Aug 15, 2012

League Post - High School Mixtape

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Not to long ago, The League of Extraordinary Bloggers challenged us with our first photo assignment. This week is our first audio task...
What songs were forever being looped on your car’s stereo back in high school? A cassette could only hold a dozen or so songs, so that’s the magic number of songs to list. If your car didn’t have a cassette deck in high school, go ahead and pretend it did, you punk.
Only 12 songs?! I don't know about the rest of the gang, but I always used 90 minute tapes. To keep it "short"  I'll stick to the suggested 12. While I'm showcasing specific songs to stick with the mixtape theme, each of the below albums is something essential in my musical journey through high school and beyond.

I didn't own a car of my own until after high school and even then the car was a year or two older than me. It took Leaded gas...LEADED! I had use of parental vehicles in high school but my best friend did have a car with a tape deck. There's nothing like high school vehicular freedom and a rockin mixtape on summer nights...

Van Halen - 1984
No matter who you are, you've probably air guitared to Eddie Van Halen at some point. Even if you claim you've never listened to Van Halen, everyone has heard Beat It! The tracks Jump,Panama, and I'll Wait are all part of rock history and amazing, but nothing gets you fired up like this intro...

Mötley Crüe - Shout at the Devil
I was still in middle school when a friend introduced me to this album, starting me on the glam/hair metal path forever more. I can't tell you how many times I listened to Theatre of Pain while playing text adventures on my C=64. Crüe is the band I saw most in high school. I didn't care for much of what they did after Dr Feelgood but their latest, Saints of Los Angeles, brings the magic back.

Although their next album is the one that propelled them into orbit with chart toppers Here I Go Again and Is This Love, here is where I got to know them.. They hadn't quite gone full-blown hair band yet and still had a lot of bluesy influence which I'm glad they've returned to on their recent albums. They're just behind Crüe as the most seen band in high school. And with a name like Whitesnake, you have to expect a lot of innuendo (if not flat-out sexual references) with tracks like Slide It In, Spit It Out, and Slow N Easy.

One of the guys in my D&D group had this album cover on the back of his denim jacket. Dio was sort of my first venture into metal. Of course I was familiar with Ozzy Black Sabbath so I had to go back and check out Dio Sabbath and then Rainbow. Oh my glob, Rainbow! Without a doubt, this is one of my quintessential metal tracks of all time...

Yngwie Malmsteen - Odyssey
My high school best bud introduced me to Marching Out which had tracks like I Am A Viking (think awesome metal not Ralph Wiggum) and Disciples of Hell. Odyssey features former Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and has a great ebb and flow throughout, it's almost like a concept album. The song Heaven Tonight from this album blew me away and would subsequently be featured in mixtapes for the ladies (cheese).

Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime
After seeing Eyes of a Stranger on Mtv's Headbangers Ball, I had to get this album. I followed the Rÿche into Empire but lost interest shortly after that. But this concept, this album just took me by storm. I considered it sacrilege to listen to a track most of the time. If I was going to listen, it had to be start to end. The tour Operation: Livecrime, where they performed the album in its entirety, was mind blowing.

Whooooaaaaa, we're half-way there.....
(No really, that was #6 so the list is half over)

Stryper - To Hell With the Devil
I'm not even close to what you'd call religious, but when it comes to music, I know what I like. Their screaming dual guitar solos and unique voice of singer Michael Sweet were what drew me to them. I stopped listening to their new albums after 1990's Against the Law. Oddly that album was when they decided to move away from glam metal and religious lyrics. Their most recent release of cover songs, titled The Covering, is very good.

Transformers: The Movie Soundtrack
The album that started a revolution...well, sorta. I liked all the bands here so much, I started tracking down their individual albums which led me to the next two entries. More on that as we go. This album quickly became my go-to for when I was feeling down with songs like The Touch, Dare, and Nothin's Gonna Stand In Our Way.

Stan Bush & Barrage (self titled)
The Touch and Dare really struck a chord with me and I ended up tracking down Stan's second album. But despite it not having Dare, the rest of the album is catchy pop gold. There's a reason Stan Bush is the legend of AOR music that he is. This album also includes the song Love Don't Lie, which will tie the previous and next entries together in a Six Degrees kind of way. Your challenge: Listen to the below song and not get it stuck in your head.

House of Lords (self titled)
Being as familiar as I was with the above album, it took me by surprise one day when I heard Mtv in the other room playing Love Don't Lie and it wasn't Stan Bush. No internet meant you had to physically go to record stores and find the music you wanted. After some legwork, I found House of Lords. I've kept up with them through the years and still love them as much as ever. They covered Blind Faith's Can't Find My Way Home on their second album, which has some impressive guest contributors.

Guns N Roses - Appetite for Destruction
Yeah, remember when they weren't a joke? While most people's go to here would, understandably, be Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child o Mine or Paradise City, mine is Rocket Queen. I really dig the structure of the song. And those female sex sounds heard during the bridge? Axl actually recorded a girl as they had sex for that.

Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Parts 1 & 2
One of the things I miss about pre-internet days is being able to go into a record store and just browse. You never knew what you might find and it wasn't all corporate, disposable, pop 40 junk. Occasionally I'd find that one oddball thing that I had no idea what it was but I had to buy it to check it out, like this picture disc:

Helloween Halloween vinyl picture record disc
Front and back of disc
The only catch was, it was a promo disc. To get it, you had to buy Helloween's album Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1. So I did. And so began my worship at the altar of the gods of German power metal. The picture disc has an edited version of the album's 13 minute song Halloween. Once you're used to hearing the full song, the 5 minute version simply will not do! Helloween started my obsession with songs about Halloween. How can you go wrong with a metal song that mentions Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin?They are one of my all time favorite bands and second on my bucket list of bands to see at least once. They're still cranking out albums so maybe one day, I'll see them.

Here's what other League members are playing
Shezcrafti checks in from the Class of '99 (Damn kids!)
Hear the darker side of the mixtape over at Dork Horde
Rediscover the '80s will do just taht for you!

If you enjoy hair bands and/or metal, here's some current artists I highly recommend



  1. What is it about D&D and metal that works so well together? It's like chocolate and peanut butter.

    Awesome list! Appetite for Destruction is one of my favorites. I really miss GNR's glory days.

    1. I know, right? Could be some of the best metal has fantasy subject matter.

    2. Awww that album's just timeless. It still sounds fresh even today. Nice list all in mate. I didn't realise you had such a taste for old school rock. And why not?

  2. Awesome mix!I was wondering if Dio would make it onto anybody's list.

    1. I love his use of fantasy images in his songs.

  3. Helloween! Hell Yeah! Me and a few of my friends really love that album due to it being so close to the music we like in "Shump'em Ups" video games.

    1. Back in them pre-internet days there was no one outside my immediate friends that had heard of Helloween and that was only because I introduced them to them.

  4. Some truly great ones here. I haven't thought about Yngwie Malmsteen in ages!

  5. WOW!! Operation Mindcrime is epic and the concert was AWESOME!!

    1. I still haven't checked out Mindcrime 2 because I know it could never live up to the name.