Mixtape Memories – Volume 9

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 Uncontrollable
Presented April 8, 1999

1. Barenaked Ladies – “It’s All Been Done”
2. Fastball – “The Way”
3. Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”
4. Tonic – “If You Could Only See”
5. The Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris”
6. The Replacements – “Can’t Hardly Wait”
7. The Smithereens – “Baby Be Good”
8. Gin Blossoms – “Hey Jealousy”
9. The La’s – “There She Goes”
10. Joni Mitchell – “Big Yellow Taxi”
11. Sheryl Crow – “Mississippi”
12. Sarah McLachlan – “Sweet Surrender”
13. Shawn Mullins – “Lullaby”
14. Everclear – “I Will Buy You a New Life”

1. New Radicals – “You Get What You Give”
2. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Impression That I Get”
3. Harvey Danger – “Flagpole Sitta”
4. INXS – “New Sensation”
5. KISS – “Rock and Roll All Nite”
6. Savage Garden – “I Want You”
7. Madonna – “Ray of Light”
8. Janet – “Together Again”
9. LaBelle – “Lady Marmalade”
10. Tina Turner – “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”
11. Kool & the Gang – “Celebration”
12. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime”
13. Sid Vicious – “Something Else”
14. The Clash – “Rock the Casbah”
15. Barenaked Ladies – “One Week”

This was the one tape I actually couldn’t find. I have the case, but the tape is MIA. I made a playlist on Spotify to listen to it, and it just wasn’t the same. The sound quality was too good. I didn’t have to flip the side. It took me out of the experience. Still, there were lots of great songs. My taste definitely improved as I got older. The first side of this tape is full-blown contemporary, a mix between two now-defunct Dallas radio stations: The Zone, which was basically my dad’s favorite radio station, and Mix 102.9, which actually played rock music at the time. Most of these songs hit that very ’90s sweet spot of independent artists that had just gotten signed to major labels, so hadn’t quite lost their credibility. Just imagine Fastball trying to make it today or a band like Barenaked Ladies being anything besides a novelty act. It’s hard to believe that of all the artists represented here, Sheryl Crow has had the longest career. It’s impossible to understate how much Sheryl Crow was played in my parents’ house growing up. Those first three albums were in constant rotation, especially The Globe Sessions, where this Dylan cover comes from. And my sappy side is already starting to show, thanks to the last two tracks. I will make no apologies that for several years, Everclear was one of my favorite bands. It’s just too bad the lead singer was such a jerk that everyone fled after Slow Motion Daydream.

There might never be a one-hit wonder as idiosyncratic as New Radicals, the nom de plume of songwriter-producer Gregg Alexander. Despite being extremely catchy, I’m surprised a song as wordy, anti-celebrity and conspiracy theorist as “You Get What You Give” ever made it on the radio. Alexander’s messy (and so far only) album as New Radicals remains one of my favorite albums of the ’90s for many reasons, mostly because there’s nothing else like it. While there was a rash of ska bands in the late ’90s, many of them would have killed for a hit as big (and somewhat poignant) as “The Impression That I Get.” However, it would be disingenuous to call it ska. It’s really mainstream rock with a horn section. It was a great time to be a rock band in the ’90s, even if most radio stations had to mute your weirdest lyric: “Now I’m an amputee/Goddamn you.” “Flagpole Sitta” is another song we’ll never get again, for better or worse. Madonna’s flirtation with electronic music on “Ray of Light” made for one of her best songs released in the ’90s, while Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” remains a staple, an instant memory turner for ’90s kids. But come on, this all pales in comparison to Talking Heads, who simply can’t be topped, not even by Sid Vicious or the Clash.

Best Track on Side One: The Replacements – “Can’t Hardly Wait”
Best Track on Side Two: Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime”

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