Sunday, September 08, 2013

Mixtape Chronicles: Pu Pu Platter (1991/1992)

When I was in my room growing up, MTV was on about 90% of the time. In my elementary school years, I had an RCA tape recorder that I kept nearby to record from the mono speaker on my Panasonic TV. I still remember the satisfaction of finally capturing After the Fire's version of "Der Kommisar" after hours of waiting with my fingers poised on the record and play buttons. Sometime in high school, I bought a converter box from some long-forgotten, poor man's Sharper Image that allowed me to finally get MTV in stereo by connecting the coaxial cable to my Sony CD/Tape player. This also ushered in a new era of recording off MTV. (Kids, this is what one did when one couldn't instantly download albums, and instead waited three weeks between shipments from the Columbia House record club.)

As an example of the fruit of that labor, I offer for your pleasure and consternation the Pu Pu Platter mixtape, which consists of about 80% late 1991, early 1992 MTV's 120 Minutes, with a little local FM rock and oldies thrown in.

Some interesting tidbits here include excerpts from a Pauly Shore show on MTV, which was a kind of forerunner to mundane reality TV shows. Pauly would just hang out with a celebrity or someone he knew in Hollywood, make some inane conversation, then introduce a video. Also included, a shout-out from Hairclub for Men president (and client) Sy Sperling. The bad thing about these kinds of mixtapes, though, is you might record something you decided you didn't like, but unless you immediately rewound, you were stuck with it. Like the Rush excerpt here, a band I will forever associate with Dungeons and Dragons, a game I have never played.

This tape must have been started in late 1991, since one side begins with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" which I would definitely have owned by 1992 when I decided to record "Dance the Night Away" over it, as well as "Bohemian Rhapsody" which swept the country in the wake of Wayne's World mania in the spring of that year. For the record, I think the combination here of Nirvana, Queen, and Sy Sperling captures the spirit of the pre-Clinton 1990s perfectly.

SIDE A: Moo Goo Gai Pan
1. Mudhoney: Good Enough
2. Ned's Atomic Dustbin: Grey Cell Green
3. (Partial) Rush: Some song about traveling in the time of the prophets on a road to redemption.
4. Canned Heat: On the Road Again
5. Erasure: Love to Hate You
6. Billy Bragg: You Woke Up My Neighbourhood
7. (Partial) Red Hot Chili Peppers: Give it Away
8. Neil Young: Hey Hey My My (Live)
9. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Under the Bridge
10. (Partial) Joe Walsh: Walk Away
11. (Partial) Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody

SIDE A(?): Yu Shung Chicken
12. Van Halen: Dance the Night Away
13. (Partial) Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit
14. (Very Brief) REM: Losing My Religion (from Unplugged)
15. Pauly Shore Interlude with Skatemaster Tate
16. U2: The Fly
17. Some Ozzy song intro, and greetings from Sy Sperling!
18. The Farm: Groovy Train
19. Pauly Shore Again
20. The Dylans: Planet Love
21. Smashing Pumpkins: Siva (followed by the voice of Dave Kendall)
22. (Partial) Swervedriver: Rave Down
23. Lush: De-Luxe

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Frijoles Quemados - Mixtape 1990

During 1990-1991, my junior year of high school, I was enrolled in a highly selective Spanish III class populated by the school's best and brightest. Mind you, my high school only had 100 or so students, so by "best and brightest" I mean "me and my friends."

There were only five or six of us in the class, and we did some creative projects to flex our Spanish skills, the best of which was "Frijoles Quemados"--a mixtape using a multitrack mixer, an RCA tape player, my Sony CD/tape player, and a music class-grade turntable. Plus, a microphone for some select voiceover DJ-ing. The plan was to make this tape and override the building's PA system by simply attaching it to the speaker wires in the ceiling. We did a test run at lunch one day and this worked. But I don't think we ever unleashed the full beauty of "Frijoles Quemados" upon the hallowed halls of Port Aransas High School.

But now it is time to bring "Frijoles Quemados" to a much broader audience.

Some things will quickly become apparent. Number 1: We put a lot more effort into the opening half of the tape, mixing together various songs, outtakes from speeches, and comedy albums. Then we just pretty much started playing songs. Number 2: This was the early 1990s, and we really liked Jane's Addiction. Number 3: This was the early 1990s, and a couple among us--I'm not naming names, really liked the recently released Roger Waters' "The Wall" album recorded live at what had until very recently been the Berlin Wall. Like I said, these people know who they are. Hey, the rest of us bear responsibility for "I Saw Your Mommy (and Your Mommy's Dead)" by Suicidal Tendencies.

What else is here? "Little GTO," Ministry, U2, some words from MLK and JFK, Jesus and Mary Chain, Cheech & Chong, Monty Python, Jimi Hendrix, Public Enemy, Grover, Winston Churchill. And some more Jane's Addiction. And Bryan Adams and Cyndi Lauper singing Pink Floyd songs. And a couple of voiceovers from our teacher Leif and (unfortunately) just one of us student-types Mack.

This tape was digitized from a cassette that I have towed from Port Aransas to Austin to Los Angeles and back again. It's spent most of those years in an attic or garage and it doesn't sound great but it has survived the heat and bugs to reach the digital age. (BTW, despite their popularity that year, there is no Billy Ray Cyrus or Marky Mark on this mix.)