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
Tunes

Best tunes of 1991: #11 The Lowest of the Low “Rosy and grey”

<< #12    |    #10 >>

“I want to take a streetcar downtown
Read Henry Miller and wander around
And drink some Guinness from a tin
‘Cause my U.I. cheque has just come in”

And so starts The Lowest of the Low classic: “Rosy and grey”.

Oh, how many times have I sung along with those words? And how many times have I done something similar, at many different points in my life – a starving student, university graduate with a low wage job, call centre employee in a brand new city, new home owner in the suburbs, middle aged man revisiting the city of his youth and not recognizing it all? The sentiments are still the same, just heading out without purpose, maybe hitting a record shop, maybe hitting a pub, maybe a cafe, and both forgetting and thinking about everything. And for that one day, everything seems rosy and everything seems grey.

I’ve already mentioned how obsessed I was with this band’s debut album when The Lowest of the Low made an appearance on my Best Tunes of 2001 list with a tune they released after the first of their reunions. And really, their debut, “Shakespeare my butt”, is still my favourite of all their albums, with songs like this amongst their number, though they have written some fine songs since. The Lowest of the Low was formed by Ron Hawkins, Stephen Stanley, and David Alexander as a side project when it appeared their primary band at the time, Popular Front, was on the way out. Many of the songs on “Shakespeare my butt” were written by Hawkins and Stanley while still part of that other group so they were well formed and performed by the time the album was released. It’s no wonder to me at all that there is very little filler on such a long album. For an independent release, it sold very well, for a brief time holding the record for units sold by an indie (beaten shortly thereafter by the “Yellow tape”), and has appeared on a handful of best Canadian album ever lists over the years.

“Rosy and grey” is Ron Hawkins songwriting at its best. Jangle guitar and harmonica folk sound and punk rock angst and sensibilities, both literate and juvenile, juxtaposing references to writers (though Henry Miller has become Dostoevsky in recent years) with sexual double entendres (“I like it much better going down on you”). It’s a song for drinking alone or for clinking glasses with your best mates. It always brings a smile to my face, no matter how grey things may seem.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1991 list, click here.