Categories
Playlists

Playlist: EDGE 102.1’s top 1002 of all time (1999 version)

Happy Friday!

If you’re looking for something to soundtrack your post-work activities this evening, I’ve got just thing. It’s something a little a different for these pages: a playlist that I didn’t make, but was instead put together by one of my friends.

It’s a playlist that I’ve been slowly making my way through since mid-December. I got into it because I was making a few solo trips in the car and I needed some good long playlists to keep me company. I somehow remembered that my friend Tim had put this one together a few years ago on Spotify so I slipped it on and it perfectly fit the bill.

The playlist is based on a feature that Toronto-based alternative rock radio station, EDGE 102.1, did back in December 1999, counting down what they called the “Top 1002 songs of all-time”. They had done a similar one eight years prior, in 1991, back when the station was still going by its original call letters, CFNY, and they were still truly alternative radio. However, at that time, I didn’t know a lot of the music, was just getting into alternative and indie, and so I didn’t appreciate it as much. By 1999, though, I was completely immersed in pretty much all of alternative rock but unfortunately, EDGE 102 had gotten a lot more commercial. Truthfully, I only listened to it because there were no other options.

Even though I may not have necessarily agreed with all the rankings, I still remember this Top 1002 feature fondly and vividly. We always had the radio at my work tuned to this station and those three or four days at the end of December 1999 were the best few days of commercial radio in memory. They were playing songs that would not normally get airtime on the station but definitely should have done. And listening to this mix of alternative rock from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, heavily weighted, of course, to the latter two decades, brings back so many memories from that time and the years prior.

When I mentioned to Tim that I was listening to the playlist and thanked him for taking the time (and it must’ve taken a very long time) to create it, he mentioned that he also did the 1991 list, which he preferred because it didn’t have all the grunge and post-grunge 90s alt-rock. And while I agree, there are some tunes in this playlist that I find myself skipping, there are also a lot of great 90s tunes that are missing in the 1991 version.

Yes, I’m still making my way through the playlist over a month and a half later but plan to forge ahead through to the end. Even though not all 1002 tunes were available on Spotify when he made the playlist, it’s still over 68 hours of classic alternative rock, some of which I’m very familiar with and some of which I’m still just discovering.

If you’re curious as to what was on the 1991 and 1999 lists, both are available on the “Spirit of radio”* fansite for your perusal, here and here. But if you just want to join me on this long road of a playlist, I’ve embedded it below for your listening pleasure.

I’ll thank my friend Tim for you. Enjoy.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the playlists I myself have created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

*”Spirt of radio” was the slogan of CFNY in its early days and this inspired the 1980 Rush song of the same name.

Categories
Randomness Tunes

“Sit down”

“I’ll sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour”

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve posted to these pages. And this is not like the last time I took a break from posting back in July, when I decided I needed a break and took a planned vacation. No, this break wasn’t planned at all. It just happened. The words weren’t coming so I didn’t force them.

Much like 2020, the year 2021 has been a hard one for me and I’m sure it’s been the same for many of you. It’s not just the pandemic though, there’s a lot of things, just as there always seem to be, but now they are exacerbated by our collective current situation. Thankfully, music has been a blessing through all of this. That’s the truth. And the blogging about music through all of this has also been a gift, but at the same time, it’s also been a hefty weight. And in stepping back from it for the second time this year, I’ve asked myself a number of times if I should continue on or simply pack it in.

“If I hadn’t seen such riches
I could live with being poor”

The answer came to me while spinning vinyl on the eve of my birthday this past weekend and one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands came up. Singing along to these words, as I have so many times, I decided that there’s no way I should pack this in. There’s still so much music to write about, and gush over, and over and over, if necessary. But I also decided that I don’t want to continue on in the same way. I don’t want this to be a weight. I don’t want to be posting words just because I feel obliged to do so.

So instead, I am going to post words when it feels right to do so. The posts may come less on a rigid schedule and less frequently, but hopefully, they will be even more worthy of your time and attention. I have a couple pieces in the pipe that should see the light of day soon but in the meantime, let’s have another listen to this great number that topped my list of tunes for 1991.

Yeah, sing it with me…

“Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me”

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: “Raging Retro” (a mixed tape)

So I was downstairs in the basement a few days ago, looking for something else entirely, when I came across a treasure trove of my old cassette tapes. Yes, you read that right: cassette tapes. And with that clarification, you may be asking yourself why I still have cassette tapes in my possession, especially when I no longer have the appropriate hardware on which to play them. Well… it would be the same reason why I still have piles of old concert tickets, old floppy discs, rough drafts of long forgotten and unfinished short stories, and other random bric-a-brac from my past, all cluttered together in the same roughneck storage bin. The memories attached to these things are priceless and irreplaceable and even though I only ever come across them once or twice a year (while looking for something else), I can’t bring myself to part with them.

It was while sorting through these cassettes, remembering when and for what reason I made each, and reading through the track listings, that I got the brilliant (well, you might not think so) idea to share one or two of these as part of my (Spotify) playlist series. I’m starting off with this one, “Raging retro”, because it’s one of only a handful of those in the box that I didn’t in fact make, but instead, was made for me. Susan, a scenester friend of mine in university (and who I haven’t spoken to in years), actually made a few mixed tapes for me, though this might be the only one that I still have.

As evidenced by the faded but still legible in some places playlist pictured below, the mix was conceived in October 1995. Susan wanted to share a taste of the songs that had been in constant rotation at an eighties night she started attending regularly the previous summer. I feel like this was one of the first times I ever heard the term “retro” being used in regards to music. I was dubious at first because the memories I had of the music from that era were not great but I ended up listening to the tape quite a bit.

Pretty soon, I was hearing the term “retro” everywhere, mostly in reference to music from the 1980s, and not necessarily the mainstream music to which I grew up listening . A couple of years later, I found myself going to a Toronto club named “Whiskey Saigon” pretty regularly on Sunday nights. Of course, that was the night the club had an eighties night that was so wildly popular that the radio station, Edge 102, broadcasted live to air every week and the club was constantly filled to capacity, on all three floors. Retro, for a time, almost became like a sub-genre of music all its own, which for some reason even appealed to young hipsters that were too young remember this music when it was originally released.

In 1997, the film “Grosse Point Blank” was released starring John Cusack (incidentally, another 80s icon making a comeback) with a soundtrack featuring a number of eighties songs, including ones by The Clash, The Beat, and The Specials (there were three other Specials songs in the movie that were not on the soundtrack). This movie and the ubiquitous presence on eighties night playlists is how songs like the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the sun” resurfaced in the nineties, was infinitely more popular than when it was originally released in 1983 and is now considered a classic in popular music.

But I’ve gone off on a tangent, let’s get back to this mixed tape. For me, “Raging retro” was the springboard to regaining an appreciation of the 1980s. So many of those tunes on this tape became favourites of mine. And for those bands of which I wasn’t already a fan, it led me to delve deeper into their catalogues. Such is the magic of a well-executed mixed tape and the main reason why I’ve decided to share it with you all today.

As I mentioned above, some of the tracks in the listing are no longer legible. Apparently, purple ink doesn’t have the staying power against the sun and the passage of time as has black ink. Nonetheless, I was able to piece it all together and laid it out for you below. At least three of the songs were apparently too obscure to be found on Spotify but I at least managed to find YouTube links for those of you who want to know what you are missing as you peruse this delicious Spotify mix.

But before I get right into the playlist itself, here are some highlights that you definitely should check out and incidentally, half of those are ones that Spotify hasn’t made available:

      • “Sinful”, the debut solo single by Pete Wylie, who got his start in punk bands with Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch and led a band in the early 80s with multiple names, all including the word “Wah!”
      • The version of the early The The single, “Perfect”, that appears in the YouTube video linked below is the one that was on my cassette but I’ve never been able to locate a physical copy of it
      • Scottish new wave band Endgames never truly broke through but their single “First last for everything” was a mainstay on Edge 102.1’s 80s shows
      • The Chameleons UK were an English post-punk band that I always meant to explore, mainly on the back the very excellent “Swamp thing”, and I’m happy to say that I finally picked up a copy of “Strange times” this year
      • This a cappella cover of Yazoo’s “Only you” by The Flying Pickets is just as good as the original in my books
      • Canadian new wavers Boys Brigade were pretty obscure everywhere but here at home but their single “Melody” is definitely worth checking out

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist further below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as it appeared on the original mixed (complete with side titles):

Side one “Trapped in the 80s”:
1. Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come on Eileen”
2. The Icycle Works “Birds fly (Whisper to a scream)”
3. A Flock of Seagulls “I ran”
4. Pete Wylie “Sinful” (unavailable on Spotify)
5. Naked Eyes “Always something there to remind me”
6. Big Country “In a big country”
7. The The “Perfect”
8. Alphaville “Forever young”
9. Endgames “First, last for everything” (unavailable on Spotify)
10. Chameleons UK “Swamp thing”

Side two “Disgruntled 20 somethings”:
11. New Order “1963”
12. Soft Cell “Tainted love”
13. Talk Talk “It’s my life”
14. R.E.M. “Superman”
15. The Boomtown Rats “I don’t like mondays”
16. Split Enz “I got you”
17. The Jesus And Mary Chain “Head on”
18. Nena “99 luftballons”
19. The Flying Pickets “Only you”
20. Boys Brigade “Melody” (unavailable on Spotify)
21. The Dream Academy “Life in a northern town”
22. The Smiths “Unhappy birthday”

And here is the promised embedded Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure. Get out your Vuarnet sunglasses and neon spandex and enjoy.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.