Tale's Spin
A Mix for the 2010 NEDoD Music Swap

CD Insert; Click to Print
Alternative: Track List on Cover

  1. Kaki King,
    "Bari Improv"
  2. King Crimson,
  3. Kelly Bailey,
    "Adrenaline Horror"
  4. The J. Geils Band,
    "River Blindness"
  5. Béla Fleck & the Flecktones,
    "Sojourn of Arjuna"
  6. Watson & Company,
    "The Dream"
  7. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole,
    "Hawai'i 78"
  8. Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
  9. Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice,
    "Pilate's Dream"
  10. Eminem,

As described at The 2010 NEDoD Music Swap, people taking part in this CD exchange were "to put together a mix CD of music that they like & don't think others on the list will have heard."

With more than three dozen friends participating, spanning at least a 30 year age range, this was pretty open-ended and it has been interpreted in different ways. One looked at it "as a desert island CD", pulling together tracks from the five or so CDs he'd want if he were stranded on a desert island. Another put together a mix of uncommon tunes but with a consistent overall theme.

I've always been terrible at picking favorites of anything and didn't find the inspiration for one coherent theme. My personal goals were:

That I was able to find videos on YouTube for most of this probably signifies that I've failed in some meaningful way, but I hope you still find something new to enjoy here.

You can find links to other people's track lists at The 2010 NEDoD Music Swap.

Liner Notes

  1. Kaki King, "Bari Improv", August Rush
    Soundtrack, 2007, 1:35

    Kaki King is an incredible fingerstyle guitarist, the first woman named a Guitar God(dess) by Rolling Stone. She also plays lap steel and among the many fine tracks she did for the movie August Rush is this short slap piece played on an acoustic guitar laid flat like a lap steel. In the film it's played when August first discovers and experiments with a guitar, percussing its strings with joy. Though the movie might be a bit too predictably sentimental for many people, Sarah and I enjoyed it and would recommend it for the music. See more of Kaki on "Goby", "Bone Chaos in the Castle", and "Lies".

  2. King Crimson, "Sleepless", Three of a Perfect Pair
    Progressive Rock, 1984, 5:22

    Following the guitar slap with this bass slap seemed a natural fit. A lot of people have heard of King Crimson but fewer can name even one of their songs. Despite their significant influence on bands from Genesis to Iron Maiden to Nirvana, and the artistic talents of its members, the group's albums have rarely charted well. Guitarist Robert Fripp has been the only continuous member of King Crimson from its founding in 1969, backed since '81 by Tony Levin's strong bass and Chapman Stick work. Alternative tracks: "Elephant Talk", "Frame by Frame", both of which have Tony on the Stick.

  3. Kelly Bailey, "Adrenaline Horror", Half-Life
    Game, 1998, 2:12

    Most fans of Kelly Bailey don't even know his name. As the composer for Valve Software's pioneering Half-Life video game series he's written dozens of ambient pieces to evoke a variety of different moods and helped video game music leave the era of simple tone generation. Now instead of light ditties that are sometimes adapted by orchestras, there are often complex pieces recorded by orchestras directly for the games. The production crew of a first tier game can be as large as that for a major motion picture and the music is used similarly. When "Adrenaline Horror" starts, you, the protagonist, have just emerged from an underground research facility in which an experiment went terribly awry — only to discover soldiers from your own government swarming to kill you. With many opponents and little opportunity for cover the aggressively pounding soundtrack increases tension and pushes you to quickly find a path to safety. It would be just as apt covering one of the vignettes in Run Lola Run. Alternative considerations for the video game slot: Ellen McLain, "Still Alive", Portal; Nobuo Uematsu, "One Winged Angel", Final Fantasy; Chris Vrenna (of Nine Inch Nails), "Doom 3 Theme", Doom 3.

  4. The J. Geils Band, "River Blindness", Freeze Frame
    Progressive Rock, 1981, 6:06

    Mention The J. Geils Band and most people will tend to think only of the '80s pop tunes "Centerfold", "Freeze Frame", and "Love Stinks". New Englanders might reach a little deeper and remember the blues roots of this group from Worcester, and Magic Dick's whammin' and jammin' on the harmonica. Fewer would recognize this piece; I once had an avowed fan insist to me that the song didn't even exist, despite it being on their best selling album. A bit more experimental than their other work, "River Blindness" features Danny Klein's bass coming out of the mid-song break. I hear they used to put on a great live show. J. Geils himself now lives in Groton, MA, and founded KTR European Motorsports in Ayer.

  5. Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, "Sojourn of Arjuna", Left of Cool
    Jazz, 1998, 5:28

    Another New England connection with a penchant for skillfully mixing genres and instruments, Béla is a jazz banjoist from Boston. He's picked with Chick Corea, Phish, Dave Matthews and others. This piece has several engaging riffs but unfortunately the version on the CD suffers from weak mixing of the vocals for the original recording; if you really want to pick up all of the science that Krishna drops on Arjuna you'll probably have to read the lyrics. The vocal mixing is an anomaly though and Left of Cool is a solid all-around album covering a variety of styles, and well worth adding to a music collection. Alternative tracks with more prominent jazz banjo: "Big Country", "Communication".

  6. Watson & Company, "The Dream", Catharsis Infinity
    New Age, 1993, 2:48

    I spent a couple of weeks in Boulder, Colorado, back in 1990 and frequently found myself down at the Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall, where a duo of musicians called Watson & Edge were busking on their violin and guitar. Years later when I looked for a CD to upgrade the cassette I'd bought there on the street, I discovered Edge (of course not that Edge) had taken his guitar and moved on, but that Watson was still playing his violin in duets with guitars. Most of the album is like this lilting tune, including a pleasing take of Pachelbel's "Canon in D", so it's good background music to have on while doing other things. Also recommended: Christmas with Watson and Edge.

  7. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Hawai'i 78", Facing Future
    Hawaiian, 1993, 5:16

    I'm not sure anyone was expecting a ukelele to appear in this swap. A lot of people have heard the beautiful voice of Iz for "Over the Rainbow (What a Wonderful World)". What most don't know is that the voice came from an enormous man, 6'2" tall and nearly 800 pounds. Unfortunately his weight would be his undoing; he died at just 38 years old in 1997 and was mourned widely in Hawaii. Although "Hawai'i 78" is a slow track like "Rainbow", and a little maudlin, he also has up-tempo songs, some more traditionally Hawaiian, to help round out Facing Future as a nice album.

  8. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Nomakanjani", Journey of Dreams
    Isicathamiya, 1988, 3:23

    Sure I can't understand most of what they're saying, but I don't really understand a lot of the words in (supposedly) English songs either. They're an a cappella men's chorus from Ladysmith, South Africa, who were introduced to the western world by Paul Simon for Graceland. Sarah tells me people will also know them from some Life Savers commercial they did. Though I'd heard them on Graceland, I first took an interest in the group after hearing an interview on NPR back in the mid-nineties. Founder Joseph Shabalala recently retired from the group after nearly 45 years but the chorus continues on. I couldn't turn up a video for Nomakanjani, so here's Mambazo, with words you probably can't understand, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, with words you can.

  9. Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice, "Pilate's Dream", Jesus Christ Superstar
    Rock Opera, 1973, 1:27

    I figured chances were good that something from a musical wasn't going to make anyone else's mix CD either, but probably didn't give sufficient consideration to the possibility of Rent or Avenue Q showing up. Even though ripping on Lloyd Webber and Rice is fashionable, I will confess that I enjoy their music. Sappy as it is, I have fond memories of my mother and I singing along together to the movie soundtrack as we traveled between college and home. We enjoyed many musicals and in high school I acted in several. This is one genre where I actually know the full lyrics to many songs, which comes in handy when I'm bored on the highway on a long motorcycle trip with nothing but the wind to hear in my helmet. Belting out a few show tunes works wonders. Though many shows were considered for the musical theatre slot of the mix, Superstar was settled on for the first cut, originally with the comical "King Herod's Song" slotted.

  10. Eminem, "Mockingbird", Curtain Call
    Hip hop, 2005, 4:11

    Philosophy question: how much should the foibles of an artist impact how you feel about his art? Are Roman Polanski's films any less masterful because he was a pedophile? Is Marshall Mathers' flow any less fine because he's a bit of a dick and proud of it, particularly working in a genre that celebrates confrontation? Can you enjoy music at the same time as you disagree with its message? Eminem's skill is undeniable, but so is the controversy that surrounds him for the misogyny, homophobia and violence in his lyrics. He's almost certainly known by everyone getting this mix, but was included to have people consider the questions above, and because Sarah and I both really enjoy his music. This track in particular was picked because it's sad and it's sweet; it's dysfunctional and it's full of pathos. I've also long pictured singing "Hush, Little Baby" to my own children. If you haven't really listened to Eminem before, check out "Just Lose It", "Stan" (feat. Dido), and of course "The Real Slim Shady". Alternative consideration for illustrating the philosophical questions: Kanye West, "Jesus Walks".

  11. Jonathan Coulton, "Creepy Doll", Thing a Week Four
    Geek rock, 2006, 4:00

    Jonathan Coulton challenged himself to write and record one song a week for an entire year. He succeeded and although every one wasn't a winner there were quite a few good pieces. The author behind "Still Alive", mentioned above, he was a computer programmer before finding commercial success in music. Despite much of his work being freely available under Creative Commons licensing it has also sold very well on iTunes, helping demonstrate a new model for music production. Recommended: "Code Monkey", "Re: Your Brains", "Still Alive", "Baby Got Back".

  12. Rush, "Time Stand Still", Hold Your Fire
    Progressive Rock, 1987, 5:10

    I was reluctant to include Rush in the mix for a variety of reasons. How could a band that's been around for over 40 years and that has dozens of gold and platinum albums possibly be considered interesting for this swap? Everyone seems to already have an opinion about Rush — love them or hate them. Their fan base has traditionally been a curious amalgam of burn-outs, geeks, burn-out geeks, and Canadians; Rolling Stone once called Rush fans "the Trekkies of rock". No wonder I feel embarrassed to tell people I'm a fan. Sarah doesn't much care for them herself and when I searched for her approval of my mix, on which I included "YYZ" off of Exit Stage Left for one of Neil Peart's legendary live drum solos, I was already anticipating removing the track. She encouraged me to keep Rush in, though, in no small part because they represented a significant part of the formative years of my musical taste. I dropped "YYZ" for this song because it's shorter, it isn't from their best selling album, Moving Pictures, and Sarah actually likes it. Aimee Mann is on backing vocals, the first time they used another singer. The Rush style has varied a lot over the years so if your whole opinion of Rush is based on "Tom Sawyer" and "Red Barchetta", try a different period. I had considered using "Lakeside Park" from 1976, "Entre Nous" or "Natural Science" from 1980, "Mystic Rhythms" from 1986, "Test for Echo" from 1996 or "The Larger Bowl" from 2007. By the way, Neil's an active BMW motorcyclist.

  13. Lil Wyte, "Crazy", Phinally Phamous
    Southern hip hop, 2004, 3:52

    When we were planning the music for our wedding reception I flirted with the idea of a block of Crazy — a half dozen songs titled "Crazy" by Seal, Gnarls Barkley, Patsy Cline, Aerosmith, Supertramp and Barenaked Ladies, plus Crazytown's "Butterfly". I wanted to see if people would notice. The madness of dominating the reception with that passed but I didn't completely let go of the basic idea, convinced that I could fill an entire CD with tracks named "Crazy" as a surprise present for Sarah. I succeeded, and this was one of the songs I found to do it. (Getting a good flow for that mix was a fun challenge too.) After hearing the song I was surprised to discover he was a southern rap artist; for this I would have put him in more with the likes of Drowning Pool ("Let the Bodies Hit the Floor") or System of a Down ("B.Y.O.B"). His other pieces are much more rap.

  14. Todd Edwards, "Tree Critter", Hoodwinked
    Rock, 2005, 2:54

    Sarah and I really enjoyed Hoodwinked, a 2005 animated feature film that was unfortunately easily overlooked by most people since it didn't come from Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks. Admittedly the animation wasn't top flight, but it was a fun story set in the fairy tale land of Little Red Riding Hood, Granny and the Wolf. "Tree Critter" plays when Granny, who is secretly a snowboarding star, arrives for an X Games competition. The lyrics made me want to get the whole song, which annoyingly could not be purchased as a single track. Fortunately it is full length on the album, and there are several other good full length songs there too, including "Great Big World" sung by Anne Hathaway, "Red is Blue" performed by Ben Folds, and Todd on "Critters Have Feelings". Not to be confused with the Garage House DJ Todd Edwards, the Todd Edwards who wrote (nearly?) all of the music for Hoodwinked founded and plays for the rock band Blick Van Glory. I probably would have never heard of them if not looking for more information for these notes. Now after hearing "Eskimo Love Song" and "The Sophomores" I grabbed their album The Search for Quest from iTunes and am enjoying it very much.

  15. The Verve & Jay-Z, "Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
    Alt-rock/Rap Mashup, 2006, 5:05

    There are a lot of bad mash-ups out there, but a good DJ can make one feel inspired, particularly when it goes cross-genre. This one was done by DJ Frosty for MTV Mashups. DJ Earworm does some quality beats too, for example "If I Were a Free Fallin' Boy" (Beyonce vs Tom Petty) and Together as One (U2, The Beatles, Mariah Carey and Diana Ross). Also worth a look are Robin Skouteris for "Tone Loc vs Yes vs Kylie Minogue" ("Wild Thing", "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "Can't Get You Outta My Head"), "Sweet Insomnia on Another Day" (Eurythmics, Madonna and Faithless), and "Rock This!" (with 10 artists). I totally need to make a disc of pure mash.

  16. The Movement, "Jump!", The Movement
    Techno, 1992, 3:57

    Like "Crazy", you can make a whole disc of tracks titled "Jump"; at least, you can if you fudge a little and include things like "Jump On It", "Jump to the Rhythm" and "Jump Around". When I was putting that CD together I came across this radio-safe version of a song that was a mainstay of 90s techno clubs. Back when I lived in northern Virginia, my best friend loved to go out clubbing and a pulsing techno beat is what kept us going through five hours of high energy dancing like nothing else could. Personally I prefer the foul-mouthed "Mutha Mix" of "Jump!" but, even though Tale's Spin includes several other songs that warrant an RIAA Explicit Content sticker, that mix just seemed too over the top to foist on everyone without warning. Techno sort of peaked in the 90s, but it is still pretty big in eastern Europe and its influence on the modern American club sound is strong. For an album covering a lot of the top beats of the period pick up Rave 'til Dawn. It has the "Mutha Mix" version.

  17. Ying Yang Twins feat. Wyclef Jean, "Dangerous", Chemically Imbalanced

    I wanted to include Wu Tang or Mos Def but wasn't feeling it, and Sarah couldn't fit this in her mix, so rather than go with the hardcore rap here's the hip hop/techno fusion that is crunk. Ying Yang Twins helped Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz bring crunk out of the Atlanta hip hop clubs to a wider audience with "Get Low". Even though they haven't achieved the prominence of crunkers like Usher ("Yeah!") or Chris Brown ("Run it!", which gives the Twins a shout-out), they're still a core fixture on the scene, which features classic synthesizers and 808 drum beats from the techno world. You might have also heard "Halftime (Stand Up & Get Crunk)" recently, since it's become the unofficial anthem of the New Orleans Saints.

  18. The Boss Hoss, "Word Up", Internashville Urban Hymns
    Country, 2005, 3:34

    The sweet serendipidty of YouTube's Related Videos box is what led me to The Boss Hoss when I was looking for Korn's 2004 cover of Cameo's 1986 hit "Word Up!". They're a German band that does country & western covers of pop songs and seem to have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Complete with washboard, cowbell and bass fiddle, on Hymns they make over artists as varied as OutKast ("Hey Ya!"), EMF ("Unbelievable"), Nelly ("Hot in Herre"), Beck, ("Loser"), Billy Idol ("Eyes Without a Face") and Britney Spears ("Toxic"). I don't have any regrets about plunking down 28 dollars for the import CD. For Rodea Radio they cover some older ground with Tom Jones ("It's Not Unusual"), Dionne Warwick ("I Say a Little Prayer"), Diana Ross ("Upside Down") and Rodgers & Hammerstein/Elvis ("You'll Never Walk Alone") to name a few, and provide a half dozen tracks of original music.

  19. Gaelic Storm, "Me & The Moon", Bring Yer Wellies
    Celtic Folk, 2006, 4:24

    Sarah discovered Gaelic Storm when her friends took her to the Albany Irish Festival for her bachelorette party; she had such a good time that she bought Tree. In 2008 they were playing at TCAN in Natick and we were so there. It was a great time with a very interactive and hilarious show. We really enjoyed talking with the band afterward; they said it was one of the smallest spaces they played but that they really liked the intimacy the room brought. There were several live versions of this song on YouTube that show how much fun the crowd can have, but unfortunately I couldn't find one where the the video was decent and the audio wasn't terrible, so I picked this one for its acceptable audio over boring video. Some more samples: "Johnny Tarr", "Don't Go for the One", "Scalliwag", and "Mary's Eyes".

  20. mc chris, "fette's vette (Badd Spellah remix)", mc chris remixes
    Nerdcore, 2001, 4:33

    Sarah told me after we shipped everything that "fett's vette" actually got a lot of radio play back when Attack of the Clones came out. Seriously? ... Seriously?! Sigh. Anyway, nerdcore. It's a thing. More specifically, it's a sub-genre of hip hop with a geeky focus, so geeky that it is explicitly opt-in — you're only a nerdcore artist if you declare yourself to be one. It deals with ultradweeb topics like sci-fi, fantasy, math and Linux, and true to the culture the music is often made available for free by the artists. Though mc chris sounds like a ten year old he's really in his 30s. He's been fairly prolific, with 10 albums out since 2001. He's also written bits for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. For a sampling of more nerdcore check out his "Nrrrd Grrrl" and "Hoodie Ninja", MC Frontalot's "It Is Pitch Dark (You are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue)", and "Nine-Fingered Frodo (and the Ring of Doom)" by the Lords of the Rhymes.