There I am drowning in my music collection. Before I talk about my OCD (obsessive collection disorder), let me first share my own music. in the early 90s, I collaborated with an amazing electronic keyboard player named Savvas Ysatis. We were an Erasure-esque duo called Mind in Motion. We wrote dozens of songs and went into the studio with a producer and did official recordings of a couple of our songs. The first song here is called “Stages.” This is our synthpop ‘ballad’ about how the changes of the seasons affect us emotionally. All vocals are by yours truly, and Savvas handles all the phenomenal instrumentation:
The second track is our ‘commercial’ dance song. Total pop cheese. Look out for the homage to Erasure:
Now, back to my OCD. Music is my photo album. Each song is a snapshot of the sights, sounds, and scents during a moment in my life. (How sappy is that? Comes from listening to too much Carpenters and Manilow in the 70s.)
I stopped keeping track of how many CDs and vinyl LPs I have years ago. Thanks to the treasures that can be found on the internet, new music was arriving in the mail faster than I could keep count. Last tally in the year 2,000 had me at about 10,000 pieces. To give you an idea of the depths of the obsession, these are pictures of my music room. Almost the entire lower level of our house is dedicated to my music, and the bar has been converted into my DJ booth (see that picture below). A DJ booth…complete with wet bar!
The earliest memories I have of popular music in my life is…early! I remember my brother being obsessed with Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” when it came out—I myself was mesmerized and bewildered by the line “clouds in my coffee”. I also clearly recall a long ride home from my aunt’s house upstate, sitting on my mother’s lap in the passenger seat of our van, watching torrential rain hit the windshield and singing along with Mom to the Carpenters “Sing.” It so happens that both of these songs peaked on the pop charts in early 1973. So I would have been a month or two short of my fourth birthday. I was hooked on radio.
An odd assortment of musical styles surrounded me. My oldest brother started in the Doors and Hendrix era—very acid and psychedelic. Second oldest brother was all about the 70s, listening to Queen, Kiss, and Heart. My mother and father were into Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, and ELO, with a history of The Supremes, The Beatles, and other 60s pop groups. And my third brother, only two years my senior, was becoming attached to mainstream pop, like Fleetwood Mac and K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
While these outside forces had a huge impact on my musical range, I guess my own musical likes were out of my control as a gay boy. I was enraptured with singing to soundtracks like The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story, and was also drawn to disco: Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Village People, Abba. At eight years old in 1977, I was too young to see an R rated film, but I studied every commercial for Saturday Night Fever, and before long I was mimicking all of John Travolta’s dance moves. My mother was astounded—and immediately took to plopping me in the middle of the living room floor during family gatherings and dropping the needle into the groove of “Stayin’ Alive.”
I sang the Grease soundtrack ad nauseum in 1978. My obsession with Olivia Newton-John carried me through the early 80s, a one-way ticket to Boy George, Madonna, George Michael. I had also became drawn to this other kind of music in the late 70s, thanks to a crossover track called “Heart of Glass.” Blondie introduced me to that perfect blend of disco and rock, synths and guitars. New wave!
As this was all going on, I convinced myself to join the chorus in elementary school, despite there being only one other boy involved. How excited I was to enter junior high a year later to find a chorus full of other boys, even if none of them was as dedicated as me. By the time I got to high school, I was doing all the school musicals and being exposed to classical music, show tunes, and standards.
Next came a very Pretty in Pink job at a record store, where I found myself under the wings of a bunch of punks who taught me a thing or two about the goth side of new wave, mocking my love of Erasure’s sugary synthpop (yet still allowing me a chance at the in-store turntable to play my ‘gay’ dance selections).
By the end of the 80s, as I enrolled in college as a music major, I’d started hitting the industrial scene. Segueing into the 90s, industrial club DJs started mixing in more danceable yet still dark sounding tracks every now and then. Techno. As grunge hit the radio waves, I went underground at the clubs, raving to the fastest screeching synth riffs coming out of Europe. That was an incredible and fleeting moment in the summer of 1992. Techno died faster than rockers still want to believe disco had. But the dance scene was just starting to pick up again. One night spent at a big club in New York City and I was hooked on deep and hardhouse, which carried me into the new millennium. And the first decade of the 2000s found me obsessing over trance, electro house, and the hot modern bands who model their music after 80s new wave.
While club music is such a major influence in my music buying and spinning, the pop always remains a top priority. Along with all the other music that fills my vast collection, I ultimately have one major rule: I must own every single top ten hit released since the start of the rock n’ roll era in 1955, preferably on CD. Once again thanks to the internet and the incredible research that can be done with it, I can proudly say….
I own every single Top 10 pop hit from the ‘rock n’ roll era’, 1955 to the present.
And so this loser spends loads of time spinning records (and CDs) and on Amazon reviewing CDs in a way that I hope will benefit other serious collectors. You won’t find any “This band rocks!” or “This singer SUX!” reviews from me. I give detailed information about CD tracks: song lengths, specific remixes, sound quality, and occasionally, personal opinions about particular tracks. It’s simply the information I hope to find from other reviewers when I’m looking to buy a CD. You can peruse my Amazon reviews here: MY MUSIC REVIEWS.
And while I’m totally against an all “digital file” future for music, I’ve found one way to make modern technology work for me. I’m a lover of extended versions, club mixes, and dance mixes, so it always drives me crazy when an awesome remix of a song OMITS a part of the original version, be it the original intro, a verse or bridge, vocal ad libs, or almost all the vocals. Using simple editing software on my computer, I’ve been able to take some of those tracks and re-edit 2 or more versions of a single song together to create the extended mix I’ve always wanted. Here are some of the mixes I’ve recreated. Some worked out better than others…
The awesome Detroit mix of When Smokey Sings leaves out the ‘impersonations’ of the classic singers from the album mix, so I’ve edited the two together and brought the homage part back in a second time using the album version.
The Bangles –
The Purple Haze mix of Hazy Shade of Winter is so awesome, but doesn’t feature their cappella intro. I’ve attached it.
One of my favorite Berlin songs. There was never a 12” mix, but there was a 7″ remix which pretty much just added some awesome background vocal accents to the chorus. At the same time, they removed Terri Nunn’s spoken part during the break! So I’ve added it to the 7” remix in my special extended version—and repeated the guitar solo because it’s new wave classic.
Billy Idol –
Too many lacking 12” versions of Billy’s songs.
White Wedding, more a long version than an extended remix, includes various lyrics and instrumental arrangements not on the album version, but then leaves one verse out! So I’ve inserted it back in.
The Below the Belt mix of Flesh for Fantasy rocks the guitar lick from the original, but then leaves out most of the vocals. So I’ve made a super long extended version that inserts the remix into the center of the album version.
Cradle of Love never got a genuine extended version, just a vocal dub. It’s a cool mix, but not as rocking as the album version, so I’ve segued the 2 together to make a long version of the song.
Book of Love –
There’s a long version of Tubular Bells and a 12” mix of Pretty Boys, Pretty Girls, but they are not a continuous mix as on the album. So I did it myself.
Culture Club –
Miss Me Blind was released in a ‘medley’ with It’s a Miracle that was a sloppy mess. In recent years an extended version of Miss Me Blind alone has surfaced on various compilations. It’s a great mix, but it leaves off the a cappella intro and outro from the album version. I’ve done my best to work them back on.
The War Song had 2 extended mixes on the U.S. vinyl 12” single, but BOTH versions left out a different part from the original album version. I’ve spliced all 3 together to make one complete extended mix.
Donna Summer –
I always thought the 12” mix of Hot Stuff was all you could possibly have of this song until I purchased a disco compilation that had an extended version of the 7” edit with vocal ad-libs at the end that aren’t even on the 12” mix. I’ve put them back on.
There are 3 versions of On The Radio: the radio edit with the echo ending; the long version from the On the Radio Greatest Hits album; and the super long version on the Foxes soundtrack. All three have something the others don’t. Unfortunately, it was impossible to retain all the ad-libs of the long version on the fade out if I wanted the echo ending from the 7” version, which is my favorite ending, so I still wasn’t able to make one complete definitive version.
Duran Duran –
The Reflex extended dance mix is totally awesome, but leaves out verses from the 7” remix. I’ve brought them back in and made a full vocal dance mix.
Is There Something I Should Know has an awesome monster mix; this monster seems to have eaten a majority of the vocals from the original version. So I created a full vocal monster mix.
EG Daily –
On the album version of Say It, Say It, EG does a cool alternate vocal the second time she sings the ‘don’t try to disguise what’s in your eyes’ part. On the 12” mix, the same vocal take is used twice instead. I’ve re-edited it to include the alternate vocal the second time.
George Michael and Aretha Franklin –
The 12” remix of I Knew You Were Waiting is too remixed in my opinion, and leaves off the original version intro as well. But I always like to have a 12” mix, so I’ve combined the original version with the 12” mix to make what I think is a slightly better extended remix.
Howard Jones –
Things Can Only Get Better and You Know I Love You both leave off the album intros on the 12” mixes. I put them both back on. You Know I Love You also leaves out one verse on the 12” mix. That is also back on my edit.
The video for Need You Tonight includes Mediate, so I’ve always considered it a part of the song. However, it’s left off Mendelssohn’s 12” mix of Need You Tonight. I’ve attached it.
Jody Watley –
12” mix of Looking for a New Love leaves off the album intro. Not on my edit!
The intro of Too Shy is such an iconic part of the song, yet it’s not on the midnight mix of the song. I did my best to use it, but had to leave off some of the midnight mix intro in order to make a halfway fluid connection.
Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney –
The 12” mix of Say, Say, Say is awesome, but the instrumental dub version on the flip side has some hot beats left off the vocal mix. I’ve spliced the 2 together for an alternate dance mix.
Michael Sembello –
Amazing 12” mix, but there’s a percussive intro on the instrumental b-side that isn’t included, and I can’t understand why. It’s very reminiscent of the video intro with Jennifer Beals welding. So I’ve attached it to the vocal remix.
Sheena Easton –
Great 12” mix of Telefone, also a great dub on the b-side that has parts not on the vocal mix. I’ve inserted them.
Taylor Dayne –
Tell It To My Heart is an amazing 12” mix, but leaves off the ‘never make it stop, take it to the top’ part. I was shocked when I bought a compilation that had a vocal dub of the song that included that part plus a whole lot of vocal ad-libs found nowhere else. I’ve created a version with all Taylor’s vocals. The source disc for the dub is a little shrill, so there’s a slight change in sound quality after the edit.
There are two different long versions of this mix, one on the U.S. album and the other called the extended stimulation. There’s a weird dialogue exchange in the stimulation that replaces some of the original vocal, so I’ve created a mix that retains both.