“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”David McCulloch
And as it is with life, so it is with music. We shouldn’t forget what came before, and in fact we don’t – we create cover versions, we sample, it seems as if we recycle music possibly more than we do anything else.
Sometimes it is good to take a little look backwards, let’s say a couple of decades…
This mixtape ended up being about double the length I intended and that was after I cut a LOT out. It’s a bit rambling and it jumps through genres a bit but I think it is kind of coherent a the same time. 🙂
Here then are a few of my favourite songs from 1998…
Everwanting: To want You to Want by Maxwell
In 1998, Maxwell released his second album. The first had been labelled as neo-soul and been compared to people like Stevie Wonder, never a bad person to be compared to. The second album though moved Maxwell into a whole new unlabelled pigeon hole all of his own.
Doo-Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill
I have said it before and I will very probably say it again, Miseducation is a work of brilliance, there are no weak tracks on the album and it places it is truly magnificent.
This could have been any track really, I just picked it because it was the biggest single release.
You Make Me Wanna by Usher
This is a surprise addition to this playlist, a surprise to me. I don’t know why I have always liked this song but I just do. There really isn’t much more that I can say about it, so I will just leave it here…
Morning Afterglow by Electrasy
Google has just told me that Electrasy released three albums, I’ll be honest and say that I have only ever heard the first and that I’m not a massive fan of most of it. Morning Afterglow though is a triumph.
Everybody Here Wants You by Jeff Buckley
Say Jeff Buckley’s name and everyone will have an opinion about Hallelujah and possibly know about the way he died, they might even have listened to his debut album Grace.
Grace is impressive, but the second album which was a work in progress at the time of his death was to be a much more expansive and musically wide ranging affair, and what was posthumously released as Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk shows that. It’s sad that we didn’t get to hear a lot more of whatever sonic adventures his brilliance might have taken us on.
Help The Aged by Pulp
In 1995 Pulp released Different Class, their breakthrough album, the one that propelled them into the mainstream spotlight and one of the defining records of the Britpop era, and then, then we waited…
We waited and three years later along came This Is Hardcore and it was a bit different, good, undeniably good, nominated for the Mercury prize, critically acclaimed, but still different. I loved it.
Traffic by Stereophonics
Not as well known as A Thousand Trees or Local Boy in the Photograph maybe, but Traffic is possibly the track from the Stereophonic’s debut album that has aged the best. It’s still just as catchy and singalongy today as it was two decades ago.
Get Myself Arrested by Gomez
Cute anecdote, when the band played their first gig they didn’t actually have a name. They left a sign outside the venue for a friend whose surname was Gomez letting him know where they were playing, the sign read ‘Gomez in here’. People assumed it was the band name, it stuck.
Closing Time by Semisonic
I’m not a big fan of Semisonic, I don’t really know any of their album tracks and the singles mostly just passed me by, but I do really like this song. Lyrically it just brilliantly describes a feeling at the end of a night out that we’ve all felt oh so many times.
The Boy With the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian
It’s Belle and Sebastian, it’s from 1998 and it’s great. Enough said.
President of What? by Death Cab For Cutie
Long before they became the Emo Indie flagbearers for a generation of disenfranchised mopey teens, DCFC released their debut album Something About Airplanes and it was really pretty bloody good.
A Perfect Day Elise by PJ Harvey
I don’t listen to Polly Jean Harvey nearly enough, but then maybe that is a good thing in some way. It means that when I do hear a track like this one or This Is Love then I get to be amazed by it all over again.
Ava Adore by The Smashing Pumpkins
I don’t really get Billy Corgan a lot of the time, but he writes good songs, and is a clever lyricist. So what does Mr Corgan have to say himself about Ava Adore?
“Ostensibly written about some objectified person, there also is no ‘Ava’ that I can configure, and the lyric is perhaps more a screed to my frustration at the fairer sex than say what might meld two souls together; ‘we must never be apart’ more a demand than any state of absolution”
You Stole the Sun From My Heart by Manic Street Preachers
1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours is not as good as earlier Manic’s albums The Holy Bible or Everything Must Go.
I’m sorry, but it just isn’t, that doesn’t mean it isn’t very good though and this track is probably the standout one in my opinion.
Celebrity Skin by Hole
One of Courtney Love’s finest moments, together with Violet and Doll Parts. It’s easy to dismiss Hole, but it would be very wrong to.
All I Need by Air
Moon Safari is beautiful, it’s sublime and I love it. If it were not for the fact that this playlist is very good and that I made it then I would be very tempted to tell you to stop listening to whatever currently fills your ears and listen to this amazing album in it’s entirety. Instead you should just listen to All I Need and then go back and listen to the rest of it later.
Sometimes by Les Rythmes Digitales
Les Rythmes Digitales aka Jacques Lu Cont aka Stuart Price, not French at all but actually from Reading, a not very exciting place to the west of London.
In this case with vocals provided by 80’s popstar Nik Kershaw, it’s an unusual combo maybe but it works!
Drowned World / Substitute For Love by Madonna
I don’t feel that I have to explain or justify the inclusion of a Madonna track in this mixtape even if it does seem a little out of character from my normal more indie offerings. She is a pop chameleon, constantly reinventing herself and somehow managing to stay relevant. It’s an impressive feat and this is a pretty fine song.
Visison Incision by Lo Fidelity Allstars
The Lo Fi’s take their name quite literally from their use of lo-fi recording practices and equipment. Then they chuck all of those sounds into some kind of creative blender, distort things, ignore the existence of genres and then pour over some funky bass and some often nonsensical lyrics.
Body Movin’ by Beastie Boys
Body Movin is here because I really wanted to include Intergalactic but it didn’t seem to fit somehow and this is the second best tune from their 1998 album Hello Nasty.
Gangster Trippin’ by Fatboy Slim
This was the period of time when Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim was everywhere. Releasing music as Fatboy, as well as other pseudonyms, being a superstar DJ and doing production and remix work for just about everyone. It would surely be very remiss of me to end this list without including him somewhere and this feels like a pretty good way to round things off.