Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 3: Late 90s Mix (Save): Side B

Welcome to the second half (Side B, if you will) of my riveting journey through time itself, in the form of a 20-ish year old mixtape. If you missed it, check out “Side A” here, and then check out Volume 1 here. If you’re too lazy/busy to click through those links, the gist is that I’m listening to this old-ass mixtape for the first time in who knows how long (it’s certainly been at least 5 years, but probably closer to 10), I have no idea what’s on it, and I’m sharing the results with you, gentle reader. Together we’ll have a laugh or two, and maybe learn a little bit about what makes ol’ Rev. Joel tick, aside from tacos, coffee, John Carpenter movies, and Tom & Jerry cartoons. Let’s get started, whadda ya say?

Side B”

1. Bubbling through the mud and muck resulting from my short-sighted failure/possible inability to use Dolby Noise Reduction is “Bored” by Deftones. You may recall that Side A started off with “7 Words”, also by Deftones. Both songs are from their auspicious1995 (!) debut album Adrenaline, which is not as good as the albums that followed it, but is still a solid album. The foundation for what this band became was definitely in place on their debut.

2. “Bored” is followed by what seems at first be silence, but is in fact part of “Kinky Sex Makes the World Go ‘Round” by Dead Kennedys, dubbed over into near oblivion (as mentioned in Volume 2, I was real into DK at this point in my life). It sounds kinda spooky, and it goes on for a surprisingly long amount of time (not unlike the song itself), but Mitchell, Indiana’s own Circle of Illusions is up now, and holy smokes, this was a good band! I’ll write more about them another time. The song is called “Flow”, by the way.

3. Another track, another Circle of Illusions song, this one “Without Time”. Speaking of time, this band sounds very much of its time, which is to say 1997. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.

4. Ahmahgawd, it’s “Us vs. Them” by New York Hardcore legends Sick of it All! This song is from their 1997 nutkicker Built to Last. I was a real sucker for any song with a bunch of gang vocals back then (it’s the same era as my discovery of the Misfits, and punk rock in general). Gang Vocals are still one of my primary musical weaknesses, but not as much as jangly guitar, sick riffs, and unconventional vocalists.

5. I suspected “Busted”, from the same album, might be next, and I’m glad my suspicions were correct. This is a superfast moshpit-inducer with lead vocals by bassist/kickboxing champion/NYHC legend Craig Setari. Sick of it All kick an unbelievable amount of ass, and I really hope I get to see them live again someday. “You wanna take, take, take ’til you have it all!/CAN’T TRUST IT!/Your busted ass!” Indeed.

6. Up next is “Long Whip/Big America” by Corrosion of Comformity, from their 1996 album Wiseblood, which I used to think was just okay, but which grows on me as I grow older (seeing COC live a couple of times in the past few years helped me appreciate the Pepper Keenan-fronted version of the band a lot more). This song is fuckin great. Back around the time when this mixtape was made, my buddy Travis would sometimes sing “maybe I’m wrong, but I think my dick is too long” to the tune of this chorus, and it always cracked me up. In fact, it still does. I apologize for nothing!

7. I definitely did not expect “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits to be here, but when I think about it, I do remember a period of time where I was really into this song and “Why Worry Now”, both from their bajillion-selling Brothers in Arms. Travis and I used to spend a lot of time driving around listening to music during this period, and he was a straight up Dire Straits fan. Like to the point where he even bought their other albums! I wil be flabbergasted if “Why Worry Now” isn’t next.

8. Consider me flabbergasted, although I’d be willing to bet that it used to be on here and I just taped “Spiderman”, from Greatest Hits Live by the Ramones, over it. I don’t listen to the Ramones nearly enough anymore. They really were just one of the very best goddamn bands that ever existed.

9. In the ultra-brief time that I wrote the thing about the Ramones, the song ended and there was like 2 seconds of very loud silence (curse you, lack of Dolby Noise Reduction!) followed by approximately 1.5 seconds a “Distorted and Very Out-of-Tune Guitar Chord” that was certainly played by Yours Truly. I had to pause the tape and collect myself for what might be next, based on said out-of-tune chord. I also had to pee and get more coffee, but you don’t need to hear my entire life story. Not when there are old-ass mixtapes to review.

I did a google for the word “onward” so I could find a funny picture or gif to put here, but every single result was for some goddamn Pixar movied called Onward, and I got tired of trying to filter out those results, so I just put this song here instead, because Unleashed fucking rules.

10. Following that groundbreaking dissonant blast of musical genius (yeah, that’s the ticket!) is another 1-3 seconds of silence, followed by Yours Truly again, this time playing “The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” on my old Les Paul copy. Listening to this now reminds me why I must remain vigilant against any thoughts I ever entertain about getting another guitar, or another bass, or a banjo, or whatever other insturment I think I want. I have no interest in learning how to play an instrument, I just wanna skip the learning process and know how to play. My lack of patience would’ve made me easy pickins for the Dark Side of the Force. It likely still would.

“The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” gave way to what is, as of right now, at least one full minute of silence. Surely that’s not the end of our adventure. That would be even more disappointing than The Neverending Story was when Mrs. Circlepit and I rewatched it last year for the first time since we were kids. Yeah, I said it.

Real talk: y’all’s nostalgia is clouding your view; that movie is a turd. We’re given no reason whatsoever to care about Atreyu (or his horse Artax, for that matter, even though Artax is the only likeable character in the movie aside from the bookshop owner), and then when that damn wiener kid Bastian gets to return home and is asked what he’ll wish for next, he doesn’t wish to have his mom back, even though losing her seems to be the source of most of his troubles. No, he goes straight to using Falkor to chase and terrorize his bullies. “I’ll see you in hell, Mom, I’ve got terror to inflict!” I’ve read that Micheal Ende, who wrote the novel that the movie is kind of based upon, did not like the adaptation, and tried to sue to block its release and/or force a name change. He was unsuccessful, but he was not wrong for trying.

Also, I found this on wikipedia, and it made me laugh: “Gene Siskel said the film’s special effects and art direction were cheap-looking and that Falkor the luckdragon resembled the sort of stuffed toy you’d win at a county fair and throw out when you left. He also referred to Noah Hathaway [Atreyu] as a ‘dullard’ and said the film was ‘much too long,’ even after [Roger] Ebert pointed out the film was only 90 minutes long.” I like to think that Siskel responded to that with something along the lines of “okay, then it’s 90 minutes too long.” And I know it’s a kids movie, dammit, but I also know that kids movies are capable of being good.

For example, we rewatched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for the first time in 30-odd years (not to be confused with 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) last week. It held up much better, and it was quite good. It was funny and well-paced, and the special effects were really well done, especially for the time. It’s no Goonies or anything, but it’s light years ahead of The Neverending Story. By the way, Roger Ebert was critcal of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids after praising The Neverending Story, proving once again that critics don’t know shit about dick, and at least strongly implying that Roger Ebert may have been something of a dullard himself.

Sorry, I got a bit off track there. The tape stopped like 20 minutes ago, by the way. “The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” was indeed the last “song” on “Side B” of Late 90s Mix (Save). That is indeed disappointing, but as it turns out, not as disappointing as The Neverending Story.

I’m pretty sure there used to be a couple of Sepultura songs on there at some point. Probably “Territory”, and either “Refuse/Resist” or “The Hunt” (maybe both). I was into Chaos A.D. real hard back then.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. There’ll be more installments of Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews at some point. I gotta lot of old-ass mixapes. Thanks for reading, and if you like what you read, why not leave a comment and/or tell a friend?

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 2: Late 90s Mix (Save): Side A

Welcome! Today I’m gonna I listen to an old mixtape for the first time in a long time, and I’m gonna write while I do it, just to make myself write. We’ll see what happens. I did this once before, and I don’t know if anyone else really saw it, but it was a fun exercise, so I decided to do it again, because I have a lot of shit rattling around in my think hole.

For Volume 1, I pressed play and wrote while the tape was playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I kinda did that this time, but I also kinda didn’t. More “overdubs” this time, you might say.

Late 90s Mix (Save) is a 90-minute cassette, and frankly, I don’t have time to cover the whole thing right now. Instead you’ll get Side A, and you’ll like it. You should consider yourself lucky to get 45 minute’s-worth of recorded content. When I was your age we had to put tape over the holes on old Foreigner tapes or whatever and record over them, and we were happy to have 45 minutes of recording space for an entire tape.

Here’s a link to Volume 1, if you missed it, or just wanna re-live the magic.

Late 90s Mix (Save) hasn’t been around nearly as long as Beloved Songs, and as such, I believe most of the source material was recorded from compact disc. Plus it entered my life as an actual blank tape made for recording from compact discs. This is the real deal: Memorex CD2 90. We’re talking Type II High Bias, High Output, Wide Dynamic Range, baby! This is the kind of tape that has a spot on the label to indicate whether or not you turned on the Dolby Noise Reduction before you hit “REC” (it would seem I did not), whereas Beloved Songs was recorded onto a 10-year-old Bob Seger tape or something.

What I’m saying is that I suspect it’ll be much easier to listen to than the first one, but who knows? Anything can happen in this thrilling world of zero-stakes, esoteric personal blogging. You’ll just have to strap yourself in for the ride and find out along with me.

Actual footage of us finding out together.

Without further ado…

Side A

  1. Kickin things off with “7 Words” by Deftones. I’m into this, but so far, the sound is real in-n-out. Better than Beloved Songs, but let’s see how good you sound after you’re recorded over an old Bon Jovi tape or some shit. This song spoke directly to my angst in the mid-to-late 90s, and I still dig it, but where early Deftones is concerned, “Bored” is more my style these days. Lots of background noise afterward. If only I’d used that Dolby Noise Reduction.

2. Oh, shit, it’s “Collapse” by Brutal Truth! This song will surely have a place on the Official Soundtrack to the End Times. If you need convincing, listen to the song while ruminating on the fact that we are, in fact, living in the End Times. Not like in the Bible and shit, but for real. I’ve written about Brutal Truth some before. Some of it can be found on my other, even less-frequently-updated blog, but the rest is in notebooks that you’ll likely never see.

3. I suspected there might be another BT song, and then I got smacked upside the head by “Media Blitz”. This was my introduction to the caustic vocals of Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod (his is the voice you can kind of understand), and although I didn’t think much about it at the time, it was also my introduction to The Germs.

Here’s a blog-exclusive bonus track (!) – the original version of “Media Blitz”:

4. “Sunless Saturday” by Fishbone! I like Fishbone a lot, but not as much as I feel like I should like them. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it makes sense to me. I think I maybe saw them perform this on Saturday Night Live, but that might be some crazed fever dream. Or maybe it was on Letterman or something. At any rate, “Sunless Saturday” fuckin rips. This one brings back memories of a mostly-miserable summer in my late teens that had a few real bright spots. This song was one of those bright spots.

5. “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys. Holy smokes, that guitar! I don’t really know what else to say, other than that I’ll be surprised if “Too Drunk to Fuck” isn’t next. I used to always play those two back-to-back.

6. There it is. Do I know Late 90s Joel or what? “Too Drunk to Fuck”. I once sat (slumped, really) drunk behind a futon at a guy’s house and sang this chorus over and over again. It was sad, but it was also almost certainly true, and now I find it pretty funny. I also woke up the next morning while everyone else was still asleep and ate some Hamburger Helper that had been sitting out on the stove (at least) overnight, then threw up approximately 85% my soul about 30 minutes later. I haven’t drank peach schnapps since, and I tend to have better judgement in general.

7. One thing I absolutely did not expect to hear on this excursion was “Raise Hell” by Anthrax. This song is from their Armed and Dangerous EP, which was their first release with then-new vocalist Joey Belladonna. It seems odd that I included it here. While I love Anthrax, it’s never been a favorite of mine. It’s not bad, and I surely dig the gang vocals in the chorus, but the chorus is also goofy as shit, and rhymes “fire” with “desire”, which is not automatically a bad thing, but which is certainly not a desirable feature of an Anthrax song.

8. What a strange and wodnerful age we’re living in, when a man can play an old-ass mixtape that goes from Anthrax circa 1985 straight into “Someday I Suppose” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I definitely first became aware of this band from Clueless, which I saw three times in the theater. I still like Clueless a lot, but I most definitely had a thing for Alicia Silverstone back then. I even paid to watch Batman and Robin in the theater (more than once) just to see her on the big screen. Okay, I also saw it three times. You did dumb shit when you were a teenager, too. At least I can admit my mistake.

9. More Bosstones. I’m not surprised, but I have to admit I wasn’t sure who this was until the vocals kicked in. “A Man Without”, which I’ll also admit I had look up based on the lyrics. I probably haven’t heard this song since the last time I listened to this mixtape. I used to be real into the Bosstones, but especially the album Don’t Know How to Party.

10. Holy mother of fuckballs, it’s “Killing Time” by Obituary! This tape may be the actual nexus point for my divergent musical tastes. It took me a while to really get into/appreciate death metal, but for whatever reason, 1992’s The End Complete by Obituary was one of the albums that grabbed me back then.

11. Motherfucking “Silo” by Only Living Witness! This band was just utterly phenomenal, and I wish theyd’ released more than two albums.

12. And now here’s “Slug”, also by Only Living Witness. Yegods, what an incredible album Prone Mortal Form is. The Decibel Hall of Fame entry on it is one of my favorites in that series.

13. Well sumbitch, it’s “When the Shit Hits the Fan” by Souls at Zero! I completely forgot about this, but it fuckin jams. These guys were solid, both as Souls at Zero and as Wrathchild America. Their drummer/vocalist Shannon Larkin went on to join Godsmack, and while they’re not my bag, he’s still a great drummer. This is a cover of the Circle Jerks, and the original is also pretty dope, and quite relevant to today’s turbulent times. They made an acoustic version for (and appeard briefly in) the movie Repo Man, starring the late, great Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez.

Here are the Circle Jerks’ versions…

That’s all I got for now, pals. I’ll be back someday (I suppose)(ha!) with the exciting follow-up. Until then, be excellent to each other.