MUSIC IS THE DRUG: 005 – School Daze

They say that one’s musical tastes gel around age14 in males. That puts us in 1983 for me and the transition from catholic middle school to public high school. This was softened considerably by my swim team family. In middle school I had joined a city swimming club and made friends with a lot of kids I would later go to high school and compete with and it’s in that circle that a lot of my musical tastes developed as we spent a lot of time together hanging out at swim meets. This is a longer playlist and I’m not going to touch on every track but it will take you on a journey from the late 70s/early 80s into the early 90s when I was post-high school figuring out what to do next. A decade of music that is still in regular rotation for me because it’s just too fucking legit to quit and it always makes me feel good. (No, there is no MC Hammer on this list.)

Lust For Life – Iggy Pop: This was released in the 70s but it was during swim team weight training before school one morning that one of the seniors put this on the speaker to get us jacked up and I was an Iggy Pop fan from that day on.

Stand And Deliver – Adam And The Ants: I was painfully small in high school. Couldn’t gain weight to save my life. Thank God for that swim team family. As an incoming freshman, I was bullied once in the hall. Once. The seniors on the swim team caught wind and I had protection. I also had rides home after practice. This guy Haans turned me on to Adam And The Ants on a ride home once. This whole album is fantastic. The double drums, loud in his truck kicking me in the back. Good times.

The Magnificent Seven – The Clash: The Clash was a band I jammed with my swimming/skateboarding friends and it wasn’t until much later in life that I found people who liked The Clash again.

Customer – The Replacements: I fucking LOVE this record. Essential Minneapolis Punk Rock.  An upperclassman that was a friend of a friend gave me a copy of this cassette. Only the skate-punks were down with this nonsense at the time. I was super bummed then as there was no way I was going to ever see them live. Too young to get into any shows.

Baby Heartbeat – The Suburbs: More Minneapolis gold. This whole record is a must have for anyone interested in Minneapolis music history.

Crimson And Clover – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: I bought the I Love Rock-N-Roll single but when I heard the Crimson And Clover B-Side I fell in love with her. Many years later I was finally able to see her live UP CLOSE at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary party. What a fantastic show and well worth the wait.

Tear It Up – The Cramps: You have to see this one to believe it. My friends and I would on occasion skip school and drive to downtown Minneapolis for an adventure. There was a store on the corner of 7th and Hennepin called NORTHERN LIGHTS and it’s where you could get all the import punk and new wave records and the coolest stuff beyond music. Posters, punk rock pins, t-shirts, magazines, all the good shit from Europe. Stuff you’d NEVER find in the suburbs. Downtown MPLS has always been sketchy so it was always like a mission beyond truancy and we’d return with stories of dangerous glory and an epic score to rub in people’s faces.So on one trip, my friend bought this VHS copy of URGH! A Music War, which is a compilation of live performances by a slew of punk/new wave bands. He picked it up because it has performances by The Police, The Go Gos, and Devo on it and we all loved The Go Gos and had to SEE them. Youngsters, you have to remember, pre-internet it was really a treat to be able to SEE musicians live so we were all about it and would watch a single performance over and over again if we could find one.I had no idea who The Cramps were when we put the tape in the machine but holy fucking shit, when they came on the screen… unforgettable. See for yourself: Needless to say, I looked into them further.

Auf Wiedersehen – Cheap Trick: I hadn’t paid much attention to Cheap Trick until I heard this song on some late-night pirate radio show. I heard the song and then waited for like 20 minutes in my car to hear who it was. I couldn’t believe it was Cheap Trick, it’s so different from I Want You To Want Me so I started investigating them from the beginning and am now a huge fan. Seen them a few times live. Always a great show.

Love Removal Machine – The Cult / White Wedding – Billy Idol: This was the lineup for the first concert I ever saw with my friends without an adult. It was the Rebel Yell tour with The Cult opening to promote their Electric (artwork by Allan Forbes – also a huge influence) album.  Epic show, back when security was lax and you could rush the stage to be on the floor if you didn’t have the proper ticket but had the balls to jump the wall. We did.

Motley Crue, Ratt, L.A. Guns, Guns N Roses: – It’s been made known via a previous playlist that I love me some Hollywood Glam Metal, and these bands all stand the test of time. L.A. Guns released an album recently and it’s really damn good. 

So What’Cha Want – Beastie Boys: I thought Fight For Your Right To Party was super douchey jock rock and I immediately disregarded them. Even more so after on an episode of Who’s The Boss, Samantha (Alyssa Milano) goes to a Beastie Boys concert and is super obnoxious about it. No. How can I watch Who’s The Boss but dis The Beastie Boys? Don’t judge. it all works out.I had no idea that they went on to record Paul’s Boutique which is amazing and it wasn’t until I heard So What’Cha Want on the radio that my mind was changed. Their evolution has been hugely inspirational, great live shows. RIP MCA.

Up The Beach/Ocean Size – Janes Addiction: I came across Nothing’s Shocking in a random music-buying binge. I saw the album cover and I simply had to know what type of music might be found within. This album changed my life forever. It’s when it finally clicked in my head that you have to be ok with your weird, embrace it, and make it work to your advantage. I saw Perry doing just that. Making music, making art, making whatever he felt like making, being super fucking weird, doing his thing, and being successful with it. Ocean Size specifically struck me… the lyrics: Wish I was ocean size They cannot move you, man, No one tries No one pulls you Out from your hole Like a tooth aching in jawbone… I want to be more like the ocean No talking All action…Yes, I thought to myself. That’s what I want too.

Breed – Nirvana / Jesus Built My Hotrod – Ministry: Nirvana is a hugely inspirational band in my evolution but this track in particular followed immediately by Jesus Built My Hotrod is the dose. Back in the day my friend and I used to go to First Avenue Danceteria every weekend because that was the only dance club in town that played punk and new wave to dance to. They would play these two tracks back to back and the floor would go nuts. From dancing to mosh pit in seconds flat. Good fucking times.

Gimme The Cure – Fugazi: I was at the first Lollapalooza, I had dropped acid earlier in the day and had lost my crew. I was alone, tripping my brains out, pushing towards the stage between bands because I wanted to be close and that takes some doing. I’m not sure who we were waiting for. There was a song on the overhead I had never head it before but it had my attention and it made me stop and listen. It was Gimme The Cure. When I stopped to listen I noticed this kid about 20 feet away from me and he was in his own little world completely getting off to this song I’d never heard before. He was SO FUCKING HAPPY.

From my perspective, the swarming festival crowd had kind of blurred and disappeared and all I had was this dude and this song. At the climax of the track, the dude stopped rocking out and with a look of sad desperation that he was the only one getting that into it, he yelled at the top of his lungs while making direct eye contact with me, “DOESN’T ANYONE ELSE HERE LOVE FUGAZI!!!???” all I could do is slowly nod yes. Because I felt FUGAZI move through me in that moment but I was frozen in time and space like I had landed in a deep pool of Jello with Fugazi vibrating through it. Then he disappears into the crowd and I’m swept away in another direction. 

March of the Pigs – Nine Inch Nails: I was a huge NIN fan from day one so when The Downward Spiral was released I was SUPER excited. This was the first single I believe. I love how raw and simple the video is. Watch the video here:

Pearl Jam/Stone Temple Pilots/Soundgarden/Alice In Chains: The whole Grunge scene = yes. I could easily make a playlist for each of these bands individually.

Bullet In Your Head – Rage Against The Machine: I saw these guys a few times and got to hang out with them backstage once. They were all really cool. The one show that sticks in my head though was at a Lollapalooza when it had flooded where it was originally supposed to be so they had to move it to an indoor stadium in St. Paul. It seemed like there was going to be a riot during RATM’s set they had everyone so whipped up and I wondered how security would handle it if everyone lost it. It didn’t come to that.

Tales Of A Scorched Earth – Smashing Pumpkins: I first heard Smashing Pumpkins live when they opened for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam in support of their Gish album, mind blown by the opening act. The album this song is on is probably my favorite. This is a pretty aggressive track that I found relatable at one point in my life.

Dirty Boots – Sonic Youth: I was turned on to Sonic Youth by MTV 120 Minutes and the Cool Thing video. I knew who Chuck D. was and thought Kim Gordon was super cool in her way.  The whole album slays. I had a hard time choosing a track.

Mondo Generator – Kyuss: My friend Wade played Blues For The Red Sun for me after work one night while we sat in his car smoking a joint. That album was then on repeat in my vehicle for a few months solid. Sadly I never got to see Kyuss live but they morphed into Queens of the Stone Age and I’ve been fortunate enough to see them a few times AND make a gig poster for one of their shows. 

That’s it. A long one I know. -ST