Saturday, November 2, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Mix Collection

And here it is, the complete McQ's Best Of 1998 mix collection.  Click on the mix names for the full write-ups and various links, or just listen to everything here on this page.

And remember, you can always follow McQ & Nancy on Spotify and access all their mixes directly at David Francis McQuillen.


And now, McQ's mix of his favorite cuts from his favorite albums of 1998.



Two of 1998's era-defining sounds, Trip-Hop and Big Beat Electronica, get their due here. Includes killer tracks from the likes of Fatboy Slim, Massive Attack, Propeller Heads, Madonna, Air, Amon Tobin, Rae & Christian, UNKLE, Morcheeba, and several more.



Stoner Rock, Grunge, Emo, Alt-Metal, Hardcore Punk, and most of 1998's best in-your-face guitar rock are teed up on this hard rockin' mix highlighting the years best efforts from Monster Magnet, Local H, Sunny Day Real Estate, Queens Of The Stoneage, Hole, Turbonegro, Pearl Jam, System Of A Down, Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion, Marilyn Manson and several others.



Here we focus on the fantastic college-oriented alt-rock and emerging indie that would form the inspirational foundation of much of the best music of the 2000s. Includes tracks from Eels, Neutral Milk Hotel, Mercury Rev, Sonic Youth, Pulp, Super Furry Animals, Los Planetas, Sparklehorse and several more.



1998 was a monster year for singles.  Here we zero in on the R&B and Disco side of that mainstream single equation, with listens to numbers from Cher, Britany Spears, Aretha Franklin, -M-,Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Monica, Spearmint, Maxwell, Miss Kittin, and many, many more.




And now, the rock and punk-pop side of that mainstream (mostly) singles explosion, with artists like Sloan, Liz Phair, Barenaked Ladies, The Offspring, Less Than Jake, Harvey Danger, Cake, Ash, Fuel, Everlast, Stereophonics, and Catatonia all making contributions.



From the merciless lyrical edge of Black Box Recorder to the life affirming exuberance of Nick Lowe, and twenty or so other flavors in between, we take a listen to many of 1998's finest singer-songwriter efforts on Volume 7.




1998 was an incredibly year for hip hop and it's emerging rap rock hybrid, and much of 1998's best from both genre's is profiled here, including tracks from Outkast, Juvenile, Big Pun, Kid Rock, The Beastie Boys, JAY-Z, Gang Starr, Black Star, DMX, Devin The Dude, and several more!



1998's best Post-rock, IDM, international music and any other concoction where lyrics were only a small part of the musical equation are highlighted here.  Includes efforts from The Dirty Three, Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol, Boards Of Canada, Manu Chao, Calexico, Herbert, Plastikman, Rachid Taha, Alain Bashung, The Beta Band, and several more. 



Nancy knocked it out of the park with her 1998 selections.  She's still tweaking the order, but the songs were to much fun to not post a preliminary version. Enjoy! 



Volume 11 - The Next 100

The next 100 great 1998 songs I was considering for this collection but that just missed the cut are presented here in no particular order.




McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 10 - Nancy's Favorites!

Okay friends, so this may not be the final version of this mix - Nancy is still noodling with the order - but her selections are so much fun, I didn't want to wait on her any longer, so we're gonna post this version of Nancy's mix now, and if she ever gets around to polishing the sequencing down the line, so be it.

Until then, enjoy!

Here's the Spotify Link!




About The Artists/Albums/Songs Represented On Nancy's Mix:



1. California Stars - Wilco: Nancy kicks off her 1998 mix with this wonderful Wilco contribution to the first edition of the Woody Guthrie lyric restoration project Mermaid Avenue.



2. Ciencia Fiction - Los Planetas: We've already featured songs from Spain's Los Planetas' Una Semana En El Motor De Un Autobus on our Early Indie / Aging Alts and Words Be Damned mixes, but Nancy definitely grabbed the album's finest track for her mix here with the so R.E.M.-ish Ciencia Fiction.



3. Perfect - Smashing Pumpkins: The spirit of the Smashing Pumpkin's '96 smash 1979 is almost "perfectly" resuscitated in the best song from 1998's Adore.



4. Iris - The Goo Goo Dolls: Originally conceived for/released as part of the soundtrack for City Of Angels, the 1998 Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan remake of Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire, Iris became the biggest smash of the Buffalo, New York hitmakers career, not to mention one of the biggest hits of the 90s overall, topping the Billboard radio airplay charts for a record breaking eighteen straight weeks. Later also included on the band's mainstream-oriented sixth full-length, 1998's Dizzy Up The Girl, Iris - along with fellow hits Slide, Broadway, and Black Balloonhelped power the album to triple platinum sales. 



5. Last Stop: This Town - Eels: The second song in our 1998 mix collection to be inspired by first hand paranormal experiences (the other being Neutral Milk Hotel's Ghost), and also the song that inspired Electro-Shock Blues' cover,  Eel's frontman Mark Oliver Everett wrote the number immediately after returning home to his Echo Lake apartment complex after his sister's funeral in Hawaii. Almost as soon as he had exited his taxi from the airport, Everett was approached by his landlord who confided in him that she regularly saw apparitions, and with no knowledge of where Everett had been told him that while he was away, the spirit of a young woman had entered his apartment.  To allay his fears and help himself get to sleep that night, Everett turned to thoughts of his sister stopping by for a final friendly goodbye, and imaged the two of them taking flight over the city for one last "joyride" before she started her journey into the afterlife.



6. Lullaby - Shawn Mullins: Put that proverbial gun to Nancy's head, and I think she'd be force to admit this Shawn Mullins' guilty pleasure is her favorite song on this mix. The sad tale of an aging, forgotten, drug-addicted Hollywood socialite from his fourth studio album Soul's Core, Lullaby was the biggest hit of Georgia-native Mullins' career.



7. Closing Time - Semisonic: The biggest hit ever for Minnesota rock trio Semisonic, Closing Time is typically interpreted as a straight forward, last call pick-up number, but drummer Jacob Slichter has indicated songwriter Dan Wilson actually wrote the song as a metaphor for his pending fatherhood when he penned the fan favorite for their second studio release Feeling Strangely Fine.



8. Crush - Jennifer Paige: Another of Nancy's favorite guilty pleasures of 1998 from another Georgia-born singer, Crush, which first appeared on Paige's eponymous debut, was the biggest hit of the her still active career, and has been covered many times since its 1998 release, including a short, humorous usage in a Season 2 episode of Glee.



9. Polyester Bride - Liz Hair: One of three updated cuts on Whitechocolatespaceegg that originally appeared in 1991 on Phair's self-produced Girly-Sound cassettes, Polyester Bride stands today as Whitechoolatespaceegg's most frequently played song. 



10. My Favorite Mistake - Sheryl Crow: A perfect selection for Nancy, as My Favorite Mistake, the lead single from Sheryl Crow's third full-length The Globe Sessions isn't just a nifty Stones-styled rocker, but widely interpretted to be a gentle putdown of another artist Nancy loves, Crow romantic ex Eric Clapton.



11. Joy - Lucinda Williams: First up amongst the three songs Nancy has chosen from Lucinda Williams Pazz And Jop topping Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, the album's feistiest, funniest, and maybe best song, the inimitable Joy. 



12. You Get What You Give - New Radicals: The debut single from Los Angeles-based alternative rockers New Radicals' only album Maybe You've Been Brainwashed presently rates very high on most best songs of 1998 lists, due in large part to the song's final verse, in which band leader/songwriter Gregg Alexander filled the first half with a litany of urgent political issues and the second half with a mean-spirited dis of several other popular musicians of the day as a sociological experiment to see which half of the verse would rivet the music press's attention. Sadly, we can all guess the answer, and unsurprisingly, Alexander and his bandmate/lifelong songwriting partner, former All In The Family child actress Danielle Brisebois, soon became so disenchanted with the press junction part of the process they chose to give up the touring/band-fronting life altogether, deciding instead to focus the rest of their successful, still ongoing careers on producing and writing for others from behind the scenes, where they could be free of the nonsense.



13. Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone - Gomez:  The loose, crunchy Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone is the first of two songs Nancy has selected from Gomez's 1998 Mercury Prize-winning debut Bring It On.


14. Special - Garbage: Every year, there's one song Nancy whisks away from me for her annual mix that hurts the most, and for this 1998 collection, it was definitely this track here from Garbage's Version 2.0. 90s power-pop just doesn't get any better (or should we say "special") than Special - especially love the call back to The Pretenders' Talk Of The Town towards the end. 



15. The Way - Fastball: Voted by VH1 as one of the 100 best songs of the 90s, this hit from the Texas-based alt-rock act's second album All The Pain Money Can Buy took a ripped-from-the-headlines approach in mythologizing what might have happened to senile elderly couple Lela and Raymond Howard in the two week gap after they mysteriously drove away from their Texas home before being found crashed dead in a Hot Springs, Arkansas ravine. 



16. Fly Away - Lenny Kravitz: One of Lenny Kravitz's most popular songs, Fly Away almost didn't make his fifth full-length release 5. According to Kravitz, the completed album had already been turned into his label when he came up with the song one day while shopping for/goofing around on potential new guitars. He recorded a quick demo, sent it to his reluctant label, and after hearing the demo, the label agreed finishing of 5 should be delayed to add the track. 



17. The Rockafeller Skank - Fatboy Slim: And now, The Rockefeller Skank from Fatboy Slim's big beat smash You've Come A Long Way, Baby!, which presently rates as the #2 song of 1998 according to aggregator www.acclaimedmusic.net.



18. Hand In Your Head - Money Mark: Given that Nancy has never been a major hip hop fan, the biggest surprise on this mix has to be her selection of not just one but two tracks from Beastie's Boys producer/touring keyboardist Mark Ramos Nishita's (aka Money Mark) second solo outing Push The Button. But as far as that goes, she's definitely picked two great songs, starting with the album's funkiest track, the "super-hits-of-the-seventies-styled" Hand In Your Head here. 



19. Metal Firecracker - Lucinda Williams: For Nancy's second selection from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, one of the simplest and most poignant break-up songs of the last twenty-five years. 



20. Here Comes The Breeze - Gomez: Nancy's second selection from Gomez's debut Bring It On highlights the blues-rock act's folkier side and talent for instinctively ragged Band-like group harmonies.



21. Sail Away - David Gray: A tribute to how popular David Gray's White Ladder was in the early 2000s (and also how slowly but steadily it caught on) this fourth and final single from the record was released a full three years after White Ladder first hit the shelves. 



22. Tomorrow Will Be Like Today - Money Mark: The spirit of Get Happy-era Elvis Costello courses through every second of this wonderful pop number from Money Mark's Push The Button.



23. Right In Time - Lucinda Williams: One last number from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, here the album's provocatively ambiguous opener (What exactly is it that kindles the song's sense of ecstasy? There are many justified interpretations) Right In Time.



24. Sleep The Clock Around - Belle & Sebastian: With their fanbase growing exponentially following the indie-breakout of 1996's If Your Feeling Sinister, Belle & Sebastian band leader Stuart Murdoch did a generous thing, making room for his fellow bandmates to shine on third full-length The Boy With The Arab Strap, and both guitarist Stuart Jackson and cellist Isobel Campbell took advantage. Case in point, this fan favorite duet between Murdoch and Campbell here anchored around the conceit of slowly growing into one's own skin.



25. 3 Speed - Eels: Another song from Electro-Shock Blues about Mark Oliver Everett's sister Elizabeth, this time capturing a sense of the fleeting joy of her idyllic suburban childhood before her tragedy began to unfold, but also laced with a hint that the inner turmoil that ultimately cost her her life was present from the very start.



26. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye - David Gray: Nancy and have been together for twenty-six magnificent years now, and it's quite possible the two albums I've heard her listen to the most over that quarter-decade span are David Gray's White Ladder and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, so it's only fitting that her mix, and our 1998 collection as a whole, ends with a song that magically combines the power of both. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 9 - Words Be Damned!

With our final themed mixed of 1998, we take a listen to some of that year's best from those bands for whom, at least to English-tuned ears, lyrics were a much smaller part of the musical equation - post-rock, experimental rock, electronica, international music, and one very unusual indie band.

Due to the long run times of so many of these songs, this mix goes on for quite a while, so don't try to take it all in in one sitting, just pick a spot to kick things off, and enjoy.

Here's the Spotify Link!



About the Artists/Albums/Songs represented on this mix:


1. I Set My Face To The Hillside - Tortoise: We begin our Words Be Damned mix, appropriately enough, with this delightful number from a band that almost never had use for words, Chicago's impossible-to-pigeonhole, pioneering instrumental post-rock outfit Tortoise, and their third LP TNT, the most jazz-inflected release in their long discography. 



2. So Now... - Herbert: My favorite song from British sample-king and dance music original Matthew Herbert's breakout fourth release Around The Housewhich substituted any drum machine help with recorded samples of strikes and movements of everyday items that could literally be found "around the house." 



3. The Seasons Reverse - Gastr Del Sol: On their fifth and final outing, this highly respected, Chicago-based Jim O'Rourke/David Grubbs post-rock duo moved slightly towards more conventional songcraft to create the most accessible record of their careers Camoufleur. The Seasons Reverse here is the album's most popular song.



4. Dry The Rain - The Beta Band: Widely considered one of the 100 best albums of the 90s, Scottish "folktronica" outfit The Beta Band's The Three EPs isn't really an album proper, but rather a compilation of the band's initial three EPs - 1997's Champion Versions (for which Dry The Rain here was originally recorded), and 1998's The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos. I had originally intended to include our three The Three EPs selections on our Early Indie / Aging Alts mix, but ultimately, the Beta Band's preference for loose unpredictable structures, long track lengths, and minimalistic lyricism made the Hi-Fidelity-featured Dry The Rain and those other two songs a more natural fit here. 



5. Bongo Bong - Manu Chao: Following the break-up of his Paris-based party-rock-band Mano Negra in 1995, French-Spaniard Manu Chao moved to Madrid and became obsessed with capturing the sounds of street musicians around the world. Over the next three years, he would travel the world, particularly South America, seeking such artists out, and writing and recording individual numbers whenever inspiration struck. Finally, in 1998, those recording were collected in his world-music classic Clandestino. A one-of-a-kind merging of deep tradition and personal perspective, sung in a three or four languages, Clandestino is one of the 90s most singular offerings. Here is the record's most popular number, Bongo Bong



6. Aquarius - Boards Of Canada: Arguably the most significant and influential electronic album of 1998, Boards Of Canada's full-length debut Music Has The Right To Children acted as a clarion call for emerging electronic musicians who wished to see the genre's full potential aimed at headier aims than the dance floor. In recoding the album, the Scottish brother duo employed all manner of degraded analog equipment, often even physically damaging homemade reel-to-reel or cassette recordings, and combined those recordings with natural world sounds and samples from children shows (like the various Sesame Street snippets utilized in Aquarius here) to craft Music Has The Right's uniquely warm, innocent, and nostalgic sound.



7. Minas De Cobre - For Better Metal - Calexico: For their second album The Black Light, Tuscon, Arizona's Celxico chose to focus on the Southwestern desert and all that it inspired to create a collection of short, impressionistic tunes rooted as much in the Latin genres of bordering Mexico as the country and rock influences prevalent in the States. Both critics and fans loved it. More evocative than forceful, the album included several instrumental tracks, like the mariachi-flavored Minas De Cobre - For Better Metal presented here. 



8. There's A Fight At The End Of The Tunnel - The Third Eye Foundation: Fantastic atmospheric creepiness here from Bristol, England producer Matt Elliot and his excellent, very unusual 1998 album as Third Eye Foundation You Guys Kill Me.



9. Sr. Cobranza - Bersuit Vergarabat: Don't know exactly what it's about, but love the feel of this fiery protest song from Argentina's veteran rock act Bersuit Vergarabat and their fourth studio release Libertinaje.



10. Rae - Authechre: Though a clear transitional record, many consider British electronic duo Authechre's LP5 to be their best, as it's the one album fans of their earlier melodic techno work and later, highly percussive experimental work both seem to love. Rae here, my personal fav from the record, is a very good representative of what's found on the album in full. 



11. The House Song - The Beta Band: Our final two tracks from The Three EPs come from The Patty Patty Sound section of the album, starting with The House Song, the overall compilation's funkiest number. 



12. Light - Talvin Singh: Widely credited with pioneering the Asian Underground movement in electronic music, London producer and tabla-master Singh got the ball rolling in 1998 with his highly regarded debut OK, which would go on to win that year's Mercury prize for best music recording in the United Kingdom. 



13. Consume - Plastikman: One of my favorite electronic albums of 1998, Consumed found Windsor-Canada DJ Rickie Hawtin steering his minimalist techno in a more darkly mysterious ambient direction for his fourth outing under his Plastikman alter ego.  Full of deep-as-the-ocean bass grooves adorned with the slightest of eerie synth washes, it's a highly immersive listening experience, almost completely devoid of dance floor appeal, that really plays as one long, rumbling composition. That said, certain moments definitely stand out, like second track Consume featured here.



14. Vuli Ndlela - Brenda Fassie: By 1997, South Africa's beloved anti-apartheid crusader and provocative live performer Brenda Fassie (aka Ma Brr, aka "Madonna Of The Townships" aka "The Queen Of Afropop) had been long battling a devastating cocaine addiction that would land her in rehab over thirty times and take her life just a few years later, but somehow, she remained able to compartmentalize her demons and still produce music at a high level, as Memeza, not released in the States until 1998, was the top selling album of 1997 in South Africa. 



15. Glim - Mouse On Mars: Originally composed as a soundtrack for a film of the same name, Glam - the 1998 effort of the still active German electronic duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma - was rejected by the NC-17 film's director, art house infant terrible and Ali McGraw/Robert Evans son Josh Evans, and became duo's fifth proper release under their own Mouse On Mars name instead. In a nice turnabout, Glam the album is the far more revered of the two efforts today, featuring a number of stirring, near ambient compositions like Glim presented here. 



16. Ida - Rachid Taha: Though hard-partying, French-Algerian poly-stylist Rachid Taha had been a staple in France's rock and punk scene for over a decade, it would be a return to his Algerian musical roots that would provide his huge commercial breakthrough. For his 1998 fifth album Diwan, Taha ditched the punk work of his past (as well as any original compositions) for a stirring set of modernized covers of the Algerian and Arabic folk songs that informed his childhood years. Arranged with a perfectly modulated mix of classic rock and middle eastern instrumentation, it would introduce a hybrid sound that would power Taha's career for years to come. 



17. This Time - Herbert: Here's one more from Matthew Herbert's 1998 sample fest Around The House, the otherwise breezy record's most driving and intense number This Time.



18. Dormir Sonando - El Gran Silencio: An early local hit for Monterey, Mexico's El Gran Silencio, taken from the enduring barrio-celebrating act's 1998 major label debut Libres Y Locos.



19. Telephasic Workshop - Boards Of Canada: Here's another favorite from Boards Of Canada's landmark debut Music Has The Right To Children, this selection emphasizing the band's affection for, and warped reimagining of, hip hop beats. 



20. La nuit je mens - Alain Bashung: Chanson specialist Alain Bashung (considered by many the second most important French rock artist ever after Serge Gainsbourg) had been at things for quite a while before releasing his tenth studio album Fantaisie Militaire, but the awesomely Nick Cave-ish Militaire is the album that, pun-intended, blew things up for Bashung. It won every conceivable French music award that year, and is still regarded as one of the 10 best French rock releases in history. And leading the charge for the album was this sleazy pick-up single La suit je mens - which in English translates to "At Night I Lie."



21. Swung From The Gutters - Tortoise: As we did with Herbert's Around the House, after profiling one of TNT's most effervescent numbers with first selection I Set My Face To The Hillside, we take a listen to one of the album's heaviest numbers here in Swung From The Gutters. 



22. Luna y sol - Manu Chao: For our second inclusion from Clandestino, one of my personal favs, the celebratory, mariachi-driven Luna y sol. 



23. Authentic Celestial Music - Dirty Three: The Dirty Three are a long-running instrumental rock trio out of Australia anchored around the violin of future Bad Seed and Grinderman member Warren Ellis. Part jazz rock, part post rock, they have an organic sound considered well meshed to the vast natural grandeur of their homeland, as the epic build Authentic Celestial Music here from their fifth full-length Ocean Songs makes clear.



24. La Copa De Europa - Los Planetas: We've already featured tighter singles from Spain's Los Planetas on our Early Indies / Aging Alts mix, and Nancy will be profiling the band's all-time greatest song on her upcoming Favorites mix, but here we celebrate the art-rockers ability to stretch things out, in the epic La Copa De Europa from their third full-length Una Semana En El Motor De Un Autobus.



25. She's The One - The Beta Band: One last oddball number from the Beta Band's joyously amorphous The Three EPs to close things out. Listening to this, it's easy to understand how the members of Radiohead and Oasis became so enamored with these Scottish lads.