51 Ministry Stigmata
No one was expecting this. With sympathy was lurid synthesizer crap, Twitch was okay, but fuck, this, I don't know. I have no idea why. Maybe Al started doing a bunch of bad acid or something - did this come out after the 1000 Homo DJs cover of Supernaut? - but thankfully he hit upon a formula that was going to work for a lot of other artists in the 1990s: hard core speed metal kind of stuff played with precision you'd expect from a sequencer, with aggressive, bludgeoning vocals. This still gets you so tense that you're compelled to rock out in your car when this comes across the wire, an ideal song for beating the shit out of a junkyard car, fueled by warm Oly. Yee fuckin' haw.
52 Modern Talking Cherry cherry lady
One of the absolute worst bands to ever walk the Earth, Modern Talking are one of the most successful German bands ever. Apparently, to succeed in Germany, you need inoffensive music, inane lyrics, a great fake tan, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Thing is, though, every time I hear this I find myself transported back to Germany, 1995, so it's always going to have a place in my heart, no matter how retarded it is.
53 Momo おつかいモモ
Don't even ask me what that means - I don't read Japanese. I found this thing in Tokyo this Spring; I kind of like Ken Ishii, and Dan had been talking about PostPet software, and lo and behold, there was a new Ken Ishii-produced Momo single being marketed as the official PostPet song. Now, the PostPet song was pretty ordinary, but the other stuff on the CD single wasn't at all bad. This one bit even put most European technohounds to shame. Go figure.
54 Mouse on Mars Tamagnocchi
I've probably got the wrong song listed here - I can't find the CD to verify the title - but if you pick up a copy of autoditacker, there's one song on there that (shock, horror) actually has a real live drum kit and bass on the recording. Lovely, it is, to hear an ostensibly electronic band prove that they can make something compelling without immediately heading for the sequencer.
55 µ-Ziq Brace yourself Jason (remix)
Basically another example of a beautiful song overlaid with hideously ugly, distracting percussive noises of all kinds, this was shocking the first time I heard it, but now it just sounds kind of ordinary. I suppose this kind of music is more mainstream a few years on, but at the time it was unsettling. µ-Ziq always seems to be just behind the forefront, and his music doesn't age very well, but it is enjoyable, if not life-changing.
56 Conlon Nancarrow Study no. 3
I'll always wonder why it is only one person apparently ever figured out that you could get player pianos to do very weird things. Nowadays, sure, there are lots of records to choose from that feature weird signatures, impossible to play sequenced keyboard parts (Frank Zappa synclavier extravaganzas anyone?), but Nancarrow was doing this in his own solipsistic manner in Mexico City, for what? forty years? Absolutely amazing.
57 Negativland Over the hiccups
Occidental College, probably 1987 or 1988. I'm hanging out with an old friend in his dorm room, and he say, Hey, Chris, you have got to hear this album. Now, he's already showed me a lot of things I hadn't heard before, but this just looked LAME. OK, I was intrigued by the list of guest musicians - from Jello Biafra on toilet flush to some of the Grateful Dead, even - but he got this evil grin on his face and plunked the needle down on the record to reveal... Over the Hiccups. Well, one of Negativland was a preschool teacher at the time, and I guess he'd take his tape recorder in to tape the kids singing stuff, and this is a very young girl singing Over the Rainbow. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination. A stroke of genius.
58 Negativland A big 10-8 place
The ultimate concept album, especially if you take the packaging into consideration, and certainly the ultimate Contra Costa County album. Contents: bumper sticker, inspected by tag á la Hanes, baggie of lawn clippings, record, fold-out poster, album insert card. And the piece itself - it's not really music - is what sounds like a twenty minute long editing job of hundreds of bits of tape. Tape collage, I suppose. The amount of work this took is jaw-dropping enough, but the fact that it's actually entertaining as well is unparalleled.
59 Newcleus Jam on it
Let's flash back to a junior high school dance in Lodi, California. It's probably 1982, and I'm standing there in awe at the kids who are popping and locking and whatever the fuck else on sheets of cardboard they've specially brought to the dance to them. Thanks to the wonders of court ordered busing, I and the, ahem, children of color of north Stockton have been transported to lily white Lodi just to shawwwwk them with our phat moves. These were the times of the Sugar Hill Gang, of the Egyptian Lover, etc. Yeah, I thought this was a cool song. I probably still do.
60 Nirvana Floyd the Barber
If only Dale Crover had become Nirvana's permanent drummer, we'd have more songs like this. OK, Dave Grohl is pretty fucking good, but I prefer the drier, crisper style of Crover. Kind of like an upbeat Melvins with a much more emotionally arresting singer, this is basically Melvana. Although I love the humor of King Buzzo, and his ridiculous nonsensical growl, there was definite potential here. I like Nirvana well enough, but musically I would have preferred they stay sounding like this.
61 Nirvana Beeswax
Yes, all of us have probably heard their one certifiable hit album several times, quite possibly at a fraternity party with something troublingly akin to date rape going on upstairs. (No, not at Cal. At Stanford. Anyhow.) A lot of the pleasure in Nirvana for me came from the directness of their sound, and frankly, the production on Nevermind really got in the way for me: it sounded way too pretty, way too polished. In Utero sounds much more like Nirvana to me, but the songs are just so uniformly depressing or upsetting in one way or the other that I never listened to it much. So, it's back to some earlier throwaway material when I want to remember what they sounded like. Another Crover drums track, another leftover from another time.
62 Nyman, Michael Fish beach
Simple, simple, simple. There's a Zappa piece - The girl in the magnesium dress, maybe - that operates in a similar manner: a short piece, maybe two minutes, with few instruments and few figures. Mostly quiet. Plenty of time to enjoy the tonal qualities of the instruments themselves without being distracted by the music they're playing, if that makes any sense whatsoever. It might help if you've seen the film in which this appears - maybe not if you can't stand Greenaway movies - but even on its own it's heartbreakingly beautiful.
63 OMD Talking loud and clear
Thinking about OMD - Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark - I think that my basic complaint with the band is that they weren't ever really much of anything. My actual favorite track of theirs is a manipulation of time announcements ("Beim nächsten Ton... und zehn Sekunden" usw.), but is that actually a song? All of Dazzle Ships probably has more art than this one song, but what the fuck. Talking loud and clear is only average, but OMD is an average band with an unexceptional career. If you listen to this, you'll probably like it - not love it - and wouldn't mind hearing more, but you probably wouldn't be tacking up posters of Andy McCluskey real quick-like, either. Even so, the lyrics here are among the best they ever wrote, and they're sweet in an innocent way, and I thank them for it.
64 The Orb Little fluffy clouds
What were the skies like when you were young? Although I've repeatedly bought other Orb singles and albums, nothing has even come close to this in terms of charm and mood. It's a simple song, but it's the sampled vocals that make it work so perfectly. Another excellent example (see Co kla coma, supra) of a sample being integrated perfectly with an otherwise unrelated musical track.
65 Orbital Kein trink wasser
I suppose this is basically Purcell run amok, or a player harpsichord that's stuck in overdrive, but the first time I heard it, all I could think of is fuck, how lovely that someone's actually gone and sneaked a song like this into a standard issue techno record. The trick here isn't that they're making a new farty noise you haven't heard before, or doing something sneaky with direct hard disk editing of samples, but that they're using modern technology to create a classical piece that couldn't possibly have been played historically due to the simple physical limits of the harpsichord (or, heck, even a piano - you simply can't get this many notes in so small a space with such clarity between them; the mechanics of the instrument won't allow it). As with Nancarrow, a good example of technology being used to create an anomalous music.
66 Pavement The song from BtC with the guitar solo
67 Pet Shop Boys Young offender
68 Pet Shop Boys Nervously
69 Phillip Glass Don't go back to sleep
This is a piece included in his second collaboration with Robert Wilson, Monsters of Grace. Basically, the piece is a bad execution of a decent idea. Robert Wilson productions are notoriously difficult and expensive to stage - they often require huge props or lots of people on stage - so the idea was that they'd commission a 3D film that would replace anything actually happening on stage. However, 3D movies don't look so great if there's a live band that has to have its stands lit so that they can read the music, and the 3D film itself was entirely computer-generated, giving it a bad CorelDraw demo kind of look that was frankly embarrassing. And it's a shame, because the songs were beautiful. The texts are taken from the poetry of Rumi, and they're strong enough to stand on their own, but Glass's music makes it even more beautiful.
70 Pop Will Eat Itself Psychosexual
Erik Satie overlaid with something approaching a standard PWEI beat, with goofy lyrics to boot. This was a popular driving favorite with Mark back in the early 1990s; it's not hard to see why. Pop Will Eat Itself was a band that never seemed to really hit its stride either before or after ... Cure for Sanity, the album that contained this song. Either they were stupid as hell - Beaver Patrol - or else they were stupid as hell. But in between, they did manage to create one perfect album, which sounds great ten years later on.
71 Prodigy, The Charly
I'm sure that the inclusion of The Prodigy is basically padding, but there's a space for these idiots somewhere. After graduating university in 1992, I decided I'd drive to Dallas, Texas to visit my uncle and aunt there. I took the dilapidated family car (a battered 1984 VW Rabbit convertible with a slashed top), some Trader Joe's food (granola, beef stew), my savings (uh, about $200), a tent, and some other stuff, and headed East to Dallas. In Yosemite, I woke up in the middle of a late night thundershower; in Nevada, I discovered that there was no way in Hell I was going to fit in Little Muddy Cave in Great Basin NP - couldn't get through the tiny concrete box that approximated the tightest spot in the cave. There were of course mechanical problems with the car along the way, and I went pretty broke / into debt getting things fixed. Once in Dallas, I noodled around aimlessly, but picked up a few CDs that I still to this day. The KLF with Tammy Wynette. Laibach's Kapital. And then this thing. It was $2 at Target in Farmers Branch, and it's got kind of a fond place in my heart, even if it really kinda sucks. They went on to great success, so I suppose this is mainly here for historical reasons.
72 Public Image Ltd Poptones
I'm not a big PiL fan, but there's something to be said for their second album, which was basically four sides of different repetitive whiny lumbering lurching songs with interesting basslines. Something about Lydon's voice is simultaneously appealing and annoying, and I think this song showed it off to best effect; perhaps it was the suggestion that pop music is both simultaneously utterly banal and absolutely indispensable.
73 Revolting Cocks You often forget
With a name like Revolting Cocks you know it's got to be good. The 12" of this was a high school radio station favorite, if only because of the thrill of saying their name on the air, I suppose. Then again, if I remember correctly, it's a pretty good song too. Aggressive without being retarded; hard and fast without being stupid or cliché. Al Jourgensen has a lot of faults, but he didn't go too wrong with this one. The cover art ain't bad either.
74 Sakamoto Ryuichi Riot in Lagos
I was tricked into listening to this when it showed up on a high school mix tape I was sent living in Germany. I wouldn't have thought that there was anything interesting going on in Japan - the Japanese kids at school were into any number of idiotic idoru and tended to have pin-up posters of Seiko and other transient Japanese divas - but whoops, again I was wrong. Although I haven't found much he's done since that I've liked, this still stands out as being phenomenally good.
75 Sandoz Intensely radioactive
This is Richard H. Kirk and yet another pseudonym, of course. This song is interesting to me primarily because of its bass: it's probably one of the first appearances of the now slightly common bass so low you can't generate it but on a computer of some sort. Always my favorite shopping for stereo CD equipment, this song does have other merits: it's kind of long, kind of slow, and has a gentle beauty in there somewhere. The last track on side A, the last track on side B is essentially a remix or extension of this, and that's worthwhile as well.