Mixtape Memories – Volume 1

After more than two years of searching, I finally found a box of mixtapes in my parents’ garage. These are mixtapes my dad made me as a kid, and they were my gateway into music. So I’ve been listening to them in the cassette deck of my Honda, and each week I’ll go through and share my opinions on the songs and my memories from the time I received them as gifts. I’ll try not to get too emotional.

Kip is Unbelievable
Presented Christmas 1992

1. Limahl – “Neverending Story”
2. Sebastian – “Under the Sea”
3. The Jam – “Batman Theme”
4. Prince – “Partyman”
5. The Jam – “Batman Theme”
6. Chuck Berry – “Roll over Beethoven”
7. The Beatles – “Roll over Beethoven”
8. The Replacements – “Cruella DeVil”
9. Los Lobos – “I Wanna Be Like You”
10. Phil Harris – “Bare Necessities”
11. Siamese Cats – “Siamese Cat Song”

1. Queen – “We Will Rock You”
2. EMF – “Unbelievable”
3. Material Issue – “Blockbuster”
4. Thin Lizzy – “Cowboy Song”
5. Slade – “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”
6. Suzi Quatro – “Devil Gate Drive”
7. John Travolta – “Greased Lightning”
8. Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta – “You’re the One That I Want”
9. Queen – “Killer Queen”

My dad gave me this tape as a Christmas gift in 1992, which means I would have only been four years old. That kind of blows my mind because, judging by this tape, I’ve already seen The Neverending Story, Tim Burton’s Batman and Grease. The latter two are especially inappropriate for someone so young, but I clearly loved all those movies (and still do). The rest of the first side is dominated with Disney songs, which seems a lot more in line with most four-year-olds. The fact that the Replacements are covering a Disney song is both baffling and brings me a lot of joy. Both that and Los Lobos’ more understandable cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” come from Hal Willner’s incredible Stay Awake album, which was chock full of alternative artists doing Disney tunes.

The second side was definitely more educational for me. Like any kid (or any human really), I had a primal response to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Queen also closes the tape with “Killer Queen,” which remains my favorite of Queen’s biggest hits. I have specific memories of listening to this song on the way to tee-ball practice, asking my dad to rewind it so I could hear the “dynamite with a laser beam” line over and over. I wonder if my dad was going through a bit of nostalgia at this time for the summer he spent in London as a teenager, because all the songs on this side of the tape were bigger hits in the UK than they ever were in the U.S. But anyway, my favorite song at this time was definitely EMF’s “Unbelievable,” which might be the most early-’90s song of all time. (It would face some competition from Jesus Jones’ “Right Here Right Now.”) I don’t know what possesses a band to build a song around a sample of Andrew “Dice” Clay, but this song still rules, only in the corniest way imaginable.

Best Track on Side One: Chuck Berry – “Roll over Beethoven”
Best Track on Side Two: Queen – “Killer Queen”

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