Mixtape Memories – Volume 4

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 Unleashed
Recorded June 1996

1. Dick Dale and His Del-Tones – “Misirlou”
2. The J. Geils Band – “Centerfold”
3. Fine Young Cannibals – “She Drives Me Crazy”
4. The Beatles – “Help!”
5. Barrett Strong – “Money (That’s What I Want)”
6. The Bangles – “Walk like an Egyptian”
7. Toni Basil – “Mickey”
8. Michael Jackson – “Jam”
9. Prince – “Batdance”
10. MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This”
11. James Brown – “I Feel Good (I’ve Got You)”
12. Art of Noise – “Peter Gunn”

1. Tears for Fears – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
2. Tommy James and the Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion”
3. Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy”
4. The Dave Clark Five – “Over and Over”
5. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Down on the Corner”
6. Stevie Wonder – “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”
7. Jimmy Soul – “If You Want to be Happy”
8. Michael Jackson – “In the Closet”
9. Prince – “Trust”
10. Young-Holt Unlimited – “Soulful Strut”
11. TLC – “Sleigh Ride”
12. Stevie Wonder – “For Once in My Life”
13. Randy Newman – “Strange Things”

This tape blasts off with a shot of adrenaline, just like Pulp Fiction did, with Dick Dale’s surf rock take on “Misirlou.” There’s not really a better distillation of the excitement of the ’90s than this song, which is kind of ridiculous considering it came out in 1962. The rest of this tape is a solid mix of older hits, including the still-inescapable “U Can’t Touch This” and “I Feel Good,” which was seemingly in every movie in the ’90s (except Pulp Fiction). And then there’s another Prince track that’s from the Batman soundtrack. Man, I must have really liked that thing. “Batdance” was actually No. 1 in 1989, despite being a steaming pile of garbage. It’s really just a smattering of loops, dialogue and recycled beats. Prince can do so much better.

Side Two follows the same pattern. The first two tracks are some of my all-time favorites. So obviously I was over the moon when they used the latter in Breaking Bad. I may be the only person in the world to like that Kajagoogoo song. *browses Wikipedia, sees the song went to No. 1 in five countries* Or not. I love CCR dearly, even this song is sadly now more associated with John Corbett’s folksy ramblings about Walgreens. And a double dose of Stevie Wonder proves he’s easily one of the Top 5 artists ever. Jimmy Soul’s “If You Want to be Happy” is nearly as offensive as Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.” It’s got a horrible sentiment, but at least it’s not advocating criminal activity. And it’s still less icky than MJ’s “In the Closet.” Look, I can get behind him singing to a woman “The Way You Make Me Feel,” but panting out “There’s something about you, baby/That makes me want to give it to you” just makes my skin crawl. At least things pick up with “Soulful Strut,” which a friend once described as “That Song Your Parents Listen To.” He’s not wrong. But as someone nearing the age when my parents had me, I happen to love it. TLC’s highly suggestive version of “Sleigh Ride” sneaks its way on here before we end with Randy Newman’s lesser-known Toy Story track. I’m definitely growing up.

Best Track on Side One: The Beatles – “Help!”
Best Track on Side Two: Stevie Wonder – “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”

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