Mixtape: Vinyl Devotion

I put this mixtape together many many years ago for a tape tree on the Audities mailing list. I look at mixtapes as something to be taken in one sitting, ideally something slapped in for a car trip where the flow of the music is the center of attention, like I’ve got one shot to program an hour on the radio to win you over. So I started going through my vinyl alphabetically; just vinyl albums – no singles, CDs, or cassettes.

Remember mixtapes? Remember vinyl?

As the people I was trading with have pretty deep roots, I avoided the obvious (ie Beatles, Big Star, Cheap Trick, etc) and went for other songs that stir my stewpot. By the time I got through the “D”s, I easily had twice as much as I needed, and that wasn’t even taking into account the 3-400 albums that were in the “to be filed” pile.

But I came up with a beauty filled with great bands and great songs. I’ve included the original track-by-track annotations that I used for Vinyl Devotion’s liner notes, and since this was in the mid 90s, some of the references will be out of date. But the music is timeless – not a tune that doesn’t stand up today.  Mixtapes were a labor of love; even the needle dropping at the start of side A was intentional.

Side A

01 THE BOYS – “First Time Out”
Since you need something to get you out of the driveway, why not something young, loud and snotty? This was quintessential New Wave pop punk. Billy Joe of Green Day probably has a Boys lunchbox. (LINK TO A LIVE VERSION)

02 THE ATLANTICS – “One Last Night”
If INXS were cool and they grew up on 50’s and 60’s American radio, they’d sound like this. But they weren’t, andthey didn’t, and they don’t. Singer’s a bit of a crooner, but it’s a cool song nevertheless.

03 DANCING HOODS – “She May Call You Up Tonight”
Yep, the Left Banke song. I think this version is better. I loved this band but Relativity sank like a stone and these guys with them. The singer, Bob Bortnick, is now in A&R and Mark Linkous is in Sparklehorse. Too bad.

04 THE dBs – “Working For Somebody Else”
So why does everyone hate THE SOUND OF MUSIC? I think the Holsapple era is great. This is almost Chilton-ish rock – the harmonica solo, ringing phone, and the great way Peter pronounces the word “car-REEEP”.

05 THE BEAT FARMERS – “Ridin”
God Bless the late Country Dick Montana,who was Keith Richards in chaps. The BEAT FARMERS were the best bar band ever and always kicked your ass from wall to wall. This Joey Harris tune is a nice taste. R.I.P. fellas! (LINK TO A LIVE VERSION)

06 THE ACCELERATORS – “Two Girls In Love”
Another great band no one knows, what is it about that water in North Carolina? This band rules, but they only put out a record every five years; tho I heard they just re-formed. I love the drum sound on this song.

07 BEAT RODEO – “Just Friends”
Slowing it down, this Don Dixon/Mitch Easter production is anything but twee. Despite the cow name it’s just pure pop after all. Saw these guys live and they were absolutely wonderful. I miss songs like this.

08 DON DIXON – “Your Sister Told Me”
I’m convinced that if Motown were in North Carolina, Dixon would be Holland, Dozier and Holland. One of the many on my “how can this guy/band not be friggin’ HUGE?” list. And my hat tip to The Woods, his roots. (LINK TO A STUDIO VERSION)

09 BILLY BREMNER – “When These Shoes Were New”
The true M.V.P. of Rockpile. From the lp BASH which only his parents and I bought. Will Birch co-wrote and produced most of the songs, and it’s wall-to-wall great. I want to play piano like the guy on this track.

10 ANY TROUBLE – “The Trouble With Love”
Clive Gregson just didn’t fit in that New Wave movement, but his band put out five killer records with great songs like this. You may know his records and gigs with Christine Collister and their gigs with Richard Thompson

11 THE A’s – “Heart Of America”
From Philly, natch – is this one of the ten best rock and roll songs ever made? Mott The Hoople meets Elvis Costello and drop the gloves. Killer guitars, horn section, and the one of the most unusual solos in rock history.

12 THE CRETONES – “Real Love”
When Linda Ronstadt “went punk” that year she butchered “Alison” and two of this band’s songs; “Mad Love” is the other. This is pretty mainstream, but fun when you realize there isn’t a female voice on the record.

13 THE DUROCS – “Saving It All Up For Larry”
Try this: Brian Wilson goes sandbox, but instead of Stamos and Johnston the Beach Boys sign up Flo, Eddie, Zappa and Todd. Actually it’s Nagle and Matthews, right around the time they produced John Hiatt. Great, great record! (LINK TO VIDEO VERSION)

Side B

01 JOHN CALE – “Guts”
From the album that even Cale-haters like. Uses the words “parrot shit” and “hyperbole” in the same verse. Top that, Lou Reed! This record is known for a suicide-inducing drone version of “Heartbreak Hotel”

02 THE CRUZADOS – “Motorcycle Girl”
Tito and the boys cooking up East L.A. spunk in the days before they hooked up for gigs as Bob Dylan’s band. Bassist Tony Marsico is now with Matthew Sweet.

03 HERMAN BROOD – “Sleepin’ Bird”
My favorite Dutch ex-junkie porn star rock god, and the best rock and roll band in the world. He’s a famous painter now. Had an American hit with “Saturday Night” in 1978 but put out several searing records in Holland. Yowza! (LINK TO A LIVE VERSION)

04 THE DRONGOS – “Overnight Bag”
Life before Crowded House in New Zealand. What a great guitar player! I wouldn’t try to make love to this song; it’s better suited for popping popcorn! Went to see them one night only to find out they broke up that afternoon.

05 THE DIRTY ANGELS – “Call My Name”
Remember in 1979/80 when everybody got signed and dressed in pastels on album covers? Well, DA had nude mannequins with missing appendages. Ah, so what. But I know the name David Hull from elsewhere.

06 THE DICTATORS – “Heartache”
Scott “Top Ten” Kempner and Andy Shernoff both could write big hooks, but the underwater production buried them. Too bad. When you got past Ross The Boss’ guitar god act, these guys had some great songs!

07 CITY BOY – “I’ve Been Spun”
Jellyfish, eat your heart out. These guys could really rock, too, but were known for the unbelievable vocal harmonies. The guitar player, Mike Slamer, makes me grab the air guitar frequently over six records.

08 BLUEBELLS – “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”
No, not the Dean Martin song. You may remember “Cath” or “Syracuse University”, but I always liked this the best. One of those “why isn’t this on CD” records, but frankly most people can’t even find the vinyl!

09 THE DAVE CLARK FIVE – “Because”
Because after 33 years it’s still great. Because Gary Frenay and Artie Lenin played it at my wedding and people were breaking out in tears. Because it’s my tape. Because.

10 ARTFUL DODGER – “She’s Just My Baby”
Even Artful Dodger fans gave up by this record. While earlier records were like a poppier Rod Stewart; I hear a perfect blend of Dwight Twilley and The Records. Why was this band not a major, major hit? (LINK TO THE PROMO VIDEO)

11 MARSHALL CRENSHAW – “Rave On”
Live cut done at the drop of a hat in a Chicago station. Unbelievable how great he and the guitar sound just by themselves! So far he’s played Lennon in Beatlemania, Holly on film, and made one of the best debut records ever.

12 GARY CHARLSON BAND – “Hey Deanie” & “Go Back”
Another live in the studio gig from an incredible pop guy, these are two of my faves. Bought this based on Bruce Brodeen‘s adjectives (it’s an OLD record). So where is he now? And who the hell was this incredible drummer? (LINK TO A GARY CHARLSON MEDLEY)

13 SHAUN CASSIDY – “So Sad About Us”
Yeah, go ahead and snicker. The backup band is Todd and Utopia, and the whole album could have been called Faithful – Part Two! Messed up Shaun so badly he didn’t resurface for years, and then showed up with “American Gothic”!

 

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Mixtape: Vinyl Devotion

  1. ahhh – the glorious mix tape. I offered to make somebody a mix tape recently and they said “but I have nothing to play it on”. my heart sank.

    love that Don Dixon song! first time I’ve heard it. it’s just pure american pop

    as for John Cale – I love the Velvets but have only recently started getting Cale’s solo stuff. the album of his that blows me away with every listen is Black Acetate. genius from start to finish.

  2. I recently discovered the A’s, the Atlantics and the Cretones, thanks to the various power pop blogs littering the web.

    The Cruzados get a lot of crap for the mainstream slickness of their records, but I think the songs hold up nicely.

    Need more info about the Dirty Angels. I like the name.

    Been curious about Artful Dodger and City Boy for a while. I have to admit I’ve been put off the latter by Mike Slamer’s post-City Boy project Streets, who were an uninspired AOR hard rock band (featuring Steve Walsh from Kansas, no less). That doesn’t mean City Boy is anything like Streets, but Streets was so dire it’s made me avoid anything with Slamer’s name on it.

    Oh, and I like the Holsapple era of the dB’s as well. It’s heresy, but I actually like The Sound of Music and Stamey’s solo work better than the much-worshipped first couple of dB’s records.

  3. drbristol

    I don’t really care for Streets or for the Slamer band, but City Boy is flat-out awesome. The first four albums were reissued as 2-fers and the next two came out as solo copies. Don’t remember if It’s Personal is available again but its the weakest of the seven. If you only have time for one, Young Men Gone West is almost flawess.

    The A’s have a 2-fer reissue from last year.

    We’re in agreement on both the Cruzados and dBs…and I’ll dig out some more Dirty Angels info,

  4. drbristol

    I make mix cds now; the tape tree morphed to a CD tree years ago but the phrase “mix disc” just doesn’t sound right.

    I’m debating buying some storage space and uploading burns of the mixes; I also will probably be lazy enough to burn the tapes to CD rather than reconstruct them from scratch, especially since I’d have to do vinyl burns again.

    Not that I have spare time or anything!

  5. Bill Mastro

    Wow, this was Bill’s first mix for SOTT #1 – February 1997. I still have the tape and it was definitely a mix for long car rides.

    The good doctor bristol is the only person who has participated in all 22 rounds of SOTT since its nascent beginnings back in early 1997. At this point it would take a few months to listen to all of those mixes, some of which absolute killers.

    Bill

  6. drbristol

    And Mr. Mastro has been the curator for the vast majority of those mix-fests. When he took over the original tape tree last century, it was renamed Son Of Tape Tree (or SOTT for short). Over the years it morphed from cassettes to CDs.

    It may sound simple to collect 30-40 boxes of mixes from people, collate complete return sets, hit the PO and keep everyone happy, but it’s not (I know – I’ve run a few). Bill does yeoman work and also has a treasure trove of 45s that would make Greg Cartwright blush. We’re down from every quarter to an annual mix exchange, but it’s a worthy tradition that he singlehandedly keeps alive. Kudos, mate.

    So yeah, that was the very first one, many moons ago. I’ll likely stick around until SOTT goes to digital downlaods, and then I’m out.

  7. I think the piano on Billy Bremner’s ‘Shoes Were New’ may have been played by Gavin Povey. W.

  8. Just fished a Dirty Angels album (their only one?) out of a dollar bin at Waterloo Records. Once the computer to which my USB turntable is attached is back up and running, I’ll give it a spin. The band sure look like dorks on the back of the album.

  9. drbristol

    Bands should have a guardian angel who shows up at photo shoots to say “Hmm…maybe you really don’t want to pose like that. And fix your hair!”

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