Perfect Sound Forever

August 1998- Monthly Mixtape

Cassette deck

Michaelangelo Matos is a freelance writer who contributes to the Minneapolis City Pages, the Chicago Reader, and the NY Press. Every month he will dig through his stacks--recent acquisitions, new albums, old favorites--compile a 100-minute tape, and delineate the contents for Perfect Sound Forever.

Side One:

  1. Jimmie Dale Gilmore: "My Mind's Got a Mind of Its Own" (2:30) from After Awhile (Nonesuch, 1991). A goofball mystic's manifesto.

  2. Herve Duerson: "Avenue Strut" (2:50) from Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here: Strutting the Dozens (Shanachie, 1998). From a lithe, lively collection of solo piano pieces from 1928-35, the prettiest.

  3. Litle Richard: "I Don't Know What You've Got (But It's Got Me)" (4:47) from Lost Soul Treasures (LST, 1998). Deep soul from 1965. From the shivering opening notes (echoed in the next handful of songs on the tape, sort of) to the opening "You never...treat me kind," this is the kind of record that makes you sit up straight and listen close. The most ebullient screamer of the 1950's relinqueshes none of his broad manner: "And I look at my friend because I'm innocent," he declares in his best put-upon drag-queen voice, and he sounds completely innocent, and anything but, both at once. Richard also steals the greatest couplet from Sam Cooke's greatest song: "I gave you all the money I had in the bank/Not one time did you say thanks." Appropriate, then, that this has the most emotionally convincing singing LR ever did; it's probably the best thing he ever made.

  4. Them: "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" (3:47) from The Story of Them featuring Van Morrison (Deram/Chronicles, 1998). Shimmering beauty, with a vocal on its way to Astral Weeks. Beck sampled this for "Jackass," too.

  5. Sonic Youth: "Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)" (10:59) from A Thousand Leaves (DGC, 1998). Lolls around for eleven minutes; sounds like a walk through the woods in a b-movie--something they've acheived before, but never so effortlessly. The new album's classic.

  6. Paul Schutze: "Hallucinations" (8:18) from Green Evil (Tone Casualties, 1998). Schutze's albums are fascinating and usually uneven; his newest is a hodgepodge of cuts from non-album projects, yet to these ears it holds up better than any of the others. My fave is the one that sounds most like my faves on the others: "Rivers of Mercury," or the best bits from Nine Songs from the Garden of Welcome Lies. Clearly, the man has a formula. And clearly, it works.

  7. Augustus Pablo: "A P Special" (2:52) from Original Rockers (Shanachie, 1980). For when the Viagra wears off.

  8. Impact All Stars: "Easy Come Dub" (2:38) from Forward the Bass: Dub from Randy's 1972-75 (Blood & Fire, 1998). And for when it kicks in again.

  9. Lionrock: "Rude Boy Rock" (4:51) from City Delirious (Time Bomb/Arista, 1998). Not really ska. Not really anything but a lot of fun.

  10. J.T. Meirelles, Chico & Sergio Batera, Salvador, Rubens, Jorge: "O Orvalho Vem Caindo" (5:55) from Brasil: a Century of Song--Bossa Nova Era (Blue Jackel, 1995). Irresistible rhythm exercise for when you want to throw a carnival in the living room.

  11. Animaniacs: "All the Words in the English Language (Part One)" (1:01) from Variety Pack (Kid Rhino, 1995). "Aardvark, abating, abet, abdicating/Abandon, abase and abreast/Ablaze and ablution, abhor and abusion/Abbreviate, abbey, abcessed..."

Side Two:

  1. Adil Tiscatti: "Negada Da Lapa" (3:54) from The Rough Guide to the Music of Brazil (World Music Network, 1998). Sly, sneaky, sideways horns, understated but intense rhythm, near-whispered vocal--everything you hope Brazilian music will be.

  2. Papete: "Berimba" (8:55) from Brasil: a Century of Song--Folk & Traditional (Blue Jackel, 1995). The berimbau is a musical bow that appatently changes tone everytime you bend it. Papete plays a pretty straight melody throughout, but it sounds like cut-up avant-garde tape composition; attractive, but you never know when it's going fuck up and get weird. Arresting.

  3. Zaiko Langa Langa: "Zaiko Wa Wa" (5:40) from The Rough Guide to World Music (World Music Network, 1994). One of the loveliest Afropop recordings I've heard (the hissy recording is reminiscent of '50's doowop), this Zairean soukous number might be the thing to convert English speakers--because every single line ends with "Wa wa wa." It doesn't matter how many syllables the line has in it--three or thirty--every single line ends with the same "Wa wa wa."

  4. Ritmo Y Candela: "Descarga en Faux" (5:37) from The Rough Guide to the Music of Cuba (World Music Netowrk, 1997). Slow, funky Cubano jazz: equally ideal for dancing or seduction.

  5. Animaniacs: "All the Words in the English Language (Part Two)" (1:13). "Level and levity, lewd and longevity/Libel, libation, Lanai/Lithium, litigate, legal, legitimate/Liberty, levy and lie..."

  6. Creeper Lagoon: "Empty Ships" (3:47) from I Become Small and Go (Nickelbag, 1998). I saw these four moony, romantic indie rockers at a recently-opened coffeeshop/all ages venue in Minneapolis, the Foxfire Lounge. They wounded wonderful, all bristling guitars and bashfully unabashed hooks; the room had maybe 35 people, but they didn't care--nothing mattered to this band beyond what they were doing. I noticed the guitarist, Sharkey Laguana, closing his eyes and doing the heel-toe indie shuffle that is the stuff of collge radio dream(boat)s; he looked, and doubtless felt, weightless. And then, in the middle of a song, he struck his guitar, and as his arm flew downward, he FELL TO HIS KNEES; it was as if the intensity of the chord had drained all his energy and he simply couldn't stand up anymore. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed; all my weighted, considered critic-thoughts left my head that instant. I stood dumbfounded, then captivated; as Laguana got up again (after about four bars) I was smitten, then in love. This song is really good, the whole album is really good, but when they find a way to transfer that moment onto tape, they'll achieve godhood.

  7. Beastie Boys: "Body Movin'" (3:03) from Hello Nasty (Grand Royal/Captiol, 1998). My favorite from their newest, which is a fucking masterpiece (no, I didn't think it really would be, either). Although please note that the best beat on the album is hidden between tracks 2 and 3, and isn't even rhymed on.

  8. Rancid: "Lady Liberty" (2:20) from Life Won't Wait (Epitaph, 1998). Their newest sounds confused, too slow, labored, less fun the first couple listens; it sinks in eventually as something deeper than their previous work, although I don't think necessarily better. But even when you're trying to figure it out, this cut breaks through like a power drill through sheet metal: blatant rockabilly rip with a vocal that sounds as passionate as it's trying, probably because Tim Armstrong doesn't sound like he's trying at all.

  9. Sarge: "Fast Girls" (3:15) from The Glass Intact (Mud, 1998). "She's awfully blunt with no tact/You gotta like a girl like that." And from the liner notes: "Put a song on a mix tape!" Consider it done.

  10. Quasi: "It's Hard to Turn Me On" (4:33) from Featuring "Birds" (Up, 1998). "You turn me on/And..." How romantic.

  11. The Buzzcocks: "Why Can't I Touch It" (6:32) from Singles Going Steady (IRS, 1979). The best angst song ever written: broken down to its absolute essentials (one verse rewritten over and over again) and laid over a punk steal from some half-remembered combo of Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" and Charles Wright's "Express Yourself."

  12. Animaniacs: "All the Words in the English Language (Part Three)" (1:01). "Zeppelin and zipper and zephyr and zither/Then zinc and zombini/And zoo and zucchini/And Zulu and Zorro/Then zit and zamoro/And zero and zoom and Zaire." Yakko Warner then collapses from exhaustion. Dick Buttons and Dot Warner announce: "Join us next time, when Yakko sings all the numbers above zero."