Moar Mtx forever

update, comments, top ten, and a list from Jonathan London

If you don’t know, we’re putting together an MTX Hot Rocks type compilation, to be called Mtx forever. And we’re soliciting input on the tracklist, which has been interesting, fun, and, believe it or not, rather helpful. Who knew “Velveeta” would have so many devotees, for instance?

The voting is still open, if you haven’t done so already.

There’s a space for comments at the bottom of the voting form, of which I’m included a smattering as the last item below. (Some of these have turned up on social media posts over the past weeks, and some are “new.”)

Here’s today’s “featured comment”, from Tony:

A difficult task, to say the least, to pick 24. Although the urge is there to pick only from Love Is Dead and Revenge Is Sweet, obviously that defeats the purpose of the project. Since Revenge was my first MTX album, and thus my favorite, it is hard not to include most if it. I initially had 6, and only 3 from Love, but decided that was not a fair representation, so decided to have 5 from each. I feel strongly that at least one song from each “album” should be included to provide a fair representation of MTX over the years, if, that is indeed what this is supposed to be. To be fair, although I own them all on CD, I haven’t listened to the early ones enough, so I have gone back through them song by song in order to pick at least one off each. This method means, that if I did it again, I might pick different songs the next time, which is an imperfect way to do it, but… As far as the “Hot Rocks” comparison, I feel strongly that MTX Forever SHOULD be in chronological order. Why not? Trying to get a theme out of whatever songs are ultimately picked would only mean either leaving out certain songs, or including ones that don’t fit the theme. Unless the theme is “songs about girls,” or the like. I am definitely not happy about my final selections, I feel like I shorted Our Bodies, Our Selves and Alcatraz by only picking 3 off each, not to mention only 2 from the amazing Yesterday Rules. Plus, I had to exclude Mr. Ramones, since there should not be two Ramones-related songs. Also, I wanted to include Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, but left it off, because, I guess, it is not truly an MTX song and I needed room. So, it was a fun and frustrating experience! Good luck sorting it all out Dr. Frank.

Thanks, it’s been frustrating and fun for me too. One argument against chronological organization is that it will leave the poorly recorded clumsy stuff (relatively speaking) all at the front. (Whatever else you might say about the MTX, the Rolling Stones we ain’t.) Another argument against it is, strict chronological compilations (and we’ve done them) tend to come off as “archival” rather than artistic and the aim is for this to be more than a “file dump.” That said, part of the album aesthetic involves working within the technical and qualitative parameters and limitations (time, space, physical placement, and sonic complexity along with the sequence per se) and one way of making this album “go somewhere” could well involve weighting the later developments towards the end. It’s pretty challenging any way you slice it, but you gotta slice it somehow.

Thanks for weighing in Tony, I really appreciate it.


Top Ten: For what it’s worth, I’ve been reporting a “top ten” update periodically. (For those previous updates with comments aggregation go here and here.)

As I’ve said before, this list per se isn’t super meaningful because it leaves out the context of the particular sequences people have in mind, merely keeping track of the ones that have appeared most often among the many approaches folks have taken. Still, it is interesting to take the temperature of the electorate as it were.

Anyway, here’s the latest:

  1. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
  2. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend
  3. I’m Like Yeah, But She’s All No
  4. More Than Toast
  5. Dumb Little Band
  6. Here She Comes
  7. Swallow Everything
  8. Book of Revelation
  9. Alternative is Here to Stay
  10. I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll

A bit of shifting in the rankings, but the only difference here vs. last time is “Alternative Is Here to Stay” replaces “Velveeta”. One problem with AIHtS is that the master tape has disappeared, so we’d have to master from the CD which can be done but is fraught with peril and best avoided if avoidable. Still, I’m pleased to see it up there. It’s good, plus I kind of love that its conceit is so retrograde and irrelevant in this day and age.

As I’ve said before, we could do worse than to use this sort of selection as a kind of backbone to the whole, filtering in more “diverse” content to fill out the picture. But, ’tis only one of many possible approaches, obviously.


Jonathan London’s list: Though he’s still working on it (as am I) here’s a list-in-progress from long-time fan, ally, and friend Jonathan London who knows the catalog as well as anyone. It’s quite good, I think. What do you think? It’s missing some “touchstones” such as “Danny Partridge”, “Love American Style”, and “I Believe in You” but some touchstones will inevitably have to be left out in this challenging weird assignment. I think a pretty good sequence could be constructed from this list.

Velveeta
The History of the Concept of the Soul
Book of Revelation
I Love You, But You’re Standing on My Foot
More Than Toast
Swallow Everything
The Dustbin of History
Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend
Tapin’ Up My Heart
New Girl Friend
Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
Dumb Little Band
I Fell for You
Here She Comes
The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
…and I Will Be with You
Who Needs Happiness (I’d Rather Have You)
I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll
Naomi
Perhaps
Spy v. Spy
Everybody Knows You’re Crying

As for me, I’m still investigating the state of the tape archive and assessing variants and so forth and I better get back to it. I’ll continue to report anything interesting. In the meantime, keep voting and commenting and, you know, just basically doing what you want.


And now on to the comments:

Devon: I only wish I could choose 8 more songs, but, I don’t make the rules. This was so much more difficult than I anticipated as there are so many jammers that qualify. Some might even argue that there are TOO many.


Zach: Thanks for the songs and memories. The world is a better place for resurrecting this stuff.


Dan: This was a fun exercise. I like how how my picks ended up being pretty well spread among the whole discography and not all bunched up at one point or another. I know most people are hung up on the Love is Dead/Revenge is Sweet period but, for me, those records (as good as they are) are the culmination of what came before. You can hear elements of those songs in the preceding ones and I feel that a good retrospective should document the course, rather than the destination. Also, re-listening to the later releases , I was attracted more to the songs that didn’t sound like the earlier records — probably for the same reason. But that’s just me. Others may disagree. Whatever the case, it’s gonna be great.


Chuck: There are probably more “representative” songs that would be appropriate for a best-of collection, but I made this really easy on myself & picked at least one favorite song from each release, & double-dipped on a few albums. These are all deeply personal picks, with no consideration given to future scholars of East Bay punk — I simply chose the songs that most frequently: (1) accompanied me on long Sacramento lightrail rides; (2) appeared in unsolicited mix CDs gifted to uninterested girls; & (3) drowned out high school science teachers. I’ll also throw in a few extra votes for “She All Right” & “Population: Us.”


Tim: Cutting it down to such a small number of songs is almost like torture. I like to think I’ve made a decent (and fair) selection.


From Arjan: Hey Frank, It was tough choosing the songs. Fortunately some were excluded because of shards, but still started with a list of about 35 songs. My end goal was a mix of: — songs from the entire catalogue — no more than 3 per album, preferably max 2 — mix of sadder (I believe in you, You today) and more upbeat songs (I love you, but you’re standing on my foot) — enough songs with clever wordplay, typical mtx style I wish you all the best in compiling this! Kind regards from the Netherlands.


Joe: I didn’t get to 24. This reminds me of making tapes of MTX back in the 90’s to listen on the train to school. How far technology has come…


Bradley: One hundred million votes for “I Believe In You”. I would love to hear that song on vinyl. Although I could argue for the inclusion of every song on this list, I decided to go through quickly and stick with my first run. Can’t wait for the final product, I know it will be fantastic! Cheers!


Sarah: Wow! What a project! To narrow that library down to 24 songs.. it was fun though! I took notes and crammed for 3 days to get to my final list… good luck with this project!! Looking forward to whatever you all bring us next!! Thanks for all the rockin over all these years!! ??


Curt: Ok, I’m going to take a crack at this. A little background first. I was in 7th grade when Dookie came out in 1994. Prior to that I was mostly into the standard alternative/grunge music of the times. “Pop-punk” was exactly what I was looking for. I discovered GD’s back catalog and dove into Lookout Records. Screeching Weasel, the Queers, and MTX were among my favorites. I think the first MTX song I heard was Vive La France on the Can of Pork comp. I was instantly hooked and hoping at the same time MTX wasn’t a French band because I’d never understand the lyrics. Our Bodies Our Selves was my first purchase and it blew me away. The lyrics were quirky yet intelligent and the music seemed more sophisticated than “typical” pop-punk. I went and got all of the older albums, but at the time OBOS and the Gun Crazy EP were tops for me. Then came And the Women Who Love Them and Love is Dead (which are both peak MTX for me).

So, I’m pretty partial to the 94–96 era since they were formative years for me musically. I played guitar and bass along with these albums for hours in my bedroom. (Random aside, whenever I went bowling I’d use the name “Dr. Frank” so it showed up on the scoring monitor.) Honestly though, I’m a terrible fan because I’ve actually never seen MTX live! I’m on the east coast and the closest place you’ve probably played is Philly. I did purchase a bootleg VHS video of a Love is Dead era show that I need to find in my parents basement. I swear I’ll make it out to a show now (if I can find a babysitter for my two kids…). Anyways, thanks for doing this and making me go back through all of these songs again from 20+ years ago. I’ve been binge listening MTX on Spotify for the past few weeks and curating my best of list. It wasn’t easy to narrow down to 24. Oh, how about an acoustic compilation album??? Or an acoustic album of MTX favorites??? Please??

me: The acoustic thing could kinda sorta happen maybe…


Daniel: This has been incredibly consuming to actually get done. I’m one of those “Love Is Dead kept me sane/saved my life” MTX fans who celebrates the entire catalog but mainly resides around the cd versions of LID, and the women…, and revenge is sweet, and I figure there’s a lot of fans in my age group that are similarly inclined. I’ve actually made myself at least 8 different MTX mixtapes over the years and can’t imagine that I’d come up with a definitive one with a gun pointed to my head. Godspeed on this project.


Ben: If the Pleasant Valley Sunday cover isn’t here the whole project is flawed With that being said this is one of the cooler ideas I’ve heard for putting together a Greatest Of album and narrowing this to 24 choices was hard!