Singalong in the Shower with the MiniDisc 30th Anniversary Mix! - for Joe in Anaheim

Why this mix? In 1992 I was listening to a lot of electronica - from pop like Erasure, Red Flag, and T42 to industrial EBM like Front 242 and BiGod 20 (and some Skinny Puppy), to early techno and rave. I had made the shift from rock and punk because I liked the beepy sounds. For this mix I decided to go back to my roots with a (mostly) guitar-pop compilation because this is what I've always listened to. My love for jangly guitar pop started in record store cutout bins as I tried to stretch my allowance and explore as much new music as possible, and through all the rest of my ups and downs, this is the stuff that I quite literally belt out in the car or shower. It's a huge part of my life, so when MiniDisc hit the market, this would be the near-and-dear-to-me music I'd have recorded. I didn't get my first MD (a green Sharp 702) until the late 90s, but when I did, all of these made the shift to MD with me. Also - I like reading liner notes, so if you're like me…keep reading!

Darling Buds - Fall: No idea where I first heard of the Darling Buds, but I'd been listening since the ridiculously perky, drum-machines-everywhere Pop Said…, so the darker opener (and real drums!) of Crawdaddy took me by surprise. I loved it. Excellent songwriting and sparkling production plus Andrea's distinctive vocals contribute to a sophomore album that I think is their best of the three. Tragically underrated Welsh band. They have some new tracks on Bandcamp.

Sugar - Hoover Dam: I loved Husker Du and followed Bob Mould's solo career religiously. When I heard he formed a new band I was skeptical, but Sugar was instantly in heavy rotation for me. Hoover Dam was one of my album favorites, even though it doesn't really follow a traditional pop structure.

Richard O'Brien - Shock Treatment: Love Rocky Horror, so when I heard there was a sequel I HAD to see it. One bizarre viewing of a bootlegged VHS later, all I knew was the music was just as solid even if the concept was a little odd (even for O'Brien). I do love everything O'Brien is involved with, and if they ever decide to spin the property into a series where Brad & Janet (played by different actors each episode) find themselves in wildly fluctuating, self-contained social commentary vehicles with amazing soundtracks, I won't stop watching.

Planet P Project - Power: I found this double LP in a cutout bin for $3 and bought it because the cover was cool and it was 2 LPs for $3. I'm so glad I did. Planet P is Tony Carey's “concept album” project. His self-titled debut told the story of an astronaut who loses contact with Earth long enough to go mad with paranoia, thinking a nuclear holocaust ended humanity. Pink World, where this one is from, is the story of life after that nuclear holocaust where a small city of ageless survivors is kept alive by a psychokinetic shield generated by a small boy they've come to worship. The police state leans into this worship to keep everyone in line as a rebellion looms. Definitely 80s, but recommended - just avoid the botched Renaissance Records reissue.

Men Without Hats - Walk On Water: The rocking-est track on their Pop Goes the World album, which is stellar start to finish if you like bright bubblegum pop. I've loved Men Without Hats since I bought the 45 of The Safety Dance. They've been through a few changes over the years (Sideways was their guitar-steeped answer to grunge and way better than it should have been), with their latest album actually released this year.

Jesus Jones - Never Enough: Everyone loved Right Here Right Now, but I was a Liquidiser fan and loved the rough production and general noise of their first album (and, once it was released in 1993, the techno-rock fusion of Perverse). They were famous for a split second and should have had more time in the spotlight. Since Perverse they've been hit or miss, but their first three albums (and Already if you want to round up to four) hold up well. I had a summer job mowing lawns where I always had my Walkman and a few cassettes with me - one of which had The Darling Buds' Crawdaddy on one side and Liquidiser on the other.

Information Society - Where the I Divides: The last song on Peace & Love Inc., and IIRC a song about the band breaking up. At the time Kurt was torn between heading to LA or staying in Minnesota, and the interstate highway (the I in the title) split off in both directions. I remember seeing the minimalist cover with the album title “Peace and Love Inc.” and worrying they got soft and I was in for an album of ballads. I was SO happy to be wrong. Like Men Without Hats, they all tried different projects and eventually reunited. Oddfellows came out last August.

Underworld - Original Song: Yes, that Underworld. From Freur's synthy new wave to the dancy Underneath the Radar to the rock-oriented Change the Weather (where this track is from), Underworld certainly didn't rest on their laurels. It was quite a shock my first listen to dubnobasswithmyheadman when they had gone from rock to acid house. Change the Weather is still one of my favorite albums, and this one is pretty representative of that sound.

Kraftwerk - Radioactivity: My first dose of Kraftwerk was from a friend of mine (the first cool kid at school who had a CD PLAYING BOOMBOX) who had borrowed the Electric Cafe CD from his girlfriend. I couldn't believe how pristine it sounded. I immediately ran out and bought a used cassette and played it until I could see through the tape. When The Mix came out I had already found most of their backcatalogue so I almost didn't buy it. When I finally did get it (the German version) I was dazzled - every track was a brilliant re-imagining of their work. Radioactivity stuck out for me because I'd never heard the original. IMO, it's still one of their strongest tracks.

Fingerprintz - Criminal Mind: Another cutout bin find. This one was $2 and I bought it because I liked the retro looking cover art and each of the 12 panels (representing each of the songs, plus the band and album names) had been scored to make punch-out postcards. I thought that was cool. As soon as I played the record I was hooked. This album has been with me since 1985 and I never get tired of playing it. Sadly, it's never seen a CD release, though a couple years ago Rubellan Remasters issued a lovingly remastered Best Of compilation, with tracks from a few singles and each of their three albums. Criminal Mind was not one of the remastered tracks.

Boom Crash Opera - Dancing In the Storm: The Kraftwerk friend introduced me to this Aussie band. This is from their second album, which is brilliant from start to finish. If you like this track, you'll like the whole album. There's something about Australian rock bands from the mid- and late-80s. They kinda did everything right, even though not many of them saw overseas success. These Here Are Crazy Times was the last US release for these guys (and the last one with their original songwriters I believe), though they kept cranking out some good albums in Australia.

Grace Pool - Awake With the Rain: I saw the video for Where We Live on MTV's 120 Minutes back when they actually played music. I liked the song enough to write it down and find the album, which is excellent but a little on the tame side for my tastes. Awake With the Rain is the track for me that ticks all the boxes - a good beat, swirling vocals that flow with emotion, and that lovely glossy pre-grunge pop rock production.

Toy Matinee - Last Plane Out: A friend of mine made me a mix tape that started with this song (she also introduced me to XTC). The whole tape was great, but this track stood out with its brilliant vocals, snarky social commentary, and spacious production. Instruments are all placed well with space not only in the mix but in the composition. Vocals have that Jeff Lynne feel where they're clear, front & center. It just SOUNDS good. The whole album is a little on the slow side with lots of ballads, but there are a few mid-tempo tracks that hit me just right. You can usually find it in a used bit for 50 cents, which is a shame, because it's solid contemporary pop all around.

Holly & the Italians - Do You Say Love: Holly Beth Vincent is another performer who should have been more famous than she is. I had a vinyl rip of her first album (The Right To Be Italian) until I managed to find and buy the Japanese CD remaster, which really made the music come alive. The entire album is just good old fashioned 70s style rock, with Holly's unique voice and ridiculously overqualified band delivering what should have been 100% chart topping hits. Her later work got quieter and more introspective, but I never get tired of this album.

Jellyfish - The King is Half-Undressed: Jellyfish were MTV's darlings at the start of the 90s, performing and appearing pretty much everywhere with their 60s mod-style outfits and jangly powerpop. At the time powerpop was poised to make a comeback…and then grunge happened. It's a shame, because both Jellyfish albums are clever, catchy, complex, and so, so good. Their second and final album Spilt Milk sounds like what would happen if Queen, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys had a beautiful baby. All the band members' solo projects are also worth checking out, though frontman/drummer Andy Sturmer hated the limelight and disappeared behind other peoples' projects. He wrote scores of tunes for Puffy Ami Yumi and a bunch of other bands, producing and playing multiple instruments on various albums. Eventually he shifted to TV work, channeling Carl Stalling for the incidental music on the (also underrated) 2011 Loony Tunes Show, and you can hear him singing the Transformers theme for the 2007 reboot.

Icehouse - Sister: It seems like Icehouse is only known for Electric Blue when there's so much more depth in their catalogue. Their debut album is dark and thick new wave, and they had so much good stuff before and after Man of Colours. Another Aussie band that disappeared under INXS's shadow, I suppose. I found them by accident (another cutout bin) when I thought the cover of Measure for Measure looked cool. Like Fingerprintz, their music has been with me most of my life and Iva Davies's voice is like none other.

Tony Carey - Somewhere Down the Road: Under his own name, Tony Carey did more acoustic and rock material. While I'm not a fan of the acoustic stuff (I just don't like slower music) the entire Bedtime Story album is SO GOOD. The rock soundtrack for the cop movie The Joker, this one (like a lot of his albums) just wasn't available in the States. I finally got it on CD some years ago, and it sounded SO much nicer than my old cassette.

Katrina and the Waves - Spiderman: Probably the only “Spider-Man” song that never made it into any of the films, this early track has an edge that I'd love to have heard more of (except for the artifacting left over from a bad master tape). As it is, their sunny pop has been part of my life since I got their first “official” album on cassette (which was finally eaten by my boombox as I did yard work with the Kraftwerk friend, prompting me to buy the CD out of spite). Their self-titled debut is slicker than their early recordings, but there's just something cool about raw Katrina and the Waves.

This MD was recorded the way I did it when I first got my 702: aux cable from the best possible source I could find. Even though the 702 still works, I recorded to my Sony MZ-N920 so at least you get that Type-S SP sound. I had to add a handful of the track marks manually. Back in the 90s I would embellish my mixtapes with tiny patterns to fill up white space, so that's what I did this time too.

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  • Last modified: 17 months ago
  • by specialk