Compilation Champs
[SXSW 04 ("make your own damn cd" edition)]

Children from Dublin's Inner City - Give Up Yer Aul Sins (c. 1962, from Give Up Yer Aul Sins): I discovered this wonderful part of my heritage a couple of years ago when an animated short film of the same title was nominated for an Academy Award. Recordings had been made many years ago of Dublin schoolchildren telling stories from the Bible. The only bad thing about this version (which is from a recent CD release) is the incredibly chirpy and annoying narrator.

Iggy Pop - I Got A Right (1973, from the sessions for Raw Power): A poor quality demo but somehow it works. I like the muddy sound and there's just nothing like Iggy's attitude married to the crunchy guitar of James Williamson.

Motorhead - Dirty Love (1979, from Golden Years): I have always liked Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead. It's not that I'm a huge fan of "metal" but I could never buy this kind of music when it's sung by a falsetto-voiced preening shirtless poster boy. So many so-called "metal" bands were just about the hairstyles and their records were overproduced and slick. Even though this is most certainly a demo (witness the laugh at the beginning and the cough!), I love the stripped-down "dirty" sound. The drumming is almost punk in its simplicity.

Max Webster - Here Among The Cats (1976, from Max Webster: More of my art-rock youth showing. I think this is about being in prison, but they make it sound kind of cool.

Wesley Willis - The Frogs (1999, from Greatest Hits, Volume 2): Wesley Willis died recently. Until his death, he was one of the strangest examples of "outsider art" in history. Wesley was a 350-pound black homeless schizophrenic who somehow got hold of a keyboard and began writing hundreds of songs. Although most of the songs sound exactly the same, they're strangely compelling. Wesley's songs fell into several categories. The funniest were the ones where he exhorted the listener to Lick/Suck/Taste a Camel's/Donkey's/Snow Leopard's/Caribou's/Llama's/Gorilla's Ass. Included here though is one of a group of songs Wesley wrote about bands. Describing a concert (or "jam session") that he apparently enjoyed, he's joined here by a full band that makes the song much catchier than his usual fare.

The dB's - Black and White (1981, from Stands for Decibels): For years I'd been meaning to check out this band. 1981 is right in the middle of my own "golden era" of music (I was 16), but I'd never heard The dB's. They're power pop with a vaguely jangly flavour.

My Bloody Valentine - (When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream (1988, from Isn't Anything): Though Loveless (1991) is considered the masterpiece, I like this album more for being more of a collection of songs. The drumming is more poppy and frantic, too, which is always a key part of my enjoyment.

XTC - River of Orchids (1998, from Apple Venus, Volume 1): Orchestral Beatlesque pantheist hymn to nature reclaiming the highways. It sounds like it could be a plea for the carmakers to finally get working on those hydrogen-powered cars.

The Smiths - The Boy with the Thorn in His Side (1986, from The Queen is Dead): I still think that the Smiths are criminally undervalued by the mainstream. Incredible songwriting. A killer partnership of words and music. One day they'll write songs about The Smiths.

Pedro The Lion - Suspect Fled The Scene (2001, from It's Hard to Find a Friend): A recent discovery. I'm falling hard for Pedro. Moody intelligent lyrics from a Christian perspective. (Oh how that word has become debased. Pedro is helping, though, and I hope to!).

The Spoons - Nova Heart (1982, from Arias and Symphonies): The Spoons were a new wave act from Burlington, a suburban hamlet about 45 minutes west of Toronto. They had the coolest clothes and hairdos imaginable, and their female bass player was a total babe. Since there's no Spoon this time, I had to give you Spoons!

The Pets - Vika (2000, from Love and War): I really don't know much at all about this band, except that they're from the unlikely jangle pop capital of Steinbach, Manitoba and that they only released the one album. Alas.

Wesley Willis - I'm Sorry That I Got Fat (1995, from Greatest Hits): More Wesley goodness. Though he promises to "slim down," Wesley never did. I'm not sure if Burger King, McDonald's and White Castle contributed to his death, but it's sad to hear him apologizing for his weight.

Half Japanese - Best of the Best (2001, from Hello): This band should be called "Half Crap" since the ratio of poppy gems to unlistenable dreck is about 1:1. This, if you haven't guessed already, is a poppy gem.

The Diodes - Shape of Things To Come (1977, from The Diodes): This song is actually a cover of a song from a very strange film entitled Wild In The Streets which I talked about on my weblog.

Devo - Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy (1978, from Q:Are We Not Men? A:We Are Devo): If I had a band (still a remote danger, I'm afraid), we'd cover this song. I've always loved the way this song builds into a some sort of frenzied geek hoedown. Wes Anderson (who looks like the president of the Devo fan club) has said that for one of his films he wants to use only Devo songs on the soundtrack. I sure hope he uses this.

Rheostatics - A Midwinter Night's Dream (1996, from The Blue Hysteria): My favourite Rheostatics songs are usually written and sung by Martin Tielli. His guitar playing and his voice (despite what I've said elsewhere about falsettos) always somehow evoke water for me; like being underwater, or on ice. My copy of this song has an unfortunate scratch or something so I apologize for the strange "ticking" that sometimes mars this track.

Sigur Rós - Untitled 1 (2002, from ()): I know they're not the New New Thing™ anymore. I think that's why I like this song now.

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