Friday, 10 January 2014

10/01/14 - The JP '95 Mix

Mixtapes, as I’ve banged on about repeatedly in JuicyPips over the years, formed a very significant part of my childhood. There’s something intensely personal about splicing together your favourite tunes of the moment into one place – it may not always be the kind of in-depth ‘the lyrics communicate my feelings’ approach that you find in High Fidelity, but it’s an excellent way to project your character onto something shareable.
One of the most significant mixtapes I ever made happened back in 1995. I’ll explain why it was so significant in a little while, but first we’re going to go through it track by track and dig through the wonders within. (It does break the golden rule of the mixtape and contain more than one track by a couple of the bands in question, but hey, I was young.) And yes, I made it for a girl.

Side A
Reef – Naked
This was one of my favourite songs in the mid-nineties, and appeared on most of my mixtapes of the era. Even now, that kickass riff puts a big grin on my face. You may remember this track from Sony’s adverts for the launch of MiniDisc.

(Random fact about Reef: their guitarist is a chap named Kenwyn House. There’s a building in EastEnders that is also named Kenwyn House. Ten internet points to anyone who can tell me why this is.)

The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
Picking a ‘favourite song of all time’ is an impossible task, but I’ve always considered Love Spreads to be a strong contender. My controversial viewpoint that Second Coming was the Roses’ best album is firmly bolstered in my mind by the fact that this track is utterly, utterly flawless.

Green Day – Geek Stink Breath
Perhaps not the most romantic song to put on a mixtape you’re planning to give to a girl you like… it’s about the effects of methamphetamine on the human body. But it’s got a killer riff, and that’s the kind of thing I like.

Ash – Girl From Mars
Ash’s 1977 album, released in 1996, was a masterpiece. And Girl From Mars was its lead single, released in July ’95, so this was a brand new track for me to put on the tape. It grew into a recurring mixtape favourite of mine.
Tim Wheeler wrote this song when he was sixteen, and when they performed Girl From Mars on Top of the Pops it was just two weeks since Ash had finished their A-levels. Now that’s what you call a role model.

Elastica – Connection

Elastica’s debut album was ace – Waking Up, Stutter, Annie, Car Song, it’s all great. But Connection was EVERYWHERE in ’95. Real feelgood song, and by now it’s one that everybody knows inside out.

Foo Fighters – This Is A Call
I was a massive Nirvana fan, as were most people I knew. Kurt’s suicide in April ’94 was still a fresh memory, but Dave Grohl’s first Foo Fighters album of July ’95 – upon which he played every instrument, writing and recording the whole thing himself, using the album as a sort of personal grief therapy – was exactly what Nirvana fans needed. Raw, emotional, jam-packed with incredible tunes. For All The Cows was my favourite track, but This Is A Call seemed to fit better on this tape.

Offspring – Come Out and Play
Smash was one of those albums that everyone loved in ’95; its first single, 1994’s Come Out and Play, was the song that pushed The Offspring (who dropped the ‘The’ for this album for some reason) into the mainstream. One of those great songs that takes a dark theme and makes it incongruously jangly and upbeat. A classic.

Terrorvision – Discotheque Wreck
I loved Terrorvision so much as a teenager. (Although, as the track listing of this tape demonstrates, they were clearly playing second fiddle to Green Day at this moment in 1995). Their second album, How To Make Friends and Influence People, was studded with gems, and this particular one is great to sing along to.

Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
It was annoying that the pop kids at school claimed to be Nirvana fans because they’d heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio. Territorial Pissings was a very real antidote to that plastic fandom – a blistering, angry little number that cut-through the major label success and back to their punk roots.

Side B

Dodgy – Staying Out for the Summer
…because I was very much an indie kid as much as I was into punk and grunge. This is Dodgy’s best song by far – a solid-gold slice of indie perfection. That miniature guitar solo at the end is sublime.

Green Day – Having A Blast
Another Green Day track, this time from 1994’s Dookie album. Just a great, great song.

Oasis – Roll With It
In hindsight, there are many, many better Oasis songs I could have chosen. (The Some Might Say b-side Headshrinker would have worked a lot better on this tape.) I imagine Roll With It had only just been released as I was making the tape and I wanted to appear cutting-edge. Nevertheless, a classic tune.

Offspring – Something To Believe In
Another song from Smash here – well, there were a lot of great ones to choose from – which counterpoints the indie stuff that sandwiches it on this tape by kicking off with an evil guitar squeal and divebombs into some seriously heavy riffing. Magic.

Cast – Finetime

The debut single by Cast, and bloody good it was too.
(Random fact about the album All Change: it was precisely sixty minutes long. Not sure if that has any significance.)

Poison – Unskinny Bop
Er… yeah, this song stands out a mile on this tape, it doesn’t fit in at all. Random bit of eighties hair metal. But I was very into Poison when I was younger, so I guess this peculiar tribute to casual misogyny and well-kept hair was a hangover from that.

Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
Confession time: I bought Teenage Fanclub’s Grand Prix album purely because I liked the cover. I knew nothing about them before then. But I’m very glad I did, it’s a consistently excellent album throughout, and this song is the pick of the bunch.

Green Day – When I Come Around
Blimey, a third outing for Green Day! Another belter from Dookie here. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant song.

Supergrass – Alright

Supergrass’ debut album, I Should Coco, was a magnificent thing. (Their subsequent five albums were pretty magnificent too.) And Alright was arguably the weakest song on it – kinda cheesy, massively overplayed… but you know what? It’s a proper feelgood track too, and it was a great closer for this tape. I think it sits at the end rather well.

So why was this tape, the ‘JP ’95 Mix’, so significant? Well, I made it for a girl I liked at school. And she is now my wife. And she still has the tape – see the photo below.
See? That’s the power of the mixtape. It’s not just a frivolous disregard of copyright laws – the right mix can change your life.

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