Monday, July 11, 2005


Compilations part 5: Freedom of Choice - Yesterday's New Wave Hits As Performed by Today's Stars

Talk about a mismatch.

This compilation came out on Caroline Records in 1992, with all proceeds to be donated to Planned Parenthood. The list of artists is a bit of a who's who of late 80's/early 90's indie: Sonic Youth, Muffs, Redd Kross, Tiny Lights, Mudhoney,Yo La Tengo, The Connells, Big Dipper, Polvo, Hypnolovewheel, Superchunk, etc. The song selection is fine, with items by the Go Go's, Missing Persons, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Soft Cell, Flock of Seagulls, Blondie, Kate Bush, Split Enz, Pete Shelley, Wall of Voodoo, Adam & The Ants, The Human League, B-52's, Devo, etc. And not one single track on this CD comes remotely close to equaling (bettering is out of the question) the original. Well, maybe one.

Sad, 'cause it was a nice idea.

So anyway, "le blah blah blah can't sing sloppy drummer out of tune can't sing too serious not serious enough lousy production." I think that gets us through to the first halfway decent track, #13 where we find Big Dipper covering Homosapien by ex-Buzzcock Pete Shelley. You know, Big Dipper sound great on every compilation (that I own) that they appear on. I should probably stop ignoring their albums.

Following that, there are a couple of reasonably credible efforts. Polvo don't ruin Mexican Radio (surprising, as the two bands would seem to have little in common) and ditto for Superchunk's Girl U Want which gets by on manic energy.

In between though, we have to suffer through Chia Pet doing something horrible to Don't You Want Me Baby (for the younger readers, Chia Pet was the house band for the legendary Sassy magazine. I have the feeling that some horrible deal with Satan explains their presence here. That's Jane Pratt, of Jane Magazine, on lead violin. Kramer produced this, though I don't think he was ever featured in "Cute Band Alert." Hey, maybe I missed an issue and he was).

In truth, you'd get a much better compilation by simply assembling the original tracks that get covered here, or by just picking up a few of those Sedated in the 80's collections.

It occurs to me that one major omission (among many) is The Vapors. I have a feeling that the organizers of this album could have found somebody who could do something with Trains from the first Vapors album. Here's that, which I've posted before. I don't want to say it's better than Turning Japanese, but let's say it's better than Turning Japanese for someone who heard Turning Japanese several million times while growing up.

To make up for even mentioning Chia Pet, here's Big Dipper with Lou Gehrigs's Disease, which is just about definitely the best track from the None Whatsoever compilation on Vacant Lot records from c.1987. I don't think that came out on CD, but I'm not 100% sure. I'm not familiar with all the ins and outs of Big Dipper's catalog, so I'm not sure if this track ever turned up on CD, though it's good enough that I'd expect (hope) that it did.

Today's post would probably go well with this one from Vinyl Mine (on the Volcano Suns, related to Big Dipper) and this one from A Million Miles Away (which featured one track that I'm featuring, but oh well).

Homosapien by Big Dipper (Pete Shelley cover)
Lou Gehrigs's Disease by Big Dipper
Girl U Want by Superchunk (Devo cover)
Trains by The Vapors

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