son Of Rock And Roll (1980)

This is the odd-man-out, now isn’t it? It’s classic rock ‘n roll, but by this time on the charts, the “‘n roll” part was long forsaken.

Adam & The Ants – Antmusic from Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980)

Meanwhile, this was the “sound of today” but if you strip away the bite of the guitars, Adam’s eccentric vocal delivery and other telltale era additives, you find there’s little separating “Antmusic” from “Rock Around The Clock”.

J. Geils Band – Love Stinks from Love Stinks (1980)

The ugly, fat and hairy (or bald) people of America salute you, J. Geils, Seth Justman, Peter Wolf and (snicker, snicker) Magic Dick. Your first ’80s anthem gave us all something to sing on Valentine’s Day.

REO Speedwagon – Take It On The Run from Hi Infidelity(1980)

Again, it was on the tape. Beside, I know some of you Speedwagon apologists will take me to task for dissing the band, so having to add this is merely the punishment fitting the crime. Errrrrrrraaaaah!!

Shooting Star – Flesh And Blood from Hang on for Your Life (1981)

Never was a huge fan of Shooting Star, but I really love this song. It sounds like Randy Meisner fronting Kansas. I’ve had this on mixtapes previous but, as I said before, if it was on the cassette, it’s on here.

Styx – Half-Penny, Two-Penny from Paradise Theater (1981)

Another album cut, this time from the Paradise Theater album. Now, I give Styx crap like anyone (everyone?) but I’ve always liked this album. It’s the least flamboyant of their output, aside from the hit “The Best Of Times” – Also, could you imagine the tempo stepped up a bit, the guitars just a tad crunchier, and maybe James Hetfield growling James Young’s lines? I can.

Point Blank – Nicole from American Exce$$ (1981)

Another one-hitter that’s been on previous mixes, but it’s a perfectly fine example of Southern boogie-pop.

The Sherbs – We Ride Tonight from Defying Gravity (1981)

We call this the What The?! track of the mix. The Sherbs were from Australia and were previously a jazz-rock band called Sherbet. They jumped on the new wave sound, rechristened themselves (kind of) and still wound up almost thoroughly unknown. I’m sorry, Australian readers.

Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em) from Rockihnroll (1981)

I like this song, don’t get me wrong, but I liked it better when it was called “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

Aldo Nova – Fantasy from Aldo Nova (1981)

And why was Aldo Nova a one-hit wonder? Listen to that voice! No, really listen to it. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Red Rider – Lunatic Fringe from As Far as Siam (1981)

Fronted by Tom “Life Is A Highway” Cochrane, I remember liking this song back then but skip it whenever the playlist digs it up now. Do you think Rascal Flatts could cover this too?

Rainbow – Stone Cold from Straight Between the Eyes (1982)

Raise your stones if you must, but I still like Rainbow so much more than Deep Purple. Aim. Fire.

Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ from Screaming for Vengeance (1982)

How did we not know? “Leather Rebel”? “Rock Hard Ride Free”? “Ram It Down”? “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”? Again, how did we not know?

Golden Earring – Twilight Zone from Cut (1982)

Depending on the generation you belong to, Golden Earring are either the band that did “Twilight Zone”, the band that did “Radar Love” or who the hell are Golden Earring?

Scorpions – No One Like You from Blackout (1982)

Yes, no single Scorpions album will go down as an example of songcraft at it’s finest, but the whole Blackout album has a dimwitted charm about it. Plus, Klaus Meine’s voice, despite those German dipthongs, was made for loud rock music. “…To dee-skripe all my Lon-kinks for loff!”

Finally, you can find the whole magilla here as that Zip file… We’ll be back next week with our regularly scheduled program. Do drop by!

  • rob

    I was a WPLJ listener in high school, listening to Jim Kerr in the morning – until one day I woke up and Jim Kerr was still there, but some disco/top 40 crap was coming out of the radio. The gig was up. Bye, bye Jim. Hello, WNEW, Dan-O, Dennis Elsis and Scott Muni.

    Despite my warm memories of PLJ (first hearing the complete second side of “Days of Future Passed” while half-asleep one morning – now that's the way to hear it), I never regretted the switch. WNEW was an amazing station.

  • drcastrato

    best. fridaymixtape. ever.

  • Matt


    I love you, man.

  • JohnHughes

    :::How did we not know? “Leather Rebel”? “Rock Hard Ride Free”? “Ram It Down”? “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”? Again, how did we not know?:::

    Oh, about 10% of us knew.

  • wardo

    I have a tape somewhere with half of those songs on there.

    But the Tarney Spencer Band? Good call.

  • Eric S.

    Great post! An eclectic mix for sure, but I love just about everything here. What exactly caused radio to give up any hint of originality or creativity? Was it Michael Jackson, as Jon Cummings suggested yesterday? Radio is so fragmented today you can't even have a hit, so forget about album cuts. They only exist late nights on the classic rock formats. The Sherbs may seem a little out of place here, but I discovered them when “The Skill” got radio airplay. I still listen to their two albums to this day. I can't remember the last time I heard something on radio that made me seek out the band. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

  • DwDunphy

    Near as I can guess, these were the last of the DJ renegades. Corporatization was fast imposing itself on what got played how many times, and while there was plenty of payola cash and drugs to influence the personalities, a lot of them still had a feeling for what they did. Once CBS started buying up every market in sight, variables like a particular guy's fickle taste could not be left unchecked.

    That, I believe, was the beginning of the mass homogenization. Advertisers wanted their ads next to a hit, not some wannabe or album cut. But now, it's too late to turn that tide. Radio, terrestrial or otherwise is at the mercy of plug-in iPods, itself a sort of radio station except that the owner is his/her own program director.

  • Pingback: Lost 80’s Classic From The Sherbs “We Ride Tonight”…Plus Some Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Shooting Star, J Geils Band, Aldo Nova, Red Rider, Golden Earring, Judas Priest « Rock God Cred

  • CubeG

    This goes down as the best mixtape edition-EVER!! Some real good gems on this that have not heard since high school (yes, this shows my age-lol). We need more of these “dusty box” mix tapes. How about 83-87?!

  • Ted

    Every year the radio industry shrinks more and more. iPods, streaming audio, You Tube, Guitar Hero, video games and other “content on demand” is difficult to compete with. Radio has lost a good chunk of tween and teens to what's listed above, so now the industry is concentrating on the older demos and programming to their tastes. The problem is that formats like AC or classic rock are burning out songs that are 20-30 years old with rotation levels that's really high (i.e., “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles 4 times a week, or “Bye Bye Love” by the Cars 3 times a week). Sure, they are good songs, but you gotta sprinkle that kind of gold in a mix every few months, not every week.

  • DwDunphy

    Insofar as duplicating a running order from another old cassette, it would be tough. This particular one was the most complete with information (and it actually played; crappily, but it played…) What disappointed me most was not being able to add the DJ stuff and the commercials. At the time, I couldn't wait for them to end, but just like the commercials you left on your VHS tapes when you recorded those Christmas specials, age has a way of turning schmutz into “patina”.

    I have been considering maybe putting together a mix like you're asking, farther into the '80s and maybe I will. However, the premise of this reconstruction gets kinda lost. I'll leave it up to Popdose Nation: if you dug this mix and want to see more specifically zoning in on specific dates, speak up. I'm an old fart and deaf as a post.



  • DwDunphy

    Dead right. I'm also at odds with the existing stations that will flog one specific album from a band versus stretching across other albums with fresher material. I love The Cars' debut album, but inbetween that one and Heartbeat City, they had three other albums full of useable material. Used? Not bloody likely.

  • Ted

    “Let's Go” gets played a lot, but songs like the “Candy-O” I really don't hear all that much. And you're right about burning out one album from a band versus looking for deep cuts from albums that weren't that successful, but had some gems that weren't released as singles.

  • MaryInDallas

    “No Time to Lose” and “Nicole”…hello, 10th grade! Lovin' this trip down memory lane.

  • DwDunphy

    I know we dingbat metalheads of the day were a little intimidating (and nowhere near enlightened) but had the 10% informed us that our gaydar was picking up mixed frequencies, maybe we would have stopped trying to pick up hot chicks with Rob Halford's double entendre.

  • DwDunphy

    True, but Candy-O is the perfect example. Aside from “Let's Go” which was already getting play, and the very arch Suicide homage “Shoo-Be-Doo” there were nine other songs that are perfect for airplay – new-wave, power-pop, whatever it is, it was a veritable singles collection right out of the box…

  • mojo

    i ask myself once every couple years when I'm in the attic why i have been saving some of my 1980s tapes i put together from the radio? the maxells. the realistics. the tdks…heh, DW email me your mailing address back channel and they're all yours…can anyone say Pac Man Fever????? Or the Fort Wayne Dj sreaming “Billy Squier ain't no weenie!” during the intro of “everybody wants you?” All yours my man

  • DwDunphy

    I take it from your comments that the reconstruction era has not yet ended. You'll be receiving a mailing address forthwith.

  • CubeG

    Awesome….I will be looking forward to more in this series!

  • CubeG

    Awesome….I will be looking forward to more in this series!

  • CubeG

    Awesome….I will be looking forward to more in this series!

  • Ken Buzzins

    Sherbet were huge in Australia and were a pop rock band. But who cares anyway.