1. It’s crazy-dark, taken from a ‘20s opera written by Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht, turned into a happy-go-lucky Bobby Darin cover, then returned to the bleak European winter by the Psychedelic Furs. To my knowledge, they never had any other covers in their repertoire. Recorded at a Peel session, this version is only available on Should God Forget, the first comprehensive Psychedelic Furs compilation made, from 1997.
2. This was the first Psychedelic Furs track I ever really liked. I asked for, and received, this compilation for Christmas that year. I must’ve seen some commercial or read some review that said this was an essential purchase, so on the list it went. I didn’t know the Furs and I definitely hadn’t seen Pretty in Pink yet. (Yeah, yeah. I bloomed late.) So the band’s context and poppier songs were still ahead for me. For whatever reason, I gravitated to this song above all others on the compilation, and it sounded like nothing else I was liking at the time. I had no idea how out of character it was for the band—raw, primal, groovy as fuck. It may be the only time they ever achieved this level of atmosphere and is definitely the only time they ever sounded this menacing and confident.
3. I realized while listening to the X-Ray Spex track that my tendency is always to go faster. Whatever Mr. Smigielski puts forth, I somehow feel like I need to pick up the tempo, even when it’s already fast and reckless. I suppose I do this because my default mix setting is getting up and running right away. So I wanted to try slowing it down significantly and seeing what would happen after. This track is unhinged and relaxed, taking its sweet time getting to a wonderfully trippy drum solo and full band outro. With a sax—the official mascot of Vol 07—winding its way in and around and behind everything else.
What can I say? What People Do For Fun is a mesmerizingly good song. And those are distinctly hard to follow up. I hang my head in shame that it was completely unknown to me. Songs that good should be written into our DNA.
In the vein of pseudo-adolescent snarkisms from the era, I had little choice but to break out one of my all time favs, X-ray Spex. What they lack in spindly new wave instrumentation, they more than make up for with rambunctiously goofy but equally genius use of horns in punk rock music. And Poly Styrene’s voice is utterly unique and she remains one of my favorite vocalists.
Admittedly this post was delayed by the sheer task of deciding which ONE song from the Spex I was going to use, knowing full well I could never dip back into that well again. This isn’t necessarily my favorite but it’s up there and I felt it would lead us in interesting directions.
Mr Joosse, you’ll run my well dry of this era soon enough.
The Suburbs are one of my favorite examples of a band I had to stumble into—no one around me told me they had existed or that they were the missing Minneapolis link between Prince and The Replacements. Their albums are sorely underrated and, as Mr. Smigielski’s seen, now hard to find. So I wanted to follow his example and utilize another powerhouse you’re not likely to have heard of.
Martha and the Muffins were Canada’s entry in the post-punk Olympics, and had filled out by 1983’s Danseparc album to incorporate warmer guitars and polyrhythms alongside their original spindly synthpop sound. Though I wanted to employ a track with horns, and though there are horns elsewhere on Danseparc, “What People Do For Fun” doesn’t have any. But it makes a fine companion to “Rattle My Bones,” with its Talking Heads guitar, automaton chant, rubbery bassline, and combination of childlike rhymes (“Eeny meeny miney mo”) and adult content (“they dance until two, fuck until four”). It continues pulling this mix square into the realm of that most excellent of pop music: the serious fun.
As soon as I heard Be Stiff, I pretty much I knew how I wanted to respond. It has a awesome new wave swagger to it while also being spotty with flourishes that are outright goofy. In the best possible way. From the in-unison chanting to the saxophone counter melody, the song just can’t help from being equally cool and nerdy.
Thus I give unto the mix a hell of a tune in Rattle My Bones. It’s absolutely infectious in it’s rhythm. But not without it’s own nerdiness with it’s cringe-worthy “neck connected to the hip bones” lyrics and boogie-woogie piano solo. But none of it matters with a party jam this good.
I also recognize that it’s been a ridiculously long time waiting for this post. I only had this song in MP3 as a muddy live version that I just couldn’t hamper the quality of the NEIMT with. I searched all over the interwebs for an MP3 of the original, only to be ultimately foiled (thanks Arcade Fire). So I ordered the out-of-print CD version. It still hasn’t arrived in the mail. So I did what I should have done a week ago. Asked Mr Joosse. Enjoy.
Somewhere between Talking Heads and Devo lies this 1978 version of “Be Stiff,” the latter’s famous single. Liner notes in the Lene Lovich best-of I pulled this from call the original a “label anthem” for Stiff Records. Stiff was something of a music world B-team, full of almost-weres, also-rans, and oddballs of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Lovich was one of Stiff’s most visible weirdos, though with her sound it’s clear she was never planning on overtaking Siouxsie Sioux in anything but the crazy-hair-vocal-tic department.
Like most from the label, she came and went pretty quickly, and I didn’t really discover her until a few years ago. According to Wikipedia, Stiff loved Devo’s song so much that they asked a number of their acts to cover it in the same afternoon and in their own styles. Lovich’s version is a lot of fun, the franticness of the original replaced by a joyously gruff backing chorus, an electric piano, and a Roxy Music sax solo. Like what “Love -> Building on Fire” was to post-punk, this track is to the Devo original: softer and warmer. Instead of being angular, you might say it has charmingly rounded corners.
I cannot predict where Mr. Joosse wanted to go with first pick, and I am trying hard to avoid the “track 2 wtf” moment. Sometime’s I think the second pick has more power in defining the threads ultimate direction than the first. Because the second determines the context of the first. It refines it’s direction. From there it is all about pushing it forward. But right now it’s about steering the ship. Unless of course track three chooses to ignore track two’s steering. Which has happened in the past.
Anyway, at this time I will simply bestow upon the mix one of the finest spindly art songs ever composed. Awkward and unnecessary horn section included free of charge.
One of the great pleasures in being obsessed with music is learning about what a band was like before they made it big. And there’ll probably be no better period for this kind of discovery than the early ’80s. Dozens of bands made it big when they turned their sound from an idiosyncrasy to a novelty, sacrificing what’s often a long and interesting career to a flash in the pan, all in the name of radio airplay and MTV fame.
A great example of this is Dexys Midnight Runners—before Ms. Eileen came along, before they dressed like Irish rednecks, before there was a fiddle-drenched “Celtic soul” sound, the band looked like Cockney bootblacks and thugs and were primarily influenced by Stax Records. In 1980, anyway, they were occupying a particular niche between the punk sounds of what, for example, The Jam were, and the lighter indie pop of what The Jam of “Ghosts” became.
One of my very favorite Dexys lyrics goes, “Sing me a record that cries pure and true. Not those guitars, they’re too noisy and crude.” On “Dance Stance,” the band’s sure-footed debut single, they’re pushed to the background while the horns are gloriously front and center. It does sound a little like it’s lacking a good low end—my only real gripe with “Ghosts” because of how excellent The Jam’s rhythm section was. But I wanted to turn that disadvantage into an advantage here, kicking off this volume with a spiky, joyous call-and-response hidden gem from an underrated and overexposed band of young soul rebels.
Honestly, I think the new format for the NEIMT has finally found it’s stride. It’s been more than a year since we relaunched the blog and in that time we’ve been able to create six volumes of never-ending mixtopia. You may have noticed (or may not) but the mix has been moving at a record pace, fueled with rediscovered passion for musical influence peddling and hit-curating-one-ups-manship. Vol 06 is probably the most cohesive and thematically dedicated yet. But that’s not denying it’s diversity, with it’s forays into everything from garage racketeering to wink wink (and actual) nostalgic pining. Stay tuned to where we go from here.
01. Le Responsible by Jacques Dutronc
02. Drive My Car_The Word_What You’re Doing by The Beatles
03. Go Home by Ty Segall
04. Excedrine Headache #265 by Reigning Sound
05. B-B-Bicycles by Bicycles
06. Pedestrian by Spiral Beach
07. Boys are Boys and Girls are Choice by Monks
08. Honey Bee (Let’s Fly to Mars) by Grinderman
09. Make Up is Lies by The Make Up
10. What To Do by The John Spencer Blues Explosion
11. Get Down by The Delta 72
12. 108 Battles (of the Mind) by Kula Shaker
13. Before I Was Caught by Jay Reatard
14. Ride Ride Ride by Vetiver
15. Ghosts by The Jam
It’s an unspoken rule between Mr. Joosse and myself, that we are attempting to next-to-never repeat artists in this never-ending musical tennis-match. I don’t know if either of us know how hard that is going to be once we get farther into the overall string. The main implication to this strategy/limitation is that one has to really consider which song they use for any given artist—as it is likely to be the only representation of that artist on the NEIMT. So we can’t afford to waste it.
So Mr. Joosse will probably be irked that I have played The Jam card. Truth be told, I actually expected it from him in the last round because this whole mix really seemed to be constantly referencing them. So in my mind he left it wide open for me. I am posting one of my favorites, a less rocking but wonderfully layered and melodic affair.
I also feel it captures that slight-country, lilting 70s AM gold quality the Ride Ride Ride brought. Plus, I love the mariachi horns.
Ghosts also nicely ends this amazing mix on a reflective, hopeful note. The sun sets of Volume 6, but will rise again on number 7.
As always, the entire volume plus cover art will be posted for download shortly. Thanks for listening.
Every couple of days, one of the NEIMT authors will post a song that is in some way a reaction to the previous song posted by another author. Every 15 songs will be packaged up with cover art and presented for download as a complete mix. The only rule is that no artist can appear more than once in the same volume.
The best way to be informed of NEIMT posts is to subscribe in the field in the upper right. You can also follow the page on facebook. We longer maintain an email list. Email is dead to us. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments of this blog, but if you'd like to contact the NEIMT directly, email to: robb (at) agrayspace (dot) com.
You can still see the old mixes at neimtarchive.blogspot.com. Some of the old download links might still even work.
We freely admit that this blog is probably a violation of artistic copyright law. We put together these mix "tapes" as way to share great music in a way that encourages artist support and utilizes grassroots promotion by purposefully violating those copyrights. We would like to imagine that no artist in their right mind would oppose such altruistic intentions despite its bureaucratic insubordinance.