Saturday, February 10, 2007

Women That Rock

Back in the dark days before Napster, there were few places to get “free” music on the internet. The richest source of songs for downloading was the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) where chat rooms had been converted to file swapping forums. The process was very kludgy. You had to find another person logged into the chat and request their list of files. You then read their list and requested individual files by sending a specially formatted request in the chat. The file then got sent to you as a person to person message.

I had just gotten on a broadband connection and this was a great way to test the limits. I would load up a queue of music requests and see how fast they came. Part of the fun was the thrill of the hunt. I have a very extensive CD collection that I had ripped to my hard drive, so I really didn’t need or want Top 40 style hits that I could get anywhere. I was looking for more obscure artists and music.

I would go after themes or try artists I had heard of, but never listened to. When I would find an IRC user with music tastes I admired, I would mine their lists for music I was curious about.

About the same time, I had upgraded to a CD-R burner, so it was natural that I would make mix CDs of my music to listen to on my stereo or in my car. More than just burning a CD, I would go all out and make cover art and liner notes for the CDs. I made nearly a dozen of these before I finally tired of this particular way avoiding reality.

In a series of very ugly hard drive crashes, I lost nearly all my borrowed/stolen/pirated music as well as the accompanying album art. All I have left are the ones that I bothered to burn onto CDs

For your amusement I have scanned these and will be posting them at random intervals so that you, the reader, can mock my tastes and obsessions. Today’s CD is Women That Rock, a collection of songs by female artists that in my opinion qualified as cutting edge circa the late 90s.

If I have done my HTML right, mousing over the image should reveal the back cover and the track list. For people without that kind of patience, the track list is as follows:

1. Heather Nova – “London Rain”
2. Luscious Jackson – “Naked Eye”
3. Bif Naked – “Spaceman (Boomtang Boys Mix)”
4. Concrete Blonde – “Joey”
5. Amanda Marshall – “I Believe In You”
6. The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like”
7. Lita Ford – “Kiss Me Deadly”
8. Aimee Mann – “I Should’ve Known”
9. 4 Non Blondes – “What’s Going On”
10. Ani DiFranco – “Angry Anymore”
11. Sneaker Pimps – “6 Underground”
12. Dar Williams – “What Do You Hear In These Sounds?”
13. Michelle Shocked – “Anchorage”
14. Breeders – “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
15. Indigo Girls – “Clampdown”
16. Christine Lavin – “Sensitive New Age Guys”

Some of these songs came off of albums I owned like the Indigo Girls cover of The Clash’s “Clampdown”. This is one of the best tracks of the London Burning tribute album because the Girls have completely changed the tempo and turned a raucous punk anthem into a haunting bittersweet ballad. It is also available on their Rarities album.

The real find on this list was the Michelle Shocked song. She has never broken into the mainstream, but “Anchorage” is a beautiful song in that folky “girl with guitar” tradition. Both it and the Christine Lavin song, “Sensitive New Age Guys” were staples of the Womens Show that I used to listen to on WMNF. It brought back memories and reconnected me to music I loved.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: Do any of these songs bring back memories, good or bad?


Anonymous said...

I really like Michelle Shocked's album (her first, I think - Short, Sharp, Shocked?) that "Anchorage" is on - "Anchored down in Anchorage". I haven't listened to that for a long time. The only other artists I know are the Indigo Girls and Christine Lavin. I may have seen Luscious Jackson and Dar Williams at a Lilith fair concert. My trick is to get CD's from the library and copy them. Never have figured out how to do downloading or cover art. I'm just too old and paranoid.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I must be the lamest excuse for a musician on the planet because I can't say that I've heard any of these tunes. However - if a guy like you were to provide a page to download these gems, then maybe I'd have a chance at overcoming my lameness. Eh?

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Angry Anymore does. The last time I saw Ani live, I went by myself, and had a great seat. She played this song, close to the end of the show, and when she started singing it, I burst into tears. I suppose the reality of my parents' impending divorce (after 33 years of marriage, no less) hit me hard. But it was a good cry; she's good for that, and I love the way her music grows as she grows.

Impetua said...

I have been a huge Michelle Shocked fan since about 1990 and have seen her several times in concert. I got the "Short Sharp Shocked" album not long before leaving to study in Moscow, and have fond memories of sitting on a wide windowsill in the hall of my dorm, overlooking Leninsky Prospekt, writing letters home with my walkman going.

Mitch McDad said...

MRS played a lot of Aimee Mann back in the early days. Always reminds me of that and the movie Magnolia.

2fs said...

I like a lot of the tracks on that CD (the ones I know, anyway) - in particular, Aimee Mann, Breeders, Luscious Jackson...and of course that Waitresses track - but it's been scientifically established beyond any possible doubt that 4 Non Blondes' "What's Going On" is the worst song ever. The lyrics are written by a precocious fifth-grader who did a book report on "The Sixties" once - and the "singing"? I am a nonviolent person, and I'm strongly against the death penalty...but I suspect I could make an exception for that vocalist.

yellojkt said...

I think you're a little hard on the Non-Blondes. Linda Perry has worked with Christine Aguillera, Courtney Love, Pink....I'm not helping my case any, am I?

NPR Junky said...

Sneaker Pimps! Damn that brings back memories of my middleschool/highschool days.

Is it sad that I just admitted that?