Desert Island C90 Challenge

desert_islandThis year’s end of year challenge from Scott was to compile a Desert Island C90 tape. I was always a big fan of the cassette tape back in the day, but alas they are long gone from my house now, with the advent of CD’s and such.

Still, I was keen to make an entry this year, having run out of time last year for his Amazon challenge. And, glad to say, I made it, with a few hours to spare on Hogmanay. Now, with a little bit more time on my hands, I can add some commentary on the choices I made and link in some vids for those that may be interested to see.

I found it extremely tough, and I’ve since come up with others that should have made the cut, but that’s the thing with these ‘snapshots in time’: you only get one chance.

Anyhoo, as published on Scott’s blog:

Side 1 (44.48)

You can purchase any, or all, of the tracks on Side 1 through this handy widget from Amazon’s MP3 store (All MP3’s from Amazon are DRM free too!).

Click the next/prev track icon to get to the one you want and when you press ‘Buy It’ you will be magically transported to the secure Amazon store.

1. Mamas and Papas – California Dreamin’: 2:39

Starting things off at a nice relaxed and chilled-out pace, we have a example of easily one of the most well-known harmonising bands of the 60’s. Featuring, of course, the lovely Michelle Philips.

This track has the added benefit of being nice and short, so helping maximise the overall track-count.

Who doesn’t like this?

2. Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter: 4:30

Another 60’s band, although this was released in 1970. Stones vs. Beatles was the equivalent of Oasis vs. Blur in the 90’s. I would’ve been in the Stones camp then, were I old enough.

As for this particular song, I love the haunting feel it has, which puts it ahead of what could have been more ‘classic’ Stones picks.

3. Cocteau Twins – Musette and Drums: 4:12

For all the criticism they get, I kinda like the fact there are no real lyrics in the songs, just made up words and sounds from the amazing Liz and jangly echoey guitars from Robin.

It doesn’t stop you from singing along – who can tell if you’re right or wrong?

The video’s a bit grainy, I recognise it from “The Tube” in ’83. I had this vid stashed on a VHS (which also had “The Colourfield” doing “The Colourfield”), which was sadly lost in the great ‘throwing things at Scotts head’ event of the late ’90s.

This takes me back to my long train journeys between Glasgow and Oxford back in the early 80’s…

4. Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant: 3:15

The archetypal anti-establishment band of the punk period. I’ve probably gone for the obvious one here and would get the QI alarm going off right now. In my defense, I would have picked another more obscure track from the acetate Pistols album I have but I couldn’t find it on Amazon to get the track timing from.

I re-listened to a lot of the old punk stuff on recently and was strangely surprised how poor the production was on it, we’re spoiled these days – but it wasn’t about the production, it was about being there, then.

5. Cult – Rain: 3:56

Anyone who knows my taste in music would probably guess that something from the goth rock genre really had to make an appearence on the tape.

There were a couple of options to choose from, but in the end it was the Cult that just beat the Sisters of Mercy to the post (don’t want to overdo it now, do we?)

6. Billy Talent – Fallen Leaves: 3:19

Found these guys while flicking around the music channels one day, from a great album, which I may even do a review of someday.

This is a classic angry young man punkish track with a rather surreal video.


7. Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith: 5:43

No embedding of this video allowed for some strange reason, so here’s a clicky linky to it.
Some might think a strange choice for me, but hey if you’re going to pick a hair-rock track to include, then why not this staple from John-Bon himself. Classic sing-along-a-rock.

8. Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson: 3:21

Fantastic track from a much under-rated band, with a cool, de-doodley-doodley guitar riff.

Whatever happened to The Bluetones?  No, wait, that’s a rhetorical question, yes I have Google if I really wanted to know.

9. The Go Gos – Our Lips are Sealed: 2:45

A wee bit of poppy magic, much better than the later collaboration by Fun Boy Three, despite what Scott may believe.

Still not mastered that bassline yet… Bwaow-boom-boo-do-do-do-do.

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows: 4:38

Crank up the tempo again as we head for the finish line on side one. Down to a toss-up between three tracks from QOTSA.

So here he have Josh Homme in fine form, a great guitarist as evidenced by his solo, acoustic perfomance of this song on the Live Lounge 2 album.

11. Associates – Club Country: 3:54

The stunning vocal telent of the late Billy McKenzie, he appears to be one of those love-him or hate-him characters. All I can say is he’s on my C90.

No MP3 of this track available on amazon for this at time of writing.

12. Stevie Wonder – I don’t Know Why I Love You: 2:46

The best track Stevie ever did. two and thee-quarter minutes of heart-wrenching vocal excellence.


Side 2 (44.51 mins)

You can purchase any, or all, of the tracks on Side 2 through this handy widget from Amazon’s MP3 store (All MP3’s from Amazon are DRM free too!).

Click the next/prev track icon to get to the one you want and when you press ‘Buy It’ you will be magically transported to the secure Amazon store.

1. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit: 5:01

Kicking off side 2 with a true standard and guess what, you didn’t even have to spin the tape on to the end before turning it over, so you don’t miss any of that classic introduction.

The tune that heralded a new genre of music, and a corresponding new onslaught of bands.

2. Muse – Hysteria: 3:47

When you have to pick on from so many great tracks, it’s never easy.

For me this one sums them up with a bit of everything; great bass, great riffs, great drums, and a huge amount of energy, that’s what I like to hear from them and stunning live.

3. Radiohead – Lucky: 4:19

Again, how do you pick one from that back-catalogue. For me though, the choice of track is a no-brainer, just listen and love it.

4. U2 – One: 4:37

Was considering the anthemic “Where the Streets Have No Name”, but already had jangly guitars on here, so went for the more emotive, and better, One.

5. Ugly Kid Joe – Cats In The Cradle: 4:02

Not the original version, but I think a better one, ‘cos it’s got guitars in. A song with a story, I like that. And no, the original wasn’t by Cat Stevens, it was a 1 hit wonder by Harry Chapin.

6. The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? 3:58

Another difficult pick from then extensive back catalogue of great tunes. For me this one has the perfect combination of Marr’s guitar genius and Morrisey’s clever lyricism.


7. The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter: 2:47

A great cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song, video clip includes clips from the film “Less than zero”, for which this was on the soundtrack. And it’s got Suzanna Hoffs on it, nuff said.

8. The Jam – The Butterfly Collector: 3:05

I think the only b-side that appears on this C90 (it appeared originally on the other side of Strange Town) and for me the best Jam track of them all.

Not your typical Jam here, more calm and melodic, but the chorus kicks in pretty good.

9. REM – Orange Crush: 3:49

As anti-war songs go, this one pretty much has it all. Helicopters, shouting, propeganda and the rat-tat-tat gunfire sound of the drums on the intro. A great song from one of their earlier albums: Green. Semper Fi!

Great live version here in the video.

10. Simon and Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence: 3:04

I’ve always loved this, it’s one for listening to at the end of the night, when it’s quiet and dark. A song that slowly builds and builds to a crescendo and then fading back down again to a close.

11. Gary Jules – Mad World: 3:20

A great song first time round (apart from the daft dancing on the video) by TFF and which I, if I recall correctly, predicted for great things by me back in the day.

Who knew that 20 years later I would correctly tip it for the top again when re-released by Gary Jules following its use in the Gears of War ad for the XBox 360. Strangely, this isn’t available via Amazon on Mp3 at time of writing.

This is of course the funky video for when it was released again.

12. The Four Tops – Bernadette: 3:02

Finishing off with a Motown classic, featuring the late, great Levi Stubbs. He’s on a roll here with all the emotion of a man singing about the jealousy other men have for his burd. And the old Motown 3 minute song rule done almost to perfection.

I’d normally put more motown on a tape, but then I didn’t have a C120 to play with this time…


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