Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Sal's Self-Indulgent But Hopefully Entertaining Top 10 Project Realized, Parts 1-3" : THE WEEKEND MIX(ES)

Back when I was a much younger music dork making mixtapes on those sexy Memorex Chromium Dioxide cassettes with the switchblade-style case and that killer, new tape smell, I'd go absolutely mental when a great idea for a theme would come to mind. I couldn't wait to lock myself in my room with a big glass of Hawaiian Punch, a box of Milk Duds, and my air traffic controller-size Koss headphones carefully balanced on my head. Of course, looking back at some of those old tapes, those "great ideas" were mostly just ideas.

"B-Sides." "Girls' Names." "All Instrumental."


One theme was a series called "Top 10," where I chose my ten favorites songs by one artist and compiled them in ascending order. Chillingly brilliant, no?


A few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend who was getting rid of almost all of his CD collection. I mean, thousands of CDs, just packed and ready to move. I understand that feeling. I've been there, and am actually there now.  (I have about 4,000. I'd like to have about 500. Any interest? Let's talk.) What bothered me about my friend was this statement, "All I need are the 'greatest hits' of everyone." I wanted to slap him with a pike. Suddenly, all these fabulous artists, these brilliant singers and songwriters, these stellar musicians, were no longer necessary to this long time music fanatic. His words, "'I Want You To Want Me' and 'Surrender' are Cheap Trick's only good songs anyway," caused my heart to attack me.

I was so taken by his change of heart about all of his music, I offered to make endless supply...each featuring 20 songs that weren't greatest hits by, well...everyone. I just couldn't accept the fact that someone who claimed to love music, could be satisfied with a lone Bob Dylan CD that had ten songs, one of which was "Lay Lady Lay." Or worse, that he passed judgement on bands that I considered my all time faves like Cheap Trick, Queen, and Hall & Oates, based solely on radio hits like "The Flame," "We Will Rock You" and "Maneater."

(You still with me?)

I married these two stories and came up with a project I've been wanting to attack for years. For this "WEEKEND MIX," here are the first three of what I hope to be many, Top Tens, featuring the not so obvious. Maybe the naysayers and the uninterested will find something they never knew existed. And for the fans, maybe you'll just have some fun comparing my fave non-hits with yours.

Up first, David Bowie, Cheap Trick and Hall & Oates. (We'll save Queen for the new year.)

In the case of Bowie, I focused solely on his last 4 albums. Too many people gave up after "Scary Monsters," which is one of my least favorite Bowie records by the way, and didn't even bother after he released such 80's dreck like "Tonight" and "Never Let Me Down." As for Cheap Trick and Hall & Oates, well as I said, I love these people, so it wasn't easy to narrow it down to ten. But I did, keeping your ears and three years of your comments in mind while editing.

Have fun!


New Killer Star
Something In The Air
Slow Burn
Seven Years In Tibet
5:15 The Angels Have Gone
She'll Drive The Big Car
You've Got A Habit Of Leaving
Fall Dog Bombs The Moon
Everyone Says "Hi"


Back 'N Blue
Let Go
Oh, Candy
Everything Works If You Let It
I Don't Love Here Anymore
That Means A Lot
Closer, The Ballad Of Burt & Linda
Heaven's Falling
Southern Girls (Steve Albini Mix)


Abandoned Luncheonette
Grounds For Separation
London, Luck, & Love
Someday We'll Know w/Todd Rundgren
Guessing Games
70's Scenario
Head Above Water
August Day
So Close
Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid





ronh said...

I know you're not trying to be anyone's favorite blog, Sal. I rarely think in those terms myself.! This looks like it will be so much fun! Thanks.

wool said...

interesting project and I agree with theory of 10...Somewhere down the line would love to hear your Mott picks. Right now though...looking forward to Bowie stuff.

A walk in the woods said...

This is what blogging was supposed to be about in the first place -- not just posting a bazillion albums that people could and should go buy, but a thoughtful re-take on something we don't know about, or thought we know but can learn more.

Hurrah! Can't wait to hear 'em. And dang, I sure had that same feeling in regards to mixtapes. So many hours spent making them -- and I don't regret a single one, even if it didn't turn out the best.

I still do the same now with iTunes playlists. Different, wayyyy different, but a bit of the same buzz.

Anonymous said...

Great Bowie mix! Glad to see Old Boy's non-early non funny ones getting some spins. I'd also add "Seven", "I Would Be Your Slave", "Loneliest Guy", & "Gemini Spaceship".


soundsource said...

great idea can't wait to listen to the first three of what I hope are many more

buzzbabyjesus said...

I couldn't be satisfied with anyone's greatest hits, but rather the ten best songs, some of which might be hits.
The art is making a mix that the songs wear at about the same rate, and plays like an album.
I mostly just play my music in "shuffle" mode.

charlie c. said...

My brother-in-law Peter was the mix tape guy. "Music for sax lovers", "Relationships" et al. He died young. Huge loss. Always wondered what he would have done with iTunes and the rest . . . Now I've got Sal! (I was always too busy refining and graded and organizing my Grateful Dead tape library to indulge) Had some awesome sets as a DJ on WONY circa 1971-73. I always have them rattling around in my head and hugely admire other's: The Loft and Deep Tracks on XM have some fine efforts. Not enamored with this week's artists -- but I will give the Bowie set a listen . . .

Sal Nunziato said...

Hey Charlie,
Just curious, not pushing buttons...are you not "enamored" with these artists because you're familiar with the hits, or have you given full albums a chance and just decided they weren't for you?

I know if all I had to go on was MTV videos of Hall & Oates and that terrible live version of "I Want You To Want Me," I'd stay away, too.

charlie c. said...

hmmmm -- i think for me the artists (middle of the pack) didn't match up with the concept (huge). so far only my semantical button is engaged: not enamored means not enamored! (i don't lurve them) wouldn't kick them out of my playslist but . . .
I know you dig H&O and I can get with that, but Cheap Trick and not . . . The Who?!?

Sal Nunziato said...

It's early! It's only just begun. The Who are too easy. No one hates The Who. People hate H&O. People dismiss CT as novelty. People hate Queen. I think I'll eventualy get to The Who, but I think my next three may be The Grateful Dead, Mott The Hoople, and Queen.

Sal Nunziato said...

And now that I divulged the next 3, I'm sure 67% of my readership won't tune in.

charlie c. said...

screw that other 2/3 -- i am in!
GD! promise me -- at least 5 songs not from the first album. the who is hard, not easy! (i don't hate queen -- i just loathe their fans!)

cmealha said...

Great idea but how can you take 10 from any of these artists. It changes for me from day to day. They all had such a wide range to choose from. The bowie stuff is great because I did abandon him along the line so I don 't know most of this stuff. But how do you choose "Southern Girls" over "Such a Good Girl" or "Younger Girls". How to decide between "Grounds for Separation" and "Man On a Mission" or "It's a Laugh". Not a complaint. It's just that with these artists, as soon as I'd pick 10 I'd have another 10 that I would think of to replace the first 10. Nice try on an impossible task.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

Love the concept and enjoy all the artists represented. Looking forward to the next three, too. Suggestions for future Top 10's: Kiss, Bee Gees, J. Geils Band--just because I have a hunch you'd have great choices for these particular artists.

elizabeth said...

very interesting and fun. like buzzbaby, i usually take the easy way out and just hit random. which can lead to christmas music in the middle of summer.
once i had a big reel to reel player (to be moved carefully -when they fall on your head, you bleed a lot!)and spent more time making tapes than studying. not my wisest choice...
it would be intriguing to see what list bw readers would put together. now that you've mentioned gd, kiss,& mott, what would their choices be, particularly from those really familiar with the individual bands work and how they stack up to your choices.

Sammy said...

This reminds me of the guy in the (Geico?) commercial who trains the hamsters in order to save money. (He taught the chubby one to say "Row!..."such a simple word")...well, this is such a simple idea...but it's great... and though I may not be (or have ceased to be) a big fan of some of those artists, at least I'll get to hear why, maybe, I should be...

Todd said...

Sal, I love the idea! are you open to suggestions/ donations?

I'm already a huge Cheat Trick and Bowie fan, but the H&O is intriguing and I'm really looking forward to the next three!

Sal Nunziato said...

@Todd and everyone.

Yes!! Suggestions would be a blast.

cmealha said...

So many obvious ones but I'd like to see you take on Prince post "Diamonds and Pearls".

A guy called Tak said...

Yes, I have to admit that I made those "Theme" tapes - hundreds of them!
"What's her name?"
"Songs for a rainy day"
"Sunday morning"
"Driving music"
"I Love L.A."
"Night music"

etc. etc. etc.

I hope you would continue this series.
Todd, Cale, Nyro, maybe?

Bill said...

Great idea, Sal. I second the Cale nomination (maybe a Lou one to join it?). How about Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, just for fun?