Compilation Champs
[SXSW 08 : the triple crown]

Welcome to the EIGHTH edition of the Compilation Champs South by Southwest CD. It's called The Triple Crown because this year I am attempting to equally enjoy the Interactive, Film, and Music components. We'll see how well that works out…

It was great to be with you this year in Austin. Some of you are old friends by now, and some I've just met. But I hope that you enjoy at least some of these songs, all of which have meant something to me in the past year. Canadian content is marked with a maple leaf. Feel free to get in touch with your comments (jamesATconsolationchampsDOTcom).

Sex Pistols - Holidays in the Sun (1977, from Never Mind the Bollocks)

I remember hearing about the Sex Pistols and thinking they must be really bad musicians. But, well, they're not. This has a great riff and Johnny Rotten's frantic stuff about the Berlin Wall was pretty cool in 1977. And still is, to me, anyway.

X - We're Desperate (1980, from Wild Gift)

I didn't get into X until the latter part of the 80s, but this is a good song. Did you know that Viggo Mortensson and Exene Cervenka were together at one point, and that they have a teenaged son together?

Trotsky Vengarán - La invasión de los robots (2004, from 7 Veces Mal)

Sweet Uruguayan punk, it's the next big thing.

Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies (1973, from Billion Dollar Babies)

Before Marilyn Manson and Korn and their ilk, there was Alice Cooper, the original king of "shock rock." My first exposure to Alice was seeing the album cover for "Killer" in K-Mart in 1971. Featuring a closeup of a snake's head, "Killer" scared the crap out of six year old me. But later I realized that Alice Cooper actually had some great songs. Both the name of the group and of its androgynous lead singer (real name Vincent Furnier), Alice Cooper released Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. I love how he blends his regular Detroit accent with the faux-British accent to eerie (and humourous) effect.

Tim Fite - I've Been Shot (2006, from Over the Counter Culture)

Tim Fite released this album for free on the internet and I'm so glad he did, or else I probably wouldn't have discovered one of the smartest guys working in hip hop today. I've Been Shot made me laugh out loud more than once, but he's trying to do much more than make people laugh. Satire with beats? And free? Sold.

PJ Harvey - Man-Size (1993, from Rid of Me)

Polly Jean Harvey is a perennial favourite of mine, at least with her early 1990s material. The way I describe it is before she put down her guitar and started wearing dresses. This song just kicks all kinds of ass.

Pylon - Stop It (1980, from Gyrate)

I discovered Pylon when I saw an early video of them performing as part of Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers' Nightclubbing (review here), a collection of live performances from CBGB's and the Danceteria from the era 1975-1980. This Athens band were contemporaries of REM and should have been much more famous, but they lacked commercial ambition. They've recently reformed and re-released some of their music.

The Boomtown Rats - Someone's Lookin' at You (1979, from The Fine Art of Surfacing)

A badly underrated album, which I wrote about here.

Simple Minds - Speed Your Love to Me (1984, from Sparkle in the Rain)

I really liked Simple Minds circa New Gold Dream, but this album was pretty great, too, even though they were starting to tip into excess just a bit. This brings back the 80s to me more than any of the one-hit wonder songs I always hear on the radio. I listened to every groove on this record over and over again.

Gene Loves Jezebel - Always a Flame (1986, from Immigrant)

Gene Loves Jezebel were sort of a glammer version of The Cult, at least at this stage in both of their careers. In the mid-eighties, both bands were on Beggar's Banquet and I remember getting several of their early albums as cheap promos ("an album for the price of a single," that sort of thing). I was disappointed when Gene Loves Jezebel lost a bit of their toughness in the years to follow.

Pale Saints - Language of Flowers (1990, from The Comforts of Madness)

Pale Saints - Throwing Back the Apple (1992, from In Ribbons)

Here are two songs from one of my favourite "shoegaze" scene bands. I discovered the latter first, and was mesmerized by the drum pattern, which I couldn't quite figure out. Shoegaze seems to be making a comeback, too.

Adorable - Homeboy (1996, from Against Perfection)

This band was poised to be huge (HUGE, I tell you!) in 1996 and then something happened. Or rather, nothing happened. I don't even think you can get this album on CD. Odd. The killer bass line deserves to live on.

Bis - School Disco (1995, from We are Bis from Glasgow Scotland)

Not sure how I discovered this song but it was recent. I love the explanatory album title.

The Field Mice - Emma's House (1988, from Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?)

Okay a bit of a "twee" run here, with a lot of bands from Scotland. The Field Mice weren't actually from Scotland, but just enjoy the song.

Orange Juice - Blue Boy (1980, single)

Orange Juice - Consolation Prize (1982, from You Can't Hide Your Love Forever)

Okay, Orange Juice were definitely from Scotland, and twee as f**k, too. You might remember lead singer Edwyn Collins from a later hit called "A Girl Like You", but I like this stuff better. Blue Boy has the worst guitar solo in the world, but it feels honest, and how could I not include a song called Consolation Prize, whose lyrics pretty well sum up the entire raison d'etre of my weblog: "I'll be your consolation prize, even though I know…I'll never be man enough for you."

Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle - Typewriter Tip-Tip-Tip (1970, from the soundtrack of Bombay Talkie)

This was used in the recent Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited, which has a number of great songs from older Bollywood films.

Hayden - Bad As They Seem (1996, from Everything I Long For)

Hayden is a Toronto singer/songwriter who seems to release an album every three or four years and then disappears again. He just released a new CD in 2008 but I haven't heard it yet. This is from his first one.

Philip Glass - Einstein on the Beach (1976, from Einstein on the Beach)

I never really got Philip Glass until last year. I "respected" him but it was only when I saw a ballet choreographed by Jerome Robbins to some of Glass' music (entitled Glass Pieces) that it all clicked. This is very early stuff, and apparently the voiceover material was written by an autistic boy.

The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow (1970, from Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-go-round, Pt. 1)

The benediction. A good traveling song from The Kinks. It was great to be in Austin with you this year. Safe travels home and see you on the intertubes.

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