Mixtape Memories – Volume 3

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 Unwrapped
Recorded February 1996

1. The Beatles – “Hello Goodbye”
2. Michael Jackson – “Black or White”
3. The Rivieras – “California Sun”
4. Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime”
5. Eddie Cochran – “Summertime Blues”
6. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Summer in the City”
7. Gladys Knight and the Pips – “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”
8. Four Tops – “It’s the Same Old Song”
9. The Supremes – “You Can’t Hurry Love”
10. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
11. The Miracles – “You Really Got a Hold on Me”
12. Four Tops – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”
13. Lou Christie – “Lightning Strikes”
14. The Grass Roots – “Let’s Live for Today”
15. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Do You Believe in Magic?”
16. Jan & Dean – “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”

1. Seal – “Crazy”
2. Dionne Ferris – “I Know”
3. Prince – “Lemon Crush”
4. Stone Temple Pilots – “Interstate Love Song”
5. The Offspring – “Come Out and Play”
6. Pete Shelley – “Homosapien”
7. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Two Tribes”
8. Deep Blue Something – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
9. Michael Jackson – “Remember the Time”
10. Tom Jones – “It’s Not Unusual”
11. Tom Jones – “Kiss”
12. The Beatles – “A Hard Day’s Night”
13. The Beach Boys – “Fun Fun Fun”

Arguably the Greatest Band of All Time kicks off this mix, though I’d hardly put “Hello Goodbye” anywhere in top tracks by them. Then it’s “Black or White,” easily the best track off Dangerous, Michael Jackson’s ill-advised attempt to ditch Quincy Jones and get “hip.” There’s a mini-summer theme here, which surely invoked visions of swimming in my grandparents’ pool to ward of the frigid February temps. But to older ears, this medley is completely ruined by the presence of Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.” What originally passes for a goofy song about guys looking for stuff to do during the dog days, this is actually a song that advocates both DWI (“Have a drink, have a drive/Go out and see what you can find”) and date rape (“If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel”). Not a sentiment I can get behind. At least the rest of this tape is completely flawless, starting with the youthful exuberance of “Summertime Blues” all the way through the Jan & Dean’s silly ode to a horrible driver. I especially love the Motown run, which features my favorite version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” as well as my favorite band from Berry Gordy’s label: the Four Tops. And of course the nostalgia machine is running perfectly when I heard Lou Christie’s “Lightning Strikes,” which recalls vivid memories of my sister and I trying to harmonize riding in the backseat of both my parents’ cars. Our little voices could hit those high notes.

Side Two is mostly filled with contemporary songs, the first time this happened. Seal and Dionne Ferris provide a powerful one-two punch, delivering two very of-the-moment yet timeless tracks. The Prince track is yet another from the Batman soundtrack, so obviously I didn’t know a whole lot about the Purple One outside of it. That’s a shame, because “Lemon Crush” is a dud track. There’s some hard rock that segues into literally the gayest song of all time (“Homosapien”) and a Frankie Goes to Hollywood track that’s not “Relax,” but still rules. Deep Blue Something proved anyone could have a hit in the ’90s before we get the second-best track on Dangerous. I love the Tom Jones two-fer. Obviously the first is influenced by my compulsive viewings of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The latter is from Jones’ ’90s creepy/hilarious covers phase. “Kiss” is actually the best Prince song that will be on any of these tapes, unfortunately. And there are two classics to close out this eclectic side.

Best Track on Side One: Four Tops – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”
Best Track on Side Two: Dionne Ferris – “I Know”

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