Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chex Mix

Back before it got homogenized by its corporate progenitor, chex mix was a homemade snack made from scratch with various tasty elements. The recipes for the various mixes always varied, but they generally included an assortment of Chex cereals, chips, hard bread sticks, pretzels, nuts or whatever else was popular at the time. Essentially, there was something for everyone, so chex mix was always a safe bet for a party pleasing snack. While each home made recipe is unique and may include the occasional outlier element, chex mix takes generally takes no chances nor does it break any no new ground. It's meant to please the most amount of people. 

So, in the spirit of homemade chex mix, I'm giving you a mix that is tasty enough to please a wide variety of people yet has some individual elements of deliciousness to please even the most discerning of musical connoisseurs.

Number Of Tracks: 22
Approximate Runtime: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Side 1:

  • All For You - Sister Hazel
  • Gramercy Park Hotel - Edwin McCain
  • Rolling In The Deep - Adele
  • Crazy Bitch - Buckcherry
  • You're The World To Me - David Grey
  • Make You Crazy - Brett Dennen
  • Her Diamonds - Rob Thomas
  • The Fixer - Pearl Jam
  • I Don't Feel Like Dancing - Scissor Sisters
  • Music Is My Hot Hot Sex - Cansei De Sexy
  • Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People

Side 2:
  • Fireflies - Owl City
  • Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Rae
  • If I Die Young - The Band Perry
  • Substitution - Silversun Pickups
  • Stars - Switchfoot
  • Summer Rain - Matthew Morrison
  • Keep Your Head Up - Andy Grammer
  • Short Skirt/Long Jacket - Cake
  • Diamonds On The Inside - Ben Harper
  • Run Chicken Run - The Felice Brothers
  • Steal My Sunshine - Len

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I & II

Back in 1985, Billy Joel had established himself as one of the world's premier musicians. At the time, he had a 14 year career spanning 10 studio albums behind him. This made him long overdue for a greatest hits album. So, the release of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II was a blind buy for me at the time. In fact, I believe it was the first CD that I spent my hard earned money on. What lies underneath the cover of this compilation is a masterpiece of music that, if I were so inclined, would make the perfect Billy Joel mix tape. While the focus of this compilation is somewhat heavy on Joel's "top hits", there's also a good sprinkling of some lesser known songs and two brand new ones that seem to have been added at the expense of some more commercially viable offerings such as "Keeping The Faith". The songs on this compilation were seemingly put in an order in which they would sound good together rather than in chronological release order which is something I applauded at the time. That is what made it feel more like a mix tape than a greatest hits album.

One other interesting thing to note about this album is that a number of songs were edited for time. These songs are "The Stranger", "Just The Way You Are", "My Life", "Big Shot", "She's Got A Way" and "Pressure". In most cases, the cuts actually work. For example, I don't miss the verse "Don't go trying/Some new fashion/Don't change the color of your hair/You always have my/Unspoken passion/Although I might not seem to care" and had always found it to be very jarring in the original version of the song. The one glaring exception is the removal of the piano interlude in "My Life". That's a travesty.

Two live songs were substituted for their studio versions in the release of this compilation.  "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" is the live version from Songs In The Attic rather than the studio version from Turnstiles. Likewise, "She's Got A Way" is a live version rather than the studio version from Cold Spring Harbor. The live version of "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" is the superior version because of its raw energy and harder edge. Due to the mis-mastering of Cold Spring Harbor at a higher pitch than normal, the studio version of "She's Got A Way" was simply not releasable.

All in all, the 1985 release of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I and II is a masterpiece which, like a Persian rug, has one flaw: the aforementioned cutting of "My Life". The problem is, in 1998, the album was remastered and re-released with a number of questionable tweaks. All songs that had been shortened on the 1985 version were restored to their original versions.  The live version of "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" was replaced with the studio version from Turnstiles and the live version of "She's Got A Way" was replaced by the studio version which had been re-mastered at the correct pitch. It's like giving the Mona Lisa a boob job. Sure, it looks better, but one tends to miss the original. They were unnecessary changes. The powers that be should have just released a completely different compilation with a different mix of songs.

So, for me, I'm just going to stick to my bulky clam-shelled version of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I and II and pretend that the re-master never existed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Steve Miller and Jack Johnson's Kool and Groovin Mix

I think that Jack Johnson just might be Steve Miller's illegitimate son.  No, really! They sound similar vocally, and if it weren't for them being separated by several decades, I would have a hard time figuring out which one is which just by listening to them. They both have their unique, definitive styles. Steve Miller epitomizes 70's era "kool" while Jack Johnson expresses a modern, laid back feeling of groovin. Hoping to capture the feeling of the laid back groove that transcends musical generations, I present you with my Steve Miller and Jack Johnson Kool and Groovin Mix:

Number Of Tracks: 26
Approximate Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes 

Side 1: Steve Miller (Kool): 
  • Swingtown
  • Jungle Love
  • Things I Told You
  • Take The Money and Run
  • Rockin' Me
  • True Fine Love
  • Fly Like an Eagle
  • Jet Airliner
  • Abracadabra
  • Dance Dance Dance
  • Cool Magic
  • Goodbye Love
  • While I'm Waiting

Side 2: Jack Johnson (Groovin) 

  • Constellations
  • If I Had Eyes
  • Fortunate Fool
  • Good People
  • Broken
  • Talk of the Town
  • Holes To Heaven
  • Breakdown (film version)
  • Never Know
  • Badfish/Boss DJ
  • Bubble Toes
  • Mudfootball
  • No Other Way

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meow Mix

When I was in high school, I often hung out at my friend Marty's house for hours at a time. His home was always bustling with activity, siblings running all over the place, parents making a ruckus and a number of cats scattering about. I had always been a dog person, so seeing how cats operated was novel to me. Marty's cats were fed Meow Mix which had three different kids of flavors mixed together: chicken, liver and tuna. That really runs the gamut of cat cuisine, right?  The point is that it covers all the essential bases of what cats like.

Over the ensuing years, I have often named mixes that cover a wide variety of genres without a having a centralized theme "Meow Mix". What you'll find below is a mix that covers the essentials: 80's 90's 2000's and 2010's. It covers pop, rap and alternative. I particularly like the way all the rap songs naturally transition into each other, particularly how "Check The Rhyme" transitions into "OPP".

Of course, there's a little tribute to my pal Marty, who helped inspire this naming scheme. "Hold Me" and "No Myth" were two songs I often heard appearing on mix tapes that he made in high school. 

Number Of Tracks: 21
Approximate Runtime: 1 hour, 21 minutes 

Side 1 (Chicken):
  • Roll With It - Steve Windwood
  • Freeway Of Love - Aretha Franklin
  • Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People
  • Stars - Switchfoot
  • Hate Everyone - Say Anything
  • Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Ray
  • Bug Powder Dust - Bomb The Bass
  • It Takes Two - Rob Bass and EZ Rock
  • Check The Rhyme - A Tribe Called Quest
  • OPP - Naught By Nature
Side 2 (Liver):
  • Hold Me - Fleetwood Mac
  • No Myth - Michael Penn
  • A Wall I Must Climb - Michael McDermott
  • Substitution - Silversun Pickups
  • The Fixer - Pearl Jam
  • Lighting The Way - Superdrag
  • Pretty Fly - The Offspring
  • The Anthem - Good Charlotte
  • One Hit Wonder - Everclear
  • Grace Kelly - Mika
  • Spyder - Imperial Drag

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Van Halen

Van Halen fans seem to want to separate themselves into one of two camps: Fans of David Lee Roth and fans of Sammy Hagar. I've heard rumors that fans of Gary Cherone exist, but I've never encountered one in the wild. If I did, I'd have to put it out of its misery.

I'm a fan of both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Both singers have their strengths and weaknesses and both contributed some great songs to the Van Halen legacy. Below, you'll find my ultimate Van Halen mix tape. Side One is all Dave and on Side Two, Sammy takes over. "I'll Wait" is a great place to end Dave's era which transitions nicely into Sammy's "Right Now". 

Number Of Tracks: 21
Approximate Runtime: 1 hour, 30 minutes 

Side 1 (Dave):
  1. Beautiful Girls
  2. (Oh) Pretty Woman
  3. You Really Got Me
  4. Unchained
  5. Panama
  6. Jamie's Cryin'
  7. Runnin' With The Devil
  8. Dancing In The Street
  9. Everybody Wants Some!!
  10. Dance The Night Away
  11. Jump
  12. Hot For Teacher
  13. I'll Wait
Side 2 (Sammy):
  1. Right Now
  2. Why Can't This Be Love
  3. Dreams
  4. Feels So Good
  5. Poundcake
  6. Can't Stop Loving You
  7. Black And Blue
  8. Runaround